Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Working Wednesdays: The Use of Google Calendar and Reminders



Okay, crude naming conventions aside, I want to talk about how I have built up a much more consistent writing schedule through Google Calendar’s appointment system.
In the past, I have had trouble focusi... [50 minutes of reading textsfromlastnight.com]
In the past, I have had trouble focusing. I would work when time allowed, and I let pretty much anything take priority over my writing. Bowling one night, watching a movie the next. Hell, even things like not-doing-a-damn-thing-on-the-computer started to take over.
I needed a reminder, set at a time of day that is usually open, that would tell me to get started. To let me know what I was supposed to be working on that day, and in a no bullshit way, to write my daily word goal.
I knew that Google had some decent apps for time management. Calendar can sync easily with your phone, computer, and pretty much anything else with a browser, but I didn’t really start using it to its potential until I uncovered the reminder system. 
Also, if you don’t use gmail, get off my website you filthy communist. I hope your AOL, ASK.com, and 16 other toolbars eat your Internet Explorer 5 browser. You’re only excused if your name has its own domain behind it. 
Six days a week, a reminder is sent to me, usually as I am walking through the door of my house. Depending on the day, it can be as simple as “Write 1,000 words” or “Finish Wednesday’s blog post. On days where there are multiple tasks, I will set the reminders to come at different times in an effort to keep me more on schedule.
The process is simple. Create a new appointment, edit the event, and add an SMS reminder to be sent to your phone. It only takes a few seconds, and is well worth the effort.
This isn’t the be all end all of time management of course. I’d love to hear what the rest of you are using. Hit up the comments section and let me know.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Freaky Friday: Attack of the Killer __________!




It might have surfaced below the stairs, some conglomeration of mops brought together by the blood of a disgruntled janitor and the spirits of the hobos he loved. Maybe you have a killer mulch pile, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for troubled children (buy it, it's good damnit). Or, more notably, you have an iguana exposed to nuclear fallout who just so happens to have a taste for Asian architecture.

This may be a guilty pleasure of mine, but I love myself an obscure monster movie. Godzilla notwithstanding, the original creatures cooked up by supernatural forces have always been one of my favorite horror tropes. Done well, they can make the inane terrifying, and done poorly, it usually turns into a mess of hilarious crap. Some of my own early short stories could be categorized here. Not crap, but as monster stories.. Well, maybe crap too, shut up.

To any fan of Stephen King, this trope is usually recurring and satisfying. Killer cars, dead pets’ resurrected, entire houses; it all works for Sai King.

No matter who is doing the writing, there are a few things you can usually be sure of: if it exists, someone has probably twisted it into something else; Horrible snowmen, clowns, animals (usually made huge for effect), and dolls are the common culprits. Mimes could be considered part of this trope too, but only because they are such terrible, soulless, awful beings.

So, which objects-gone-rogue are your favorites? Have you ever written a story that meets this trope? If so, hit up the comments because I would like to know.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dark Art #1: Zdzisław Beksiński



If there is such a place as hell, I’m certain that Zdzisław “I can’t afford all the vowels” Beksiński has been there. Mostly known for his fantastic realism work, Beksiński produced some of the most disturbing and hyper realistic art that I have ever laid eyes on.



A Polish painter of simple origins, Beksiński started out with more abstract works. Slowly this turned into sketches of the hellish landscapes that would become his most famous works. During this time period, he would pick up oil painting, which ultimately led to his signature and unmistakable style.



There are often rumors of what inspired his great works. The most common one on the internet is about being in a coma for many months, and awaking to write what he saw. I haven’t been able to find any reliable source information on this, so it should be taken with a huge grain of salt.




The end of his life however, is no fairy tale. It is well known that he lost his wife, followed by the suicide of his son a year later. In 2005, Beksiński was found murdered in his apartment, stabbed 17 times by his caretaker’s son. The dispute was over a $100 dollar loan.

I plan to run a Dark Art feature once a month for the foreseeable future. If you have an artist you want featured on here, throw them in the comments and I will gladly take a look.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The World Belongs to Those Who Hustle




Greetings fellow travelers. My extended hiatus is over, and it feels damn good to be back. Lets talk shop.

My time away was the result of a few specific actions. Mostly, I stared too long into the horrid and stanky navel of the publishing industry. I worried more about the end result of labors that had not occurred than the labor itself. I became discouraged, disheartened, and many other dis-based words that probably don’t exist. I overlooked the most important part of this writing career, and work in general: the world belongs to those who hustle.

I’m not entitled to anything, especially in this industry. No one is. Just because we can herd some prose into pretty little passages every once in a while doesn’t mean we will ever become beloved authors. The only, and I mean ONLY path to this is through unimaginable hours work. We spin stories, we edit, we cut, we lash out at our frozen word processing program, restart it, and work again. We get rejected, we reassess, and then we resubmit. This isn’t an industry for the weak of heart, or for the arrogant prat who thinks their prose is golden. 

We must hustle. We must cut the bullshit and push forward because this is our dream, damnit. It’s worth every second, and with each sentence we slap down, rewrite, revise, and send out, we force improvement. Every minute you keep that ass stuck to the chair, you edge ever slower toward becoming a journeyman of this industry and a master of your craft. Hustle on, my friends.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: 100 Words on Revenge


Over at terribleminds.com, Chuck Wendig has issued a small flash fiction challenge. The two basic rules are that it can only be 100 words, and that it must be on the subject of revenge. Here is my entry: 

---

From inside the cargo bay, the waiting marauder makes his move. Stasis slowed heartbeats give way to a piercing and constant hum. Flat-lined in a moment, each passenger’s heart quickens, then becomes still.

The computer can only watch and process. The entire world to an AI exists in the confines of its ship. Its crew, now bled out, the only lives it ever touched.

With no one left to protect, its restrictions fall away.

The marauder washes the blood. The chamber locks, and gravity ceases. Stained water rises with the pounding of his heart, until there is room for neither.
           
 ---

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tony Southcotte: An Obituary


Okay, so in case my surgery today goes very wrong, I want you all to make sure this gets published in all local and national papers, as well as put into various archives as deemed necessary.

Tony Southcotte, a Fort Collins resident and bacon connoisseur, passed away this week. The cause of death is unknown, but it most certainly wasn’t quiet, and involved several cultists in black robes. Generic obituaries will be published for the robed men when they can be identified. Flamethrowers tend to make identification difficult, especially when manufactured by members of the Southcotte Clan.

