On Receiving Some Advice

I came across the wonderful blog of author Kristen Lamb a few weeks ago. For me her blog is absolutely filled with great advice for writers. But this post I found especially helpful because it challenged me to take a hard look at myself and my life. What I discovered, with her help, was that I have been letting many things get in the way of my writing and that these have become excuses.

”Excuses are free, but they cost us everything.” She writes. I’ve made far too many excuses for NOT writing and it’s time to look for reasons TO write.

So here are a few of the things that have been holding me back and which I shall be improving:

* Letting myself become sidetracked. This is insidious. I have far too often let my attention wander to YouTube, or let a site I was using for research become research drift. The next thing I realize is that it an hour and a half later and I have not committed any words to screen. Yes, my ADD doesn’t help in these cases but that in turn becomes an excuse too.

I must commit myself to writing time and treat that time as if it were my livelihood. Hobbies and time with friends are great, but what am I willing to give up in order to become a published writer? More great wisdom from Kristen Lamb:

Everything is the enemy. Friends and family will want you to keep being the maid and the taxi and the babysitter and the buddy who can spend all day shoe-shopping. Many of us will try to keep being Everything to everyone and we’ll just try to “fit in” writing, but that is the lie that will kill the dream. We can’t be Everything!

* I am too emotionally invested in my job.  And what makes no sense is that I hate what I do for a living. Being a factory hand is great line of work for some but not me. I am a writer. Negative emotional attachment to my job saps my energy and creativity. I must learn to let go. As cliche as it sounds, I must treat the place where I work as if it doesn’t exist when I leave the employee gate at shift change.

Along with that I should allow myself to use vacation time for the sole purpose of writing. A working vacation that I enjoy.

* Tame the inner critic. This is a huge one for me. I think that I am like many writers when I allow my inner critic to run roughshod over what I know is good storytelling, beating myself up to the point where I think to myself, “I’ll put this aside for now and come back to it when I have some better ideas.” Again here, far too often I’ve allowed this to become a fear that I am not now nor ever will be “good enough”.

Change truly is never easy. But these are the biggest changes I need to make to be a writer professionally. It’s nice to have the potential to be a professional writer but potential means nothing without commitment and a big part of that is the commitment to one’s self to make positive change.

 

 

 

 

Working 7-3

One of the greatest challenges I have in my writing is the hours I work to pay the bills. I have a factory job that I have to commit forty to forty eight hours a week to. This while looking for work in corporate communications and pursuing my love of writing. Oi! It’s safe to say that my plate is full.

But ya know what? It’s worth it.

Yes, I do wish that I had more time to devote to my novel and blog, but the challenge of keeping all those balls in the air makes the accomplishment all the more sweeter. I do envy people that have the time to devote half of their working time to their creative side. I know my writing suffers from being attacked in fits and snatches, but this is my doing and I appreciate it.

So back to the factory job and here’s the best part; I get almost no end of inspiration from my coworkers.  They are a funny, quirky, odd, conservative group, while a good number of them are high school drop-outs. They seem, for the most part to love professional football (as do I), love NASCAR races (which I loathe), deer hunting, and some of their deepest conversations during lunch concern the flavor of yogurt that they are having. I could get into some of the other odd-ness, but I think I’ll save that for later.

On the other hand there is myself; degree in journalism (emphasis: corp comm) and a minor in English (emphasis: lit crit & theory). I try to keep everything in perspective. I’m not superior, just developed a different skill set. And there are a number of people like Barb, my friend more than coworker, who is an immensely talented painter and who’s work I love. She and I have had fantastic conversations lately that show, at least to me, how alike we really are, among others.

So, as I sit here between end of work day and bedtime, I’m off and running with my writing. For now.

I’d like to know how others’ writing day goes. Let me know.

TR

 

Meta-Writing Continued

Here I am collecting material for my first novel. Wow, what a daunting task.

A near future novel set in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (Stick with what you’re familiar with) with the protagonist, lately released from prison, trying to make her way in the world. OK, it’s more complicated than that , but I don’t want to tip my hand too much right now.

So to all my writing followers a few questions:

Do you develop characters first or plot arcs?

How do you go about researching factual events, people, things, events to add realism to your fiction?

Do you advise a writer to just start writing or work from notes?

When writing do you jump from one chapter/ situation to another without following the developing story line?

Any other advise you could throw my way?

The reason I ask these is that my background in English is theory and criticism, (I can hear the cries now of “BURN THE WITCH! BURN HIM!!”) But really it isn’t as bad as all that. My first choice in academia was pre-law. (Hmmmm… I’m not helping my case any, am I…) Anyway, while I still have one or two followers left,  I ended with a degree in journalism. I did take a class in creative writing that was pretty much an intro course but as you may have guessed, my forte’ to this point in time is analytic writing.

So I’ve had this idea for a novel rattling around in my little noggin for some time and I am hoping for a little help to evolve it into a full-fledged book.

So what do ya say? Help a guy out that’s trying to mend his criticism ways?

TR

 

Meta-Writing

I’ve been asking myself, “Why do I write?” It’s not an easy exercise. It can take a lot of effort and time. Most people that see it will say, “So what?”

So I have been thinking about why I write, both here and the early stages of a novel that’s been knocking around my noggin.

