Monday, October 31, 2011

Poo City!

It's Halloween! I hope this post scares you like no other. This, as well as I have been able to determine, is true. Which of course makes it even more scary. Of course, I wrote this last week, and intended to put it out there as a stream of consciousness experiment - not intending it as a Halloween post, but whatever.

I hate being out of the loop. Well, I hate being out of the loop when I want to be in the loop. Sometimes it’s just the slight I feel by not being included, like when everyone you work with gets invited to a party and when you find out they say, “Oh, I’m sorry. We just thought you wouldn’t be interested.”

Duh. Of course I’m not interested, that’s not the point. I want to be invited so I can reject YOU.

Wait, this is going off the rails here right at the start. Let me back up. I learned recently that the city of Oslo, Norway, has been running their city busses on human poo for the past 2 years.

I had no idea.

I’ve missed two whole years’ worth of jokes and puns. The mental images alone will be priceless. Jokes tend to work better in person, it’s tough to get the nuance right when it’s being written down. This is real world knowledge I missed out on, not internet knowledge. I’m so disappointed.

So, anyone want to venture a guess what the plan is should they run out of fuel? Pass out burritos and prune juice and ask everyone to make their way to the potty recently installed in the back?

Get it?

We won’t have to worry about that nasty diesel smell if you are near a running bus anymore. So it solves all sorts of problems. See, if the real world people will laugh, on the internet, some might laugh, others will be upset because I am making light of power of poo to save our world. Of course, I know that both sides are right. I throw a fit anytime anyone mis-pronounces Uranus. All those jokes are wasted because they aren’t saying the word right - I mean, no one makes a joke out of the vacation island of Phuket, do they?

Wait, I may not have made my point. Still, if poo can save us all then maybe I should start a grass roots movement to get all our city busses to run on it. Heck, maybe the city can use all that money they saved not buying fuel to lower my water bill.

Actually, why can’t we convert our cars to run on poo too? I don’t think it has to be human to work, it’s really just the methane released from little critters as they frolic in it. So where does that leave us. We could be switching over from an oil based economy to a poo based one. Those who control the poo control the world.

Makes me think of all those space race books I’ve read - the ones about the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts that just confounded me with all the stuff that they didn’t know about space flight. One of the common themes they all have is how poo was a big problem. Turns out that those old fellas had to poo in something like a sandwich bag, squirt some spermicide in there, then knead it through real well. If they didn’t those bags would quickly fill with methane and explode, I’m told more than one capsule that landed in the ocean was pretty nasty inside.

No big deal, we almost lost a shuttle due to a urine accident once. Going to the bathroom in space is possibly lethal. So we should just train the astronauts to just hold it until they get back…. Oh, might not be a problem now. Since, you know, we don’t actually have a manned program.

Sigh… and there you have it folks, a good reason I shouldn’t be encouraged to do a stream of consciousness sort of thing. The don’t generally go over real well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh What Plans I Had

I had big plans for today's post, they fell through. My kid's football team ended their season last night. They did well, undefeated and all that, but I'm thrilled that I won't have to be going to practice every night for a while. Getting home between 8 and 9, trying to eat, spend time with the family, blogging, writing, doing artsy things... it just can't be done easily. I have high hopes for more free time.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. I plan on A) finishing a book cover for someone B) trying to start and finish another book cover for someone C) hammer out the details of my plot for this year's Nano... recall that I'm trying my hand at fantasy. It could be a real disaster. Also, D) write Monday and Wednesday's blog posts, E) Finish A Fire Upon the Deep, and finally, F) do whatever my wife says we need to do.

Oh wait, G) to make changes to a novella per one beta reader and ship it off to another.

Any one of those could wipe out my weekend, I'm being WAY too ambitious, but whatever. If I don't have goals, I doubt I would achieve anything.

So, everyone one enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Those Crazy Days of Elementary School

I had a short post over at Alex’s blog today where I firmly established I’m not crazy. Whew. Glad that matter is settled. Please go read if you haven’t already. I’m sure you’ll find my logic irrefutable.
I had intended to continue my thought over here, but after careful consideration, I’ve realized I have nothing else to say on the subject.  Instead, I’ll entertain you with a story from my childhood.