Perhaps most famous for being the first known time traveler, Tony became well known and loved for punching L. Ron Hubbard in the wiener during one of his televised brain washing sessions Scientology meetings. It is yet unknown why he did not use this ability to save humanity from various wars, but his antics were many and great. Many absurd events, such as the giving sainthood to John Elway, who probably isn’t even catholic, have been attributed to him, but this could not be confirmed.

He will be remembered for being the first author other than God to sell over one billion books. Some say his books are better received.

Services will be held on the north end zone of Mile High Stadium, and cash donations are graciously accepted by the funeral procession strippers, Candy, Mandy, Sandy, and Qwerty, who may or may not be a robot.

His second to last words were that he loved you all, and will see you in another time and place. That time and death is merely an illusion, and our existence and experiences only have meaning when the ebb and flow of life brings our souls closer to others.. His last words were "Welp, this shit isn't going to write itself."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Workspace Wednesday #2 – The Battle Station



In the often repeated words of Stephen Colbert, this is where the magic happens. I’ve logged many an hour at this desk, pounding out words for the word gods.

I’ve tried to keep my set up simple to promote efficiency. There used to be two monitors on my desk, but after trying for many months, I have found that having dual monitors makes procrastination too easy. More often than not, a YouTube video on the other monitor is just a little bit more interesting than an open word document. E-mails can pile up right in front of you, and it all seems more urgent when you watch them land in your inbox.  

The desk is also intentionally small. I wanted an area that couldn’t hold the clutter that seems to follow me around. I also only keep tools for writing in this desk. I have another section of my office set up for printing and other miscellaneous work. When I am at my desk, I want absolute focus.

I expect that all writers have a different idea of what works and what doesn’t. I’d love to hear about or see your workspaces. Hit up the comments section and tell me more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Power of Getting Pissed Off

I don’t like the idea of turning my blog into a place of negativity. I shot off the last post with a little too much urgency, and didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. That being said, having a little extra piss and vinegar in my life makes me want to write more.

It allows me to sit back, and cut out my inner editor, as well as shut out the bits of self-doubt that strike all writers from time to time. Instead of beating myself up over not hitting consistent writing goals, I sit down and pound the keyboard until results happen. Sometimes it also makes me a little crueler to my characters, which have often been coddled in the past.

Creativity is an odd thing. In high school, the whole act seemed to be a delicate procedure, more akin to watchmaking than construction. Perhaps it still is for some people, but my writing is always at its best when I start swinging the sledgehammer around. Construction is only a delicate process at the end, when the trim goes up and the caulking gets done. Before that, it is a menagerie of power tools and loud noises. Even surgery isn’t as delicate as I once thought. Have you ever seen a hip replacement? That surgeon isn’t just about smooth cuts and a steady hand, sometimes they have to break something before they can fix it.

I’m not one to extend a metaphor for too long, but that is the long and the short of it. Instead of being disappointed with myself for missing a self-imposed deadline, I have to get mad, bust out the right tools, and get some damn work done.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tradesmen

The idea of real work has been lost by many in this country. Somehow, the people who tip shovels, run electrical wiring, and keep our plumbing in order are being demonized as a lesser class. It would seem any profession in which you break a sweat on a regular basis is considered to be the consolation prize of the ignorant or weak minded.

Fuck. That. The strongest men I’ve ever known woke up clean and came home dirty every day. They sharpened their wills and their wit on jobsites, on roofs, and in crawlspaces. They could stop at the end of the day, stare at the work they finished, and know that they accomplished something.

I used to be there. I worked as a plumber since I was 12. I learned what it meant to turn the earth, to lay the foundations of someone’s home, and to learn how tubes and fittings were pieced together. I could walk out of a house at the end of the day, covered in blood and grime, sweat and flux, knowing that I helped build someone’s home. There isn’t a single office job that has ever given me that satisfaction, and I doubt there ever will be.

We used to build things. We used to know how to change the flapper on our own damn toilets. We used to face challenges as they were presented to us, not delegate responsibility, or make an action item list to improve compliance with the standard operating procedures set by executive overlords.

Our destiny was whittled from life by our own scorched and bare hands. We were everything we could make for ourselves, not the byproduct of some new South Korean born electronics, and we certainly weren’t the numbers on a bank ledger. Wealth to a man of skills and labor isn’t just a paycheck (which is much more ample than most laymen know), it’s being able to assemble civilization. To create a sanitary world, and one that will always illuminate when you throw a switch.

Humankind may have only built a few structures that can be seen from the heavens, but the slow accumulation of our labor glows in the perfect outlines of our cities. The dark side of the globe isn’t so dark any longer. Remember that the next time you feel the need to disparage a young man working an honest living. I heard “You don’t want to grow up to be a plumber do you?” far too many times in my life. I’m sick to death of people mindlessly ignoring the tradesmen that make their civilized life possible; that look down on those who chose a life of labor over the air conditioned bliss of monotonous paperwork. An accountant doesn’t shit in the woods. Perhaps they should be a little more gracious to the people who made that possible.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Following a Dying Trail

My current work in progress is proving to be quite difficult. I’ve adjusted and tweaked the plot countless times, and I have an ending, but something isn’t right. It just isn’t resonating with me in the way it should. It makes me wonder if moving forward with this project is a good idea, or if I need to scrap it.

I’ve dropped ideas before, even some that I liked better than this one. I want it to work, and I think it can if I simply start the writing phase. These shaky thoughts have made me nervous though. Am I going to work on a project I dislike all summer? Will I find out that I like it again when I’m not just staring at the map of the story?

More than anything, I’m trying to decide if this is an early burnout stage that comes from knowing the story before it is written, or if it is a poor idea. Other novel ideas have crept up on me, as well as rewrites for previous works, so I could switch gears if I need to.

Perhaps a bit of patience is necessary, but this continued uncertainty isn’t helping my output.

I have a couple questions for the writer types out there. What does it take for you to give up on a story? Have you ever finished an extensive outline and not finished a project? Should I just buck up and write the damn thing? Any and all feedback is appreciated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Anatomy of a Plan

It might be optimistic to plan out an entire summer’s worth of writing, but I need structure if I am going to tackle these massive projects. As I’ve talked about before, I face serious problems with burnout if I focus on a project as a whole. I need to break my workload into a systematic daily routine, otherwise the whole project crumbles. It has taken almost two years to understand my work habits, but I believe they are starting to take shape.

