Words and Concepts for the Year

Blog, Journals, The Morning Muse

The Morning Muse #11 ~

HEALTHIER

39af999789653d574af1992d879db104Some things have to change for a better state of living for me, personally, as well as for my family. That can best be achieved starting with nutrition and diet. I need a low-carb diet (and really, lowered calories as well). It’s very hard to stay on this course when the people you live with–these enablers!–refuse to either get with the program or stick with it when we embrace it.  I may have to simply lone-wolf it myself. That’s so much easier said than done, of course. Hey, I’ve jogged a couple times in the last few weeks. And I didn’t die.

CONSOLIDATE

That concept has been on my mind quite a bit this past week. Given how scattered I tend to be mentally/creatively/productively, I think that has to be a condition of great concern and goal. Also:

EFFICIENCY

Yeah, that’s really important and goes along well with consolidation. You could probably add PRODUCTIVITY to that, but that’s a given (can’t achieve efficiency if you’re not even productive). And naturally, those two should lead to:

FOCUS

focus-on-your-dreamsYeah, that’s a biggie and the hardest to obtain, which is probably why it’s next to last on this list. Creatively I have the attention span of a squirrel on speed on a grassy knoll full of acorns. My mind never stops generating new ideas, usually ideas that have little to do with the current project on which I’m focused at a given moment. It’s madness.

Also, I tend to be a bit of a seasonal kind of person. I’m usually most creative in Spring and Autumn, so perhaps as Summer wanes into the Fall (and the kids have gone back to school and the days become cold and dark) I’ll be at point where I’ll be able to focus more on whatever the Spring and Summer months have undoubtedly inspired in me creatively.

ACHIEVEMENT

This relies on and becomes the sum total of the four preceding it. Inherent in this word is the concept of SUCCESS. If I can manage to be successful with any or all of the above, then achievement is the ribbon, the trophy, the medal.

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HEALTHIER | CONSOLIDATE | EFFICIENCY | FOCUS | ACHIEVEMENT

Just five words. Just five goals. Sounds easy enough.

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In Full Swing in Spring (it seems)

Blog, Journals, Lifebook, Update

~ Lifebook #17 ~

Spring always brings turbulent weather and this year’s season of renewal has been no exception. A monsoon season in both April and May? C’mon, now, that’s going a bit overboard. May is usually my favorite month of the year because of a few reasons, such as it being a period of time (usually) beyond extreme weather, a time of moderate temperatures (usually), the flowers are in full bloom and the NBA Playoffs are happening. It’s arguable that May, along with October, is the most beautiful month of the year. I do like beautiful things.

This Spring brings things that seem to represent my getting back into the swing of things. To wit:

  • Started a new job recently, effectively returning me to the mortgage business. The new position comes with my highest salary yet. That’s kind of the idea as you progress through your working life, whether transitioning to a new industry or remaining in the same one. It’s rare that your cost of living decreases over time in this society, so continued growth in earnings is just what the accountant ordered. Now . . . if I could just get used to working 8-to-5, meaning having to go to bed no later than 1 AM . . .

  • Recently rekindled my burgeoning creative partnership with my old writer friend Jennifer Macaire. We’ve been kicking around the idea of co-writing a book or small series of books (likely a trilogy) the past two years and that’s still the plan. After presenting her with an idea for a different approach to a collaborative novel experiment, she has tasked me with the initial conception of our project, which, funnily, was the opposite of what I wanted to do. But I’m glad she did because I got started on it (tentative codename: Project Seven) right away that Friday and have conceived what I think could be a very interesting YA urban fantasy series. The brainstorming sessions I had last weekend also got my creative juices finally flowing on an older idea (codename: Project Arcana) that I’ve kicked around in my noggin probably since Moses reportedly parted the Red Sea. So it’s good to be back in a creative and productive state of mind and I can’t thank Jennifer “Sneezy J” Macaire enough for indulging and inspiring me to get the ball rolling.

  • The band has been about as active this year so far as we were in all of 2016.  A month or so ago we put the finishing touches on our initial 5-song EP (although we still need to mix it, master it and release it). There are rumblings of finally returning to the stage by this summer, but as I’ve learned in the 2.5 years of this band’s existence, I need to curb my expectations, if not my goals for it altogether. We’ve only played one show (in January 2016) and written eight songs in all that time. Yes, we are men in our 40s, all four of us married, three of us with kids and jobs, so naturally a band at this point in our lives is going to be a part-time venture. One would be foolish to think that what we did in our youth and 20-something years as musicians could ever be replicated now. The dedication of time, hell, the availability of time for guys not far from middle-age just isn’t there. It can’t be. And that’s a hard, inconvenient truth I had to come to grips with in 2016. For now I’m happy to ride the wave as it comes (and goes).

 

Brother, Can You Spare Some Prose?

Authors, Blog, Journals, Notebook, Writing

~ Notebook #11 ~

When you’re looking to reincorporate lean muscle to your prose and you turn to the maestros of the minimalist, clean, no frills, straight-to-the-point (and straight-to-the-heart) narrative technique. I have a tendency in daily speech and writing to use a lot of complex sentences (and parenthetical asides) and when I’m not mindful of it, I tend to let that creep into my prose, especially when I’ve not been writing fiction narratives for a good while (an obvious drawback to mostly writing in a nonfiction capacity daily for so many years now).

