Tag Archives: Blogging

Winter Sunday Stats #6: Breaking Through 200 Two Times.

As you all know, it has been a pretty eventful week.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it since I’ve already posted about it, but — just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something — I’ll give it a quick mention:  I posted my two-hundredth entry on this blog on Thursday.  Not too shabby, I should think.

There was that big thing in Washington, too, but that’s over and wasn’t about me.

On to the stats:

On Writing:  The writing stat for the week is 62, which is the number of pages of Meet the Larssons I have revised since last week’s post.  I have revised 204 pages so far, which is the second milestone “200” I broke through this week.  I just hope I can get through page 300 before blog post #300.

The price of burning through 62 pages of revisions is that I didn’t do anything on the outline for Project Hometown or to finish the draft of “Jamie’s Story.”  I’m going to be traveling most of this week for work (someplace warm!), but I may have a little time to write in the evenings.  If I do, I’ll probably work on “Jamie’s Story,” although I may just bring pages of MTL to mark up.

On Running: Today wasn’t bad.  It was 4 degrees (F) when I started my run at 11am (it’s up to 7 as I write this), so once again I was on the treadmill.  I ran 7.37 miles in an hour even (8:08 m/m), which is pretty good.  I got a couple of short runs in during the week, including my first hill workout in over a month.  I didn’t make 20 miles for the week, but I’m definitely getting back into running shape.

The only hitch is that my knee did something odd and painful last night.  I’m not even sure what I was doing — possibly standing up from putting in the DVD for family movie night (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, if you’re wondering) — but nothing memorable.  The pain lasted a little while, fading over about 15 minutes, and felt like it was possibly a pulled tendon or ligament on the inside of the leg, just below the joint.  It didn’t bother me during my run this morning, but it felt very stiff when I was done.  Stretching helped, and I’ll ice it tonight.  But the long plane ride tomorrow makes me a little nervous.

On the iPod: I liked Scott Sigler’s Earthcore so much I downloaded his next book, Ancestor, this week and started listening to it, and I’m already sucked in.  Scott’s entertained me enough already for free, so when I get back from my trip I’m going to pick up copies of Infected and Contagious at the bookstore.  I also listened to I Should Be Writing #109 (interview with Scott Sigler — these new media types are everywhere when they’ve got a new book out), Writing Excuses, Season 2, Episode 15 (Knowing When to Begin), and Phedippidations #170 (Thoughts from the Road).  I also downloaded a boatload of 80s music the other night, because I was in a discussion with the Siren about a Facebook quiz about the 1980s and realized I didn’t have “I’ll Melt With You” in iTunes.  As it turns out, the 80s music is excellent to write to, because it’s so familiar it doesn’t require any processing power.

Things are getting a little chaotic here.  We’re all in the basement right now.  Unfocused Girl is playing some kind of game on the Warriors website — it looks like a variation on original Adventure — and cackling like a madwoman.  Junior suddenly decided that his old train table — which we stood on end and moved against the wall months ago because he wasn’t playing with his Thomas trains anymore — was the most precious thing in the world, and got hysterical at the thought that we might give it away (in reality, the Siren just planned to break it down and put it in the crawl space until he was really done with it); he’s only just calmed down.  Time to wrap this up.

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Do Not Annoy Happy Fun Ball.

Ralfast of Neither Here Nor There has tagged me with directions to identify six things that make me happy.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to talk about myself, I am happy to comply.

Two caveats, before I start:

1.  You’ll note sex isn’t on the list.  This is not because sex does not make me happy; to the contrary.  But everyone I’ve seen do this meme has listed sex, and it seems a little like a cop-out at this point for me to include it, too.  Or I could include breathing on the list as well, and only have to think of four things.

Also, my mother occasionally reads this blog.

2.  The list is not in any kind of order.  I’m even going to mix it up when I’m done so it isn’t in the order I think of things.  Because I detest prioritizing.

THE LIST OF SIX THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY:

G.  Running.  I like to run.  I like running long distances in particular.  I like running in lousy weather, I even like running on a treadmill if that’s my only option.  I get very, very unhappy when I can’t run.

