Tag Archives: writing

A Real Writer

Just when I had completely adjusted to life as a substitute teacher on spring break (wake up at 8-ish, watch daytime TV while eating lunch at 11:30, shoot pool and drink gin in the evenings, etc.), Monday morning rolls around and I’m back to drinking coffee at 5:30 AM and hoping for a phone call for a job.

While it feels good to rise before the sun once again, I didn’t get a sub job today.  Allie invited me to ride along with her to video sale cattle in the Independence Valley, so I said, “Sure, why not?  I don’t have any morning TV programs I’m hooked on anyway.”

I wore my Levi 501’s, button-down shirt, wild rag, polar fleece and vest.  I grabbed a pair of cotton gloves and a coat just in case.  I’ve never tagged along on a cattle videoing excursion, and I wasn’t sure how much audience participation would be involved. 

We arrived a half an hour early, and the calves were an hour and a half late.  Sitting in Allie’s SUV in direct sunlight, I peeled off my wild rag and vest within ten minutes.  Sharon, the ranch owner, joined us for a visit. 

We chatted about Japan’s increase in beef demand due to radiation in their oceanfish supplies, the Donald’s possible bid for Presidency, and the state of Nevada’s incompetency concerning their inspection of livestock scales.  I was wishing we had a thermos full of coffee; eating string cheese and drinking bottled water while checking my email on Allie’s iPad just didn’t feel as punchy.

Through my emails, I learned I had a couple new story assignments from national magazines. !!!!!!!!!!!  Not to mention any names, but Range and Western Horseman.  So, pretty much excited about that.

One positive thing about subbing being slow is I’m much more motivated to think of new ideas and reach out of my comfort zone by contacting editors and interview subjects.  I try harder when I get a little hungry.

Dealing with a different kind of hunger, Allie put a whole chicken and a bunch of yummy stuff in the crock pot today.  Two thoughts: 1) I totally want a candle that smells like simmering chicken broth.  To heck with Vanilla Raspberry Truffle!  2) I’m gearing up for another week of Me vs. The Crock Pot.  I haven’t eaten chicken in weeks….I can SO do this.  I’m ready.  CP’s goin’ down.

I better get to revising articles already in the works…and start in on two new ones for the local paper.  Now that writing is contributing significantly to my bill-paying abilities, I’m starting to feel like a real writer.  I could get used to this 🙂

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Spring Break

During college, spring break meant hurrying through a Thursday afternoon mid-term exam and skipping school on Friday to start the party early.  I was either excited to go home and ride colts, or anticipating a relaxing week of working at a downtown Chico western wear store and suntanning every afternoon. 

As a substitute teacher, spring break means “Oh, bleep, a week of unpaid vacation.”  Once I reminded myself there was absolutely nothing I could do about that fact, I decided to write a stockpile of articles and set up interviews; conduct myself as a legit freelance writer for one solid week. 

A person has to be a little bad on spring break, though, so I began the week by partying until 4:00 AM.  For some reason, I had an unusually good streak of luck shooting pool – I sunk 4 balls in a row, including a combo.  Even though it was a really easy combo shot that a minimally trained poodle could’ve made, one of my guy friends saw my performance and refused to play me because I was “too good.” 

I protested, insisting it was a random streak of luck and not to worry; things would change and he’d beat me pretty easily.  I must’ve drank too much gin to make a persuasive argument, because he handed his cue stick off to another guy, who beat me.  All I can say is: I told you so.

Once I realized the folly of excessive partying (I was reminded by my inability to drink water, stand upright, walk, or eat until 3:00 PM the next day), I settled in to work.  I wrote 3 first drafts the first day, typed up a real estate description, emailed the home folks, secured 2 more story assignments from the local paper, interviewed a saddlemaker, and read part of Arnold Rojas’ These Were The Vaqueros to research an upcoming article. 

I also baked candy, cookies and granola bars.  I walked 8 miles one day – I walked with Tilly when she got off work, and again with Katie when she got off work.  I made a Mexican beef stew, shot pool last night (sober, I’d like to add), stacked firewood, and have watched more reruns of The Nanny, Everybody Loves Raymond, and That ’70s Show than should be legal.

