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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

8:15PM - Weight Watcher Woes

So I wrote a poem yesterday about Weight Watchers and how the program let me down.  Today I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some things (dog leash, dog food, batteries, heating pad) and when I got to the check-out lane who came up behind me but the woman who used to run the meetings I attended.  Timing, huh?  We chatted: I told her my thoughts about WW as a religion that changed gods every few years, and I told her I thought I just needed to pursue getting the stomach stapling surgery at this point.  She was very pleasant, no pressure or judging from her.

So I went forward to check out, and I loaded onto the conveyer belt the dog food...and the dog leash...and the batteries...and the heating pad.........
......
......
......
......and the potato chips...and the Oreos...and the Reese's Pieces...

Man, I wish I had not had those things in the cart.  But there they were, and there I was, and there she was.  Boyoboyoboyoboy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

8:12PM - Castleville

I am wasting way too much time on Castleville.  But I'm kind of enjoying it.  Am I?  Not really, but yeah, kinda.  I guess I have obsessions with such things -- it's the first thing I do when I get to the computer, but I always feel as if I have wasted time afterwards.  And I decide not to do it again.  Until I am thinking about using the computer again, and then I start thinking about Castleville.

I should quit it.  Diana has quit it.  I should quit it.

But it's so much fun.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

9:10PM - Intern

I'll be hosting an intern in my class again this semester; she starts next week.  Probably a week of observations and getting ready to teach, then a week of co-teaching, and then it's all her.  I'm basically there as support personnel after that.  Until the beginning of May, when I take over again and finish out the school year.

Last year my intern was from USF, and they awarded me two graduate-level classes I can take for free.  I was looking forward to a similar deal this year, but the intern is not from USF: she's from ... some other college I cannot remember the name of right off.  So I won't be getting two more free classes to USF -- I'll have to wait to see if this college has some similar benefit.  If not, well, too bad for me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

9:59AM - Facebook

What ever happened to my lovely blog?  I used to be so good about keeping it up.  Either here or at <lj user - orbadviser>, I've had a LiveJournal for at least ten years.  Ten years is such a very long time.  I guess what happened was Facebook.  Facebook came along and then instead of posting thoughtful entries about the day's events and my own varied ideas, I settled for briefer updates.  I actuall;y resisted FB for a few years, until two of my friends assured me that we could play Scrabble using FB.  Now, FB is the first thing I check when I get up in the morning.  Even before my e-mail.

I get almost no e-mail nowadays that isn't from some mailing list or company I've signed up for.  I used to get letters here and there -- again, now most of that occurs via chat on Facebook.

I need to quit Facebook.  I did quit it for a week as an experiment and life continued just fine.  But even as recently as three days ago, Facebook allowed me to reconnect with someone I had lost contact with.  I have re-secured one of my most important high school friendships via FB.  I have kept in contact with some students who have gone out into the real world.  So I think about dropping FB, and then I re-decide to keep it.  Just in case I am able to connect with someone else from my past.

But maybe I need to limit the FB.  I certainly don't need to be playing Castleville.  Perhaps a visit in the a.m. and a visit before bed, and anything else I need to express should go to LiveJournal. 

I used to love LJ so much.  I guess part of the drawing away from LJ is that almost no one I know uses the site anymore.  I used to have several friends on here who updated and commented and so on.  Now there's only really one person that I know who will read this and care about anything I have to say.

I have things to say, and LJ gives me a voice.  FB is like a party where your voice is one of many to be heard.  Twitter is worse -- it's a dance club where you communicate in quick statements yelled in someone's ear at the bar.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

12:10PM - Fall Came Early This Year


My new goal is not just to fall, but to fall in such a manner that I can be assured of being as embarrassed as humanly possible. I started out a few months ago by falling in the shower and not being able to get myself out, much less up, and having to call the fire department to come pick me up and get me on my feet. I am still grateful to those guys who came and did that and did it with such style and grace and didn’t make me feel ridiculous – at least not more ridiculous than I already felt.

This morning I wasn’t feeling well. I had a sore throat and thought I would go to the convenience store to get a quart of orange juice. I did not go to the store closest to my home because I know of a different store that has orange juice on sale; this other store is nowhere near as brightly lit (a fact which will become important later).

