Saturday, February 29, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 29

Today is the last day of February, a truly magical day (again, why is this not a major holiday?  Even if that asshole used it as an excuse to go golfing, someone should recognize how special it is).  It's also the last day I am obligated to write and do this blog post.

I'm going to try to use it well.

I went to the library much earlier than I usually do (my nephew does have a basketball game today, but not until eight pm, if that can be believed), and I'm going to do what I can with the stories-in-progress, and also to prepare for March, where I'll be producing the second Lara and the Witch book for publication.

I was just reading the part where Lara's family is in danger, and only the girl and Mrs. Holcomb are aware of it, and it made me proud, truly proud that I am a writer.  In the same way that a parent can see their toddler walk or make a basket or ride a bicycle or shake her moneymaker on a stripper pole and feel pride that that came out of them.

So, I'm going to spend an hour putting that book all in the correct order, arbitrarily deciding which day's work from 2019 goes when, and then I'll have it to do the final revision of in March.  If it's good, it'll be a joy to perform, and though I've said it before, I find it strange that I wrote a story (about 25,000 words) where all of the major characters (except the villain) are female.  In a way, I shouldn't be allowed to narrate the story myself (he said, raising a huge middle finger as he did so).  I hope it's well-received, when it finally comes out on the stage and that old Destiny's Child song starts playing.

Okay, it took nearly three hours.  I even had to pay to keep using the computer, because I absolutely HAD to get it all done in one sitting, and the worst was the two parallel scenes I had written (one in 2019 and one just this month), which I had to go through, line by line, trying to keep both of their best points, despite one having a gentle tone and one a cruel one.

I had brought one of my notebooks (with a story in it I never put out there, that took place on the outpost the ship was heading to in "Ten Thousand Coffins," and my two works-in-progress, and I started to write on them . . . but the lights started to flash and that startling announcement that the library was closing blasted from all the speakers, and it was time to go.*

But hey, that one is done (only a month after I sat down and recorded the first two chapters), and I can make it a point to get it done in the month of March (which reminds me, Audible has had "The Calling 2" since January 30th and not approved it . . . guess I know what the answer's gonna be, huh?).  Depending on how quiet it is tonight, maybe I'll record a bit on that.

In case my exercising every day was linked to February (like my writing and blogging), I went for one last run.  I've complained (oh, but not nearly enough) about the app I downloaded on The Worst Day Of The Year that would count my steps walking and running, but boy, it really sucks sometimes.  I will occasionally open the app while I am walking, and see that it is not counting my steps, and even though I ran one block farther than I have tonight . . . it claimed I still did not reach my daily goal (and proclaimed that Jews are behind all the wars in the world).

If it ever calls me "Sugartits," I'm uninstalling the app.

I heard a song today I had never heard before.  It was an old Smiths song, and it grabbed me with the first line, "Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head."  I had to track it down, and it was called I Know It's Over from 1986.  It was gloriously sad, like the best Smiths songs were, and at the end, it actually includes this sharp-edged gem:

"Love is natural and real,
But not for you, my love;
Not tonight, my love.
Love is natural and real, 
But not for such as you and I, my love."

There is no way Morrissey's pain in that song hasn't helped a bunch of people who also feel that way over the years.

It made me sit down and record another of those positive messages with the Fake Sean Connery mask on (were you aware I was doing those?  Have I mentioned that before on here?).  Of course, as soon as I recorded it, the Instagram app crashed, and I had to start over.  The second time, I went too long and it said it couldn't be over a minute, so I had to start over.  The third time, Instagram crashed.  The fourth time, I realized I hadn't pulled the mask down, so I had to start over.  The fifth time, everything worked out great . . . except it had only recorded a shadow and my voice--not even a glimmer of Fake Sean's face, despite a light being on in the room.  But the sixth time, well, by then, it was really hard to be as authentic and genuine as I had been the first couple--it started to feel rehearsed and "actory," but I did it again because, by Bossk, if one sad, lonely, upset human being watches it and GETS IT, then it was worth doing.

Sure would be nice to have one of these work out fine the first take, though.

And that's it.  Like I said, February was an enormously productive month, and I'll miss it when it's gone.  I hope you had a very solid twenty-nine days in a row, whether you've been writing or not.  Don't you forget, you are enough.

Let's be enough together.


Words Today: 1650
Words Total: 47,952

*I checked, though, to see if the computer would log me out at the three-minutes-remaining mark, or once the countdown got to zero.  And it worked the way it was supposed to (at zero).  Hmm.

Marshal and I Review "Sword of the Valiant"

You are surely aware of the podcast Marshal Latham and I do about Star Wars, the Delusions of Grandeur podcast. But we also, from time to time, do a show called "Outfield Excursions," where we review a movie either chosen by us or our listeners. In the most recent episode, we talk about SWORD OF THE VALIANT: THE LEGEND OF GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.

It's a dreadful low-budget Fantasy from the early Eighties . . . with a wonderful cast of famous faces, the famousest of those, Sir Sean Connery as the Green Knight.

Oh, Connery is magnificent in his scenes, as usual, and it's a joy to chat about him (and get to re-voice some of his lines later in the show). The movie itself is not worth seeing, but the cast, and a couple of scenes, are certainly worth talking about.

Check it out AT THIS LINK . . .

And know that if you support Marshal Latham's "Journey Into…" channel on Patreon, you can help choose the next film we discuss.  And get the episodes the same year we record them!

Friday, February 28, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 28

This should be my last day doing this, but lucky us, this is a Leap Year.

There should be a huge party every Leap Day, a paid holiday when everybody just enjoys the extra day (and extra paid hours) and spends their day with friends and fireworks and something nice to drink and, I don't know, homemade Gumby and Pokey piƱatas. I simply don't understand why we don't already do that.

So, turns out I hadn't finished that Ben Parks story a couple of days ago. And I hadn't finished it yesterday when I wrote on it. And I don't know if I've finished it now, fleshing out a fun autobiographical part and adding a new, horrible thing for Benny to suffer.*

I'm now 75% sure I'm calling it "A Sidekick's Errand," and I'm 80% sure I'll put it out before "A Sidekick To Miracles," which I wrote in 2018 or so.

Ben never uses a rifle in this story (I guess I could rewrite it), so I don't suppose I'll be able to use this photo I took last summer with my nephew holding my dad's huge old rifle.

Maybe it will work for "Sins of a Sidekick."  Coming in 2028!

Even so, I did what I could at the library today, writing a bit on that, a bit on my meteor story, and a bit on the Little Caesars Pizza story that I finally figured out what I'd do for the b-story on.  Marshal Latham will like it, anyway.

For how long I was at the library, I didn't get nearly as many words as I thought I did.  But anything above, say, five words is pretty good, in my book.

Words Today: 2424
Words In February: 46,302

*In my recent interview episode with Abigail Hilton, Abbie mentioned that audiences love to see characters suffer.  In which case, I really could be even harder on Ben Parks, if I wanted to.  Which I don't.

Frozen Falls Visit Video

You like that alliteration? Stan did.

So, on Sunday, I recorded a bit of video for Gino* and decided to share it with y'all.  Of course, it wouldn't be me if something didn't go wrong, so it's almost a week later that I'm presenting it here.

Maybe I'll do more of these, but I will admit that the Vertical Video Syndrome is still kind of awful to me, so I might have to--gasp!--pick up a Selfie Stick or something.


