Archive for 2019 Writing Journal

Lucky

It was my birthday recently. At my age, you don’t really celebrate birthdays like you used to, especially those middle years between decade markers. So for my birthday, my family got chocolate cupcakes and ice cream.

My five-year-old had eaten his cupcake – or at least the frosting from the cupcake – and was working on his small bowl of ice cream. I asked him, “Is your ice cream good?” He licked his lips and gave me an enthusiastic head nod, “Yeah!” A moment later, he turned back to me and said, “Daddy, tonight we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. We are so lucky!”

And you know what? He was right.

We are lucky. Not just because we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. But because I made it another year with my family, who, in the big scheme of things, is doing ok.

We don’t have everything we want in life.

We have two used cars that we’re still paying for, both in desperate need of an oil change and a tune-up.

We occasionally find that our pantry isn’t as well stocked as we’d like it to be when there are still a few days before payday and not nearly enough money in the bank. We don’t go hungry, but there are quite a few nights where the entire family has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

My wife has a few small health issues, like asthma, and she and I could both stand to lose a few more pounds. Unfortunately, my son has inherited my dental problems, he’s got an issue with milk proteins, and his skin dries out faster than a fish tank in the Sahara, but he’s otherwise rambunctious and a joy to be around. My daughter likes chocolate milk a little more than I’m comfortable with, and she eats the same four things every day, but she’s smart, active, and creative.

We haven’t been to Disney World or Land. We don’t take weekend road trips to museums or state parks. My kids have never been on a plane.

We rent movies once they hit DVD or check them out from the library instead of going to the theater. We use the library or scour thrift store bookshelves for bestsellers to read. We have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime, but we borrow logins from friends and family for the more exclusive cable channels.

We sometimes have to charge gas or groceries.

We rarely go out to eat at a restaurant.

We don’t have a dishwasher, so some nights I’ll spend two or three hours doing everything by hand.

Most of my clothes come from thrift stores, though I do splurge for the $12 jeans from Costco once every couple of years. I’ve had some of my work shirts for going on a decade. My work shoes were purchased from a Goodwill for $5.

Most of our kid’s toys come from thrift stores, assuming they don’t have too many missing pieces. When we spoil them, they get a new $3 toy from Target. We only buy larger new toys around Christmas or birthdays, which we have to start saving for months in advance.

My job is fairly stable and secure, but my health premiums keep going up just enough every year that my annual raise barely covers the price hike.

I’m still paying on my student loans.

But we have enough. It’s not everything we want or sometimes even need. But we have enough.

We have clothes on our backs. We have a roof over our head (even if we are rapidly outgrowing the house that we rent). We have never had to skip a meal.

We entertain ourselves by going to the mall and wandering through the stores, looking at things we can’t buy. We go to thrift stores to find cheap trinkets that bring us temporary happiness. We take walks in local parks when the weather allows. We draw. We play board games that we’ve mostly bought from thrift stores, so we’ll use buttons to replace the missing game pieces. We sing in the car. We try to do the occasional movie night at home, complete with microwave butter popcorn.

We laugh at lot in our house. No one hits anyone else. No one is afraid. No one is dying from an incurable disease. No one drinks too much. No one shoots or smokes anything. We encourage one another to do our best. We rarely have to raise our voices. Disagreements are often solved with the flip of a coin or a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

So, yes, we are lucky, my boy. Not just because we had cake and ice cream with M&Ms in it. But because we have each other.

Sicko

I’ve been doing really well on my writing goal for 2019, but last night was my first stumble. During work yesterday, I started getting a sinus headache and a slightly stuffed-up nose. I was doing ok until about 7:00, when everything came to a head (literally and figuratively). I wound up taking a 90-minute nap around 8:00, woke up, made my chicken for the next day’s meals, and then pretty much went back to bed. So I didn’t get a chance to write at all. So, one day out of 15 that I’ve had to miss; I’ll take it.

With that being said, I’ve decided that I’m going to get back to my kid’s horror novella soon. I was reading through it Monday and seeing it with fresh eyes after a couple of years away made me realize that I’m pretty happy with some of what I’d written. I got about 2/3 of the way through the first draft when I got hobbled by Second Draft Paralysis, where I think of all the things I want to do in the second draft, so I stop writing the first draft, and yet going back and rewriting to the point I stopped is daunting, so the project just sits there instead. Now, though, rather than plow ahead and finish this first draft that I know I’m going to drastically overhaul, I think I’m going to start back at the beginning and integrate some of those changes before plowing through and finishing the story, creating a sort of draft v1.5. I’m sure I’ll do another couple of passes before I’d call it finished, but I think that makes the most sense for now.

I’m also still working on my movie review, so look for that soon as well.

Slowly, but surely

To answer your question: Yes, I have been writing. I haven’t updated the site over the last few days, but I have been working on a few things.

