Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good news, bad news

The good news is I've been accepted to Graduate School, finally. I applied two months ago and received an email today stating I'd been accepted. It feels good to finally know. I'd sent numerous emails and called and barely received any word back. Three weeks, I've been waiting to hear any word back. Well, now I know. I'm excited but not as nervous as I expected. I'm ready for what comes, ready to learn, ready to be back in the classroom as a student, for a little while, ready to become more than a paraprofessional. Feels like I'm finally taking a step forward, no longer stuck in a perpetual limbo of not knowing how to proceed. I guess, sometimes, when you don't know what to do, you just have to do something. Just do it. Stop thinking about so many things and just make a decision already. Do something. You'll learn something, you will gain something out of it, you just need to take a step and go for it, whatever it may be.

The bad news is I might have inadvertently broken our television, which my girlfriend paid for, with the christmas present I gave her...It sucks. My whole idea was to get a blu-ray player and blu-ray movies because we had a bunch of dvd's we could no longer play after my xbox stopped working. We'd lamented the fact that we couldn't play anything on our tv. She especially likes owning a copy of movies she really loves, and the fact was there was no point in buying any more movies or tv shows since we wouldn't be able to watch them. So, I thought a blu-ray player would be perfect. I was looking at Samsung because our tv was samsung and we generally liked the company, I suppose. I hemmed and hawed, having a couple on my amazon cart, never pulling the trigger, still wondering if this was a good gift idea, when I saw a bluray player for a good deal on another site. I thought of it as a sign, and ordered it.

We had our christmas and tried to watch a movie. An hour in, the tv turned itself off, then back on. THen it did it after five minutes, then after 60 seconds, etc. We disconnected the player, but the tv continued to have problems, turning off randomly. So far, we've tried everything we could think of and anything we could find online and nothing's worked. The choice is to have service done, which because the tv is out of order, could cost hundreds, or purchase a new tv, which would cost 7-900$.

It absolutely sucks.

Something I purchased to give someone happiness has now become a sinkhole for hundreds of dollars. It fucking blows. The past couple of days have not gone as I'd hoped. I wanted to be able to watch our movies on our tv, and now we can't watch anything on it. And it's essentially because of me.

What's worse? She got me something awesome, a google chromebook that I absolutely love. I guess she totally wins in the gift-giving department. She gave me an amazing laptop for writing, I spent money and broke her television. Woohoo.

But, you roll with the punches, right? When life gives you lemon, you make lemonade. When life breaks your tv, you....read, I guess? I don't know. Keep on keeping on.

Shit happens, though, and you just have to deal with it. That's life, that's the way things are.  Just gotta do something and move on.

Take the bad with the good, I suppose. That's all, for now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo - The End

I lost Nanowrimo. I only wrote 43,000 words.


It's silly to talk about 'losing' nanowrimo. It's an activity, it's an event. It's based on honesty. It has no true verifying system. The goal of 50,000 words is simply there because it's a good number. 50,000 words is a pretty short novel, anyways. It's not really about winning, or writing a certain amount, ITS JUST ABOUT WRITING ITSELF. It's to get you to write. To do something you probably wouldn't otherwise. The only motivation it truly adds is a website word-tracker. You have to put the number in. You have to put in the effort to go to write-ins and meet others if you wish to. Essentially, nanowrimo motivates YOU to motivate YOURSELF. Which is a good thing. Which means you can't lose, not really, not if you wrote even one freaking word. Winning doesn't mean anything, writing does. And I wrote. 43,000 words. It felt good.

The truth is that the only way to win, for me, is to keep writing. To keep myself honest by writing a certain amount of words every other day or so. And if I don't write, I need to edit my shit. And if I'm not editing, I need to be shopping my shit to magazines or learning more about author(self)-publishing. The idea is to continue writing or doing something that involves me writing and getting it out there, somehow, someway, hopefully getting value of some sort in return, even if it's only the value of having others read my work and enjoy it.

Did I want to write 50k? Of course. I wanted to write more. I wanted to cross the finish line, there were three or four days in the last week where I wrote 2500 words a day. Those were wild days, where I put on the music and zoned out for an hour and two and just wrote. Didn't really know I could just do that. It's good to know, makes me think maybe I can make this a regular thing, instead of a once or twice a year thing. I need to get in the habit, which means writing more blog posts as well. I really had fun writing one per day for a week before Nanowrimo, but that's too hurried a pace. One every other day is much more manageable, and something I'll be attempting once I get over the post-nanowrimo blues/hangover. Forcing myself to come up with new blog post ideas was a creative exercise, a good old workout for my brain-pan, my mind-noggin, my thinkin' blob.

I'm also planning on shopping some things over at JukePop Serial. It's a website for readers and writers full of serial fiction. As a reader, you find stories you like and put them on your bookshelf, getting notified whenever the writer adds a new chapter, you also vote on the chapters you like, which help the authors get paid, and you can even pay the authors directly, sort of like a tip after you read a chapter or something. As an author, you submit a first chapter, and if they accept it, you're good to go. They pay for the first chapter but after that it's up to you and the readers you gather. It sounds very cool, and a good way to gain a following. We'll see when I edit my shit and actually send them something. I'm also trying to figure out grad school so free time is going to fly by, for me.

So those are my thoughts on this years nanowrimo, and plans for the future. Look for more in a week or so.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I'm pumped because in half an hour I'm going to see a smorgasbord of pumpkins. Pumpkins of every shape and size, with everything you can think carved into their faces. Angry pumpkins, happy pumpkins, silly pumpkins, gross pumpkins, pumpkins eating other pumpkins, lining walkways and trees, stretching up into the sky. Pumpkins meticulously carved with precision, showing scenes and characters from movies.

There's a jack-o-lantern extravaganza in rhode island with thousands and thousands of pumpkins. It's ridiculous and awesome. I've been before and it's always an amazing sight. You walk through a zoo at night with pumpkins lining the walk, depicting various things depending on the years theme. I just checked. 5000 pumpkins. Yeah. That's a ton of jack o lanterns. It is the coolest thing to see near Halloween.

I mean, just look at that! It's crazy! It's insane! It's awesome!

Jack-o-lanterns are pretty strange things, if you think about it. Did someone just notice, after scooping out the insides of a pumpkin for food or something, that it looked like a head? And they were like, hey maybe it'd be funny if I carved a face into it. La-de-da, a tradition is born?

I went to wikipedia for answers and the first thing I learned is that a Jack O Lantern doesn't have to be a pumpkin! What baloney is this? Not a pumpkin, that's absurd. But true. Apparently, it can also be a carved turnip or beet. Who knew! Not me.

Carving jack o lanterns is a pretty great tradition. It's a time where anyone can make a cool piece of art, that glows and looks creepy. You always feel pretty good after making one, it's just fun to pull out goopy innards with your hands, and stab the skin with a knife. It feels good to carve out a face on a pumpkin, I'm not sure why. Something satisfying about being able to stab something. Uh, well, let's move on.

PUMPKINS! JACK O LANTERNS! I will return with many pictures!

Also, this is a pretty lame blog post, I know, but it's what you get. November is coming.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lovecraftian Southern Gothic (part 3)

(Part 1,Part 2)

Derek sped all the way to the abandoned manor.

Anderson followed all the way.

The manor sat far from the road with a winding drive that led to it. Empty pastures sat beside the driveway with wooden fences sitting in disrepair. Even from the road, the house looked past its prime, the windows shattered and the front doors hanging off their hinges. One corner of the expansive residence had collapsed within itself, a mismatched pile of broken debris.

Derek pulled up the driveway and skidded to a stop in front of a set of wide stone steps that led to the front doors. He got out and waited.

Sheriff Anderson parked behind the flashy rental and get out, adjusting his hat.

"You going to arrest me?"

"I decided the simplest thing to do would be to help you. Satisfy your curiosity." He said, walking up, spurs on his boots jingling.