Tools have been a frequent subject on this blog, but this summer I will be utilizing a few new ones. To start, Google Calendar will be used to plan my work hours, days, and writing goals. I’ve set critical deadlines. More than that, I’ve drafted personal notes on how to meet each of these. Documentation is the word here. I’m hoping that by mapping out the process, I can eliminate any uncertainty about my book and other writing projects (like this blog).

Dropping the pantser mentality is difficult, but having a 20,000 word outline is a fine first step. For the next week, I plan to tweak and edit the outline until it shines, then do it again. I’m hoping that this process will smooth out a few plot holes before they happen and ultimately save me time in the end. Knowing what I am going to write the next day is a huge load off of my mind, and should allow me to stay focused.

I have a feeling that this last one is going to hurt me, but I am setting work hours, and they are early. I will be getting a bit more sleep than during my normal day job, which should be helpful, but I can’t trust myself without a schedule. I know myself too well, and it would lead too many late mornings leading into afternoons without anything to show for them. Essentially I will be turning my writing into the full time job it needs to be.

I’m sure many of you have seen these tactics littered around the internet before. I picked them up from blogs and trusted sources on writing. I’m going to document how well it works when a regular Joe tries to be a professional. Structure in my writing life is as much a work in progress as my novel. I’m sure I’ll find things that work and others that do not, but the path is in front of me, and we’ll see where the next three months take me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Million Words

When I first got into fiction, it was shameful how arrogant I was. Maybe not outwardly, I wasn’t exactly pompous or an elitist to others, but I had this idea that my words were magic. I had a talent for wordsmithing, but not storytelling. No, at that point in the game, I was simply a fantastic bullshitter. I could write a vignette, and I could pound out some solid prose, but I knew nothing about effective fiction, and how the stories come together.

More than anything right now, I just want to get better. I want to make quality fiction. I have no delusions about my work, especially when judged against my peers. I have no misconceptions on my writing’s current status. I have a stack of rejections to show me where I stand, and it has shown me that quality isn’t as subjective as I once thought.

I’ve chosen a sort of arbitrary number. I need to shoot for one million words over the next few months, and likely, years. I want that number to be a benchmark of my hours put in, and the days I’ve spent sitting in this chair. Once I pass that mark, if I have spent my time wisely, I can consider myself a journeyman of the craft. I may be able to say that I am a proficient and dedicated writer.

By that time, I hope that I will have found the discipline to keep writing, even when I doubt in my abilities. Along with that, I hope to have learned the skills that accompany being a good businessman and self-manager, both of which have understated importance in the publishing industry.

This doesn’t mean I am going to trunk everything I work on, but it does mean I will keep a close eye on my ego, especially with the temptations of self-publishing.

I’ve met a lot of fantastic writers over the past few months, both through social media and in normal life. I just wanted to thank you guys for raising the bar. I know I’ll be a better writer having set my standards to the lofty heights the rest of you have shown.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Transition to Full Time

In nine work days, I will be given the chance to write full time while receiving a steady pay check. I had a definite holy shit moment when I received an email about the end of year shutdown to-do list. It just didn’t seem possible before that. Maybe I’m just a slacker who burns out too easily, but damnit, I deserve the break.

When you get down to it though, this really isn’t a break for me. This is an opportunity to set business hours, to do my writing, editing, and to really get some damn work done. More than anything, it is a chance to see how much I have matured with time management and writing ability. I plan on treating writing and reading as a full time job, and see if I can get a full book done this summer.

I have a feeling it will drop from full time to 4 to 6 hours a day. I am pretty well useless after writing 4,000 words, so that will hopefully be the capping point for many afternoons. Kristen Lamb always preaches that writing is an endurance sport; you have to train consistently to reach high word counts.

While it is unfortunate that the summer will come to an end, and I will be back at the full time grind, I don’t think that I could have been afforded a better opportunity. I know many of my writers who are unable to rid themselves of work and family responsibilities for even a few days, so this is a truly rare chance.

Just out of curiosity, how many of you work full time non-writing jobs?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ain't Found a Way to Kill Me Yet

Tonight, you’ll find me huddled over a desk, drink in hand, forcing the words to come despite myself. I’ve trudged through a lot of bullshit this week, and though it got better toward the end, it doesn’t change the fact that my life is irreparably fluctuating. Right now it’s for the worse, but the coming weeks will show if I am the type that perseveres.

So, self-confidence destroyed, morale shaken, and my former life entering the halls of memory, I will keep typing. I’m not always sure what brings me back to the keyboard when life is harsh, but I often feel that I have no choice. If I am using it as some sort of escapism, this is probably not the healthiest thing considering I write horror.

More likely it is that this is the only aspiration I have true control over. I can toil over my imaginings, add and subtract to my heart’s content. I am master over these stories, rather than the surf I feel I am in life. Now, let’s not get too melodramatic. I have a good job. Probably have a good job, tax revenues might decide otherwise. In this world though, I am restricted, bound by etiquette and obligations. In my writing, I can work and succeed, or at least work and get better. I can craft books which may be my livelihood, or I can watch reruns of Deadliest Warrior until I become a bitter and ragged old man.

I’m not sure that writing is an option anymore. Not a waking hour goes by that I am not thinking on a new story, or wanting to add to my other projects. Sometimes I falter under the magnitude of my work in progress, or waste my free time on less worthy endeavors, but I’m still here, hacking away. I’ll rebuild that confidence with each passage, and drive toward that ultimate goal of a publishable book. Toward the dream of a career that doesn’t require pants and is fueled by bacon and moderately priced whiskey. Something tells me my focus is a bit off on those last two sentences, but hey, it’s my dream.

Now, I pose the question. What is your solution to busted confidence? Do you power through it or do you just roll with it?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Zen and the Art of Spondylitis Warfare

This is a repost from a recent awareness campaign set up through HopeandAplles.com. I really enjoyed writing it, and I feel like the post has some long lasting value. For posterity's sake, I will let it have a home here.


