Becca Wilhite Blog

May 27, 2011

Ode to Nothingness

Filed under: priorities — becca @ 8:21 am

Oh, the thought of Doing Nothing.
The very idea brings a tear of joy.
If there was nothing to do,
What wouldn’t I do?

I think I wouldn’t go out in the car.
I’m sure I wouldn’t go out in the rain.
I wouldn’t fetch or carry or drop off a child.
I simply would not go.

I would stay, possibly.
I would cook, maybe,
I would sit, probably.
I would nap, certainly.

Dear Monday: school-free holiday, planless day,
I look forward to you.

Just a whole lot.

May 23, 2011

Thinking About Boy Readers

Filed under: books,food,rambles — becca @ 12:01 pm

There is a lot of talk about boy readers out there, if you’re so inclined to hear it. Some of it is awesome. Some of it is strange. Some of it makes me desire to speak out.

(For instance, I hear some talk that boys will only read a “realistic contemporary” book if it’s “realistic enough” — meaning, at least to the author of this argument, full of sex and language that makes me blush. I choose not to link to that particular post, but if you need to know about it, contact me. His main argument is this: I know boys. They think about sex constantly. They swear like soldiers. So must my characters, if I want them to be readable. My rebuttal/justification is this: People also use the toilet. Frequently. ┬áMust I write that in if I want my characters to ring true? Choose your truth, sir, and I will choose mine.)

Anyway. Here’s what I think. (Hello? What are you here for? Oh. Recipes? Maybe tomorrow.) Try this experiment:

WARNING: ENORMOUS GENDER-BASED GENERALIZATIONS AHEAD.

Ask a man or a guy or a boy to tell you about his day. Chances are that he’ll tell you nothing. But if you’re a good communicator, maybe he’ll tell you how many points he scored in basketball, or who got punched/grounded/fired/in a car accident. He might tell you what exploded. Or that a dog defecated on the playground. Or that his computer froze for several hours, which is why he is now grand champion at Angry Birds on his phone.

Ask a girl, or a woman, or a lady even, and chances are pretty fair that you’ll hear about food. And relationships. And how the food and the relationships make her feel.

YES. I KNOW. ENORMOUS GENERALIZATIONS. I WARNED YOU.

And the books that guys will choose to read reflect this stuff-based communication path. In “guy” books, stuff happens. People get dirty. They get chased. Killed. Stuff explodes. Oftener the better. Action happens. Plot is king. Long live the King.

And lots of girls like those books too, because (MORE GENERALIZATIONS HERE) good writers will fill a plot-driven book with RELATIONSHIPS, too. Shall I name some? Clancy. Dan Brown. Rick Riordan. Louis Sachar. Maybe even Louis L’amour, but I’ve never actually read him. But do you see what I mean? In those books, what happens is what matters.

A typical girl (remember, this is Completely Scientific, based on my years of sitting around watching people and listening to them talk) might not care so much about what happens as she cares about WHO IT HAPPENS TO. In fact, some books have very little happening, and a whole lot of people not-happening. Grapes of Wrath. I love it. Love. But really, nothing happens. I love it because I care about the characters. Or, girls/women read not to find out what happens, but HOW it unfolds. A typical “romance” has a meet, a separation, and a reconciliation, right? You can be pretty sure that in a “romance” you know how it’s going to end (which is why Mr. Sparks says he doesn’t write “Romance” – to-may-to, to-mah-to, whatever.) But zillions of people (MOSTLY FEMALES) read zillions of romances. Over and over. Because they want to read the relationship. (And the food.)

Remember that Husband takes photos? Here’s a thing. He likes to photograph one person at a time. And the thought of photographing food would never enter his brilliant, artistic mind. And I (NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER, just a WOMAN) want pictures of my kids interacting with each other. And pictures of the bread I made. And the brownie trifle for dessert last night. Am I wrong? Is he?

Or not?

Can we both be right?

Um, yes. And this is why we’re still happily married after very nearly seventeen years.

What is my point, you ask?

Oh, heck. I don’t know. Just that there are different kinds of readers. And different kinds of books for them all to jump into. And if we hate a book, it doesn’t mean it was bad, just maybe not for us. See how I can Rodney King like the best of them? Why can’t we just all get along, indeed?

(FINAL WARNING: REMEMBER THAT THIS IS A PLACE FOR ME TO SPOUT OFF ALL MY BRILLIANT AND BIZARRE OPINIONS. PLEASE DON’T QUOTE ME AS AN EXPERT IN ANY MATTERS. WELL, MAYBE THE BROWNIE TRIFLE…)

May 19, 2011

She’s Positively Hilarious

Filed under: irony,school,spring is coming,Where do I live? — becca @ 7:48 am

Ha.

Ha ha.

Ha ha ha.

Mother Nature is absolutely having a joke with me.