*You see, Gino lives in bloody Middle Earth, and I thought he might return the favor/favour one day and show me the blossoms in the Pelennor Fields or the famous ski slopes on Mount Doom.  Or the place where Hobbiton used to be, but they razed it to put in a Starbucks and a Forever 21.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 27

Tonight I'm watching my nephews, so for my exercise, I took the two year old with me on my nightly run.  Sometimes I time it just right so the sun is going down when I hit the little hill overlooking the lake and the mountains by where Not-So-Big Anklevich used to live.

Tonight, I was a little bit late, but I still managed to get a couple of coolish pictures.  The child, despite being verifiably Evil (the Arch-Bishop of the local diocese visibly paled and began to dry-heave the one time he examined him), is remarkably photogenic.

I like this one quite a bit
Of course, I might have been at age two myself.  Poor guy.

On a park bench, there were a pair of Sapphic twenty-somethings watching the sunset, one of them with purple hair (silly, don't you know that blue is the warmest color?), and I asked her to take our picture before the sunset was totally gone.

Thanks, ladies!
I also found out that running (or trying to run, in my case) is super-hard with a kid on your shoulders.  My back is still complaining.

And my damned app is still not satisfied.  It's complaining about Zionist plots, and sometimes it doesn't measure steps even when I'm taking them.  I don't know which is worse.

Of course, I was supposed to write today.  I guess that's what this blog is all about.  I took my nephew to his basketball practice, and was wise enough to sit in the car and write for a little bit, and then edit audio until he came out again.  I worked on two stories--adding a similar scene to both of them, where two guys who are not the main characters have conversations.  In the "Errand of a Sidekick" story, I wrote a bit with the sheriff and his deputy just so . . . well, I don't know why I did it.  In the movie version, it'd get cut and end up a deleted scene on the DVD* . . . but I like it for a number of reasons.

Maybe I'll let some of you read the story before I release it, see if there are changes I need to make, and if that scene is one of them.

Regardless, I feel like I did pretty well with my word count before the boy came out of practice again. And it was almost warm enough to write outside today, if I could figure out how to make my screen bright enough to see if the sun is shining.

Words Today: 1,605
Words Total: 43,878

*And I realize I'm dating myself by saying DVD instead of Blu-Ray or digital download or OpticLoad or whatever.  But who else is going to date me?

Storage Unit Serenade 4

Oh, I nearly forgot to post this.

I've done a few of these now (two in the rain, and I still can't decide whether to use them or record new versions sometime).  I also tried doing a WHOLE song, which is more of a challenge, but may, frankly, just be unbearable for people to watch.

But hey, perhaps these all are.

Running Tally
Pre-Eighties Songs: 1
Eighties Songs: 1
Nineties Songs: 1
Aughts Songs:
Teens Songs: 1
What are we in now, the Twenties?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 26

Well, whadda you know?  I finished that Ben Parks story.  I still remember coming up with it while mowing the back lawn at my dad's house (this would've been 2018), and being excited enough that I ran inside and made notes about it before I drove up to my cousin's.

Of course, it's also the same story I considered writing back in 2015, when Big Anklevich first suggested I write a follow-up to "Birth of a Sidekick."  So, that's kind of nice.*  Better late than never?

I saw this on Instagram today, and loved it.  Still do.

After finishing, I figured I had done fine for the day.  But I sat myself down and wrote a few more words on the horror story I started the other day (and hadn't worked on since the 19th).  I got 838 words, and then jotted down a couple ideas for the Little Caesar's story I pitched to Big A. a decade or so ago (and that he remembers more than I do).  It's a story that is missing something, mostly about the dissolution of a friendship, and I can't figure out if there should be a B-story going on at the same time, or if the friendship should be the B-story.  Either way, I'm not ready to write it yet, darn it.

If and when I finish my Horror story (which could be as soon as tomorrow, if I have another crazy writing day in me), maybe I should turn to that one.

There's only a few days left in the month.  Hopefully, March will be productive too.

Words Today: 2,440
Words Total: 42,273

*All I gotta do is format it, read it over again, and take a picture of my nephew wearing a cowboy hat for a cover, and I've got another lil "Sidekick" story I can sell.  Oh, and I've got to title it.  I'm not sure if "A Sidekick's First Mission" is quite what I'm looking for.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 25

Of course today was going to be a step down from yesterday.  But I managed to get a podcast posted, and that's nice.

I've only gotten 258 words done so far.  I meant to go to the library again, but I just ran out of time.  I even had my laptop in the car after I dropped my nephew off at his basketball practice, but before I could sit and write, he called me to come pick him up early.

I feel irresponsible.  Which, in a way, is good.  That means this writing every day thing has become enough of a habit (like singing a song when I get something from the storage unit), that I notice when I don't do it.

If I were really ambitious, I'd force myself to finish the story today.  It's not far off, really.*

Regardless, I went to my cousin's house tonight, and told myself I'd write myself to a thousand words afterward.  I'd written 669 words before, which is good enough, but I'm going to make myself reach a thousand anyway.

So I did.

Words Today: 1,077
Words Total: 39,833

*I recorded my March Patreon Address tonight, and in it, I went ahead and pronounced that I had finished "A Sidekick's Mission" or whatever I'm calling it, hoping that, by the time I release that lil podcast, it will be true.  So, I've got a deadline.

Rish Outcast 164: Read My Mind

In this show, I present a recent short story called "Read My Mind," another one of those young-people-drink-a-bunch-of-mixed-soft-drinks-and-it-gives-them-telepathic-abilities tales.

This one is quite overdue, but don't worry, we'll get a more timely show up next.  Maybe.

Just Right-Click HERE to download the episode.

Just Left-Click HERE to support me on Patreon.

Just Gino "The Mindreader" Moretto did the logo.

Monday, February 24, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 24

Just when I think I'm out . . . they pull me back in.

Well, these last couple of days, I had felt pretty much like this whole thing had run its course.  I was ready to call it a day and start back to who I was before.  Heck, I'm always just about there. I'd given it a shot, but entropy is the natural state of the universe.

But no, today, I caught a glimpse of my muse, and even though she was content to let me dangle, I decided to go on as if she'd started singing a sweet Eighties ballad just for me.

I went to the library and sat myself down, telling me I wouldn't do any net surfing or checking my email until I'd written 500 words.

I started in on the Ben Parks story, which I guess I need to make up a title for*, and quite easily reached my goal.  So I kept going. A thousand words came and went (and this was the serious I was just complaining to Big is hard for me to work on). I wrote right up until the computer warned me I had five minutes to save my work or forever hold my peace.

And I might even have kept going after that.  I nearly wrote three thousand words.  I feel between yesterday and today, I knocked this story in half.  While I don't know what happens next in the narrative, the end feels really close at hand.

Afterward, I got a little bit of work done (the bare minimum, really), and finished another "Twilight Groan" episode (our worst yet), then Big was calling me.  He's on his way home, where we're going to record, but he hadn't gotten his own 1,000 words in today.  So I told him to go ahead and do the writing first, and then call me.

In the meantime, I sat down, and typed a few more words on the Ben Parks story.  Before I knew it, I had reached my goal, and kept on going.  Big finally called and we did a That Gets My Goat episode.  I feel productive, and so I am going to reward myself with sit-ups in front of the TV.

Words Today: 3,154
Words Total: 38,756

*Something like "Mission of a Sidekick" or just "A Sidekick's First Mission?" How's that sound?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 23 & Book Signing Report

So, as promised, here is my oral report on the book signing I went to over at the Barnes & Noble Brandon Sanderson Living Tribute Bookstore.  There will be some profanity, of course.

