Category Archives: journal

My 48 Hours

Last Thursday, while I was still at work, T– took the kids to Wichita to spend some time with her family there. The plan was to stay through a big birthday party Saturday evening, then drive home late Saturday night.

I intended, as I often do on these occasions, to take advantage of the peace and quiet to get some good work done. Mainly I had some computer stuff I wanted to do — reviewing a blog for a new friend, getting caught up on my own blogging after a busy few weeks, and putting together some notes on a new project I’m working on (the Consortium). I figured I’d do a little lawn and house work, too, since our property got hit pretty hard with last week’s apocalyptic hailstorm.

Anyway, when I got home from work to an empty house Thursday afternoon, the first thing I did was make a To Do list. (I estimated roughly that each item in the “Must Do” list should represent about 90 minutes of work).

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with D– (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with K– and N– (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with B– (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s

Those were my 48 items in 48 hours (I mentioned them on Facebook). And…well, technically four of those items were scheduled for Sunday, but I’d have my whole family home on Sunday so I figured I’d need to get much of that done in advance.

Of course, I ended up adding to the list before I was done.

  • Added since Thursday afternoon (all extra credit)
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for K–
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

And I made time for my 4.5-mile jog every morning, because with all that cerebral work going on, I needed some physical exertion to balance it out.

The problem, it turned out, was that 45 minutes jogging wasn’t close to enough time to balance it out. I got started working on the lawn Friday morning, and found myself still working outside when it came time to go to dinner Friday night. Woke up Saturday, went for my jog, and figured since I was going to have to shower anyway, I should do a thing or two outside first.

By the end of the day Saturday (my forty-eight hours), I’d spent about fourteen hours sleeping, eight hours at business/social meals, and a hair over an hour (total) sitting at my computer. The other twenty-five hours I spent toiling — repairing my house, cleaning, or working in the yard. And none of that was by choice or priority — it just sort of happened. I was driven.

When everything was said and done, by the time I went to bed Sunday night, I’d completed 34 of the 62 items on my To Do list, including just half of the “Must Do” items. The finished list looked like this:

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with Dan (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with Austins (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with Bruce (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/Link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for Kris
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

Flying Ice

Monday this week was a day made for disappointment. It always is, but this week was worse than most. After an ice storm lent me another four-day weekend, it was a real bummer to come back to the office. Nobody was in a great mood, and everybody had a lot of work that needed doing, to get caught up. I put in my nine miserable hours, packed up some extra reading to take home with me, and then called it a day.

The roads were pretty clear by then, except for the steep-walled piles of dirty gray slush spilling onto the sides, but the drive still posed some little risks. I felt my car slip a little turning onto MacArthur, and again as I pushed up the ramp onto the highway. It was nothing dangerous, really — just little reminders that the road wasn’t really dry.

I hardly needed them, though. My windshield was enough evidence of that, with the thin, semi-transparent patina of slush thrown up by the cars ahead of me. That got a lot worse when I got onto the highway, and I was leaning forward, waiting for another pass of my worn out wipers, when the car in front of me threw up more than just slush. A pebble the size of a BB flipped up and smashed against my windshield, inches from my nose.

The sound of it startled me — surprisingly loud crack in the still of my car –and as I flinched back, I wondered if it had chipped the glass.

I first started driving in 1995, and I drove for fourteen years without ever getting a cracked windshield. I’ve certainly taken my share of pebble bombardment, but they make those suckers pretty strong. Still, the thought crossed my mind because, only a week earlier, gravel bouncing out of the back of a dump truck had put a big score in the driver’s side glass right above the dashboard. First time in my life, and here came another pebble one week later.

And then the wipers blurred by, smearing away the muck, and they left behind a single glittering spot, ten inches above the week-old chip. I grunted in frustration, I rolled my eyes, I probably thought something mean about the driver of the dirty white Tercel.

But then a sarcastic smile twisted my lips. I shook my head and chuckled, and said, “I wonder if I constructed that.” See, I believe in something called social constructionism, and one aspect of it is that the things we expect, the things we anticipate, are the things that are likely to show up in our reality. By worrying about my glass getting chipped, had I made it happen? It was a swift-passing thought. I sighed and let it go. Probably just coincidence. It’s a funny old world, after all.

