Distractions and Determination

I am far too easily distracted. There are so many things, many of them not even interesting, which will pull my attention away in an effort to keep me from writing. And yes, I know it is all up to me, and it is my own fault. It is my own psyche that is stepping in front of my progress to keep me from putting words on the page.

The distractions and pulls can be anything as simple as wanting to go to the restroom or stopping to find a new feature in my word-processor to things as complicated as my hands suddenly deciding they hurt or an email coming in that demands I read it. Of course if I give in to that demand and read the email, then I am going to have to either answer it or do research and maybe a bit of delegation. All of that takes time. Time that should be used to write.

David's DeterminationIn truth, it is my own fault for giving in to the earthly desires of urination or software features, and even more so for not turning off my email notifications or better yet turning off the internet in its entirety. Of course, as I type another question comes to mind – is going back and correcting mistypes, grammar mistakes, and misspellings a distraction or a necessity of writing? Sure they would all need to be corrected at some point, but is that point supposed to be while I am in the flow of writing? Or should it be in the future?

Anyway, what I have then are those distractions that keep me from writing – the ones that stop me from ever getting a single word down, and additionally those that slow me down or limit the words I produce. It is not an all or nothing battle. In contrast to an alcoholic who has to resist the urge to drink totally, and even if they give in once they can start all over by not drinking, we writers have to start and then work to keep going. Writing then is more like running. Perhaps it makes sense that we call them “writing exercises.”

Just as with the traditional forms of physical exercises such as running, there are the roadblocks that stand in the way of our ever starting to write. The sometimes seemingly mundane circumstances that try to keep us from getting to the gym. The traffic, the busy schedule, the malaise, the thought that we need better equipment before we even start. But then there are the forces that work on us while we move. The exhaustion, the soreness, the unrealistic comparisons of ourselves to others, and yes, even boredom. Even a writer can get tired of laying down word after word after word while our hands get sore and our minds get numb. And while our well meaning friends call us out to play. But we will not get better without practice, and we will not produce the mileage of words without discipline and dedication.

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My Blog, My Birthday and The End – Exercise #31

We have finally arrived and the end – day 31. When I started this exercise I had no idea that I would get as tired of it as I have. Not tired of the writing itself, I still really enjoy that, but tired of the topics for the A Caboose at the Endexercises. Yup, totally my fault for not looking a little further down the line in terms of what would be asked – but it did force me to stretch a bit.

Well the exercise for today (is this the final exam?) is to tell you why I blog. Why does all this exist at all? In fact though, I have alluded to that answer more that once as the weeks wound on. My blog, this site, as it stands now is a way for me to flex my writing muscles while at the same time imparting some useful information occasionally. Not much of that useful stuff has happened over the past month, but then again nobody is perfect. If you do want one of my more useful posts recently, go back and read the one about professionalism – and then go fill in your Gravatar information! That is still driving me nuts.

Anyway … Long ago the purpose of this site was purely computer professional in nature. It is where I would write articles on things going on within the computer field, such as virus outbreaks or Microsoft Outlook email problems, or on the elements of web design, running a small office, or even book reviews.  What the site has morphed into over time is just more of my writing on whatever I want. All my more “technical” writing is over on other sites and blogs, so while there may be pointers to it here, there is no reason to repeat it all. I do still have my other sites, Michaels Trains, Charleston Rail, and Just British, for some of my other interests, but those are hobby sites and not updated anywhere near as often.

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Working In A Coal Mine – Exercise #23

Now that I have finished harassing people with plastic shoe fetishes, we can get back to the thirty-one days of blogging exercises. Today’s task is to tell you about my dream job. I have always kept this one to myself Underwood Typewritera bit, or at least I tried to for some reason, but my real goal in life was to be a writer. That is why I was an English major so many years ago, and why even when doing computer work I have kept my hand in writing articles and technical reviews.

The written word is fascinating to me. The language, the way it works, the meanings, and the sound that sing around inside your head are all magic. When I went off to college I had a hard time deciding whether to go into computers or literature. I applied at different colleges that specialized in each, and even when I made my decision and went to the College of Charleston I switched my major back and forth a few times. I ended up graduating with a English degree, but by a round about way earned my living with computers. Over the past 25 years or so computers have been good to me. I have educated myself and then gotten extra training. I have worked hard and earned my way up through support and programming to project management, development and even teaching. But I still miss writing. At one point along the way I even started classes towards my master’s degree in English, but stopped due to life, work and other distractions.

So I can’t say the choice has been anything other than mine. As I said, computing has been good to me, and I have earned a good living in the field. Not a problem there. But if you ask me what my dream job is, what I would rather be doing, what I would like to see myself doing as I get older, it is writing. That is one of the main reasons I have been doing this blasted thirty-one days of blogging exercises. The writer’s mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised, and unfortunately I have not been visiting the scrivener’s gym nearly as much as I should.

Second to the exercise, I am a goal (and deadline) oriented person. Unless I am working towards something definitive and that thing has a due date, I will just never get to it. Again, another reason that these exercises have been good for me. But they are not what I want to write – they are a way to work on the discipline to get there. So after this thirty-one days is over I will continue to work on my writing and continue to post here, but I will also be looking for a concrete goal more in the area of what I really want to write.

So there you go, my dream job. Writing!


Continuing Lines of the Story Circle

Walking BootsTwo weeks ago, Cameron Garriepy was kind enough to let me kick off a story circle on her site. With her publishing of "A Line Runs Round The World" she set the walkers in motion. For the second part of the story I tagged Kate Shrewsday, who has passed the pen to Idiosyncractic Eye, a writer whose tales I am not familiar with, but Cameron is familiar with from her days linking up with Write on Edge. That is one of the really odd and fun things, having someone I don't even know continue on with the story that I started.

So, please welcome this “not-so-very-tall person in DMs and a Western hat” to the Story Circle by reading the third installment of "A Line Runs Round The World".


Self Publishing

So blame this on Cheryl Smithem. She posted a link to an article about a speech given by author John Green entitled, "Why I'll Never Self-Publsih". She pinged me in the post because she knows I have a few opinions on publishing and self publishing. Not that I am opinionated or anything.

Self PublishingOK, so I went and read it. This was a speech he gave to the ABA, American Booksellers Association, and basically I think he was playing to his audience. Oh, and go read the article / speech before reading the rest of my post or it may not make sense. It may, but I can't promise anything. What follows is the response I wrote to her on Google+.

"On one level I agree with him. A book, any good book, is a team effort. Even if self-published there could be editors, proof-readers, illustrators, PR folk, promoters, vendors, etc… True enough. And there should be. An artist of any sort relies on the input of others. An painter needs someone who creates paint and canvas. Then maybe a gallery and even a publicist. A musician needs someone to create the instrument, to maintain the music hall, to sell tickets, etc…

Now, where the change is coming is that the artist (of whatever genre) can do more and more of that themselves or select their own team. This is what has been happening in the music industry – it doesn't eliminate the need for music companies, but it changes the roles. And give the artist more control – if they want it. If they don't want to take on those tasks, fine. But they lose the control over the way they are done. A pure tradeoff and nothing wrong in either direction. Just a choice.

Where he is wrong is where he says all of the self-publishing stuff is "bullshit". And yes, that is his term. He is already doing a lot of that with his blogs and Twitter and YouTube. A lot of the promotion that used to be completely the field of the publisher he is already doing. But by choice. He just isn't taking on that part of the publishing work that involves the direct mechanical creation of the final product. The book. That is fine, it goes to the tradeoff above and it reflects where he wants to be on the scale.

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