Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fatherly Advice, and Peanut Butter

Well, it's not exactly a vacation right now, preparing for Christmas with three kids. Most of my week was spent shuttling my eldest child to and from his end-of-semester exams, or final shopping, or wrapping. Any non-perishable goods not nailed down tend to get wrapped and stowed under the tree around here in these final few days, and attributed to the dog. "Peanut butter! Just what we needed!"

A word of fatherly advice for any parents of young children: you'll get endless entertainment by tossing out the "what shall we get mommy for Christmas" routine, and instead taking your child to the local junk store (99-cents-only, or the like) and turning them loose to pick out gifts. There is never a bad time to do this -- my own father is a firm believer in the Christmas Eve shopping trip. ("No lines, and the choices are easy!") My wife and I have been alternately gifted with some really magical things over the years as a result that reveal far more about the psyches of our offspring than any battery of tests might reveal. I suppose wrapping up dry goods and blaming the pets says a lot about me, too.

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I've held my nose and plunged back into my NaNo draft. It's... not as terrible as I'd thought. Rough in parts, and full of the usual amount of flailing, tangential asides, and shifting character names and motivations. I've got to do better by this draft, and try not to let it get added to the growing stack of "to edit" pages archived in boxes. Perhaps I'll leave a few chapters out for Santa with the milk and cookies and see if he'll give me the gift of a critical eye this year. Anyone else dipping toes into the creative waters before the year is up? I'll start banging the "I need beta readers" drum here before too long, I hope, and I'm always happy to do a novel exchange.

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The San Francisco Bay Area Type-In is prepped and ready: 2pm on the 27th at California Typewriter in Berkeley. I treated myself to a replacement camera about a month ago after the flash died on my old one, so I plan to show up with paper, typewriter, and an itchy shutter finger. I also plan on chaining myself to the nearest SG-1 and not leaving until they cut me loose and haul me away. I figure that's pretty exciting stuff, and only regret not causing a bigger scene the last time a documentary crew rolled through town. I'll be rectifying that, don't worry. Typosphere: please start collecting bail money now.

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The kids are counting down the days, and hours, and probably seconds until they get to unwrap all those new, mysterious gifts under the tree. ("Saltines?") I'm counting down the days until I get to meet Typospherians face-to-face and enjoy a little typewriter time, and to get away from what will surely be known as the Saltines-and-Peanut-Butter Riots of 2013. If you're looking at the calendar with dread and anxiety and an unfinished gift list, the dad in me recommends a quick trip to Heifer International to support families in need around the world. Maybe it's not as great as a trip to the dollar store or a festively wrapped jar of jalapeƱo peppers -- for New Year's nachos! -- but it can make an actual difference in someone's life. No matter what your beliefs or how you might celebrate the passing of the old year and the start of a new, why not take a look?

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Hope to see many of you on the 27th, and for those I don't, Merry Christmas!


J.A. said...

Hey hey! Happy Solstice to you and your wacky crew! Looking forward to seeing the pics of the Type-In (see if you can sneak in a pic of the NaNo manuscript. . .you know, for dramatic effect!).

Dwayne F. said...

Merry Christmas to you and the clan. As a father of teens, I appreciate the shopping advice. Books from thrift stores also make wonderful gifts.