I also have to step up on a curb to get into the store; that too will become important. Also, there are those little stops for the car; you know, the little curb so your car tires know when to stop? Again, important foreshadowing.

I parked the car (at the curb) and got out. Should I lock the door, I asked myself. No, nothing to lock up. I’ll be quick. I stepped up on the curb, using the handicapped parking pole to balance myself, and walked into the store. No problem. I got my drinks and such, paid for my purchases, and exited the store.

This is the part that gets good.

I stepped down from the curb. No problem. I used the pole to balance. No problem. I stepped around the car curb. With one foot. The other snagged on the car curb. Problem.

Down I went. Crashed to the ground. Dropped my bag. Probably cussed, but definitely said, “Oh, come on.”

Would someone come out of the store to help me? Nope: no one saw. Remember the darkness? There’s more about the darkness in a second, but for right now just know that no one saw me.

So there I am, on the ground, on my back. I had fallen onto my knees (how have they survived after so many falls? I have no idea), rolled to my hip, and then onto my back. My head was downhill a bit, so I could not immediately sit up. I had to roll on my side, shift my position, and get up onto an elbow. At that point, I became aware that my shirt had ridden up above my belly. I tried to pull it down with little luck. As I managed to sit up, I also realized that my pants had fallen a bit. I’d need to pull them up when I could.

OK, no one from the store was coming to help me. No one was at the gas island. It was up to me. That was good: I wouldn’t have asked for or accepted help. But what was I going to do? I couldn’t just stand: I needed something to push up on. The curb? Too low. The pole? I need to push up, not pull up. But there was my car. Happily, I remembered that I had left my car unlocked. I got to my knees – painfully; they hurt! – and pulled at the handle. It was locked. No, it wasn’t locked. I tried it again. 

Yup, it was locked.

I got back onto my butt and reached into my pants pocket. I drew forth, not my keys, but just the door unlocking thing. It had broken off the keyring during the fall. I pressed the button to unlock the door. Lucky for me, it worked.

The problem now was that I had thirty seconds to open the door before it would re-lock itself. In that time, I had to get back to my knees (painful as it was), get back over to the car, and open it. If I didn’t make it, I’d have to do it all over again. Could I make it in time?

As I got to my knees again, I totally lost my pants. They fell down to my thighs, and by the time I had shuffled to the car, they were down to my knees. My shirt, which I had valiantly tried to pull down, was up above my belly again.

Normal Rockwell never painted pictures like this. Please be sure you get this vision firmly burned into your brain: the front of a no-name convenience store, dimly lit. A bag of dropped drinks and snackstuffs. An orange Honda Element with the driver’s door open. There, on his knees at the edge of the door, a very fat man with his shirt up above his huge belly, his pants crumpled around his knees, his boxer shorts catching a breeze from the cold morning air, distress etched into the lines of his face. And there, poised in the car’s doorway, our hero places unsteady hands on the floorboard and the inner door frame. He screws up his face, grits his teeth, and pushes down with his arms. As he rises, his pants fall down to his ankles.

But he’s up!

I rose, pulled my shirt down and my pants up as quickly as I could, and leaned against the car frame. It was only then that someone walked out of the store. I asked him to help me by picking up the things I dropped. He did so, explaining that he hadn’t seen me fall. I found the keys in my pocket, got into my car, and continued on my way. 

It’s a shame you weren’t there with a video camera – guaranteed viral video!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

10:49PM - Sick and Better

I didn't go to work yesterday: I wasn't feeling well and decided I could go ahead and take the day off. This is not a decision I make lightly because I do not like to give my classes busywork with a sub but I also want them to behave well. I have good classes, though, and I had assignments to give out that were genuine but did not require my immediate interaction with. So I called for a sub and took the day off.

I slept an extra three hours in the morning, then took a nap in the afternoon - I had a quart of orange juice and then chicken soup for lunch - I took it easy - and I felt better at the end of the day.


Today, after school, I took another nap. I wish I could get paid for taking naps: I'm a pro. Afterward, Diana and I went to a restaurant for dinner where we could also play Buzztime Trivia; we were pleasantly surprised to find they were playing live trivia there. In the end, we won second place: $15! Very cool.