It is snowing. Right now. Big, fat, wet flakes that are covering my tulips like white stocking caps. Isn’t that hysterical?

Snow is sticking to the grass. And the sidewalk. And the road. And the roofs.

And my soul.

(Just a little drama, so you didn’t forget who you were dealing with here.)

It IS May 19th, right?

I haven’t turned a few extra calendar pages by mistake, right?

Remember the groundhog? The one in Pennsylvania? The one who predicted an early spring? Remember him?

You’ll never see him again. I’ve taken care of that.*

I’m off to enjoy the snowy day with a class full of clever and delightful fourth-graders. Which, if you can manage it, is the best way to work through Mother Nature’s particular brand of silliness.

*Dear ASPCA: That was a joke. I don’t even KNOW anyone who would take a hit job like that. Phil is fine. Really. Thank you.

May 17, 2011

Wherein I Stare Vacantly at the Monitor

Filed under: dumb things I do,food,Where do I live?,word count — becca @ 10:07 am

I’m watching for it, that brilliant post. I’m waiting for it to arrive. I stare, purposefully if you wish, at the monitor. Here’s what I see. No brilliant blog post on the horizon. Rather, my head’s reflection, and the blowy trees in the back yard. This is the kind of mirror I can really mesh with, as it only shows the cuteness of today’s flip hair and the leafing trees out behind the patio.

I love it when the leaves come.

And they’re coming. Finally.

Also, there is a snowflake logo on my phone’s weather forecast. Twice. For today and for Thursday.

Update: I have just thrown away my phone.

(Don’t worry, Husband. That was a lie. Remember, everyone, that I lie? Well, I do.)

I’ve had ideas for posts. Isn’t that nice? And I haven’t written any of the ideas down. Hence, no posts.

I learned something, yesterday, though. Shall I share? I’m a much happier substitute teacher (specifically for the first grade) when I lower my classroom expectations just a smidge. When I don’t demand that everyone is actually LEARNING something at all times, everyone is a whole lot more glad. When I don’t expect all the kids to actually LISTEN to me, all is well. Shall I apply that to my life? No. I think not.

I love the produce man at my grocery store. (Don’t worry. Not that kind of love.) Here’s what happened. I scooted over to the store on Saturday because I had a couple of hours. And so, naturally, I should make jam. Strawberries were on sale for $1.50 a pound or something, so I grabbed up a lot of pounds. And Mr. Produce Man saw me. And stopped me from buying the pretty berries. And handed me 5 flats of slightly less pretty berries, for which he charged me something like $20. Like $.63 per pound. And told me I’d have to throw away a few. Which I did. Maybe one pound worth. I made 14 batches of freezer jam (the less sugar kind, because that’s how I roll) plus had enough halved berries to fill 2 gallon sized freezer bags, for smoothies. All for $20. (And some slave labor by Kid 3, who hulled berries like nobody’s business. I could not have done that little project without her. What a Kid.)

When I scooted over to the store to buy bananas and spinach and watermelon this morning, he waved me over and asked how the berries turned out. He was glad I’d had some big success, even if he maybe-possibly wished I’d had to throw away a few more pounds. The berries weren’t as bad as he’d thought, apparently.

WORD COUNT UPDATE:

I am more than half way to my word count goal for the current Work. (I like to call it Work. That makes it sound so terribly important. And prosperous, or something.) Strange things are happening on the pages (and off) in this story, and it’s fun to see it sort of moving along on its own steam, even when I ignore it for a couple of days so I can sub Kid 4’s class.

Which reminds me, I really should be writing at that story right now.

Instead of staring at my hair’s silhouette in the monitor.

May 14, 2011

Guest Posting – Belle’s Bookshelf

Filed under: Belle's Bookshelf,books,kids,recommendation — becca @ 11:40 am

Welcome to a new feature around here. I’d like to introduce you to my Kid 3, who has decided to jump into the world of Book Blogging. She’ll be known as Belle, and she’s a hungry reader. She’s nine (but only for a month) and she devours books of all kinds. So she’d like to blog, but I’d like to obey the law. I’m funny that way. Blogger wants you to be 13 before you get an account. So for the next three years and a month, we will welcome Belle’s Bookshelf as a regular feature around here.

Fun, right?

Here is her review (unabridged and unedited) for Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid.

Are you Rick Riordan fans looking for a new book of his? Well, here is a fantasy book that you will not be able to put down: The Red Pyramid. (Believe me, I know. I tried.) . Carter and Sadie Kane are siblings who are a part of the battle of the Egyptian Gods. They find lots of secrets and lose lots of Newly and Not so Newly made made acquaintances. They have nail-biting adventures that The Readers will never imagine. The Egyptian Gods have found a way into their heads. Sadie has a Not-So-Loyal goddess in her head named Isis. Sadie loves Bubble Gum, and she has a pet cat named Muffin. Carter is a brave guy who doesn’t have many friends because he travels the globe with his dad. The god who is in his head is named Horus. Carter and Sadie get to travel all over the world, in Paris, London, Manhattan, Phoenix, And all over Egypt. (Momentary Jealousy!) I would give this fine piece of workmanship an A-, Because Sadie has some mild language.