"After all that, you're going to help me?"

"I figured if you're anything like your brother, you won't be satisfied until you see what there is to see." Anderson entered the house.

Derek followed.

The interior looked drab and run-down. Peeling paint marred by juvenile graffiti. Dust covered surfaces. It felt empty, devoid of furniture and the signs of human life. Rubble consumed an entire room from the collapse.

"What happened here?"

"Rich man had it built for his family. After it was built, bad things started happening in town."

"Bad things?"

Anderson went to a locked door in the central hallway and pulled out a key from his pocket. "What you want is through here," he said.

The door was bolted shut with a padlock lock that had been installed after the house had been built.

The only sounds within were the hollow thumps of their boots on the floor and their hushed conversation. Derek realized what it felt like, inside. The emptiness, the ever-present silence, the feeling of death. It felt like a tomb.

"What's in there?"

"The basement." Anderson slipped the key into the padlock and unlocked it. The door opened with a squeal.

Stone steps led down into darkness.

Anderson pulled a small flashlight from his belt and flicked it on. "Your brother noticed this place and asked around about it. Nobody had many answers for him, either. He came here himself."

"You first," Derek said.

Anderson nodded and started down, still talking. "At first he just visited a few times, looked around. He came down here. Then, he started living here."

Derek followed the sheriff down the steps, the darkness pressing about him. He took quick breaths. Below, in the basement he saw a camping cot and a gas grill. A gas lantern stood next to it and a dusty backpack.

"He stayed here?" Derek asked, walking over to his brother's things. He grabbed the backpack, recognizing it. "Why would he do that? I thought he stayed at the farm."

"He did, at first. It was about a year ago that he moved down here."

"But why, why live in this crummy place?"

Anderson nodded into the direction and flicked his flashlight that way, revealing a doorway that led farther on. "In there, come on."

"Hold on," Derek said. He found a pack of matches in the backpack. He turned on the gas lamp and lit it, giving more light to the basement. It was unfinished, the walls bare concrete. An ancient water-heater stood in the corner and pipes littered the beams above.

Anderson headed farther into the basement. "The rich man, for whatever reason, wanted a bigger basement and tried to expand it. He hit ledge, and went through it. He found a cave."

"A cave?"

"A natural cavern underground." Anderson stepped through the doorway into a cramped tunnel that led to  a large space about the size of the basement room behind them. The floor and walls were solid rock. It looked bare.

In the middle of the room stood what looked like a stone well. A circular cut of thick stone lay atop it, covering the hole.

"Bad things started happening in town after the man opened this. Folk got sickly. Died. Others went sick in the head, neighbors and friends becoming murderers at the drop of a hat."

Derek shook his head. "I don't get it. Any of it."

"Help me with this," Anderson said, flicking off his flashlight and putting it back on his belt. He put his hands on the stone covering.

Derek put the lantern on the floor. "What's in there?"

"Answers," Anderson said. "Isn't that what you want? You want the truth about your brother?"

"Fine," Derek said, stepping forward. "But after we push this off, you're going to tell me where the hell he went."

They pushed, the heavy stone slowly shifting and moving.

As soon as there was an opening, Derek looked down and forgot about everything. He looked into utter darkness. It was not merely the absence of light, it was substantial. It had depth and form, it flowed and swirled. He couldn't move, couldn't think. He felt something immense, something beyond comprehension stared up through the hole and saw him. Saw his insignificance in all things, his pettiness. He saw his worthlessness. Not even a fly compared to the thing within, the atrocity, the horrifyingly pure evil inside.

Anderson got the rest of the stone off by himself.

Derek held on to the edge of the well and looked down, his body shaking.

"Yeah, it's always like that the first time." The sheriff walked up behind Derek. "The rich man opened the way to It and your brother found out our way of keeping It satisfied. It leaves us alone, long as it's fed." Anderson grabbed the back of Derek's shirt and threw him into the well.

Derek didn't even scream. He was gone.

The sheriff had one hell of a time getting the stone back on by himself, but he got it done. He took the lantern and went back upstairs. He closed the door and locked it again. He walked outside and got into his car. He grabbed his phone and made a call.

"Hey, Henderson, I need a tow. You know where from. Yeah, bring it back to the rental place. Tell them it was found at the bus station. Yeah. Thanks."

He hung up and drove to town.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lovecraftian Southern Gothic Flash-Fiction (part 2)

(Part 1)
Derek left the diner and went back to where his brother had lived for the past three years. It was an old farm just outside of town, taken care of by an old couple whose children had all grown up and moved away. They only had a few animals and fewer crops but they managed. Derek's brother had helped them some, in exchange for rent.

He pulled into the dirt lot behind a rusted out pick-up and got out of the car. Horses pressed up against the fence, two brown beauties that even Derek could appreciate. They chewed cud and watched him with dull eyes. He ignored them and walked to the porch. He saw the old man, Jerry moving in the barn and gave a wave. He got a stare in return. The couple had welcomed him, given him next to nothing about his brother and generally didn't talk. They'd said his brother had stayed with them and helped them out. They said he'd left a month or two ago and that was that.

What happened to good old southern hospitality, thought Derek.

The wife stood in the kitchen, washing dishes.

"Derek, is that you? Was the sheriff able to tell ya anything?"

Derek sighed and sat at the kitchen table. "Nothing. And then someone else threatened me. What the hell's wrong with this town?"

She gave a frown over her shoulder. "Ain't nothin' wrong with this town. Just don't like to talk to outsiders much is all."

"I get that, okay? Giving out information to strangers and all, but, Laurie, he's my freaking brother."

"Please refrain from swearing while in our house," she snapped.

"I'm sorry, okay?" Derek stood up and went over. He started drying the dishes with a towel. "I just want to make sure he's okay."

She gave him a caring look and shook her head. "He's gone, Derek. You're just going to have to accept that."

"Gone where?"

She scrubbed a pot particularly hard, scraping the remains of some meat off of it. "Gone."

"No," Derek said, shaking his head. "I don't accept that. I won't."

They continued in silence. She, washing each dish with a dark blue scrubbing brush, then rinsing it with the faucet in the second sink, then passing it to him. He took each and wiped them with the towel, making sure to get each drop of water. It took his mind off things.

"What did he do, here?" Derek asked.

She gave a sad smile. "He helped us out, baling hay, feeding the animals, harvesting crops. He enjoyed it, I think."

"Really? I can't say I'm surprised. He must have said something before he left. You must have some idea. He lived with you for three years."

She sighed, slumping against the counter. "The old manor," she whispered. "He spent some time there."

"What? You mean that abandoned shack I passed on my way in to town?"

Boots stomped onto the porch and Jerry stalked inside, glaring. "That's enough talkin' with my wife. You can get out, now."

"Sir, I just-"

"Enough, I said," the old man growled. "You're brother was no good, ya hear? He meddled where he shouldn't have and now he's gone." He raised a finger like a weapon, pointing it violently. "You best stay away from that house or you'll end up like 'im. Leave well enough alone."

Derek shook his head and dropped the drying towel onto the counter. He left without a word, getting into the rental car and peeling out of the driveway, kicking up dust and rocks.

The old man and woman watched him go.

"He's just looking for his brother," Laurie said.

"His brother was just lookin' for something too, or don't you remember? You want to bring ruin to this town, to all we've worked for?"

"Maybe someone could-"

"No, Laurie. No. It's better the way it is."

The blue car flashed through town, blowing through a red light before Derek realized it. He was swearing up a storm as he pressed on the accelerator, trying to escape the insane town through sheer speed.

He'd gone a few miles out of town before he recognized the sheriff's car behind him, flashing red and blue lights atop a brown sedan.

He swore some more and pulled over. He breathed in and out.

The sheriff pulled over behind him and got out of the car. He walked up to the driver's side door and tapped on the window.

Derek rolled it down.