Download (for some reason)?

Today is Sunday, and the library is closed.  But it's a sunny day outside, and I think I might go for a drive and write in the car again.

I really ought to write more on that Ben Parks story (it's been over a week), because people actually seem to like those, but they are hard.  Anyway, I will try.  It's about Ben's first "mission" after the death of the Lean Rider, and features the deputy that doesn't like him.  It's only a year and a half overdue.  In writing it, I couldn't remember the deputy's name, or whether Pony (Ben's horse) was a boy or a girl.

So, heeding my own advice, I went for a drive, then headed up the canyon, which I had wanted to do the last few weeks.  It was warm (for February), and I thought it might be perfect to check out the waterfall at the base of the mountain.  A ton of other people must've had the same idea as me, because there wasn't much room to park (the cars were just lined up alongside the road), and people were out bicycling, walking, skateboarding and . . . whatever you call that one-wheeled electric ballboard thing I saw one guy riding.*

It struck me, once I'd hiked the quarter mile or so up the trail to the 80% frozen waterfall, that this place has been just right up the road from me all these years, and I almost never go to it, and how lucky and/or douchey that makes me.  I thought about my pal Gino down in New Zealand and the sights he probably takes for granted, so I decided to get out my phone and record just a bit of it.

It was intended for him, but I ended up shooting about five minutes of footage, and I thought I would upload it to YouTube so strangers could see it, if they wanted to.

I slipped on ice once, but caught myself, and later saw some damned kids crossing the frozen stream to get closer to the waterfall.  My first instinct was to tell them to get off my lawn, same as the doggone skateboarders, but after a minute, I told myself, if they can do it, I can do it too.  So I stepped out on the ice, hoping it would have the decency to make a cracking sound if it was going to break under my feet, and crossed the frozen stream and then, warily, climbed up the icy path to the base of the waterfall.

My phone takes truly terrible selfies, but the video footage should look better, and after a moment, the kids got yelled at by their parents and had to go back, leaving me the only person on that side of the river.  Once again, I sort of wished a Jenny from FORREST GUMP had been with me, but hey, I always do.

After that, I did go sit down--outdoors--and cracked open my laptop to write.  I sat down on a park bench, with the shadow of a tree falling just right so I could see the screen.  I chose to work on the Ben Parks story, but only managed about five hundred words.  There were just so many people there, including a couple of dudes with a drone that they sent so high up in the air that I could no longer see it, then they just sat in their car "driving" it around.  Boy, voyeur me would love to get me one of those.

Again, sorry to repeat myself, but it's the 23rd of February, and I don't know what I'll be doing (or feeling) a month from now.  My goal was to write (and blog about it) every day this month, and then in March, I'm thinking I'll publish a story a week.  But honestly, I exercise every day (that has maybe only ever happened once in my life, back in 2002), and I write every day, and I try to stay positive and be productive every day.  I wake up before my alarm goes off (this morning, it was still semi-dark when I woke up, and I read until I went back to sleep), and somehow still have energy to get to my one am push-up regimen.

Every day my love handles are a little smaller.  I don't know where they went, since I've only lost nine pounds this year, but hey, I ain't looking a gift . . . headless horseman in the mouth.**

But we're not here to talk about that (are we?), we're here to put down how many words I wrote today.  And . . . well, it's not a lot.  This is definitely a day when Big A. has written more words than me.  And that's only right and good.

Words Today: 884
Words Total: 35,602

*Somebody I think very highly of rides a skateboard, but mid-life crisis or no (and as as much as I'd like to have something in common with her), I'm never going to learn how to skateboard.  In fact, it's still hard for me to shrug off my decades-old loathing of skateboarders and how they used to shout "Skate or die!" in the parking lot of the high school when I was a lad.  Even so, I'd like to try rollerblading one day, or barring the courage for that, at least go ice skating again.  Nearly three decades back, I used to go ice skating with my buddies Rhett and Dennis, and though I never got good at it, I got to the point where I could skate around without constantly falling down, and I'm sure it's great calf exercise.  And I don't hate it like I do running, so there's that.

**That reminds me: since Big has been dieting/fasting/inducing vomiting, he's been losing weight like crazy, and has even gone as far as to take one of those pictures of himself shirtless in the mirror to put up against one where he's lost all the weight.  Every once in a while, I'll see pictures women have uploaded on Instagram like that (not so much on Christian, though, hmmm), usually after having a baby, but I have never dared do one of those.  Except, I did take one a couple of weeks ago, seeing that I was noticeably less flabby than I had been just in November or December.  We'll see at what point I take another one to put next to it . . . or if I'd ever post something like that.  Sure, I can sing Whitney Houston at a storage unit, but some things are a bridge too far.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Fabruary Sweeps - Day 22

Today was kind of interesting.  Not really, though.

I sat down to watch "The West Wing" (I've been watching it for a year, and I still haven't finished it, mostly because of nights like tonight), but made it only fifteen minutes in before I felt guilty for not working.  My sister and brother-in-law and their kids are at a basketball game tonight, so I could do whatever I want, as loud as I want (I karaoke-ed "Take Me To Church" and "Take On Me," without fear that anyone might be listening).

I really ought to record something (I've got a couple of stories of mine I keep meaning to get out there, and the final pass is always doing them aloud), but I think maybe I'll drink a Pepsi right now (why not, I already ate an entire pizza by myself), ensuring I'll be up all night.

>I went back to the show, and after a half hour more, I got up and listed thirty-seven items for sale on eBay (that ate into my night, take my word for it).  Poor Big A. hadn't written his thousand words yet (it's always harder for him on the weekends, since he's not stuck at work sorting through car crash footage, football highlights, and school shootings coverage--all equally horrible).  But I called him anyway to tell him about a girl I went to the birthday party of in L.A., and ate into even more of his writing time.  I told him I'd write too, if he needed the company, but he made it to a thousand on his own.

I went to the book signing I mentioned yesterday, and knowing I wouldn't have time to write about it in detail, I recorded about it, hoping to post my feelings here today.  But . . . I don't have time to get the recording to my laptop, converted into a format I can use, edited, and posted on here today, so you'll have to come back tomorrow to listen to that.  It should entertain you ("Are you not entertained?!").

I did go to the library before it closed, and I wrote the last two thousand words on "Last Friday In December."  I think I mentioned just ending it abruptly yesterday, but I decided not to, and there are a couple of good moments between Nat and Mason today, so I'm glad I fit them in.  Writing these two is like spending time with friends of mine, and I don't spend much time with friends these days.

The story itself turned out to be 11,604 words, and I'm glad I wrote it.  Doesn't mean it's good, but hey, I need to be like Dean Wesley Smith, who plain doesn't give a turd if it's good or not, as long as you write it and put it out there.  He's Big's hero.

