Belated Minor Update

As usual I failed at my latest story writing objective. I’ve taken some time off this past month to deal with the consequences of yet another failure and have steeled myself to start again tomorrow. I figure with November being National Novel Writing Month it’s always a good time to put my best foot forward and give it another try.

Really kicked back and didn’t think about it much at all this past month. Hopefully I can report back a success next time, but probably, realistically, not.

Changes

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So, shock of shocks, I haven’t posted in a while, but for once I actually have a good reason! I finally got that shift change I wanted at my workplace. Because of that I’ve had to make a few changes in my life. It took a while to find a way to work my old routines back into my life, but I’ve finally got it down pat once again. So, for that, I’m happy. Hopefully I can get back to some sort of semi-regular posting rate for this blog.

I’m happy to report that physically I am doing much better now. Getting away from my previous job, which was rather grueling to say the least, has me feeling better than I have in many years. I’ve been scorching the treadmill everyday for what has amounted to several weeks now. I feel great physically and that has helped me to feel better mentally.

Another thing that has helped me to feel better is the addition of a new dog to the family. Her name is Lucy. Being a combination Maltese/Jack Russell means she is a hyperactive basket case. The perfect addition to my household. She acts as a personal trainer for my Miniature Dachshund, Otis. She is great with people and a joy to be around. I do wish our house-training for her was going bit more smoothly, but she’ll get the hang of it eventually. One bright side to all of this is that I’m becoming quite the expert with a mop.

During the time since my last post I kicked around a few story ideas and recently managed to start putting one of them to paper. I’ll be honest, I am just totally seat of the pants writing this one. I was just feeling antsy to start writing something, and I’ve been planning and plotting out other ideas in great detail, but something about this story just made me feel excited enough to dive in headlong and start writing immediately. Plus, being brutally honest, when I’m not actively writing, my depression beats me down. It’s very upsetting when all I’m doing is plotting and planning. It’s all very simple for me– if I’m writing, I’m happy. If I’m not writing? I’m absolutely miserable. So I gotta do what I can to keep myself writing and smiling.

I also have other, far less important, news about how I’m spending my free time when I’m not working on my writing or exercising. I was always afraid to talk about this stuff since I feel people would judge me for my preferences, but really, who cares? No point in being ashamed of myself. I am, however, still going to withhold information on the books I’m reading. Not for any shame of what they are, but because it’s too easy for people to spoil books on the internet, even accidentally. So I’m just going to avoid the conversation about books I am reading until I finish a series. When that happens perhaps I will devote a whole post to the topic of that one series. We’ll see.

I’ve made a lot of room on my TV schedule. I dropped some shows that have been declining, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars specifically, and also gave up on a show that I enjoyed but simply do not have the free hours to watch anymore– The Originals, it will be missed. I’ve also condensed my viewing of professional wrestling down to an average of less than five minutes per week. The shows are so entrenched in their lazy formula that you can watch them on ultra fast forward and get just as much out of it as if you wasted your time watching the whole event, but I digress. If I get rambling about it I could go about how horrible professional wrestling has become for many, many, paragraphs, and nobody wants that.

In gaming news I’ve moved on from NHL 15. I won the league title in Hockey Ultimate team twice. Translated for the non-gamer that sentence provides two important bits of information. One– that I spent way too much time playing virtual hockey, an almost yearly tradition in my life at this point, and two– that I’m going to die alone. That was always in the cards though. After leaving NHL I made a return to Diablo 3 and have been splitting time between it and the brilliant new game, Rocket League.

It feels great to be posting again and I think I want to take a stab at a few new content ideas for this blog, so hopefully I’ll get to test those ideas out soon, but we’ll see. Those of you who have been reading since the beginning know just how sporadic my posting history is. Still, maybe this post will be the moment I finally find consistency and establish myself as a serious blogger– probably not.

The Cycle

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As usual, it has been quite some time since my last post. I thought writing about my last failure so close to it actually happening would help me cope with it and move on to my next project more quickly, but alas I went through my usual cycle of mourning afterward. What is that cycle? It’s a lot like the down period in a romantic comedy after the girl breaks up with her boyfriend, only instead of drowning my sorrows in ice cream I end up spending an inordinate amount of time playing video games and trying not to think about anything writing related until I get a jolt of inspiration.