Anderson tipped his hat back and leaned down. He had deep wrinkles set into a tired face, with hard eyes that looked into and beyond Derek. "Do ya know why I pulled ya over, son?"

"Because this town hates outsiders, apparently?"

Anderson ignored the dig. "You ran a red light right on main street. You were doin' at least twenty over the speed limit for miles. Coulda killed someone, son."

"Don't call me son, just give me a ticket and let me go on my way."

Anderson nodded, mmhmm-ing to himself. "Could do that, yes I could. Or I could just let you go on your way with a warning, long as you're heading back to where you came from."

"You'd let me go with a warning?"

"Depends. Where you headed, Mister Hodson?"

Derek looked out the windshield. "I was thinking about leaving...but I was also considering looking into the old manor at the edge of the county. I heard Dave might have gone there a few times."

"You heard wrong," Anderson said, his voice flat. "There's no reason to go there."

Derek shrugged. "Might check it out anyways, cool old place like that, completely abandoned? It's interesting."

"Ain't nothin' interestin' to it. Family up and died awhile ago, only one left moved away and hasn't been back since. You don't want to go there."

"Maybe I do."

"And maybe instead of a warning, I lock you up for reckless endangerment. Do ya get my meanin', son?"

Derek nodded. "Yeah, I get it. Place is probably useless anyway. Just give me a ticket or a warning and let me get out of this shit hole once and for all."

Anderson kicked the tire. "Get the fuck outta here and don't come back."

Derek pulled away.

The sheriff watched him go. Then, he got into the car and followed.

Part 3

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lovecraftian Southern Gothic Flash-Fiction

I follow Chuck Wendig's blog and every Friday he offers flash-fiction challenges. Today was rolling two genres and writing whatever comes. I got Lovecraftian Southern Gothic, which is interesting. I've started it but it feels bigger than just a small flash-fiction piece. Guess I'll keep it rolling. It's good for a few blog posts at least.


A red sun rose and broke the dim gray morning over the town. A dull lifeless landscape stretched for miles around, flat and arid. Something dark rose with the sun, seeping into the town, unknown and invisible.

Trucks and cars drove through the streets in the early morning at a slow pace, as if the vehicles shared their owner's tiredness.

The local diner, Tracy's had a scattering of vehicles around the parking lot. It was a simple building with faded red paint and a farmhouse feeling. The inside looked cozy, with tables close and a long counter. The sound of sizzling bacon and the general murmur of quiet conversation could be heard.

The folk inside were a mixture of locals from all about. There was an old couple drinking coffee and eating oatmeal, speaking loudly so they could hear each other. An old woman sipped tea and read a book. A tired group of younger men sat at a table, eating pancakes and downing coffee, wearing rough clothes of manual laborers. The lone waitress served everyone with a chipper smile and a "how do ya do this fine morning?" A big man cooked in the back and called out orders loud enough to be heard in the dining room. The sheriff sat at the counter with his hat on a stool beside him, a cup of joe in front of him and a newspaper spread out. For many, this was a morning like any other.

A rental car pulled into the lot, a flashy blue four-door that stood out.

Those sitting by the windows glanced out and frowned. An elderly fellow with a frumpy brown hat mumbled under his breath.

A man stepped out and entered the restaurant. He looked young and out of place, with slick black hair and wearing a rumpled suit.

Some folk gave him a glance and a frown. Others ignored him entirely.

"Hey, sit wherever you'd like," the waitress said from behind the counter.

The man grunted. "Coffee," he said, sitting down next to the sheriff. His eyes were bloodshot.

The sheriff gave him a look before going back to the paper. "New in town?"

"Yeah," the man said.

The waitress poured his coffee and pushed it in front of him. "How do ya do, this fine morning?" She asked.

He waved a dismissive hand. "Nothing else, thank you." He ignored the question.

Her mouth thinned but she just turned away to grab a plate of food and bring it to a table.

The sheriff turned a page of the newspaper.

The stranger sipped at the coffee and made a face. He asked for cream and poured three or four into the cup.

"New in town?" The sheriff asked.

"Yes, yes I am."

"What's your business, if you don't mind my asking."

"Looking for you, actually."


"Sheriff Anderson?"

"That'd be me. Can't say I know your name, though."

"Hodson. Derek Hodson."

Anderson hesitated flipping the page. He sighed, folding up the paper. "I see," he said.

"I'm looking for my brother. Haven't heard from him in awhile."

"I knew him."

Derek nodded. "I would hope so. He lived here for five years."

Anderson sipped at his coffee and put on his hat. "Good luck in your search. I got business to be about."

Derek put out a hand to stop him. "My brother hasn't sent a letter in three months. His house is deserted. You telling me you don't know anything?"

"He's gone. That's what I know." Anderson took a step.

Derek caught Anderson's sleeve "Where did he go? Small town like this, somebody has to know something."

Anderson pulled out of Derek's grip. "I told you. He's gone." The sheriff tipped his hat to the waitress and left.

Derek turned back to his bitter coffee. He ordered a big breakfast plate and more coffee. With nothing else to do, he took the newspaper left by the sheriff and started reading it.

Before he got his breakfast, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He was a big fellow with a trucker hat and a mean mustache. "You askin' about Hodson?" The man asked in a deep rumble.

"Yeah," Derek said.

"Don't," the man replied and turned away.

"He's my brother."

"Not anymore." The man left the place, got into a big red truck and drove off.

"What the fuck is wrong in this town?" Derek asked, as a big plate of eggs, toast, homefries, and pancakes was put in front of him. At least it looked good. He poured maple syrup on it and ate, wondering just what the hell happened to his brother.

Part 2

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Worst Idea

This was the worst idea ever. I do not want to write any more posts. I'm posted out. I'm tired. I don't feel like writing, especially when I can't really come up with anything terribly compelling to write about! But I said I would, so I'm going to try. I mean, fuck it, I'm a writer aren't I? And I'm complaining about having to write too much? That's some weak-ass bullshit right there.

So here we go. Gotta write something.

I guess I'll write about my novel. I wrote a novel during National Novel Writing Month two or three years ago. I then spent the next year going through and editing it. I then sent it to a select few and received suggestions. I spent another year editing and have sent it out again. I feel like it is very close, though I have heard a few things that make me disappointed in myself, for not having caught it, or knowing those places needed improvement but glossing over them.

The novel, Blood and Ashes is the first of a fantasy series set in a world where practicing magic is unlawful and punishable by death. Using magic has to do with creating a connection to another world, full of power, taking that power and manipulating it with your will. Usually, it is a conscious decision but there are a special few inborn with a connection. For them, it is not a choice to use magic, it will happen, over and over. These are called "mageborn" and are hunted throughout the land. They are killed or captured, and if captured, transformed through a gruesome ritual into a hyper-violent soldier. Into this world come three mageborn into a central city, unknowing of their power. Blood and Ashes is their tale of escape and realization, a frantic fight for their lives, and the webs others have woven for them.

It still needs work, unfortunately. I have considered hiring a professional editor but, considering the length of the work, that would cost hundreds of dollars and is simply not something I can afford at the moment. I'll do what I can, and I think it is close to being a finished product. Then comes the publishing question.

Do I go the traditional route, writing a query letter and trying to sell agents/publishers on my story in a few hundred words? Where I will not hear back for months, or perhaps at all, only sending to more and more? Or the other route, self-publishing(I like the term 'Author-publisher, coined by Chuck Wendig), where the market is over-stuffed with authors all selling themselves and their stories to readers?

I don't know. This November, I'm unsure whether to write the sequel or work on a few other projects I'm mulling around in my mind. I will just have to figure something out.

Anyways, that's a little bit about a project I've been working on for years. Will it actually become a product of some kind? Yes. Eventually.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beating the Block

AAAAAAaaaaaaaagh! Writing a scream or a yell is always a conundrum. Is it just a string of a's? Do you add that "gh" on the end? Maybe throw a couple other letters in there? Some u's, perhaps? Who knows. 

