Welcome to the first IWSG blog hop of 2018. Check us out and sign up here.
We also have a great Facebook group and a very active Twitter feed, so do yourself a favor and join the fun.
I’ve always struggled with the concept of new year resolutions. Not because I don’t like setting goals or pondering what I’d like to accomplish over a given time period, but because of the arbitrary nature of selecting one particular day just because of when it occurs on the calendar. If I set a goal, it is because I want to achieve something, change something about myself, and while I would never begrudge someone for choosing to start some project, path, etc on New Year’s Day (seriously, good for anyone who works to improve themselves in any way regardless of when they decide to start), I get a bit put off by all the fuss.
Now, after writing that arrogant paragraph, I will follow up by saying that I have made all sorts of writing goals for myself in 2018 (my hypocrisy knows few bounds). Starting of, I will be participating in the IWSG Twitter Pitch party on January 18th. I am hopeful, but realistic once again. I don’t know anyone who has had much success with pitch parties, but I am always willing to participate. If you happen to have a grand story, please share it with me.
Sometime in the next few months, I also plan to self publish a novella titled “From Water”. The process may take longer than I expect, so please don’t hold me to that few months deadline. Also, I have submission goals for the year as well (numbers and whatnot, but I think I’ll keep those to myself). I plan to query agents, submit stories, be as aggressive as possible.
The interesting part to me is I’ve made most of these goals before and not followed through. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I feel like this time around will be different. I have my wife fully in my corner, pushing me to get things going, and that means the world. I’ve wasted far too much time planning. It is time for some progress to be made.
As always, I’d love to hear what you’re doing, accomplishing, thinking, planning. Let me know.
Christmas is almost upon us and I honestly don’t have much to say about writing, reading (arithmetic), or tacos.
I do have something interesting (at least to me) to share. If you’ve read this blog much, or know me in the slightest, you know I have a passion for music. I love all sorts of genres and sounds (and am willing to try just about anything. I love suggestions) from the melodic to the chaotic. I also enjoy interacting with musicians, following their social media feeds.
One person in particular, Brian Cook (Botch, These Arms are Snakes, Russian Circles, SUMAC, Mamiffer, and more) runs some very fun and interesting accounts. His Twitter is great, as is his Instagram, but my favorite is his Tumblr page. He answers questions, shares funny photos (often of his ass, so be warned) and is currently posting every record he owns, one at a time. The best part- He has a personal relationship with so many musicians so each entry reads like a band bio. Anyone with an interest in hardcore, punk, metal, post-metal, post rock, indie bands, pretty much anything really, should check it out. He’s only on the letter B so there is a long, long way to go. So many records!
Anyway, I’ve been so engaged in his posts, I’ve decided to join the party and share each and every album I own as well. I won’t have as many crazy stories about musicians, tours across Europe, long hours in a van sharing music with band members, and I will likely be embarrassed by several of the albums in my collection (I’m posting them regardless), but I think it will be a cool experiment.
Also, it is a good way to play records that often get forgotten, which is too many. One could argue that I’ve too much music if that happens, but that person would no longer be my friend if they dared argue that point. I’m cutthroat people. Harsh.
So check it out, follow if you have an Instagram. If you don’t (who are you people), create one. Comment, like, tell me how crazy I am and how having such an eclectic musical palate isn’t a good thing (it is really. You know this).
Thanks to a lovely December temperature inversion, I’ve been spending most of the past week indoors. The air is so toxic and nasty, taking the dog for a 30 minute walk on Monday made my throat hurt for hours after. For both our health, we are putting walks on the shelf until this nastiness clears out.
When too much gunk and moisture get trapped in the valley, dense fog forms, and as it is super cold as well, these lovely layers of hoar frost form on everything. I’d find it beautiful if it hadn’t been created by toxic air.
I’ve lived in the Salt Lake Valley most of my life, and this is the one thing that makes me wish I lived somewhere else. Sometimes these inversions last weeks, and along with the health risks, winter depression settles in. The hours of light are already fewer, and when you add gray skies, bad air, below freezing temperatures, warmer, sunnier days can seem far away indeed.
I usually enjoy winter. And more often than not, it is spectacular here in Utah.
I try to remember that beauty, but it is hard when I’m trapped indoors, experiencing the same day over and over.
So, in an attempt to keep my chin up and talk about more interesting things. I’m presenting this photo of five of my favorite reads from this past year, and—
hoping you fine readers will share your favorites with me.
I wouldn’t really call the following paragraphs reviews. Think of them as reasons I liked and recommend these titles.
I found it nearly impossible to pick a favorite this year, but My Absolute Darling came as close as any. I almost hesitate to recommend it as the subject matter (emotional, physical and sexual abuse) are difficult topics for many, and this book does not shy away or hide the horror. That said, it is an important book, and Gabriel Tallent is a fantastic writer.
History of Wolves vexed me. It is a coming of age story that refuses to fit the mold. It took me several days of pondering to decide if liked the book. Months later I realized I loved it. I’m a sucker for flawed characters, and this book is full of them. The ending left many feeling confused and frustrated, but the ambiguity worked for me. I didn’t need to have everything explained, and the answers I was offered were satisfying.
Good Morning, Midnight is also atypical of its supposed genre. An post Apocalyptic novel that ignored many tropes. Themes of regret, loneliness, ambition, loss, redemption are beautifully explored. I highly recommend this one. Also, it made me cry three tears.
The Nix surprised me over and over. Nathan Hill weaves a very compelling story about a son trying to understand his estranged mother. I laughed out loud several times, felt disgust and sadness, and found myself completely wrapped up in events. Again, this book is filled with awesomely flawed characters who might get it right in the end, but maybe not.