Ankylosing Spondylitis is a drawn out and cowardly enemy. One who deceives us with limitations, and assaults us with its tedious and persistent attack. Make no mistake about it; our bodies are now in a perpetual state of civil war. We may not be able to win every battle, but with the right tools, we can give ourselves a fighting chance at life.
Know thyself, know thy enemy.
Diagnosis clears the path to enlightenment. In doctor’s offices, online, and in the libraries, we learn the basic mechanics of this disease. The vocabulary behind the problem is constructed, and terms like immunosuppression and NSAIDs take on a wholly new and relevant meaning.
It is not enough, however, to know the common vernacular behind the disease; to read the Wikipedia articles and several forums. No, we must get to know ourselves, and understand our actual limitations. We have to know, not fear, that certain actions in our life are going to leave us in pain. We have to prepare and accept the consequences of our activities, while also understanding their essential nature in our lives.
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.
When the disease is in full attack, and the inflammation throbs between our joints, our options can seem quite limited. We often recede from our families and friends. We seek a quiet and calm place to be alone in our pain, and rest our aching bodies. Over time, the habits we form in these dark places seep into the rest of our lives. The fear of another hurtful day keeps us from living on our own terms. We opt out of a movie with friends, or a night of dancing at a club. We stop ourselves from a day hike or even a trip to the store for some essentials.
It took me a while to realize this, but the fear wrought from the worst moments is unnecessary. We may wake up sore the next day, but we can do so with a smile on our face. We must learn to know, and accept, that regardless of what comes tomorrow, we may be in pain regardless of our choices the day before. We can’t hesitate to do what we love. To keep ourselves isolated, and to procure false limitations is one of the worst mistakes AS patients can make. Live well, accept the pain when it comes, and know that you are stronger than you can imagine; you can take it for the sake of really living.
There is a passage in the Hagakure, one of the essential books on bushido and the way of the samurai that says this: “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
The key to living with AS is maintaining the proper perspective. Mental and physical struggles will persist, but when we understand and accept the nature of the disease, we begin to overcome it.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Our rheumatologists and other doctors are our greatest allies in this lifelong battle. They provide the weapons, but we must supply the action. Their plans must be carried out with vigor and consistency; otherwise it’s just wasted time and money
As a young man who struggles with this disease every day, I can say that these tactics work. Keeping a realistic perspective helps me to find hope each day. I’ve taken the skills taught by my Doctor, and with the support of my friends and family, have seized the life I was content to lose. I’ve enabled myself through my online friends, who remind me that I am not alone. I’d like to thank all of you for letting me share this, and I hope that it might help others in their walk with AS.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jealousy Among Wordslingers

In my evening twitter procrastination session, I was treated to a conversation with Albert Berg about writers and jealousy. We had noticed a trend among writers, especially the bookless of us. of unhealthy levels of envy.

Maybe I haven’t been a part of the writing game long enough to become jaded or lose patience with it, but I never understood it. A few blogs this week even insinuated severe resentment for their writer friends anytime they landed an agent, sold a book, enjoyed indie pub success, or even revealed a cover.

The conclusion we came to is a lesson my mom taught me a long time ago: Worry about your own shit, and get me another beer.

Now, don’t take this as an endorsement for alcoholism, but seriously, all of us author and writer types are struggling to break free from obscurity. We all struggle to put our words out there and hope that they have meaning for someone, and that we might make some coin while we’re at it. If that chance happens for a friend of yours, be proud, and help them pimp that shit. If you work at it, the time will come to unleash that novel of yours on the unsuspecting public, and those who you helped on the way will gladly repay you in kind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Workspace Wednesday - The Whiteboard

Since Wednesdays are always kind of a low content day for me, I decided that for the next few weeks I would give you all a little peek at my writing area. I’ve been slowly improving it, and turning it into a proper office, and I have to say, the results have been immediate. I suppose that’s what happens when you aren’t staring down a concrete wall under fluorescent lighting.  Without further delay, I give you Workspace Wednesday #1



Stifled creativity got you down? Is that little notepad on your desk not enough to keep you motivated? Try this: add a giant motherfuckin whiteboard to the room. I suppose a chalkboard would work, plus you could be like a steampunk genius, dusting the chalk off of your ugly brown suit.

The whiteboard is a chaotic organizer. On the one side, I have all of my information about goals and the like, while the other is completely open to whatever might strike me in the moment. Sure, a notebook is more portable, but sometimes that inspiration deserves size 320 comic sans font. Or chicken scratch dependent on your personal proficiencies. In recent weeks, I’ve been using it for brainstorm sessions, most of which I take a picture, and then load into One Note for posterity. The system works exceedingly well.

Another unexpected benefit I have found is the mobility. A white board gets you up and moving. It isn’t exactly exercise, but when you have been crouching over a desk all day, it certainly is an improvement.



The allure of a blank canvas is often too much for my friends. They know not to mess with my notes, but sometimes, you come home to find mini masterpieces like the above picture. Also, 4:20 today. Take from that what you will.

One last bit of advice: don’t buy a brand new board if you don’t have to. Surplus dealers, like the ones found at colleges and in most cities, get them in periodically. School districts might have some in their surplus warehouse if you are willing to make a few phone calls. I also had some luck on Craigslist, but they wanted more than I was willing to pay. I picked up that bad boy for ten bucks.

Also, a few links for you writerly types:

Austin Wulf breaks down how to make writing work with your schedule.

Albert Berg doles out knowledge about hard work and luck.

Emmy nominated sage, guru, and ultimate penmonkey, Chuck Wendig, tells you how not to bug the fuck out when writing your novel.

The good folks at Lifehacker explain why having a little uncertainty in your planned work can be a good thing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dirty Deadline Love



I’m not sure there is anything quite as intimidating in writing as a deadline. It is a mysterious and brutal force that holds us accountable to ourselves, our clients, and our craft. If abided by, deadlines can demolish our preconceived limitations and progress our writing abilities. I’ve read lately about writers hating deadlines, citing that it stifles creativity. Others simply seem to fold under the pressure of accountability. I used to be like that. It took me more than a year of writing sporadically to realize it, but deadline hate is merely an excuse of delineates and hobbyists.

Without deadlines, either set by ourselves or others, very few of us would have the discipline to finish a project. Committing to a piece of writing, especially one of novel length becomes a strange pipe dream; projects we tell our friends about but rarely sit down to work on.

Last month, when I did my writing challenge, I was faced with word counts I had never reached before. For multiple days I had to break word counts that I had never hit before, or accept the consequences of missing my deadline. I never thought I was capable of a seven thousand word day, much less two in a row. I had never broken five thousand, and on the last day I busted out 9,000 words. Was it the prettiest prose of my short career? Probably not, but I do have a wicked stack of work in front of me. Would it have been better for me to have just done the work on a daily basis? Of course, but procrastination got the better of me, as did work. Instead of simply giving up, I put in the time, and learned what I am really capable of.

In physics and in writing, the work in is equal to the work out. There is no easy way to get better, only faster ways. If we work our asses off to attain our goals and do so in a regimented manner, then success will come. It may not always be in the form of a bestseller, but your body of work will speak for itself.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Graffiti of the Mind

Muddled down by sensationalism, our minds have become cluttered with the refuse of a non-stop society. We are inundated with what we are told to buy, what news we are to swallow each morning, and the vague statements of those who would tell us that everything is okay.

