RSS

In the Interest of Not Being a Sarcastic Jackass All the Time part 2

I’ve done this before. It’s inspired by the great folks on Pop Culture Happy hour. It’s nice to take stock and look at the good things that are happening once in a while, so here are 5 things that are making me happy right now.

1. Stupid Summer TV is here! Summer is traditionally seen as a a dumping ground for all the shows the networks didn’t feel strongly enough about to show during the actual TV season, and for the large part, that is true. But the good news is that I like stupid stuff. I like goofball ideas and experimentation. So bring on Primeval New World, Under the Dome, Siberia, Sinbad, and all the rest.

And oh, Sinbad. This is the platonic ideal of a silly summer show. Just in the first episode Sinbad: won a street fight, stole an artifact from a mysterious father-daughter duo, got chased by guards, got captured by Sayid from Lost, got his brother killed, broke out of prison,was cursed by his grandma, got chased by guards again, stole away on a ship, discovered a perky thief, was thrown in the brig, sailed into the middle of a storm, battled water demons, saved perky thief from drowning, guided the ship through a tidal wave, found himself and his companions lost on the high seas.

Again, this was just the first episode. It wasn’t even double size or anything, just an hour in length. It’s new on the Syfy channel, but it probably first aired in Canada or something.

2I finally replaced my laptop. My old laptop was five years old, and though it was mostly working it had this annoying habit of turning itself off for no reason while I was in the middle of doing something. At first I thought it was overheating, so I bought it a cooling pad, but this didn’t seem to help. Recently, I became able to afford it so I replaced it.

My new laptop has 8 gigs of ram and a terabyte hard drive. Do I need 8 gigs of ram and a terabyte hard drive? Not really, but it’s nice to know it’s there. It runs on Windows 8, which is a mixed bag because windows 8 has a habit of forgetting it has things like, oh, say, wifi, but this is a minor annoyance and doesn’t happen very often. Beside, there are time it would be very good for me to have a computer that doesn’t have wifi. And it doesn’t turn itself off for no reason.

3. I have a couple of days this week to get caught up. The kids are home from school now, which means my writing time has been curtailed to say the least. I have a short story that needs editing, and a novel that needs an updated outline and a new start. So when my wife had to go to a conference in Santa Cruz, I decided to go with her, which would leave me a couple of days in a hotel room with nothing to do but write (and yes, watch TV and surf the internet, but I’m really trying to avoid those things). This blog post is the first result of that time, so so far I am doing ok.

4. My wife and I are taking an actual vacation. And no, I am not counting the Santa Cruz trip. It’s our fifteenth wedding anniversary in August, but she’ll be working, training teachers at a conference in San Diego, But the kids are going away to camp in July and we decided to take that time for an early anniversary trip. We are going back to Seattle, which is where we spent our honeymoon. Hopefully this will be a better trip since on our honeymoon we both got the stomach flu and spent two days retching in our hotel room. It was not very romantic.

My wife, the travel planning expert, has a lot of stuff planned. It should be a lot of fun.

5. Perry. I finally broke down and gave into the begging and let my daughter get a new puppy. She wanted something small that could live in the house with us with a minimum of fuss (we have a bigger dog who stays mostly outside because every time he comes in he pees on something). She selected a Yorkshire terrier and we found a breeder who didn’t want to charge $1000 for one. We brought it home last Thursday and the thing breaks the cuteness scale. The best part is I get to play with the dog, enjoy hanging out with it, bask in its adorability, and hand it over to my daughter to train and clean up its messes. I imagine it’s something like having a grandchild. We named it Perry, mostly so that we could look at each other and say “Hey, where’s Perry?” (yes we are big fans of Phineas and Ferb)

anyway, here’s a pic: Image

And that’s five things that are making me happy right now. I’d love to hear about yours.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2013 in culture, life, writing

 

Tags: , ,

Grimdark Fatigue, or Why I Broke Up with The Walking Dead

Spoilers for The Walking Dead comic and TV series, Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire.

When I was younger I really like horror movies. Every Halloween I would have a group of friends over and we would watch movies all night long. My favorites were The Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but I liked them all. Start out with a group of characters, whittle them down until only one or two are left, then beat the bad guy.

Pop culture commentator Tara Ariano says that what you get out of these movies is catharsis, and she’s right. You deal with fear, anger, work through it and feel better at the end. That was certainly true for me.

