Hiatus

Life is funny. I have days where I feel like I’ve just about spent everything in me to shove some professional rock up some professional hill and for all that effort I made headway that MIGHT be measurable with a microscope if it’s REALLY powerful and you look REALLY close. I end those days tired, frustrated, and generally not in the best frame of mind. Yesterday was one of those days. It just sucked for no good reason, and it was a challenge pretty much from the moment the alarm went off until long after midnight.

But something else happened yesterday. Some friends of mine on Facebook said something really nice about my writing over there. It instantly lifted my whole day, and I was honestly touched by their kind words and the words other friends added to the conversation.

Late in that conversation another friend said “If you had a blog, I’d read it” which amused me because my blog is directly linked from my profile and hardly a secret. But I’m not much for self promotion, so there’s not exactly a huge glowing neon sign that says “Nick Blogs Over Here” with an arrow pointing this way. Still, I figured I should take the opportunity and I put up a link to this blog and to serialstoryteller.com so friends who want to read more of my writing know where to find it.

Then someone very kindly pointed out that the landing page is a bit of a mess right now, as I left off abruptly when NaNoWriMo started and I haven’t really been back since.

So, some explanation. This blog is sort of my “anecdotes from my life” which I try to keep humorous or at least interesting as I write them. There’s a lot of general stream of consciousness stuff as well, or just updates and picture sets and whatnot. But there’s also some stuff here that’s very personal, and that I’m honestly very proud of.

Someone asked “you wrote a LOT of stuff, and some of it is REALLY long, what should I start with?” and I thought that was a pretty good question.

I’m not sure what’s “the best” but off the top of my head, I’m the most proud of the following (in no particular order):

163 States of Compassion (a glimpse into my spirituality, which I’m hoping to see published this year in a revised form)
If you waxed this you’d get less smurf on your hands (my high-school wheels and the music that drove us)

The “What I’m Looking For” series (a sort of autobiography set against the lyrics of the U2 song of the same name)
especially Line 9 (how I ended up at Gem State…and how generations of fathers and sons affect each other)
an Line 12 (one random day in a college art class)
and Line 13 (my first time…sort of…it’s complicated)

Also, I reposted three posts from my older blog Dead Charming:
He Knows the Hour and the Day (about my Son’s death and the difficulty of divorce)
Something Old Made New Again (about the first girl I loved)
and How Sweet Life Is (the eulogy I gave for my Wenatchee Gramma)

Going forward, I’m focusing on my fiction writing, which I’ll be posting/working through over on serialstoryteller.com as the muse strikes. And I need the muse to strike because I have had some developments on that front and I’m basically committed to writing another 75k words of fiction between now and the end of July.

In the short-term, I suspect that mybadpants.com will be “on hiatus” like a middling sit-com during sweeps. I’ll be back here, writing more tales from a sometimes interesting life soon, but not too soon.

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 serialstoryteller.com 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.

Inspired by Adele

So, I’ve been watching this video a lot in the last 24 hours:

I’ve got to say that it has me very excited for the new Bond movie. I’m an Adele fan to begin with, and I love the classic Bond songs enough to have a compilation CD in my CD case and loaded into iTunes. For me, as a tribute to the legacy of Bond themes, Adele really knocked this one out of the park. I’m completely sold on it and I haven’t been able to get my brain out of Bond mode for some time.

So instead of fighting it, I figured I’d roll with it. I’ve never really thought of doing fan-fiction. I have nothing against it, and have enjoyed my fair share of other people’s great fan-fiction efforts; but what follow is my first personal attempt at direct fan-fiction. My short piece set in the Bond world. When I wrote this, I was totally thinking of Daniel Craig era Bond. Let me know what you think.

Short Spy Fiction after the link…

Three-minute-fiction

My favorite brodcaster, National Public Radio, has been running a series of three-minute-fiction contests. Each round has a specific theme or subject or scene defined, and then entries are posted that can be read in under three minutes. That means less than six-hundred words.