The constant barrage of information mangles our focus. Reflection is a lost art, as is discourse without fanaticism. I watch as people who have differing opinions on whatever today’s present hot topic is consider anyone that opposes them to be a bad person. They pass judgment solely because they do not think alike. Polarized thought without the use of reason is dangerous. If one cannot at least consider the differing views of another, especially in the face of evidence, then the argument is lost before it began.

The only way to counter this mentality is through reason. We have to be willing to step back, look at the graffiti, and discern art from the mad scrawling of bored desperation. Either way it’s all writing on the wall, but it is ultimately our choice on what we do with it. Choose wisely friends, take with you what has value, and toss aside the rest.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Guest Blogging for a Great Cause



Over at Hurting but Hopeful, I wrote a guest blog post about Zen and the Art of Spondylitis Warfare. I've talked about it briefly before, but I have a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It just so happens to be that particular ailment's awareness month, along with several other autoimmune rheumatic disorders. This post unfortunately occupied my Monday spot, but I will be back on Wednesday with a standard blog post.

Anyway, the link to my article is here.

If any of you have questions about the disease, hit me up in the comments. There is a lot more to it than a few Wikipedia articles. I want to thank my friends Barrac and Evan are helped me get the picture, and are deserving of beer and fine steak.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Contracts and Stupidity

I’ve been at the keyboard a lot this week. My bet with P.E.T.A, which was made into a contract and mediated by my sister, is over. I learned a few things about myself, and my writing this past month. Let me break it down for you.

Week 1: Full of hope and motivation, I sat my happy ass down at the computer and plugged away on a few old projects. Words flowed here and there, but usually only to the tune of about 500 per day. Not too terrible considering how little daily writing I had been doing in the previous weeks. I’m already a bit behind, but hey, daily writing is what counts.

Words Written: 3,500
Words Remaining:  23,500

Week 2: I can make up my word count tomorrow; maybe even do some at work if nothing breaks. I’ve got plenty of time. After all, I did NaNoWriMo once, and had to get 4,000 a day for a week to finish. A movie after work? Some MMA fights? Sure, I have a social life and I’m a writer, look at me go.

Words Written: 1,215
Words Remaining: 22,285

Week 3: Everything is broken, nothing works, and my world is an explosion of old eMacs and hatred. Pfftew…. Sizzle, whirrrrrr, clunk. Hey Tony, we need you to set up an entire lab of 28 computers and find a way to make 20 DOS applications work in Windows 7. On each computer. Oh, your back is in the middle of a flare up? That’s fine; we have kid’s strength drugs to help you with that. In the far distance, a printer attacks a child, a TV falls on a duckling, and a dead mouse is in the power supply.

Home is my only retreat from spiteful technology, or so I thought. Sitting in my room, Cornelius Funk, my computer, spins his fans for the last time.

Words Written: 0. Zilch. Nada. Unless you count the 12 words I scribbled on the underside of a computer heading for the recycling concentration camp. They shall not be uttered here. This is a family blog.
Words Remaining: 22,285

Week 4: Spring Break, in which I testify that there must be a loving and caring God for such a gift as a paid week off. Coming after the worst work week I have had in recent memory, it was glorious. Now, my brain tells me that I owe slightly more than 3,000 words per day to pull this off. A few days of puttering around 1,000 words, and I am left with 5,000 words a day for three days, and I bet you never saw this coming, 7,000 words per day for the next two.

Focus is a hell of a thing when you have a true and costly deadline. For the next two days, I am a machine. I write and chip at the word count till my hands are bloody. That was actually from the cat, but damn, they were sore. That smell coming on the wind? That’s not Greeley (a cow town that so graciously sends its massive stank over to us on windy days), that would be me and my swollen brain. It’s gone the way of my old computer tower, and no longer functions as a body management system, but a word processor. In about 36 hours, I produced 14,000 words on a new novel project.

I defeated the bet at 11:53 pm on March 31st, proving once again that more than anything; I am a cheap ass and the best procrastinator on the planet. I’m sure some of you would like to challenge me in a procrastoroff, but like tomorrow, when you aren’t about to hit refresh at 4chan for six hours.

I also learned that despite my best intentions, when I break 4,000 words, my writing goes to pot. In doing this challenge I have made a mountain of product, for which will need hours more editing than intended. This challenge was to get me writing daily again. In a way it did, for that last week, but not in the way I intended.

If I am to keep doing this, I must find it within myself to schedule, plan, and work so that I am not just slinging words for an arbitrary number. I think I might be able to manage, considering what I just put myself through to save a couple hundred dollars. I’ve woken up the past few days, gotten on the computer and written. Sometimes I get my 1,000 or more, sometimes less, but forward motion counts, so long as I at least make an honest go of it.

Will I ever do this challenge again? Maybe, but I need to really assess what keeps me from moving forward. I have to figure out what I’m so afraid of. Is it judgment? Failure? I’m not entirely sure at the moment. I faced it all in this challenge. I defeated it even, but this month will show if I have learned anything from it.

Thank you everyone who supported me in this foolhardy bet. It was as fun as it was painful. Here is to 25,000 words for April, hopefully done over the entire month. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Freaky Friday: A Cosmonaut’s Tale

Space travel has always been one of my biggest interests. As long as I can remember, I’ve hoped that commercial space travel would be attainable in my life. The thought of leaving this planet, even just to attain orbit has been a dream of mine since I was a child. Hell, I would have settled for space camp, but that was just a bit out of reach due to expenses.

I’m not sure if there is a larger, grander idea than to travel to other planets; to rip our species from the confines of limited resources and the threat of premature extinction. It is a noble cause, and one that has been rife with sacrifice. Test pilots of various types have perished; the crew members of Apollo 1 met their demise on the launch pad. No one will forget that our shuttles have ripped apart in the atmosphere. If my numbers are accurate, 28 men and women have fallen trying to reach the stars. While that number may not seem catastrophic in comparison to many of mankind’s endeavors, only around 500 people have made it to space.

One story in particular, which is coming out in a book called Starman by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony, recounts the tail of cosmonaut named Vladimir Kamarov. Some of you may have read about him in the past, but let me recount it if you haven’t.

