Winning and Losing

Some updates:

I broke a tendon in my middle-finger of my left hand. This sucks. It makes typing a real bitch. I do not like. The story is supposed to be some kind of awesome sporting accident, like jamming my finger while doing a monster windmill-jam over some poor and unsuspecting NBA center deep in the key. Or training bullfighting horses or something.

I tripped on my stairs. Whoo. Awesome way to end up with an immobilized digit (the one that types the ‘e’ key on the keyboard no less) for six months. Yippie.

I submitted something I wrote here to a magazine…and they asked me for edits. That’s…that’s SUPER COOL guys. SUPER COOL.

I won NaNoWriMo for the first time since I started entering back in 2007. Only took five years. I’m honestly SUPER stoked about that accomplishment. But in some ways it was bittersweet. I won buy writing half of the 50k words in a style that anyone who reads this blog would instantly recognize. It took me 23 days. I wrote the remaining 26k words about some ridiculous story with preposterous characters and inane situations. It took 5 days (well…more like 3 full days and two halfhearted half days). This caused me more self-reflection than I’d really care to comment on…but it led me to talk about it with a couple of writers I respect and who I didn’t think would answer my emails.

And I’ve realized something. I’m using this site as a really horrible crutch, and it’s killing my creative output. I didn’t want to admit this, or believe this, but it’s true.

I write here as a sort of reminiscence-therapy. I get to process some of my shit, and people come by and tell me nice things. And God-forbid they not say nice things. Talk it out therapy is a wonderful thing. And I love this space, and I have no intention of giving up this space. I fully intend over the next year to finish some things that I started long ago…but my plans here are very secondary to some new plans.

I’m about to break the first and second rules of Write Club, but let me just say that in the last couple of months I’ve written more creative output than I had in YEARS before then. My co-conspirator knows who she is, and I suspect we’ll add some additional Writers to Write Club in the months ahead, but 1000 words a day, NO EXCUSES has been a complete game-changer for me. I have a novel with a full plot, a synopsis, completely set up in Scrivner (you have NO idea how much work THAT is…) and more than 25k words that I’m REALLY happy with. That’s something that needs my continued time and attention.

It’s not that I don’t like blogging, and I’m gonna keep doing it, and I’m gonna keep doing it here…but I’m not going to put a lot of time into it in the short term. I really doubt I’ll post again before we’re deep into 2013. I’m just being honest.

But I’m not going to stop writing.

A couple of years ago I bought the domain and fired up a blog over there. And then I did NOTHING with it. Well, I’m going to use that space to sort of “track” my ongoing becoming-a-novelist process. I’ll probably mostly just post fiction snippits and quick bits of what I’m working on. And provide a way to see how my progress is coming on my various projects, because I’ve discovered that progress bars are really addictive.

If you’re interested in seeing my “fiction” stuff and my fiction progress, and perhaps some occasional tall tales from my epic bouts in Write Club, then please feel invited to follow along over there.

If you’re just interested in the more personal anecdotes and life notes, then never fear, more will appear here. Eventually.

A Refresh and a Return

If you’re reading this, there’s about a 75% chance you’ve never been here before; at least, that’s what my stats tell me. For those of you stopping by for the first time and actually seeing the home page instead of just hitting my post about Australian Rules Football or Chicken Enchilada Pasta (my two primary sources of traffic via google keywords), please be aware that things around here are about to pick up again.

I’ve been preoccupied for the summer, and for that I am not even the tiniest bit apologetic. But, that time is coming to an end. Once I dig my way back out of the upcoming minor depression, I plan to go back to writing with at least my past intermittent bursts of output.

The other thing that new visitors won’t recognize is the significant revamp I’ve put into the site’s design and look-and-feel. I would gladly take any feedback and suggestions anyone has about any aspect of the new paint and trim. Hate the font? let me know. Think the background and link color is more “Pottery Barn” than “masculine moss?” Let me know. Find the comment balloons irritating and unsightly? Too bad.

If there’s something about the site after the change that “just works” or “just doesn’t” please drop a comment and let me know.

The Dulcet Tone of My Voice

Last night, as I began my experiment in recording myself reading my posts, I discovered a few things:

  1. The last time I recorded my voice on purpose, Bill Clinton was president.
  2. At that time I had a professional studio at my command.
  3. The mic in my laptop sitting at my desk in a large room DOES NOT sound like a studio.
  4. The breath-guard on pro mics is distinctly useful.
  5. Without practice on a bad mic, my voice is monotonous and could put even hyperactive ADD kids on crack to sleep.