The words were still fresh in my mind, the smile still on my lips, when I heard the distant groan and rip just before a sheet of ice tore free from that same car. I’d seen it happen on my drive in that morning, and even once or twice already on my drive home, but this time it happened right in front of me. A blanket of ice and snow packed two-inches thick suddenly caught the wind, dancing like a kite up into the air for two seconds, three, and slashing back down to earth.

I was too close, though. I got in the way. The largest shard — probably two feet across — came stabbing straight down at me. I braked, I swerved, but there was no time. I caught a dozen pounds of ice dead center on the passenger side of my windshield, at sixty miles per hour. It boomed like an explosion, and the whole windshield shattered — safety-glass holding the fractured bits in place, but ruined.

It was five o’clock on a Monday afternoon, northbound in the left-hand lane of one of the city’s major thoroughfares, so I had sixty-MPH traffic right on my tail. As soon as I knew I was still alive, I put my foot back on the gas. My heart thundered, and I had to fight to catch my breath, but the windshield held. I had a small rectangle, maybe two feet by one, right at eye level on the driver’s side where the glass was whole. It was enough to give me a clear view of the road, as long as I leaned forward. It was enough to get me home, anyway.

So I drove on, terrified every time another piece of ice flipped up into the air and wondering if the shattered windshield might give way yet. Ten miles still to go, and nobody else on the road cared how fragile my situation was. I just focused on breathing, focused on getting home safely.

And while I was at it, I tried my hardest to ignore that chip, right in front of my nose, marring the one bit of good glass left to me.

(I prepared this post according to the assignment description in this week’s Creative Writing exercise over at UnstressedSyllables.com. I’d love any feedback you’ve got to give.)

Journal Entry: February 2, 2009

We ended last year with an honest-to-goodness blizzard that rolled in on Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad were here in town, staying at our place for the week before heading out to Germany on Christmas morning, and that ended up being quite an adventure. They made it, though.

Anyway, we had a repeat of that foul weather last week, when heavy ice started coming down on Thursday afternoon, followed by a thick coat of snow all Thursday night. I did end up going in to work on Thursday, but they let us out early and closed the offices on Friday.

That gave us a nice long weekend, trapped in the house. T– has been sick with a respiratory virus for nearly a week now, so it was a good thing I was home to take care of the kids (especially in the mornings). We had fun, though. AB and I played out in the snow for half an hour on Friday, we started testing out bedtime stories, and she learned how to control my warlock’s flying carpet in WoW.

XP and I worked on enunciation and word choice, motor control, and screaming unreservedly for no reason whatsoever. That was a little less fun.

We watched a bunch of Berenstain Bears cartoons with AB, and the first season of 30 Rock when she wasn’t looking. I also played a lot of WoW.

Saturday night, like Noah sending the dove out from the ark, we ordered a pizza and were delighted when it arrived in a reasonable amount of time. Sunday morning we finally ventured out, meeting my little sister and her family at IHOP for lunch.

We were not the only people in town with that idea. Alas.

Anyway, we had no real problems on the roads, and afterward T– dropped me and AB back at the house, and then went to do some grocery shopping. Sunday evening we had sandwiches, and finished off the second season of our show.

Then Monday morning it was AB’s turn to be sick, and she was hacking something awful when I had to head to work. T– seems to be on the mend, though, and it was only really bad for three days or so. So maybe AB will be better before the weekend.

Oh! On the drive home from work I had some serious drama, but that probably deserves a post of its own. I’ll get that up as soon as I can. I did end up running some errands in the evening, including a trip to Walgreens where I learned we might have another ice storm coming. Yay!

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Unstressed Syllables

This isn’t really news to any of you, but I’ve spent most of the last month getting a new blog set up over at Unstressed Syllables.

I’ve told a couple people that I’d probably abandon my personal blog, but I don’t think that’ll actually happen. Not altogether, anyway. I’ve made the definite decision to give up on my efforts at daily blogging, but I still have a lousy memory and I still find much benefit in looking back on slices of my life from arm’s distance, so I’ll still be posting here as often as I reasonably can.

For the next month or so, as I get into the swing of things, I’d expect that to be a near-zero value. We’ll see what actually happens.

In the meantime, come check out my blog. It’s inspired by you, it’s written for you, and it probably features some humorous and humiliating stories about things you’ve done in the past, so you’ll need to show up from time to time to defend yourself. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

National Novel Writing Month 2009 Post Mortem

I can’t believe it’s over.