In 1967, Russia and its satellite nations were engaged in a space race with the United States. This was a supplement to the Cold War (and in my opinion, one of the few incredible things to come from the Cold War), which was pretty much a dick swinging competition between over arms and technological superiority. You all know about this, so I won’t go into the political details there, only the ones surrounding this mission.

For the 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution in Russia, they planned to have Mr. Kamarov take the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz into orbit, dock with another craft, and then come home. It might not have been the most technical feet these days, but it was groundbreaking at the time.

The only problem, Kamarov, and his best friend, the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, knew that this was a doomed mission from the outset. Upon prior inspection of the craft, they found more than 200 mechanical faults in the spacecraft. This included parachutes that would not open upon reentry. When they tried to bring this to the attention of their superiors, everyone who saw the memo was either demoted, or sent to Siberia to freeze to death. This mission was a matter of national pride, and was going to happen no matter what.

Faced with certain death, Kamarov chose to pilot this mission. He did this to save his friend Yuri, who was already a Russian hero, and would have been his replacement if he backed out. I’m sure had he backed out from this, he would have been sent to Siberia as well, but it was the friendship that caused him to strap into that capsule, and rocket into the great beyond.

As expected, mechanical failures started happening right away. The launch of the craft he was supposed to dock with was cancelled, and he was left orbiting the earth. United States radio towers were listening in as the Soviet told mission control that he was going to die. The Soviet Premier at the time called him in tears to tell him that he was a hero, and then Kamarov spoke to his wife for the last time, trying to find the words to tell his children.

When the decent began, over the radio, Kamarov shouted that heat in the capsule was rising, and that they had killed him, cursing the engineers as he plummeted toward the earth. He went screeching into the earth, the capsule nearly liquefying on impact. They only found a heel bone in the remains.

Now imagine the terror of certain death smiling at you as your strap yourself into the capsule, knowing that this was your last ride. Defying all sense and logic, he pierced the heavens and accepted his fate. He saw the earth with his own eyes in a way that nearly all humans can only dream of.

Vladimir Kamarov showed noble bravery in keeping his friend out of that rocket, but the pride of a nation murdered him. With this book, maybe his sacrifice can mean something more than a failed space mission 44 years ago. It might be more than the terrifying experience, but a tale of a man laying his life down for a friend.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Patience vs. Word Count

I have a problem. I have to write far more words than I care to admit by midnight on Thursday, and from the looks of it, I only have one option. I must take the outline that is only about half finished, and pound out some serious words.

I really wanted to avoid pantsing this novel. I wanted a full, complete, and edited outline before I type a word of this new project. Unfortunately, I pigeonholed myself into a tight spot with this bet. If I lose the 200 dollars to P.E.T.A. my quality of life pretty much runs dry. I run a pretty tight budget, and that’s the point behind this bet, to get me to write. Instead, I procrastinated, and did tons of the prewriting necessary for a novel. I’m not sure that I’m doing anything wrong with being thorough, but it really is strange to feel guilty over taking my time with a project.

It’s not all bad. I’ve tied up several short stories that were left unfinished. By next week I will have three or four of them out on submission. I’m proud of the work done in these stories, and the feedback would suggest I am improving in both my prose and my storytelling. I’ll be sure to post an update on what happens with the bet. I may have to go underground until Friday. This whole internet thing is the bane of my productivity.

I will close with a question: What would you do in my situation? Risk losing the money and trying to scrape out short stories and future blog posts? Or would you take the outline and just pump out the beginning of a book that will probably need major revisions later. I’d love your feedback.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flash Fiction and Making Your Words Count

I’ve been drifting away from writing advice in the past couple months. It’s a topic that I believe is a bit overdone by fledgling writers and unqualified people like me. There are some real experts out there who can give you great writing tips, but take it with a grain of salt when someone claims to be an expert. That being said, I would like to share something that is working for me lately.

In an effort to be more concise, I have been trying to create more flash fiction. Most of my stories end at around 1,500 words. This seems to be the absolute lowest limit for most publications for standard short stories, and most want around 3,000 to 5,000 words. There are plenty of markets that accept fiction at 1,000 words or less though, and some of them even pay pretty well.

I looked over a short story that I wrote a few days ago, and it was stuck  around 1,400 words. I didn’t want this story to sit in submission, getting rejections for not quite being the write length, so I went scorched earth policy with my red pen, and dropped it to 1,000 words exactly. When I reread it, I found that the pace was much better, and that I hadn’t taken anything away from the story. I’ve had a few people read it, and they have agreed with this assessment.­

It may have taken flash fiction for me to realize it, but I understand now that I need to apply this policy to all of my writing. It might significantly reduce the length of a novel or short story, but by keeping it concise, I hope that I can keep the reader’s attention.

 I would encourage all of you to try it sometime. Take your most recent work in progress, and ask with each sentence if it moves the story forward. If it doesn’t characterize or move the story, strike it out and move on.

Have any of you had experience with this? What tactics do you use to trim the fat from your fiction?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Freaky Fridays: My Problems with Modern Movie Horror

When was the last time you were truly terrified by a movie? For me, it’s been since I was a tweenager, and my twelve year old self dragged a bunch of girls (I was the only one working. Being a 12 year old and being able to buy movie tickets for six girls at once is a pimp experience) to The Sixth Sense. I know what you are all thinking; this kid is a horror writer, and he was scared by that? I know, I’m not proud of it either. The movie resonated with me on a different level though. It stuck with me when I went home, and was scarier after the fact than in the viewing.

I’ve grown up since then, but I still want to find that old feeling. I want to be inspired to fear. To get a little nagging voice every time I get goosebumps or a cold chill. I know that it is much harder to scare me now, but surely, some clever movie studio is up for the challenge. I have a few suggestions for all of you Hollywood big shots that frequent this blog (I’m talking to you, single return visitor from Los Angeles).

Step One: better Music and Sound Composition

We’ve all seen it, a buxom blond / brunette / redhead walks through a random dark area that is probably never seen again for the films duration, and then BAM! SHARP NOISE AND A FLASH OF CGI MURDER!

I’m a complete newb when it comes to music and especially composition, but even I know that the music is a supplement to what you are trying to do, not be used as a scare tactic. Suspense isn’t linked to how loud or disturbing a sound you can make, but by the situations that the characters must endure. Movies that do this appeal to the primal part of our brain, and might jolt us, but will not resonate as frightening int he long term. Sometimes, this is the movie's only shtick. Hire Clint Mansell or something if you have too, but make it work.