And I guess that's it.  I recorded another "Storage Unit Serenade" the last time I went to the place, but it was raining, and when I listened to it while transferring, I discovered the sound of the rain was really, really loud.  I wonder if I should go over and do it again, or just release it as-is.*

Words Today: 2,001
Words Total: 34,718

*This is part of my effort to do stuff that scares me this month, and that reminds me: I went to the grocery store on Wednesday, and I saw a woman that I sort of know.  I thought, "I ought to go over and say hello."  But immediately, my hindbrain said, "Nope, not a good idea.  Women really don't like you, remember?"  And I told him, "I'm not going over to grab her buttocks or lick her hair or anything, I was just going to say hello."  And my hindbrain said, "Nope, not a good idea.  She'll think you're stalking her.  Hey, maybe you are stalking her, did you ever consider that?  You really came all the way to this grocery store for soup?  Ha!  A likely story."
So, I walked on past.
I got to the register, and felt that wonderful, all-too-familiar stain of shame wash over me, and thought, "Wow, have you really learned nothing?  You know how long it's been since you woke up in the morning and hadn't crapped the bed saw someone else lying there?"  So, I got out of line and went to see if I could find her again.  When I did, she remembered my name--which for me, is practically an atop the Philadelphia Museum stairs moment--and I told her I saw her but didn't know if I should say hello, so I didn't, but then I thought, what if she saw me see her and thought I was an a-hole for NOT saying hello, so I came over anyway.  She said, "I'm glad you did."
And that was it.  No huge deal, for me or for her, but at least I could pay for my soup without feeling like a particularly-toxic fungus.  And that's nice.

Friday, February 21, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 21

Guess I'm gonna miss February when it's over.

I made it to the library today, and it was slow going at first.  I typed a few words, then surfed the internet, then read an email, then, I dunno, scratched myself rather manically, but when I finally decided to stop screwing around and went back to my story, I really got into it.  I wrote nearly two thousand words on "Last Friday In December," and then reached a point where, if I wanted to, I could just end the story.

I didn't write those most glorious two words in the English language (okay, second only to "French Fries," sorry), but I totally feel like I could.  Do I just end the story there, letting the last line be part of a David Bowie song, or do I write one more segment, that explains what happened next and maybe sets up a storyline for the future, and do one of those awful Stephen King flashforwards like, "And when Mason Bradley passed away, not long after, nobody cried harder than Rowan West.  Except maybe for Natalie Whitmore.  The End?"

I honestly don't know, except that I love doing these interconnected stories, and they've been easier going than any writing in my entire life.  Like February, I will be pretty unhappy when this wave of ambition and renewed inspiration is over, and I look back at myself in 2020 and say, "And now, I'm glad I didn't know, The way it all would end, the way it all would go."

Yep, that's Garth Brooks, kids.  And ain't it sweet?

I didn't get much done afterward.  I spoke to Big on the phone, which is nice, but I always call him at work, which has to bug the crap out of him, but I view friendships the way James Cameron views filmmaking: It doesn't matter what I do to the people around me as long as the story I want to tell gets told.  Wait, people don't like working for James Cameron . . . I may have misunderstood the lesson there.

After that, I went for my nightly run (still sucks, maybe always will), and the app I downloaded claimed I wasn't even close to my daily goal, and really laid in on the shortcomings of the Hebrew people once midnight rolled around.  I don't really get how that works, but I'll try to do better tomorrow.

There's a local writer who's going to do a signing at the nearest Barnes & Noble (which was recently rechristened The Barnes & Noble Brandon Sanderson Living Memorial Bookstore, and that kind of irritates me) commemorating his first novel, and even though I haven't read the book, I read the flap and went to the guy's website (it's a cool site, with lots of articles and links and the first five minutes of the audiobook streamable right there).  I'm tempted to go tomorrow and support him, not because I'll ever be there, but because . . . well, maybe one day I'll be there too.

We'll see.

I thought maybe I'd just veg out on the couch and watch a movie (which I did), and edit some audio before going to sleep (which I did).  But then, just for the hell of it, I wrote just a little bit more, once I realized I only had 1,939 words for the day, instead of a full 2,000.  

Maybe it's better to always go the extra mile.  I wouldn't know, having never gone a mile in the first place.

Words Today: 2,308
Words Total: 32,717

Thursday, February 20, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 20

I know, you're in awe of me.  You're thinking, I've been reading these the last few days, leaving me wondering, how can one man be so cool, and yet so underconfident?

Well, we all have good days and bad days.  Today was more of the latter.  And you can't beat yourself up when you have them.

After yesterday, when I had three different writing sessions (and went running twice), today could only be a step down.  And it was, for some reason, a bit busier than the last couple of days.  Oh, because I worked for actual money today instead of the other kind.  Oh, I see.

That reminds me, I had a conference call about a paid writing gig this morning, and the first thing that occurred to me when I hung up was, "They're gonna find out you're not right for this, and you're going to get fired.  Maybe you shouldn't even try."  Apparently, that's called Imposter Syndrome, and I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I murdered the real Rish Outfield in 2001 and took his place.  Hmmm. 

I sat in the car for a few minutes (couldn't have been longer than twenty), and wrote on my "Dead & Breakfast" story.  I didn't get very far, mostly because I'm aware I need to do some research in order to adequately describe what happens next.

If I don't write any more today (and I might), I think I'm still close to 30,000 words for the month.  I'm going to go for a run and see what occurs to me.

Don't forget, kids:
WHY did I not buy this shirt??
Well, I was wrong.  Wrong to do any of this.  That seems pretty clear.

When I came back to the house, my brother-in-law had locked the door behind me.  That was fine, I knew where the hide-a-key was.  But I searched for it in the dark, and . . . big shock, it was gone.

Luckily, my nephew had not gone to sleep yet (despite it being a half hour past his bedtime), and he was kind enough to let me in.  I have to say that it soured my mood a little bit.

I spent an hour or so dicking about on the internet, then, feeling restless, I sat down and recorded a Jason Sanford story he sent us in--checking now--2016.  He's an excellent guy with an enormous talent, and he recently shared his fiction anthology with me, which made me cry like a little girl with a skinned knee watching her parents make a baby sister they are bound to love more . . . in her own bed.  I hope Sanford knows how much his work touched me.

If there's a creative person you know that has done so for you, please, let them know.

After that, I still had miles to go before I sleep, and though I'm tempted to write a little bit more (didn't get a thousand words in), I think I might listen to music and lay back and think of England for a while.  Seems like a nice place.

Aww, eff it, I'm going to write at least the first meeting between Mason and Rowan.  Shouldn't take long.

I did.  Could feel worse.

Words Today: 1438
Words Total: 30,409

Storage Unit Serenade 3

So far, I've recorded one of these videos every time I've gone to the storage unit (whether to pick something up or drop something off . . . or the third option, that happens-way-too-often: go to the unit to get something and leave without finding it), and the interesting thing would be to check back in a year and see if I've run out of songs.*

Please remember, you don't HAVE to watch it . . .

This is actually the first one that I did, just for fun (not that this sneaking around, recording, and getting out of there undetected spy stuff isn't fun), to send to Big Anklevich.  I recorded it twice** after noticing the sun was going down and if I waited ten more minutes, there might be some nice "magic hour" light going on (not that you can really notice here).

It's also the last one of these recorded on my old phone.  Meet the new one, same as the old phone.

I think I'll go a third time and do the whole song all the way through, but there was only two minutes of recording time on the now-dead phone. If I do, is it a new SUS, or do I just post it here?

Running Tally
Pre-Eighties Songs: 1
Eighties Songs:
Nineties Songs: 1
Aughts Songs:
Teens Songs: 1
What are we in now, the Twenties?

*Since I've technically taught myself a new song for this thing twice, that might keep it exciting for me too.

