Tag Archives: Blogging

Why I Don’t Blog About Work.

There are two reasons I rarely even mention my job, and never post about anything I’m actually working on.

1.  I assume it would bore the hell out of you and no one would ever visit this lonely blog again.

2.  This. Seriously, this is why they need to make the bar exam harder.

The Week Before Vacation.

As usual, the couple of weeks before our family beach vacation are a complete nightmare at work.  This year, it’s complicated by a couple of looming deadlines that are actually in the middle of the two-week trip.  There was nothing I could do about them, so I’m stuck with a fair amount of work during the first week at the beach.  If I used emoticons, I would be typing a lot of colon-shift-9s.

One of the deadlines is a writing gig:  the first draft of my chapter for a legal treatise is coming due.  I’ve done a fair amount, but still have a lot to grind through.  I think I’ll be glad I did it once it’s done, but right now I’m kicking myself for agreeing to it.

As a result, the novel is stalled for another few weeks.  Project Hometown is at 14,479 words but I’m not likely to make any progress until the chapter is done.

Let me recommend a writer’s blog that is actually updated regularly, and provides valuable advice:  Jeremiah Tolbert, a science fiction writer and the managing editor of one of my favorite podcasts, Escape Pod. His latest post describes his insane-jealousy-inspiring week at Launchpad, the conference put on by NASA for science fiction writers to help them get the actual science right.

Unfocused Guy Seeks Shiny New Distractions

I went to the final night of my novelists’ support group coffee klatsch last night — no more meetings until September.  More than half the group was absent, each with a different personal reason, but it’s hard to have these kinds of meetings once June rolls around.

One of the things we talked about is how the web forum for the organization that hosts us never took off.  I compared them to the Absolute Write forums, and pointed out that at the most, there would be maybe a couple of hundred people who would even consider using the studio’s forum, versus the entire world of amateur and professional writers who might be interested in AW.  No one else in the room had ever heard of Absolute Write, an experience I’ve had when I’ve brought up other web distractions resources (Twitter events like #queryfail, etc.), leading me to believe that I may spend too much time screwing around on the internet.

That said, I need more intellectually justifiable distractions (yes, I’m already aware of collegehumor.com, thanks) like I need a hole in the head, because sometimes I want to screw around on the internet and there’s nothing on.  I get to the point where no one’s active on FB or Twitter (thank God for the Losers Of Friday Night On Their Computers and why can’t we have Losers of Tuesday Night also?) and if I watch one more Onion News Network video I’ll scream.  I know that’s when I should jump over to Write or Die, but that’s not always going to happen.

So where do you go on the net when you’re looking for something not totally mindless?

A Viral Tale of Revenge! Or Whatever.

Freshhell tagged me for a viral story, and I’m going to tag some of you. Before we get to my contribution, I’ve cut an pasted the rules and the story so far, with links to the participating authors.

The Rules:

Here’s what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don’t know how realistic it is, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it’s okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that’s five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.”

The Story:

The ground crunched beneath my feet. Besides my noisy footsteps, I heard only the sound of the gentle crackling fire behind me. Its faint orange light lazily revealed my immediate surroundings. Beyond the glow, there was total blackness. I whistled. I took the small rock I had been carrying and whipped it away from me, expecting a thud, crack or plop — but a soft yelp of a cry answered. (Splotchy)

“Crap! I forgot all about Monster,” I realized. “I must be drunker than I thought,” I spoke aloud to no one in particular, though an owl answered my drunken slur. Ever since my neighbors have been giving me grief for the way Monster chases their cats and poops in their lawn, I haven’t felt comfortable staying in my house. I’m pretty sure my landlady is thinking about evicting me, so I’ve decided to lay low for a while.

To the surprise of no one… (Freida Bee)

The night turned darker. A storm blew in. It was, in fact, a dark and stormy night. Too drunk to worry about Monster’s rock-inflicted head wound, I stumbled back to the campfire, where I found the ghosts of John Fante and Charles Bukowski roasting hot dogs, drinking whiskey and singing sad songs about women. The ghost of Fante whispered in my ear, tales of love and loss, and I found myself walking slowly down the trail to the river, where I suddenly found myself…(Lass)

Falling down an embankment. Instead of rolling into the river, I landed on what felt like a raft. I crawled around it, the storm pelting down on me, adhering my thin clothes to my body like a second, very wet, skin, and discovered that it was indeed a raft. I could feel the huge humps of the logs (smooth and barkless, unlike Monster, the cur!) that had been lashed together with a waxy hemp. A pretty decent job, from the looks of it. Not that I could see anything; the storm had rendered the night blacker than the farthest corner of a monster-filled closet. If I could find where it was tethered to the shore, I could cut it loose, leave this place and all these drunken hallucinations for good. Hell, I could even…..(FreshHell)

My bit:

… wreak my terrible vengeance on the people who had forced me into hiding in this crummy town, so small it didn’t merit a point on the map, so pointless that it didn’t even have a name.  The farmers who fought the surrounding land for a living just called it Town; the townies didn’t call it anything except “this shithole” or, if they were ambitious or lucky enough to leave, “that shithole.”