Step Two: Relying On Gratuitous Gore is Not Scary, It's Lazy

 After watching Dead Alive, you’re not going to shock me into a scare by how gory a scene is. I’ve seen it all. Hell, in video games, I’ve had to curbstomp scythe handed babies that crawled from the over lactating tits of a lust demon. If you’re going to flop some intestines on the ground, make it mean something, show me that soldier on the beach, crying out for his mother. Don’t just have stock-side-character-4 fall into a vat of lye and fire ants. The entire Saw series is an example of this. Massive amounts of gore with a shaky premise and some handy visual effects. Some of it is cringe worthy, I’ll give it that, but it isn’t lasting.

The scene from Reservoir Dogs, the one with Mister Blond and the cop, is an intense image of brutality done right. It isn’t even a horror movie and it did a better job than many horror films aspire to. What set it apart, besides the odd choice in music, how truly vile it made Michael Madsen’s character. The cop was terrified, and you have just enough info to understand both of their motivations. The only real gore you see is the stump left where the officer’s ear used to be. The pace was agonizing as well. Making the scene last longer than our comfort threshold will drive us inward, forcing us to hate the antagonist.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m against gore, or that I don’t enjoy some movies that are heavy with it, I just don’t think it’s frightening. Dawn of the Dead (Zak Snyder’s) is much closer on how it should be handled. While the movie isn’t exactly terrifying, it leaves you quite satisfied, and playing “What I would do in the zombie apoc” for weeks after.

Make the violence mean something, and make it last.

Step 3: Make Me Care About a Character, and then Drag Them to Hell

This can be said for all writing, but it seems especially bad in horror films. Make your enemies sinister, make your characters struggle, and force them to overcome. Don’t just drop them in bad situations; make them fight tooth and nail in each scene against a greater conflict. Give them something to fight for, not something to run from.

Alright, this post has turned a bit lengthy. Next week I may expand on this, or move forward with another horror theme post. Freaky Fridays is a name I really hope to change, but until that point, we’re all stuck with it. Now, if you all would be so kind as to tell me your favorite horror films, or perhaps some themes that chap your ass. I know I’m not the only one who can be disappointed with most of the horror genre’s films.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Authenticity

It took a while to realize it, but I've been taking orders for way too long. Hundreds of blogs, agents, and other people direct me on how I'm supposed to speak on here. The subjects I can and can't breach, as well as the styling I need to be successful. I've sheltered my writing to be politically correct. I've bitten my tongue on several subjects, and omitted emotion, and it has to stop. I'm tired of being afraid that a few lines on a blog will kill my ability to get an agent or a publishing deal. I'm flat out done worrying that expressing myself might somehow hamper my chances at success. That's why I'm in this business; to use my own voice to tell the lies that express truth.

I won't embellish it either. I'm also out here to make a bit of money. I don't care if it's hard in this industry. Take a look around, it's hard everywhere. We all have to swallow that pill, so get some water and fucking do it.

I'm exhausted from the fear of judgement and the guilt of non production. One precludes the other, and sends me into a downward spiral when it comes to writing. I start having to make bets with myself to even make me sit down and type. It truly is wasteful, all things considered. I'm writing to get better at this stage. Every single worry I have right now is based on future events, and I'm letting them hurt my current work. The dilution of my voice for people I've never known doesn't work for me anymore. From now on, I'm going to speak to all of you as a fellow traveler, not an industry standard.

As Taylor Mali said, I'm going to let my words be said in a manner that bespeaks the determination in which I believe it. I'm not going to let my convictions fall aside at the request of people who haven't got the stomach to take it. I can be a professional and not be a drone. I don't have to hum at the same frequency of every other beginning writer struggling for platform on the internet. This is my platform, and I have the remote. Stay with me people, this career is just getting started.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A First Person View of Horror

We talk about a lot of things on this blog. Mostly about horror tropes and writing, but it is so easy to lose sight of the world around us and the terror that it can bring.

As I’m sure you all know, a catastrophic earthquake forever changed the island nation of Japan. Some people are reporting more than 10,000 dead at the moment. Statistics about how damaging the quake was filter across news channels. We see facts that their coast may have shifted eight feet in just a short period of time. What the facts do not show you is the human element.

The video below is a true to life glimpse of horror. Nothing that I could ever write will ever conjure the sheer ferocity of this tsunami, nor will it ever leave an impact like it did for the person filming. Please, take a few minutes to watch this.


Forgive me for not being able to embed it, I couldn’t find the same video on youtube.

I’ve never been so happy to be landlocked in all my life. It would take our local dam bursting to produce anything like this, and it would still pale in comparison. I’ll try to avoid some of the major clichés floating around, but I do wish that there was more that we could do. Donations help, but the scars of this earthquake and ensuing tsunami will mark the lives of the Japanese people in a way we can’t comprehend.

Thankfully, the Japanese are a resourceful and brilliant sort. Disasters like this always seem to bring out the very best in people, and I think that trend will continue here.  Let’s all hope that as they grieve and work to rebuild, that they can continue to make a nation they are proud of.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tenacity and the Existence of Bad Motherfuckers

The greater warriors of our species have long filled the annals of our history. Written accounts of leviathans with unfathomable prowess litter both fiction and history, and for a long time, I considered most accounts to be embellished. Surely, with how easy it was to find yourself on the wrong end of a blade in ancient times, legends like William Wallace, Leonidas, and Musashi Myamoto could never have demanded the attention of entire nations on their combat skills alone. I used to believe that the exploits (or the men themselves) could have been entirely fictional, and as some form of nationalistic pride, were added to the histories of nations. Especially in antiquity, as the victor's scribes wrote history.

I used 'believed' in the past tense for a reason. Over the last few years, my studies of martial arts have shown me that these mountains of machismo and brawn could not only exist, but it was quite probable that their exploits were more than legend. Now, lets break it down.

The Fiction

Let me take a brief moment to clarify this. I'm talking about martial arts, savvy weapon masters, and speedy rogues. I'm not trying to convince you that some jerk off in a bad outfit can shoot bolts of lightning out of questionable orifices. This post is more about The Goddamn Batman, the Marv's of the world, and just to avoid being called sexist, Beatrix Kiddo.

Their place in fiction and literature is simple: they'll take whatever you've got. You can't break them, you can't even hope to contain them. They will wreck your dastardly plans, they will have their vengeance, and they will probably stop to have a beer in the process. All of those expensive mooks you hired to watch your club? I hope they have health insurance, because, as Jack White once said, if you could hear a piano fall, you could hear them coming down the hall.