As I got older my tastes in these things grew more selective. I liked the Alien movies, then came Pitch Black which I thought was absolutely astounding.

From here I moved on to other things, my favorite of which was The Walking Dead comic. I loved the revolving cast of characters, the situation, the sense that anyone could die (and did!)  at any moment.

However, as time went along, instead of developing a high tolerance for horror, I started to lose my ability to deal with it a little bit, lost the ability to shut out the grimness and enjoy the story. Instead of becoming desensitized, my triggers got a little more sensitive.

And one of those triggers was violence against children. I made it though a mother and a baby being shot to death, an eight-year-old twin murdering his other twin and then being shot in the head by another eight-year-old. What finally did me in was when a little boy who was running from zombies pissed himself, then was eaten while his mother tried to save herself.

That was it for me, I couldn’t deal with the grimness anymore and dropped the series.

Before this, however, came the tv series. At the start I loved it for all the same reasons I’d loved the comic series. All the death didn’t get to me. And then came the plotline where a little girl ran away, was turned into a zombie, and had to be shot in the head. I couldn’t deal with the tv series anymore and dropped it too.

In an ongoing story like this, there is no catharsis, no sense that we’ve pulled through and everything will be ok soon. It’s just one more grim situation after another.

From this, death in stories itself started to bug me more and more.

I love the Song of Ice and Fire series, but all the death there is starting to get to me too. Martin has killed off all the interesting, noble characters and replaced them with those that are much less compelling. I wanted this series to be about the triumph of the Stark family, and now the Starks are (mostly) dead. I understand that good stories don’t necessarily give readers what they think they want, but it would be nice if the good guys could get a win sometime. Then Martin goes and kills who I thought was the main character, the only one left who was fighting the good fight that needed to be fought. Just kills him dead with no warning. And I don’t know if I can deal with this series anymore. Too grim.

From here comes the Game of Thrones TV Series, based on the books. Now I haven’t seen any season 3 episodes because I don’t have HBO and am watching on Blue-Ray a year later. This series has been even more grim than the books, and talk about violence against children. They’ve slaughtered a baby, among others. In many ways the TV series has gone beyond the books in the violence they are willing to portray, but maybe it’s just the difference between reading it and seeing it.

Come this last week’s episode and the red wedding. Like I said, I haven’t seen the episode, but I knew it was coming, and I wondered how they would deal with it. If anything it seems like it goes beyond what happened in the books. They gut a pregnant lady. That did not happen in A Storm of Swords.

So now I don’t know if I can go on with this series either. Too grim. I don’t need more grim in my life. I have enough issues with mental stability as it is.

I know death is necessary in fiction. I killed off a little kid in my first published story. But there needs to be some hope in there, some catharsis, or it just overwhelms. And I don’t need to be overwhelmed by that any more.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 5, 2013 in culture, writing

 

Tags: , , ,

I Give Up!

There are certain versions of myself that live only in my head and have no connection to reality. I have discovered as I get older, that more and more of these things are just not going to become things for me. And I need to let them go. It’s just too much pressure! So here are a few of them, in no particular order:

1. I am never going to be a runner.

I’ve run before, a lot. I have bought new running shoes, a treadmill, scheduled time in the early morning (ha!), gotten myself really psyched up. And every time I quit after a few days. I just have to admit to myself that I hate it. I don’t get a runner’s high, I don’t feel good after doing it (it actually once made me vomit into the neighbor’s rosebushes). A run starts out badly and gets worse. My asthma kicks in. I roll an ankle. But it’s always been something I wanted to do. The truth is, I mainly want to be able to tell people I run, and post nike updates to twitter (and seriously, if you’re doing this, I’m impressed but it really bums me out). These are not good reasons to nearly kill yourself.

I love walking. I love hiking. So from now on I’m going to do that. I can set the treadmill on an incline and watch Buffy while I walk. It’s better for everyone this way.

2. I am never going to learn how to play guitar.

I have a guitar. I have taken lessons. I have payed around and even learned a song, but what all of this has told me is that I have a spectacular lack of talent. I lack physical coordination, finger strength, and rhythm. I also lack the discipline to practice. So for this … it’s not happening. I’ll give my guitar to my daughter and hope she has more talent than I do (from what I’ve seen of her dancing, rhythm might prove a hurdle for her as well).

I realize this seriously affects my chances at winning American Idol, but I’m just going to have to live with that.