The reason for the yelling? I have no idea what to write. Maybe missing yesterday's post is affecting my brain-box. It halted my creative train. It felt good, just rolling along, the posts coming quite easily. The fateful block has impeded my progress. Just gotta write. Write write write, write through the block. 

Just keep writing, just keep writing. Here, quick! Flash-fiction!

Here's my idea, doubling the old Raymond Chandler advice: If you don't know what to do, have a guy with a gun walk into the room. Why not have two?


The corpse lay on the floor, blood drenching the white faux-fur rug underneath. Lightning crashed outside, illuminating the room in violent flashes. Furniture cast quick dark shadows, a chair and a couch. Two silhouettes faced each other. 

One reached a hand and flicked on a stand lamp. Light filled the room, glinting off the guns. 

"Well," one of the figures, a man wearing a black suit and holding a gun with a silencer on the end. "This is awkward."

"He was mine, goddamnit," the other said, pulling off a black ski-mask. He wore a black get-up that looked light and easy to move in, something a thief might wear. He too, held a gun with a silencer. 

The two guns pointed at each other. 

"I didn't see your name on him," the suited man said with a smile. 

The man with mask frowned. "I hacked the security system, snuck in through the back, knocked out the maid in the back without making a sound. I planned this."

The other shrugged. "I made good with the butler and talked my way in. Then I bludgeoned him from behind. I'm not much for hiding and sneaking like a petty thief."

"And I ain't much for pretty-talk and shmoozing." 

There was a moment of silence. 

"I believe we are at an impasse."

"I shot him, fair and square."

"So did I."

"You should just turn around and leave. I'm a quicker shot than you."

"Now, now, let's be professionals." The finely dressed man glanced at the corpse. 

"We can't split him."

"No, I'm sure our employers wouldn't allow that."

"Who hired you, by the way?"

"It would be highly unprofessional to give away my client."

"Yeah well shit, if it's the same guy who hired me, it was mighty unprofessional of him to hire two hitmen."

"You have a fair point."

They sat down on the couch, guns pointed at the floor. 

"Handy," the man with the mask said, dropping the ski-mask and offering a hand. 

"It suits you," the other man said, taking the hand and shaking it. "I am known as The Pro."

Handy nodded his head. "I've heard of you. That Pell job sounded like hell."

The Pro shrugged. "Things happen. The client acted...unprofessionally."

Handy laughed. "You sure dealt with him, from what I heard."

"I handled the situation."

"And now, our situation?"

"I'm thinking. In all my years, this has never occurred."

A door opened into the room. "Sir, sir are you there?" The butler called, rubbing his head. He gasped, seeing the room. 

Handy moved first, standing and firing two bullets in a blink. 

The butler staggered back, falling. 

The Pro looked at his companion with raised eyebrows. "You weren't bluffing. You are quicker than I."

Handy shrugged, as if uncomfortable with the compliment. "I got quick hands," he said. He walked over and checked the butler's pulse. 

The Pro got up, putting a finger to his lips. He walked over to another door, the one Handy had come from. 

It opened, revealing the maid with a phone to her ear. She was saying something when she saw The Pro standing in front of her. He was a large man and she couldn't see the room beyond him. 

"Miss, miss," The Pro said, his voice loud and commanding. 

She stopped, her mouth open. 

"Close the phone, your master needs assistance, immediately!" 

She took him in, the exquisite suit, the chiseled face, clean-shaven, hair black with flecks of gray. His soothing voice, in control, sounding as if he belonged. She closed the phone. "Who are you?" She asked. 

"A friend, dear miss, a friend. Someone attacked your master and ran, please, come quickly." He turned and gestured into the room. 

She took a couple steps in, eyes widening. She opened her mouth to scream when The Pro's hand clamped around her mouth. 

He wrapped an arm around her throat and choked her into unconsciousness. He let her down gently.

"Nicely done," Handy said, walking over. "We don't know if she said anything before she hung up, though." 

The Pro nodded. "Indeed, we should make our way out quickly."

"Look, I understand if you don't want to give up your client, you got your code or whatever, but if we got screwed over, I ain't letting it go. I'll go first."

The Pro hesitated, before nodding. "Very well."

"It was the girl. She didn't say her name but you know who I'm talking about."

The Pro nodded. "The daughter, she hired me as well."

Handy shook his head in disgust. "Who does that?"

"A young woman who doesn't understand the world we live in."

"She will soon enough," Handy snarled. 

The Pro sighed. "Let us not be too harsh." He gestured to the corpse. "Perhaps we can visit her together and explain the situation."

"Then she's paying me double," Handy spat. "And you too."

The Pro nodded. "She will surely have enough money, now." 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Time Flies

I nearly didn't make yesterday's deadline. I really didn't actually. I published with my flash fiction half-finished and half-thought. I cheated and edited it today to be something more complete. I still don't really feel satisfied with it. It's not a great story or good writing, it just kind of is. Which is all it needs to do, it just needs to exist. That's the purpose, the goal, to get words out there, so it works.

The idea came from a fiction challenge by the author Chuck Wendig who has a wonderful blog and great tips for writers. The challenge was to use a random song title as the title of a piece of flash fiction and write from there. I just used my library and the song that came up was titled "Day Six" by Explosions in the Sky and I listened to it as I began my piece. I think it came out okay, sloppy and fast but that's what nanoprep is all about.

Writing these posts is as difficult as expected. There are simply days I don't find the time. Well, that's not being honest. There are days I put off writing, thinking I can just do it later, then realizing I need to rush something out so I can get some sleep so I'm not a zombie at work the next day.

So here it is. I'm watching the Giants attempting to get their first win of the season while attempting to rush out a blog post last minute, tired and frantic and just typing whatever comes across my brain. sakdjgsajdlkghasjldhgsjlkadhfjlaskdhfjlkasdhjlkfhasjlkdfhsdjlfhsdjlfhslfasd. Yep, stuff like that.

Creativity is zero, imagination is down. I got nothing. I need a haircut. I need to shave. But here I am. Putting in the work. The same thing I'm going to need to do in November if I'm going to write 1667 words a day. Work ethic is a really important thing. You need a good work ethic to really lead a successful life, in my opinion. It's something you get taught early, at a young age. It's driven into you, ingrained, etc. So parents, make your kids work.

I asked a student the other day if he ever does chores at home. He shook his head. I asked if he ever did anything he didn't want to do, at home. He shook his head again. I sighed. What was I supposed to tell this kid? How was I supposed to convince this kid to work hard at school when he never does at home? How is it possible to teach him that sometimes he has to do things he doesn't want to do, if he always gets what he wants at home? It doesn't work, there's not much you can do.

That's the truly tragic part of special education, or education in general. There's only so much you can do, at school. The home piece is truly far more important and development-affecting than school. We can try though, and we can do a little good, and it feels good when we help students succeed.

This is a truly rambling blog post, but oh well. At least it's up on time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day Six

"Is it safe?" Lacy asked. Her voice had lost its quiver of fear. Now she just sounded tired and weak.

Darrin shook his head, peeking downstairs from the upstairs hallway. He could see figures moving, shambling through the kitchen and living room, their eyes dull and lifeless. But they were alive, alive and violent. And they'd taken over the first floor of the house.

"They're still there," he said, moving back from the stairwell and into the bedroom.

She nodded, looking down at the floor. Light filtered in through the edges of curtains blocking the windows. She looked emaciated.

Six days of being stuck, prisoners in their own house, starving.

He sat on the bed, looking at the wall. His stomach gnawed at him from the inside.

She put a hand on his back. "It's okay. They'll leave. They will."

He stood up and searched the room, much as he had done before. But there wasn't anything that could be called a weapon. No guns or knives or baseball bats. He shook his head, thinking of the old movies that played before everything went to shit. The heroes had always had access to some kind of weapon. But he didn't have any guns and the only knives they owned were in the kitchen. And who kept a baseball bat lying around if you don't have any kids?