π.  Climbing walls.  I’ve only done it a few times, but there’s something indescribably wonderful about climbing a thirty-foot climbing wall, muscles screaming, hands scrabbling for purchase…

57.  My family.  The Green Eyed Siren and I have been together for more than 20 years, and we can still surprise and delight each other.  Our kids are genuinely nice, compassionate people who are interesting to talk to.  Is it any wonder that my first instinct when I get invited out for drinks after work is to say no?

AAA.  Apocolyptic science fiction.  Give me a good end of the world (or end of the world as we know it) story — zombies, the singularity, gray goo, whatever — and I’m engrossed.  I suspect it comes from growing up in the shadow of Teh Bomb (and within the probable kill zone from an H-bomb strike on Kennedy Airport).

¥. France.  The nation of France makes me happy.  I’ve been through most of it, and I love the towns, I love the cities, I love the food.  I don’t love the bathrooms at the youth hostel in Cassis, but the little canyons and secluded beaches make up for it.

6.  The beach.  Every summer, the Unfocused family packs up and heads for the beach for a week or two.  It is always the highlight of our year.

Now I’m supposed to tag six of you, but I’m just going to let you tag yourselves (Mike, this means you).  If you do, please leave a link in the comments.

Mrs. Unfocused Declares Independence.

I’d like to welcome my wife to the blogosphere.  Mrs. Unfocused informs me that I do not say enough nice things about her in my blog (even though she deserves to be praised to the skies), and she has decided to take matters into her own hands.  The-Spouse-Formerly-Known-As-Mrs.-Unfocused is now blogging at The Siren, Syncopated under the screen name the Green Eyed Siren (which fits, because she is one). I’ll use that name for her here as well, since in real life she never took my name and it rankled her a bit that here on the tubes she was stuck with it.

Something else to add to the list of Things Daddy Must Never Joke About:  explaining the myth of the sirens to the kids, I said that they were beautiful women whose mesmerizing songs would lure sailors to their doom, and then added, “they were beautiful and dangerous, just like Mommy.”  And then we all had a good laugh and moved on.

Not.  But Junior eventually stopped berating me for being so mean, and only brought it up three or four more times before he went to bed.

It’s My Blogiversary! Special Yearly Stats!

As I start this post, there are 43 minutes left in the one-year anniversary of this blog.  This is because I’m a dipshit, and I forgot.

And I was busy.  I was in court for a while, then had some meetings, y’know, stuff.  But still, no excuse.  So let’s go straight to the recap.

A year ago, I started this blog to try and develop some discipline for writing.  I had always wanted to be a writer, from when I first started typing stories on my father’s Royal typewriter and when I got my own first typewriter — an old one of my mother’s, I think — in roughly 1980.  I wrote a number of science fiction stories in high school and college, none of which (thank goodness) were ever published.

I also wrote a couple of “literary” stories while in college.  None of these went anywhere, either, except the one I read over the air on WHPK because a friend of mine who worked at the station had decided to fill some open time with student-authors reading their work aloud.  I understand that they recovered their lost listeners in a couple of years.

I started a novel after graduating college, and worked on it off and on into law school.  It was about 75 pages when I gave up on it.

And that, ladies and germs, was it.  In my head, I still thought of myself as a writer.  When being a junior litigation associate sucked or I got bored because I didn’t have any new cases, I bought a copy of Writer’s Digest.  But then I’d get busy or something new would come in the door, and the magazine would get recycled and I wouldn’t write anything.  When I got passed over for partner at my old firm, I stalked out of the building, walked over to Borders, and bought a copy of Writers Market.  Then my boss called my cell, and she and her boss met me for lunch, and promised I’d make it next year.  So the next day I went back to work, and the next year I made partner, and I didn’t write anything.

A couple of years later, I changed firms.  And I still didn’t write anything.

Then last year, in mid-December, I burned out.  I’d been working my ass off, and I was bored out of my skull.  I had interesting cases, terrific clients, senior partners I respected and could learn from and people junior to me who I wasn’t afraid to delegate to, and I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning.

