Monday, January 23, 2006


Do you ever find yourself sitting there, at work or at home, feeling as if your mind is just busily spinning its wheels? I don't mean you're cookin' on all 6 cylinders, going a million miles a minute with purpose and drive.

I mean when your wheels are all spinning and you're not getting any traction. The smoke starts to come up and there's all that squealing but you don't gain any ground.

I'm pretty sure this is just one of those phases that the brain goes through - and I'd like to believe this happens to everyone - but it's making me crazy right now. I feel like there are a thousand ideas running around in my head, all equally important and exciting, but not one stands out large enough for me to focus on and grab hold of.

For instance (and I use this analogy because I can relate it well) Right now I have the urge to write another novel - and I'm going to - but I can't seem to decide which one I want to do. I have vague ideas for a sequel, as well as somewhat interesting ideas for at least two (if not three) completely new ones. The problem is, not one of them is standing out strongly enough in my mind to take over and push the others out. And until that happens - until I can decide on which one to do - I can't concentrate on it exclusively, which is necessary in order to flesh it out.

I feel like my mind is filled with shallow pools, not a single one deep enough to dive into, but I can't stop running around all of them with my bathing suit on.

To add to the mental confabulation, I'm trying to decide on whether or not to take up an old hobby this Spring or to find something completely different. I'm beginning to feel obsessed by the need to become possessed by something - which usually, in my little mind-set, means I'm searching for a creative outlet that usually ends up in my writing a new novel.

But for now, I'm dealing with this bizarre mental wheel-spinning and it's starting to make me a little crazy. I'm sure it's not being helped by the fact that I need to get to the dentist and have some work done (who ever puts THAT on top of their list of things to do?) and I'm waiting on the slow deliberation of my HMO to decide when I can have an elbow repaired - which will put me off the computer (at least two handedly) for a few weeks.

Actually I'm really hoping that being able to have this (minor) surgery on my elbow will be a blessing in disguise, because it's going to keep me away from work for 2 - 3 weeks, and I have NEVER, in my lifetime, taken more than 1 week off at any given time.

Never have I spent more than 5 consecutive weekdays away from my job. And for the sheer ability to sleep late, and watch some DVD's, I'm really looking forward to it. And I'm hoping that much time to myself (and with the aid of narcotic pain killers) I'll be able to make a decision on which story to tell, and move forward with it. (and I supposed in there somewhere I have to fit in that - expensive - visit to the dentist)

But what really gets me is this feeling that my brain is sputtering and spinning with a plethora of ideas that won't take enough shape for me to dive into.

Does this happen to anyone else? I have to believe it's normal - the feeling that there's so much going on but nothing clear enough to focus on - and that lots of people feel this way now and again. I have to admit it's mildly depressing (unless it's CAUSED by a mild depression)

I'm sure that eventually, one of these story ideas is going to win out over all the others, and I'll be able to focus on it and flesh it out. I'm tempted by a sequel, a non-science fiction serial killer tale, a completely new and different science fiction tale, and an action/horror piece that I can't even figure out past a few images. Most likely, the sequel will win out simply because it's easier and comfortable. But there are a few new ideas I'm dying to find the time and energy to tackle.

But having too many tales to tell (as well as too many new hobbies to try out) and only so much time to tell them (or try them) is another frustration I'm trying to deal with !

In a small way, I think I can understand what people with ADD feel like - not being able to pick one thing and focus on it to the exclusion of all others. Which normally I can do.

And I'm not an obsessive person as much as I am possessive. I'm happiest when an idea has completely taken me over, and I can think about it all day long, take it with me wherever I go, explore it and see where it takes me - be it a hobby or novel.

It's like being stuck at work, when there's something at home you really want/need to get to, but since you're at work you can only try to organize your thoughts on the home project - and you're just sure once you get home, you're going to forget all the things you wanted to get done because you were only able to think of them while you were at work.