I moved a lot as a kid, I didn’t attend the same school for two years in a row until I was in 7th grade. During one memorable stint – 5th grade – I lived on a farm. That isn’t to say that I ever spent any time farming, just that I lived there. To be specific, we rented a plot of land, plopped a trailer down on it, and lived.

My mother happened to be the proud owner of one ’67 Chevy Impala. It was big, made out of solid steel and had a steering wheel that belonged on a battleship. Estimated weight, 3000 pounds.

My sister, a high school student, borrowed the car from her. A lot. During the afternoons when school was over my Mom would be at work and the car would be there, just waiting for someone to go take it. So, I decided to go for a spin. We were, after all, country people now, I’d better learn to fit in.

Who could resist? No one. It's impossible
I grabbed the keys, a telephone book, and decided to go for a ride.

Oh, the telephone book? I had to sit on it in order to see over the steering wheel.

It seemed so easy at first, just pull out onto the road and stay on my side of the yellow line (if the road had one) and don’t drive off of the road. Everything else would work itself out. It didn’t take me long to determine that being the only kid in the 5th grade that could drive pretty much made me the coolest kid in school, so I had to show off.

I went to visit friends, waved at the suckers that still had to use their bicycles to get around, and generally got lost of oohs and ahhhs from pretty much everyone. Kids at school were coming up to me and shaking their heads in awe. That’s the kid that drives.

The thing is though, it was scary as crap. I started going for joyrides when I had a chance for a while afterwards – but in the back of my mind, I knew I was riding a bull. It's one of those things that you experience when you're young. You know it's oh so wrong, yet, it's impossible to resist.

It wasn't like I starting doing this all the time, but I didn't just do it the one time, I did it and survived. The cool factor made me do it again, and again. So, after enough trips to start feeling pretty confident in my skills, I was driving in a neighborhood and a car pulls out opposite me, a group of my friends jump out from behind the car, all on their bicycles, and into my path. I was about to run them over.

Like anyone in a tense situation, my perception of time slowed down. I calmly decided that I couldn’t possibly avoid them by hitting the brake of the car. So instead I cut the wheel in the opposite direction and mashed the accelerator to the floor.

What was in the opposite direction? Oh, nothing much, a house for sure. Oh yes, one more thing. A tree. Approximate weight of tree… much less than 3000 pounds.

I jumped the curb and slung mud all over the place. I kept my foot planted to the floorboard though. That tree, I still remember that tree. I recall hitting it - and running the damn thing down.

It was still young, just small and soft enough that it would give when hit by all that kinetic energy. It gave. I killed a tree.

I, and the others that were in the car with me, looked around. I’ll tell you, it was almost worth it to see the look on those kids faces, the ones that were on their bicycles. They were stuck in open mouthed awe at the wanton destruction.  At my destruction.

It was only a moment, then it was gone. We got out of there as fast as we could, got home, acted like nothing happened and hoped that the police wouldn’t show up later. Never could figure out why no one ever did. There were tons of witnesses. One tore up yard, one dead tree, and a whole lot of people that knew who I was.

I learned my lesson though, learned it well. Kids should never, ever, be allowed, under any circumstances, to play in the street. Another kid might run them down with his car.

Happy Wednesday people.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When Things Go Wrong

Like most people, I have beliefs, er, to put that a bit less obliquely, I believe stuff without having a real good reason for it. If you don’t think you are one of those people, then you clearly aren’t being honest with yourself. You can try to be as comprehensive as you are at eliminating crazy things you believe, but you can’t do it all. Too much stuff happens in life that we just don’t question.

Examples? Sure. From my own life, I believe that things will more or less, work out okay. I know intellectually that might not be the case, but when s#!t  starts going down, I always think that it’s all about to turn around for me. I’ve seen enough tragedy in my life to know that isn’t the case. I’ve seen cancer, accidents, even murder, disrupt and destroy the lives of people I know and care for. Doesn’t matter, nothing that bad will happen to me. It’s a matter of faith really. I’m sure there are some deep, psychological nuances at play that make that way. But still, I’m okay with that.

