Monthly Archives: February 2013

Desperate People

I recently came across a quote by Charles Bukowski.

“Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers”.

It got me thinking, perhaps I’ve grown too comfortable. Maybe that’s why I get stuck so often. Have I grown so comfortable in my life that I no longer have anything important to say? Is that why even when the words are flowing reasonably well I sometimes feel like I’m just going through the motions?

Or perhaps I am still desperate after all. Perhaps the very fact that I’m so neurotic about the quality of my writing proves how desperate I am. Desperate for approval, desperate to leave something that will live on long after I’m gone. Most importantly, desperate to write something people want to read. I am realizing that these aren’t the ways a writer should be desperate.

I know that if I try to make my writing perfect I will never write a word. It’s the reason I get so frustrated and give up. The words sound so perfect in my head but when I try to put them on paper they all come out wrong. The beautiful thought I had is garbled and unrecognizable.

Maybe it’s time I started taking steps to make myself a little less comfortable. Comfort equals safety. Maybe it’s time to stop being so damned safe about everything I do. It’s time to take a risk or two. Even if I start small it will still give me that taste of fear I’m so desperately craving. Maybe it’s time to be daring and stop caring so damned much about what other people think.

The time has come to start pushing my babies out of the nest to see if they fly.

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Thoughts On The Oscars

I love the Academy Awards. Every year it’s the one awards show I absolutely have to watch. I watch others but the Oscars are my Superbowl. Maybe it’s because I still have hope of someday standing on that stage and accepting an award for best original screenplay. There was a time when I was all set to move to Hollywood to write screenplays with an eye toward monster making as a fallback. Unfortunately, as John Lennon sang; “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Overall, I thought Seth MacFarlane did a wonderful job as host. I did feel the “We saw your boobs” bit was a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s his style of humor and I usually enjoy it. In fact, I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh. However, and I know this probably makes me sound like a prude, it just felt out of place at an event like the Oscars. I have always felt the Oscars were a somewhat classy event. We are bombarded with toilet humor everywhere else. Can we just have one event where we keep things classy? I know Mr. MacFarlane is capable of being classy and actually quite enjoyed his other numbers. Overall I liked him and hope he returns next year with just a bit of polish.

As for the winners, I must admit I can’t speak much to that. Truth be told, I was rooting for one film to take everything but I can’t complain too much considering that rather than see any others, I went to see Les Miserables three times. What can I say, I’m a straight man that loves musical theater. I grew up in a theater family and while I haven’t had the opportunity to see this particular play on stage, I thought it was done very well.

And now, I’m probably going to offend some of you. I was very disappointed at the best picture award. Again, I’m not talking about the winner. Argo may be a great movie and I look forward to seeing it on video. What disappointed me was the appearance of Michelle Obama to present the award. Again, I try not to get political on this blog and this isn’t about politics. I would have been equally disappointed had Laura Bush done the same thing. I just don’t believe politicians and those around them should be made into celebrities. More importantly, the whole thing just felt forced and out of place. I suppose I’m just not a fan of politicians in general and feel they should be behind the scenes instead of constantly in our faces. (Yes I realize the first lady isn’t technically a politician but it’s close enough.)

83rd Academy Awards¨ Press Kit Images

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Technology Tangle

As I sit here, I realize I am surrounded by technology. I have my iPhone, my tablet, my laptop of course, and my iPod. All of them are performing various jobs to make my life as a writer easier but I have to wonder; Are they really?

When I was a kid and I began making up stories it was because I was bored. It was my way of entertaining myself. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should as someone who hopes to tell stories for a living someday. Why? Because with all this technology at my fingertips at all times, who has time to be bored anymore?

I am no Luddite. Far from it. I love technology and am constantly amazed at how far we’ve come as a people just in my lifetime. Any time I hear someone that we don’t have flying cars I am quick to remind them that what we do have is much more amazing. We have instant access to the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips at all times. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not know something you want to know.