I had come to this shithole after running out on an arrest warrant back home in River.  I brought Monster, even though being so … distinctive, he made it harder to hide; I couldn’t just leave him behind.  The crooked judge who signed the warrant, the weaselly sheriff who swore out the complaint against me, and most particularly old man Berringer; I’ll get them all.

My plan unfolded before me, surprisingly simple.  With this raft, I would simply float down the filthy, slow-moving river to Springfield.  The backyards of both the judge and Berringer each extended down to the river; taking care of them would be easy.  The sheriff would be harder; even if he weren’t on duty, his home was on the other end of town.

No matter.  I’ll figure it out when the time comes.  They’ll pay for framing me for…

Tagged: GypsyScarlett, Ralfast, Chad, Jenifer, Amy.  No obligation on your part, except that if you don’t participate I’m told that bad luck will befall me within seven days.

Can’t believe I left off J.C.  Montgomery and G.L. Drummond, so I’m tagging them now.

Spring Sunday Stats #6: Feeling Flabby.

I’m back with the first Sunday Stats post in a while.  Before we get to the main part of the post, which is all about me (like so many things), let me take this opportunity to wish the Siren and my mother, Unfocused Ma, a very happy Mother’s Day.

The Siren, the kids, and I just got back from a nice Mother’s Day brunch with the Siren’s mother and brother.  I actually made an appearance at their church this morning, because the kids’ choir had a performance.  Junior has pretty emphatically gotten over the stage fright he suffered from in his younger days, and, like Unfocused Girl, gives signs of having inherited at least some of the Siren’s musical talent.

On to the stats:

On Writing: I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to put Meet the Larssons on the back burner for a while.  I’m not trunking it, but I need some distance from it.  I was getting bogged down in the rewrite, and I was starting to bore myself.

Instead, I started writing Project Hometown, the novel I outlined over the winter.  I’m 3,192 words into it; not great for a couple of weeks worth of work, but not terrible.  The real problem is that I fell out of the habit of writing every day, and my authorial muscles have atrophied.  As I said in my previous post, I have become an undisciplined wretch.  I’m slowly starting to get back into the groove, and since I did so much work on the front end I’m optimistic that as I get back into the habit of writing, the story itself should come more easily than MTL did.

On Running: 10 miles this morning, in 1:33:16.  Like last week, today’s run was slow and painful.  My legs have felt terrible for the last couple of weeks:  my hamstrings are tight, the tendons alongside my hips are sore, I occasionally have bizarre pains in my knees just from crossing my legs.  I’m not entirely sure what the problem is, since I kept up my running pretty well through the winter and crummy first half of spring thanks to the treadmill, but I have some ideas based what’s changed in my exercise habits over the past year.  I think the primary issue is that I’m lifting weights much less frequently, and doing fewer exercises when I do; in particular, I almost never do any real strength training for my legs. Running works some of the muscles, but ignores others, leading to significant muscle imbalances; if I did more strength training for my legs, they’d probably hurt less.

I’m also, for a variety of reasons, more pressed for time than I was a year ago, and find myself skipping the post-run stretching as often as not.  Today, for example, I had to rush to get showered and dressed as soon as I finished my run in order to get to the church in time for the kids’ concert.  I didn’t stretch at all, and by the time I got out of the car in the church parking lot, I was so stiff I had to limp all the way in.  The stiffness worked itself out, but that kind of negligence is going to cost me, and probably already has.

Time, time, time.  That’s what it always comes down to.  As it is, I’ve stripped away as many distractions as I can.  I read less than I used to, and I watch almost no television.  I suppose I could drop Facebook and Twitter, but keeping up social contacts, even over the interwebs, feels like it’s worth doing.  I want to spend more time with my family, not less; I still need to work for a living, and I don’t get enough sleep as it is.

