Monday, April 21, 2008


We were having a discussion the other day at work about the show Seinfeld and it struck me that we have a very Seinfeldian (is that a word?) situation at work. Don't think it was one they touched on in the gazillion years the show ran, but since I don't remember each of show in their run, I could be wrong. Warning: the rest of this post will dissolve quickly into bathroom humor...literally.

In the place I work we have two bathrooms: A large, multi-stalled one with good ventilation and a smaller two-stalled one with not so great ventilation. There's an unwritten rule among the males that if you have to uh...'punch a grumpie' as a one put it, you use the bigger bathroom because the ventilation is better. Now, I don't know where men got the idea that women are dainty little things whose...uh...grumpies don't stink, but I'm here to say, this just ain't true. And the whole dainty thing could have argument too once you've been in two-stall room with.....

The Grunter.

Yes, the Grunter. Everyone knows her and avoids her as much as possible because it's just really hard to look a person in the face when you know what she sounds like working so hard on the other side of the stall wall. And boy, she can leave behind a residue to make your eyes water. Now, before you ask about the whole bathroom freshener thing, you have to understand we are in a 'fragrance free' office because there are some in the building allergic to everything known to man--this rule of course excludes our boss who walks around smelling like an Estee Lauder perfume factory to cover the smell of cigarettes she's not supposed to be smoking in her car on the property because it's against policy...but I digress...

The Grunter had been on the schedule of every day after lunch and we all had it timed out where if you didn't get in there before noon, you didn't go in until after one. If you were really desperate, you could go down to the bigger bathroom, but then it looked to everyone like you were doing something you really weren't so most people just waited. Well recently she's changed her schedule in an effort to throw us all off. Now, no one knows when it's safe to breathe the air in that little room. Of course no one wants to actually confront her about it, telling her that this "rule" is in place for everyone's breathing safety, so we all suffer in silence.

Where is that spaz Kramer when I need him?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Life in a Writer's Head....Enter At Your Own Risk

One of the questions I think writers are asked most often is "where do you get your ideas?" Good question! Unfortunately, I have no answer. Everyone is different. Some say they get ideas from their dreams, others say they get it from life experience. But I think, generally, because of the way a writer's mind works, ideas come from anywhere, everywhere and nowhere in particular. They hit you when you least expect it. Some come in the form of characters, some in the form of plot. Others from one scene that plays over and over and over in your head until you're forced to pay attention to it or go crazy.

One of my favorite shows is Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel, a show about the Alaska crabbing industry. Fishermen and their crew "compete" during the season for the highest take on crab--my favorites are Sig and the Northwester crew or Phil and the Cornelia Marie crew (so maybe, the other's aren't bad either, but Sig and Phil still pull rank). The term "deadliest" in the title comes from the working conditions: freeze-your-nuts-off cold, waves that will sweep you off the boat and into the Bering Sea, greenhorns that don't know what the hell their doing, large swinging crab pots that can knock you on your ass (and into the sea), and then if that wasn't fun enough, you do all this on about two hours of sleep...if you're lucky. I can't wait for the new season to start on April 15th.

So, finding this fascinating as I do, (okay, Cathy, I see you rolling your eyes up there in podunk Alaska wondering what the hell the thrill is) I read all the recent news reports on the Seattle based fishing boat that recently went down near Dutch Harbor. Turns out a woman owns the company which is impressive because it's more a male dominated industry. But what really turned interesting was that this woman is a recluse. She hasn't been seen out in public for years and does all her business via fax and phone from home. There were even reports from people coming out of the woodwork in hopes of fame and fortune that she was never seen without a hat on her head and a scarf covering her face--even in her own home.

Now, to me, this is a fascinating story. Too bad my last manuscript was fairly similar, but in the video game industry. But for me, this is how I sometimes get my ideas. I read about the in the paper, I see them on the news. Something intrigues me enough that I start rolling it around in my head asking, "what if..." A character develops, maybe a plot. But it's a seed and it gets the ball rolling. Like I said, everyone is different and, even for me, it doesn't always work the same. But the ideas are out there...lots of places...and lots of times it's just art imitating life. All a writer has to do is stop, look around them, listen to what others are talking about and ask themselves, "what if..."

Then comes the hard part....PLOTTING! For that, I'm going to need a mojito or two....or five. Where's the rum??? Why's all the rum gone????