Anyhow, that’s just an example. But some folks have those sorts of beliefs about things that are demonstrably false. Wait, I might have used the wrong adverb there, demonstrate-ably false.

Example number two: I love my grandmother, she is more awesome than most. She grew up during the great depression and has seen some real s#!tty things in her life. She can go through a tin of snuff in a day, and string a bushel of beans even faster. She has broken more bones in the past decade than I have during my entire life. She still plugs away, outliving all of her 13 brothers and sisters and refusing to let much of anything stop her. She doesn’t suffer fools lightly though, bring your A-game if you visit, because she’ll eat you up if you don’t.

So, you know that little light in the fridge? Don’t bring it up around my Grandma. And for the love of all that is good in your life, don’t flick the little switch to show her how the light goes on and off in her fridge when you shut the door. She will beat you with whatever she has handy. Pray that it isn’t an iron skillet. She wins that argument, don’t even try.

Did I have a point? Yes, when I started writing I did have one. Whatever it was is lost on me now. It probably had something to do with seeing someone give a misguided rant on the internet. I mean, rant all you want about how unfair something is, or how bad something smells, about how fat Americans are, whatever. Just don’t go on a rant about something I can disprove as easily as my grandma’s eternal fridge-light theory.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Not online. Or even on my computer much. I did have to enter a pumpkin in a contest at work. I did Buddy Holly. I don't know why. Probably because I had the glasses.

Can't tell them apart, can you?
Getting home late every night. Had to get that damned pumpkin done, as it was my boss's boss that gave it to me. So much stress. I'm just glad it's over.

I hope to get back to normal, more or less, next week.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Liked It So Much I Never Want To See It Again

Please be good, please.

Woo boy. Last week, the sequel to what is probably one of my favorite books of all time was released. And I’ve not read it yet. It hurts, and I’m scared. I’m scared I won’t like it.

Best. Book. Ever.
The book? Oh yeah, it’s Children of the Sky, by Vernor Vinge. The sequel to the book that I fell in love with, oh so many years ago, A Fire Upon the Deep. And it was one of a trinity of books that made me fall head over heels in love with Science Fiction.

Now, I’ve often recommended some of my seminal books to others and have been met with blank stares, or outright confusion after folks have tried to read them. I have had to do some deep soul searching before I can tell you why I love those books so.

Here’s my best guess. From the earliest times of my life as a rational being, like, 4, maybe 5, I dreamed of being a scientist. To be specific, an Astronomer. Well, I did have a brief foray where I investigated becoming the incredible Hulk, but found the science was… a little untenable. Anyway, the minutia of actual scientific work was a bit too dry to keep my interest. It required a lot of math, which I was pretty good at, but it required that I really put forth effort to do it well. Being lazy won out and I decided I would pursue one of the other great passions of my life.

The arts.

Sigh.  As I got older, I still loved the sciences, and read as much pop-science type of stuff I could - books about physics, cosmology (about the cosmos, not hair), paleontology, whatever it was, I ate it up. I might not ever contribute to any of those fields, but I could at least enjoy the work that others had done.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s, after quitting college and finding that I had tons of time on my hands that I started to read books again. You see, that was a time of my life where I was spending as much of my free time as I had attempting to play music. I’ve told the story of how much I loved Star Trek before, and won’t rehash it again here, but I would watch TV, or movies, and be playing my guitar quietly the whole time. If I was on the phone, I was playing. If I had some free time, I was playing.

It was really hard to read and play guitar. I did have the good fortune to work the nightshift at a gas station then, and I probably could have brought my guitar in to play, but it was in a pretty rough neighborhood, and I wasn’t about to put my guitar in harm’s way. So, I brought something to read with me.