I did finish NaNoWriMo. I’m a winner. I could post a JPEG proving it, but it doesn’t really, so I won’t.

I took a strange path to 50,000 words this year, cobbling together scenes from three different novels in two genres, an open-ended collaborative writing project, and a short story. In the past, I’ve done 50,000 consecutive words (or many, many more), and I’ve done them in a novel that I wrote start-to-finish during the month of November. Obviously that’s more impressive, but with everything else I had going on, I’m glad to have produced anything at all this year.

Anything at all. Hah! I wrote the end of two different novels, one of them a long-languishing partial that needed closure. I’ve still got a lot of rewriting work to do, but I now have the foundation on which to do it.

In the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is about — struggling to accomplish more than you should be able to given all the other demands in your life, and getting a rough draft down on paper, so you have something to work with in the rewrites. I did both of those things, and in a big way.

To keep myself honest (and to make things easier), I wrote all those eclectic scenes in a single Google Doc, copying and pasting them out to their appropriate parents periodically. That workspace, though, was a document that ended up with the title Ghost Kings: Sleeping Targets: Golden Restraint Age Shelter (and a short story). Here’s how that came about:

  • I started off early doing my prewriting in October so I could work on a major rewrite of Royal Holiday in November, then scrapped that plan at some late hour.
  • I did another set of prewriting, this time on a major rewrite (and completion) of a Sleeping Kings sort-of-prequel called Golden Age. As part of the prewriting, I wrote a new first chapter (which doesn’t count toward my November word count).
  • I showed up at our kickoff meeting all prepared to finally get Golden Age done, found myself blocked, and instead I wrote the next scene in my newest Ghost Targets novel, Restraint.
  • From there, I just went ahead and finished Restraint (book 3 in that series).
  • Then I started on its sequel, Ghost Targets: Shelter.
  • Then I started a new, and totally unplanned collaborative writing project with Courtney on Google Wave by writing the opening scene of a novel about wizards in Oklahoma City. It starts with a magical battle in a 7-11. Awesome.
  • Then I wrote a totally unplanned short story set in the fantasy universe D– and I had been talking about years ago. It turned out surprisingly good (in my opinion, anyway).
  • Then I found myself totally blocked, unable to proceed past the middle of chapter 1 of Shelter, and instead started work on an unfinished scene in Golden Age.
  • Then I realized I’d written three consecutive chapters of Golden Age, without really realizing it, and I was about 6,000 words from the end of the book.
  • Then I finished the book. And NaNoWriMo. All with about an hour to spare.

I dunno. If you want to call that cheating, you’re welcome to. I could say that I finished National Strange Hash of Various Fictional Prose Writing Month, but I don’t have the time or energy for that sort of acronym. “Nooshvoofpwym,” I would pronounce it. “During nooshvoofpwyn,” I would say, “I wrote 50,000 words in gookstuhgraws (and a short story).”

Whatever.

In December, I’m going to do nothing. Hah! No, not really. In December I’m going to put the finishing touches on my new Tech Writing textbook, I’m going to lay the groundwork to launch a new commercial blog in January, and unless I’m prepared to face some real wrath from some surprisingly real fans, I’m going to do at least a quick touch-up on Restraint and share it out to some trusted reviewers.

I started 2009 with a pretty ambitious plan for my writing, and ended it in an entirely different place, but almost as impressive of one. I didn’t rewrite Royal Holiday and I didn’t start an entirely new sci-fi property premised on what turns out to be a total physical impossibility (in a bad way), but I did become a university professor and write a textbook. That’s pretty cool. I got my old creative writing text dusted off, too, and it’s ready to go.

So that’s my plan for 2010. Not as much ambition for the new, but lots of rewrites. I do want to finish Ghost Targets: Shelter before the end of September, so I can devote October to prewriting and November to Ghost Targets: Faith (my first season finale). Two novels in a year is actually pretty tame for me.

Then I want to get Expectation cleaned up (I never did redo the ending), and I want to get Restraint totally rewritten, and expanded by at least 9,000 words. Same for SK: Golden Age, and once that’s done I’ll need to write a new first chapter for SK: The Wolf, and my first NaNoWriMo project, SK: The Shepherd, still needs its first real rewrite, too.