I need to get moving on that writing goal of mine before it slips away.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

10:04PM - Weekend Weariness

Today, I graded papers all day. It's what a teacher has to do sometimes. I got up about 9:30, graded papers all morning, took a nap for a couple hours in the early afternoon, woke up feeling sick, graded more papers, and decided I was taking tomorrow off. I am planning to sleep and sleep, maybe get some orange juice and chicken soup in my system. I'm sure this will pass in a day or two.

I didn't update yesterday; we had to take the dogs to the vet -- the old man is just old, and the new puppy is just new, neither was sick -- and so spent all day in town. When we got home, I finally got my wife to sit still long enough to watch Inception -- I swear, that is an incredibly well-done movie. A little too violent in places, at least for me as a writer, but so thought-provoking and interesting.

Although I have not written anything for here, I have read the last few months Writer's Digest magazines and finished the first of Stephen King's four new novellas, "1922," from his book Full Dark, No Stars. I have a new appreciation for him after reading (and re-reading, and teaching) On Writing, and he is just masterful at creating and maintaining suspense. I hated every time I had to put the book down and do anything else. The next story is "Big Driver," but I am giving myself a day away so I can hit it fresh again.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

3:48AM - Black Swan

Friday was supposed to be my Dungeons & Dragons night, but two of the players called off. So Colin -- the DM -- and I decided to get some dinner, play some trivia, and finally decided to go see a movie.

As we sat at a high table in the bar area of Buffalo Wild Wings, we discussed what else to do that night. We had already eaten, and he had already beaten me at every trivia game we had played in the last couple hours, so we talked about going to see a movie. Both of us are married men, so we don't tend to go see movies very often -- our wives do not have the same sensibilities that we do when it comes to cinema. I pulled out my iPhone and called up the Flixter app to see what movies were playing and at what time.

First on the alphabetical listing for the nearest movieplex: Black Swan. "I heard that was supposed to be really good," he said.

"A couple of my students said it was really scary." My classes are half-filled with students who attend a school for the arts as part of their studies, and I have many dancers. "They said it was good, but they thought it was pretty intense." I flipped the screen downward with my index finger, reading off some other titles that neither of us was much interested in. Toward the end, though, was our winner: "True Grit?"

"The Coen Brothers," he nodded approvingly.

"I rented the John Wayne version from Redbox a couple weeks ago, thinking I might like to see this version. Sound good to you?"

He answered in his best John Wayne drawl: "Sounds right fine, little fella."

"I'd never seen a John Wayne movie before that one," I said.

"He won an Oscar for that movie, didn't he?"

I nodded. "Rooster Cogburn. I think I remember seeing that this was his only award."

Colin signed his credit slip and polished off his Black and Tan. "So, True Grit?" he asked.

"Either that or Black Swan," I replied. "But True Grit starts about 20 minutes earlier, so why don't we go see that?"

"Sounds good," he said. We pushed in our stools and started toward the exit.

"Probably better for us," I said with half a smile. "Two men going to see a Western makes more sense that two men going to see a ballet."

We decided to just take my car rather than both driving, and we managed to get a decent parking space for a Friday night. We both grumbled (as only men of our generation can) about the absurd cost of movie tickets. Colin tried to use his student ID ("I always carry it," he explained. "You never know. And I might get that PhD someday.") but the theatre had changed its policy and only offered special student rates on Thursdays.

He bought his ticket and stepped aside, and I bought mine. I looked at the ticket. "Damn," I muttered.

"What's wrong?"

"Theatre 13," I answered. I didn't realize at the time that he thought I had suddenly turned superstitous, but all he did was sagely nod as if he got it and followed me as I walked to the customer service desk.

The Regency 20 Theatre used to be called the Regency 8. About twenty years ago, they added twelve new state-of-the-art theatres with better screens, better sound, and -- most important -- better seats. I am a very large man, and although I *can* sit in the regular seats, it is not at all comfortable. Getting up after two hours of movie watching is also dfficult, and I just didn't want to embarrassment of having to ask him to help me up or to stand and watch as I got myself out of that predicament.

"Hi," I said brightly to the disaffected teenager who had been left in charge of the customer service desk. "Is theatre 13 one of the old theatres?"

"Yeah."

"Which theatre is Black Swan playing in?"

He looked it up on his computer. "Ten."