Like I said, I read a lot of pop-science books anyway, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t read anything before, and during my late middle school/early high school years I read several genre books, I enjoyed them, but none of them were life changing.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in that gas station at 2 o’clock in the morning, bored out of my mind, that I thought I could pass the time reading. Of course, my much admitted adoration of Star Trek meant I read Star Trek novels. There were already a lot of them then (yes, even way back then), but I did have some taste, and I passed on a few I thought would be stinkers.

I found I could read a lot of books that way, I worked 10 hour shifts, and generally, I had about 4 or 5 hours of every night where I did absolutely nothing but sit and read.   After a few months I had no more Star Trek.

By that time, I had gotten into a habit of running by the bookstore on my way to work, browsing the isles and looking for the most Star Trek like book I could find, which meant I was looking for a cover with a spaceship on it.

Not Just Epic. Super Epic!
I've talked about Stephen Baxter’s Ring before. It was epic in a way few books ever written were epic. I mean, what happens when you get a window into the future where every single star in the observable universe has been snuffed out? What do you do then? How do you fix that? Epic.

That was my very first non Star Trek book and it was so much bigger, better and more powerful than anything I’d ever experienced in fiction before. It was so full of… ideas.

Oh, idea based fiction. Now that’s awesome. So, as it were, I fell in love with not just science fiction, but a sub-genre labeled as hard science fiction. There are tons of definitions readily available, but the one that best fits for me is this: The emphasis is on the science. Characters and plotting are of lesser import than the science, or the scientific speculation that takes place in the story.

It makes sense that I would be drawn to that. I was, after all, a frustrated adult, already wishing I had at least made an effort to follow my childhood dreams of becoming a scientist one day. I would lay in bed and think about what I read in that book. It got in me like a drug, I was hooked.

That was also getting pretty close to the time that I chucked any thought I had of being a musician. I was no longer reading when I was just at work. At the time I had a schedule that meant I worked 8 days on, 6 days off. That was a long time between books. I was reading a minimum of 3 books a week when I was at work, and none when I was not. I was finding that I couldn’t wait all the way until my next work week before I started reading again. All that time I formerly spent playing guitar was now taken up with reading.

It’s okay though, I think grunge was still the popular rock music at the time and I didn’t begin to appreciate it until a good 10 years later, after it had long since gone out of style.

Well, I think the book I picked up not too long after Ring, was A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. This one, it might have had too many ideas, because I had to read it twice. Literally, I read it. Freaked out, waited a day or so, and read it again. In a lot of ways, it was superior to Baxter’s novel, actually, in almost every way. He introduced me to the Tines, the zones of thought, to the technological singularity*, to a great story. This one had it all.

What made me love Stephen Baxter is that he kept putting out books, Vernor Vinge though, he had a lot of other interests, writing novels was just something he did on the side. Now, almost 20 years after he published A Fire Upon the Deep, he’s writing the sequel. Set 10 years after the events of the first book and involving most of the characters.

And again, I still haven’t read it.

I read Rainbow’s End just after it was released, again, Vernor’s book, and I found it to be a big whomping clusterf**k of crap. I can’t think of much I found that disappointing. I hated, hated, hated it. The guy who produced the greatest work of genius of my generation also produced the biggest turd.

So I'm scared. I purchased it from Amazon and it's being delivered later in the week, and I will read. I’m just stalling. I’m going back to my birth as a heavy reader of science fiction, and also, the birth of my dream to become a writer. It’s holy ground. It’s a place to tread carefully. Wish me luck.

* The Zones of Thought have absolutely no scientific rationale at all. This book isn't really hard science fiction. But it is a work of pure genius. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paying it Forward!

Ever get on of those feelings like the internet is just out to get you? I've had no luck getting this stupid thing posted. Erased links, missing text. Stupid computer.


