Tag Archives: absolute write

April Blog Chain: New Beginnings.

Mada at For the First Time is leading this month’s Absolute Write Blog Chain, and our theme is new beginnings. Auria Cortes posted about the beginning stages of writing a new novel, and Polenth at Polenth’s Quill described how she learned to build 3D rendered pictures the hard way in order to get it right.

Doing things the hard way doesn’t necessarily mean getting them right the first time, or even the tenth. It means getting back up off the floor when you fall down and taking another shot. For my link on the chain, I thought I’d post about rebooting.

We all know what it means to reboot, right? When your computer at work acts up and you call tech support, what’s the first thing they ask you?

Okay, the first thing after you confirm it’s plugged in.

Right! Mr. or Ms. Helpful Support Person asks you if you have rebooted your computer. And if you haven’t, the Helpful Support Person will suggest you reboot right away, and then call back if you’re still having a problem.

Now, my understanding of the purpose of rebooting is to clear what Stephen King calls “the bad-gunky” out of your computer’s system and recent memory and shut down unhelpful applications and processes, to allow the computer to restart clean and run smoothly again. At least, until the next time the bad-gunky clogs everything up.

Sometimes you need to clear out life’s bad-gunky, too (although preferably not the way Stephen King’s characters do it). Not so many years ago, after several years with stressful jobs and a new baby, Mrs. Unfocused and I looked at the increasingly high numbers showing up on the bathroom scale and our alarming reflections in the mirror and decided to do something about it. Largely (but not entirely) through adjusting our eating habits, we each lost a significant amount of weight. It took a while, though, and there was much plateauing and backsliding along the way. Even now, we both go through periods where we eat junk, drink too much or too often, stay up too late, and so on.

Often the backsliding is a reaction to outside stressors, such as my work and travel, but sometimes we just get lazy. For me, as an example, I get into bad cycles when I don’t have time or energy to exercise regularly; if I can’t run or lift, my energy levels drop, and I eat more sugar to bring them up.

Eventually, we notice it when we have fallen off the wagon. It might only be a couple of days, or it might be a couple of months, but when the realization comes, we gather up whatever shreds of willpower and mental discipline we have left, press CTRL-ALT-DEL, and reboot. One of the things we learned when we were trying to lose all that weight is that if you fall off the wagon and have too much pizza, or chocolate, or beer, you can just start over, and you’re still better off. A couple of bad days, even a couple of bad weeks, won’t set you back that much or that long if you scramble back onto the wagon. It’s the long-term trend that matters, not the daily returns.

I don’t always notice it for myself. Last October, Mrs. Unfocused had to tell me point blank that I was off the wagon and needed to reboot. My job had been particularly intense for several months, and I had just gotten home on a Sunday morning after a particularly grueling business trip. After giving me surreptitious worried looks for an hour or so, the Mrs. said, “Honey, you can’t go on like this. You need to reboot.” I didn’t argue, and my feelings weren’t hurt; she wasn’t criticizing, she was concerned and was letting me know it was time to start over. I made it to the gym the next day, got my eating back under control after too many days of conference room food and hotel room service, and handled the next grueling business trip three weeks later much, much better.

For us, at least, that’s how we kept the worst of the excess weight off: knowing when to reboot.

That, and slow-cooker oatmeal for breakfast every morning. But that’s another post.

Up next on the Blog Chain: Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama.

Also, there was an error in the original Blog Chain line-up, so I’m reposting the entire line up, corrected, below.

Auria Cortes

Polenth’s Quill

Unfocused Me

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

Food History

Fantastical Imagination

Life In Scribbletown

For The First Time

Polyamory From the Inside Out

Livininsanity

Spynotes

A Wayward Journey

Virtual Wordsmith

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April Weekend, April Blog Chain.

The first weekend with real spring weather, at last! My father flew out for the weekend, and we had a good visit. Yesterday morning, we took the kids out front to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, both still with training wheels. After about 15 minutes, Unfocused Girl pulled up in front of me and asked me to take off her training wheels, because she said they were slowing her down. I could not get the wrenches fast enough. It took a little work, but she made it a few wobbly feet before we had to knock off.

We spent the afternoon at the nearby Park District Nature Center, walking the woods and wetlands. Tomorrow I’ll post some of the pictures Unfocused Girl took. She and Junior had a blast running up and down the trails.

This afternoon, Unfocused Girl was back on the bike. She can now ride the entire length of the block without help (she still needs me to hold the bike steady when she starts, though), but only SOUTHBOUND. Coming back up the block, she goes in bursts of five to ten feet, starting and stopping or falling down. Our block is perfectly flat, so it isn’t a question of incline. It’s very strange, but we’re working on it.

So there it is. Right up at the top of the list of great moments in parenting: when your kid comes to you and asks to have the training wheels taken off her bike.

Junior wants to use her training wheels for some kind of project. We’ll see.

I’ve joined the Absolute Write April Blog Chain. I can’t seem to get onto the Absolute Write website tonight, but it doesn’t look like it’s my turn yet. Here’s the list of participants (I’m third):

Auria Cortes

Polenth’s Quill

Unfocused Me

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

Food History

Life In Scribbletown

For The First Time

Polyamory From the Inside Out

Livininsanity

Spynotes

A Wayward Journey

Virtual Wordsmith

I’m supposed to be preparing materials for a short speech I’m giving next week for work, so I should probably go back to that. After all, I don’t want to end up like these guys, although there’s really no danger of that, at least not from over-blogging.

Blog Chain Links

It has been a very painful couple of weeks at work, but I think the worst of it has passed. I won a motion I’ve been fighting for months at the Daley Center yesterday; I greatly prefer winning to losing, so I’ve been in a much better mood since last night.