An old friend had recently suggested that the Mrs. and I start up a joint blog to post our every day witty banter for others’ enjoyment — it’s like a frakking sitcom around here, all the time (and yes, I do play the clueless dad, thanks for asking) — but the Mrs. declined.  I got a kick out of the idea, so without having any idea what I was getting into, I registered half a dozen domains and settled on this one.

Four days later, on Dec. 21, 2007, I came home from work and didn’t go back to work until Jan. 2.  I worked from home, hung out with the Mrs. and kids, and thought about what I wanted to do.  The goal, I decided would be to get in the habit of writing with the blog, write one short story and maybe an article in my field, and then do NaNoWriMo in November.

Then I started writing.

And writing.

And writing.

This has been a lot of fun.  The biggest surprise has been meeting people through the intertubes — you’re all on the blogroll on the sidebar, you know who you are — which has been a lot of fun.  I think this blog has served its original purpose, too, which was to force me into the habit of writing regularly, which it has done with the blog entries themselves and with my constant public posting about word and page counts, did I write today, didn’t I write, yadda yadda yadda.  It may be boring you, but it’s keeping my ass planted in my chair and forcing me to write because I hate the posts where all I can say is “Today I sat on the sofa and ate Ho-Hos and watched Stupid Pet Tricks.  Damn, those pets say some wacky stuff!”

16 minutes until it’s over.

So thank you for being out there.  Thank you for reading my occasionally coherent ramblings.  Thank you for commenting, for applauding my rare successes and my more frequent defeats, and for shaming me back to my desk when I need a good shaming.

And now (14 minutes to go) for some stats:

Writing:  153,000 words of fiction, which includes one complete first draft of a novel (104,000 words, 500 printed pages), one 13,000-word novelette (drafted, multiple revisions, submitted to multiple markets), two short stories (revised and out on submission), one short story (first draft completed), and two flash pieces (one posted here, one accepted and published at 365tomorrows.com), plus innumerable drafts and projects started that will probably never see the light of day.

Plus 178 blog posts.

So now I’m a writer, for real, not just in my head.  Now when I read books on writing, or even Writers Market, I’m not just daydreaming.  This is a good thing.

I used to say that I could get back into writing when I was older and had more flexibility, or retired.  All I did was put off doing what I wanted to do, which means that I’ll simply do less of it than if I’d started 10 years ago.  But at least I’ll do more of it than if I had waited another 10 years.

Happy blogiversary to me.  It’s past midnight.  Time to blow out the candles and go to bed.

October Blog Chain: Novelus Interruptus

It’s time for another Absolute Write blog chain, and this time our fearless leader is Ralph at Neither Here Nor There.  He started us off with his post about the agony of working on the second draft of his novel in Of Anxieties, Frustrations and Self-Imposed Deadlines; if you haven’t read it, you should.  I’ll wait.

Tonight, I can only aspire to know Ralph’s pain.  I am thisclose to finishing the first draft of Meet the Larssons, the novel I’ve been working on since January 2.  I wrote something over 3,000 words yesterday alone; I finally called it a night out of sheer exhaustion sometime after 1am.  The draft is currently over 102,000 words long.

But I didn’t finish it.  I have at least two scenes left to go:  the final scene I’ve had in mind since I first hashed out a couple of pages of notes on January 2, and one scene to get me there. If I hadn’t spent all evening working on a brief, I might have finished it this evening.  As it is, I may not get any concentrated time to work on it until Monday, because the whole family is trekking out to New York for a wedding.  We leave tomorrow, and because we’ve got a box full of crazy with our names on it, we’re driving to the Catskills in one day.  Road trip!  So I probably won’t finish until next week, which is a little frustrating.

Not as frustrating as it’s going to be restructuring MTL after I type “The End,” though.  Those few pages of notes are the only outline I’ve ever done for this book, and it shows.  If I’d spent more time outlining, I might not have had to do as much reworking in the second draft; I might even have bee able to skip the second draft altogether and go straight to the third draft, editing words one at a time instead of moving around entire chapters.  On the other hand, I might never have started writing the novel at all, and just figuratively tossed those notes into the same cluttered drawer with all of my other unfinished (or unstarted) ideas for novels or stories over the past 15 years.