I’m sort of wondering how I ever had time to work.  I thought I’d be inventing things to do to fill my days, but now I’m considering setting the clocks back at lunchtime so I can have more hours in the day.  My most pressing task is finding a store in Elko that sells the new Glamour magazine.  It’s out – I’ve seen it online!!!  I’m hooked on the dose of feminity, style, makeup advice and girl talk in between those covers, which greatly balances out the whole living-in-the-sagebrush-with-no-Victoria’s Secret-or-Sephora deal for me, and really irritated that it’s already April 7 and not a single store in this town has it on the shelf.  It’s like I live in a remote Northern Nevada desert town or something!

Today it is snowing.  It’s cozy in the house, though, and I’ve got second drafts to write and Don Williams playing on the radio.  I think I’m gonna make it.

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This week kicked my butt.  I subbed every day, and after school I worked on the pile of freelance assignments I’m trying to complete on deadline.  I’m not complaining, because I’m grateful for the work, but yeesh! 

I told myself, You’re sitting in a nice warm classroom.  You’re not expending any amount of energy long trotting or roping with a wool sweater, down jacket and two pairs of gloves.  You pansy, why are you so tired?  I realized the mental exhaustion of guiding a group of schoolchildren through a day of learning is much greater than the physical exhaustion of sitting on a horse all day shoving cattle around.

After yesterday, I decided “Miss Laubacher” is a bad word and anyone who utters it more than ten times a minute should sit in the corner for the remainder of class.  If anyone corrects me and says “But that’s two words,” you can sit in the corner, too. 

I designated Saturday as my official Get All My Writing Assignments Done And Emailed To My Editors day, but so far all I’ve done is watch Made of Honor  (Patrick Dempsey is HOT) and drink a glass of wine.  It’s not quite noon.  I thought I’d fall back on an old Chico State trick called “when you’re stuck on writing a paper, drink.” 

I’m having my doubts about how well this will work, and not just because I actually laughed out loud at the phrase “bling-bling” typed on the screen.  Maybe I should arrange for the post office to deliver magazines featuring my work with a bottle of merlot.  I think it would help the circulation, anyway.  Actual readership, not so sure….I get a little tipsy and want to socialize. 

If I were in Chico, I would put on some mascara, a swingy skirt, and take a stroll downtown.  There was always someone in their yard enjoying the sunshine who wanted to visit.  In Elko, I’d have to walk a few miles to downtown, including dodging the big rigs on Mountain City Highway and make it over the I-80 overpass.  I haven’t drank that much wine yet, but ask me again at 3 PM.

Oy….here I am, blogging in an effort to motivate my writing self and finish these dang assignments!!!!  It’s kind of worked….but not so much you’d notice.  Luckily, the dryer just dinged, so I can continue my procrastination by putting clean sheets on my bed.  Happy Saturday! 🙂


Filed under The Writing Life

My Writing Compulsion

A gluten intolerance prevents me from enjoying pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, so instead I am eating handfuls of dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses and winding down with some blogging.  I just wish they weren’t individually wrapped – I like my unhealthy habits to be untraceable.

I spent my Thanksgiving day running on adrenalin and fumes, since last night after work I checked my email and learned I have two new writing assignments for the Nevada Rancher.  I couldn’t fall asleep until amost midnight, and then I woke up at four-thirty, finally straggling to the coffee pot at five-forty.  I’m looking forward to the day I am not so green and I take new assignments in stride, rather than wanting to call everyone I know and scream into the phone “Someone is paying me to write about topics I love!”

While I waited for sleep, angle ideas, interview subjects, phrases, and random words collided in my brain.  I started writing, hoping to get some relief, but then I found scraps of paper in my purse with various unrelated ideas that occured to me throughout the day, and I was off on another rabbit trail. 

Physical exhaustion does not appease this compulsive urge to write; sometimes even writing doesn’t appease the urge to write.  I write until my hand hurts (I’m old-school: first drafts are always longhand with lots of scribbles) and I’m inexplicably pulled down some inner road paved with words.  Sometimes I don’t even want to write – I want to watch reruns of That 70s Show or paint my nails, but then I pick up a pen and there goes three hours. 

There are stories inside me that want to be told.  I am driven by curiousity to seek out others’ stories to tell.  I’m excited to be getting published and receiving new assignments.  This is a career I can work my entire life.  Unlike cowboying, I won’t have to close shop if I wind up crippled or pregnant, and my body won’t ever get too old, sore or stiff to operate a pen.  I don’t expect to reach my full potential as a writer until I’m 70-ish, so I have much to look forward to 🙂

I am very tired.  I am going to forbid myself from writing and hit the hay.  Good-night and thanks for reading!

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