"You can't go down there," she said.

"I have to. We're starving."

"You don't have a weapon." She stood up. "They'll tear you apart."

He opened the closet door, still searching. "I'll create a distraction and sneak into the kitchen. These things aren't smart, they don't think." They just kill, he thought but didn't say.

She turned away.

He left the bedroom and went into the bathroom. A haggard face stared at him from the mirror, scraggly beard, messy hair and weary eyes. He ignored it and looked around. Toilet brush, electric shaver, bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Nothing useful.

He went back into the bedroom.

She held a knife in her hands. It had a short sharp blade and a black handle. There were tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry..." she whispered, offering the handle towards him. "I had it in my purse, from when I walked home alone at night in the city. I found it a few days ago."

He took it, inspecting it. It felt strong and easy to use. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't want you to go downstairs." She stepped forward. "Don't go. Just let them leave. Then we can go downstairs and-"

"They aren't leaving," he said, turning away. "And we're starving." He went to the stairwell and listened. He heard shuffling steps and low moans.

He crept down, step by step, thankful they had carpeted stairs. He skipped a step that always groaned and reached the bottom.

The stairwell opened into a narrow hallway that had doorways into the kitchen, living room and a wash room.

He took slow breaths. There was nobody in the hallway but the sounds of feet and groans were louder.

He went to the kitchen, peeking in. He gulped.

Two of them shuffled around the island, staring into nothing. Their clothes were ripped and bloody. Though they moved slow now, that could change in a moment if they saw food. They were worse than animals.

One stepped past the doorway. He walked up behind it and stabbed it in the back of the skull. The man went down, gurgling.

The other, a pale woman, turned, eyes widening and mouth opening.

Darrin couldn't get the knife out of the skull.

The woman moaned and scrambled right over the granite countertop. She slammed into Darrin, carrying them both to the floor.

Darrin slammed his forearm into her throat, keeping her gnashing teeth away.

Her saliva dripped onto his face. She raked her nails against his neck.

He shoved, trying to push her off but she held on to his arms, straining and biting the air. His arm grew tired, her face inching closer. He swore in an agonized whisper, over and over. He was going to die. He saw her tongue out, reaching for him, inches away.

This was it. This was death.

He almost felt relief. It would be over, the hunger, the pain, the depression. Just...gone.

Lacy stepped forward and plunged a large kitchen knife into the pale woman's temple.

The woman's head dropped, lifeless.

Darrin's strength gave out and he let the corpse fall on top him. He gasped for breath, looking at the wall. Did he feel regret?

Lacy pulled rolled the body off and helped him up. Her hands shook and her eyes were wide. "I killed her," she said.

Darrin shrugged, feeling nothing. He wondered if he was in shock. "We have to get the food," he said, struggling to feel like anything mattered. He wiped blood from his face.

A growl came from the doorway behind him, which led to the entryway. A short man snarled, seeing them.

Darrin moved without thinking. "Back up the stairs!" He said, shoving Lacy into the hallway.

The man charged.

Darrin grabbed the countertop of the island and kicked out, catching the guy in the chin and laying him out.

"Darrin!" Lacy called out.

Darrin went into the hallway and saw Lacy pushing the door to the living room shut, but hands and arms stuck through the jam, blocking it.

"Leave it," He shouted.

Something slammed into him from behind, tackling him into the stairs.

"Not now," Darrin said. The time to die had passed. Now he had to live. He slammed his elbow back again and again, until he heard a sharp crack and the thing on top of him slumped to the floor. There was blood on his arm. The short guy lay face up, face mangled.

"Lacy, now!"

She left the door and ran to the stairs.

Darrin hurried her up and followed, seeing at least three more people rushing through the open door.

They sprinted up and into the bedroom.

Darrin slammed the door shut and locked it. He could hear growls and yelps.

Something slammed into door, making it shake.

"The dresser," Lacy said.

Darrin nodded. It was a heavy wooden thing, polished and beautiful, an antique.

They got to the side and shoved it in front of the door, before collapsing onto the ground, gasping for breath.

Darrin's body shook, muscles tensing and relaxing. He gasped for breath. He tried to get up but he couldn't. The door shook but didn't move.

Lacy lay next to him.

He managed to put an arm around her and pull her close. That was all he could do. They were too hungry, too tired.

And they were stuck back in the bedroom without food.

Tomorrow would be the seventh day.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

It's Coming

"Nanowrimo is coming…" He whispered, glancing out the window. 
Leaves were changing colors and falling to the ground, more every day. 
The fireplace crackled but he could not feel the heat. 
A chill wind shook the hut. 
He blew on his fingers and looked at the scrolls on the table before him. 
"Blank…" he said, tracing his hand across the smooth papyrus. 
He placed a cup of ink on the table nearby and took a quill from within his vest. 
He dabbed the quill into the ink and began writing. 
"It is time to prepare," he said. 
Soon, the scrolls would be filled with writing, pages upon pages. 
He wrote.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Let's talk about books. I like books. I enjoy reading all kinds of things, from fantasy and sci-fi to crazy post-modern novels about the meaninglessness of our lives. Any way you look at it, books are pretty rad. They are stories from another's mind, translated into text onto paper, which we then transmit into our own minds via reading. We are essentially reading another person's mind in the past. Literally, someone was thinking the very thing you read when they wrote it. That's a pretty cool thing. I like that. I can read your mind, man. Just write down what you're thinking and send it to me. 

Of course the method of transference isn't perfect. There is much lost in translation, which is a good thing. I think there is much 'added' in translation as well, if that makes any sense, which it might not. What I mean is that when a writer puts their thoughts into paper, so much other junk comes with it, from their past, their lives, their experiences. Things they had no idea they were thinking goes onto the page without them even realizing it. We see it, as readers. We see not just what they were literally thinking but also that extra baggage. Of course it's not perfect but it's there. We read into it, we come to it with out own baggage, and as we read these thoughts coming from our own experiences, we see things nobody else will. Think about it. Even if you and I read the same book, line for line, word for word, we actually read different books. I will see things you did not and you will do likewise, simply because of our different pasts. That's amazing. That's why it's fun to talk about books you've read with others. They'll show and try to tell you what they experienced, meanwhile you'll attempt to describe your own understanding. I say 'try' and 'attempt' because that is what they are, you cannot communicate your entire experience to another because they have not lived the life you live. It's fun to talk about, though. 

Telling stories is awesome and honestly, I wish I was better at it in oral form. My dad is fantastic at it. He gets his whole body into the story and really makes you feel like you were there. He uses voices, facial expression and jokes. His stories are pure entertainment and it's enjoyable to listen to the same one over and over. Though, to be honest, this particular enjoyment is partially because he tends to change a story every time he tells it, until who knows what truly happened? But it doesn't matter. It's a story. Truth is beside the point that it's funny, it makes you laugh, feel and think. 

Think about it some more. When someone tells you something that happened to them, they aren't telling you the "truth". They are telling what they experienced, colored by their past and personality. This isn't a bad thing and doesn't mean that everybody is lying to you all the time. We can't get outside our own heads, so we just cannot be unbiased or neutral. We always bring things to the story, and that's a great thing. That's why when you hear a story, you feel like you know the author/teller a little better after, because you get more than just the plot, the sequence of events, you get their feelings and thoughts, their reactions. 

To sum it all up....



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh man I gotta write another blog post...

Third day, third post. This is already getting hard. I should've written earlier but I was lazy and put it off and now I'm throwing words out like yesterdays garbage. That's a weird phrase, "like yesterday's garbage"? Who creates so much garbage they fill up a trash bag in a single day? Nobody.

Oh well, let's get on with it then. What's on the docket for today? Docket is a good word. I like the sound of it. Just say it out loud. "Docket." It's a very serious-business type term. Anyways, there is nothing on the docket for the day. I'm writing by the seat of my pants. It's very difficult. The seat of your pants is not a very good writing tool.