The main thing I’m writing is an analysis of a movie I recently watched for the first time in over a decade. No spoilers, of course, but it’s been a lot of fun to work on this piece, so I look forward to revealing it here soon.

While it’s not writing, I have also been working on my latest read-along record book project. The first page is locked and I’m starting on the second one right now. I’m really happy with the results so far!

My main goal right now is to get a story idea picked out for DSRP. I want to have something in mind that I can either start outlining ASAP or be ready to outline, because I’m leaving on a work-trip in February. This means I’ll have quite a bit of time hanging out in airports and hotel rooms by myself, so I might as well be writing a story. I guess if nothing else, I can bring along the kids’ novel I worked on 2 or 3 years ago and finally get through that first draft. I have a ton of changes already in mind for the second draft, but I need to just finish the initial vomiting so I can start tweaking it.

Well, it’s getting pretty late and we have a big day tomorrow, so I’d better hit the sack. Look for that movie analysis sometime this coming week!

First Weekend Down!

I didn’t update last night because I was watching Minding the Gap, a film I thoroughly enjoyed, until after 1:00am. However, I did write yesterday, though only a few notes about the long-gestating series I’m working on. By the way, for brevity’s sake, that series is called “DSRP”. Now, what that is and what that means is impossible for you to know, but it will be a lot easier for me to say, “only a few notes about DSRP” instead of “only a few notes about that long-gestating series I’m working on”.

Anyway, my thoughts were about the end of the series. I’ve had a few ideas before about how I wanted things to end, but for whatever reason I had a moment of clarity yesterday and I got into some of the details. Tonight, I really got to the nitty-gritty and actually wrote a synopsis of the last page of the series. Now I just need to figure out all the stuff in between, I guess. But sometimes it helps to work backwards. Oddly enough, it feels like I have a better path mapped out now, knowing how it will all end. Interesting.

I’m hoping to finalize my first story soon. It’s a weird thing, writing a series, because I have a general outline of major story beats that I want to have happen during the run, but I don’t specifically say, “This event happens in book 3.” It’s more like, at some point, I want to get to this storyline, but it’ll be a while. Honestly, the first story that I write, might not even be the first chapter in the series. I might find that it fits better as the second or fourth or even tenth story, so I’ll make adjustments to the story to make it fit in continuity, but I’m writing what makes me excited right now, not necessarily getting bogged down in, “Is this the best way to introduce the characters?” details. I’ll work all that out soon enough.

I also got all my narration recorded yesterday for my latest read-along record book. I’m really happy with what I have. I decided to go with a more lively style this time out, as opposed to the more monotone and serious personality I put on for The Thing. I hope it works. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m stuck right now on that project because I need to simulate something, but I can’t seem to find the right audio file(s) for it. It’s not really something I can make on my own, so it’s kind of difficult. I need to keep looking, but so far I’m just not finding the right sound. Unfortunately, I like to do these in chronological order, because you never know when a music cue or sound effect might work from one page to the next, so it’s hard to maintain that consistency if you’re jumping around from page to page. So I have to find this audio asset before I can move on. Wish me luck!

Well, that’s it for the night. I’m going to get to bed early (for me) so I can be fresh for tomorrow. Thanks for checking in!

Recording Tomorrow

For tonight, this is my writing. Hey, I said every once in a while this is what it would be and that it counts.

Instead of writing, I wound up watching a movie with my daughter (Alpha, your typical, run of the mill Ice Age boy-and-his-wolf story), and then my wife and I talked work outs, finances, plans for the next week or so, and, of course, sharing posts with each other from Instagram, Reddit, Imgur, or Twitter. And they say romance is dead…

I’m excited because tomorrow I’m going to record the narration for my next read-along record book project. I listened to a little bit of The Thing today to think about how I want to do the narration this time. For The Thing, I intentionally tried to sound a bit monotone and serious, because it seemed to fit with the tone of the story. For this next one, I might try to spice it up a little, but it’s still a pretty dark story, so I can’t go too bright and cheery. We’ll see how I feel once I get going.

I thought about mine and my daughter’s Hellboy sequel a little bit tonight, too. I jotted down a few ideas that might help us get started in the outlining phase – mainly just an opening scene that will help introduce the characters and the current situation Ol’ Red and Liz find themselves in. I’d like to start working on that pretty soon.

Well, I think I’m going to close for the night in order to read a little more of that kid’s book I checked out from the library. The book, by the way, is called Forgotten City, by Michael Ford. This story is post-apocalyptic, which my story is not, but I’m hoping it deals with some darker ideas than you’re used to seeing in a typical kid’s book. I did already learn that you can say “smart ass” in a book for “middle grade” kids, so that helps me know where some of my boundaries lie.

Good night for now. Hopefully I’ll have some good news about my recording tomorrow.