From the Ashes, Things Rise

Sure, sometimes those things are severely-charred zombies from the beginnings of some sci-fi Apocalypse, but just work with me on this one. It’s been a hectic day, and spending two hours in my car on the way home. The slightly snowy Pittsburgh roads weren’t the issues so much as the other drivers, but that’s another topic for another time. Continue reading

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Challenging myself

Or, really, admitting that I’m a bit challenged. I haven’t decided yet.

I have a headache. It has been a trying, busy sort of day. I’m drinking a glass of scotch that was aged in bourbon barrels because I wanted scotch, I wanted bourbon, but I also couldn’t justify that kind of drinking on a Tuesday. Did I mention I have a headache?

This weekend provided a sort of fine point to a murky, nebulous series of thoughts I’ve had lately in regards to my writing. They have been mean, loud, and generally unpleasant thoughts. This point is actually more of a thought-out, nicely worded middle finger to those thoughts because I’m tired of being my own punching bag, tearing myself down, and fixating on the difficulties of writing instead of the actual craft and the joy I derive from it. Case in point: I’m really enjoying writing this, even though it’s largely unplanned, because I am applying no pressure to myself to get it done. There is no arbitrary deadline, nor is there some comparison to other writers and their work. When I hit Publish, it will appear on my site (with all typos that sneaked past my lazy editorial eyes tonight; you may live this once, typos).  Continue reading

Standard New Year Hullabaloo

Happy New Year! To those of you reading this in the year 2015, on January 1st, in a world that hasn’t devolved into some sort of post-apocalyptic Hellscape, I bid you good tidings. To those of you who are in such situations: best of luck, and embrace your new robotic/insectoid/alien overlords in hopes that good behavior will be rewarded.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day mean a number of different things to a number of different people, of course. That’s a fairly obvious statement, I should think. There’s the easy way of viewing New Year’s Day as the start of a new calendar year. Another day that will, in all probability, be followed by three-hundred-sixty-four similar days. It’s a series of weeks in which the previous year sneaks into dates on virtually every document until, damn it, those guilty of such forgetfulness finally move forward and accept not being time-travelers. Some people view this as a time to enact change, small or large in their lives via resolutions while others view it as a time to continue with more of the same. Neither of those options is particularly bad on its own. It’s all a matter of how the resolutions or staying the same (which, in itself, is a resolution of sorts) are carried out. I’ve established I prefer to set goals that feel more achievable and moving forward from there. Such behaviors, I feel, were instrumental in the completion of my first novel, achieving my first paid publication (upcoming at a presently-unknown date), and surviving one hundred consecutive days of blogging, among other victories. However, I did allow myself a fair few more naps than I care to admit, more cheat-days with my writing, and other grievous creative and personal sins. However, I aim to make gradual, and hopefully very productive, changes this year. My goals for the year, as of now, will follow. Before that, I’d like to encourage the sharing of goals in the comments as well as the sharing of encouragement. Continue reading

Make it a great week

The Hell of my last week transitioning from my current dwelling to my new one is upon me. Wednesday and Friday will be nothing but moving things, cleaning up the old place, and probably a fair bit of swearing and frustration. These things happen, I suppose. To be fair, last night gave Brianne and I some powerful motivation to move out of this place in the form of our bathroom door locking. That may sound like a simple problem, except the doorknob for our bathroom is the kind you’d use for an exterior door. And the door trip makes access to the locking mechanism impossible. And the screws holding the wall panel in place next to the door are painted over, thus they are impossible to remove.

Short version of the solution: I had to jam one of those flat metal spatulas used for cake decorating into the door. It took over half an hour, and was pretty damn awful.

I mention this because this week looks horrid, and I will be sure busy, but I know it’s all for a great improvement in my life. It’s going to be a great week.

Before I go on, however, I should mention I’m borrowing these words from my boss. I’m sure he won’t mind. Each Monday morning starts with the promise of an inevitable conference call, and my boss always ends such calls by saying “Go out there and make it a great week”. Normally, I hesitate to admit, those words just signal it’s time for me to hang up and resume whatever task I was focusing on prior to the call. Perhaps it’s the chaos of moving, or the lack of sleep, or even how I’ve been teetering precariously between being sick and being mostly well, but those words resonated with me this morning. I’m about to get a bit soapboxy here, folks, so brace yourselves.

The week, starting with Monday (or Sunday, depending on how your work schedule goes I guess), is only as good as you decide to make it. I’m aware that there are certain things the Universe can throw at a person that will most certainly turn a week to utter shit, but a lot of those things can be reversed or made better. Yeah, it’s a fair bit of effort, but it’s worth it. Right? A bit of work in favor of sanity, success, and so on, or something like that.

I look around me and I see a ton of things that need to be packed and moved. Two couches that need left out for garbage pick-up. What I’m focused on is how my internet and cable set-up dates worked out perfectly. How my customer service experience with Peoples Natural Gas continued to be exceptional even though I won’t have them anymore (my new apartment uses fuel oil instead, which is provided by the landlord; thank god for that). Above all else, how this move will get me the Hell out of my current living situation. Those things and a good few more are all reasons why I’m looking to make this week a great one, even if it is crazy-busy.

Try it yourselves, readers. It may just prove helpful.