That being said, I did get the first one posted, and (as suggested) included a link to download the file offline for those that prefer to listen via a specific app instead of inline in the blog post. I used my “1827 Days” post as my guinea pig, I’ll continue to record and insert more over the next few days as I attempt to improve my process/technique/set-up.

I don’t think I’ll ever sound like Ira Glass or Frank Deford, but hopefully it will get a bit better than that first attempt. Nothing is ever perfect the first time you try it, and I’m ok with that.

The Sense of Beauty

I have a good friend that I talk with regularly, but whom I haven’t spoken with in many years. Her name is Lacy. Her (now) husband Scott and I played Soccer together at Portland State, and I got to know her when we would both walk down from Goose Hollow to our respective jobs in Pioneer Place Mall (hers answering phones and providing customer service at Saks Fifth AvenueNordstrom, mine working as a stock manager at Victoria’s Secret).

Lacy didn’t need me to walk her the ten city blocks, which she made expressly clear the first time I accompanied her, but I was welcome as long as I stayed out of her way. This might sound a bit harsh, but there’s another detail, Lacy was born without functioning optical nerves. She is utterly and completely blind.

A few years after we all left college, Lacy was fortunate enough to be selected for partnership with a seeing-eye-dog named Justice, but at the time she was making her way confidently down Salmon Ave to the rhythmic tapping of her cane, counting off the streets, and listening for the crossing signal at every intersection. It was a point of pride that she didn’t NEED anyone to get where she was going.

Some old stories, a TED talk, and a new feature…

Pardon the Interruption, We are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Last week I noticed something when I posted, my stats were all screwed up. Since I have like NO stats, that was both difficult to quantify and hardly important.

Then I noticed that comments were being erratic.

Then I installed the JetPack plugin (which I LOVE).

Then my stats are back, but the comments thing officially became a crisis (in the very VERY unimportant sense of the word crisis).

Apparently JetPack and Akismet have “a thing” and that thing makes prior approvals go boom. Which means if you tried to comment in the last few days, unless I happened to see your comment in a very narrow time period (of less than 15 minutes) your comment was tossed out of the spam filter and lost forever.

I know that Allison and Rachel had comments get trapped, and one of Rachel’s even wound up lost to the digital aether. What I don’t know is if anyone else commented. If you did, it’s gone. And I’m REALLY sorry, because comments are what I like best about my blog. I promise they didn’t get destroyed on purpose.

So, if you try to comment now, I believe that things are once again on track. If you have any issues, please let me know. I can always be reached at my “mybadpants” gmail address.

The other neat thing is that my RSS feed went, as they say, “all to hell.” If you read through a feed reader, then the last post, and possibly last two posts didn’t show up. While that’s not a huge deal, I just thought some of you might like to know.

Anyway, hopefully we’re back to normal operating procedures around here.

Slight Navigation Fixes


See, not dead! (and I know some of you suspected different.)

Ok, so this isn’t a post per se, just a quick note. I’ve watched several people visit this blog recently from my GoodReads profile and They tend to start with my navigation section on the left, hitting my Author’s Note, the Preface and Prolog, and then they start in on some recent posts. They usually find one of the last “What I’m Looking For” posts and then peter out. Mostly I blame the ridiculous length of my average posts, but I also realized (ok, someone emailed me and told me) that navigating within the larger sections is pretty much impossible.

So, I’ve added a top page for the “What I’m Looking For” series and stuck it in the Navigation Pane, and also put some line by line links in the posts. I’ll try to keep up with that as I add more.

Which brings us to the next point, i.e. adding more.

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with this right now. Not because I don’t know what to say, or I have a hard time writing the next few lines…it’s because I don’t like what the next few things say about me. So far the sequence has largely followed events from my youth and teen years, and while I’ve really learned something from writing some of them, for the most part they don’t make a statement about who I am now. Mistakes or victories that happen when you’re a teenager (or younger) are meaningful, but they’re not necessarily indicative of who a person is as an adult.

I just finished reading an autobiography, and I was reminded of a quote a college professor once passed on: “Autobiography is when we tell the story of our life the way we want to remember it. Biography is when someone tells it like it really was.”

So far I’ve tried to be relatively true to my personal history, even when I don’t look particularly “cool” or “suave” or “with it.” Not being “with it” isn’t something that is particularly bad, or even particularly unusual; especially for teenagers and young adults. But what comes next is largely bad. And ugly. And I don’t get to hide behind the “I was just an awkward teen” defense anymore.