I’ve not participated up until now because I just couldn’t see myself creating something readable in six-hundred words. I’ve decided that talking myself out of it is just silly, and I’m going to participate in every round moving forward. I’m going to post my entries here after I submit them, and if anyone else out there tries one of these too, please comment and link back to your own. I’d love to read what other people send in.

This round’s topic is “Story entries must revolve around a U.S. president, who can be real or fictional.” All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 23.

My story has been heavily influenced by recent events, and I tried to extrapolate this into a bit of alt-history.

The shortest encapsulated fiction I’ve ever written after the cut…

Reactions

Sometimes I write something and I get a reaction that surprises me. Sometimes I’m simply surprised a long time later when someone remembers or comments on one of my past posts months (or even years) later. Sometimes I surprise myself by reaching out to someone who’s writing has evoked strong reactions in me.

In the last six months I’ve had one of each of these.

Last fall I wrote up a personal review of how Catherynne Valente’s Faryland stories had affected me and how I had come to feel about them. I hit publish, and I fully expected to hear a couple of responses from my regular readers and that’s it. Instead the review got linked by a couple of Sci-Fi/Fantasy aggregators and linked on a couple of twitter feeds, about five hundred people stopped by to read it, and it resulted in the following:

Tweet

I can honestly say that I had no expectation of ever writing something that the author of the book would ever see. I was honored that it affected her, and I spent about 48 hours walking about six feet off the ground.

On a more personal level, I’ve written about someone I grew up with and who was personally, emotionally, and romantically significant to me during my school years. I changed names, I protected the innocent, and I used to write under a reasonable vale of anonymity. Anonymity and Facebook are not friends. I’ve had several posts end up connected back to my Facebook profile in the last few months, and through a chain of events that person arrived here. And read everything.

And then sent me an email on Facebook.

Without betraying a confidence, I will say that the last thing she said was “but you should know I have never thought of you as ‘that weird kid I grew up with’”.

Which almost made me cry. Years later, years after first putting how I have always felt into words…finally something redeeming came out of that exercise. I carry plenty of demons around in my personal closet of dark-things-that-lurk-in-the-night; but now I carry one less.

The experience has deeply inspired me to return to writing about things from my own past, even if I find the writing uncomfortable. So the “What I’m Looking For” series once again has a chance at actually seeing completion.

Finally, I “manned up” a week ago and sent a fan letter of sorts to a blogger that I really admire and who moves me almost every time he posts. And to my complete shock, on my birthday, he emailed me back. He had encouraging words, he let me know he’d stopped by my own little outpost of creativity and liked what he read, and asked if there was more to come. And that was the final kick in the pants.

Yes. There is more to come.

[Word Count: 475]

Moneyball, California Dreaming, and Editing in Public is Hard

I spent the majority of last week in San Francisco at an annual corporate training / team-building / liver-decimation exercise. It’s the only time each year that they bring together the consultants from all the regions and branches of Indirect Tax, and while the training sessions were particularly useful and informative this year, what it really represents is a chance for a very decentralized team (about 50 people from four continents) to gather together as a group and renew the personal connections that allow us to rely on each other at two in the morning when the proverbial shit and the metaphorical fan become a lot less proverbial and metaphorical. The latter is accomplished with structured activities, face-to-face time, conversations over dinners, a few war stories between Type-A personalities, and an open bar.

While “what happens in Frisco STAYS in Frisco” I will share the following sequence of Wednesday night texts from a good friend and colleague of almost five years, unedited:

ME: Did we lose you?
HIM: Jiffy saute g’day HDTV
HIM: No
HIM: Sarah heftier jiggly
HIM: Fuck
HIM: Tree grey hoots
HIM: Fucjir I can’t tyie
ME: Where the HELL are you man??? That looks like a serious good time in progress!!!

I’m not going to lie, “Sarah heftier jiggly” became something of a theme and a mantra for the rest of that night. Was this a person, a place, an event? I won’t tell you the answer, but I will say it’s none of those things and all of them. And maybe the best auto-correct fail I’ve ever been a party to.

