It was a good week

I had a good week. It wasn’t phenomenal, but good in general. I hope you can say the same.

Writing-wise, it felt really good to get back into some of my old work. It’s been too long for some, but reading through it again, it reminded me of why I love to write. It’s discovering those little moments of truth that strike deep at an emotion. It’s not superficial. It doesn’t feel forced. It’s a genuine human emotion being felt by people, not characters. And that’s a powerful thing to be able to relate. We know what it is when we come across it, but to be able to put it into words is something else.

Another thing that happened this week was that I realized why I’d lost the fire to write. The irony is that it was something I’d warned others of and it’s, “Don’t get caught up in the minutiae of self-publishing.” It’s so easily done because you are responsible for everything. The problem is, you can spend a lot of time on all the little things, and forget to do the most important thing of all; write. I was so obsessed with what I thought I had to do, I didn’t bother doing what I needed to do. And, the whole process just stopped being fun. And that’s no bueno.

So, I’m going back at it with the intention of simply writing good stories and publishing them in their own time. Sure, I’ll post here (once weekly if I can) and on Twitter, but I’m not going to bother with a lot of the other things I used to do. The story and the writing are the most important parts. It’s what I fell in love with so long ago.

Thanks for swinging by. I hope you have a fantastic week.

I read the news today, oh boy

I want to write about writing and books and how great it is to be productive again. But, then I read the news. Another shooting. Another act of violence. Another story about someone dying because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because they are at the end of their rope and think that their only option is to take someone with them for a cause.

As a writer, I try and use empathy to drive the emotions of my fictitious characters and the branded writing of my day job. Given a particular situation, how would a person feel? So, when I see these stories (police shooting innocents, people shooting police, religious zealots slaughtering as many people as they can), I immediately try and put myself into the shoes of the aggressor:

How did we get here? How on earth did we arrive at this very moment of action? What small event triggered the cascade that eventually led to this one? When was the point of no return? When did this become inevitable? When did this decision, this plan, this action, become the logical choice? Or the only choice?

My Mom used to say, “Well, some people are just sick in the head.” I don’t buy that. These things that have filled our news feed over the last weeks, months, years… they’re not random acts carried out by madmen. They’re planned and plotted by people whose algorithm for life has led to this final question and the only answer is Yes.

I can’t answer the ‘Why?’ of it all. I don’t know. I’m not there. I’m a white male in my early 40s who has a good job and a steady family life. My complaints are few and relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I don’t feel oppressed. I don’t feel like I’m treated negatively based on the color of my skin. I’m not afraid to go to work and do my job. I don’t worry about my safety every moment of every day. I don’t feel like entire countries are trying to destroy my religion. But, there are people who do feel this way… and not just as a passing thought. It dominates their lives.

Now, before someone claims that, by empathizing, I’m agreeing with their actions. Not in the least. I’m trying to raise a child in this world. And, as I’ve always told him, violence is not the way. But, merely condemning violence without trying to see the root cause is foolish. Through empathy, we can begin to try and understand, hard as it might be, what drives us all as human beings. Why we make the decisions we make. Why we do the things that we do. A little more understanding from everyone could go a long way toward making this a world where mass shootings and destructive violence are a thing of the past.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me waffle on. Have a peaceful day.

Nope, that fire’s not a mirage

If anyone ever says writing is easy, laugh in their face and walk away. They’re insane and should be shunned like the delusional miscreant they are. While writing can be a joyful, fulfilling experience, it can also be filled with enough despair and self-doubt to make anyone go running for the hills.

I reached that point over a year ago. And, while it wasn’t the first time I’d reached that point, it was certainly the most extensive. Writing requires dedication and drive. But, somewhere along the way, I lost the fire. I felt like a hack. A pretender. Someone who just wanted to be a writer, but who lacked wherewithal to actually do what was necessary to be one. This, after having already published 3 novels. I just didn’t feel like it was in me.

I stopped reading. I essentially walked away from my writing. Even when I attended my writers group meetings, I felt like a sham. Just going through the motions in order to not expose the reality of where I was. Absolutely lost.