Once I have this novel under my belt, though, when I start my next one — and there will be a next one — I expect to spend a lot more time outlining it, maybe chapter by chapter.  I have always thought of myself as an organic writer as opposed to an outliner, but I think I’ll try it the other way to see if it works better.

So what about you, Sassee?  Do you outline, or do you just start throwing words onto the page?

Neither Here Nor There
Unfocused Me
A Blog, I Has One
Headdesk
Spittin’ Out Words Like a Llama
Life in Scribbletown
Organized Chaos
South Asia Fair
Spynotes
Corvette — An American Dream
Christian Woman

Excuse Me While I Take Another Vivarin.

While I was on vacation, Mike over at Everything Under the Sun gave me his “Time Management Award” as part of his response to Karen’s Weekend Assignment #228:  Design an Award.  This is proof positive that Mike and I have never met in real life.

Thanks, Mike!

Back to the Larssons.

June, quite simply, kicked my ass. Between May 28 and July 3, I spent 16 days on the road, and generally worked my keister off the rest of the time. It annoyed the kids, (Unfocused Girl, in particular), messed up my running schedule, cut my week at the beach into a weekend, and dumped extra work on the already-overburdened Mrs. Unfocused.

It also, unsurprisingly, took whatever discipline I had about my writing and put a bullet through its kneecap. How bad did it get, you ask? I scrolled back through the archives to find the post announcing I had hit 75,000 words. Here it is: Spring Sunday Stats #2, my post from May 18. That day, I added 2,200 words to my word count, and finished at 75,945.

Where am I now? This evening I wrote just over 1,000 words, and finished at 80,718. In the last eight weeks, I have managed to write a little less than 4,800 words. Before 6pm this evening, that number would have been 3,800, mostly consisting of two or three hundred word bursts typed on the train during my commute.

The travel did most of the damage. I’ve had very little downtime on these trips — there’s been a lot of sitting around in conference rooms, but very little time when I’ve been off the clock — and even on the plane traveling to and from my meetings, I’ve either been working or catching up on my sleep.

Even when I’ve been home, though, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting back into Meet the Larssons. I think writing on the train, which I’ve been doing for months, has been part of the problem. Instead of using the train time to supplement my writing at home in the evenings and on the weekends, it became my primary writing time. The problem is that my commute is too short to give me time to think about what I’m writing, or to get my head back into the characters and storyline. Without the longer blocks of time at home, my writing on the train gradually decoupled from the broader arc of the novel, and it got harder and harder to keep going.

I finally figured this out over the Fourth of July weekend. When I realized what the problem was, I started rereading the early chapters of MTL, to try and get back into the book. It worked beautifully. I have a page of notes after reading the first four chapters, knocked out 1,000 words tonight that start bringing back ideas I had for the book back when I started writing it, and have half a page of notes for the next chapter. I may keep rereading, but these early chapters may have been enough. Now I just need to recapture the discipline I had developed back in March and April, and I may yet have this first draft finished by Labor Day.

Also, you may notice that I have revised my word count goal in the meter in the sidebar from 100,000 to 125,000. I think that’s more realistic for this draft than the 100,000 I’ve been working with; there are close to 20,000 words in the first eight chapters that I expect to cut in the first revision; they contain important backstory, but I don’t think they work as part of the narrative, and clearly I’m not 80 percent finished telling the story. 125K is a good enough estimate for the first draft, and I’ll try to take it closer to 100K in the next draft.

Finally, not that my comments on your blogs are anything special, but if you’ve noticed I haven’t been commenting on your blog posts, it’s because I haven’t been commenting on (hardly) anything. I just haven’t had the time or the energy. I have been reading your blogs, though, and will try to stop lurking and start participating a little more now that my travel schedule has slowed down a bit.

Dear God, Has It Been 10 Days Since I Posted?