That’s my order of priority. I’ve got more. King Jason’s War still needs the first section reworked, and a polish everywhere else, and I’ve been talking for years about splitting Taming Fire in two, and it could use some touch-up while I’m at it. More and more I find myself thinking back on The Poet Alexander, too, wondering if there’s some rough gem somewhere in the rambling, inarticulate beast that would be worth paring out. Who knows? I’d have to work miracles to ever get far enough down my list to find out, though.

Stay tuned. Maybe I actually will. I’ve spent three years now consistently accomplishing more than I ever thought I possibly could. And, in the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about.

Journal Entry: November 2009

I survived.

I’m tempted to make those two words my whole journal entry, but so much happened in November that I don’t want to forget. And so much happened in November that I’m going to forget it.

Even this post won’t get it all, but I want to grab the highlights.

I started the month with a NaNoWriMo kickoff party at IHOP with my writing group, and that actually is documented already. I’ve also talked a little bit about my NaNoWriMo progress, and my class sessions. I’ll do another post with a post mortem for NaNoWriMo, but here I wanted to talk about what else I did.

I finished a major manuscript for work on the 5th, and that freed up some of my attention and some of my creative energy, so I finally really got started writing on the 6th. I had a birthday lunch at P. F. Chang’s on the 8th, and then a holiday (Veteran’s Day) on the 11th that gave me a pretty easy work week, and a good opportunity to get caught up on my word count again. Then Saturday the 14th I had a great opportunity to get behind again.

Probably the big event of November (for me), T– threw a big birthday party for my 30th, inviting my mom and dad, and all my friends. D–, of course, B– and E–, K– and N–, my little sister and her family, as well as Courtney and Ed (who were a real hit). T– had everyone bring a bottle of wine, which was quite a treat, and she grilled up ribs for us as the main dish in a pretty extensive (and delicious) spread. We chatted and played Rock Band, and had a great time. Shawn and Liz showed up after most of the other guests had left, but stuck around to watch UHF with the Cantrells and me. That was fun. The whole night was incredible.

In WoW news, I got my Hunter to 80 (which marks the first time I’ve had a Hunter at the level cap). I also started a pair of Horde characters on Shawn’s server, so I can chat with him from time to time. He’s popped in on Dark Iron a time or two, too, and that’s been fun.

I had a conversation with T–, and a conversation with my writing group, and a conversation with my dad over the phone on a drive home from work, and the end result of all that is that I’m finally going to try to get some treatment for my social anxiety. That’s not really something I want to talk about in detail in this post, but it happened in November. So there you go.

Then last week was Thanksgiving week (which is always drama, and NaNoWriMo brings its own demons). T– headed up to Wichita early, on Tuesday afternoon, and I had dinner with D– at a new Mexican place downtown (Iguana Grill, and it’s awesome), then went by Bruce’s to borrow his ladder and ended up spending an hour and a half chatting with him, then went home and got started on Christmas preparations instead of going to bed.

I wanted to have the tree up (and ready for decoration) by the time T– came home from Wichita. I decided to get all the decorations down from the attic, too, and somewhere in there I decided I should hang Christmas lights outside. Wal-Mart had LED lights at a reasonable price, so I picked up 8 strings and spent Wednesday afternoon crawling around on the roof of the house, getting everything set up. It proved to be more work than I anticipated, but the end result is stunning. (I’m sure T– will have a photo up on her blog eventually.)

I’d barely gotten off the roof when D– showed up to take me down to Chicasha to pick up his grandma, and then we all headed to Wichita. With that extra trip, a two-and-a-half-hour drive became something perilously close to five, but I spent most of it sleeping in the back seat, so who’s complaining.

Then Thanksgiving was four straight days of Charboneaus. That’s an amazing family, and they really know how to have a good time when they get together. T– brought my XBox and Rock Band, and that was incredibly popular. The food was incredible. The Cowboys won convincingly, and then a disappointing Sooners team showed up on Saturday and totally shut out OSU in the Bedlam game, so that was pretty satisfying.

We got home Sunday afternoon, and as we turned the corner onto our street, AB called from the back seat, “Ooh, the house is ready for Christmas!” T–, of course, was thrilled. After watching her parents get all their Christmas decorations done Friday morning, she’d been left wondering when we could even get around to it, and here it was all ready for her.

AB couldn’t wait to get started, and she and her mom got the tree all decorated before bedtime.

