Author Archives: duke
So I tried to do NaNoWriMo. I failed! The time commitments proved too onerous for the father of a five and not-quite-one-year-old at the time to overcome. I really should rename this blog “Writing Excuses” based on content, but Sanderson et al. have that locked down. It’s irritating, but adulting happens. I think I’d be more likely to accomplish the feat if I had a less demanding job, but as it stands, I have to have my head on a swivel day and night.
For anyone not familiar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and is a project that promotes writing a 50,000 page novel during the month of November. I attempted it for the first time last fall and couldn’t keep up with the pace by the middle of the month. I started strong, but family and work commitments caused me to lose pace and fall behind.
Whining aside, I actually did fairly well. I managed just over 16,000 words on a completely new story with little forethought on the content. Lack of planning was actually a success in my estimation. I’m a heavy self-editor, and it more often slows my work down rather than keeping me “efficient.” In this instance, I was writing freeform in a very stream-of-consciousness manner. It was very much a first draft, and I really liked most of the concepts and ideas I had for the work. Looking back months later, I still believe I can potentially complete the work as envisioned rather than using it as a jumping off point. I’ve continued to think about how to advance the story and flesh it out when I can.
I just need to make time to continue to write. The NaNoWriMo project has a process for advancement by which you attend camps and set aside time in the spring to continue the work. I realize that I just don’t have the luxury of scheduling a week, let alone a month, to continue. I absolutely have to make time when I can to write as much as possible rather than scheduling blocks of time to write a set word count.
If you read any number of writers bios or acknowledgements, you will often read a passage or more in which they thank their family and friends for putting up with their constant absenteeism brought about by the desire to soldier on and write one more page. I can’t honestly say that I have that level of commitment, but I also don’t know that I can make that much time even if I was sufficiently driven. It’s a struggle to rationalize my failure to make time for something that truly makes me happy. But by the same token, my family makes me happy.
I came to fatherhood later in life. I was a little aimless in my twenties, so I started adulting in my 30s. I’m almost 42, and I have a one-year-old. Life is a little difficult to schedule at this point. Again, I know that’s just an excuse, especially considering I’ve managed to play a handful of hours of video games on a weekly basis the last month or so. I could absolutely spend that time writing or at least reading, which is also something I’ve neglected the last few months, but I think the ability to quiet my mind and just exist in the game has been more cathartic than scratching my creative itch.
I’ll stop here. I’m making excuses. I’m setting a reminder to at least blog regularly. If that works out, I’ll naturally have my text editor up and might just write a page or two of a draft. I might actually do that now. Wish me luck.
Well, the blog is restored, and I have pushed all of the old content back up to the new host. I’m going to make an effort to post at least once a week. I’m hoping that content will be creative writing rather than a weekly update in which I apologize for not writing more.
I have been writing off and on over the course of the last couple of years. I completed a couple of drafts of a suspense/light horror short story. I think I’ll post that today and maybe try to refine it some.
I’ve blogged numerous times over the years, mostly day-to-day musings or a weak version of ‘Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy’. My last blog was a creative writing endeavor, and I enjoyed it much more. I was also more consistent about posting.
This is a recreation and continuance of my last blog. I’ve just installed the framework–and being lazy–I’ve used and automated script from the host. I need to import all of my old posts and change my theme. I hope to have that done soon.
It’s been a busy year. We started last June with the birth of our daughter. Raising a child is exhausting no matter who you are, but when you are just beginning your journey as a parent in your mid to late 30’s, you are really in for a surprise. I’ve already harped about how tired I have felt, so I won’t rehash that information, but I will say that it is still absolutely worth it.
My daughter has been awesome. She was a pretty perfect baby for the first year. She just turned one and is suddenly starting to act out a little. On one hand, it’s pretty entertaining, especially considering how mellow and easy a child she was for the first year. On the other hand, we are unfortunately delving further and further into the realm of punishment. It’s a tough question for any parent. Obviously, I don’t think a lot of mileage is available with physical punishment at this point. Seems the current rage for toddlers is psychological warfare in which you shun the child or in some other way negatively reinforce bad behavior. I’m not sure what we’ll ultimately do beyond just roll with the punches. My current favorite is to just mega-hug her and kiss her on the cheeks until she forgets the evil she was about. Not sure it’s working!