3. I am never going to become a Neil Gaiman Fanboy.

I like Neil Gaiman. He seems incredible witty and big-hearted and like an overall exemplary human being, but something about his work just leaves me cold. For a long time, I’ve felt bad about this, that this is some indication of a defect within my own character. And I do like certain things that he’s done. I loved Stardust (the movie is one of my favorites) and American Gods stayed with me for a long time. I understand the quality of the craft in his work. It’s just not my thing I guess. Our story sensibilities are just a little far apart.

I hope he can forgive me. I suspect he’ll lose little sleep.

4. I am never going to be the cool parent.

Let’s face it: my kids think I’m a dork. Let’s face it: I am a dork. I’m clumsy and mumble-mouthed. I say the wrong things. I do the wrong things. I come out when they’re playing with their friends to make them take their medications. I am hopeless about sports, only barely registering some feeling when the SF Giants have made it to the playoffs (that’s a baseball team, right?) I don’t understand the positions on the soccer team. When the parents played the kids I had a handball twice (twice!) (for my fellow non-athletes, a handball is a term in soccer when the let the ball touch you on the arms. I forgot about this and unwisely used an elbow to keep the ball from hitting me in the face. Apparently you’re supposed to let it hit you in the face) I get waaaaaay too excited about books and tv shows, but when I play video games I am the one who gets stuck in a corner and can’t figure out how to turn around..

So I may be a dork, I just hope that I’m a lovable dork and that they forgive me.

So these are the things I am letting go of today. I already feel better and now I can shift that mental energy into accomplishing goals that really are important to me, like becoming a champion line dancer.

OK, not really (my daughter just squeed in horror, if that’s a thing you can do).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 31, 2013 in culture, life

 

Tags: ,

What’s Happening (now)

It has been so long since I posted that I was afraid that I had forgotten the password to log in and was going to have to start a new blog entirely. But I remembered, obviously, which means I am reusing passwords and will soon be hacked at all sites I log into.

I probably shouldn’t have typed that out loud. Just…a…sec…Never mind, I have changed all of my passwords.

The last year has been a strange one, lots of standing in place while events move around me, like I’m the main character in a badly plotted novel.

I put my writing on hold for a while, not on purpose but because I just wasn’t in the headspace to do it. The novel is still there, between drafts, waiting for me to come back to it. I have the characters and the setting, but the plot needs work. And the plot is kind of an important element here.

I have worked on a couple of short stories. I actually have three of them sitting around right now, and one that’s almost ready. Two of these have been sent out and rejected once without being sent out again. I am bad at submitting and that’s kind of an important step in all of this, I know. It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection, per se. I know I’m going to get rejected. lots. It’s more like I have trouble letting the stories be what they are and go out there into the world without feeling the need to tweak them just one more time. 

My mental state has been mixed. I’ve had no major mixed episodes, a few minor ones. I had a few days last week where all I wanted to do was sleep and brood, and the brooding was related to nothing that was actually going on. But there’s been nothing like the incident two years ago when I had to be babysat to avoid being hospitalized.

This year has been really hard financially, but things are looking up in that department, freeing me to treat writing like it’s an actual job, which is what I intend to do going forward.

But that’s what’s happening now. I plan to blog more, aiming for two posts a week, depending on if I have something to say or not. I imagine I will, if twitter is any indication.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in life, writing

 

Tags: , ,

Quick Update

Still alive. Most days, at least.

I have started the novel over. yes, again. This means I have thrown out a 120,000 word draft of this thing, and then thrown out another 15,000 words (or not, depending.) I think I don’t know if I hate the book or not, at this point, but it clearly hates me.

I am taking a breather and working on some short stories. Some of these aren’t going any better, but at least the drafts aren’t so long.

I did not even pretend to do NaNo this year. At some point in the last couple of months I started getting really concerned about my writing, which then made me afraid of it a little bit, so the thought of writing 50,000 words in one month, or trying to, sent me into convulsions. It may be that I need to adjust my meds. I didn’t used to be this much of a pussy.

I’m declaring December a get shit done month so I can finally make some headway on all these projects, and wrestle the opening of the novel to the ground. Once done; I’ll feel much better.

It gets better after you break through the wall, right?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 2, 2011 in life, writing

 

Tags:

“It’s time for a few small repairs,” he said.

It’s been a strange month.