Doesn’t sound so bad right? It wouldn’t be if I could commit to the part where I just play video games until getting that next jolt of inspiration, but it never happens that way. Instead, for over a month I periodically try to split my time between playing games and brainstorming my next idea — which never works. When you’re feeling creatively tapped out I feel the best thing you can do is get as far away from trying to create as you can, but my own stubbornness kept me going back to the well because I wanted things to be different this time. I wanted to rebound more quickly, get back on the saddle more quickly, but all I did was shoot myself in the foot repeatedly like so many bad professional sports coaches. I kept doing the same thing and hoping for different results.

It wasn’t until a week ago that everything finally came together. I successfully pushed my writing out of my mind for long enough that a new idea began to take root somewhere in my subconscious. The past few days have been wonderful as it has taken hold of my imagination. I’m ready to begin the cycle of writing anew, and maybe, just maybe this will be the time it all works out. Probably not, but that hope is what keeps me going.

Again

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Well, the usual happened, this draft of my story, as with all others, has ended up a failure. Still though, the progress in this draft was very meaningful. I’ve retained a great deal from this draft for the next effort. Disappointing? Yes. Of course I wanted to finish the base story in this attempt. It’s a setback, but I’ll live.

Just wanted to post a tiny status update.

Up and Down. Mostly Down.

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So, I haven’t posted for a bit. February, for the most part, went rather well for me. I managed to hammer out a second consecutive 11,000 word month, but towards the end, and thus far into March, I’ve struggled a great deal. The reasons are many-fold at this point, I think writing about them today will help me work through the issues.

The first issue is that I’ve been battling my depression rather mightily this month. I’ve reduced the amount of days I go into work because my body feels thrashed. At the same time, doing this, it’s ultimately going to cause me to lose my health insurance coverage, but I just cannot take the pain anymore. Having to buy separate insurance from what my workplace provides is going to cost me a great deal of money, and the company has been less than cooperative about transferring me to a less labor intensive position. The obvious answer then is just to leave right? But after 7+ years at this place, my wage would be rather difficult to replace locally. So I’m in a real conundrum here. More than anything this situation has weighed on me mentally and it’s hurting my overall quality of life in a way that I simply cannot counterbalance.

Beyond that i ran into a problem that conquered me in the past. A problem where-in I start looking at the story so far, what I’ve worked on, and declaring it to be trash. However, experience has taught me that this is indeed a first draft thing. I might not be happy with what’s there, but by no means does it need to be perfect this time through. I know that’s the attitude I have to adopt, and so I have. It was weighing on me for a bit before I realized I was falling into the classic trap of agonizing too much over my first draft. I have to admit to being a little pleased with myself that I’ve moved beyond this point. To me, it shows that I’m developing some maturity as a writer.

The third issue didn’t dawn on me until now, but I think I need to stop what I’m doing. And set aside time to one day, very soon, do a complete read through of the draft so far. I need to get a better feel for how the story as a whole reads, flows. I’d like to get some private time and do an out loud reading for myself just to see how it works. It might be a touch difficult to find time for this, but I’m promising myself I’ll find some way to make it work this weekend.

I think more than anything these factors have contributed to what has been, to this point, a very poor March. I’m prepared to chalk March up in the loss column and begin laying the groundwork for a better April.

Anyway, I don’t really have much else I feel like talking about in this particular update, but I thought it’d be a good idea to share the results of some honest introspection with the world. Give a bit of a look into how I tick. Hopefully I’ll have more positive news to report in the near future.

Playing the long game

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As an adult I have become someone who always looks ahead. It’s very rare I ever make a decision thinking about the here and now. This is especially true when it comes to decisions involving money. Even something as cheap as buying an MP3 download for a dollar is something I find myself mulling over. Often for a day or two. I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily, it’s just that, as a child, you never imagine yourself ending up like this.

Curtailing the urge to spend money was not a skill I easily acquired. My parents, to their own fiscal detriment, buried me under a pile of video games. I’m not complaining, I did and still do enjoy video games to this day, but when you get used to being able to have anything you want at any moment it makes restraint a rather difficult concept to grasp. I think a lot of young people grew up the way I did. They had parents who gave them whatever they wanted, and so they never had to learn fiscal responsibility. I mean until I was an adult, my greatest fiscal accomplishment was saving up my allowance to buy Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo– which ended up costing more than I thought it would and my folks had to cover that for me.

