Trapped in the Traffic-o-sphere

I got up early this morning — a lot earlier than I normally get up on a Saturday, in fact. I had breakfasted and washed my hair and was out the door before 8 o’clock this morning, equipped with my DSLR and enough money to do some serious shopping at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

But I never got there.

From where I live it took maybe half an hour to reach the intersection of Routes 70 and 32, which are just north of the road that runs past the fairgrounds where the festival is held. It’s a huge event, and I think I’ve gone to the last three or so. But as I sat through the light six times to get off the I-70 exit ramp and onto Route 32 south, I got stuck in more traffic. It took half an hour to creep another quarter of a mile to get through the next traffic signal. And then nothing moved. Not. At. All.

I had a quarter mile to go for the intersection with the fairground road, and then maybe another mile to the grounds. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting in the car for another hour — or more — to get that far, so I swung into the left lane and came home, where I am now parked in front of my keyboard, which is apparently where I spend my life. Unfortunately, jettisoning the opportunity to have a day outside has made me very angry and frustrated — and the feelings of being trapped are running high. That is my number one angst: being trapped. I’ve had some very bad times in my life and this latest frustration isn’t helping me. It’s like no matter what I do I get knocked down.

Well, I’m sitting here, at the keyboard, and at least I’m writing. I wish it was something fantastic I had to tell you — another great story, a second or third novel — but it’s just a blog post about life’s annoying issues. A few hours of slaying virtual monsters in Guild Wars 2, a glass of wine and a spaghetti dinner will likely set me straight, at least for another day or two. But that’s sometimes all we can do: get through the day and hope tomorrow isn’t as annoying.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 143

“Sienna City,” one of my digital paintings.

It’s been some time since I’ve had the energy to sit down and write a blog post. Work has been tremendously busy and at the end of the day I find myself just staring at the TV or playing Guild Wars 2 or Random Mahjong and telling myself that tomorrow I’ll do some writing. Since I work full time as a copy editor I pretty much read all day and that type of work is intense; editing requires that I make a lot of decisions (you might not believe the angst that hyphens can cause for editors) and by the time five o’clock rolls around I’m mentally spent. At that point I chuck any unused hyphens in the recycle bin and shut down my office connection.

So, last week I was avoiding writing my zombie short story for Corrugated Sky’s upcoming third anthology by looking at the digital tools over at Creative Market. I picked up a set of Photoshop brushes called Cityscape. I spent some time “doodling” until I came up with a nice composition, and then combined my newly minted city with effects from Topaz Studio to create “Sienna City.” Art and photography are cross training for writing, since they are all creative endeavors, right? I mean, at some point you have to do something other than write, or else what can you write about?

So, what’s a city without people? For this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt, you get to describe Sienna City and its population. In 350 words, write a travel guide entry for tourists that will compel them to pack their bags and head to town. Think about the kinds of things you want to know about a place before you visit, but mostly, think about what is so compelling about Sienna City that people want to go there. Are the restaurants world-famous? Is there a special landmark or museum? Is it a shopping destination? Or does the city hold some special festival each year that pulls in tourists by the busloads?


Almost a New Year

I found this red armchair out in the middle of a stream in northern Maryland while on a trip to photograph covered bridges.

I found this red armchair out in the middle of a stream in northern Maryland while on a trip to photograph covered bridges.

This year has been mentally exhausting, and when I think about what I’ve actually accomplished I’m not sure that I’ve gotten enough bang for my proverbial buck. I’ve written a short story for Corrugated Sky‘s first anthology and started brainstorming a second, and I’ve completed a few encyclopedia articles. I dragged myself through NaNoWriMo and ended up with something that I will likely gut or trash rather than try to fix.

And I’ve worked. And worked, and worked some more. There have been so many projects at work I can’t keep track of what day it is. Can I sleep in? Yes, it’s a weekend. That’s about all I can manage to think about right now.

Here’s hoping that 2017 will start fresh with some energy for writing projects and getting things done. I’ve spent some time today setting some goals and listing the things I want to work on next year so I can keep them in sight. After all, nothing gets done without a deadline.

And speaking of deadlines, the office just closed so I am FREE! Until Tuesday. Until — next year! Happy New Year’s Day! I hope to be back with new writing prompts and perhaps some photo tips or artwork next year. But for now, it’s time to relax and play Guild Wars 2.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 126


Writing can be a lonely business, but it’s necessary to have some time to yourself in order to sort out what you’re working on and just get words down. You don’t have to go to a snowy mountaintop, although if the lodge is serving hot chocolate that might be a good thing. I’ve finished another round of edits to my novel and sent it off to beta readers.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt focuses on snow, for no apparent reason other than I’ve used this screen shot of my Guild Wars 2 character, Freya Stohrm, as an illustration for this post. So, write about snow. Think about how the atmosphere feels when it’s snowing and try to describe that in a paragraph. If you live somewhere in the tropics, write about how you would feel if it suddenly snowed in your hometown, or describe how looking at photos of snow makes you feel.

The core of this week’s prompt is setting, so no matter how you approach the subject, the snow should be an integral part of the landscape you’re writing about.