I suppose after I get these dental visits over with, I'll be a happier person. And if I can ever get that surgery scheduled, I'll be able to relax.

But until then, I'm not sure if I want to scream until my face turns red, or just take a nap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Everything is a commercial for something else.

Remember when you could watch television and see the show on the entire screen? You know, back before the networks decided they needed to put their logos on the screen during the entire program.

Then, slowly, they started popping up. I don't know who was first, but some of them started out pretty big, and dark - obscuring part of the bottom corner of the screen. Then some networks opted for the see-through version, but still made sure they floated there, prominently on the screen - just in case, during the half hour or hour you were watching - you forgot what channel or network they were !

They were beyond annoying, regardless of how large or small, how opaque or transparent. And though they've been around a few years now, I still feel monumentally annoyed by them.

And if that wasn't enough - new and more annoying crap is sneaking onto our screens while we struggle to watch what can only be described as marginally entertaining television to begin with. Have you seen them? The promo graphics advertising a different program on the same network, while you're watching ?

There you are, struggling to find interest in the wasteland that is television, and right in the middle of your program, the entire bottom quarter of your screen erupts with moving graphics, video and flashing details of some OTHER program you have no interest in watching, that's coming up next or on this network tomorrow, whatever.

I thought that's what all those commercial breaks were for?

Silly me, I assumed that during those breaks is when the networks should be airing their promos and hawking their other shows and specials. Apparently that's just not good enough. Now they have to interrupt what you're trying to see with a nice big ad for something else they want you to see. And I wouldn't be surprised to find an ad during THAT program, for yet another.

It all came to a head last night, as I was watching Vegas. It's not a favorite show of mine, by any means, but I do watch it.

Until last night.

Three-quarters of the way through a new episode, they took a ridiculous situation on the show, and suddenly switched it into a promotional advertisement for the Winter Olympics.

Right there - in the Vegas episode - a screen pops up and says "Now, a sneak preview of the new mini-movie for the Winter Olympics" and the "action" from the Vegas scene goes from the show, flashes over the globe to Italy, and this ridiculous mini movie starts up.

The program BECAME the commercial !

I was so enraged, I turned it off. The Vegas episode wasn't finished yet, but I didn't care. NBC took me from watching a program, to watching a LONG promo for their Winter Olympics coverage - assuming I'd stay and watch since the episode hadn't concluded yet and they'd "get back to it".

Well F-that. I'm sick of it. EVERYTHING everywhere is just a commercial for something else.

It's pathetic.

Is it any wonder so many of us now simply wait for a series to come out on DVD and watch it, commercial-free, in order and without interruption, preemption or delay? It's bad enough when you DO find a program you can enjoy, then have to wait months at a time during the winter "special program" season, and the month of reruns - stretching a series to the point of forgetting what in the hell was going on, when it used to air, and what network to find it.

Ever watch a Sci-Fi movie and notice in the backdrop of the futuristic city, there are screens everywhere showing constant commercials in various languages? They give you the impression that entertainment is gone, and video exists only to promote products.

Welcome to the future ! It's impossible now not to see that coming, and coming fast. No sooner did people discover the internet, than ads started popping up with such frequency, they had to invent software to stop them. You drive down any highway and the billboards block the views, some even get distracting with flashing lights and video.

I remember one time, as a kid, we were driving up to Edmonton (Canada) to visit some aunts and uncles, and I saw for the first time one of those billboards that has three-sided slats that move around, showing three completely different ads on one billboard space. I remember then thinking how cool and techno that was.

Now there's one section of freeway between Tacoma and Seattle where they have a flashing video billboard with so MUCH flash and color, it's not only distracting, but extremely difficult to read and comprehend while traveling 20 miles above the posted 65mph limit.

It's overload. It's sickening. It's enough to make you wish you could sell all your possessions and join a cult somewhere in the hills, where they use oil lamps and rely on each other for entertainment.

It makes me want to stay home and read a book.

Or write one.