Apparently, it has. I’d like to tell you it’s because I’ve been working on something really special for my 100th post, which is what my next post will be. I’d like to tell you that, but it would be a big, fat lie. In truth, I’ve just been working. Not on my novel, not on a short story, just on the stuff that pays the bills: representing clients (99% of my work time) and trying to bring in new ones (1% — anybody see a flaw in the way that breaks down?). I’ve been very, very busy, with a fair amount of traveling, and more to come next week.

Tomorrow is Unfocused Girl’s very, very belated birthday party. How belated, you ask? Here’s a hint: she’s seven, and this will be her first birthday party without snow on the ground.

This year, her party’s theme will be Warriors, and it will be her first slumber party, so I expect that by this time tomorrow night, our backyard will be taken over by a pack of girls ages 7 to 10 in their pajamas, running around in the dark and pretending to be a tribe of feral cats. And one four year old boy pretending to be Superman. This is going to be interesting.

Meet the Larssons has ground to a halt these last couple of weeks. The few people I’ve told I’m working on a novel have all asked me “Where do you find the time?” For the last couple of months, it’s gotten much harder, and the last couple of weeks, it’s been impossible.

*interruption*

Sorry about that – the kids were in the tub, and it was time to get them out. For the last half hour, Unfocused Girl has been singing “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape” from Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Sound, and now my head needs to explode. The Potter Puppet Pals are funny, funny stuff, but I’m tired enough that my tolerance for infinite replay is something less than what it should be.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to get back to the novel. What I need are a few days when I can spend an hour or more a day working on it in isolation. I had six days off planned starting next Tuesday, but an unavoidable business trip has popped up at the beginning of it, so instead I’ll get Mrs. Unfocused and the kids most of the way to my mother’s, then go on to my meetings; when they’re over, I’ll catch up with the wife and kids and we’ll head to the beach for a couple of days. Maybe I can get some writing in then.

It’s a Biglaw career I’ve got here, and sometimes (much of the time) it can be really hard to hang onto any semblance of a personal life. I know that’s true of other jobs, but this is the one I’ve got and the one I know best. I know I just need to get my butt in my seat in front of the MacBook on a regular basis, but sometimes the writing has to get back burnered. I’ve been beating myself up for not writing when what I really need to do is stop kvetching and find 15 minutes even on a bad day and just write.

Finally, I want to mention the passing today of a great American journalist, Tim Russert. Since we’ve had kids, Meet the Press has been a rare treat, but we used to watch it every Sunday morning, and we still enjoyed his commentary during MSNBC’s election coverage. Probably my most vivid memory of the 2000 election is of finally dropping off at 1 or 2 in the morning with the TV on, and waking up at 6 to find Russert still on air, in need of a shave and a clean shirt, with his white board and his red and blue markers trying to make sense of what the hell had just happened. He knew what he was talking about, he wasn’t one of the shouters, and I’ll miss his even-tempered commentary on this election.

Up next: Post #100! I can just smell the excitement. Or my shoes.

Update on the To Do List.

Last night, as part of responding to a meme-tag from Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown, I posted five things from my to do list for today and promised to report on how I did. Here’s the report

1. Go for a run in the morning.

It wasn’t pretty, but I did go for a run this morning. I was slow as molasses, even slower than I was on Sunday. Despite the day off yesterday, my legs — my quads, mostly — ached and had nothing to give me. On Sunday, I ran 9.57 in 1:22:37 (an average pace of 8:38 minutes/mile); this morning, I ran 3.64 miles in 35:21, an average pace of 9:42. I’m not entirely sure what happened, excepted that I lifted at the gym on Saturday (including squats) for the first time in three weeks, and may have taken too much out of my leg muscles.

2. Submit TTB to another magazine (snail mail again).

I took care of this on my way to the office. It cost $2.53 for first class mail (no surprise there — it’s a 63-page manuscript).

3. Take my glasses to the optometrist to have new lenses installed.

Yup, got this done at lunch, dropped off my regular glasses and my sunglasses just before the deluge started. I’m hoping they’ll be done by Friday; I’m traveling next week, and I’m stuck wearing my spare glasses until then, and I hate hate hate traveling with only one pair of glasses.