**Okay, I end up doing every one of these twice.  The last one I did, I screwed up and started again, then the phone fell over halfway through, so I did that one thrice.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 19

I woke up before my alarm again today (happens five days a week), and I decided to use that time to--

No, not write.  I'm not that dedicated to my art, darn it.

But I decided to finally publish that Instagram blog post from last year, the one I took a bunch of pictures for, and never finished.  So, if you wanna see what the fuss is/was about, go to the May 29th, 2019 post called Instagram Is For Pretty Girls.  Do it, I ain't messing around here.

I did go to the library, though I didn't have the full amount of time today (they let you use their computers for two hours, but I think I got in sixty-eight minutes), and I wrote on my new story.*  I know how it ends, but not much between now and then, so it'll be fun to let the characters' deaths surprise me as it goes.

I got that writing in, then I had to go do day-to-day stuff, including running and typing this (I've found innumerable errors on my blog in the past week, and I've been taking a few minutes here and there to fix them.  Okay, cards on the table, Big Anklevich has been finding innumerable errors on my blog.  But the result's the same), but I'd still like to write a few more minutes, either on the earlier project, or on my "Dead & Breakfast" story.

Part of me is tempted to just write it here.  Ah, what the hell.

She was young, probably mid-twenties, maybe younger, maybe older.  She wasn't fat, by any means, but she had a roundness to her body, arms, big legs, around her cheeks.  Pretty, in a way, but not . . .
She wasn't unattractive, really, and Natalie wondered what Mason thought of her.  More than that, though, she wondered if he recognized something damaged about the girl, like she was seeing.
"Mase," she whispered, but then the girl was walking up to the desk.
Natalie normally smiled when she greeted someone, but made sure it was wide and warm with this one.  "Hey there.  How can I help you?"
"Need a room for the night," said the girl.  She didn't smile back.  She seemed awfully tired, like the occasional truck driver that stopped by the bed and breakfast, just wanting a few hours' sleep before getting on the road again and not particularly caring that this wasn't a Motel 6.  "You have any?"
"We do," Natalie said, glancing surreptitiously over her shoulder to where Mason sat, his head hanging too low to be watching anything but his own eyelids.  As tired as this girl looked, he probably had her beat.  "Have you been here before?"
"Yeah.  Years ago, we came through here once.  My family, I mean."  And that's all she said, though her eyes went elsewhere, and Natalie knew there was more to it.
"You have a . . . nice time then?"
"Yeah," the girl said again.  "It was kinda . . ."  Then she shook her head.  Whatever had been about to say, she was done now.  "How much?"
Natalie gave her the total, and observed the girl weigh the price then decide she didn't care what it cost.  "Is it just you?" she added.
"What?"  This question seemed more profound to the guest than had been intended.  "Oh.  Yes, just me."
"Well, then it's the standard rate rather than the family rate."  And Natalie gave her a lower price, since she was traveling alone.  Of course, there was no standard price versus family price, but something was going on with this young woman, and being nice to her could only help.
"Here."  The girl handed over a credit card.  There was a tremble in her hand as she did so.  Again, Natalie glanced over to see if Mason might be watching.  He wasn't.
The girl--her name was Rowan K. West, according to the VISA card--saw where she was looking and noticed her sleeping coworker.  "Long day?" she asked, as though she could certainly relate.
"Car accident," Natalie said quietly, and it took all her strength not to add, "Too bad.  He really wanted to be awake to meet you."  But that would sound crazy, and she normally avoided saying things that made her look crazy.
"Oh," Rowan said, and kept looking, just a minute too long.  The girl was drugged or really unwell or something.
"Are you okay, Rowan?" Natalie asked, and though she tried to put as much concern as she could in her voice, it sounded tinny to her, like she was just putting on an act.  It embarrassed her a little.
"Just tired," she said.
Natalie ran the card--it went through--then gave it back to her.  She printed out the receipt, and gave it to the girl.  "Well, get some rest, then.  My name is Natalie.  I'll be here all night if you need anything."
"Thanks," Rowan said.  She tossed one more brief glance at Mason, who was making a light snoring sound from the chair, and looked like he might topple out of it at any moment.  Then she met Natalie's eyes for an even briefer glance.  "What was your name?"
"Natalie.  Are you . . .  Can I get you anything?"
"No, thanks."  She turned to go.
"Oh, wait," Natalie said, realizing she hadn't given her a key.  She glanced back at the computer.  She'd assigned Room 9 to her.  She grabbed one of the two keys marked 9 from the case behind the desk.  She gave it to Rowan, who took it with a slight palsy of her fingers.
"Thank you," said the girl.  She paused again.  "I really like your freckles," she said, out of the blue, then went back through the lobby, seeming more than a little lost.
Natalie hated her freckles.  She often covered them with makeup, but honestly couldn't remember if she'd done so that morning.  "Thanks!" she called, but the girl didn't turn back.  "Nine's upstairs!" she called even louder.  She pointed, but was not being observed.  She realized she hadn't asked her if she had any bags (they were always supposed to volunteer to take up people's bags).  The girl had had a maroon coat, and that was all.
Mason made a gasping sound next to her, and Natalie turned just in time to see him fall forward from the chair, catching himself at the last moment before his face would've hit the registration desk.  "Wha?" he said.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said groggily.  "Did you call me?  Say something about going upstairs?"
"You wish," Natalie said, still distracted by the new check-in.
"I guess I was dreaming," he said, and smiled.  It was pretty pitiful.  The start of a black eye had spread to the top of his cheek, and half of his upper lip was still doing an Angelina Jolie impression.  He really ought to get some ice on that.  "Did I miss anything?"

I feel really good, having written a second time.  With these words and my earlier 1,617, that's a pretty good haul.

I went for a run after, and kept thinking of the scene, so when I got back, I wrote a little bit more (continuing beyond what I did in my blog).  Guess that makes today my most productive day yet.

Words Today: 3,166
Words Total: 28,971

*I was reminded of an interview with Jim Gillespie, the director of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  He said that, when they did the first test screening, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt are in the car together and the one girl says, "What happened to you--we used to be friends," and JLH says, "We used to be a lot of things," that there was laughter and hoots from the audience.  Gillespie tried to figure out if there was something Sapphic in the line reading, or whether the audience was just filled with immature boys.

For the record, I love I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  More than anyone you know.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Fabruary Sweeps - Day 18

Oh public library, thanks for being there.

I actually took this myself, with my shit camera.
I had two projects I worked on today, and wrote right up until the ten minute warning light began to flash.  You can bet your not-as-fat-as-you-think ass that I saved my work and emailed it to myself as soon as the warning came up.

So, I was working on "The Last Friday In December," and my new, untitled Horror piece today, and tried to split them both evenly.  The horror piece is interesting, in that the mayhem is far less interesting to me than the personal interaction between the characters.  The Dead & Breakfast story is interesting in that, for weeks now, I've been planning on introducing an important new character (I even went so far as to ask people on Facebook to name her for me--got a wide array of suggestions), and every time I write on it, I don't get to her.

Even today, I had her come into the lobby, and Natalie the Night Clerk thinks, "Oh, that's her, that's the one" the second she sees her (originally, I typed, Natalie the Night Clerk thinks, "That's it, the Rebels are there.  That is the system."  But I was afraid people would take that literally).
And then I stopped. I still haven't introduced this character, that should be so important for future stories (I say "should be" because the only story that takes place after this one was the first story in the series "True Ghost Encounter," and none of these characters are there for it. Dead? Possibly).  I think there's probably something unhealthy there.