I looked at Colin. "You said Black Swan was okay. Is it still?"

"Sure, no problem."

I turned back to the kid. "Can we change theatres, please? I have trouble sitting in those old theatre seats."

He effected the transaction deftly and daftly, making no effort at customer relations other than the mere requirements of his job. (I mean, really, is a polite smile too much to ask?)

So my friend Colin and I found our way to the theatre and got what I always called "The Captain Seats": not too high up, and dead center. We talked about movie recommendations for each other until the previews started, and then we lost ourselves in the movie.

I do not want to give anything away, but when we left the movie we were both overwhelmed with questions and discussion topics. We answered one way and then the other and never did come to a satisfactory consensus on several important questions. I do not think I will ever watch the movie again -- it is probably better as a one-and-done than weakening its majesty with repeated viewings -- but I am glad we went to see it.

Someday, I want to write like that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

9:25PM - Another Author's Process

This is the response from Kevin J. Anderson, who wrote (what I am pretty sure was) the first Star Wars trilogy of novels back in 1994. I asked, you may recall, for authors I had contact with via Facebook to descvribe to me their writing process:

My writing is usually done with a digital recorder while I'm out hiking, and the files are transcribed by my typist. I then edit everything online in my office with loud music blasting...but as often as possible I head off to a cabin somewhere so I can work without interruption.

check out my blog, kjablog.com -- I have a lot of entries there describing various aspects of my process, as well as advice.


This is the first person I have heard who desribes using a recorder and a typist -- how cool is that?!?

I went to check out his blog and was excited to see that he had taken time to present eleven entries about advice for new writers, to "help you get more time for writing, and to produce more writing when you do have time." Definitely worth the reading!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

9:24PM - Trivia

I go to Gators Dockside every Wednesday with my wife, and we play live trivia. It's a team event, and we could have others join us, but she and I are the only ones who play reliably. We've won some money here and some money there, but with just two of us playing against teams of 6 and 8 people we don't stand much of a chance.

As a writer, I tend to look at the world differently from other people -- not differently from other writers, however: I am sure they do the exact same thing. The way I look at the world is to see how I can include things in future stories. Maybe something like a slow reveal of clues, especially if during the middle of the game the protagonist realizes he's getting information and the questions before he realized it now take on a much deeper significance. Oh, and of course there are questions he cannot figure out. And he cannot use his cell phone to find answers or he will be asked to leave, but he knows he needs to stay to hear the other clues.

Just thinking...

In case this has not yet become obvious, I am endeavoring to do something creative and pro-getting-published every day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

11:05PM - IWL and Flescher-Kincaid

I read in Writer's Digest about a site called I WRITE LIKE (iwl.me) which purports to analyze your writing and tell you which author you write most like. I entered the text of several things I have written and find that, overall, my writing is most like J.D. Salinger's. Different pieces offered J.R.R. Tolkein, Annie [sic] Rice, Stephanie Meyer, George Orwell, and Ray Bradbury, but several suggested the Salinger connection.

I don't know how much I believe in that site, though. For example, the Stephanie Meyer connection came with my short story "Cycles," which is about werewolves. So if it just looks for keywords then it really doesn't do what it says it does.

Doing this, however, reminded me of MS Word's readability statistics. You can set Word to tell you what grade level your writing is at; just follow these steps:

1. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
2. Click Proofing.
3. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
4. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.
5. Click F7 to check your spelling and grammar, and a box will pop up at the end.


For my short story "Grandpa Cliche," I get the following information:

COUNTS:
Words: 1054
Characters: 4425
Paragraphs: 27
Sentences: 65

AVERAGES:
Sentences per Paragraph:2.6
Words per Sentence: 16.1
Characters per Word: 4.0

READABILITY
Passive Sentences: 3%
Flesch Reading Ease: 81.0
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 5.9


In contrast, a paper called "Image Clusters as Proof of Shakespearean Authorship" I wrote for my Editing Shakespeare graduate-level class had the following statistics:

COUNTS:
Words: 2847
Characters: 14995
Paragraphs: 39
Sentences: 107

AVERAGES:
Sentences per Paragraph: 5.6
Words per Sentence: 25.0
Characters per Word: 5.1

READABILITY
Passive Sentences: 13%
Flesch Reading Ease: 37.9
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 13.6

I think this is a valuable tool and am glad I remembered it; I hope you will try it out too (and remember: the average reading level in the United States is 4th grade).