4. Make significant progress on a couple of briefs I need to get through by the end of the week.

I did all right on this one. I got a first draft finished this afternoon on the easier one, and spent most of the evening (when I wasn’t watching Barack’s victory speech or Hillary’s “victory” speech) working on the hard one. Lots more to do, but I got them off the ground, which was what I needed to do today.

5. Write 500 words — just 500 lousy words! — of Meet the Larssons.

Yeah, well, you can’t do everything. Nobody’s perfect. I wrote 350 words, all of them on the train. I got jammed up with work (see no. 4, above). I’ll try again tomorrow.

So there you have it. I have to say, I almost certainly would have turned off the alarm and gone back to bed this morning if I hadn’t posted about going for a run, so thanks for the social pressure.

Another Meme About Me.

Well, I’ve taken my sweet time on this post. I got tagged by Freshhell a week and a half ago to talk about myself. I like talking about myself, so I’m happy to play along. Since Freshhell is a rebel (and she never ever does… what she should), she didn’t post the rules for the meme. As an attorney, this type of anarchistic adhocracy makes me nervous and insecure, but I’ll do my best to work with what I’ve been able to deduce from Freshhell’s entry.

What was I doing ten years ago?

In 1998, I was a third year litigation associate at my old firm, one of the oldest large law firms in town. Mrs. Unfocused and I had been married, but there were no little Unfocuseds on the scene yet. I traveled a lot that summer for work, mostly to Los Angeles (fun!) and Dallas (kill me!). Along with a number of my colleagues, I reviewed documents under the watchful — and heavily armed — guard of a rotating crew of FBI agents in an shuttered post office. Not the worst place I’ve ever reviewed documents (that would be at a shuttered mine, where I had to watch out for snakes and armed poachers), but the latex gloves we had to wear added a special layer of indignity to an already awful project.

The Mrs. and I also went to Paris that November, and spent the entire week NOT going to museums or monuments. We ate in wonderful restaurants, and looked for vintage posters. It was a fantastic week, despite the freezing weather.

Five things on my to do list today.

Since it’s 11pm, and “flossing” does not an interesting blog post make, I’ll give you five things on my to do list for tomorrow.

  1. Go for a run in the morning.
  2. Submit TTB to another magazine (snail mail again).
  3. Take my glasses to the optometrist to have new lenses installed.
  4. Make significant progress on a couple of briefs I need to get through by the end of the week.
  5. Write 500 words — just 500 lousy words! — of Meet the Larssons.

I’ll post tomorrow night or Wednesday to let you know how I did.

Snacks I enjoy.

My kryptonite: barbecue-flavored potato chips.

Things I’d do if I were a billionaire (in no particular order).

  1. Put almost all of the money in really easy investments, so that I wouldn’t have to spend all my time thinking about my money. Better still, hire a bank to deal with it for me.
  2. Set up a private foundation to give some of it away. Hire someone to manage that, too, so that I would only have to get involved with projects that interested me.
  3. Get my damn 5K time below 20 minutes. Even if I have to buy new knees to do it.
  4. Buy an apartment in Paris. The Mrs. always said she was a Rive Gauche kind of gal, she should have the chance to prove it.
  5. Also buy homes in London, Toronto, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Johannesburg. Diversification is important.
  6. Space Camp for the whole family.
  7. Make the time to finish the damn novel.
  8. Buy any domain name I think of.

Places I’ve lived.

  1. New York City (Manhattan) (July 1969-1970).
  2. New York City (Brooklyn) (1970-October 1987).
  3. Chicago (Hyde Park) (October 1987-August 1995, except as noted below).
  4. New York City (Brooklyn) (summers 1988, 1989).
  5. Lisieux, Normandy, France (March-June 1989).
  6. Washington D.C. (June-August 1990).
  7. Chapel Hill, North Carolina (August 1992-June 1993).
  8. Chicago (Budlong Woods) (June-September 1993, June-September 1994).
  9. Chicago (Andersonville) (August 1995-November 1996).
  10. Chicago (Edgewater) (November 1996-July 2002).
  11. Chicago (Old Irving Park) (July 2002-present)

Who I want to know more about.

Why, you, of course. Do your own post and leave a link here in the comments.