Man, I need to just start putting these stories out there.  Even if only one person wanted to read them, that'd be better than none.  I went to two panels during my convention about cover art, and the amount of money the panelists were kicking around for cover art is more than all of my writing has ever made me, including contest winnings.  I understand that the cover is the most important aspect to get people to buy your stuff, but part of me just wants to put out a dozen stories (like one a week for the next three months) with just my name and the titles on them.

Like this:

And then, at some point in the vague future, I'd swap the covers out, one at a time, with better ones.  Heck, maybe some artist out there would say, "Oh, I'd handle _____ for you."  Seems like it could work alright, but I dunno.

Sometimes I feel like just doing this:

Anyway, on with the countdown.

Tuesdays tend to be the days I'm the freest, so I could have stayed at the library longer, but I decided to go jogging instead.  On Friday, I installed an app on my phone that keeps track of how far I run each day, and calls me anti-Semitic names if I don't reach a certain goal.*  Someday soon, I'll look back on me now and think, "Little did he know that one day he'd be dead."

View from my street
Anyway, as I started my run, the sun was just going down, and once again, we got a great sunset** and I was able to get a couple of cool pictures of it.  I don't know about you, but I quite like sunsets.

View from the hill two blocks down
I did record some video, but my gasping from my run (I fear I'll never enjoy it, kids) ruined the audio.  I hope, wherever you are, that the sun isn't quite gone yet.

Words Today: 2,303
Words Total: 25,805

*Last night, right before midnight, I was walking around Walmart with my cousin, when my phone made a little announcement.  Guess I had walked/ran the appropriate number of steps for the day.  "Did your phone just say, 'The Jews are the Chosen People?'" my cousin asked me.  I pretended I heard nothing.

**Oh, that reminds me, on Friday, there was another spectacular sunset as I left the writers conference, so I jumped in my car and tried to drive up the hill to where I could get a picture of it.  Unfortunately, it was Valentine's Day, and the traffic was terrible, and by the time I got up the hill, not only had the sun gone down, but my windshield was flecked with spittle . . . profanity spittle.

Monday, February 17, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 17

There's not much I like about myself when I look in the mirror.

But I still have my hair, and that's always a bit of consolation to me.  I grew up hearing horror stories about my maternal grandfather looking like a Mister Potatohead Without A Hat On, and that, genetically, I was going to be like him.  I know my brother had these same fears, because, when he was about twenty, my mom asked what he wanted for Christmas, and he said, "Rogaine."*

I last got a haircut this past summer, and it was an awkward experience.  The lady at the bottom of the hill that I usually get to cut my hair was not in, but her daughter said she'd cut my hair, as long as I didn't mind she didn't speak English.  I told her I didn't mind, and sat down, but what I discovered is that I either didn't speak Spanish at all, or that what she was speaking was something entirely different.**  She kept saying things that I couldn't understand, but used incorrect Spanish grammar that I knew to be wrong, and I couldn't get my head around it (I've never known native-speakers to make mistakes in conjugation, and as far as I know, there's not a culture of intentional-misuse in that language like there is in English: it don't make you sound street to talk like a first year student).

What was more, the stuff I was getting from her was really overtly flirty, but she would mix her compliments with oddly-blunt criticisms, such as, "You really handsome boy, but shame you have so many pimples on neck."  It made me super uncomfortable, and that, along with the fact that she was having a conversation with me, and understood my awful Spanish, but I couldn't understand hers, made me not want to go back.

In June, I spent Father's Day with my Uncle Sam and his two sons.  It was a warm, touching experience, unlike any I ever had with my dad, and afterward, I told the story about the haircut to my cousins.  They were surprised.  "Don't you cut your own hair?" one asked.  "I never pay to get a haircut anymore," the other said.  Turns out, they just bought some clippers, and use them to cut their own.  I asked if that was hard, and Steven said, "Nahh, but I just shave my head each time."  It looked pretty good, and I thought that that's what I would do.

So, I got some clippers in July, and when my hair started to get long, I cut it myself.  I didn't shave it, exactly, but I cut it short, and thought, "Okay, I guess that's good enough."  I didn't realize, however, just how terrible it looked, until I saw my mom and she asked what I had done to my head.  So, that same day, I went into the bathroom, and just shaved it all down, Cousin Steven-style.

When I look back at photos of Self Haircut Number One, I shudder at how frankly horrific it looks, but you've got to understand: I've got no one to impress with my haircut.  Nobody except my mother is going to notice or comment if my hair looks good or bad, and part of me still says, "Then who the eff cares?  You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show."  But that was pre Midlife Crisis.

My Self Haircut Number Two looked better.  The shape of my head is an odd one, I suppose, and with all the hair gone, I guess I look more like Soong-type android, but again, absolutely nobody noticed or commented on how short I'd gone with it.

And the months passed.  My hair grows faster in warmer weather, so it wasn't until the New Year that I thought I needed a haircut again.  My mother complained about how long my hair was getting, even though I thought it looked fine (still do: if you see those first three Storage Unit Serenades, I think I could've waited another month), I thought it was time to get it cut again.  I contemplated what to do, whether to try Self Haircut Number Three, or go back to the salon after eight months.

I went down the hill and looked in on the older woman who always cuts my hair.  She had two customers and told me to come back in one hour.  So I went to the park and ran up and down the stairs, then wrote in the car until the two guys left that salon (I was adding a new bit to "Three Time Visitor" about ghost breasts, which may or may not make the story better).

Well, she cut my hair fast with clippers, and then asked if I wanted her to put a little hell in it (as she always does, and never fails to amuse me--honestly, her asking me if I want a little hell is probably worth what little she charges whenever I come in), and I was done, ten minutes after going in there.  I would've preferred if she'd cut it shorter, but I get that, if she does that, I come in less often, and this is her livelihood.

Why am I typing all this?  Well, I guess 'cause it's President's Day, and I really don't want to do any work today.  I have some I can do, and I'm supposed to write, despite not wanting to, but it's nice to sit in my room for an hour and just feel no pressure (internal or external).  Plus, I took those two pictures, so I felt obligated to write about it.

And speaking of writing . . . the library was closed today, and oh boy(!), did I want to go there and write for the full two hour session. But it was a holiday (strangely, Big's kids had to go to school today, because Texas doesn't recognize Lincoln or Washington as presidents), and the library is closed.

I want to make a word or phrase that means "That feeling you get when you're stuck somewhere and you really want to create art . . . but only because you can't."  Maybe I'll call it Church Mused or something.  But I was super Church Mused, and I finally just took my laptop out to the car, grabbed a soda at the gas station (the friendly Sikh behind the counter stuck his fist out to me when I was about to pay, and I just stared at it blankly until I realized he wanted a fist bump), and then forced myself to write on this new story for a thousand words.

It came way easier than yesterday, and the trick was convincing myself that this would be a Horror story about the dissolution of a friendship rather than just an alien presence going after a girl I know and her friends.***  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, when I was on the fence about writing it, except for that now it's ABOUT something that I find interesting (can you truly be friends with someone again, or is it all destined to fall apart the second the pressure gets turned up?), which makes a difference somehow.

And tomorrow, the library's open!

Words Today: 1,381
Words Total: 23,502

*She actually got him some too, which was pretty funny.  And he didn't start to lose his hair for another twenty years, so maybe he actually used it.