Matthew (and Alex) are sponsoring a blogfest. This one is pretty cool, I'm forced to admit, as it's called Pay It Forward, and it's around to give me an opportunity to spread the word about some bloggers that everyone might not already be aware of.  The great thing is that I can do it without having to hand out another one of those awards that so many people seem to only accept begrudgingly. Cool

Nancy – if you’ve not stopped by to visit her at Kicks in the Pants, well, all I can say is that you should. She is really open about some of the pain and loss she’s experienced in life and reading her blog can sometimes feel voyeuristic. I think I've gone so far as apologizing for commenting before, because I felt like I was writing in someone's diary. Of course, she laughs it off and waves her hand like I'm being silly. Then she'll turn around and make me laugh at some of the absurdity in life. She’s a promising writer and always reads my stuff, no matter how crappy, usually before I show anyone else. And she kindly makes recommendations about things I can do to make it suck just a little less, then doesn’t get the least bit offended when I want to argue about why my pages long description of a foot fungus can’t be cut from my manuscript because it’s so integral to the story. Her help is always greatly appreciated.  She is probably the most under the radar person I can think of out here, and deserves some recognition, and a larger readership.

Julie – Her Gypsy in My Soul blog is always a great read. She probably puts more research into her posts than anyone I can think of, and I for one, appreciate it. Whether she dives into the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, crop circles, or the wedding band, rest assured that it will be well documented. Plus, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the video she posted about the Leopard Slug ear penis that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that karma is real, and some evil soul is suffering from past sins by having an ear penis. The only other thing I can recall making a mark on me like that was that time I talked my sister into renting Faces of Death when I was a kid so I could watch it. I think that pretty much cured me from ever wanting to see people getting killed on film again.

Briane P – Thinking the Lions Look, I'll be honest. One in every four blogs on the internet are either his, or Rogue Mutt's. I picked this one more or less by throwing at dart at a list of his blogs (I totally should have printed that list out first), but he’s said some of the dammed funniest things I’ve read - usually when commenting of other people’s blogs, I don’t visit as often as I should – but if you don't like what you see after clicking on my link, then check out his profile and pick from one of his multitude of others. And he isn't shy about telling people to buy his books, which for some reason, when he does it, is funny instead of annoying. I really don't know how he does it.

So everyone, go check out these folks if you don’t already, I’m sure you’ll be pleased.

Oh yes, I'm not sure, but I think my novelette, A Dead God's Wrath, will be reviewed over at the Good Book Alert today. I'm not sure, as I haven't seen the review as of this writing. But please hop over there and check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A One Track Mind

How many times have I heard that phrase in my life? “You have a one track mind.”

Well, I do. I think might self-diagnose as borderline OCD. I have a tendency, once I start something, whether it be writing, drawing, playing music, whatever it is, to do it at the exclusion of everything else. And I mean everything.

Of course, much like Ben Franklin before me, I am a big believer in self-improvement. He famously had a list of things he wished to improve about himself. I can’t recall the chart he used, but I do remember the story he told about it. He was bragging about how he hoped to, one day, be the perfect human, and was proudly marking all his character flaws and personal shortcomings off his list as he finally defeated them. when a contemporary of his pointed out that he really needed to work on his humility, well, that was just one more challenge to conquer.

If I recall his diary correctly, after some time he remarked that he had finally mastered humility, or at least the appearance of it, which in his mind, was close enough. He proudly wrote that he no longer shouted down men who approached him at gatherings as being morons, despite the fact that they clearly were. Nor would he talk over his compatriots when he realized they were blathering on about something stupid. Yes, he’d finally mastered it.

I’m not entirely sure if that applies to what I was going to make here, but that is a story that bears repeating, even if it doesn’t fit in with my larger point. Which is: I’m really obsessive.

Part of the inspiration for me coming out with that is because it’s NaNoWriMo time again. Twitter is full of it, I’ve seen several blogs mentioning its approach, and it’s been on my mind. Turns out, I need Nano to keep me sane.

You see, when I wrote my first novel, I wrote the first draft in a little more than a week. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, I didn’t eat, sleep, or even go to work. That didn’t really bother me, as I’ve always been that way. When I used to dream of being an artist, I would draw for entire weekends, huddled in my bedroom closet, producing page after page of adolescent scribbles, mostly barbarians cutting the heads off of dinosaurs. The perfectionist in me would invariably throw every single drawing in the trash upon completion. I have very little artwork from my childhood remaining.

