Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Blog Awards

I have been a terrible blogger. I have received a number of awards and I have yet to answer to them. This is my awards post. Two of these awards ask you to talk about yourself a bit. This is something I'm terrible at due to my introverted personality, but I'll accept the challenge.

First I want to thank the wonderful bloggers that took the time to visit and give me the honor of these awards. Here are the links to these wonderful people. They are people to follow if you don't already.

From farawayeyes at Far Away Series

From Jennifer at A Creative Exercise
From Andrea Teagan at The Enchanted Writer
From Paige Lollie at The Dream Words

From Jeff Hargett at Strands of Pattern
From the Versatile Blogger Award: 7 Random Things About Me
  • I'm a terrible golfer, but I'm better than those I play with, therefore I like it. I only play three or four times a year. 
  • I became a vegetarian four years ago because my wife and son were vegetarians. Now I am grossed out by the thought of eating flesh. I don't miss eating meat. 
  • I miss grilling meat in the backyard. Grilling vegetables or mushrooms does not satisfy my need to seer a steak or pork loin. That I do miss. 
  • I coached middle school football for 7 years. As of last year I've officially resigned. I'm kind of sad about it, but am looking forward to having fall afternoons back. 
  • I never played any kind of organized sports growing up, my mother would not allow it; she claimed I could get injured and was not worth the risk. 
  • When I was in 5th grade I really wanted to play the trumpet, but my parents said they couldn't afford the instrument. They then paid for four years of karate lessons, belts, tests, etc. for my younger brother. It took me a long time to get over that. Now I just strum the same four chords on my guitar over and over. I regret never having taken my own lessons later in life. 
  • I think kids are hilarious. I wish more adults were child like. 
From the Fabulous Blog Ribbon:5 of your most fabulous moments
  • When I married my wife: The whole night went so fast. The moment that sticks out from that night is when my wife and I left the reception hall to get some wine from the bar (which was outside). Everyone was inside and we were outside. It was nice to get away from the whirlwind that was the gathering of family and friends. It foreshadowed our honeymoon nicely. 
  • Our honeymoon in Costa Rica: The mountains, the waterfalls, the hotsprings, the beach, the whole week was amazing. My favorite moment was sitting at the pool that overlooked the pacific ocean and smoking a Cuban cigar as my wife swam in the pool. Never since have I felt such relaxation. 
  • The birth of my first son: You can read about it in my Father's Day post, but one moment I remember was from the room they took me and my son to in order to bathe him. I remember him holding my pinkie finger as he slept. I remember looking around at the other terrified fathers in the room, each of us knowing that feeling of wonderment. 
  • When my first son met my second son: I remember coming to get him from the waiting room. There he sat with his grandparents. He had a gift in his lap for his brother. I'm so glad I have a video of it. 
  • Finishing my Z story for the A to Z Challenge. I didn't know what to expect when I started my A story, but when I finished the Z story and published it, I was amazed that I did it. I now know that I am capable of much more creativity than I first thought. 
5 things I love:
  • my wife and sons 
  • free time 
  • staying up late 
  • sleeping in 
  • the smell of the beach 
5 things I hate:
  • mean and inconsiderate people. 
  • when things don't work the way they are supposed to 
  • when people think they are better than others 
  • constraints on life due to monetary matters 
  • the 24 hour day, it needs to be 36 hours long. 
With all of these awards I am supposed to post the rules then pass them along to other people (anywhere from 5 to 20 people). I can't do it. First, I would have to dig around to find out if certain bloggers have gotten these yet. I know, I'm a terrible person. Second, most of the blogs I visit already have these awards. I know the purpose is to link to knew blogs and get to know new people. I just prefer doing it in the context of reading comments on blogs I already follow, or withing blogfests or flash fiction contests.

How bad is this? If any more experience bloggers out there know if this is like breaking one of the Ten Blogging Commandments (or like farting inside a blanket fort), please let me know and I'll do the due diligence and start excavating. If it's like not passing along a chain letter, and I should expect my pets to die, then I'm willing to take that chance.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

On this Father's Day, I remember the birth of my first son. An amazing moment that will forever be cemented in my mind, along with the strength and bravery of my wife (but that's another post). I'll also try to relate it to my growth as a writer.

After I was reminded by the nurse to take some photos. I cut the umbilical cord. It was much tougher to cut than expected. I looked at my son and back at my wife. This little bundle of flesh was completely and totally dependent on us as parents. I never imagined loving anything as much as I cared for this little human being. The feeling of love was immediate, intense, and overwhelming. It was a feeling that was incomprehensible before that point in time, and at the fear of being cliche, it's beyond words.