I don’t think there’s really an answer here, just a constant rebalancing of competing priorities.  I can live with that if I keep reminding myself that it’s a long race, and if I can keep from hitting the wall or blowing out a knee, I’ll get to the finish line eventually.  Not a particularly deep thought — I have a t-shirt that says “Life is a marathon, not a sprint” which sums it up nicely — but then, I’m not a particularly deep person, so a personal philosophy that fits on a t-shirt is probably about right for me.

I Can Has Award Show?

Finally, it’s time to give out the Proximidade Award, according to the rules I agreed to when I accepted it from Mike at Everything Under the Sun.  First, as a reminder, here are the rules and description of the award:


Proximidade Award

“This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes of self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I don’t really have any idea what this means, so I’m going to give this award out to eight bloggers I like, whether I know them or not, regardless of physical proximity or interest in prizes of self-aggrandizement.  There are many I could choose from, and these are some tough choices.  You were all under consideration, but the winners are:

Novelist blogs:  Amy at The Purple Patch, GypsyScarlett at her epynominous Weblog, Jenifer at Scribbling; C.E. Grayson at C.E. Grayson; Ralfast at Neither Here Nor There; J.C. Montgomery at Loose Leafs from a Commonplace.  Good people, good writers, and we’re all going through the same thing.  Maybe we’re at different stages and going at different paces, but it’s good to have company on the road.  Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown is on the same journey, but writes more often about Dusty and Red; I was stunned to find those weren’t their real names.  I just thought Freshhell liked Westerns.

Finally, of course, there’s Harriet at Spynotes, who I’ve known for going on 20 years, sang at my wedding, very thoughtfully had a son just six weeks after the Siren and I had Unfocused Girl so she’d have a friend, and was the first person I knew in real life whose blog I stumbled across by accident. Alone of this group, Harriet isn’t writing fiction (I think); instead, she’s writing her dissertation.

Eight winners, all sweating over words on a screen. Congratulations. The award is supposed to be about proximity, but since I’m giving it away, I get to decide what that means.  Proximity means closeness, and rather than limit myself to spatial proximity, I focused on a broader meaning, because really, we’re all in pretty much the same place.

Also, you’re all exceedingly charming. Like me.

Where Do I Start?

It’s been what, nine days since I’ve posted? I’ve missed two Winter Sunday Stats in a row, and except for the birthday post for Unfocused Girl, nothing at all since Feb. 22.

I’m not going to make it all up tonight, but I’ll try to post a few times this week, at least briefly.  Things have gotten very busy at work, with some planned and unplanned travel, and other stuff happening at home, and I’m getting over a nasty cold, all of which means I haven’t had much time or energy to write or run much, or even read other people’s blogs. Sorry for the silence. I’m going to be jammed for another couple of weeks, but I’ll try to be a little less absent from the blogosphere.

I intended to post Unfocused Girl’s menu from our dinner on her 8th birthday but didn’t get around to it.  Here it is:

  • 2 Shirley Temples
  • 1/2 order of escargots
  • marrow bones
  • 1/2 order of mussels cooked in beer
  • steak frites
  • one scoop of French vanilla ice cream

UG didn’t eat much of the marrow bones, but I think they were overcooked. I had to move pretty quickly to get my half of the mussels.  She was also a little full by the time her steak arrived, so she had the rest of it for lunch the next day. We had a wonderful evening; she’s a very nice dinner companion.  We brought home an entree and dessert for the Siren; she needed something, since she had spent the evening with Junior at a birthday party at Pump It Up, with about a million hyper little boys.

I won an award, which is always nice.  Thanks to Mike at Everything Under the Sun for the Proximidade Award:

Proximidade Award

“This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes of self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

In my next post, I’ll update on the writing. It will be brief, by necessity. I will also name the eight people I’m giving the award to, so if you think you deserve it, you have 24 hours to get me your bribes or clever comments.

Juggling at the Conference.

I’m at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs 2009 conference through Saturday.  AWP is my first conference, and I’m learning as much about conference attendance as I am about writing.  It also means I’m missing work, so I don’t have time to blog much about it tonight — I have a couple of hours of work to do after the kids go to bed.  I’ll write more about it over the weekend.  In the meantime, I did post throughout the day on Twitter (juggling tweets with office and personal emails on the Blackberry), and will do it again tomorrow and Saturday.  If you’re interested, you can follow me on Twitter.

Terse.

Here’s my response to the one-word meme.  Freshhell tagged me by implication.  You’ll catch on.

