Category Archives: About Life

2014: The Year thus Far

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I’ve been away from the blog for a while, away from writing in general in fact. After “winning” NaNoWriMo last year, I decided to take a little break in December, which inadvertently turned into an extended hiatus from writing altogether. I had managed to hit the 50K word goal during the month while working full time, meeting various other obligations, and still spending time with my family, but by the end of it, I was tired, perhaps even burned out. So I decided to take a step back during the holidays, with a plan to return in January. My aim then was to finish the first draft of my Nano novel which, though it stood at 50,000 plus words on December 1, wasn’t (and still isn’t) even close to being a completed anything. I’d left the story dangling somewhere in the hazy middle, in the middle of a terrible and laborious storm if I recall correctly, and that is precisely where it stands today.

Now with the summer months nearly gone, I stand facing September as it screeches near, and I’m wondering where the hell the year went. I don’t want to make excuses for not writing and so I’m not going to dwell on the time lost. I just know this: it is time to get back to The Work. Okay, so not that work exactly. Not the half-completed nonsense novel thus far left by the wayside. Don’t get me wrong, I will finish that sloppy “zero” draft. I will eventually revise, rewrite, mold and sculpt it into something that hopefully won’t make your eyes bleed. But first I just need to get moving again, and I’ve got other projects that have been on the shelf which I feel I owe my obligations to at present.

Also, with another Nano approaching, I don’t think it’s too early to start planning the work to be done during this year’s madness. Yes, that’s right. I am crazy enough to do this thing again. This time however, I’d like to set a personal goal beyond the 50k word count. Hopefully, with a bit of planning and some time to conjure up a decent outline, I’d like to actually complete an entire draft during the month, so as to not end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble roughly half of a completed novel. My personal goal then will be to end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble an entire novel.

So I’ve had a wee little break but now I’ve got work to do. In the coming weeks I’ll be plotting and outlining the new novel as well as working to finish up another novel and a chapbook which have both been in the works for far too long. I’ll be making an effort to post more regularly to the blog, if for nothing else than to pop in and say “hi” and tell you what I had for dinner. No. I won’t really do that. No one really cares about that. But I do have a few ideas to expand upon the current content and make it reflect additional topics outside of writing. Perhaps that will liven the place up, make it more fun, like some sort of futuristic cyborg monkey disco. Wouldn’t that be cool? Anyway, I believe I also promised some posts on the NaNoWriMo experience, so as we draw closer to this year’s event in November, I’ll try to post a summary on my thoughts from the chaos of 2013. So until next time, be cool, be safe, and just write!

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A Poem for Brenda: Everything

WIP Disclaimer: Ahem, the following poem is a Work In Progress. It is simple and unedited, just like me. It is likely to change before it ever, if it ever, sees (real) publication. There.

As the title of this post suggests, this one is for my wife, Brenda, but you are all welcome to read it too, I suppose. Honestly, I can't really stop you (since, ya know, it's now on display for the eleventy or so billion people on this here internet). Enjoy!

Everything

I Love her deeply but she doubts me,

challenges me.

If she could see into my heart,

she would never do so again.

If I could just show her my love

like a physical thing,

like an ocean swelling, raging,

full of emotion and madness;

If she could slip her face beyond its surface

to gain but a glimpse

of the unending depths,

she would forever trust me

having witnessed the extent

of all she means to me,

and sleep soundly at night,

knowing beyond doubt,

that she is my everything.

 

 


I’m Not Dead: Balancing the Equation in My Writing Life

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I’m not dead. Not yet anyway.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to say, but if this is going to become a real post, I’d better make up a few more words. I could always explain things, tell you loyal readers why it’s been so quiet on the writing front these days, but I’m sure no one is really that interested.

Oh what the heck, I’ll just do it anyway. Besides, I need to find more ways to stretch this thing out, haven’t I? So then, what I’d like to do is elaborate on the things in my life which have caused my writing to slow down, and then explain my strategies on how I plan to overcome them. If you are bored with all the personal details, just hang in there and keep reading…I promise there’s a nugget or two in here somewhere.

So here it is, the reasons why productivity has slowed down so drastically in my writing world. It can easily be summed up with this simple mathematical formula: Writing productivity is inversely proportional to the intensity of real life. That is, as one speeds up, the other inherently slows down. So what has been causing the intensity of my life to increase so much? Work of course is the big obvious and boring reason, so we’ll just get that one out of the way. There! That feels much better. Now on to the more important issues.