Monday, January 3, 2011

7:19PM - Advice from Poet's Market

The first article in Poet's Market is quite simply called "Getting Started," and it offers eight pieces of advice to those of us who want to publish our poetry:

1. Be an avid reader - real all the poetry you can, especially contemporary poetry that is being published today.

2. Knw what you like to writer--and what you write best - develop your style, but work in many styles so you have more diversified possibilities for publication

3. Learn the "business" of poetry publishing - read books magazines about writing, and surf the Internet for helpful advice

4. Research the markets - read several issues of any magazines you are considering submitting to; be aware of each market's submission guidelines and adhere to those

5. Start sloiwly - don't expect that New Yorker acceptance letter anytime soon -- look for markets that welcome new writers

6. Be professional - again, submit according to the guidelines

7. Keep track of submissions - always know what you've sent and to whom; develop a system

8. Don't fear rejection -- learn from it - especially valuable are editor's comments about what to look at for revision. If they say to send something else, do so!

6:29PM - Another Author Describes Her Process

Another author I contacted with my question about process wrote quite a bit and posted it as a note to her own Facebook.

E Rose Sabin: I've been asked about my writing process. Writing process?? That sounds so, well, organized! I'm not a very organized person. But here's what I can say about the way I write.

Every writer has to find what works best for him or her. There's no magic formula that is a key to success. I have many writer friends, and we all work differently. Naturally, since our circumstances are different, as are our personalities. I'm a retired teacher and live alone. That means I can set my own hours and don't have to squeeze writing in around a day job as many writers do. That's fortunate, but it also means I tend to get lazy. When I was working and had less time for writing I probably got just as much writing done because I had to be more disciplined. Also I don't have to conform my schedule to anyone else's. That said, though, I also don't have anyone else around to help with housework or yard work, so either I do it myself or it doesn't get done. All too often, it doesn't get done, but some things I can't ignore or put off and have to do even though I'd rather be writing. (I'd always rather be writing.)

I'm not a morning person--never have been. I sleep late, eat a leisurely breakfast, read the newspaper or at least part of it, wash the breakfast dishes, do laundry when required, and then go to my computer. I check my email, glance over the posts on Facebook, etc. and then, finally, pull up Word and get to work. Because I eat a late breakfast, I don't eat lunch, so I write until time to feed the dogs, go back to writing after I do that, and keep going until somewhere between 7:30 and 9:00, when I stop and eat supper and only rarely go back to writing after supper.

I don't outline or plan a lot ahead when I write. I know some writers outline meticulously before they begin the first draft of a novel. I do have to outline a short story, but I don't outline novels. I have a vague idea of how the novel will progress and how it will end, but it often surprises me and takes off in a totally different direction. Frequently the way it ends is not at all the way I expected it to end when I started out. Only rarely do I know almost from the beginning exactly how it must end. I know that sounds very odd to many people, and I'm always relieved and thrilled when I find other writers who work that way, as it reassures me that I'm not a complete oddball.

What I do do is develop my principal characters as thoroughly as possible. I know their backgrounds, their history, their fears, their hopes and aspirations, their likes and dislikes. Only a small part of what I know about them actually gets into the novel except in the sense that it colors everything the character does. That knowledge is what guides the plot and determines the course the character will take, which in turn leads to the climactic scene and the novel's ending. The conclusion of the novel has to grow naturally out of the characters' actions, attitudes, and aspirations.

That sounds so neat and easy, but it isn't. I always have to do a great deal of rewriting and often have to go back and eliminate scenes or chapters because I've gotten off track and the story stops working. And usually I find that it's because the characters aren't being true to themselves. I have to review all I know about them, put myself in their place, and say, Okay, what would she or he logically do in this case? Sometimes I get stuck and have to put the work aside and work on something else for a while until I work through whatever stopped me.

Since I write fantasy, I also always have to do a good bit of world building. That is much harder for me than developing character backgrounds and histories. It's a real challenge, because it all has to make sense; has to have an internal logic.

I think this note is becoming too long and I should probably stop and get back to work on my novel. If anyone is interested, I'll go more into the world-building aspects in another note on another day. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll do my best to answer.