**I've since learned that, yes, my Spanish has gotten quite bad, and it's something I've been working on in 2020.  Along with muscles in your arms and legs, your language muscles can atrophy just as much, but push-ups don't seem to improve them.

***Years ago, I got it into my head to write a story about two best friends who both work at Little Caesar's Pizza, and then a pretty girl is also hired, and both friends end up liking her . . . and their friendship completely falls apart.  I never wrote it, because I felt like the story had to be about something else, with the friendship as only a subplot, but I always regretted it, because the story was pretty poignant in my mind as I thought about best friends I've had that are totally out of my life nowadays.  And what's worse is, Big Anklevich wrote his own story set at Little Caesar's Pizza, and I never did.  I guess I could still write it . . . except I won't, and this story is thematically similar, and has murder in it.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 16

Uh oh.  I might not make it today.

I got an idea for a new story last night as I was going to sleep (these sorts of things almost always seem moronic by the light of day--the most recent story I wrote, "Fatherless Child," was one of those where I thought it was great until I wrote down the idea the next day.  I suppose it's possible I was right about that, but I still wrote the story through to the end), and I might start writing it tonight.

There are two problems with it, however, that are making me reconsider.  The first is that it developed in my mind as a screenplay, and I think it would work best like that, with a simpler structure and a lot more dialogue than a prose story is.  I used to be pretty good at it, but I haven't written a screenplay in years, and I really ought to never write one again (of course, if somebody paid me, that's another story), but will this story work as a short story/novelette/novella?

The other problem is, it's kind of a nasty* story, and it's giving me pause right now about writing it.  Now, don't get me wrong, it's hard to be a Horror writer and be squeamish or sensitive or puritanical, and that hasn't been me for years (okay, sensitive yes), but I just wonder how I will feel about myself when this one's said and done.  I know how it's going to end, and that's maybe where I shouldn't be going this week.  I think at one point a few years back, if I felt this way,  I would've told myself, "If you're worried about it, then that should tell you something."  In the same way as, doing stand-up comedy, if you're afraid a joke will offend people, then you probably know it will.**

We'll see what I do (it's only eleven o'clock, I still have time).

Tomorrow is President's Day, which means I have no work (yay!), but it also means the library will be closed (nay!).  I really need to go there and write until the time runs out again.

But the point of this writing every day exercise is that I have to make myself do it, even if I don't feel like doing it (like now), because I want to train my body to think, "I haven't written today: I am incomplete right now."  It needs to be something I do all the time, even on days when my muse is on an extended holiday weekend at a resort in Southern Idaho.

Too much?  It's hard to tell with typing.

I didn't get to writing until I was already tired and ready to sleep.  I wrote about three hundred words and was going to call that good, but forced myself to write just a little more, figuring 500 words would be a fine stopping point.  I got just a little more than that (the story still should be a screenplay--I'd have it on page ten by now), then allowed myself to quit.

Words Today: 678
Words Total: 22,121

*By "nasty" I mean, mean-spirited and nihilistic, rather than obscene/pervy.  Cold, in other words.  I very rarely write that stuff anymore, although I suppose that's debatable.

**The thing is, it's not really any darker than "Stormy Weather" was.  That has a bleak and unhappy ending, and I've never had any qualms about that (I quite like that story, actually).  I think that, hypocritical as it might seem, my worry is that, because this has a female protagonist, I will feel bad being as heartless to her as I was to the poor mayor in that story.  I'll keep turning it over in my head.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Fabruary Sweeps - Night 15

I misspelled February, but I like that "Fabruary."  I missed my calling.

So, it's more than halfway through the month.  Except for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I've been doing darn good.

Today is the 15th, and I still have residual Valentine's Day sadness.  I know that I can't be the only one.

God, I hate Valentine's Day.  Honestly, there are pet peeves that certain people have that may border on irrational (for example, I had a roommate who would lose his mind if somebody ever complimented Julia Roberts, my uncle absolutely HATES violence toward women in movies [I suspect he thinks that it inspires real-life violence], a lot of people hate pornography, another uncle absolutely seethes with hatred toward Mexican immigrants [despite being born in Chihuahua, along with my mom], I have a friend that hates militant political ideology, Eric Cartman hates hippies and Jews, etc.), but I would happily get on a city council with the goal to ban Valentine's Day in my community. 

Oh, it sells a effload of flowers, and enough chocolates to bring Jabba the Hutt to orgasm, but wow, the damage it does.  What a shit holiday.

Of course, this is personal bias.  You may love it, and that's great.  Good for you.  Count your blessings, honestly.  But I digress.  All I can say (in closing) is that, if Valentine's Day hadn't been this week, mine would've been a very different one.

A better one?  I don't know, but I could've used a bit less misery and feeling like I was a worthless loser between February 8th and 15th.  And so could a lot of people, I imagine.

I keep thinking about writing this story I dreamed up about a town where Halloween is not celebrated, and the teenaged girl wants to celebrate it anyway.  I think I could do the same with Valentine's Day.  The mayor could be Rich Oxfeld or something, as a little wink to the audience, and the teenaged girl could hand out valentines to a couple of kids in class anyway (or maybe anonymously in their lockers), only to find out that there was a very real and sensible reason the town didn't allow that to happen.  It's a story with so much potential in my mind.

Oh, if I weren't so tired, I might write it right now.

But that's just an excuse.  I still did the stairs today, and I'll still do my push-ups, no matter how tired I get.  Because if I don't, then entropy wins.

And Mitch McConnell.  He wants me to fail, and you as well, whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not.

Now that it's past the halfway point in February, I guess I have to think about what I'm going to do with my March.  Am I going to keep writing every day?  If not, what emphasis do I put in its place?

I made a You Are Enough video two weeks ago, and I desperately (DESPERATELY*) tried to post it on Instagram yesterday (honestly, I created an account Just For That...and it still hasn't worked), because there can't be a lonelier day than V.D. in a young person's life, so it was important to me to put it up then.  But the phuquing thing just wouldn't upload, and that makes me want to quit Instagram, which was never intended for people like me in the first place.

And maybe, if it could make a difference in some young person's day, it's worth redoing "live" into the fudging app on the phone, but seriously, I drove to a river, parked on the soft shoulder, climbed down to the shore, and recorded my video as it was starting to snow so that it would be visually interesting enough that strangers might watch it, despite my face being in it.  I'd hate for that to go to waste.**

So, this Saturday was the hardest day at the writers conference.  I've just spread myself too thin, and it caught up with me today.  I told somebody I knew I would take my recorder and talk about how I felt when it was over, but I was just so exhausted, I didn't even call Big to give him the annual report (ugh, I originally typed "give him the anal report," and it wasn't flagged as a typo).

All I know is that I couldn't stay awake through or concentrate on some of the panels today, and I found myself so hot and sleepy in the last one (some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on), that I just went home when it ended, despite there being an hour left in the schedule.

And oh, my nemesis (not the Tommy Pickles guy--I don't really think about him much anymore) was invoked over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again this weekend (I actually typed those out, instead of copying and pasting, which would've been smarter).  I started texting Big every time he was brought up, which was more often than Jesus is brought up in a Sunday School class.

Then, after the three o'clock panel ended, I was trying to get out of the room, and I just couldn't.  The doorway was clogged with an influx of souls, keeping anyone from moving in the other direction.  It was a veritable flood of fat, sweaty genre fans pushing into the room like the slow-motion wave from the elevator in THE SHINING (only with cottage cheese instead of blood), and unlike anything I've ever seen outside of a Black Friday sale.