Buying our first home has been one of the biggest challenges my wife and I have ever faced, from the initial and grueling home search, to obtaining the financing and gathering all the countless documents that go along with it, to a myriad of other hiccups, bumps, and catastrophes along the way which I don’t have the space nor the patience to get into here. We finally closed on our first home just four days before Christmas and orchestrated a complete DIY move over the course of the next week between Christmas and New Years (with a bit of help from our friend, Lisa…thanks Lisa!). Oh, and did I mention that our second child was born just three days after Christmas? So that means I practically moved an entire household by my lonesome while my wife was recovering from childbirth all while helping to care for our newborn baby boy and very active two year old daughter. Whew! Makes me exhausted again just typing it all.

So now what? Well there are still countless things occurring on a daily basis such as work, getting settled into our home, and taking care of the family which can all decrease writing productivity, and I know that this trend will never change. After all, such is life. So how will I manage all this and still remain productive in my writing? How will I bring balance to the equation? Not-so-simply this, I must carry on and try to become more creative when it comes to finding ways to squeeze in the time to write. (A bit like trying to squeeze lemon juice out of the peel, but nonetheless, it CAN be done!) That means analyzing how my time is spent overall and looking for ways to skim a little time off the top of other activities (i.e. sleep, surfing the internet, World of Warcraft), then arranging and compiling that time into blocks, chunks, and snippets which can be reallocated for writing.

I will use this time to update the blog as I can, and conceive of ideas to help generate content and traffic flow in ways that will require less of my time, hence using more of my endless creativity. I will also be behind the scenes organizing and editing two nearly completed chapbooks, slugging away at final edits on my novella, shopping around a few completed short stories and poems to various markets, and starting up another large scale writing project as well.

To summarize all this gibberish, all I can do to rise above the delima of not having the time to write–and bring balance to the equation–is to get extremely creative in my time management. With that, I must make the absolute most of the precious time I do manage to set aside for writing. I heard it said recently that not having enough time is one of the biggest falacies we give ourselves to use as an excuse. And in a way this is true. Everybody, no matter who you are, has exactly the same amount of time each and every day. It is what we choose to do with our time and how we use it that makes the difference in our success. While I agree with this for the most part, I will say that whoever first came up with this idea, certainly did not have children.

What about you? What creative ways have you come up with to find more time to devote to your writing or other projects?


Rage in Glass

During a recent family trip to an amusement park, an incident with a gorilla inspired me to write this piece. As is the case with most of the poetry I publish here, it is a rough draft WIP, but I thought it might be fun to share. Enjoy!

Rage in Glass

 

Daydreaming…

…bamboo snaps,

wicker rustlings,

crystal dew on moist, misty mornings–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap,

breaking concentration.

A slight jolt,

eyes shifting, giving warning.

 

Mid-day in shade,

awake from napping.

Still groggy, stomach growling.

Companions nearby,

silver lining telling them who’s king–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap.

Annoyance boiling to anger.

Another warning.

Human faces staring, gawking.

 

Again dreaming…

…beneath the canopy,

building beds of brush,

breathing abundant greenery.

Remembering cadence,

sweet nectar rains

drumming on banana leaves,

softly, hypnotic–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat-tap.

Rage surmounting.

Too many futile warnings.

Nearly breaching

captivity-eroded threshold–

 

–peck, peck, peck, rat-a-tat–

SLAM!

Double fists against pane,

full strength never breaking.

Human screaming

resonates through glass.

 


Writing Slump and This Well So Deep

In case you were wondering, I have not fallen off the face of the planet or gone tumbling down the trenches of a deep well. You could say I have fallen into a bit of a writing slump, and that does feel something like falling into a well, I suppose. This ‘slump’ has not only affected my blog and social networking activity, but also my personal writing projects. And this comes less than a month after I declared a daily writing goal for myself. Which by the way, was going really good for the first two weeks–I exceeded the goal on 9 out of 14 days–but then I ‘fell’ and haven’t written any new words for over a week and a half. Well, aside from some journal scribbles and a poem or two. But fear not, the goal is not dead, just a bit wounded. And if indeed I am trapped at the bottom of some deep lonesome well, I’m pretty sure Lassie isn’t coming, so I’m gonna have to find a way to climb out on my own.