And for you writers, you might comment on your writing process, how it differs from mine, what you agree with and what you disagree with, etc.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

8:49PM - My Mistake

My mistake: there have been three responses. Mark Evanier, who is the head writer for the Garfield cartoon show as well as co-author of Groo comic books (which is where I first heard of him), wrote back to ask if he could use my question as a prompt for his own blog (an incredible piece of work he constantly updates at www.newsfromme.com). I checked there and saw my own name (!) along with his much-appreciated response:

Ryk Stanton writes to ask...

I wonder if you'd be willing to briefly describe your writing process for those of us who have some idea of someday trying to become writers in our own right. By "process," I mean when do you write, and where — do you have anything specifically atmospheric (e.g. music, incense, some sort of omnipresent artifact) that you use consistently?

Well, there are two answers to this. In one, I'm writing all my waking hours and even an occasional moment asleep. Whatever I'm going to write is always buzzing around in there somewhere and I'm getting ideas and filing them away for possible or probable usage, particularly on what I hope to complete in the next few days. But that's probably not the kind of answer you want.

To the extent it's possible, I get up and write all morning and all afternoon and all evening, way into the early morning hours. That's the default and everything else I do — going to a show, dining with friends, going in to direct a cartoon voice session, pausing for a nap, tidying up the kitchen, etc. — is subtracted from that. My natural habitat is here in front of this computer...or over in front of the back-up computer in my office...or if travelling, working on my laptop. For certain projects (poems, lyrics, sometimes comic books), I'll utilize a pad of paper with one of those old-fashioned things they call a pencil. (You can Google the word to find out what that is.) Before the Internet, I liked having nearby but did not absolutely require a small shelf of certain books— dictionary, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, an almanac full of useful lists and info, etc. Now, Google and a few programs on my computer have replaced the books.

Depending on whether I'm in the mood where it will focus my concentration or impede it, I may or may not have the TV or some audio source on...a podcast, say. On a whim, I may turn it off and on or pause it or jump from one show to another. I usually leave those things off when someone else is in the room because it would drive them nuts to have it turned on and off and on and off the way I'm wont to do. Not much else seems to matter much. There's no omnipresent artifact and I'd rather smell bat guano than incense. The main thing is not to be distracted, which is why my most productive hours are late when the phone is less likely to ring. Regardless of when they're time-stamped on the website here, most of my longer postings are composed either first thing in the morning (when I'm warming up) or just before bed (when I'm winding down). This one was warming up.

I write in quick spurts and if it's going too slowly, I become suspect of what I'm writing and I go back and find things to change. Between spurts, I'll take a walk, get a snack, surf the web, go check for mail....things like that. Other than that, its pretty simple. I sit and write. I know writers who have to have the chair a certain height, have to have water to their left in a certain kind of mug, have to have the room at exactly 71.3°. Not me. I think I was inspired by my friend Sergio Aragonés after seeing him draw the most incredible cartoons on the fold-down table on an airplane or on any kind of desk or surface in a hotel room. He doesn't let not having the ideal working conditions stop him from getting his work done and I decided I shouldn't, either. What I write may not be Aristophanes — in fact, I have this nagging sense it isn't — so the least I can do is to get it done.

But that's about it. Whilst teaching, I told my students at U.S.C., "The secret of writing is to write. Stop inventing excuses not to write. Put all that inventiveness into writing." I'm hardly the first person to offer that advice. I think most writers who've had success by any measure or standard have learned this. "I can't work without my favorite sweater" is not a quirk or a superstition or a cute eccentricity. It's a means of avoidance, probably due to fear. A wee bit of fear and avoidance can be a good thing if it stops you from charging into the wrong battle or the right one before you're ready. But when it keeps you from writing at all, that's just you planting land mines in your own life.

8:33PM - The Job Gets in the Way

I am a high school teacher, and sometimes the job gets in the way of my creativity. I do not know how to keep this from happening. Today, for instance: my goal was to read at least three of the articles and/or interviews in The Poet's Market and to comment on what I gleaned from those readings, but because I had to spend several hours grading essays I simply don't have the steam to do that anymore. How do new writers manipulate their time to aloow them to write in amidst whatever other responsibilities they have?

