Sunday, 11 December 2011

Is my head in the clouds or stuck in a fog?

What a week. 

I understand that there are advantages to having my head in the clouds.  After all, without lofty goals to motivate me I would accomplish nothing.  Of course, this must be balanced with a measure of reality, or I will not ever be able to feel even moderately successful.

Oh, how I wish this had been a week of daydreaming about the glories of being a successful writer; organizing book tours, discussing movie rights, negotiating the amount of my advances for the grand works that are sure to follow my freshman novel.  What marvelous week it would have been.  I could almost justify that fact that I accomplished absolutely nothing during the course of the last 7 days.

Not a single line composed.

Alas, my head wasn’t floating in clouds of grand illusions.  It was stuck in a fog.  Not just a normal morning time fog that fills the low lying areas  only to quickly burn off with the morning sun.  We’re talking the pea soup, industrial revolution London, stick around for days on end kind of fog. 

You see, I had a head cold.  Surely I would have preferred the flu or perhaps strep throat, but I had a good old-fashioned cold.  My body felt fine but my head was stuffed with cotton.  I couldn’t think straight if my life had depended on it.  So I slept and took copious amounts of cold medicine, the latter only being effective enough to allow me to function in my domestic duties.  Higher level thinking was completely out of the question.

Oh well, these things happen.  What is important is that I do not let it weigh me down.  Now that I am feeling somewhat back to my normal state it is time for me to get back to the task at hand and finish my current short story (which should have been done 2 weeks ago, oh well).

On a side note – I’ve taken a temporary contract working at a local college which means two things.  First, our family will have a little disposable income and we can build up our savings.  Secondly, I will have to commit to writing in the evenings. 

I think I can make this work or at least I had better because…

Come hell or high water, I am starting this novel at the beginning of the New Year!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Reading, Writing & Arithmetic … Wait they said there’d be no Math.

With my Masters happily behind me I decided to do something that I haven’t done in far, far, far too long.  I actually sat down and read a book for enjoyment!

No, seriously.

It wasn’t a textbook or research paper, but an honest to goodness book.   It was such an unusual experience for me. 

“Are you kidding me!” you ask. “You want to write a freaking novel and you haven’t read a real book in a while.  Good luck with that buddy.”

Well, first of all, don’t call me buddy, pal.  Secondly, yes you are correct in your ridicule.  I know I need to read more.  It will help me understand the craft better.  I can examine plot development, characters, writing styles, and a myriad of other valuable aspects of the writing.  But I have a minor problem.

Books are like Meth to me.  I read 2 pages and I can’t stop.  I don’t want to sleep.  I don’t want to eat.  I just need to finish the book! 

You can see how this may be problematic for a stay-at-home dad of 3, who is also trying to write.  Needless to say, 2 ½ days later I finished the 3 books in The Hunger Games series.  Was it the perfect series? No, but I enjoyed it and it is in the approximate age range that I am targeting my finished work.  Did I glean anything useful from my efforts?  Yes, I think I did.  What?  I’ll maybe tell you later.  But first I need to learn how to put down a book and not inhale it.

Let’s shift gears for a second, away from my personal weakness and talk a little about the project I mentioned last week.

I was talking to a guy I know at my church.  At this point I wouldn’t call him a close friend but more of a strong acquaintance, but he is a good guy none-the-less.  Well, it just so happens that he is a professional photographer.  Not weddings or photo journalism, but commercial photography.  He creates images that are used in print ads, magazine covers (he has done a couple for Time and Newsweek) and lately book covers. 

We were talking a few weeks ago about nothing in particular when I asked him how work was going, as he had just come back from a photo-shoot in New York.  He said the shoot went well.  Then he asked me how life was going as a stay-at-home dad and if I was doing anything else with my time.  I don’t know why, since I don’t share my writing with anyone, but I told him I had taken up writing.  I guess I figured that he was a creative person and wouldn’t mock my efforts.  Too my surprise he was actually kind of excited by this.  He told me that he had always wanted to shoot a short film but all he could come up with was the title.  He went on to say that the first thing he wanted to do was shoot a photo book of the story and then someday shoot the film.  He asked me if I wanted to give writing the story a shot.  Nothing was promised but he figured that I might have a better idea of “story” than he did as he operates in a strictly visual world.  I thought for a second and then said “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.” 

So that is what I did.  I wrote the beginning of a short story based on the title he gave me.  I don’t know if it is what he had in mind, but I sent it off to him for feedback.  He is in Maui for a couple of weeks (oh, to be successful) but he emailed me back to say he was excited to read it.

This is a huge step for me as I have never, ever shared my writing with anyone other than my wife and a couple of university professors.  He may hate it, he may like it, or he may have a completely different idea in his mind.  But, I took a risk and some day it might turn into something. 

Let’s see where this road takes me.  At least I have finally gotten off my butt and started my journey.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Some things need to be made a priority.

Writing – 0
Life – 1

There are clearly times when I will have to put my writing behind other important tasks.  Some may say that this is a copout, that if I was truly committed to this task that I would find a way to write regardless.  I say, if I can’t find balance in my life then I am failing as a human being.

I would much rather be known as a failed writer than a failed person.

Okay, maybe this post has started off a little too melodramatic.  Things are actually pretty good for me right now.  In fact, I have been writing every day for the last week and a half.  It just wasn’t my fiction work. 

You see, while I may be a fictional writer of stories, I am also a graduate student completing my Masters of Education.  I am currently enrolled in the final course of my program (I went with a course-based program and not thesis-based) and it is currently coming to a close.  Thus I spent the last week researching and writing the final required paper for the course.  So I have now finished the last assignment of the last course in my MEd, which means I can put another important feather in my cap!

This of course means that I will have a significant increase in the amount time available to engage in my creative writing.

On that front, I have had an interesting opportunity present itself … but I’ll tell you more about it next week.