Still, I have to wonder if this constant flow of information has stunted us creatively. Maybe it’s time to unplug for a while.

resume-writing-technology

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The Importance Of Blowing Off Steam

As some of you may know, or may have been able to guess, I’ve been fairly stressed out lately. Between my job, my birthday, and other things, I’ve been in a constant state of stress. Not the kind of stress that motivates you either. The kind of stress where you feel absolutely helpless to do anything about it and so you do nothing but dwell on your helplessness and become a complete asshole.

Over the weekend I was able to relieve most of my stress thanks to the help of my girlfriend and her sister. Okay you pervs, not like that. My weekend started with a quiet birthday party that mainly consisted of hanging out with friends and having a few (too many) cocktails. More important than the drinking was the laughing, something I haven’t been doing nearly enough of lately. I found my smile.

The next day we started early with a little shopping followed by a late breakfast and then a nice relaxing drive in the hills. It was a beautiful, summery day. Something you don’t see too often in South Dakota in February. I could literally feel the tension leaving my body. So much so that by the time we got home I was physically exhausted. Not from the day, but from the previous weeks of constant pressure. I felt like a deflated balloon and yet I still felt like I was floating.

Sunday was mostly a lazy day with a visit to the theater  in the evening which was the perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

I’m sure as the week progresses the stress will begin to weigh me down again but as long as I remember to blow off a little steam on the weekend all will be well and I can write the rest of it away.

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The Age Old Struggle

Today I find myself having the same argument I’ve had with myself hundreds of times before. Art or money? In other words; Do I work on writing something reasonably marketable that appeals to a wide audience or do I spend my time working on something more literary and artistic that probably only a handful of people will ever read until long after I’m dead, if then? Is it possible to do both at the same time either in the same book or by writing two separate books simultaneously?

More importantly, am I a fool to think I’m even capable of writing something truly artistic?

I enjoy writing genre fiction. It’s like playing for me. As a matter of fact that’s exactly what it is. When I’m writing that sort of thing I’m once again the kid on the playground, stick in hand, pretending I’m the knight in shining armor.

It’s just that I would like to leave something more meaningful behind as my legacy. The literary stuff is where I really bare my soul. It’s that sort of writing I want to be remembered for. The question is whether I’ll actually be remembered even if I do write something great. I guess I’m still trying to find out who I am. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m just a hack that will never write anything anybody wants to read anyway so it really doesn’t matter. Hopefully I’m right in thinking that most writers, even successful ones, think that from time to time.

I know what my writing idols would say. “Just write the damned thing and let others worry about what it is or isn’t. By that time you should be well on your way to finishing the next one anyway.”

In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote that I find inspiring when I’m questioning my validity as an artist.

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Everyone enjoy your weekend. Since I missed a couple this week I will try to post over the weeekend. No promises though. I’m wildly unreliable.

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Why The Valentine’s Hate?

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Valentine’s day. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, I’m sending you my love.

Now that that’s out of the way I have a question for the single people. Why so much hate for Valentine’s day? Is it really that bad? I spent many many years single and it just never bothered me. The only difference from most other days was the knowledge that my friends that were in relationships wouldn’t be able to come over for a beer. It never even occurred to me to begrudge them that one day.

Maybe it’s because Valentine’s day just isn’t that big of a deal to me even when i am in a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, my girlfriend will be getting the usual flowers and candy and such. Because of our work schedules we will have to wait until the weekend to do dinner but still, we will do something. It’s just that I try to make her feel special every day so it’s not so important that I go crazy on V day.

So I suppose my message is this; If you’re in a relationship, try to show your loved one they’re special every day so there’s not so much pressure on this one day. If you’re not, why not show the most important person how much you love them? Yourself. That’s right, go crazy. Eat what you want, pamper yourself, watch that T.V. show you’d never admit to any one you watch without guilt. After all, you can’t love someone else until you love yourself. Besides, chances are you don’t show yourself how much you love you nearly as much as you should.

