Sunday, January 31, 2010

chasing air

That’s what writing is like. You see, air is elusive, unseen, all around us, at times hostile, at other times gentle, but vital to existence for the ingredients it carries.

And I thought ‘chasing air’ sounds a lot like ‘ass in chair’, which is also what writing is all about.

So as an update for the month I’ll let you know the final chapter of my second novel is so close to being finished in second draft as to be finished - but not quite. It’s been taking me a damn long time to conclude my novel because what I was working with was more a sketchy outline than a written first draft. Plus, I don’t want the ending to suck, you know, too hard. I’m really hoping to pummel it into shape by next week’s update.

On the short story front, I’m about three quarters or the way through my second story of thirteen related stories. Looking at it now, I’m thinking it’s a bit like Fritz Leiber’s ‘Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’ series - but dealing with only a single super hero, modern setting, no magic . . . Okay, not like his series at all - but the stories are connected though.

Yes, I’ve been chasing a lot of air this month.

And speaking of this month, my lovely wife and I celebrated out 21st wedding anniversary. Yeah, a whole 21 years already. Just wow, and I wonder what we will do when we are both 90?

Also, it’s been almost a year since I left the cube - I can’t really express in any meaningful words how right that feels. Let me just say I don’t miss it for one second.

In related good news I checked with the bank, looked at my accumulated funds to date, and found out that I can retrieve a tidy sum from the pile every year until I reach 90 years old - by which time I will either be a rich author, a senile drooling street vagabond, or fertilizer in the local cemetery - I think I’ll choose door number one!

In non-related news, I haven’t seen Avatar yet . . . you know, the movie . . .

Yes, I am the one.

I can’t seem to drag myself to the theater to see it. Don’t care, really. And the more hype I hear about it, the less inclined I am to crawl out from under my rock and make the effort. Maybe it’s because I didn’t like Titanic much. Maybe I’m an inherently lazy slug. Maybe I don’t like the colour blue. Whatever the reason, I’d rather read.

Which I’ve also been doing a ton of this past month. Right now though I am slogging through “The Bourne Identity” - and I mean slogging. In fact, I actually call it “The Boring Identity” because this character holds zero interest for me. Why, I don’t really know. I think it may be because he is a ruthless jerk always whining in his mind about memories, blah, blah, blah. One bullet from Carlos and it would thankfully end . . . but I think the Ludlum has a different ending in mind . . .

But I digress. I will finish it, though it is unlikely I’ll read the second one, “The Boring Supremacy”.

Well I should wrap it up as the page is full and let you, the humble reader, get on to other sites. And I could be reading my stats all wrong, but it seems to me I’ve been hitting as many as one hundred plus views of my blog in any given day.

Must be my imagination.

Speaking of which - I’m off again, chasing air.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

there can be only win

. . . if you follow your true passion.

But it’s not easy figuring out what that is. No, not easy at all.

Today’s post will be all about winning for you, while ignoring those negative internal/external forces.

We all want to be in that position, don’t we? We want to wake up in the morning and leap out of bed, excited about what the day will bring us, not dreading it. So how do I get there, you may ask?

Well, follow the steps below and you will find the climb to your passion, which resides on the top floor, the best exercise you can ever undertake.

1) What really gets you excited?

This sounds easy, but believe me it is perhaps the second hardest thing you will do on your climb to living your dream. (the hardest part is yet to come) I’ve taken about twenty odd years to figure out that writing is what I really love doing, and have finally overcome my fears and doubts and taken the necessary steps to pursue that passion. Now I wake up thinking of the next story, the next scene, the next novel plot. I’m loving it. So make a list, check it twice, and make sure whatever is on it makes you happy and nice.

2) What consumes your happy dreams, free time and positive energies?

Another tuffy, but not as hard to figure out as step one. Take a look at what you spend your leisure time doing. Watching shows? Reading books, and what kind? Hobbies, crafts, groups you belong to? Make sure though that you have a grin on your face while doing them, or are excited to get back to them. Add these things to the list you made from step one and head for number three.

3) Pick the one that really gets your crank spinning.

Now that you have a list of potential passion items, it’s time to choose one. Take some time to sift through them and make a choice. Pick the one item from the whole list that gets you the most excited. It can be any one - ignore any and all doubts about this choice. Whatever you do, don’t let external forces (parents, friends, pets) deter you from that choice. You know, deep down, it’s something you really love doing with a passion - so, enjoy!

4) Make the time and do it.