I expect to be able to post a bit more regularly, and will try to get some work done on Meet the Larssons. I’m also working on a short story at the same time; I’ll add a progress bar soon. The working title for the short is “Test Tube Beneficiary,” but I suspect that’s a title only a lawyer could love.

“Love” is a little strong. Actually, I regard the working title with mild distaste, if anything.

On that note, let us segue to the permalinks for all the entries in the February (Mostly) Absolute Write Blog Chain:

The Unfocused Life

Auria Cortes

Spontaneous Derivation

Organized Chaos

The Writer’s Round-About

Spynotes

Williebee

My Path to Publication

Even in a little thing

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

A Thoughtful Life

Life in Scribbletown

For the First Time

Polenth’s Quill

Many thanks to all who participated with an entry or a comment to one of the entries. This was my first time initiating a chain, and it was a l0t of fun.

February Blog Chain Entry: On Balance

This is my entry for the February Blog Chain. Our theme is BALANCE, and each blogger in the chain will incorporate into his or entry an element from the previous blog post in the chain. I’m first this time.

I’ve been practicing law for almost 13 years now, and by last year, I had allowed all of my other interests to fall by the wayside. We dropped our theater subscription when Junior (our second child) was born, and around the same time I dropped off the board of the small theater company I had been involved with. I haven’t taken a French class since 1997. By the fall of 2006, I had even stopped watching television. When Mrs. Unfocused had trouble sleeping, I would tell her about my day. I had conversations at parties and bored myself.

Great — now I sound like Rodney Dangerfield.

The point is, I had gotten into a mental rut. During the week, I went to work, came home, had dinner with the family if I got home early enough, helped put the kids to bed, then worked for another three hours. I might go for a run or go to the gym, but that was about it. Finally, I got to the end of the year and found that I had the luxury of taking some time at home; I would still have to work a few hours each day, but I could manage it so that I wouldn’t have to come in at all.

I took the opportunity, and in that time I started this blog. It was partly the result of a November visit from an old college friend, who suggested that the Mrs. and I start a blog together (we’re still talking about a joint blog, but she has had other projects on her mind), partly the Mrs. telling me to just go ahead and do it, and partly my own attempt to start writing again for pleasure. I needed to engage the creative part of my brain again, if only to convince myself that I was not as dull as I was beginning to think I was.

Creating the blog was relatively easy, and I found that I was perfectly happy to blather on ad nauseum. Lucky you, reader. More importantly, I felt the beginning of that balance I had been looking for, between solving other people’s problems at work and thinking through situations on my own, for no better reason than that I found them interesting.

Then on January 2, after my first day back at work since before Christmas, over a glass of wine with Mrs. Unfocused after the kids had gone to bed, I rattled off a complete synopsis of Meet the Larssons. I started knocking out some notes on the computer, and ending up spending the next several hours writing down the idea, ending up with four or five pages of typed notes and a hand-drawn organizational chart for the structure of the business discussed in the novel.

Since then, I have let the novel and the blog take over whatever free mental space I had. For a while, it was the novel. For the last week or two, the honeymoon has been over for the novel (I’m not done yet? What the hell!), and I’m more obsessed with the blog: how many hits today? any new comments? why is my Technorati authority stuck at 4? I’m sleeping less than I was when all I did was work, because when it was just work, I wanted to put it down and go to sleep. Now, it takes a real effort of will to close the laptop.

As I write this, I can see why it is so easy to get sucked in by the blog, and comparatively hard to work on the novel. It isn’t that the novel is harder to write; on the contrary, the novel is much easier to write than these blog posts. I know where the novel is going and largely how to get there; on the blog, it’s a different topic every day, and most of the time I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I sit down and start typing. No, the reason why the blog is so hard to resist and the novel is so easy to put down is that there is no feedback on the novel. I keep checking my word count (I hit 30K on Friday, on the train home from work) and updating it on the little graphic on the sidebar, because that’s the only way I have to keep score, and frankly, it’s pretty damn unsatisfying. With the blog, I have page views. Comments. Mrs. Unfocused even reads it, and I can ask her to give me comments on posts before I publish them, which is handy. But I would be uncomfortable showing anyone the incomplete pile of mush that Meet the Larssons is now. So there’s no feedback, no reward. My little lizard brain likes rewards, and it doesn’t think very far ahead. Maybe I need to promise myself a new toy when I hit 50K words, just to give myself something to work towards.

Don’t get me wrong: between the blogging and the novel, as well as the time I’ve taken just to spend with the Mrs. and the Unfocused offspring, the last seven weeks have been terrific. I’m going to spend a little less time on the blog this week in order to spend more time on the novel, but I doubt I’ll get any more sleep. And I’ll still keep checking those page views and comments, just to keep score.

Up next in the chain is Auria Cortes; remember to check out her blog over the next few days to see what she makes of this topic.

February Blog Chain

Welcome to the February blog chain, consisting mostly — but not entirely — of people who hang around on the Blogging forum at AbsoluteWrite.com. This month’s topic: BALANCE. The members of the chain are:

The Unfocused Life

Auria Cortes

Spontaneous Derivation

Organized Chaos

The Writer’s Round-About

Spynotes

Williebee

Even in a Little Thing

Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama

A Thoughtful Life

Life in Scribbletown

My Path to Publication

For the First Time

Green Diva

Polenth’s Quill

I’ll post the first entry in the chain soon.  In the meantime, feel free to visit some of the other links in the chain just to see who they are, and speculate about what their contributions to the chain will look like.

Blog Chain on Absolute Write

Today I volunteered to spearhead a blog chain jumping off from the Absolute Write Blogging forum.  If you’re interested in participating, you can see the rules here.  The deadline for signing up is Saturday, February 9, at 6:00pm (Central).  If you just want to follow the chain, I’ll start it here on Sunday.