Then yesterday was the 30th, the end of my wonderful, grueling November, and I capped it with a write-in at Courtney’s. We both made our official submissions to the NaNoWriMo website around 11:00, validated our winning word counts, and then stayed up far too late talking. All too often, in the midst of a conversation about this or that, one or the other of us would trail off, staring away into space, and then just say quietly, “I can’t believe it’s over.”

It’s over. And I survived.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

National Novel Writing Month 2009 Progress Report

I’m fifteen days into NaNoWriMo, and doing terribly well.

Well, okay, sixteen days. I was going for the parallelism, though, so shut up!

I made a long post to my writing group’s discussion board last week talking about goals — specific, personal goals, and the impetus to reach them. The gist of it was that I had one: I wanted to finish Ghost Targets: Restraint (which I began back in June) by the 16th, when Julie and Carlos were coming by for a visit.

I did that. I actually finished the story last Friday afternoon, which put me at 29,000 words in November, and 55,000 words in the book. For those of you who are good at math (and know the rules of NaNoWriMo), you’ll be wondering what I plan to do with my other 21,000 words in the next two weeks.

As of now, I’m undecided. In the last three days, I’ve written a couple pages of introduction for a totally new story idea (that’s intended to be a collaborative project with Courtney), a couple pages of introduction for the next Ghost Targets book (which is currently laboring under the working title Shelter), and today, over lunch, four more pages that drive me a good distance into chapter one.

I’d spent the early part of the month thinking I was going to finish up my Sleeping Kings opener, Golden Age, and I’d still really like to do that. It’s complicated, though. I was a different kind of writer when I wrote the SK books, and I don’t think it would be worth the effort to rewrite the whole series to bring it more in line with my current writing style, but I don’t know how well I can fake the old style to get a seamless introduction.

And, at the end of the day, I’ve got a lot more energy behind the Ghost Targets series now. I could end the month with a third of the fourth book done and soar past 50,000 for the month, and all of that would be pretty effortless. Or I could labor over every page, force out a passable introduction to Sleeping Kings, and barely hit my target even with all the extra effort. It would be awfully nice to have that done, but I don’t know that I have the discipline or the motivation to make it happen.

Either way, I’m limping into my pre-class downtime today, so it’ll be sometime Thursday before we know more. Well, before I know more. Chances are good this space won’t be updated until the end of the month, though, and by then it’ll be done, one way or another.

If you’ve got an opinion, feel free to cast your vote. Maybe you’ll surprise me. Maybe you’ll even motivate me.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Vanity Plate

I talked about it a lot back when it happened, but I don’t think I ever posted any of the photos Julie took when she came up to do the maternity shoot for Trish.

I asked her to get a couple of me for profile pics, and this is the one I’m using now.


Thanks again to Julie for her great work. She’s said she wants to take another run at it, and that sounds like a blast. Until then, though, I’m perfectly happy with the work she did.

National Novel Writing Month 2009 Kick-Off

I’m five days into NaNoWriMo, and not doing terribly well. I’m right at 1/4 of my target word count. My writing group is on fire, though, and I’m taking a little bit of (probably undeserved) paternal pride in that.

We started things off in a big way last Saturday night (Halloween), when a bunch of us met at a local IHOP for a big kick-off party. I think I’ve seen differing counts, but I’m pretty sure there were seven of us writing (and an eighth writer who left before we actually started writing), and two visitors who came by just to spectate.

We met at 11:00 PM, so that we could socialize a bit before getting down to business. I spent most of that time talking with Shawn about World of Warcraft. That was, without question, an accurate indicator of what I should expect out of the night, and out of my November. Don’t mistake that for me placing blame anywhere but on me, though.

Anyway, it was fun, and we all had a good time socializing. There was a real air of anticipation, too, as we got closer and closer to midnight. Somewhere in the midst of that, a young couple headed toward our tables — one of the seven writers, and one of the two spectators. The latter of those was also one of my students in my Tech Writing class. He’s a young man with considerable personality — more than he can reasonably keep to himself.

It was my intention to get 2,500 words written. I was willing to leave as early as 1:00 if I managed to hit my word count by then, but I was expecting it to take until about 2:00. That’s okay — I’ve closed down bars in the not-too-distant past, so I figured I could handle 2:00. We had the advantage of Sunday morning being the end of Daylight Savings Time, too, so I’d get the extra hour of sleep.