I’ll attribute this slump to distractions in life which have made it exceedingly difficult to get my head into writing. It’s easy to find excuses, and it’s not difficult at all to find distractions and let them detour you from the writing path. But such things are necessary for me to move forward in life and provide for my family. Right now I’m charging to the end of a four year journey which will culminate in becoming a Radiologic Technologist. This means scrambling to meet the last of the program qualifications, studying for test after test in preparing for the national registry, and I now have the added stresses of trying to find a job, because sadly, there will be no more money handed to me for education (and most of that money will have to be paid back). In actuality, it feels like these tracks I’m speeding along are sending me straight into a brick wall–or to the bottom of a brick well, as it were.

Yesterday brought a bit of disappointing news to pile on to all this. Twisted Library Press announced they must cancel the majority of their upcoming anthologies due to the economic crisis. This includes the zombie-themed, Through the Eyes of the Undead II, which was slated to include my story Fleshward Bound. It always hurts to hear about any small press closing or making significant cutbacks, and it stings even more when it affects you personally. Oh well, I found a potential home for the story once,  so I know I can do it again.

To end on a more positive note: my entry into MicroHorror’s annual story contest was accepted for publication yesterday and is now available to read here: This Well So Deep. It’s a chilling little story about a boy who falls into a well (see there was a point to all this well stuff!). The theme for the contest this year is water, and this is my first time entering. I must say it was fun writing for it, and I produced a story that otherwise would not have come into existence. There are loads of great entries so far, so stop by, have a read, and get immersed in some terrific watery horror!

Oh, and I hope you are all doing quite well.


Threshold: What Does It Take to Piss YOU Off?

So what does it take? I mean to really get your blood boiling? What has to happen before you’re standing outside yourself and seeing crimson? It seems we all have different threshold levels, and there are countless factors that can influence that level within each of us at any given moment.

Yesterday, I was in a car accident. Don’t worry, I’m fine, but I do appreciate your concern. It wasn’t my fault, either, if that’s what you’re thinking. I was patiently waiting at the corner to make a right hand turn onto the speeding highway, when BLAM–struck from behind. Now I’m a pretty easy  going guy, so it didn’t surprise me that I didn’t feel an ounce of anger toward this woman.  She apparently thought I was going to turn, but I didn’t. I thought, well it could happen to anyone in a moment of carelessness, but I’m glad this time it wasn’t me.

We pulled our cars into the parking lot of the liquor store on the corner. I remember parking next to some big green “boat” of a car, somehing like a Pontiac Bonneville or similar, I don’t recall exactly. I got out to check the damage to my Civic and to speak with the lady who hit me so we could figure out what to do next. As she was calling the police to report the accident, I hear a man’s voice yelling at me to shut my door–apparently in my ever so slightly scrambled state of mind, I had neglected to do so.

I notice that the man yelling at me is in this “big boat” car and he’s now pulled about half-way out of the parking space, but he’s stopped and apparently waiting until I shut my car door, which I immediately do. I smile at the old man in the car, wave and mouth my apologies. As he then continues to pull out, he’s staring at me and shaking his head with a look that suggests this offense is the worst thing I could have done to anybody ever, I mean a look that suggests I just pissed in an Ethiopian kid’s cornflakes after stepping on his goldfish and kicking his mother in the face (I know Ethiopian kids probably don’t keep too many goldfish, but hey, I can’t help it if that’s the look  the guy was giving me!).

I continue to smile and I wave again, but apparently this old guy isn’t finished with me yet, and he’ll be damned if he goes to the grave (which looked to be happening very soon) before he says his peace about this terrible crime I’ve committed. As he is now taking the time and effort to roll down his window, I think to myself (to who else would I be thinking?), okay he must not realize the situation, that I’m obviously not thinking clearly due to having just been involved in a motor vehicle accident and that is obviously why I made such a horrible, careless mistake. So now the man yells at me through his open window, “What the hell is wrong with you? What are you doing, trying to cause a double accident??” And then he drives away, still shaking his head with that glare one might give to a malicious murderer of cuddly kittens.