The nurse whisked him away and placed him on a scale. Again she reminded me to take pictures. He was screaming his little heart out. His eyes were open as his little arms and legs swam through the air. I imagine he was trying to make sense of this tidal change in the world as he knew it. For nine months he got used to a warm and quiet space that slowly became more cramped. All of a sudden he's in this new universe. His eyes opened to new colors, shapes and bright lights. His hearing no longer muffled by his mother's flesh and fluid. His skin was enveloped by the cold dry air of the hospital room. How anyone survives this traumatic event and goes on to live a productive life is beyond me.

The nurse placed him under a heater. I put my pinkie finger in his hand, which he closed by reflex. There he was naked and alone. Separated by this chasm of space between him and the woman that carried him for nine months. Between screams, his little lungs filled his chest cavity with the cold dry air. His mouth was open, his tongue and neck vibrated as he screamed louder than I had ever heard anyone scream. The nurse tags him and wraps him in a blanket. And takes him to his mother.

Though the nurse worked quickly, that moment took entirely too long. So long that I had enough time to contemplate the mixture of emotions that forced the tears that flowed down my face. I loved this child so much that I wanted to protect him from anything that could harm him. And yet, there he lay alone. He was scared, crying and cold, and I couldn't make it stop. As the nurse worked, I couldn't take his fear away and I couldn't change that which was the cause of his discomfort. It terrified me. I had never felt that  helpless, and no moment in my life since has come close to that feeling of sheer ineptitude. This boy would rely on us to guide him to adulthood and I couldn't help him in that specific moment in time.

That moment passed and it got better. I still cringe every time the cold mean world hurts him. Though no where near as intense, that moment returned when he fell down stairs and split the skin on his forehead open. He yelled from the pain as blood gushed down his face. It returned when I accidentally dropped my coffee and it squirted into his eye. "Daddy, my eye," he yelled. When at the playground, some inconsiderate child rips a toy from his hands, taking some of his joy with it. Yes, given time I can comfort him, fix his wounds, and in the end make it better, but there's this singular moment that exists where I am that helpless new father again.

That moment passes. These cruel world slaps to his face and ego are learning opportunities. Sheltering him would not be helping him. That's a lesson I had to learn, even as I still cringe when the cold hand of reality rears its ugly head at my child.

In my writing, I need to just let it out into the cold cruel world. I have to shut down my inner editor and just let the story and words flow. I can't help it in that moment in time. I need to let it cry, breathe, and experience existence. There is always time after that moment to make things better.

By the way, my second son hardly cried when he was born. One two to four seconds and he was done.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Training for the Novel Marathon

There was a stint in my life where I got into running to get fit. At my peak I was running five miles every other day. In the last five years, I've seen some very strong people around me that have taken to marathon and half-marathon training, and finished it. Just from my half-a-year stint in running around my neighborhood, I can honestly say that these people are amazing.

In May, I reached 40,000 words on my novel. It's not anywhere near the quality I expect it to be at. The tension, and characters, and the world are not fully fleshed out. That doesn't bother me, as they say writing is rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. It is in it's early stages. But I realized something the other day. I was trying to run the equivalent of a literary marathon, without having trained for it. If I started running a marathon tomorrow, I would fail miserably at mile six, without a doubt. I could probably walk the rest of the way if my legs didn't fully give out.

In April, I wrote 26 flash fiction pieces (500-1000 words each). That helped me greatly get my form down. It helped me see and fix technical errors in grammar, narration, point-of-view and scene making. Yet, I wouldn't go do a couple (or 26)  100 meter dashes and then expect to run a whole marathon. A novel is a different beast entirely. I like the world and cultures I am creating, and am amazed it's all coming from my imagination. But, like a runner training for a marathon, I have to hone my story telling and characterization before I can fully give my debut novel the proper treatment. Therefore I'm trying a new approach.

My current project is a couple of short stories to help me get my story telling chops in order and to fill in some background information for my planet. I doubt they will ever see the light of day. It really depends on the quality that comes out. And being my first true run outside the short sprints that were flash fiction, I expect this to be a great learning experience--much like the April A to Z challenge proved to be.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What Inspires You?

The first Monday of every month, I've decided (just now) will be Inspirational Monday. I will post something that inspires me to keep writing, or to try something new. A story, an image, a person, anything really that lifted my overall mood and spirit as a writer. Following is a quote from Ira Glass, the great NPR host and producer of This American Life. He wasn't speaking specifically about writing fiction when he said this, but I feel this applies to anyone who sticks with their creative endeavors. (This poster is from Amanda at the Audacity of Color.)

To be sure, I haven't paid my due diligence to the writing gods, but I have faith that if I put forth the effort, do the work, and above all never give up, I will "close the gap" as he says. And this is not blind faith. From my other creative profession (my day job), I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it took at least two years before I felt like I had any clue what I was doing.

What inspires me to keep going is faith that it will get better. So what inspires you to keep going?

The first Monday of every moth is Inspirational Monday, join me in posting something that inspires you to keep going.