Monday, October 3, 2016
Monday, September 19, 2016
Just surfacing for air again, meeting my daily chore of writing, and feeling seven kinds of smug because despite having a very bad day yesterday -- or perhaps because of it -- I buckled down and reached the end of my 2011 NaNoWriMo draft: a long meandering through middle age, video games, love, life, death, religion, Las Vegas, and funnel cakes. It's kind of complex. It's also (surprise) kind of wordy, and it took me over a year and a quarter to finally get it into digital form, and another six months to get through that. That's the six months I just finished, and in that time there's been a few personal dramas and life changes. And maybe it's the old from-adversity-comes-strength maxim, but I still believe that some of this writing is the best I've done, at least on a micro scale. There's some turns of phrase in there that I like. I'm worried, though, that the entire mass is maybe less-than-readable. So that's the next draft. Get it all together in a file, and print/read/scrawl upon it, and try to get it in a steady state where I can ride out November.
November! It's closing in fast. I usually give up October to my pre-planning over-thinking super-outlining frenzy so NaNoWriMo can happen relatively smoothly -- thirty days of assignments, in essence, with the option to pop the chute and write randomness if I start feeling rangy, or heed the Master Plan if I feel at sea. I want to get this draft in before the next draft blows through and is added to the stack. I'm not worried about it, though. Right now I'm cruising along on the high of semi-completion, riding in the wake of a lot of hard work. I've made the pledge to myself to Rhino Every Day, and that has been an anchor in these turbulent weeks. There have been days when I found very little encouraging to look forward to, but knowing that the writing was waiting -- that I owe myself that time -- at least put a consistent button on the days. Life has been blowing around pretty hard this summer, so it's been good to have a tether, even if the other end is fastened to funnel cakes and video games.
I'm also finding out what sort of writer I am, by at least better-defining what sort of writer I am not. There's a pretty good chance that this November's draft is going to veer sharply away from the magical realism underpinnings of this novel. I'm not sure I have enough imagination to keep up with everything that Real Life can dish out. I'm looking forward to it, even though I don't quite know the hows-and-whens of my writing schedule this year, or even if I'll be able to Brigade it. The social acceptability of a typewriter on a commuter train seems unlikely. But the Rhino doesn't care about Real Life, just the Writing Life. Real Life can go blow on the wind, carried away on endless drafts.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
This has been an interesting month, as in the old proverbial curse "may you live in interesting times."
Our family dynamic is shifting around, as my firstborn is now attending college, a reality that seems unreal, as it can't have been long since I graduated college and (mumble mumble counts on fingers) ah, yes. Well, it's a change, anyway. And I have explained this to my children endlessly in true Expository Dad Fashion, that as a parent, it is very difficult for me to separate the reality of the child/teenager/adult standing before me with the memories of this same person as a smaller child/toddler/newborn. It's as if all that time is compressed on top of their being, and I am unable to stop the temporal disconnect when I look at them (to wit: "where has the time gone," "I remember your first day of school like it was yesterday," etc.) This mental timehop is the reason that I call the children by the wrong name. That excuse is less believable when I call them by the dog's name.
And so that's changing. Letting go of the oldest one as he does his best to push away and define himself, while I unhelpfully respond by clinging all the harder. Why can't we stuff all those reality-genii back into the bottle? I demand a do-over! We're adapting to this change in our own ways (I choose denial.)
Personally, the bigger change for me is that I am right now between employers. This is a situation I haven't been in since... well, since the older one was starting school, over a decade ago. I've been feeling untethered and buffeted in these weeks, a balloon come undone into a stormy sky. There's more people depending on me, and the world has changed, and my field has changed, and old Mr. Imposter Syndrome comes a-whisperin' in my ear his little hurtful lies, like: the only thing that hasn't changed is me. Tiny stinging lies are the specialty of Mr. I.S., and they are extra sharp when you're already a little raw watching some young adult stride off to college with a small backpack while you're also seeing him skip off to kindergarten with a giant one.
Parents of school-age children, be warned: the school-Feels are deep and poignant. After their twelve-year slumber, they emerge like soppy emotional cicadas right up on your face. #UglyCry
I am not a believer of signs and portents, though numerous found pennies have crossed my path, and inspiring and courageous words are popping up right when I needed them most. Maybe I'm just more attuned now. Like our sleepy cicadas, I also feel that I've been dozing for years, and now I get to shed the skin and start over. It's a messy process, and I have to confess that more than once I've thought about retreating to the same familiar hole I've just come out of. But holes are dark and close and hard to move in. I'm out in the sun now, flexing my limbs and hardening my skin and even singing my own song. There's a new melody to it, one that I didn't realize it had before. It's louder than stinging lies.
And through all this change, I've found support in the likeliest place, though not the first place I would have turned. My son was there, though he's dealing with his own life changes, his own new job, and the scattering of his friends to all points. He was there for me, backing me up, and is seeing me off to my own new adventure.
So thanks, buddy, for everything you did, for everything you do. For the kid you were and the man you've become. And I'm sorry I keep calling you the dog's name.
Some things never change.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
I don't know. But it's been a hell of a week in a hell of a year, and we're only half through 2016. Our national elections are still months away, and the levels of toxicity and division are the highest I can ever remember. As a country, we've gone from memorializing the Civil Rights movement to reliving it. And I hug my kids, and try to breathe, and take the time every morning to be glad of the sun and the sky and even the mundane details of my neighborhood. And I'm still wrestling with a rewrite of a book, because I have few things I can do right now except to create.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Preparations began the night before...
As usual, the joy of pulling together a typecast is tempered by the cringing horror at my inability to spell. In my defense: it was early, I had not had coffee yet, and I had just hoofed it up a couple of hills to the pre-selected spot. But what a view! That's Mount Diablo, in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are far worse places to sit and be inspired on a summer morning, even without proper caffeine dosing beforehand.
As Richard rightly points out, this invented celebration has taken on a life of its own. I never expected that well into the 21st century we'd be fetishizing typewriters with wirelessly-connected pocket computers. It's a funny old world. But of course QWERTY and its cousins live on strong in our pockets. We're all carrying a piece of Sholes with us, and I don't think anyone's ready to say farewell to their keyboards just yet, physical or virtual. It's hard to get attached to a poem that's been "swiped."
Typed on a Smith-Corona Corsair Deluxe
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Just got back from a week's "staycation" to celebrate my eldest child's graduation, mark a milestone wedding anniversary, and spend many days loafing, swimming, and not shaving. I highly recommend all of these activities whenever summer comes your way.
Editing continues, with only a day or two off now and again to scribble in a notebook or blog post to keep up the wave of daily writings. Things are about to get bad -- and then better -- for my characters, and at the moment they're struggling their way across the plains of the U.S., a long flat land and a high mountain range between them and their goals.
Last year at this time, I pledged I'd be rewriting, and I was. I took up AlphaSmart and pen and headphones and hid in the bedroom every evening and finally, finally typed the damnable thing in. I've been running through all that re-typing since February, even powering through in the evenings when I was too tired from celebrating or swimming, even when I should have been working instead of loafing (but loafing is key, too.)
Now I'm free again, free to enjoy my early summer mornings with a brisk walk before the heat, and before I go to work and simply dream of swimming and loafing. The book is about to get into a whole, weird, not-real sort of place, and as I've been taking and posting photos taken during these walks, the tone is getting more abstract and askew and orthogonal to reality. It's the state of mind I'm in right now. Charged up and heading places, looking for the mountains and to get to the other side.