The point is that I find it unimaginably annoying when I’m working on something, and I mean something that is important to me, and I have to stop. That’s why I don’t like writing over a long period of time. I have become better at it, writing the novella I finished recently over a period of about a month. But I want to come home on a Friday evening, lock myself away, and write until Monday morning when I have to go to work, assuming of course that I'm finished by then.

Being a grownup has meant that sort of behavior is frowned upon. My wife sure doesn’t appreciate it. My kid probably doesn’t dig it too much either. So I find I put off doing a lot of stuff I want to do, because until I can really commit to it, I don’t want to start.

NaNoWriMo is like Ben Franklin’s self-improvement list for me. It tells me I can write until I get 1667 words done, then I can stop. I may do more, should the mood strike, but I don’t have to write until I collapse. It’s a means of self-improvement. It’s funny, and like Andrew said in his last post, it’s really a game you play with yourself to get things done, and in my case, an excuse to stop.  I can get lost in my head sometimes, this year, I have plans to dabble in the realm of fantasy for my nano novel. I’ve never written a fantasy book before, but after I reviewed what I’d read so far this year, I realized I must have read more than a dozen fantasy novels. It wasn’t that long ago that I ranted on this blog about how much I hated the genre, looks like I’ve kinda come around.

What do you want to bet that means the whole genre is about to crash?

So, everyone get geared up, I may be doing a few nano related posts – maybe not, but I’m just laying down the groundwork so there is no surprises later.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Change is Needed

Without much fanfare, Rogue Mutt started a new blog yesterday. I hope everyone stops by his new place and begins to follow him there. His posts are often the highlight of my day.

Find him here.

And as long as I'm throwing links around. If you happen to have an extra $4k lying around. You can get a perfect replica of your face produced as a mask. I'm already thinking of hiring a temp to go to work wearing a "Rusty" mask so I can spend more time doing other things.

Awesome. Happy Tuesday.

*Edit* I fixed the link.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where Did Monday Come From?

I don't mean the origin of the word, which I find fascinating, and for a while at least, dominated my twitter stream. What I want to know is: how did it get to be Monday already?

Einstein once famously explained relativity by saying a hand on a hot stove for a moment can seem like an hour, and an hour with a beautiful woman can seem like an moment. In the same way, weekends, although two days long, generally go much faster than I'd like. Relativity again. It's science, and it sucks.

Anyhow, I've been debating (again) why I'm blogging, as I've become crappier and crappier at responding to comments, and of course, have found my writing time slashed to nearly nothing, as well as my time visiting others.

Sigh. Stupid time again. So, sorry everyone. I do read everyone's comments and appreciate them. I respond to some via email, but not everyone has that feature enabled. But I'm inconsistent and often miss things.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Mondays. They suck. I have anecdotal evidence (i.e., me) that a person is only really good for about 30 hours or so of real, quality work in a given week. At least for the kind of work I do. So, I propose that the powers that be, without changing my salary, allow me to not work Mondays.

And I hope, for all that is good in this world, that they never read my blog.

Oh, I tweaked my logo, anyone notice?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writers Support Group - Oct Edition

It's that time again. Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group. It's that time of month when those of us that have all sorts of insecurities about our craft, future, whatever, all get together and vent about how freaked out we are. The goal is to visit everyone who is part of the group and offer your best wishes or encouragement.

Man, I can write one of these posts about once a day. Last month I talked about. Damn. I have no idea what I talked about.  But whatever it was, it was one of my insecurities. This month, I’ll talk about, well, another one. Or, maybe it’s the same one, since I can’t recall what I wrote last time, it’s hard to say.

Writing for me, the dream part anyway. Is that I’ll do it well enough so the people of this world will pay me to do it. It would be all I would need to do. Never have to work another job, just write my little stories and have folks eagerly hand over cash for the privilege of reading. I think it’s odd that I used to think writing, being a writer that is, was the equivalent of me becoming a theoretical physicist. It was something reserved for only the select, elite, and noblest members of society.