The last bit of news is that we bought a house last week. I’ve been painting for about four days. Not a fan, I must say. It’s kind of like mowing the lawn–it offers measurable progress as the unpainted space visually shrinks much like the size of the uncut patch of lawn shrinks with the passing of the mower. Neither chore offer but the briefest of satisfying moments when you are done. Maybe that’s my fault; I may have some internal damage that prevents me from properly admiring interior design for longer than it takes to find the fridge in a room, and maybe I have some long dormant inner resentment to lawn mowing because I grew up cutting and baling hay in the Oklahoma heat. Either way, I have a house that my wife wants painted and a lawn with no goat to eat it. So I really have no choices.
I have an idea, a loose outline and a number of scenes for a Steampunk novel or series. I think I could write it as a YA novel much like I could with the wizard detective. I don’t know for sure, but I think it will probably be an adult novel if/when I write it. There are a number of elements that would really make the story better that will require language and situations that I don’t think will fly in YA. Maybe I can work around that, but I don’t want to try to force it one direction or the other. Regardless, that’s what I’m currently working on.
We are cutting the cable with the new house. Only internet, which still allows plenty of streaming media, but both my wife and I hope that less accessible TV will make for more reading and writing. Plus the house has an office just off the main room, so we can do our own thing at times while still taking care of our daughter and talking with each other. Should be nice.
I know I’m the worst sort of blogger/writer going. I’m the every-man of the personal blog . . . He Who Posts Infrequently!
Obviously, I am willing to use my baby as an excuse. It’s not nearly as good of an excuse as it was a couple of months ago, but I’m milking it. I have been writing bits off and on, but I keep clicking the “Save Draft” button instead of “Publish.” I have a number of drafts lingering that I will try to get up. I just feel addle-brained and tired so often that I stop myself from working on anything longer than a few minutes.
Well, I wrote this the other day, and I thought I’d at least put it up to start the process of working through the backlog. It wasn’t based on anything other than an thought I had of a distressing situation. I may try to flesh this out and see where it goes, but that’s likely dependent upon my mood.
I can hear her in the other room.
She’s breathing heavily but not so frantic;
The panic has finally hidden itself away.
Thought and remembrance still lingers,
Dwelling on unpleasant things.
I don’t have the stomach to speak to her.
I’ve never seen her so upset, so unlike her,
Purple with mingled rage and fear.
She quaked without and spoke tremulously.
She was distraught, and yet again something more,
Something altogether frightening, nearly inhuman.
I hurt for her.
I know I’m slacking, but I have a little darlin’ to take care of. She’s still pretty much a full time job even though her awesomeness hasn’t diminished at all! She’s such a good baby. Anyway, I had an interesting dream over the weekend and a surreal moment afterward as I slowly came awake. I thought I’d try to write a draft to start exploring that situation.
Stark white light pushes at the edge of my eyelids,
Trying to push past my defenses.
It pulsates in time with the blood coursing through my chest,
To my head and ultimately to the capillaries in tiniest parts of the lid.
It rouses me–slowly;
My mind pulses to the slow drowsy rhythm.
Ever more wakeful, I feel the ebb and flow
Of a sea of sleep deposit me on a still and silent beach.
Stasis. I lie balanced on the edge of two worlds.
I’m a god in my dreams, and I do not wish to wake.
Every moment I remain is a restorative for my feeble body.
Yet, I am allowed only the briefest of sojourn.
In the dream, I feel a power I hunger for greedily.
I desire to stay as I desire to control my world.
I am empowered,
And I lust for a world of my own.
I wake and I feel love and hope and happiness.
I have a daughter and a wife and I love them.
Awake I see the false truth of my dreams.
I fear the power they have over me.