I could not get out of the room, and the assholes just kept squeezing in.  The line behind me was getting longer and longer (somebody at my back said, "Come on!" like I was the problem).  The assholes could see us, but they would not make way for us to get through, they just pressed forward.  I was frustrated and shouted, "Guys, there'll be more room in here if you'll let us out!"  But they just looked at me, like, "Whatchoo gonna do, wop?"***  Finally, the big bearded security guy in the hall had to yell for the assholes to clear the way, forcing them to separate enough for us to be able to leave the room.

I asked him, "Are they giving out bags of money in there or something?"  And the security guy said, you guessed it, "Brandon Sanderson."


So, I probably should've left right then and there, because I was no good to anybody in the last two panels of the day.  Seriously, the last one was about marketing your books, and when the author said, "Of course you need to write more books, whether the first has sold or not.  If you have a lot of books to sell, all the better," I got this image in my mind of a stack of used books I'd bought over the years that I could sell to some guys at a bookstore.  My brain was no longer processing what he was saying.

Of course, it didn't help that it was so hot in that room (and I love heat and hate cold [sorry, Anon]), that I could've thrown a frozen pizza on the seat next to me and eaten it at the end of the panel.

I will definitely try to do an episode where I talk about the weekend, however.  There were really good and inspiring things said in the panels (and in my notes I put this: The last episode I recorded will be a Patreon exclusive . . . and what's more, it'll be a freebie.  Thanks, guys, for supporting me.  Never stop never stopping.).  Though I can't decide whether to do it as a Rish Outcast by myself, or a That Gets My Goat with Big Anklevich (which is twice the work for none of the reward), or just talk about it in a week for my March Patreon address.

So, I took off early, because I was just exhausted.  I still went to the stairs and ran them until my legs began to twitch and shudder, but for the last hour, I've just been lying here getting my Planters peanuts warmed by an overheating laptop, just vegging out reading emails and Facebook posts.

And then, crazy as it sounds, I went over to Audible and looked at the books that needed narrators.  I saw two books by a famous/infamous Horror writer, and for a moment there (okay, more than a moment there; I actually went on Amazon and read the reviews for the two books), I considered auditioning for one, despite vowing never to do it again.  Saner heads prevailed, but I'll always wonder if that would've been profitable for me.

I managed a thousand words on my Ben Parks story in between panels, which is good, but I'd say there's only a 15% chance I'll finish this one.  After all, I've abandoned it twice before.

Words Today: 1336
Words Total: 21,433

*I mean, over ten times trying to upload it, get it to post, get it to show up on my phone, and it never did.

**And takes?  I did it over and OVER, until my fingers were frozen and the cold had seeped into my very taint.  I wanted it all in one take, so when a guy walked by with his dog and said, "Who you talkin' to?" I had to delete and start it again.  It pisses me off endlessly that I can't just go onto and post a video that way, once again reinforcing that I never should have been on that app in the first place (which reminds me, I wrote a blog post about a year back that I never published about the point of Instagram.  I really ought to finish that.  As well as the one hundred short stories I've started and left unfinished in the last ten years).  A woman's work is never done, like they used to say.

***Not sure why he used that particular slur, except that my hair is really greasy and dark right now.  No offense taken--Italian is a beautiful language.

Friday, February 14, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 14

Well, I'm no fan of Valentine's Day (as anybody who knows me--or took one look at me--would attest), but I did what I could to keep a positive attitude.

I feel like I've already said all this.  Is this real life?

This is a shirt I saw at Target.  I love dogs, so it amused me, and I went on my way.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it, along the same lines as how supportive girls/women are of one another, versus men.  Finally, I came back to the shirt and took a picture of it.

This is a really, "It's All Good," "Loud and Proud," "My Life Is My Own," confident, independent woman shirt.  A guy could not wear this shirt without looking sad and/or extraordinarily fat.  But if I saw a girl wearing it (no matter what she looked like), I'd think, "You go, girl.  You don't need no man to be complete.  If he don't love you any more, then march your fine ass out the door."

I have a couple of guy friends that don't like women very much, and one female friend that says that all men should be fixed with shock collars that 51% of the population have access to at any time (she also said they wouldn't be worn around the neck . . . maybe she's not my friend at all, now that I think of it), but this is an area where I feel women have a support system in place, and it's a totally good thing.

If a man is anti-Valentine's Day, guess he's Prince of Losers.  But if it's a woman, then it's cool.  And I'm in her corner.  More on that later.

I had my writers conference today, and while it was fine and useful, my heart wasn't entirely in it.  Maybe you know how it is, but man, the day.  I was also pretty tired from scrambling to get that episode done last night.*  But I really did what I could to get a full day in, first going to my conference, then ducking out to get a bit of work done from the previous night, then eating, then writing a song (I sort of challenged myself to do it, and I hadn't written one in years**), then going to a couple more panels, then doing push-ups and going for two runs.

I skipped one panel and took a few minutes to write, working again on the Ben Parks story I started in, I think, late summer of 2018, but never--

Wait, two runs, really?  What the fuuuuh?

Minor tangent.  A lot of people who don't have depression or anxiety problems think it's great advice to say, "Just don't get depressed" or "Just don't worry about it."  And it's not as simple as that.  A lot of times, you would love not to think about it, love not to feel blue, love not to have those voices echo-chambering-around in your head, and if it was simple as choosing not to, you wouldn't.

But I could feel it the whole day, from morning on, like a backpack somebody had put a brick in, and every time I paused to reflect on the weight of my backpack, they'd stick another one in.  And something mental health professionals will tell you is that exercise releases endorphins, and that can make your brain chemistry change.  Okay, I have no idea what mealth hentalionals actually say, but I went to the park after the six o'clock panel and ran the stairs until I was good and tired.  Then I went to a couple of stores on the way home.  I ate some chicken and rice, edited audio for a half hour, and sat down to do this blog.

But almost immediately, I was aware that it was now Valentine's Day night, and I was going to spend the evening with my laptop.  And the horror of that fact (plus, my imagination of what everyone--and especially Her--were doing tonight) forced me to put my shoes back on and go for a jog again.  I installed some exercise app on my phone that keeps track of how far you run and how much more you'd have to do to get in shape (it's kind of mean that way), and I used it for the first time.

It didn't stave off depression entirely, but it really hurt (at one point on the stairs I started to get vertigo and lose my balance because I'd pushed myself too hard), and that takes your mind off things, at least temporarily.

After that, I had to do some real dollar-sign work.  I spoke to Big on the telephone, though, as he was driving home from work, and although he had little in the way of other options, I appreciate that he would talk to me for ninety minutes on this particular night.

Now, it's two in the morning, and I am typing this, wondering if I made the best use of my day, and if I have any chance of ever truly enjoying Valentine's Day.

I dunno, do you enjoy burying your household pets?

Words Today: 1702
Words Total: 20,107
(67% of Big's monthly goal of 30,000 words)

*On Wednesday night, I was super tired, and I edited one of the songs, and told myself my reward when I got it all done would be to let myself go to sleep, so I was very relieved when I finished the song, and hit Close on the audio editor.  Save Changes Y/N? came up, and I hit N, then went to slee--
Oh, wait.  What did I just do?  
Yep, I had hit No on Save Changes?  So I had to do it all over again the next day.  That sort of thing is pretty soul-crushing.

**Unless the "Everybody loves chalupas" song counts.  And it totally does.