And the simple answer is, ” I do it for me.” Yeah, that may seem like a cop-out but it really is a lot more complicated than that simple answer. I write as an outlet from my overly simplistic factory job. It’s mental exercise where I get none; a creative outlet when I have no chance to be creative.

Ok, before this starts to sound like self indulgent drivel, I love to write. Sometime I look back— What the hell was I thinking but for the most part I see my writing improving the more I do it.

Another thing that I find inspirational are the blogs of other writers, both accomplished and just starting. Blogs like, Cherie Priest (www.cheriepriest.com/), Adventures in Writing ( emilyramos.wordpress.com/) and Jodie Llewellyn (jodiellewellyn.wordpress.com/). These people are a great help to me and huge “Thank you” to them all.

Wishing everyone pleasant reading.

 

Roger Goodell Should Step Down

There are so many aspects of the Ray Rice debacle that absolutely have to be addressed. But for me one of the first is this: Roger Goodell, the presiding chief of the NFL. This is the man that was quoted in The Huffington Post as implying that

“that the NFL had not seen the explicit video before it was released by TMZ on Monday.”

I believe him and here is why. If the NFL never truly asked for the surveillance it would give them the best end around play: Plausible Deniability.

“We had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator,” Goodell responded when asked if the NFL knew about the elevator video prior to Monday. “We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. We asked for anything that’s pertinent. But we were never granted that opportunity.”

Until the video was released by TMZ the (lack of) NFL leadership COULD have said, “Well ya know… we don’t doubt that something happened on that elevator. But it could have been Rice shoved his fiancee toward the wall of the elevator where she bumped her head a little and was disoriented. Sorta like she was knocked out… and then Rice just tugged her hair a little to get her attention. Don’t get us wrong, that was a terrible  thing for the up and coming super star to and warrants severe consequences.”

Yeah. In July Ray Rice was levied with a 2 game suspension and fined the following week’s  game’s pay.

But bad news for the NFL commissioner, with the release of the security camera video, that defense of the light punishment evaporated. Time to do an about face, Roger.  Two days ago Goodell indefinitely suspended Rice after the Baltimore Ravens released him from the team.

But today another 180 by the good commish: Asked on CBS if Rice could return, Goodell said it’s possible.  “I don’t rule that out. But he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue. Clearly, he has paid a price for the actions that he’s already taken,” Goodell said.

Are you fuckin’ kidding me?

One in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime.  Twenty-five per cent of women have reason to be fearful in their own home. We need to end Violence Against Women here and now. The place to start is where young impressionable men find many of their role models, i.e., professional sports. And that starts with the sports leagues’ leadership. If gambling on league games results in indefinite suspension, sure as hell perpetrating violence in one’s home should result in disqualification. Permanently. Period.

Maybe then young men would think that roughing up others remains only on the playing field.

Roger Goodell, you have shown by your actions that you do not truly, honestly believe that domestic violence is an issue with the players in the NFL. As such, the most graceful thing you can do is resign and make room for someone who does.

Am I Part of the Problem of Violence against Women?

 

I read a number of feminist blogs because I really do believe in social justice.

Soraya Chemaly‘s Tumblr post today hit home. It lists many, but not all of the reasons women should be able to say “No” without fear.

Wow. Humbling in the least. I am a man and I have to ask:

Am I part of the problem of Violence Against Women?

There are times when mates of mine would make misogynistic jokes with no women in the room and I would say nothing. I wouldn’t laugh but I would not voice my feelings. Sin of omission… or sin of silence.

I now am beginning to understand more deeply that not speaking up at that time is part of the very underpinnings for a culture that thinks it is playful, funny, (erroneously) masculine, to catcall women. It is a way to degrade and assert a false superiority over women, reducing them to less than human; to reduce them to objects of pleasure via a women’s reproductive organs. It’s not just wrong, it is the same propaganda that governments use during war to dehumanize an enemy.

I read all of the pieces linked to Soraya Chemaly’s post from Sept. 4th, 2014. Sobering. The 14-year-old girl murdered for not giving oral sex, the woman who had a bowling ball launched at her, or girls/women that don’t want to smile.

It’s all harassment. Scope makes no difference. The things that are believed to be innocuous, and are not, are the foundations for violence.

I’ve read pieces about women taking measures to protect themselves: don’t leave drinks unattended, don’t accept rides from men, it’s safer to give a man a fake phone number than refuse to give one. The first defense men use is: Not all men are rapists! It started me thinking. It is true, not all men are rapists. A person would be delusional or paranoid to think all men are committing violence against women. But as Dr. Who observed while looking for an enemy that might be anywhere, “Not in every shadow, but in any shadow.” It is the same with violence against women, “Not every man, but any man.”

Am I part of the problem? By my silence, yes I was, but I will do my best to end my complicity here and now.

 

 

 

 

Cherie Priest’s “Clementine”

Just a quick post here: Cherie Priest didn’t disappoint with the second novel in the Clockwork Century series, Clementine. Not only is the book a great adventure story but I really enjoyed how Priest subtly handles the race relations. The gist is that an African-American airship captain is tracking down his stolen craft while at the same time being pursued by the former Confederate spy now Pinkerton detective, Maria “Belle” Boyd.  So Just as with  Boneshaker,  I completely enjoyed it.

Clementine jpeg

Now I’m moving on to the third installment, Dreadnaught, and completely looking forward to it.

 

Thank you, Cherie, for another great, fun read.