I sent this inquiry to the published authors I have on Facebook: "I wonder if you'd be willing to briefly describe your writing process for those of us who have some idea of someday trying to become writers in our own right. By "process," I mean when do you write, and where -- do you have anything specifically atmospheric (e.g. music, incense, some sort of omnipresent artifact) that you use consistently?"

So far, two of them have answered.

Lakisha Spletzer: My writing process is a little on the disorganized side. But when I do focus, it goes something like this:

I write either at night when my kids are asleep or in the parent drop-off/pick-up line at the school when school is in session.

I do listen to music and lately it's been a lot of Adam Lambert and love songs. I actually went and created playlists for each of my series's websites that is unique to that series that I listen to at home when I write at night.

I can write in noise and I can write in quiet. It's really, for me at least, a matter of focus. If I'm not focuse, I can't write well. I also have to be in a certain mood to do certain stories. Depending on the story I have characters that can be difficult if they don't get my complete undivided attention. Others are not as difficult and I can get in their heads without much fuss.

My suggestion is to find something that works for you and be consistent, if possible. But also be flexible too.



Richard Lee Byers: I work every day Monday through Friday and write a certain number of new words each day. Exactly how many depends on how long the current project is supposed to be and when the deadline is. 1500 new words a day is a good quota for me, although I can do more if I push and have done less when I could get away with going easy on myself.

I start in the morning, break for lunch, and finish afterward. I go for as many hours as it takes to get my quota written.

I begin my writing day by reviewing, revising, and polishing the past couple days' work. Not only is this worth doing for its own sake, it helps me get in the writing groove, so when it's time to start writing new words, they flow a little easier.

I always write on the computer, never with pencil and paper or anything like that. My bedroom is also my workroom, and has a desk for the computer, a good office chair, and shelves for the reference books I use. I don't play any music. I need it quiet. I have hearing protectors like you wear on the shooting range to block out noise when the other people in the house are making enough to distract me.

I don't burn incense or have any sort of special talisman other than the computer. Now that you've mentioned it, I kind of wish I did have a talisman. Maybe it would help.


As for me, I am still constructing my environment. I know I tend to write better away from home (and therefore away from distractions), but I rarely make the time to travel anywhere for the purpose of writing. When I was younger, I wrote quite a bit at Chuck E Cheese's, but I haven't been there in years. You know, for the most part I just write at a table in the middle of the house -- usually my dining room table but I also have a table I can use to use the computer while I am sitting on the couch (which is where I am now). Time of day doesn't matter, but I am great at burning the midnight oil and writing until 3 or 4 in the morning. Less distractions, I suppose. I prefer no music, but I usually have the television on for noise. And I am still waiting for an artifact to take on symbolic meaning: I know I will have one, but I do not know what it will be.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

11:46PM - The Creative Writing Blog

I am resolved to be published this year, or at least to make all reasonable efforts to do so. This blog, for the foreseeable future, will be about my pursuit of that goal.

Today, I took advantage of Border's 50% coupon and bought myself the 2011 Poet's Market. I figure if I am going to start anywhere, that's a good place. Last year I set myself a goal that I would write a poem a day, every day of the year. I was not successful in that pursuit, but extremely successful in writing 230 poems. Of those, I believe at least half are of better-than-average quality, which means that I have at least 100 poems quite possibly ready to be submitted. I understand that poetry is something you do out of the love of writing and that I will not become rich based solely on my poetry, but it is a window to the bigger world of publishing.

One of the articles I read in PM suggested establishing an online presence through a blog as well as social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This is not as a place to publish written works so much as it is a means by which to attract and audience and to give them the opportunity to get to know more about you. I can use the Internet as a networking tool in this way.

So a goal I have for myself here is to be interesting enough for people to want to read what I am writing. I do not know if LiveJournal is the best venue for this; its popularity has diminished somewhat in the years I have kept blogs, and it seems more writers are drawn to Blogger. I have never been able to figure out how to subscribe to friends' blogs via that site, however, whereas here on LiveJournal it's as easy as a click or two.

So, if you decide to follow me here, you may be witness to the next step in my evolution as a writer. You may be privy to details of when and where I am getting published and how that event came to transpire. You may be part of the support system in place to motivate me on to success beyond my dreams.