Now I’m left there feeling just awful for what I’ve done to ruin this old guy’s life the way I did, but I didn’t get angry. I got rear-ended, my bumper got all jacked up, I was late to class on a test night, and was accosted by a belligerent old codger in a green “steam-boat-willie” of a car, and through it all I was never the least bit pissed off. Now, folks who drive with their turn signal on? That is another story! And don’t even get me started on people parking in handicap spaces without a sticker! Aaarggh!


On (UN)Productivity and New Writing Goals

I’ve never been much for giving myself writing goals–I’m too much of a blatant procrastinator for that. I suppose I’ve always looked at the prospect of having to meet writing goals as something else to come up with excuses for not doing, and quite frankly, I’ve got enough stuff to use those excuses on already.

As far as my productivity goes, well it’s rather inconsistent. I’m primarily a weekend author. My current schedule provides me with at least three days each week to write. Family obligations limit the time on each of those days to mornings when my lovely daughter is content to play in her playpen, or in the afternoon when she’s taking her nap. That leaves only a few hours during each of these days to write for my current projects, which is more often spent blogging, conducting market research,  and networking (these are euphemisms for web surfing, forum trolling, updating my website, tweeting, and just general avoidance of performing any real work). So the scraps of time that are left to spend on actual writing projects is split between producing new words and revising old words, and further subdivided between fiction projects and poetry projects. It’s a miracle I ever get anything done!

The last two weekends have gone by and I’ve produced 600 words on a new story. A full six days to write and I probably spent less than two hours actually writing (not counting for the blog). That’s sick. I can do better. I know I can be more prolific. I have it in me to produce in bulk. There have been times when I’ve produced 2,000 plus words in a day. I can write in quantity and be productive, but I have to sit down to write and not let myself get distracted. And trust me, that last part is a doozy!

So perhaps I should give this “writing goals” thing a shot. I want to write every day. Even if it’s small. But I want to commit myself to at least produce something. Even if I only write in small doses, as long as I write every day, I’ll still be producing more than I am now. I think an achievable goal for me would be to start with say, 250 words a day. I know I could hammer that out in less than an hour. Probably more like ten or fifteen minutes if the creativity is flowing, but I know it could be done in an hour even if it’s not. I know I can find an hour each day to dedicate to writing, instead of  wasting away on the internet or watching television or God forbid just staring at a blank wall.

Here it is then, my new writing goal: Write Every Day, 250 Words.

There, I said it. And it’s here in bold for you all to see and help keep me accountable. 250 words a day, 1,750 words a week, 7,000 words a month. If I do more, great! If I don’t meet the goal on any given day, too bad and better luck tomorrow. I won’t dwell on the failings because I don’t want to get discouraged. I want to keep this going. I want the act of daily writing to become habitual so that when I start writing for one of those novel ideas, I’ll be able to stay on track and produce the thing in a year or less. And honestly, I’ve got too many ideas accumulating in the brain/journal, so for Heaven’s sake–just write the damn things already!

What’s your take on setting writing goals? Do you make them? If so, what strategies do you use to keep yourself on track?


Delicious Wine, Sour Grapes

Screw the cold. Science needs to cure the common hangover. Seriously. Like now! That Yellow Tail Merlot was so fabulous and delicious last night, but now it feels like I got whipped in the head by that damn Kangaroo’s tail. Stop looking at me like that, Kangaroo!

I’ve got responsibilities here. I’ve got a baby to look after, a blog to write, tweeps to entertain, a novella and two poetry chapbooks to edit. I’m swamped. I have absolutely zero time to deal with nausea, confusion, head pounding, stomach churning, and the souring remnants of those plum notes in my mouth.

Are you listening to me, Science? Hello? You’d better not be ignoring me. I need a cure, and I need it yesterday. The baby was supposed to sleep ’til like nine-thirty, not be happily singing in her crib at seven. It’s not her fault. But oh God, I really can’t deal. I just needed a few more minutes to sleep this off.

Get on the stick, Science! We need your best men on this (that’s what she said!). And I’m not talking some silly “miracle-cure” powder-like substance that you take the next morning. We need a real, honest-to-your-momma cure. Like a nice inoculation for producing immunities to the hangover’s effects. Am I really asking for too much here? Come on! I don’t care if you have to stick me with a needle. I’ll even take a stick once a year like getting a damn flu shot if that’s what it takes. Charge me. Tax me. Just GIT-R-DONE!!!