* 514 pages long, published in 2010 by Disney*Hyperion.

* I suggest it would be best for ages 10 and up, because of scary parts and some violence.

* This book can easily be read aloud.

May 12, 2011

I Wrote That?

Filed under: writing process — becca @ 10:34 am

It happened again.

I wrote this morning, for a while, early… before the crazy 6:15 rush. (Oh, I wish I were kidding.) And then, a few hours later, after the Kids were gone away, I pulled the document back up and looked it over. And I snickered.

Yes. Snickered.

Because it was funny. And a little sarcstic, but just a little. And I had sort of forgotten that part. And it was clever. And I wrote that.

I love it when that happens.

May 11, 2011

Hello, Computer.

Filed under: writing — becca @ 3:56 pm

Yes, yes indeed… it has been a while.

You are absolutely correct.

My fingers find your keyboard strange.
And strangely covered in crumbs.
(Who has been eating at the computer desk? Is someone new here?)

Your screen stares back at me, reflecting my face,
So you can see me smiling.
I am glad to be here, sitting in this uncomfortable chair,
Typing words
and words
and words.

Busy things get in the way.
Good things. Teachery things.
Bookish things. Writerly things.

And I am glad,
Very glad to be back.

May 4, 2011

Weird Hair

Filed under: body image,character,word count — becca @ 9:06 am

So I was talking with a person lately. (This is news, right?) And the person has, well, really weird hair.

I can’t describe it to you, because I’m not that good a writer. Just kidding. Because I don’t want to offend any more people this week. It’s a goal. Let us just leave it at this: The hair? It’s weird.

And here’s the thing. I found myself trying not to stare at the weirdness thereof. So much so, that I sort of found myself missing the person’s words. Most of them. Like I couldn’t focus on the conversation, because I was Distracted.

Which begs this question: What’s my Weird Hair Issue? I’m pretty sure I don’t have generally weird actual hair. I have way more than my share of bad hair days, but not a noticeable penchant for doing strange things on top of my head. People are much more likely to be moved to sympathy/empathy by my hair than to be struck dumb and deaf with wonder at the bizzarrity of it all. But what is my thing? The thing that gets in the way of communication? Or completion? What is The Distraction?

I have a tendency to write far too many shoulder shrugs. My characters shrug a lot. A lot. This must cause some readers to throw my books across rooms in frustration. Although no one has ever actually approached me with this particular complaint, I imagine it’s out there. And I am working on it. I have a little shock-collar-and-siren arrangement hooked up for when I slip into shruggery. (That was a lie. I don’t have any such thing.)

Also, I lie. Mostly here, on the blog. Is that distracting?

Sometimes I make lists, and I find great satisfaction in crossing things off these lists. (Is that a good thing, like being organized? Or a bad thing, like serious overdependance on outside validations? Both? I’ll take it.) But sometimes I find my lists distracting me from actual completion of things. For instance: Can I count the words I write on the blog as part of my 1,000 words to be written today? The answer is NO. I can’t. But sometimes I do. Because I get to cross it off my list, and that is connected to a thoroughly distracting thrill.

Projects become tangential, and that’s distracting from the goal. Like, I need to deep clean the pantry (always), so I start taking things off shelves. I find a Halloween bucket in there. (Don’t judge. It’s a big pantry. Plus, I may have suggested that Kid 4 use a Halloween bucket as his Easter basket this year at Grandma’s house.) So I take said bucket to the basement, where there is a great storage room full of strange and wonderful and distracting items. Such as my high school yearbook, which is for some reason open on the floor, right next to a carton of powdered milk. No, I can not explain that. Thank you for asking. Eenie, meenie… I choose to pick up the yearbook. And look at a few pages. Two hours later, I pull my wretched bones up from the concrete floor, determined to reconnect with at least seven Dear Friends who must, must be on FaceBook. Cue the forty-five minute time-suck. Meanwhile, the pantry isn’t getting any cleaner. See the problem?

I could go on (and on, and on) but I’ve already passed half my necessary word-count for today. (Just kidding, Husband! Working! On the Manuscript! That’s what I’m doing! Completely!) But really, it’s an interesting thought to me – what’s the “weird hair” that gets in the way of my goals, wether they’re health-related, or parenting-based, or writerly, or something else altogether? And would it be helpful to me if someone pointed out that I do, in fact, have really weird hair?

NOTE: It would NOT be helpful. I have plenty of issues already. I do not need another one. Thank you.

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