This is the hardest step. Really hard, because this is the step where you must face your inner critic, the external and internal demons, friends, lovers, wives and daughters and perhaps even the man in the moon, all looking at you like you have two frikin heads - ignore them all, and carry on. Carve out time every day (you heard me - EVERY DAY) despite outside deterrents and do it. It need only be five minutes. The key is to pursue your chosen passion every day no matter how long the duration. No excuses. None, do you hear me! Don’t give in to fears and self-doubt. They will kill your passion quicker than cyanide or a bullet to the brainpan. Remember, this is something you love doing. So do it. You may need to research, talk to others. Do whatever it takes. Work at it every day and soon you will be on your way.

5) Evaluate, fail if necessary, keep moving forward.

During step four you will need to go through plenty of soul-searching and self-evaluation. The most successful people failed the most, never gave up, and kept moving forward. Don’t believe me? It’s true. A big part of stumbling during step four is giving in to your fears and doubts. Don’t be afraid to fail or suck at your passion. It takes a long time to get really, really good at what you love to do and along the way you are going to suck like a 20 amp Hoover vacuum. It’s okay, and it’s all part of the process. If you are pursuing your true passion, enjoying every moment, you will get better over time. In fact, If you stick with it - really stick with it - you will become a master.

But, If you are finding that what you thought was your passion is becoming a burden and you are not enjoying it anymore - go back to your list and pick another item and repeat step four again. Be sure though that it is not just an inner demon sabotaging your happiness. Inner demons are tricky little bastards. I can never figure out why we are preprogrammed to self-sabotage and often give in to our fears and doubts - self-preservation perhaps. But who wants to just survive, when you can thrive! So make sure that when you ditch one choice and move to another it’s for the right reason and not because of fears or doubts.

Make no mistake, pursing your passion takes one hell of a lot of effort, courage and stamina on your part. Nobody - I repeat - NOBODY will make you pursue your passion except yourself. But it will be so worth it when you can wake up with a smile on your face and a desire to do what you love. And, if somebody down the road is willing to pay you cash for what you are doing - icing on the cake! This is the tricky part though, and it may never happen. But I think true success is not measured by the size of your bank account, but the size of your smile. No matter, all the time you are spending pursuing your true passion, you will be fueling your happy engine - and that is what it’s really all about.

So, I implore you, find and pursue your true passion . . . and you will find -

- there can be only win!

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I got a sock

Well, more than one. In fact, I got twelve pairs yesterday, and they are all the same.

Why?

Simple, I’m like Einstein . . .

. . . when it comes to wardrobe choices, that is . . . and bad hair days.

You see, Einstein had a bunch of suits and they were all the same cut, colour and style. So, in the morning when he got up, he didn’t need to spend any time thinking about what to wear leaving his mind free to ponder more important things.

I’m that way with my socks. I don’t even need to pair them up since they are all tube style, white and exactly the same. They sit in a big jumble in my top drawer and wait for me, blindfolded or not, to pull two out in the morning and put them on.

Simple, like Einstein.

The real trick of this life of sock ease, is in making sure you find the right sock for you before stocking up. It’s got to fit properly and ride up your calf the right amount to be comfortable. I happened upon the perfect ones about ten years ago and have never switched since. When you do find the perfect fit and style for you, snap them up and make sure you have enough to last two weeks. Better yet, enquire as to whether they will still be around years from now when your current stock ends up full of holes needs replacing.

My life of having the perfect socks wasn’t always so. In the past, like most people, I had several styles of socks in my drawer and it would take me quite a while of fumbling about to find that matching pair. And, as you all know, it only takes a few washes to lose one, and then they don’t pair up anymore. So my solution was to find the socks I like and get only those. Now, one lost sock doesn’t mean squat!

Where, or is it wear, am I going with this?

Well, I just thought I would share a little trick that has simplified my life a whole bunch. Life is full of opportunities like this and it’s up to you to see and seize upon them when they come along.

I would find it a pity for you to be wearing that perfect fitting, comfortable pair of socks around the house, or at work, and then not follow up and make sure all your socks fit and feel as well all the time.

Hey, if the idea was good enough for Einstein, then it’s good enough for me.

And just for the record, I put the right one on first . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 10, 2010

sometimes life stinks

I’ve had a lot of horrible news this week - but nothing about me or my family directly. Still, it has not been emotionally fun to deal with.

Our friends, I just found out last night, suffered a personal loss, and I’m really sorry about it. Though they seemed okay to me, having gone through something similar about six years back, I know it hurts - a lot. It was great to see them both last night and Carol’s and my thoughts are with them.

Also, our daughter’s cello teacher seems to be have had one hell of a sorry Christmas holiday and a sucky New Year. Her husband’s brother died Christmas day and her own sister is doing very badly and is not expected to live much longer. Again, my thoughts and wishes go out to both of them during this awful time.

Sorry to poop on your Sunday like this, but it’s good once in a while to realize that life has its ups and its downs and that’s what makes us all humans, not robots.