Ok Science, let’s see what you’ve got so far. Nothing? Are you kidding me!? WTF! So you’re telling me that we can grow a human ear on the backside of a mouse, but we still can’t cure a damn hangover? Get with it already! And YOU…damn you, you damned dirty Kangaroo! I don’t want to see YOUR smug face again until later this evening.


Picking the Bones of Borders

It was Labor Day. My wife and I finally made the arduous one hour trip to our (now) nearest Borders to have a go at the 60-80 percent off Going-Out-of-Business liquidation sale. We’d dropped our daughter off at Grandma’s house, because frankly, I knew the situation had the potential to get quite ugly. When we entered the store, I wasn’t even prepared for the madness that was before us–it was sheer unorganized lunacy.

The crowd was thick and the shelves were rapidly depleting. Shoppers swooped all about me like vultures fervent for meat. They combed the towering displays seemingly locked in a state of trance, scanning each row of books in a whirlwind of enchantment. They took no notice of one another. My wife and I parted ways early on, and I was left to wander amidst the frenzy.

I soon took notice of one lady in particular. She moved from one wall of books to the next, bringing a handheld basket with her as she went. It was already stuffed full and overflowing, and she was barely able to lug it around with her, dropping it to her feet with a thud at each new shelf.  She picked up books one by one, looking at each before adding it to the load. Pick up book. Look at the back. Drop it in the pile. Pick up a book. Look at the back. Drop it in the pile. Move along. Repeat. I thought, certainly she’s going to need a bigger basket!

It didn’t take long before I found myself becoming trapped in the haze, especially once I located the Horror section. I did my best to remain conservative, but at one point I hugged 5 weighty volumes in my arms as I roamed about. I was tempted to pick up more, and then thought how nice it would be to have a handheld basket!

As I shopped, a very queer feeling came upon me, accompanied by an odd thought process.  I felt that the store itself was a living being, and further that it was dying (which I suppose it is). I imagined the entire structure as the carcass of some great mythological creature, and we shoppers were but the tiny microscopic organisms rummaging about its remains and crawling through its body, consuming its spoiling tissues from the inside out. As I picked books off its hollowing shelves, I felt as though I were picking off pieces of meat straight from its weary old bones. And in a way, I suppose I actually was.

In the end, I only purchased three of those original five, and refused any temptation to gather more.  My wife bought just one, a nice hardcover edition of Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. My picks:  Realms of the Dead: The Haunted Lands Anthology, Hellbound Hearts, an anthology of stories inspired by Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Universe, and Wormfood by Jeff Jacobson. Heh, Wormfood. It wasn’t until I was wandering back to the car that I realized the parallel this title suggests with the nature of that whole experience and how it felt.


Decent Writer, Terrible Conversationalist

I think one aspect that makes me a decent writer is that I tend to organize my thoughts quite a bit. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m a writer which makes me tend to organize my thoughts quite a bit. Either way, this also seems to make me terrible at engaging in real time, face to face conversations.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking to people. Or rather, I enjoy listening to people talk. But I hate direct questions. My father always used to say that if you are asking questions, then you are in control, that you have the power over the conversation. There is panic when someone asks me a question and my mind goes blank. I know there is an easy response but I just don’t have the time. They’ve asked me something and the etiquette of proper social behavior dictates that I owe them an answer, or at the very least, a response of some minor degree. The ‘asker’ is standing right there in front of me, awaiting an answer, and they’re staring at me, peering into my soul–I just can’t handle the pressure–and I end up blurting out something really stupid, inappropriate, or ill-thought. Then I think, gosh, I could have just said this had I only been allowed a bit more time.

And don’t get me started on answering machines. I hate them. What? You want to record my voice while I’m talking to nobody? Then you’ll play it back later and analyze every nuance of my awkwardness? Possibly in front of a large group of strangers? Maybe you’re even standing there listening to it right now. And I’m just supposed to improvise some sort of masterpiece message at the sound of your sudden little beep? When I called you, I just wasn’t prepared for that kind of pressure.  I’m sorry, I’m hanging up now.

I think this is also why I have embraced social networking as much as I have. It gives me the time I need to formulate a proper response. Or, if I’m not feeling quite so inclined, I don’t have to respond at all. The power now lies with me. The only pressure I feel is that I have to be extra careful before I click that all powerful ‘Enter’ button.


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