I got about halfway into revising the book and discovered that the plot makes no sense. I’m sure it made sense at the time, but when I really thought some things out it all fell apart. I mean, I know what I meant, but it just didn’t work. There were a lot of things I liked about it. Some wordbuilding details, some of the big ideas. I came to the conclusion that I liked these things and loved the characters, but thought they needed to be in a better story. So I decided to set fire to it and just start over.

It’s liberating, really, when you make that decision. It allowed me to incorporate about a hundred new things that had occured to me as I slogged my way through version 1. It also allowed me to cut a whole lot of clumsy exposition and focus on what happens and who does it. My beta readers (saints as they are) will have to let me know if it’s working or not.

I blame Julia Cameron. I’ve been reading my way through The Artist’s Way, her twelve week course on higher creativity. I say reading it because I haven’t actually been doing it as completing every exercise would mean doing nothing else for twelve weeks. But I’ve been doing the morning pages, which consist of three pages of freewriting every day. They’re supposed to be done in the morning, per the name, but I’ve been cheating and usually doing them around lunchtime. It’s by freewriting about that book that I discovered my problems with it, and the ways to fix them in version 2.

The Artists Way popped up on my radar because of Mur Lafferty and I should be Writing. It sounded interesting and I made a mental note to seek it out. Then I was shelf-reading during my volunteer hours at our local library and there it was. Synchronicity, Cameron would call it.

One of the things she talks about is all the excuses we make for ourselves to not be creative. We decide we can only be creative if we have certain things, i.e. alcohol, or chaos, or, in my case, Mania.

I had tracked down my most creative periods of my life and found that Bipolar hypomania was a factor in all of them. My recent hypomanic episode had left me with an entire novel (yes, another one) loaded in my head. I had begun to despair of being able to be creative when I wasn’t having a manic episode. And mania, for me, always starts off just fine. There are a pleasant few days, an increase in energy, I don’t need to sleep, etc. But then it goes toxic and I end up in a mixed episode where I’m nothing but angry and stressed and tense twenty-four hours a day. So you can see why I’d like to opt out of mania entirely and not rely on it for my creativity.

And I can’t say it’s been a magic bullet, but reading the book and doing some of the exercises, and doing the morning pages did help me recreate the book in my head and get started on rewriting it. I can’t say I’ve been mania-free during that period, but it’s helped me show up on the page no matter how I was feeling otherwise. I’m no longer waiting to ride out the neurochemical storms.

Someday, probably when I’m done with this book and am waiting to start on the next, I will return to the Artists Way and do it the right way. In the mean time, I’m jazzed about the book again and think I can really do it right this time.

We’ll see what happens.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 15, 2011 in life, writing

 

At the risk of oversharing …

Wow, two blog posts in the same month. I KNOW!

Despite that, it hasn’t been a very productive couple of weeks. My Three hour writing day hasn’t had a chance to happen because of schduling and doctor’s appointments, and all that stuff but also my own complete lack of energy and focus. But these are all just excuses … bad writer! Bad!

I did manage to get a chapter edited and out to first readers, so that’s something. And this week is not totally non-crazy but isn’t totally crazy either, so it looks better. When talking about this schedule and my new determination to light a fire under my own ass and get things done, I was expressing my concern about doing it all and my wife had this little nugget of simple wisdom … you’re just going to have to get better at managing your time. You think?

Sometimes you just need the people you love to see through your bullshit.

One thing that was holding me back (at the risk of layering on more excuses) was the fact that I was having a lot of sleep issues, which meant I was just dead during the day. I had a couple of sleep studies done and at first they diagnosed me with sleep apnea (which made zero sense) and then they took it back and told me I was grinding my teeth in my sleep and had an acid reflux problem, both of which were waking me up for forgotten micro-seconds and keeping me from getting really deep sleep. So now I wear a mouthguard and take acid reducers. Yes, I am now the type of person who needs gear to sleep, but it’s better than that CPAP mask they tried to convince me I was going to have to wear. It took me a while to get used to the mouthguard, but it does seem to be helping.

This is all separate to my other sleep issue, which was week-long bouts of insomnia. This, I’ve learned, is a result of hypo-mania and I started taking one of my meds at bedtime so that all seems to be going better.

So this week my goal is to, yes, manage my time better: get another chapter edited, keep snowflaking the new thing, and get one of my stories out to another market (to get rejected again, probably, but still).

If someone wants to come over and clean my house for me, I wouldn’t turn it down …

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2011 in life, writing

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.