American War offers a glimpse of a very likely future for the United States- A second civil war. Omar El Akkad gives striking insight into how someone becomes indoctrinated, and how quickly that indoctrination can lead to extremism and horrible acts of violence.
Don’t forget, I want to know your favorites as well.
The first Wednesday of the month is IWSG blog hop Wednesday.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
You know the drill. Check us out and sign up here!
The optional question for this month is- As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
One of the things I’ve tried to do over the last few decades is not dwell on my past. I spent most of my 20’s convinced that the best time of my life had already come and gone. Of course living in the past, wishing, longing, wondering ensures you’ll likely miss out on most of the awesomeness of your current life.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. Being 25 was the worst year of my life. I felt stagnant, and very unaccomplished. I was years away from graduating from college, which of course felt years away from being settled in a career. Most of my friends (and my wife) were well ahead of where I was, and I was sure my life were slipping away and there was little I could do to change it. I needed to somehow slow down, gain perspective. So, on my 26th birthday, I told a little lie. If anyone asked how old I was, I said 27. I told that story enough that after a few months, I actually believed I was 27.
It might seem counter productive, pretending to be older, but it had an amazing effect on my mental state. What day or month it was mattered less and less and focusing on the good things in my life became easier. I was 27 for two years, and by the time I turned 28, I was less consumed by regret and anguish over things I could never relive or change.
I’ve tried to hold onto that perspective as I’ve aged. I keep in mind that each choice alters my life, what I do, who I meet, and where I end up. And I usually like where I end up. So as for last year, I am perfectly okay with how everything played out. There isn’t anything I would do differently. Sure, It would be great if I’d written more, been more diligent in searching for an agent, or submitting stories and poetry, but I still have time to do those things. I will try and use this past year as a learning experience, not as a way to punish my lack of action or be too proud of the things I did accomplish. I can always do better, be better.
What a wonderful concept.
I honestly didn’t realize I’d missed blogging last week until Saturday. I’ll pretend it was because of all the bustle leading up to my family hosting TWO Thanksgiving dinners. Yeah, that’s the reason. I was certainly distracted by the massive list of things I had to do, clean, cook, prepare. When you are about to welcome and feed close to 50 people, the pressure can get to you.
I’ll stick with that. I was too busy.
But really, Thanksgiving was great! We usually host both families, but have one group over on Wednesday night to make things a bit less stressful. That didn’t work out this year, so we decided to have my family over at noon, Sheryl’s at 6. That gave us just enough time to smoke turkeys, make sweet potato casserole, prepare gravy, cook stuffing. We rely on the others for the rest of the food, and they always come through with fantastic pies, sides, rolls.
I’m fortunate to have both parents and all my siblings living near me, and while we get together often, Thanksgiving is still special. I’m also extremely lucky to have fantastic in-laws. I love my wife’s family as if they were my own. They are a huge part of my life and I am thankful for their love and friendship.
I’ve become quite sentimental in my old(er) age. My emotions run closer to the surface, and being in the same room with the people I care most about makes me insanely happy. This year was particularly poignant. Several times I found myself close to tears. I am grateful, thankful, joyful.
And the best part- I get to have all these wonderful people in my house again on the 24th of December for another fantastic evening of food and family. It really is a pretty great life.
Halfway through the NaNo month and I’m already behind. It shouldn’t surprise me as I’ve been hanging out with my wife every day since last Friday. It is easy enough to write and focus when the only distractions are the dog and maybe the urge for an outing to the bookstore, but when your favorite person is home, writing desire goes out the window.
And as today is my birthday (don’t ask, I’m really old), my motivations are low low low. I’ve new music to spin on the turntable and Sugarhouse BBQ is calling my name, begging me to come eat there tonight.
I’ll get it together, I promise. This weekend, I’ll be heading to Cedar City to drop my boys off at SUU for their Red Riot shindig for high school seniors. I’ll have 15 uninterrupted hours to write something clever.
The good news- Writing short stories has been a great idea. I’m sure they will all need loads of work after the month is over, but I honestly enjoy the editing/rewrite process (almost as much as the creating part). Once there is a completed draft to work with, so many interesting possibilities present themselves. I’m hopeful there is a quality manuscript waiting in the jumble of words and images I’ve been throwing together.
How about you fine writers? Any good works flowing from your fingertips?
Hey friends. I’m sorry to have missed last week’s blogging fun, but I have been a bit under the weather. I’m sure you don’t need the details.
The good news is I feel mostly better and am back into the swing of most things. I’ve not been around to comment on all of your lovely blogs, but I hope to use some time today to do so.
On the writing front, NaNo is off and running, and I have chosen to write a collection of unconnected short fiction. So far so good, and I am right on word count to this point. Some of the stories are rewrites of older (often shorter) works, so I’m unsure if this really qualifies as a pure NaNo WIP. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. If some project gets me writing and creating again, that makes me happy.
What surprises me is how different my writing style has become over the last five years, from the way I approach the story, to the overall tone and voice I’m writing with. I will let you know if this is a good or bad thing as the month progresses.
Any of you taking the plunge this year? I’d love to hear about your progress.
Some blah news- As my stories did not score enough points, I will not be continuing on in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest. I’m not surprised. I really didn’t write well for this competition, and was mostly unprepared for the way the assignments were structured. I’m not too discouraged and might even enter the contest again next go around. This is a learning experience, and gosh, I like learning.
As always, I’d love to read your comments and talk some about writing, yours and mine.