Finding balance in work and play

Today was a suitable counter-balance to yesterday, I think. I cut the grass at my new apartment, moved a good deal of things in (though there are still many box-loads to go, I’m afraid), and decorated a little. It certainly was no day of playing World of Warcraft and relaxing in my current home, but not every day can be like that (I mean, they could but I would end up very unemployed, very fat, and quite unhappy, among other things), and so the work was both a necessary evil and a nice change of pace.

However, as far as daily balances of work and play (or leisure or whatever) go, I am not particularly good at finding such a nice equilibrium. Some days are very work-oriented, with me accomplishing a great deal of productive tasks. By nighttime on those days, I am tired but I feel fulfilled. It’s all very positive, really, ignoring the exhaustion and that there are some such days I still feel like I fell short of where I should have been. There are other, very similar days, when I have shirked responsibility in favor of relaxing and recovering. Days filled with video games, movies, books, and so on. They don’t really serve a practical purpose, but they leave me feeling rejuvenated and prepared for the next day of hard work.

It’s very possible to make those two days into a daily thing. I realize this is all very “hey, that’s obvious” territory, but I excel at the obvious.

What I’m talking about in this case is a total revamp of my schedule as I know it. It’s probably going to be Hell for a while, but I think if I can pull it off that it will provide me with tremendous benefits. That’s what I’m going for here, by the way. A Phil who can find a daily balance of hard work and relaxation time in the face of working eight hours five days a week and trying to become a writer, all while pretending very well at being a responsible adult. A lot of this will revolve around me making a number of relatively large changes over however long it takes, and I imagine it will involve a great deal of swearing along the way. Continue reading

Fifty days in, and fifty to go

Has it really been fifty days already? Because it feels like it’s been about a thousand. While I may not have created a fully-fledged blog post for each day, I’m still breaking my brain for content that isn’t entirely recycled and stale.

This was not an easy challenge, and I think I’m going to need to sit myself down and have a long, very serious monologue in my own general direction about why this would’ve probably been a hair easier if it were planned out a little more. It has definitely had its fun moments, though, and this has been enough hard work to make me appreciate the fact that I need to keep moving as a writer no matter how lazy or tired I’m feeling. Even if it’s just a little bit of work for the day, I still end up feeling better than I would had I just done absolutely nothing.

Standard warning: this is a very introspective post, which no doubt happened because I’ve had too much time alone with my thoughts (and they’re treacherous little bastards).  Continue reading

Time to revisit some of my goals

Or “Oh god oh god I’m writing this in IE on my Surface and it feels so wrong.”

This past week, and I’m okay with saying this past week because I have no concept of day at this point, has had more than its fair share of reflection (or, rather, I’ve spent much of it reflecting; whatever). Back in January, as some of you may recall, I set some pretty lofty writing goals for myself. And then, because I never half-ass things (I either whole-ass them or go all over-achiever), I ended up writing an entire first draft of a novel by the time the Oscars aired. Since then, my writing has still been pretty consistent, and yet I’m not happy. I’ve not always made it a point to write every night, and I could very easily say the other difficulties in my life were to blame.

However, that sounds too much like an easy excuse. As a solution to this, I’m outlining some revised goals for myself here as a WordPress guilt-trip in the event I start slacking again.

Writing

I need to write at least one short story a week. Flash fiction, regular variety, or oh-shit-this-might-become-a-novel varieties all apply here, so long as I create some work of fiction that isn’t just a couple words strung together. Unless those words turn out to be really good, like those two sentence horror stories. I also want to write at least one post for Screen Robot or Magific (my latest writing gig), and at least three for Misadventures in Fiction. I realize the three post minimum on here may seem a bit lofty, but it’s a lot easier for me to vomit out my thoughts on here than it is to write a story sometimes. Also, I love my site so I have to give it plenty of attention so it doesn’t do what all neglect blogs do (take up a life of criminal inactivity).

Cutting back on pop

Before I even go any further, I was born near, and lived around, Pittsburgh most of my life, so it’s pop. You can disagree, but you’re wrong and also a jagoff*. I drink entirely too much pop for my own good, which is something of a difficult realization. I mean, I’m not saying I enjoy Mountain Dew more than the average consumer, but I am saying if someone were to try drawing blood there are days it would probably come out green and carbonated, and with fine print reading “Property of Pepsi-Co”. Tonight was a last hooray of sorts at Olive Garden, where I indulged in three glasses of Coke. I am a bit ashamed to admit that after not drinking pop yesterday and most of today, I already was able to savor the way the carbonation tickled at my tongue and the roof of my mouth or the taste and texture. When I go without pop for long enough, it might as well be the Nectar of the Gods as far as I’m concerned (save for diet varieties, which is the Sewer Water of the Gods).

However, and I make no efforts to hide this, I think I need to lose some weight. I’m a bit on the rotund side, in that some smaller people mistake me for a planet (I played Melancholia in the not-so-great movie-with-the-same-name). Cutting out sugary beverages, among other things, will help me shed a few pounds and maybe join Pluto in the League of Former Planets.

I’d also like to announce, before I forget again, that I will be posting live from Interventioncon this August (the 22nd through 24th). Preregistration prices are still available at http://www.interventioncon.com, so check it out.

There was more I wanted to say, but I’m distracted by the horrifying black clouds and too-close-for-comfort lightning strikes.