I’ve been reading both Elmore Leonard and Bob Thurber since the late 90s (starting with Thurber at an online workshop just prior to his entering award-winning publishing success). Both of these authors cite Ernest Hemingway as a major influence on them. Only makes sense that I finally dig deeper into the guy at the top of this literary family tree I’ve adopted, so I hit up my local public library for Mr. Hemingway’s collection, and since I don’t (for some odd reason) own Mr. Leonard’s collection, I grabbed that too.

On my bookshelf I already have a few novels of Mr. Leonard, and naturally I have a personally signed copy of Mr. Thurber’s dysfunctional novel, Paperboy. On my hard drive I have a couple of Mr. Thurber’s collections of short stories, most of which are micro and flash fictions — hence the reason I dubbed him the Maestro of Microfiction over a decade ago, also because he writes with absolutely no fat in his narrative prose — it’s lean with only the most essential nutritional literary ingredients.

If I’m going to attempt to finally re-engage myself in pantser writing, and writing actual first drafts again with little regard to upfront editing (I’m an obsessive on-the-go editor), then I will need to help curb that OCD tendency by writing as plainly and as succinct as possible. Taking a refresher course with these three professors will help immensely.

Who are some of the writers you turn to when you’re needing to recharge your batteries?

A Perfect Date

Blog, Books, Daybook, Journals

~ Daybook #10 ~

The wife and I had a rare night out sans children last night and what we had to show for it was a nice Mexican dinner (with dessert — fried ice cream) at a place we’d never been to before, and the other thing we had to show for our evening was an armful of books because as bookworms our evening consisted of trips to two different bookstores, Half-Price Books and Barnes and Noble. A total of seven books — 3 books for her and 4 for me. Though we definitely should, it might be a good thing that we don’t procure books more often from the bargain bin/clearance and half-price stock, otherwise we’d have fare more than we have space to accommodate. Amid the bargain finds I also finally nabbed Normal, the new novella by my main man Warren Ellis that was originally serialized in 4 parts digitally last summer/autumn.

At any rate, according to my better half, this was the perfect kind of date, dinner and books. I owe her a margarita next weekend, though.

In Lieu of Flowers on Valentine’s Day

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

~ Lifebook #16 ~

Some guys go for the flowers and chocolates. Me, I get my wife, who is an avid reader, books on the major holidays. The reasons are obvious, but also because they last longer than candy and flowers. Healthier too. The permanence of books can represent the longevity and permanence of a relationship. Remember that, fellas. And you’re welcome 🙂

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P.S. Of course you later follow it up with a nice dinner out and some fun and games at Dave and Busters 😉

Bibliophilic Bookworm

Blog, Journals, Notebook

~ Notebook #10 ~

bibliophile – a person who loves or collects books.

bookworm – a person devoted to reading or studying.

Guilty as charged. When you can swoon at the olfactory interaction of books–burying your nose in them to inhale their great scent–then you (I) might have a book-loving problem. I can’t get enough of them. I also can’t read them fast enough. I’m a bit of a collector–not quite a hoarder, but I do: 1 — prefer to have things in a physical, tactile form, and 2 – physically keep the things I like. I’m that person who would, if he could (and maybe someday) line a room in his home with nothing but bookshelves filled end-to-end with books, a collection of mostly yet-to-read books. Nothing represents potential quite like an unread book (just like an unfilled, blank page).

And of course this all naturally extends to what I like to call my Comic Book Fetish as well.

Speaking of comics, I saw this the other day (ignore the 2015 date — there’s no expiration on this kind of initiative for literacy).

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You can even support this initiative annually without spending a dime when you participate in Free Comic Book Day, every year on the first Saturday of May. This year it’s on May 6th. It should be a national holiday.

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I Nearly Died a Year Ago Today

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

~ Lifebook #15 ~

Well, not quite (however, June 1st, 2013 was a different story), but, let’s just say I was lucky to survive this event relatively unscathed a year ago today.

So I was involved in a car wreck on my way home around 6:30 PM on February 2nd, 2016. The 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan I’d been riving at the time was rear-ended by an elderly fella who seemed a bit out of it (onset of dementia, I suspect). I was at a stop light, perhaps 4 cars back when BAM! My world was jolted, jostled, rattled, rocked – whatever synonym you want to use. I was unharmed, miraculously, I suppose because he obviously wasn’t going too fast, but unfortunately/fortunately the rear of the car took the brunt of the impact and the collision forced my car into the SUV ahead of me, hardly even damaging it, yet crunching the frontend of my car pretty good. Long ordeal short, my car wound up being totaled (the estimator got up to $10k in damage and knew another $5k was likely and thus I got a call from an adjuster and was happy to’ve had GAP insurance as well).

Here’s a look at that smashed backend.

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However, this unfortunate event eventually lead to the acquisition of the car I drive now, the black 2016 Honda Civic EX sedan on the right. Third new black car in a row. I wanted dark gray but they could not find me one with dark interior.

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I often complain about my having bad luck (it’s probably not as bad as I’d like to think), but this is a situation where bad luck had a direct through-line to good luck. Not the stuff you can quite capture in a bottle or duplicate, but I am grateful for the random occurrences when they arrive.