Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Be a Model or Look Just Like One by Jeannie Watt

When I was a teen I desperately wanted to be a model. Why? I haven’t a clue because, when photographed, I was the queen of the frozen smile, I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands crowd. I was not deterred by that small problem, however, and I used to longingly study those ads in the back of Seventeen magazine. “Be a model or look just like one.” Finally one day, disregarding all my mother’s warnings about never sending for anything out of a comic book or a teen magazine, I clipped the little add, filled in the information and stuck it in the mail. About two weeks later, I got a call. From the modeling school. Scared the heck out of me. The caller, aka the salesman, wanted to know if I had a whole bunch of money to pay for modeling school.  Money? Pay? I didn’t want to pay money. I wanted to be a model or look just like one. For free. Talk about innocence lost.

I eventually got the salesman to leave me alone and my mother never found out that I was being “recruited” by a modeling school. And when photographed, I continued to freeze and my hands continued to become gigantic clumsy things that I couldn’t control, until finally, around the time I started college, I had to face the truth—I was never meant to be a model. In fact, I was darned glad not to be a model.

Note how expression problem has been cleverly solved by photographer.
Fast forward many frozen-smile decades. My husband decides to take up photography as his hobby. The kids are gone. He doesn’t like to photograph animals, because we have so many it would be easy to do that. He doesn’t like landscapes, because we live in a pristine desert environment with spectacular mountains and sunsets. No. He likes to photograph people. Uh, person. Guess who?

I’m such a bad subject. I can’t give another expression, as he often requests. I only have two that don’t look like Popeye—happy and blue steel. When my photographer is demanding that I relax, I tend to lean toward blue steel. Eventually, though, after a couple years of being a subject (a word I prefer to model) I have learned to relax. Kind of. I still have only two expressions, but sometimes my husband can Photoshop it so it looks like I have a third. I'm happy to report though, that my hands are finally under control. I've found pockets to be a godsend.

Did any of you have dreams that, looking back, you can see you were not suited for? Such as the potential vet student who hated the sight of blood? (Uh, me again.)  I'd love to hear that there are others out there like myself...hint, hint. I'll give a Kindle download of any Superromance or a copy of one of my backlist to a randomly chosen respondent.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading, Writing and Staying Fit

Please don't groan. I promise, I'm not going to tell you to give up your dark chocolate M&M's, nor am I going to suggest you aim to run a marathon next spring. This Superromance blog is a place where real authors meet real readers and guess what? We're all human. And many of us are facing stiff odds to stay fit and trim through our lifetime. This concerns me because I love my life. Not every moment, not everyday. And while I have little control over how long I'll be here, I do have a say in my quality of life today. I've found that when I make small, manageable changes in my nutrition/fitness/mental serenity routine, they prove more lasting and overall increase the chances of sticking.
As first a reader and then a writer I spend a lot of time sitting. Many writers have adopted a standing desk, or even a treadmill desk. Readers can do the same. But I think that anything done too long isn't as beneficial as movement. I get up from my desk or chair several times in an hour. I'm more efficient if I've done a quick walk about, whether it's to throw in a load of laundry or put a pot of soup on to simmer so that my family won't starve because of my workload. This is especially handy around deadlines!
There's a dearth of information on health and fitness and since we are all readers, most of us have read the medical and scientific studies--many of them contradicting. What's a story-lover to do?
I've learned that for me, as much as I love chocolate, it's a no-go if I'm going to keep my energy up. I treat myself to really good chocolate (or okay, a chocolate kiss or two) when I want to, but it's no longer a major nutritional category for me for one simple reason: I feel incredibly tired after the rush of the chocolate has abated. This invariably happens when I have two hours left in my writing day and energy is prone to drop, anyhow. Instead I have an apple and a cup of tea. I can hear the no-caffeine readers gasping. But a cup of tea along with either fruit or veggies or a handful of nuts carries me further along my story without feeling like I need to put my head down and take a quick nap.
If and when I exercise, no matter what it is, I feel enormously better. Plus, more story ideas and characters show up on my mental dry-erase board (I really wanted to write "chalkboard" but that would really date me). The simple act of walking releases the right kind of brain waves that help creativity.
The other fitness that I feel is probably most important is mental and spiritual. Whatever your beliefs try to spend a bit of time alone with them each day. Journal, sketch, sit in nature. My favorite is to knit outside. The air is finally cool enough to do this in the Northeastern U.S. and I relish it. It's hard not to feel guilty for sitting and seemingly doing "nothing" productive in terms of story and writing, but indeed I'm contributing to my story arsenal. So many ideas have shown up in the middle of a row of a lace shawl.
I'm not perfect and I struggle with taking care of myself, finding the time, making the effort when I feel like the demands of this writing life and life in general are too many and too heavy to take "frivolous" time to do something for me. My heroines struggle and juggle with this, too. It's what makes all of us, fictional or real, human.
What do you do to stay healthy, be it physical, mental or spiritual?
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