A few months ago, I started a new job. It’s been great and creatively challenging. And, despite working hours that would make writing a challenge, I started to feel the fire building again. I decided not to push it too hard. I started reading again. I jotted notes down. I reassessed some of my old writing. I started looking at the unfinished business of my trilogies. I checked my social media accounts. I looked at my Amazon reviews for the first time in forever. 5 new 5-stars for my first book. I nearly cried. People like what I write. I started a story and I owe them, at the very least, a conclusion to that story. And I know I have more in me. Most importantly, I started writing again. Nothing consequential. Still taking small steps. But, the fire is there. I just have to keep stoking it.

Snowpocalypse 2015!

Well, at least for the US east coast. 😉 I amused myself last night by scrolling through my Facebook news feed to see just how many different weather maps there were and how drastically different each forecast was. All I could ascertain was that we were in for 12″+… and that’s all one really needs to know. Any storm where a foot is the least amount, is fairly significant for this area.

With schools already closing early today, it’s more than likely my son will have a snow day tomorrow, which might lead to me working from home. Might be a great opportunity to get in some writing between work tasks. On days when the weather is crap-tastic, as tomorrow promises to be, I like nothing better than to sit with my laptop, a hot cup of tea, a blanket, and watch as 1 of 3 house cats tries to use me as a pillow (they take turns).

So, do you get excited about writing time windfalls? Do you gameplan in order to make the most of your newfound time?

Thanks for stopping by and if you live in the northeast region of the US, be safe over the next 48 hours. 

A Vote for Simplicity

I was browsing TED talks the other day, looking for some inspiration. I’ve been in a rut lately, both in writing and in life, in general. It might be seasonal. Maybe I need to up my vitamin D. Anyway, I found this video, which I invite you to watch. It’s a fascinating look into the success (at least in Norway) of simplicity. But, I think it speaks volumes to a need and desire to slow down and take in the scenery. So often, we lose sight of even the simplest of pleasures in our lives because of the “stuff” that gets in our way; work, significant others, children, family. The idea discussed in this TED talk started with a really long train ride. I’m curious to see where it goes next. And I know I would watch this channel at least for a little while if I could.

BTW… who is watching that cow? 😉

Here Comes the New Year… Same As the Old Year?

I guess that depends on how you look at 2014. Good year? Yes, let’s repeat and grow. Bad year? Let’s not do that again, thanks. Meh year? Let’s make some changes for the better.

I had a meh year. I got some writing done, but nowhere near the amount I wanted to. I published Danny Dirks, which was great, but I’m struggling to get on with other projects now. The holidays were a complete waste of time for me. I got nothing accomplished and I blame part of that on simply being burnt out from my current job situation. The rest is just sheer laziness.

So, with some unintentional respect to Taylor Swift, I’m trying to shake it all off. That’s what a new year is all about, right? This strange feeling that something is starting over. That it’s an opportunity to change our habits by dropping the bad ones and making better ones. That, perhaps, we’ll look back this time next year and say, “Yes sir! May I have another just like it!” I need one of those. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a year like that. A great year. I mean, truly great, where I looked back and loved every minute. Maybe my expectations are too high? Or, maybe I’ve never dedicated myself to the changes that could make the year great.

Anyway, I’ve started reading more regularly, which always helps. Now I’ve got to get back into a regular writing schedule. In February, my regular commute into NYC will be over, so I’m hoping some things will get back to normal, but not the “meh normal”… the “working-to-be-better normal.” 🙂

So, how was your year? Good? Bad? Meh? And what are your plans for the new year? What, if anything, are you going to do differently?

In Which I Lost My $#!@ for a Moment

It takes a lot to get a rise out of me. It’s usually a slow building kind of thing that then explodes in a fury of jumbled words and phrases that make no sense and result in me apologizing profusely (usually to my wife). Sometimes I can ward off said rise by warning certain pokers that the bear is not amused. But my son (who just turned 9) is a different story. As any parent knows, children are an unending source of frenzy-inducing moments. Sometimes they make you laugh and sometimes they scare the living crap out of you.