P.S. Sorry about the lack of posts this week. Monday and Tuesday were pure laziness that I blame on my birthday having been on Monday. Yesterday however was a different story. I wrote a post and thought I uploaded it, but when I checked this morning it was gone. It’s probably for the best anyway. It was mostly me whining about how much my birthday sucked, mainly because of my job. Point taken, no whining or the gods will delete my posts.

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Good Writers Are Bad Influences

Whenever I look at the writers that truly inspire me, they all seem to have one thing in common; they are extremely bad influences. Drinkers, drug abusers, womanizers, cheaters, brawlers. Even fictional writers like Hank Moody in Californication and Zach Hutton in Skin Deep are drunken womanizers. The sad part is, even though I know deep down that it would in the end be a terrible way to live, a part of me still wants it. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve learned to think that is how a writer’s life is supposed to be but there it is. I know not all writers live this way, in fact, most probably don’t but it seems the ones I truly look up to all lived that way. Maybe that means there’s something wrong with me.

Truth be told, I have given up most of my bad habits. I quit smoking. I don’t drink very much anymore. I still overeat but hey, I’m trying. Sometimes I think maybe I should try drinking a little more. I’m not talking about getting falling down drunk mind you, just a little grease for the wheels so I’m not worrying so much about every word I write. It does seem my writing comes a bit more smoothly when I’ve had a drink or two.

Is this why so many writers drink so much or does writing tend to attract a certain type of person? Perhaps a writer needs the liquor as a buffer for dealing with emotions most people keep hidden. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. What do you think?

Sorry for the short post today. I am about to start my weekend which is good because I am just worn out from the week. I feel like I never fully woke up for work last night. I’m going to be very upset if I wake up and find out it was actually a dream and I still have to go in. You may laugh but it’s happened to me before. It felt like I worked a double shift.

On a side note, I have a question. Do any of you use Google+? I have had an account for awhile but never used it because I already use Facebook but I attened my first hangout last night and it was pretty cool talking to a bunch of people all over the country face to face. I was just wondering what you think about it.

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And Now For A Little Tech Talk

Don’t worry, this post has nothing to do with Ke$ha. I said tech TALK.

Yesterday I decided to do something smart with my tax return before I blow it all on things best left to the imagination. I decided that the time had come to buy a desktop computer specifically for my writing. I use a laptop as my daily computer and my tablet when I’m at work but I have a nice desk that is the perfect writing station save for the fact that it didn’t have a dedicated computer. It had a monitor, keyboard, etc. so I could hook up my laptop whenever I wanted. Unfortunately, I’m a lazy person so I rarely ever wanted. Thus, my desk mostly just collected dust and clutter.

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My desk in a rare state of unclutteredness.

So, as I left work yesterday morning I was on a quest. After stopping by several places and not seeing much, I finally found it. I wish I could say I bought the biggest, most powerful beast available and the male in me screamed this was exactly what I must do.

Reality, on the other hand, dictates that at this point in my career I need to save money whenever possible, at least until my writing starts paying for itself. If I was truly being honest with myself about why I wanted this computer then I didn’t need some monster. What I really needed was the cheapest computer that would do what I needed it to. The one I found fit the bill perfectly.

I bought the HP p2 1322. It has 4 gb of ram and a 500 gb hdd. Truthfully, I was hoping for something with just a bit more power but at $250 OTD I just couldn’t resist the price and it should be plenty for basic word processing and research.

I rushed home with it and couldn’t wait to start playing with it. The computer I mean. Pervs.

The first thing I did was remove the side cover so I could take a peek inside. The case is almost empty. Motherboard, HD, DVD drive , and plenty of air. It almost looks as if someone gutted a laptop and put it into a tower.

No matter. Time to set it up. One problem. I had to go back out and buy an internet cable long enough to reach.

Finally I got everything set up and turned it on, just itching to start playing with windows 8.

I was decidedly underwhelmed.

While I’m not completely against the idea of apps on a computer, I think they are unnecessary and in this case, need a lot more development. Apps are great on a phone, but why bother with them at all when you can run full programs? I quickly shut the apps window or “start” menu as they call it and went to the desktop.

