The wonders of personal essays

Today was without a doubt, and beyond compare, one of the most productive days off I’ve had in a while. Exciting apartment maintenance stuff was handled bright and early. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, which was taxing and horrible but necessary. There was a strong aroma of wild onions all around my yard, however, and it proved to be surprisingly enjoyable. By extension, the lawn mowing became that much more pleasant. After that, and without showering first (not a point of pride for me), I deposited my tax return and used a small portion of it to treat myself. The rest, of course, is planned out for responsible, adult things, but I wanted to have a little fun with some of it. A copy of Majora’s Mask for the 3DS, an Ultron bobblehead, and a copy of Lumberjanes later, I achieved that much.

Funny enough, all of those things are relevant to today’s topic. Continue reading

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Continuing to strike a balance

Vacation time has weird, magical properties. It begins slowly, passing like standard time. Suddenly, before you know it, the week’s over and it’s time to go back to work. I realize, of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow’s Thursday, which means I have three more days of this week. Possibly one next week, but I can’t remember my own schedule (This is somewhat embarrassing, I should note, as I make the schedule. Womp womp.) at the moment. I’ll be heading back to good ol’ Altoona in the morning, which means I’ll be getting to cleaning and unpacking and whatnot. Alternatively, I still have plenty of time to squeeze in a little more rest and relaxation.

Tonight’s title is a bit inaccurate, as I’m only gradually migrating back towards striking a balance in terms of how much fiction writing, blogging, and reading I do in a week. I’ve done more reading and writing this week than previous weeks, which isn’t saying much since my fiction writing has been lagging. So has my reading. Shit happens, really. The important part is that I’m making progress, so instead of belaboring the point I’m going to enjoy a bit more work on my novel-in-progress later, but not before enjoying the company of my mom and stepdad.

Meanwhile, enjoy this lovely song from Steven Universe:

The great vacation book catch-up

I made a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, but now I’m ready to hibernate and I couldn’t think of a topic for tonight. I glanced up from my laptop screen for only a moment and discovered, duh, I have the answer right in front of me. I’m referring to the well-stocked, largely-neglected bookshelves in my living room.

My habit of buying new books before I finish reading all of the ones I have isn’t exactly a secret. It’s actually the opposite, given how often I’ve mentioned it on multiple occasions. However, I have a vacation coming up soon. Once I survive–no, dominate–these next six days of work I will have at least a little time to sit back, relax, and get some reading done. I plan on getting back to working on stories and my novel, too, so that’s rather important, but this is more about reading. I’ve got three books I’d like to finish before returning to work, and so here they are (and why I’m reading them out of my options) in no particular order. Continue reading

Stumbling ineffectively towards goals

Life as a writer and day-to-day life typically intersect in ways that could be considered overlapping, more or less. I add “more or less” to that sentiment because there are times when those two things feel like they exist instead in parallel dimensions. I’m offered glimpses of one or the other in fleeting moments, but the two lifestyles never quite line up in the ways I hope they would. Or in the ways my delusions wish they would. I’m fully aware that I’m only 27 years old, and that great things have been accomplished later in life than that, but I’m frustrated and so I’m bemoaning my–and a common enough–fate. Deal with it.

The novel-project better known as A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is at an unfortunate stalling point, as I have reached one of a small handful of segments of story that aren’t particularly fleshed out yet. This wouldn’t be so bad on its own, but the deeper regions of my brain feel like some sort of fictional waiting room where a number of very impatient characters are sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing while I try to resolve my combination of misplaced motivation and uncertain destinations. I’m looking at you, Tick and Tock from Joshua’s Nightmares. Only compounding upon this problem is that I have an editorial I haven’t even started yet (for shame, me) and a few short stories that keep poofing in and out of existence at odd intervals.

Not helping: this One Hundred Days of Blogging and the various other changes I’ve got going on (my tattoo not included; that was a great idea, damn it). And I keep piling on projects, which then don’t get proper attention until later. Whoops?

Mostly, when I get in moods like this one, I go from dwelling on how great it would be to write for a living–how it would be nice to do what I love as my career, and so on–to thinking it would be shocking if I could even manage to do this as part-time work. It’s not a cheerful place in my brain, to be sure, but it’s one I’ve come to terms with because that’s better than just failing to acknowledge it.