Where is your cell phone: hallway.
Your hair: messy
Your significant other: siren
Your mother: displaced
Your father: urban
Your favorite thing: books
Your dream last night: none
Your favorite drink: coffee
Your dream/goal: publication
The room you are in: kitchen
Your fear: dementia
Where do you want to be in 6 years: published
Muffins: eggless
One of your wish list items: time
Where you grew up: Brooklyn
The last thing you did: drank
What are you wearing: pajamas
Your TV: Sony
Your pets: robotic
Your computer: macalicious
Missing someone: no
Your life: packed
Your mood: foul
Your car: old
Favorite store: Strand
Your summer: distant
Your favorite color: black
When is the last time you laughed: Monday
Last time you cried: 2001
Where were you last night: home
Something that you are not: focused

Tag.  You.  Are.  It.

16/25 Completely Non-Random Things About Me.

Jason at All the Billion Other Moments just tagged me to post 16 things about myself.  Having just done the same thing on Facebook but with 25 things, I figured I’d just copy the post, and let you, the reader, choose which 16 of the 25 you consider worthy of your attention.  Since you have to read all 25 in order to select the best 16 things, however, the savings of time may be limited.  I may have posted about some of these things before, in which case, disregard them in determining your 16 favorite things about me.

1. I like barbecue-flavored potato chips to an unreasonable degree, and therefore almost never eat them.
2. I’m not terribly introspective (thus opening this list with an item about chips), but I do enjoy talking about myself. Just in a very superficial way.
3. I hope that if/when the singularity comes, it at least comes at a time when it gets me out of having to do something unpleasant.
4. I’d really like some chocolate chip cookies right about now.
5. Please walk faster and talk faster, because you’re making me crazy.
6. I’ve been blogging for over a year.
7. I started blogging to ease myself back into writing for pleasure. I started a novel two weeks later, and finished the 500-page first draft in October. So much for easing into it.
8. I started the rewrite in December, and so far, it’s much harder.
9. I was never much of a cook, and have not improved with age.
10. When I was a kid, I was convinced New York City was going to get nuked by the Russians, and researched a plan to use the basement as a shelter.
11. Part of me has continued to be that pessimistic all along.
12. The last time I can remember crying was in April, 2001, when Unfocused Girl was about six weeks old. I was in the Tampa airport, called home from the road, and the Siren told me that UG’s blood test had come back and her liver was starting to work. There would be no bypass surgery, no transplant, just six more months of regular checkups until the liver specialist at Children’s finally told her not to come back until she graduated from medical school.
13. The time before that was during the movie Armageddon. The Siren and I were flying home from Paris, and I’d had a lot of champagne.
14. In the four months after Junior was born, I was hardly ever home, either working late or out of town. Unfocused Girl was so mad at me that she didn’t call me “Daddy” for months. Instead, she called me “Rusty.”
15. I haven’t had a rum and Coke in more than 20 years, and that isn’t going to change.
16. As the clients were dropping the Senior Partner and me off at the airport earlier this week, I accidentally quoted The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“Say good-bye to all this, and say hello to oblivion.”), which I believe I saw 14 times at the 8th Street Playhouse during high school, plus a couple of times in Chicago during college. Nobody caught the reference.
17. I have no vocal talent whatsoever. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), I *really* enjoy karaoke, and I had solos in two musicals while in college, plus a duet as a mad scientist with a six foot tall redheaded fembot.
18. For another (non-singing) role my senior year of college, I lost 25 pounds in two months to play a homeless guy.
19. I always wanted to be a math geek, but it was too much work. Instead, I was just a regular geek.
20. My FB friends include one person I went to school with from nursery school through eighth grade, two people I went to school with from kindergarten through eighth grade, including the best man at my wedding, one person I went to school with from kindergarten through high school, as well as more than one person I know only over teh intertubes.
21. The Siren and I named Junior after our favorite author.
22. I have started the Chicago Marathon five times, and finished it four times. I finished it in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003. In 2006, I had knee problems that stopped me running at my 19 and stopped me walking at mile 21. I had never had knee pain before that day, and I have had it off and on ever since. I have run five half marathons and numerous shorter races since, but haven’t tried another marathon.
23. I have read more books about Theodore Roosevelt than any other non-fiction subject, all as the result of being assigned an excerpt from his autobiography in American Civilization in college.
24. I read Thomas Pynchon’s V. in 1992, and five minutes after I finished it could hardly have told you anything about it. Seventeen years later, I don’t remember anything about it at all.
25. I read 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, and We in middle school. *Those* made an impression.

I’m not going to tag 16 people — if you’re interested in talking about yourself, consider yourself tagged.  Please leave a link in the comments if you tag yourself.