“Ahhh,” I thought “Finally something familiar. Wait, where’s my start button?”

I guess I’m old fashioned, but I prefer to have a menu to access all my programs rather than cluttering my desktop with icons for everything I use. More importantly, why would you leave something like that out after getting people familiar with it for the last twenty years? Luckily, after a little help from google, I discovered several third party add-ons that let you add something resembling the old start menu. It was easy to do but I just don’t understand why I had to.

Also, every time you download a program it adds an icon (or twenty, depending on the program) to the new “start menu” which then has to be unpinned from the menu. Again, not a huge deal, just a PITA.

In short, while it’s usable, windows 8 is completely counterintuitive for someone who has been trained to do things a certain way for the past twenty years or so.

Oh, a couple more gripes regarding the apps. Why no intuitive way to close an app when you’re in it? You have to bring up the popup menu and select the start menu. Was it too hard to code in a little red X?

Also, why would you force me to merge my Skype with MSN messenger to be able to use it? There’s a good reason I stopped using messenger in the first place. I was tired of constantly getting invitations from fake women who want to let me see them naked and probably give me a virus in return. (Reminds me of that trip to… uh, never mind). Anyway, that’s the end of this old man ranting about new tech. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but I definitely don’t consider it an upgrade.

On a side note, I was considering doing Tech Talk Thursdays (or maybe Tuesdays) but the fact of the matter is that while I love tech and would love to do regular reviews, I just don’t have all that much of it, nor do I have the money to buy it and what I do have is outdated. However, if any of my readers work for tech companies, I would be happy to review any free samples they want to send me. ;~}

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Let Me Tell You A Secret

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said; “Writers aren’t exactly people… They’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.”

Boy is that statement ever true with me. Growing up, it seemed most of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up. Most of them were wrong. Still, they knew. Me? It seemed I changed my mind on a daily basis. Some days I wanted to be a scientist. (Physicist actually but back then I didn’t know there were different types). Other days, I thought it would be awesome to be a katate master, or a fighter pilot, or a race car driver. I think I even once wanted to be a lumberjack. And that’s okay. I just couldn’t decide.

And so, I became a writer. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most of my protagonists, (hell, most of my characters,) are versions of me. Being a writer lets me step into the shoes of a spy, or a soldier, or a barbarian warrior. The decisions my character makes are the decisions I would make. I put my character in mortal peril so I can figure out how I would get out of it.

Even now, I go back and forth about who I really am. Sometimes I’m a biker, some times I’m a hippie, sometimes I’m a jazz singer. But through it all, I know what I really am.

I am a writer.

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ChChCHChanges

Okay folks. I’m finally back, I promise. I really mean it this time. I swear. So I’m not sure if anyone even checks this blog anymore. God knows I don’t. But again, that’s going to change.

Anyway, part of the problem is that I’ve been trying to keep things focused on my career as a writer. Unfortunately, so far I only have variations on two themes. Either I’m working really hard on writing and things are coming along swimmingly or alternatively, I haven’t written a damn thing lately and here are my whiny excuses why. Either of these can get very boring when I type them over and over again. Not just for you but for me as well. Especially when as of late it would mostly be the latter.

So here are the changes. First, I’m going to make a serious effort to write a blog every day. Well, Monday through Friday. Well, most of the time. I’m only human after all. Don’t yell at me.

Second, I’m not going to limit things to just my career as a wannabe writer. I have other hobbies and interests and will be on the lookout for cool things that appeal to my geeky nature or really just anything that catches my interest. I will do my best to keep things light when it comes to things like religion and politics. I do have views on both subjects, some of them very strong, but in my experience arguing about those things never accomplishes anything but hurting feelings.

In short, this will become my public journal. A peek into the madness that is being a writer. If there are topics you would like me to weigh in on, feel free to comment and suggest them. If they don’t violate my personal rules I probably will.

Oh yeah, I will still update you on my life as a writer. I just hope there will be something notable to report soon.

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