Let's talk fantasy. Why not? The fantasy genre is pretty fucking awesome right now. You've got awesome old-school stuff, crazy new-fangled hybrid genres, and just damn good writing coming out right now. The Wheel of Time recently finished, a 14-book epic of unfathomable scope. You've got gritty and unexpectable George RR Martin with Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones). Is unexpectable a word? Apparently not but it should be. It means you can expect nothing in that series. Martin suckerpunches you in the nuts over and over and doesn't let up, but it feels good. It feels good because authors just don't murder likable characters that often. It feels fresh. It feels good, exciting, awful and amazing.

You've got fantasy mixing with the modern, like Dresden Files where fantasy meets the modern world and a hard-boiled detective-wizard solving magical crimes. It's fantastic! And fun, and downright hilarious at times. You've got all these shows with old fairie tales reimagined in modern times, and even though they might be awful, at least they're trying.

Fantasy is in a really good place right now, becoming more and more commonplace, with movies and novels exploring, with new ideas. I've got an idea for a fantasy-western story which sounds really awesome in my head at the moment. Genre-mixing is a great thing.

I'm feeling tired and this post is probably pretty bad. Probably won't be in my top ten of all time, but then, writing one every day isn't about writing great posts, it's about quantity. Output.

 Enjoy your daily word-vomit

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A blogpost a day keeps the sanity away.

In preparation for Nanowrimo, the month where I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, will attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November, I have decided to write a blogpost every single day, starting yesterday, until the end of October. Man, that is quite the beginning sentence. Kind of a slog to get through that one, but oh well, it's written.

Because these posts will be prep for Nano, I will edit them very little. They may go off-topic, or wade into ridiculous topics and side-rants. Who knows. The point is to put words on the screen. Quantity, not quality. Feel free to skim the posts to see if anything is funny, useful, or interesting. Mileage may vary.

So. One post a day. Not bad, right? I didn't even set a minimum length. It will be a breeze, a piece of cake. What makes a piece of cake so easy, anyways? Or pie? Easy as pie. Is pie really that easy? If so, why have I never made one? If pie is so easy, why do we pay so much to buy one?

Regardless. My journey has begun. It actually began yesterday, with my post about being Bored. I guess I just dislike hearing that parents buy their kids electronic devices just so they won't be 'bored'. Being 'bored' is part of growing up. Ehh, no need to rehash what I said yesterday.

What am I going to write about in these blogposts, you might ask? Who knows? Whatever comes across my mind. Whatever's goin' on up in the ol' mind-noggin. Random snippets of flash fiction? Perhaps. Random rants about how spoiled kids are these days because I'm an old man? Probably. Whatever catches my whimsy.

Word-vomit. That's a great phrase and is particularly keen in regards to NanoWrimo. I'm going to need to spew out word-vomit on a daily basis. MmmMmm good.

So that's the deal. A post a day until November starts and then it's off to the races. If I don't do it, I'll buy you, my reader, a beer if you call me out on it. If I do complete this, then you owe me a beer. It's only fair, right? Right. Makes sense to me.

I'm out. Check back in tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Being Bored is Okay

We seem to despise boredom. We fight it with phones and music and tv and games. We fill every second of our lives with entertainment, all so that we won't feel that we don't have anything to do. Parents buy their children ipads so that they won't get 'bored' on long road trips. Really? Give me a break. You know what I did on long family roadtrips? Looked out the window. I thought about stuff. I talked to my family.

Not to go all "back in my day" on everyone, but let's be serious here. Why are we so against being bored? It's a freakin' luxury to be bored. We should be happy to be bored. It means our needs are met, we aren't hungry, tired or dehydrated. It means our lives are so perfect that we don't have to be doing anything. It's amazing. It's time to think, ponder, reflect. But we'd rather turn on the tv and channel surf, or put on music so we don't have to interact with anybody else.

As adults, it's fine, do whatever, but for children? Kids should be bored. It forces them to think. To be creative. It forces them to make up their own games, their own stories, their own minds. If we stuff 'entertainment' down their throats every moment, they'll never have to think on their own. If they're constantly in contact with friends through a digital device, they'll never be forced to just be alone and think They won't have to deal with being bored, they'll just plug in and tune out. Let your kid look out the freakin window on road trips. Let them be bored because, hey, it's okay. Life is going to be boring and they should learn to do something other than sit in front of a screen.

I remember those long road trips, head against the window, staring at the landscape flying by, and just thinking. Creating stories in my head. Visualizing. Kids shouldn't need ipads to fight against boredom, they should be able to use their imagination, as corny as it sounds.

Anyways, that's my rant in defense of boredom. It gets a really bad rap and really, it's your own fault if you're bored. You've got a freakin' human brain in your head. If you're bored, you're not really using it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat

I am a curious person. I walk by a building and wonder what sort of work goes on inside, what types of people work there, what are the politics of the place, what are the interpersonal dramas that go on? Essentially, what stories are happening within?

I think about everything. Everything I see and hear, I imagine details and situations, possibilities that stem from what I experienced. How things might be put into a story or used for a dilemma or conjuring up a tense situation. I hear people speaking and imagine their lives, where they might live, what they might do. This might sound sort of creepy but it's completely innocent. I enjoy thinking about possibilities, all kinds of possibilities. I enjoy using my imagination to create entire worlds from minute details. It's not only a sort of mind-imagination exercise, it generates numerous amounts of substance for stories, for writing, for crafting realistic fictional characters and situations.

Curiosity is a good thing.

Yet we are afraid of being curious or of having knowledge. We say things like "Ignorance is bliss" and "curiosity kill the cat" which is bullshit. The news stopped telling the truth because we didn't want to hear it. Now, we have a fictional news show that actually tells the truth, only about events that happened months ago so that it's "okay" and hey, it's just a tv show, not real life. We live in our own cocoons of personal knowledge and are afraid to admit that somebody else might be right, that we might be wrong about things, so we only listen to people who agree with us and insult those who disagree and that way we never have to face the idea we might be wrong.

I had no idea I would go off ranting like this on this blog post but here I am.

I am a curious person. When someone does something, I want to know WHY. Why did they do it, why did they feel the need to do it and why did they think it would be a good thing to do? Why is a very important question and most of us probably don't even understand WHY we do certain things, much less try to figure out why other people do things. We're all bundles of water bags filled with emotions and thoughts pressured by the experiences of our lives, driven to do things by our past.

It helps with writing characters. You always have to know the why, even if you don't reveal it to the reader. The character needs a past that influences them, the pressures that we all experience in our daily lives.

I get this curiosity from both of my parents. My father is always thinking about why things happen and how the world works. He constantly theorizes about situations, why this thing happened as opposed to this other thing, why this might have happened but not this. If he doesn't know something, he's not afraid to imagine the answer, to hypothesize using what he does know. It's actually a great skill in life, using what you know to figure out what you don't know, and even if you're wrong occasionally, it helps you deal with situations and think about new situations.

I think my mother is curious about people. She wonders about their feelings and their thoughts, and what drives them to do things. She wonders how she can help them. I, too, am curious about people. There are times I watch cars go by and just wonder about whose driving, whose riding, where are they going and why? Who are all these people driving down this road at this exact time? What do they do? What are their lives like?

The drive for knowledge is just basic human nature. We want to know, we need to know. The more we know, the more power we have over our own lives and choices in life. Perhaps we think of cats as curious because they are more independent than other pets. They do their own thing, they do what they want, when they want.

Maybe curiosity did kill the cat. Perhaps the cat ventured out into the night to see what was out there, and got eaten. But guess what? We're not fucking cats. Be curious. Learn things. There is information literally at our fingertips. Never has knowledge ever been easier to acquire. Get some. Learn something.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Perspective-Taking (pt 2): In Writing

In my last post,  I wrote about how perspective-taking is a skill everybody needs and uses. It's essential for social interaction and establishing relationships. It's how we relate to one another.