In a recent episode of the latter, he and I were getting a gallon of milk at the local grocery store. I’d just picked him up from his after-school and we just needed to run in and run out. We got to the register and I waited for the girl to charge me, ran my card through the reader, grabbed my bag, turned and saw… nothing. My son was gone. I looked back up the aisle. No. Looked out into the little glass vestibule. Nope. Started panicking slightly and headed into said vestibule, only to lock eyes with my son, who was now standing in the middle of the crosswalk… in front of two stopped cars.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I said, hands raised in the air in absolute astonishment. He had just turned around, having apparently noticed (finally) that Dad was nowhere to be seen. He stood there for a moment, probably torn between getting run over and returning to me; certain grief in either case.

I was lost for words only momentarily as I dropped a “J.C.,” which was followed by a stern walk back to the car and pretty much me losing my $#!@ for the next 15 minutes. “What were you thinking!? You need to pay more attention! That’s how accidents happen! Did you even look when you entered the crosswalk?! Since when do I let you walk without holding my hand in the parking lot!”

When I was done, I was exhausted. Coming back down from my frenzied high, I said to him, “Well, congratulations on scaring the crap out of Dad for the first time in a long time.” By the time we pulled into the parking spot at home, he’d apologized several times. And, despite me having raised my voice to its greatest extent, he didn’t cry. I think he was in too much shock.

At this point, I decided to use this incident to motivate him in a chore he hates. I used my quiet voice. You know that voice… the one that’s slightly more scary than the raving one? The one your parents used that told you that you’d crossed some invisible line and sh!t was about to get real. “Listen. We’re going to go inside and you’re going to go into your room and start cleaning. You do that and we won’t have to discuss this with Mommy. Deal?” “Ok, Daddy.”

Now, before you get riled up at me not telling my wife, understand that I did tell her… after he went to bed that night. He’d had enough and I knew that it wouldn’t improve the situation if we started back up again as soon as we walked in the door. My wife agreed. She said, “I thought he was awfully quiet and obedient when he came in.”

Kids! Gotta love ’em, right?! RIGHT?! ;-D

I’m Exhausted


This post is really about nothing. It’s essentially me whining, so feel free to move on to other more substantial posts. ;-D

Frequent visitors may remember my post from a few weeks ago about how my job circumstances were forcing requiring me to commute into NYC three days a week. Well, nearly 3 weeks later, I’m adjusting to my new situation and trying to roll with it, in hopes that it’ll come full circle and I’ll recover my blessed 10 minute commute again. I’m not normally an optimist, but when it comes to work, I tend to become a rose-colored glasses kind of guy.

Anyway, I’ve been exhausted. I drop my son off at the bus, haul my butt over to the train station, buy my ticket, take a seat, and hope that whoever sits next to me today (because the train is often full by the time we reach Penn Station) is a normal/healthy human being. It’s never a cute girl. Why don’t the cute girls want to sit next to me? It’s always some suit who smells like he’s already worked a full day at 8:30 am. Then, it’s an hour to the city (on the express), up into Penn Station, through the crowds, and down to the subway to catch a downtown train to 14th Street, where I come up onto 16th and walk over from 8th Ave to 9th. Finally, I walk into Chelsea Market, up a flight of stairs, and into the office, where I take my seat in a department that isn’t even mine (they’re at capacity and ran out of room in the copy department).

My work day is no different from my old work day. I put in my 8 hours (if I’m lucky) and head home. Then it’s the morning commute in reverse, except if I’m late for the train. Then it’s like I’m Snake Plissken (1000 points to Gryffindor or the house of your choice if you get that reference). Last week, my usual train was cancelled, which meant that everyone who was going to be on that train got on the next train. I stood, between cars no less, for and hour and fifteen minutes. I love the smell of burning brake dust in the evening. It smells like life.*

*This is a lie.

So, I’ve been forced to move my beddy-by time up. 10:00 PM guarantees I get my 8 hours in. Anything less and I’m dragging my butt out of bed the next morning. It’s certainly put a kink in my available writing time. I get home around 7:15 PM, eat dinner, relax a little, and then I’m looking at the clock. Last night, I was in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10. I still didn’t want to get up when the alarm went off at 6:30 and I’m sure the torrential rain outside didn’t help. Better rain than snow, I guess!

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble about my first-world problems. Having a job is a rough life. 😉