So, early in my twenties I started thinking that I wanted to be a writer. To write novels. I know most people have long since figured out whether or not they will write way before then. But not me. The funny thing though, once I made that decision, I figured I had to get permission before I could try. So I spent years, and I mean years, planning on writing as soon as I knew how – or got permission to.  I recall during one of my many stints in college, this one somewhere around the time I was 30, talking to one of my professors, an author of several books, including novels, about wanting to be a writer. He said, “bring some of your work in and let me take a look.”

I didn’t understand, I said I wanted to be a writer - I didn’t say I was one.

Believe it or not, I was dumb enough to rush home, whip something up, and bring it back. Yep, I really did. I’m so embarrassed about it now. What makes it worse is that it was a scene about a college professor worrying about the sun exploding. Geez. I’m going to have to write him a letter and apologize for subjecting him to that. He was great though, he gave me a book on writing as a gift and encouraged me to continue.

And I did.

So, what did that have to do with anything?  Well, it brings me back to that dream I was talking about. I’m afraid that the world of writing is going to leave me behind. Self-publishing seemed so cool to me a while back, but after a month where sales were really close to zero, I started to wonder if that was what I should expect to see if I'm not going to be constantly beating the bushes and screaming at folks to buy my stuff. Because, I don’t like doing that. I’m not a sales guy. I’ve been reading a lot from folks that are successful, and they all seem to spend quite a bit of time promoting themselves, they don’t talk as much about the story, the craft, it’s isn’t a creative endeavor for a lot of them. It’s a job. They talk about sales quotas and hitting targets.

Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!

I don’t think I’m one of those people. Some facets of it might be okay, but I don’t want everything I do online to be a business decision. I joined Goodreads to keep tabs on books I was reading, (and later, to see what people I know are reading) not to ‘network’ with potential readers, I am on twitter because it’s awesome, I don’t want to follow 1000 people because I hope they’ll follow me back so I can spam them with crap about buying my books.

If that’s the future, then I’m going to be left behind. It makes me sad, it makes me want to… well, I don’t know what. But it makes me doubt that dream I mentioned earlier will ever come true.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Translate What I Write Into Something Awesome

Slow down. Slower. I have to whisper these words to myself countless times as I type. I’ve got a problem, simply put. I think way too fast, and my fingers can’t keep up. It usually translates into incomprehensible rants when I post. I try to go back over it before I post, and I usually catch lots of instances where I start a thought, then have another pop up and I immediately start typing about that. It’s a good thing I don’t try to use the internet for debate anymore. I don’t think I could make a single point, were I to try to make a subtle, nuanced, argument about something I’d just be out of luck.  I’ll go back and re read posts I’ve made, or even worse, comments I’ve made on other people’s posts, and not know what the Hell I was trying to say.

I think what happens is that as my mind moves on to the next point, my fingers are playing catch up the whole time, always falling further and further behind. So if I were to try to make some salient point by drawing out a longish metaphor about how writing is similar to, say, making friend rice. I might have this vague plan in mind to each ingredient of my fried rice recipe to a corresponding component to telling a story.  So, in an effort to amaze you all, I’d begin with the rice, comparing it to the plot, explain how the rice by itself is just texture, offering very little flavor or sensory appreciation on its own, yet still manages to be the most important component – because when poorly prepared, no amount of additional ingredients, no matter how expertly prepared, can salvage the dish.

Then I’d probably move on to talk about the onions, how they subtly flavor the whole dish, and how that might be like using a particularly potent emotion can flavor the whole story, no one wants to cry through their entire meal because some moron butchered an onion and dumped it on your beautiful rice. In the same way, no one can sustain a whole, novel length piece without some other flavors in there. Can’t spend 10 hours crying in front of a book, it’d be awful.

Whatever, you get the idea. So, how would I write something like that? Probably like this:

Writing is like fried rice. You know, but onions can make you cry, so don’t do that. Also, plot is like rice. I hate Burger King.

Yep, that’s looks pretty close to what I’d write. So, through the workday especially, I pop by folk’s blogs and leave inane comments – know that I was in a hurry, doing it in down moments at work, and probably typed it on my phone using only my thumbs. You’ll just have to take the stupid, and see the brilliance that was intended.