Thoughts about a movie, my job, and my writing after the cut…

More time in the saddle

I’ve been working more on the piece I started a couple of days ago. I have the themes, the major plot arc, and most of the characters mapped out. I assure you that it’s not “chick lit” as would typically earn the title, that said I’d not object to that title by any stretch of the imagination. It’s also not a romance novel, though someone made that logical assumption as well. It does have two main protagonists, and they do fall in love (or at least whatever reasonable interpretation of that state they’re able to craft individually and collectively), but “romantic” is probably not the principle description one would use for the themes tackled and the resolutions found.

Someone else asked if it has a happy ending, and the answer is no, but it doesn’t have an unhappy ending either. As it’s a story about life, and life is a story that won’t end until the last of us succumbs to the Zombie Apocalypse (or comet impact or religious tribulation or what have you), it doesn’t end cleanly with anyone riding off into a sunset. Happily-ever-after is the province of fairy tales and fantasy novels. I love both of those things and aspire to write them, but this is not either of those kinds of stories.

Growing up, I spent years believing that if we loved enough bad things wouldn’t happen to us. I grew up and discovered that bad things happen no matter how much you love someone. This story is about bad things that happen and the fact that people can love each other in spite of (or even because of) the string of tragedies that make up a human life. If you live a life without ever experiencing a tragedy, then you never bothered to live at all. The people in this story live a lot of life and earn whatever love that comes on the other side.

In this post I’ll put up the rest of the raw and unedited first chapter, and in my next post I’ll post the same for chapter two. After that, I’ll post my editing process and you can all see how I trim sentences and change words and generally whack back the unruly beast that is a draft into something a little bit more tame and readable.

The rest of Chapter 1 after the cut…

Back in the saddle again

In keeping with my new goal of writing more, I’m actively trying to invest time in writing fiction again. Yes, this will eat into my blogging, but to make up for it I’ll be posting as much of the fiction I do write on serial storyteller as is possible/reasonable/etc. As an example I started this tonight at 8:23 and three hours later this is my completely unpolished draft of the first two pages of something I have no idea if I’ll finish. I have the whole thing plotted out in my head, but the story arc is heavy on the bitter and light on the sweet.

Anyway, I’ll be posting the rest of the pieces on my fiction oriented site once I refresh that one and give it a face-lift and reboot. As I continue to post over there I’ll drop posts with links here just so no one has to follow both to keep up with the writing if they want to.

The first bit of fiction I wrote in 2012 after the cut…

Brand new same old same old

I spent the holidays with Sarah here, and as such I didn’t do much beyond be dad and do chores around the house. I think the most exciting thing was putting a new 20 amp breaker in the panel and wiring up power to the cottage near the new horse pasture. Well, that wasn’t all that exciting, but testing the new electric-tape fence was at least somewhat amusing I guess. As I couldn’t find the fence tester I got last year for Christmas, I figured I’d just do what I did last time and use my hand.

Stupid.

The jolt from a solar-powered box with a 2500 milliamp battery is basically equivalent to the zip you get from a 9v battery on your tongue times two. The jolt from an AC fence energizer that can power ten miles of fence and runs dedicated off a 20 amp breaker over 12 gauge wire is…stronger. Like, “red scorch mark on your hand” and “knee buckles out from under you” stronger. Let us just say that I didn’t have to test it a second time.

Anyway, the thing I didn’t do over the holidays was write. Anything. At all.

Crippling self-doubt and authorial insecurities…

1827 days

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In a few hours I will have completed thirty-five trips around the sun. This isn’t a tremendous accomplishment, for the most part I was just along for the ride and hanging on for dear life; and based on the average maximum age of the men on both sides of my family, I’ve got about ninety years in me, so I’m still a decade away from half way there.

Still, a friend of mine pointed out a few days ago that thirty-five is “the age when even the elderly don’t think you’re young anymore.” That kind of hit me.

Birthdays Past and a list for the future…