Most of our writers had laptops — no, check that, all of them did. Except me. I had a scribblebook, because that’s how I roll. We’d picked IHOP for its late hours, but one of the major selling points had been the free WIFI. Unfortunately, when midnight rolled around and everyone opened up the laptops, we found ourselves unable to locate that free WIFI. I don’t think anybody ever did. There wasn’t easy access to electrical outlets, either, but I think everyone’s batteries survived longer than their writing impetus, anyway.

Anyway. While they were wrestling with their network management utilities, I was scribbling in a cramped cursive at laughing at them all. Muah hahaha! I filled two and half pages (a hair over 500 words), and ran out of words. I spent the next thirty minutes or so forcing words one at a time to fill another page and a half, and then I gave up. Oh, what a shining example I am for my writing group!

About five minutes before I gave up, though, my oh-so-personable student Sean (no, not Shawn, that was someone else) gave up on his project to get ad hoc StarCraft going, and came to our tables to talk some more. I was able to pretend to humor him, and act all friendly as an excuse for closing my scribblebook, unclicking my Pilot G-2, and spending the rest of the night just emptying glass after glass of Coke.

That was one-ish, so I had an hour left before I was going to let myself leave. Fifteen to two, a hostess came by our table to warn us that the bars were about to let out, and the clientele would become considerably more boorish. Courtney proudly proclaimed that we were writers, and we delighted in observing vibrant characters in action.

We got more than we bargained for there, though. Just past two, a fistfight erupted in the parking lot which quickly ended up as four guys beating the hell out of a fifth guy down on the ground. Our table gave us an easy view of it, but everyone in the restaurant was quickly on their feet, watching the fight through the wall of windows. It was impossible to look away.

Courtney called the cops. A manager and some employees risked their lives to try to intervene (and quite possibly saved the fifth dude’s life in the process). Fifteen minutes passed before the ambulance and firetruck showed up, forty-five before the cops. None of us really felt like setting foot outside until that happened.

So I stumbled in the door well after three in the morning, too buzzed on secondhand adrenaline and caffeine to fall asleep, and I spent half an hour lying in bed thinking, “Oh, the hangover tomorrow is going to suck.” That was habit, because the only time I come home after two in the morning is when I’ve been out drinking (and, when I spend that long out drinking, the hangover tomorrow always sucks). I kept having to remind myself I hadn’t actually had anything to drink.

And then tomorrow came, and the hangover was awful. I’m way too old for three in the morning.

I cleared eleven hundred words on day one, and then had to go to work on day two. I taught a class on day three. I’ve been swamped with a Maintenance Handbook on a Nov. 14th deadline, and too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything but log in and zone out. I ended yesterday at 2,485 words. Got another five hundred done today, though, and the weekend is looking shiny and full of promise.

Every novel I’ve ever written has had at least one 8,000-word day in it. Maybe this year’s will come early.

Anyway, that’s most of what’s been on my mind. I’m off to a slow start, but I’m still a long way from out of the game.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 30, 2009

I’m not going to pretend any of you are surprised at the lack of updates. I’m also not going to pretend there will be any rectification of that issue in the next thirty-one days. NaNoWriMo is here, and it gets my words. What I have to spare will end up in emails and FaceBook Discussion Board posts encouraging my other writers to stick with it.

That’s what I’ve been busy with in the recent bloggish doldrums. Two years ago when I decided to bully Dad and Heather into writing their books, I put together a prewriting curriculum for them, and I’ve used some of those exercises with a couple other people since, but I never really nailed them down.

I’ve spent much of the last two weeks getting them sorted out, cleaned up, and properly annotated (the exercises are now two-parters: lessons on topics in story design, paired with specific assignments).

I also went through all the exercises and did them for my own NaNoWriMo project, to set a good example, but I ended up having to switch projects right in the middle of all that, so it was a real mess. As of yesterday I’m all done, though, and ready to get to work.

Of course, I’ve been playing a lot of WoW, and we’ve had several opportunities to get a whole group together, whether it was D– and me and the brothers-in-law, or Mom and Dad and a nephew, we’ve had a lot of fun.

The kids are doing well, and T– (as always) is a phenomenal wife and mother. It’s amazing how much she gets accomplished, on so little sleep….

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.