Today, I'm going to talk about how perspective-taking is a must for writing. It is crucial to authors. It's easier and more difficult to take a character's perspective. First of all, they are made up, they are created, they are imaginary. How do you relate to an imaginary character? How can you consider their thoughts and feelings?

You created them for a purpose, to act in certain ways and do certain things, and yet they must have their own motivations. They must have thoughts and feelings, reasons for acting the way they do, or else they will fall flat. They won't feel alive to the reader. Even the villains need good reasons for the things they do. Why do they hurt people? What in their past has made them act like this? How might we all come to such evil actions, if circumstances were different?

The best writers do this well. Their characters feel alive. Indeed, sometimes a character can become so alive, they do things the writer doesn't expect. That might sound crazy but it's true. They can take a life of their own, and if they do, the writer is doing their job. You can't force a character to do things. You can create the motivation and the reasons they do them, though. It's a writer's job. Humans do things for a reason. Something motivates them, something makes them think it is what they should do. Characters should be the same way.

The best villains are the ones we relate to. The ones we realize we could become, if our positions were reversed. They are also the most troubling. See the situation from your hero's point of view before you make him save the day. Why is he saving the day, besides the obvious? Why fight or struggle?

If you're rushing through a draft of a story, it's okay to ignore things, but you can't forever. You have to go back, view the character's actions, and ensure they have good reasons for doing so, even if those reasons only seem good to that character.

Get some perspective.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Perspective Taking (pt 1.): In Life

"Perspective Taking" is a phrase used to mean, essentially, seeing things from another person's point of view.  It's taking another's perspective in a situation. Imagining how they feel, what they think, and why they do the things they do.

We treat it as a skill in special education. It's something we try to teach to students who tend to have a very difficult time with it. It's something we learn, growing up. It's how we make connections with others and make friends. It's how we know how to act around others. It's essential for meaningful social interaction. 

Some students find it hard to do. It takes imagination. Some students simply can't understand how to think like someone else, or consider how someone else feels. They are too focused on themselves, and don't see the need to care about what others are thinking. They don't see the need to understand why someone did something. 

It can be difficult to see things outside of our own perspective. (I think many adults have trouble with this as well, else why do strangers get so mad at eachother so fast, over little things?)

Understanding our own feelings and why we feel them is difficult enough. How can we expect to know why someone else did this or that? 

The truth is we can't. Not for sure. It's why we ask so many questions. How are you feeling? Why did you do this? We can't know for certain why someone does something unless we ask, but asking isn't always an option. So what do we do? We guess. We guess all the time. We guess this person did this or that, for this reason. We might not be right all the time, but the more we guess, the better we get at it. Perspective taking takes guessing. That's part of what's so hard about it. 

It's also hard because to take someone elses' perspective, you have to care about them in some way. If you don't care, there's no point in understanding them. We should care, though, even if it's just because it's a fellow human being. That's not so easy, all the time. There are many times we'd rather not care or understand, but we should try. 

Perspective taking doesn't just help us understand why someone acted a certain way, it helps us realize other people aren't so different from us. If we put ourselves in their situation, we can see that maybe, just maybe, we would have acted the same way, and if we would have acted the same way in the same situation, how can we judge or be angry with them? 

We're all similar beings. We want and need certain things, all being pushed and pulled by the various different forces acting in our lives. 

I'm not saying we need to forgive and forget everybody for every act they commit. But at least we can forgive the small things. The person slow in traffic, the guy who cuts you off, the girl who bumps into you, etc. It seems to me that whenever someone inconveniences us, even in a small way, we respond with anger, like 'what the fuck is this person doing'. We don't think about them or consider why they may have done it, they're a stranger so we immediately call them douchebags in our minds. We'll give friends and family the benefit of the doubt, but not a stranger. Why is that? 

Why let a little thing infuriate you when the person who did it wasn't trying to ruin your day? 

Can't we understand that Shit Happens and people make mistakes. Accidents happen. Let it go. 

Here's an example. I bought chicken from Whole Foods the other day. It's a ten-minute walk from where I live. We were going to cook it for dinner. Open the package and it smells like rotten eggs. Bad news. Bring it back, manager apologizes, I just ask for another package the same size and he says no problem. I get a new package, bring it home, it also smells bad. At this point, I'm pretty fucking pissed off. I could have gone back and yelled at the dude, blah blah blah, made a whole scene and really ruined his day. I didn't. I brought it back, asked to get the same amount fresh from the butcher and the manager apologized numerous times, said that would be fine, and that was the end of it. 

I might have gotten more if I had made a scene. Maybe I would have gotten a gift card or something. I don't know. I do know I probably would have made some people feel shitty and probably would have felt like shit myself for doing so. I don't like making people feel bad, even if they might deserve it. I can't really yell at someone who apologizes and seems genuine about it. I know how shitty dealing with customers or patrons is. I was a bouncer and people treated me like shit about doing my job and about things I couldn't change or wasn't in charge of. 

I fucking hated it. 

Who was I supposed to yell at, at Whole Foods? The manager for not knowing the chicken went bad before the sell-by date? The butchers who are genuinely friendly and nice every time I go there? It's not like they intentionally gave us bad chicken. I got good chicken, cooked and ate it. The dude apologized. No big deal. No reason to scream at someone. 

You know what I appreciated as a bouncer? The nice people, who were friendly even if they had to wait in line for awhile. They made my night so much better. That's a difference we can all make. Be nice and friendly, especially to people who deal with people day in and day out. It can make somebody's day that much better. 

Alot of girls and guys thought they knew about me and my job as a bouncer but they didn't know shit. You might not know shit about someone else so try to give them the benefit of the doubt, as much as you can. Treat them like you would a friend. Treat them decently. 

Take someone else's perspective. 

I think everyone should work in a job where they have to deal with people. Restaurant, retail, nightclub, customer service, etc. That gives you some fucking perspective. Then maybe people wouldn't treat folks, who are just doing their job, like shit. 

I was going to go into how Perspective-Taking is especially an important skill for writing, but I think I will write a second blog post for that. 

I guess the message is...try to be nice and shit? It's better than being angry all the time. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"The Wheel of Time" and me

A few weeks ago, I finished a series I'd begun a decade ago. It's quite the experience. I felt mentally exhausted, emotionally wrung out, saddened yet pleased, awed yet sorrowful.

I'd finished "A Memory of Light", the final novel in "The Wheel of Time" series.

I started "The Eye of The World" in high school, knowing that one of my older brothers had read it and enjoyed it. I liked fantasy, losing myself in a wild yet somehow plausible world, another reality. The stories intrigued me, the action was exciting and simply put, the magic was cool.

"The Eye of The World" hooked me immediately. It had everything I could have wanted. Three farmboys are forced to leave their home, chased by evil, and heroically save the day. The action was there, intense and heart-thumping. The characters were fantastic. I felt like I knew them, their thoughts and feelings. They fought, tooth and nail, giving it their all to save the day.

And yet, at the end, the day was saved but not much more. The story went on. There was something much bigger growing. I felt like I had barely scratched the surface, even though the book was 700 pages long or so.

I devoured the next few books, one after another. The boys grew, slowly but surely. The conflicts grew as well, becoming bigger and crazier. The cast grew as well, on both sides, good and evil. Each book brought new cultures, each incredibly detailed, down to what they wore and their hair styles. This wasn't just a fantasy story, this was an entire world, an entire reality to delve into.

I delved into that world, The Wheel of Time, time and time again.

The story grew beyond just three boys, though they stayed as centerpieces. The Wheel of Time wasn't about three boys, it was about the end of the Third Age, about the Last Battle between Light and The Dark One, it wasn't one story it was a multitude, all weaving together brilliantly.

Eventually, I had to stop, not because I wanted to, but because I had caught up to Robert Jordan as he wrote new novels. Sometimes, I would go back and read the first couple, refresh the story in my mind. I fell easily back into the world, the characters as familiar as old friends.