I once started to draft a post about all of this titled “The Lesser Angles of My Nature” that never got past paragraph one because I’m terribly disappointed in myself when I read back through it. But, I’ve started to recount my past, and what makes me “me,” and that means being true to the history, even when it’s not the Autobiography I wish I could write.

Bare with me, the next few lines are coming. Perhaps slowly, and with stops and starts, but they are coming.

[Word Count: 466]

I’m In Too!

After reading about the “Post a Day” or “Post a Week” challenges at wordpress (via Allison’s post), I’ve decided that I need some kind of kick in the pants and I’ll join too. Even one post a week would bring me to fifty-two posts in a year, which is nearly double what I managed last year.

So…if I’ve gone five days with no new posts, I encourage you all to metaphorically beat me soundly about the head and shoulders until I get something into your feed readers or RSS do-hickys or whatever it is that you use to read new posts.

Feed-Readers are a bit mysterious to me, as I just use the links running down the side of my page to open each blog in a new tab…I’m sure there’s a better way to do it, but in general I’m just old-school when it comes to blogs I guess.

Any way, here’s to more output in 2011!

[Word Count: 158]

Send in Rambo, I’m MIA but not dead yet…

Just kidding, please don’t send in a ‘Nam vet with unresolved PTSD.

A couple of people noticed that some links and comments went…missing. I thought I would address the question a couple of people had and say categorically “NO, we’re not having issues.” Let me explain.

Someone related to someone related to me found my blog, and liked it. Liked it so much they’re paying me real money to write some related articles for a local news magazine. That’s cool. Not so cool, is that full disclosure required talking the development over with my parents. Which led to my mother visiting my little slice of the interwebs.

While I’m not at all ashamed of what I’ve written, it did prompt a couple of things, including a quick whitewash of links and comments that someone didn’t want readily visible while my mom was clicking around…because people should have the right to write a personal blog without their in-laws showing up and taking a peek…

All comments and links are back up, I don’t expect to have any more visitors anytime soon.

I will admit it had a bit of a chilling affect on my own writing. It’s one thing to split open your soul and spill it gently onto other people’s screens over the internet, it’s something else to know that the screen where it’s showing up next is your mother’s.

As I said, I don’t expect any more visitors for a while, so I hope to get back into the swing of things and start posting regularly again. I’ve got about a dozen drafts in the works, so hopefully I have enough material to get deep into November. Which is good, because I’ll be participating in NANOWRIMO again this year…you can follow that over on Serial Storyteller if you want to watch me train wreck in week two again. How’s that for positive thinking?

The Conversation

First, I’ve been struggling again with the next line in my “What I’m Looking For” series, and I’m close…I’ll try to post lines 10 and 11 today.

But bigger picture, I’ve come to a realization recently and I’d like to put it out there so everyone will understand where I’m coming from. Let’s talk about comments. Specifically, how I answer comments.

The comments are my favorite part of blogging. I enjoy writing comments, and I deeply love when people post comments on the things I write. My favorite blog in the whole world is noteworthy not for the posts themselves so much as the wonderful comments and conversations that happen there.

Conversation is the key word. I feel like every comment here is a part of a conversation. Every comment I post somewhere else is part of a conversation. Some conversations are very public, and I just feel like I’m contributing one more voice in a collective; that I’m just chiming in, and no reply is necessary or expected.

But here, on my blog, I feel like I’m having conversations in a coffee shop…personal and sincere, but not private. I feel like everyone who shows up is due the respect of a response, even if it’s just a verbal nod of the head and the confirmation that I was paying attention and I heard what you said.

What I don’t want, is to come across like I have to have the last word. Or, to sound like some sanctimonious prig who always thinks he knows better…or knows more. I want this to be a place where people feel invited to have a conversation. I value every comment, and I want to encourage that conversation, even if I disagree with someone’s position, my disagreement and my response are a part of a conversation and NOT meant to be seen as “the last word.”

I do not think of myself as someone with all the answers…hell, I don’t even think of myself as someone with even a decent grasp of SOME of the answers. I am a person who will write about what I’m thinking, and then enjoy talking about what other people have to say about those things.

I guess what I’m saying is that I have a terrible addiction to words. I use lots and lots and lots of them. If you write a 30 word comment, and I stitch in a 300 word response, please PLEASE don’t feel like I’m somehow talking over you…I’m just a talker; and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate the chance to talk.

I don’t confuse the amount of words I can say about a topic with being “right” about a topic; I’m just perpetually afraid that other people don’t draw that distinction.