Tag Archives: Writer

Lost and Found Superhero

If I were to design a superhero, I wouldn’t create a Man of Steel or Woman in spandex. No power bracelets or magic rings. My superhero wouldn’t need a gas-guzzling super-car that always breaks the speed limit but never is issued even a warning.

Instead, I’d invent a superhero who finds things.

No computers or radar allowed. I want a superhero with an inborn, omniscient talent for zipping up black holes before they suck in all left socks, kids’ Spam Museum permission slips, and pens that write.

My superhero need not leap tall buildings in a single bound. I just want her to find fat-free mayo on sale. Minty breath mints. And Seductive Salmon.

Not an amorous fish. I want the lipstick. The moment I deem one my favorite, cosmetic gurus shriek, “Rachael Phillips likes it! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” My marketing kiss of death sends Seductive Salmon posthaste to a black hole.

Where our keys also reside. They disappear, especially when I was due somewhere 20 minutes ago. I find the keys to our first apartment and those to old cars we maintained when our children still (theoretically) lived at home. But current car keys? They vanished upon our signing the purchase agreement. I eventually find them — often in the freezer, beside my frosted-over cell phone. Still, both continually play truant.

As do gas stations. When driving to catch a predawn flight, I inevitably discover my gas gauge points below E. At this signal, all stations at all freeway exits disguise themselves as bait shops.

Please do not tell me to trust a GPS. Once, when I traveled with writers so hungry we gnawed our books, one of those cruel, lady-voiced demons sent us to five different boarded-up restaurants.

I might consider a super-GPS that could locate tax receipts. Correction: the right tax receipts. I readily unearth one that records I ate a Belly Burger in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1999. But has anyone seen my 2020 W-2?

I also should program my superhero to lose things for me.

For example, my champion would swallow hated lyrics and toxic tunes that imprint themselves on my mental hard drive.

However, my superhero wouldn’t swallow pizza, strawberry-rhubarb pie, or moose tracks sundaes. That’s my job. Hers: banish the calories.

She’d deliver me from public restroom stalls with empty toilet paper spools and broken locks. My superhero would absorb the fines for library books I checked out during the first Bush administration. She’d scare away dandelions and crabgrass.

Oh, Lost and Found Superhero, please be real! I’ll give you a big, gas-guzzling superhero car.

But you will have to find the keys.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you need a Lost and Found Superhero?

Take This Job and Love It?

“What do you do?”

You’ve been asked this quintessential icebreaker a million times, right?

Has your answer made the questioner blink? Twice?

Probably not.

We Midwesterners like others to think we’re normal. Occasionally, I regale a cornered listener with tales of my jobs during college days. One summer, my brother and I cleaned our county’s 86 phone booths. We also cleaned telephone companies, creameries and lumberyards. I learned the value of hard work, fortitude, and singing high operatic scales while cleaning men’s restrooms.

I also worked as a nurse’s aide in a county home for patients like Glen, who pantomimed shooting the staff. I combed the grounds for booze James had smuggled in for resale purposes.

After that job, even a secretarial position in academia seemed tame.

Other workers push occupational limits too. Cleaning seems safe — but washing skyscraper windows? Ulp. Few adventure films feature dusting, but consider the heroism of a cling-to-the-scaffold IMAX screen maintenance guy.

I’d rather be a paper towel sniffer, paid $19,000-$52,000 per year.

According to Reader’s Digest, airplane repossessors make big bucks. However, considering some foreign governments’ possible displeasure, a million-dollar paycheck (and funeral) hold little appeal.

Nor do I aspire to be a lion keeper, snake milker, or caregiver to other dangerous animals — though my mom experience running children’s birthday parties would qualify me.

Those who prefer underwater excitement can work as divers, inspecting oil rigs. Or they can dive for pearls, establishing meaningful relationships with passing sharks.

I’d rather become a “Keeper of the Cup,” a Stanley Cup-sitter who accompanies the coveted hockey trophy wherever it goes.

Modeling appears an equally cushy job. However, consider the stresses of smiling for hours while starving. Even at my wedding, I, well-fed as always, grew tired of posing my pearly whites.

Wouldn’t we all like a career as a bed tester?

Some consider that snoozy job equivalent to my writing profession. I do spend hours in my PJs, as defined waistbands stifle creativity. When I’m parked in a comfy chair with my laptop, the necessary daydreaming (we writers call it brainstorming) sometimes morphs into nap-dreaming (subconscious research).

Like William Faulkner, I work when inspired. He claimed he was inspired at nine every morning. I am inspired anytime from 6 a.m. on — depending on deadlines — six days a week and, occasionally, seven.

I have experienced peril in my job, climbing a fire tower so I could write authentically about my characters’ acrophobia. I’ve spooked myself riding a nighttime ferry to an Ohio River pirate cave, experiencing terror my nineteenth-century heroine felt. I’ve even faced editors who couldn’t find a Starbucks.

Still, I’ll take this job and love it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s the best job you’ve held? The worst?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Lots to Celebrate!

Oh, Lord, thank You for the energy and focus to finish book number 24. Couldn’t go out to celebrate, though. What to do? Instead, Steve and I watched the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory and snarfed take-out sundaes from Ivanhoe’s. OMG, thank You that despite the current crisis, we have a gazillion reasons to celebrate!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No More Party?

O my God, thank You for an amazing weekend — teaching eager students at the Taylor Professional Writing Conference, celebrating with writing buds, fueling our inspiration with Mexican food and sundaes!

               

But now, Lord, it’s Monday morning. OMG, maybe I should … write?

Are You a Piler or a Filer?

I have discovered that God designs writers with His usual love for diversity. However, when it comes to the organizational aspects of our profession, we fall into two basic groups. With a scratch-my-head bow to our Father (I never will understand why He created people the way He did), and an apology to Jeff Foxworthy, I suggest the following:

You might be a piler if:

  •  You have an office at home but never work there because you can’t find your computer.
  • You haven’t seen your office carpet since the Bush administration. Is the color still neon mauve?
  • You can’t recall whether you have a window, either.
  • You just moved into the house next door because your to-be-read stack of books has taken over your first home.
  • You still haven’t unpacked from the 2006 American Christian Fiction Writers conference … or 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. … (Not admitting anything, here.)
  • The number of your undeleted e-mail messages exceeds that of the national debt.
  • You still have every story you’ve written since kindergarten. And every story your children have written. And every story your grandchildren have written. Plus all the rough drafts.
  • Your smartphone, having given up on organizing you, has run away from home.MessyOffice

Yes, you are a piler.

On the other hand, you might be a filer if:

  • You can see the top of your desk. No respectable piler would permit such a thing.
  • You have scheduled morning, noon and night tweets and Facebook posts through the year 2021.
  • You can eat on your kitchen table. If your family can, too, give yourself bonus filer points.
  • You actually know where your goal list is.
  • Every Facebook friend of yours has been categorized according to relationship, location, hairdo, and Popsicle flavor preference.
  • Your idea of a good time is to alphabetize your recycling.
  • Your latest mystery’s murderer is the only character in your novel who hates to file.
  • Your smartphone and you go to Starbucks for regular coffee dates. It buys.

 

Yes, God knows where your membership belongs. And mine. So do our spouses or significant others. And our friends.

Your turn. Fill in the blank: you might be a filer/piler if                 .