Each time Jordan would finish a new one, I'd consume it in a matter of days. I could tell the end was coming. It had to. He couldn't write the story forever. Things were shaping up for the grand finale and I knew it would be one hell of a ride.

Then, after the 11th book in the series, while working on what he thought would be the final book, Robert Jordan unfortunately passed away.

I felt crushed. This writer, this creator of an amazing world, had died. It's always sad when a writer passes away. You see, when you read a writer for so long, you feel like you know them. Writers put much of themselves into the work. I knew Jordan's world, so I felt like I knew him. I wish I could have known him, or let him know how much his world meant for me.

But he was gone. Another sting, there would be no more Wheel of Time. I would never know what happened to my favorite characters. I could only imagine.

I put the series aside for a long time. I'd thought it was done for good. I made my peace with it and moved on. It was a really great series that unfortunately didn't get an ending. Oh, well, I thought. What I got to read was pretty freaking great.

Then, I heard The Wheel of Time wasn't dead. Jordan had kept numerous notes and his wife had taken them to Brandon Sanderson to finish the series. I can only thank Mrs. Jordan so much. It must have been hard, giving your husbands work to another, trusting them to finish it the right way. But she wanted the readers to get their ending, and she must have known Robert Jordan wouldn't have wanted to leave his readers like that.

I felt ecstatic when I heard, yet also nervous. Could someone else write a Wheel of Time novel? Not to mention the penultimate finale to Jordan's world?

Well, I knew I would find out. I just had to read one more book when Sanderson finished it...

Then I heard he was splitting the final novel into three, as it was simply too much material to fit into one book. I had not one more novel to finish the series, but three, one published a year for three years. 14 books in total. Would I ever actually read the end? I sometimes wondered.

When I read the 12th, Sanderson's first, my worries were dashed away. Sanderson performed some sort of miracle, creating a novel that felt like The Wheel of Time, through and through, keeping the characters consistent and hurrying the plot along at an exciting pace.

I read the 13th book in three days. It blew my mind. I couldn't believe the end was coming. I just had to wait an agonizingly long time.

Finally, A Memory Of Light was published in January, 2013.

Unfortunately, I couldn't read it then.

See, I felt I had a duty, a responsibility. If I was really going to read the end to The Wheel of Time, well, I needed to fucking reread the entire series before I did so.

So I did.

I started last summer, possibly a year ago, and read through all 13 books without a break in between. I engulfed myself in the world, reliving the climactic moments, the badass action, the drama. Dropping back into that world felt great, the cast of characters like old friends come for dinner.

Now, I've read the end. I know how The Last Battle finishes. I know what happens to the characters. It was, honestly, better than I could have imagined. Everything came back around. Everything tied up. Nothing was forgotten (as far as I could tell).

I have never felt so connected with any other novel or series. It is a fantastic world to dive into, and I would recommend it to anyone willing to invest the time into it. I tell you, the payoff is worth it.

I don't usually use this word, as these days it is completely overused and has nearly lost all meaning, but it truly fits.

The Wheel of Time is epic.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Finally, a blog post

I know it's been awhile. I do many things to convince myself not to write a blog post. I tell myself nobody will read it, so what's the point? Or I convince myself I have nothing to write about. If I don't have a specific topic or subject for a post, what's the point in writing one? What will it even be about?

I figured enough time has passed. I'm just going to write and see what comes out of it.

The summer has been a hot one. I work in a special education program, with kids who are between the ages of 16-19, but have very limited function. It's very different than my work during the year, where I work with students  in grades 4-6 who function near to grade level but need social and behavioral support. At times, my job in the summer feels more like babysitting than teaching. Sometimes, I'm asked why I do it? Why work with these kids? Why do this job? And, most importantly, is this what I want to do as a full-time job, is this the career I want to go into?

I have been wrestling with these questions for awhile now. Do I stick with the english-teaching or go into special education? Special education seems like it would provide more opportunities. Either way, I must go to grad-school, spending time and money I don't have for possible future employment. So again, I return to the question: Is special education the career I want to go into?

The answer is yes. As infuriating as it can be at times, I enjoy my job. I enjoy the students. Every one is unique and fantastic in their own way. Every day is different, every day presents new challenges in helping students understand skills and knowledge they need to live a successful life. Yes, students can be aggravating, but they can also be great. The moment when a student finally understands an idea is an incredible moment. And you helped them do it. It's a great feeling.

I want to do this. I want to go to work everyday thinking about how I'm going to teach these students what they need to know, I want to be worrying about the best way to handle students' various situations. I know there will be paperwork. I know some days will drag on and other days it will feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall but tell me a job where it never feels like that. Setbacks, disappointments, and irritation happens in every job, every day. I don't care. This is what I want.

So I need to go back to school. Take classes again, take out more loans and spend free time learning. That's okay. Improving oneself, improving one's education is a good thing. I've always enjoyed learning new things. I'm somewhat excited to go back to school, despite the time/money commitment. At least I will be back on track, instead of feeling stuck where I am.

Man, it feels good to say that. I hadn't really committed to it, until now. Writing can do that. You can start off writing about something and realize you want to say something else, realize you've already made a decision to a question you had in your mind.

If you are stuck with a choice, and you don't know what to do, try writing about it. Write out your thoughts, your hopes, your worries. It might help. Writing organizes your mind, it focuses you.

Finally, a blog post written. I will try to write them more often, even when I think I have nothing to say.  Remember, write first, ask questions later.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Writer Writes

A writer writes. Pretty simple, right? If you write, you are a writer, if you don't, you're not.

I'm bad at writing. I don't mean my writing is terrible to read,(sometimes it is), or that I'm awful at the craft of writing (such as grammar, structure, voice, style, etc.). I mean that I am bad at actually writing things. I'm terrible at putting pen to paper or words on the screen.

Free time is my enemy. I long for it and then have no idea what to do when I have it. I think about everything I could do, all the possibilities and they overwhelm me to the point where I sit on the couch, just thinking. I psyche myself out. I ask myself: Which project do I work on? What should I do? Edit a novel that may never be good enough? Start a new story or continue one that I'll never get around to finishing? A blog post that will be read by few?

I plan on writing. All through the week, I tell myself, this time, this weekend, I'm going to write for four hours, or 10,000 words, edit this many pages, do this and that, not to mention the other thing. What happens to these plans come Saturday morning? They fade away like fog on a summer day. I stare at my screen, lacking motivation to make a decision and click on something. Weak, pathetic. It's silly and stupid, childish even.

My plans may have been overblown. I overestimated my willpower, my drive. I need to set a limit, time or words to write, a goal for Saturday and Sunday. An easy goal that I can succeed at time and time again, giving me confidence until it's routine. Then I can increase the goal.

One hour of writing on the weekend. Sixty minutes, nonstop, either editing or writing. I will set a timer and until that timer goes off, I can do nothing but edit or write. No internet surfing, no video-game playing or tv watching. Nothing but writing. A writer writes. Lately, I haven't been much of a writer, but I want to change that.

A writer writes. To be honest, at least for myself, I would like to change that saying. A writer writes regularly. If you jot down one story three years ago and haven't written since, you're not a writer, in my mind. But if you jot down even just one sentence a week? You're a writer. I want to be a writer.

60 minutes over the weekend. Easy, right? Pathetic, really. I know it's not much but it's a start, and starting is the hardest part of any project. I need to write first and put my thoughts on hold, my fears of never being published, being good enough, feelings that what I'm doing is ultimately pointless...Those are lies told by fear, excuses not to do something I enjoy. It's silly to excuse myself from doing something I enjoy. I need to get over it.

It's like running or going to the gym. I always feel good afterwards. It's getting the motivation to do it in the first place, to get your butt of the couch and act. That's the hard part.

I've made excuses long enough. Time to start writing.