As for my own self-centered life (put into perspective by the above), I’ve been editing my current new project, which is my own take on the whole super-hero taradiddle. I’m pretty pumped about it, and hope I can get most of this tale written this year. It will be the first short story collection I start pimping to the general public.

And with that in mind I’ve been doing a lot of “research” by reading X-Men TPB comic collections (from the 80s) and watching the 90s X-Men cartoon. Suffice to say that my female super-hero has some similarities to my favourite Marvel creation, that feisty Southern Belle; Rogue. I’ll not say too much more except to mention that it is, at least I hope, not the usual run-of-the-mill super-hero tale.

To leave off on an up note, I was surprised yesterday to step onto the scales, which I’ve pretty much given up doing this past year, to find that I was UP about eight pounds *shock*

Damn you Santa, damn you to hell!

Next year all I want from that jolly fat man is socks and underwear . . . oh, and maybe a gift certificate to Chapters, or Future Shop, but definitely - NO MORE TREATS!

Well, off to do more rease . . . um, work, on my super-hero stuff. A writer’s life is never one of just sitting around and goofi . . . um . . . so . . . yeah . . . I better get at it then.

Until Next Sunday . . .

Sunday, January 03, 2010

another year blows

by me. But it’s been a pretty good one, as far as years that blow go.

For one, I’ve managed to extricate myself from the cubicle hell I found myself mired in for two decades. My health has improved because of it, and I’ve managed to work a lot more on my craft; writing that is - not just basket weaving and shaking my walking stick at them damn kids getting too close to my yard.

It’s also been a bizarre year, with more than one raised eyebrow and passive-aggressive comment directed towards me about my new choice in life. Funny how it’s socially acceptable to have a mother at home, and unacceptable to have a father do exactly the same - generally speaking that is. There are one or two people I’ve encountered who appear to back my decision - and they likely get raised eyebrows and passive-aggressive crap thrown in their eating troughs coming to my defense. Thank you to those few who understand and support what I’m doing. I wonder if Galileo felt like this?

But I’m not bitter. In fact I stand one hundred percent behind my decision, and to hell with all those who are just dying to know when I’m going to get back out there and find a “real job” again. . .

. . . can blood actually boil - you know, inside a living body?

On the writing front, which is actually the only front I want to fight on, I’m getting much closer to having my novel “Typhoon Rising” ready to hit some editor’s slush piles. After doing a word count, I found it currently weighs in around 68,000 words, not the 50 odd thousand I thought it was. When, I hope this year, I get it worked up to the magical number of 80,000 plus, which in the traditional publishing world will grant it the official status of “novel”, I can send it out to search for a proper home, possibly making me some coin in the process.

I know that paragraph reads between the lines with a lot of “possiblies” and “ifs” and “maybes”. But that seems the reality of getting your written product out there in exchange for some food in here.

And since it’s the start of a new year now, I’ll outline my plans and goals for 2010. These are projects I want to complete, and I will be working towards them every day I can, but they are only my guidelines not my rails.

I’m going to have one complete short story written every month. More precisely, one short story complete for each of our monthly reading nights - which amounts to the same thing but not bound to a certain “first-of-the-month” deadline.

I’ll be working towards two complete sets of short story collections. The first is a series of horror mysteries set in a Cthulhu Mythos world taking place in a fictional landscape of my creation. The second is my newest short story project which is sort of a superhero collection of linked tales, but with a much more psychological twist to it than I’ve seen before in this genre. I’m pretty pumped about both possibilities, and I hope it will show in the finished products.

Next up is my book learn’n goals. Last year I said I wanted to read a total of 10,000 words. In fact I read 16,000 plus words (52 books) - a definite win, and I think, a must for any writer. Though I have heard tales of successful writers that have read very little. I suppose you can do it, but I don’t really see how. Anyhow, this year’s goal will be 12,000 words.

I’ve mentioned my current novel already so won’t belabor it again. Suffice to say, I would really like to start shopping it around this year, but it’s such a monster of a task to get it to an appropriate length and in a polished state that I can’t make any guarantees about it - I can only assure you it will get ample time and effort from me in 2010.

Which brings me to my closing statements. I’m likely being repetitive, but repetition leads not only to carpel tunnel syndrome, but the completion of long term objectives too.

I’ll be writing short fiction in the mornings and working on finishing my novel in the afternoons for all of 2010. Simple as that, but not so simple if you’ve ever tried such a thing yourself.

Oh, and while I sat snug behind my computer these last three days getting all my thoughts and writing in order for 2010 - Winter, in all its cold ferocity, has besieged my house. Just to spite it, I think I’m going to gear-up today and head straight out into it, grinning all the while.

Until next Sunday . . .