My parents had some money problems over the years, but they did a good job of keeping that from me, not wanting me to know what was going on. I had a difficult enough time in school as it was and I think they did not want me fretting over anything more than I already did. It’s fair to say I was a borderline basket case. My folks, as much as they cared for me, probably did me a disservice there, but who’s to say how the old me would have handled it? Probably not particularly well knowing how I was at that age. I still think it’s a conversation that should have happened though.

So what was it that ultimately taught me the importance of finance management? Was it the public school system? No.  It was barely ever mentioned in the entirety of my K-12 experience. As a rough guesstimate, I’d say less than 5 hours of school time was devoted to this topic. I find it  humorous, in a rather twisted way, that an institution that is centered around careful budgeting could not find time to impart wisdom on the subject to the young minds it’s supposed to serve. No, what ultimately taught me about the importance of budgeting was ESPN, or more specifically, sports news in general.

Sports in the modern-day is as much about money as it is the actual competition on the field. If you follow sports as closely as I do then you already know what I’m talking about. Players make millions, but other money topics are always making headlines, stuff like, merchandising, collective bargaining, salary caps, gambling, and I’m sure there are at least a few others that I’m forgetting. The point is finances are a constant topic of discussion when it comes to sports. So while I was never a jock, sports got me interested in the idea of financial management. The large amounts of money being commanded by the leagues and players was fascinating to me, but what I especially took note of was the seemingly endless struggle of players who were making millions of dollars to stay out of bankruptcy following their playing careers.

A quick google search will link you to thousands of tales of woe. More than anything these cautionary tales are what taught me the importance of fiscal restraint. If someone with millions, or even hundreds of millions can end up penniless and living on the street, what’s to stop someone like me, with far more limited resources, from ending up the same way? These guys never learned the value of a dollar until it was too late, but through their struggles they did teach me, and for that I’m forever grateful.

One month later

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On the last day of 2014 I started work on my latest project, and I have to say that I am pleased with the results thus far. I was worried that the skills I had developed may have eroded over the winter break, but those fears were unfounded. I tore it up all throughout the month of January as my refined writing process let me produce better results on the first pass through.

Towards the end of the year I did a little reading to get back in the swing of things. The best piece of advice that I found from the manuals I reviewed was the most basic step of all, “just write.” During my winter break in which I worked exclusively on plotting out projects I often felt stymied by my inability to drum up new ideas. Just doing a little bit of writing, even if it’s all gibberish, is a great way to get the gears turning. The instant I started actually writing I got into a rhythm and found it easier to plot things out further ahead in the story.

After managing 11,000+ words in January I gave myself February 1st off to enjoy Super Sunday. Today I got right back to work and knocked out another 800 words or so. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how things are going. Maybe this idea will be the first one I manage a complete story for.

Rough day

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Just had a nasty fall at my day job. Ruined some clothes and very nearly did serious damage to my knees. Thankfully I’m alright.

Incidents like this only serve to make me more determined to finish my story and get out of this place. I feel like, in the last few weeks, I’ve learned a lot. Really excited to see where my current project heads in the next month or so.

Breakthrough

I took some time away from serious writing work during the holiday season. Had some things to deal with, and also I wanted to take some time off to enjoy other diversions, namely, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. That game is awesome.

I didn’t completely abandon my writing during this time. I put in I incremental work on a new story concept, and now, just a few days removed from Christmas, my creative mind is racing. Feels good to know the stuff I’ve been working so hard on is sticking in my craw and not wasting away.

Feels

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Just found out not even an hour ago that my dog of 14 years, who I have been exceedingly fortunate to have, is approaching the end of his time in this world. He has exceeded the average age of his breed by two years and so I am trying not to get too depressed over his pending passage. I remember 6 years ago when he injured his back. He made the most terrifying sound I’ve ever heard and I feared for his life then, and so for him to have fully recovered and lived as long as he has was a tremendous victory. I’m trying to be grateful for what I got from that. I can still remember the rehab and him learning how to walk again. I’m going to make him comfortable until the time comes that he starts to go downhill and then I’ll have the vet treat him to a humane end.

Always cherish your time with your pets. It’s all too brief.