Alternatively, this and the chocolate donut I’m eating seemed to have gotten me where I need to be mentally to at least write my damn editorial, so that counts for something. Right?

The conundrum of writing as a gift

Update: Special thanks to my mouse for bouncing around and giving me some interesting typos in the title/URL. Wheatley needs to stop being so damned uncooperative.

Better known as “the post that almost didn’t happen tonight because I’m feeling lazy, but I’m now trapped on the couch by two snoozing kittens and felt some weird sense of obligation”. Much too long of a title, really, so I went with my alternate choice.

I mentioned in last night’s post I’m making something I’m pretty sure is really awesome for two really great people who are now engaged. It was an idea I had actually plotted specifically for them, though it’s one that can be modified relatively easily and so on. The real conundrum, however, and probably something relating directly to my tendency to second-guess myself is as follows: is giving the gift of a written work, refined and dolled up especially well for the occasion, a really thoughtful gift or just a selfish flaunting of the author’s writing? I’m having trouble with words already, so this can only go downhill from here.

On one hand, when I write for people it’s like I’m giving the recipient a piece of my soul (joke’s on those people, as I obviously don’t have a soul). I use tremendous amounts of care in every aspect of the creative process, tailoring my work specifically for the person who will be getting it as a gift. I’d say it’s a very intimate, personal experience, but I honestly can’t think of a way to make writing a story for someone sound creepier than calling it anything involving the word intimate. I promise that’s the last time I’ll use that word in this post. Probably.

However, I can’t help but wonder if people who receive such gifts consider them as some sort of crappy writing exercise? A thoughtless, lazy throw-away instead of a purchased bauble. Something of that nature. I realize that, in most cases at least, people probably don’t think that way and it’s all in my head.

Fellow writers, how do you all feel about giving writing (short stories, essays, etc.) as a gift? Do you folks worry about what the people you’re gifting your writing to think of it?

100 Days of blogging – The Misadventures in Fiction edition

Or “Phil had an idea for a short story, but its quite stuck in his head” with strong notes of “If this week were a person, I’d set that bastard on fire and throw him off a goddamn cliff”.

I’ve seen One Hundred Days of all sorts of things. One Hundred Happy Days. One Hundred Days of Self-Improvement. One Hundred Days of Exercise (which I admittedly misread as One Hundred Days of Exorcise, which left me wondering who is going to the trouble of finding so many possessed people). And so on, and so on, ad infinitum. I also know that this Hundred Days of Blogging has been done before, and so I want to set up some basic guidelines for myself. Guidelines that are being made up as I type this, because I am the antithesis to planning and organization. With all of that in mind, let’s kick this off. Continue reading

More misadventures in non-fiction, self-reviving, and so on

I’m two weeks behind, technically, on my Short Story a Week project.  Again.  I say technically because I have the stories, and they’re pretty well fleshed out in terms of their ideas.  I just need to write them.

Worthy of noting at this point: I worked approximately 100 hours between last week and the week prior, and so I’m  still recovering a bit.

As for the misadventures in non-fiction?  This past Thursday, after my 2p.m. to 10p.m. shift, I stopped by my house and packed some things up, stopped by my place of work again to fuel up the car, and then I embarked on my very first major highway trip.  To put this into perspective, I have only driven on the highway twice before.  Once was on Black Friday, in 2012, as a cruel joke played on me by my driving instructor, who prefaced the outing by asking if I was feeling adventurous.  I was not, and did not appreciate where things where going at that point, but I clearly didn’t do too badly in the sense that I didn’t crash.  The second time I drove on the highway was a practice run, with my stepfather, and that went relatively well in the sense that most of the trip involved me driving well.  My initial merging onto the highway, however, was absolute shit and something I’m not particularly proud of.

The actual trip was quite enjoyable.  Traveling from western Pennsylvania to central-ish Pennyslvania involved a fair bit of mountains, and a lot of very nice landscapes.  If I weren’t more concerned with the destination, I may have taken time to stop, appreciate the scenery, and take pictures, but that’s still a possibility.

Driving home today to handle an eight hour shift at work, however, was far less exciting.

Stories will be arriving between Wednesday and Friday, only for the sake of making sure I do them justice, and I should be back on track for this upcoming Sunday.  So that’s a plus.