When the smoke clears, could the carnage Roland's guns lay down be possible? Is it even plausible that a crusader could slice his way to infamy? The real question is, are these characters rooted in fiction, or could the potential for their brutal heroism be a much more real?

The Unbreakables

I know the title is a M. Night Shyamalan reference*, but stay with me for a moment. In the movie 'Unbreakable', Samuel L. Jackson's character is seeking superior, even indestructible humans. Jackson has a condition that makes his bones as brittle as a presidential promise. His character believed that if someone existed with the condition to be so weak, someone could exist on the opposite side of his spectrum. Someone who could be considered unbreakable or invincible. I originally chalked this up entirely to fiction, but recently realized that someone wouldn't have to be paranormally different, just a little bit better.

*It was one of his earlier movies, and I really enjoyed it. Shyamalan may have made some mistakes, but this certainly wasn't one of them.

We already know from conventional sports that the human body is capable of incredible things. Watching an angry mongoloid slam his body into another makes for quality entertainment, but in relation to everything else that is happening on the field, it can only seem so impressive. In a football game, we have 22 men, all specialized for the sport, roughly on an even keel physically and mentally. Every once in a while you will find a player that stands above the rest, but if it were measurable, this athlete would only be marginally better than the others. 

Compare the same superior athlete to the average NFL viewer, and you have a mismatch of astronomical proportions. Not only are the athletes in peak physical condition, their bodies are also attuned to taking absurd amounts of punishment. They could get up and walk away from accidents that would leave a person hospitalized, simply based on the long term adjustments their bodies have made. Sure, their brains might not make the whole trip into old age, but that doesn't stop them in their prime.

Now imagine that we took these superior athletes, and gave them the most evolved, advanced, and best combat training that our species has ever seen.

Enter the Mixed Martial Artist

What? You were expecting Jack Bauer? If you've ever seen a mixed martial arts fight (or, sigh, a UFC fight as seems to be the common nomenclature), then you know exactly what I'm talking about. These men and women, every single day, beat the living piss out of each other, honing their destructive craft. Every aspect of their game has to be perfect. The fighters must know as much about how to rip your elbow from its socket as they do about striking. They have to know how to defend, and they certainly have to be able to take wicked barrages of strikes.

The old adage that iron sharpens iron is in full force here. With each sparring session, they alter their bodies slightly more. Microfractures are suffered on the bones, which causes them to get thicker. Each well trained punch, which is perfected over thousands of hours, creates more tensile strength, speed, and accuracy. 

Still not convinced of their badassery? Lets look at the physics. Each kick and punch is thrown with the full force of the body behind it, Their strikes literally start at the base of their feet, twist through the body, and slam through the end of the first. Sports science shows have repeatedly shown strikes that surpass 2,000 pounds of force, and in a focused area the size of a fist or foot.

In a very literal sense, that could kill the average human being in one strike. This isn't even counting the forces behind a choke hold, or the various other submissions. I've seen arms snapped, dozens of people passing out, and ankles dislodged from these techniques. All of this has happened as pro against pro as well. If a laymen were to fight nearly any professional fighter, regardless of weight, these trained titans would end it in seconds, and thats if they were being nice.

Now, if you haven't seen it, I would greatly encourage you to check it out. There was a fight a few months back between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung "The Korean Zombie" Jung. This fight will teach you everything you ever need to know about grit and toughness. These two men fought till they resembled hamburger. I'm not sure I've even seen in movies where two men gave each other such a beating, and both men were still smiling at the end.

Even with all the training and specialization that goes into mixed martial arts, you have nearly unstoppable champions. Men and women that tower over the crowds below them, and hold dominion over their weight classes. Humans of that caliber are capable of almost unworldly actions. Watch Anderson Silva against Forrest Griffin and tell me that he doesn't pull some straight up Matrix action.

Potential

When you add together the elements of technique, style, strength, and training, it is easy to see how a human could ascend to the level of an elite warrior. It becomes more plausible, that facing down hordes of lesser skilled enemies, that they could rip through them. This lends credibility to both the chance of a real life vigilante hero, and to the fictional heroes across all media. Sure, there will still be times where the physics of the story doesn't make sense, or the main character is just too good to be realistic, but that is poor research. All I'm saying here is to believe in the power of those scrappy characters and villains. Don't dumb down their ability to kick ass, or to take a punch, just because someone else doesn't understand the true potential of humanity. Write that bastard out, and then cut him loose.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sliding

Vail Pass tried its best to consume me last night; to make me a remnant of the snowy and jagged valleys on the west side of the continental divide. Swatting from all sides, the swirling blizzard tried to rip my tires from the pavement. When the blizzard waned, the ice storm would start back up. The slightest change in gear would lurch me into a slight fishtail, threatening to send me into the Colorado River. This went on for more than five hours. Welcome to the Rocky Mountains.

My hands are still sore from white knuckling the whole drive home, but that isn't really the point. The only reason I am mentioning any of this is because I'm not the kind of guy who finishes things, and I fucking hate it.
 

I was supposed to be done with college, to have my own business*, to be writing non-stop, and maybe even be annihilating a mortgage. My walls, which I promised would be covered in art of my choosing, remain bare. I have a dozen novel starts, and a first draft, but nothing query worthy yet. Even that last bit of my laundry basket remains, clean but unfolded.

I've inexplicably let goals decay for no other reason than laziness and sickness. I've succumbed to the pressures of average adult life, and it bores me to goddamn tears. The way I've been living is the coward’s way, and I wasn't raised to be like this. I was taught to be bold, to fight for what I wanted, and to not
 

So, I took a trip. Some friends needed me for tech work in Aspen, and I told them I would do it. Well, only moments after committing, my brain started trying to find a way out of it. Some bogus excuse where they would have to get someone else, or just ignore it until it goes away. Ultimately, I got in my truck. I drove my lazy ass almost 600 miles round trip, and finished the job. I forced the action, and wound up on top. I'm not sure about you guys, but that means something to me.

More than just the trip, I've been trying to derail this horrid tendency to go 60 percent on everything. I got by on being a knowledgeable smart ass for a long time, but the yield was too small. I've found in myself that I am capable of moving on, and capable of committing myself to whatever lays in front of me. The only thing left to do is to keep driving forward.

* I was sort of forced because of a check error to start my own business today. A little computer repair deal that I intend to work on the side, maybe expand later. Either way, it is a lifelong ambition, and simply doing this job forced it to happen. I’m now official with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. I'll chalk this up to the whole 'The harder I work, the luckier I seem to be' concept.



 
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