I will admit that I’m lazy about writing at times, but I’d really like to write a poem as sort of a birth announcement for her, but I’m finding it very difficult to pull together my thoughts on fatherhood and on my daughter. That’s my way of saying I’m overwhelmed in the most glorious of ways. Everything she does is amazing to me. Just the things I’ve seen as she’s grown the last couple of months has blown me away. My new life as a father is progressing nicely. My daughter is pretty perfect, and that’s not something observed with a father’s eyes. She eats and sleeps very well, she’s not fussy, and as a point of pride to me at least, she’s fairly gigantic as babies go. Being fairly gigantic myself, I’m hopeful she’s tall and athletic. Who can ever say with a 10 week old how that will play out, but for now, she’s off the charts, and I enjoy that.
I grew up in a close-knit family with a constant supply of fresh new cousins with whom to share experiences beyond those I shared with my two sisters. I have older cousins who are like siblings and younger cousins I helped raise. I’ve changed most of their diapers at one point or another and have now seen most grow up and have children of their own. All of this is to say that I’ve experienced children and child rearing in most capacities since I was fairly young. That wealth of experience still doesn’t prepare you for the constant care and nurturing of a child of your own. I do believe that diapering has been a breeze for me because of my experiences, but there’s nothing in my past that required me to be the parent that soothed a tired child or shushed her to sleep. I had comforted before, but it’s wholly different to walk circles in your living room with a baby because that’s what calmed her best when she was three or four days old. There’s nothing you experience with any child but your own that comes close to the constant inspection and evaluation of everything your child does.
Every sound is scrutinized to make sure nothing is wrong. The contents of every diaper are categorized and chronicled to make sure any changes are known. It’s amazing how much reading into things I do with her, but I don’t think I’m doing anything out of the ordinary. I think it’s hardwired into us to look at our own children that way, and that’s what makes the experience so new. There is constantly something I’m at least somewhat unprepared for happening. It’s amazing, and I’m exhausted, but I can already tell that the farther I get from the fussy newborn, the more those still fresh memories of just a few weeks ago continue to sweeten.
Well, it’s been a while since I posted. My wife and I had our first child about six weeks ago. I hope that will suffice as a valid reason for my slacking. I do plan to continue, but I’ve found that working full time, coming home to help with the baby, then sleeping intermittently during the night makes for a special kind of exhaustion that’s I’ve heretofore never experienced.
In college, I’d pull all-nighters and occasionally roll a class to recover. I’d even have a little to much fun over the course of a long weekend. But there was always some way to make up for the tiredness with a nap or something. Baby’s don’t have off switches. You may think that when they sleep, that is catch up time. It’s not. That’s the time you sleep to try to ensure your body can maintain its life functions. It’s meat and potatoes with no dessert, and any current parent is probably wearing that annoying, all-knowing, told-you-so grin.
Believe me though, I wouldn’t change anything–unless I could have the opportunity to have done this ten years ago. Parenting definitely favors the younger crowd, at least in physical demands. I will admit that having lived a little and seen a few things, I’m way less likely to get frustrated or angry. I just go with it, and smiling at a screaming baby takes the edge right off.
And I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My daughter has already been almost perfect. She sleeps fairly well through the night, she’s not that fussy except for a couple of times when she was likely having a growth spurt, and she’s progressively getting into a manageable pattern of behavior. Hell, she’s only had maybe three boogers and no snot. That’s a perfect baby so far.
I’m still working on ideas even if I can’t seem to find the time to put them down. I’ll stay with it though, and eventually my stubbornness will outlast her whole “baby” thing!
Today is my first anniversary. Haiku time for my wonderful wife.
My lovely darling,
Soon the mother of my child,
I love you deeply.
Happy first of many!
The word tumble-down popped into my head earlier, and I immediately envisioned long rows of worn, dilapidated houses much like you see in pictures of old oil boom-towns around here in Oklahoma. The image of the sun low in the sky, coloring all the bits and pieces that had managed to last, was pretty strong. I hope this conveys some of that.
Dull sun fades to rust;
Long shadows like fingers sweep
This might be an interesting image to base a longer poem on. I might just do that.