If nothing else, you can giggle behind my back as I crash and burn.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

10:30AM - Actually...

Actually, upon further thought, maybe I'm just done with LJ altogether...at least for a while. I probably need to stop using Facebook as well -- it feels as if all I do is waste time there. I have re-made several friendships, which is nice, but does the site merit the time I have devoted to it?

10:25AM - Howdy :)

I cant believe it's been 7 years since I've updated here.  I can't believe that, after not updating for seven years, that this blog still exists.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

8:27PM - Taking a Break

I think I'm going to take a break from livejournaling for a while. I have so much going on in my life that it is hard to make time to sit down and do any sort of decent updating. I appreciate those of you who have been my friends and I look forward to keeping in touch with you through e-mail or on the phone or in person or whatever, but I'm only going to update this journal once in a while.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

9:12PM - Science Fiction Convention

What a blast!

I took Friday off school to get ready to go. I still woke up plenty early and went to the doctor with Kim. I weighed myself when I was there, and I found that I lost five pounds. Not a big deal, but it's better for the numbers to go down than to go up. We came back home for a couple hours as I got my life organized real quick (graded papers, made some lesson plans for next week, etc.), then Kim dropped me off at the Crowne Plaza at 1:00. I went and registered and got my T-shirt, changed, grabbed a bunch of Battlestar Galactica keychains from the giveaway table, sat down in the movie room (Spider-Man, which I own), then walked around for a bit to check out the vendors and game room. Everything set up as it usually is.

I attended several writing sessions on Friday and Saturday--these were the titles:

Writing Good Dialogue
World Building
Basics of Short Story Writing
Writing Dark Poetry
Superheroes in Different Fictions
Writing Evil Characters

What I mainly discovered at these sessions is that I knew everything they were talking about. There was nothing new to me. I took pages of notes as I listened (good learner that I am), but I finally decided I should be on the panel instead of listening to the panel. But the only way to be on a panel is to be published, so I guess I'll need to do that. Really, it's time for me to get serious about getting published...even just a poem or short story.

Other stuff that happened...
-=-=- I played Magic the Gathering for a little bit on Friday. On Saturday I played for a few hours, and I taught a new friend (Jaymi) how to play. When I went today, that's all I did. At one point there were five of us. I did okay--won a few and lost a few.
-=-=- I fell down Friday night at about 2:30 a.m. (so it was technically Saturday morning) and hurt my right foot pretty badly. I have enough trouble walking normally; when I am tired it gets worse. C'est la vie. Anyhow, I spent the next two days hobbling around using my son's Boy Scout staff.
-=-=- I bought a few boxes of Magic cards as well as something called Knightmare Chess--I can't wait to play that! You use these cards as you play chess with a regulation board, but the cards change things on the board instantly. Some say to exchange pieces on the board (put your knight where your bishop is and your bishop where your knight is), some say to move a piece is a different way (pawns capture by moving forward), some are more complex. I'll take it with me to school Thursday so I can get someone in my club to play the game with me.
-=-=- During the ice cream social, a local author gave me a copy of her book on teaching writing. She wants me to share it around school so maybe some other people will buy it. We'll see what happens. She self-published her book--the new wave of publishing seems to be to go through iUniverse or one of the other Print on Demand (POD) publishers. I wonder if I will have to resort to that to get a book published.
-=-=- I met author Nancy Collins, whose Midnight Blue is one of the best vampire novels ever. I purchased a copy of E. Rose Sabin's A School for Wizardry and had her autograph it.
-=-=- I went to several filk sessions, but I didn't sing other than to sing along with others. Filk is a lot of fun. I would pay my convention money just to filk and play Magic.
-=-=- I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday night. I went last year and sat in the front; this year I sat in the back and couldn't see the actors as well.
-=-=- I took a couple hours on Saturday to watch Star Trek - Nemesis which I had never seen before. It wasn't very good, sadly.

I had a lot of fun, but I wish I'd had someone to pal around with. Kim doesn't care to go, Kara had a concert to go to, Scott didn't show up, Julie and Dusty didn't end up going, and Felicia had a workshop to go to. I made friends with Jaymi, though, and she is both a teacher and a science fiction/anime fan--maybe I'll pal around with her next year. We'll see...

I now return myself to my regularly scheduled life.

Current mood: tired

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