Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time for a Change

First change: new template for the blog. Yeah, it's still rather boring looking. No loud bells and whistles here. Just books. Because that's what this is supposed to be all about now isn't it?

Second change: Apparently I've got a new focus for my writing. This is actually work-related, and by work-related I mean having to do with the day job and not the work that I do for little to no pay in my spare time. But that's cool. Writing is writing and without the luxury of that solid reputation some writers have acquired, allowing the option to write about pretty much anything that strikes their fancy even if it's a detailed analysis of how many gold rings one might fit on a monkeys wiener, I will gladly take whatever opportunities float my way.

No, it's not writing sappy little notes for a greeting card company if that's what you're thinking. And even if it was, is there really anything wrong with that? In fact, that might be a pretty sweet gig.

In case you aren't aware, I'm a small player in a very well-respected, highly effective research center here at Indiana University, and research around major universities like IU, place high on the academic respect chart.

Strike one!

But the research that goes on around here - here being the office I cheerfully drag my ass to every day - while interesting and worthy of huge accolades, is barely within the grasp of my tiny little artist's brain. My good fortune to be part of the Workshop in Political Theory is only eclipsed by the miracle that six years into this gig I haven't been tossed out on my ear (or rear depending on how fast you read that last sentence). But that's the way this place is. Very understanding, encouraging, and forgiving, and thankfully that's probably that mindset that won the professor who started this gig a Nobel prize. Let me tell you, aside from having a winning football team, a Nobel prize attracts a lot of the right kind of attention in a college town.

At any rate, one of the Workshop's current projects of which we're seeking funding is to develop a "Consumer-driven Health Information Website Based on Hot-to-Cold Empathy Gaps." Huh? What the heck does that mean? you may ask. I'll let you know when I figure it out myself. But apparently the writing part of this needs to be dumbed-down to a non-academic level. In other words, it needs to be made simple enough for someone with minimal education. Now perhaps I should have felt a little put-off when they thought of me as a possible writer for this project. I don't know about that. In fact, who cares? I could lay claim to the argument that it takes a unique skill set to write in a manner that's understandable to those lacking the capacity or attention span needed to comprehend anything more taxing than one line sentences containing words bigger than cat. But if that's the case, I will embrace the role fully and I will own my reputation as a simple story teller.

Especially if it means mo money, mo money, mo money...

Hee Haw

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where to?

So here's the results of my little foray into the nanowrimo. I finished. Yep, at just before 10:00 pm on November 30, I submitted my 50,063 word completed manuscript to the nanowrimo website for verification and apparently their jacked up system disagreed with the almighty Bill Gates and Microsoft. 49,933 words is what they claimed I had copied and pasted into their little program. "Okay," I thought, "that's not a problem. It's not even 11:00 yet." I figured I had plenty of time to write 67 words.

Did that and more. Now I had a completed manuscript of 50,250 words and it was only 11:01. Select all. Copy. Got back to the nano site. Nanowrimo 2010 is closed!

Huh? "But it's not midnight yet," I exclaimed. "Since when does the day end at 11:00?"
"Dad, it's time for bed." My boy Danny apparently doesn't understand his father's need to set the Universe in order.
"Not now, son. I think I just got screwed."
"Turn the computer off, Dad, and step away. It is what it is."
I stopped myself from randomly clicking things on the nano website that obviously weren't going to solve my dilemma. He was right. I knew from the get go this whole venture was going to end badly. This was just the icing on the cake. A 50k word meandering exhibition of how NOT to write a book. Lesson learned...I guess. It was time to move on.

So what did I get out of my experiment. Well, I have what some would consider an accomplishment to be proud of. I have completed a novel. Big deal. I now have several completed novels and I'm sure before I leave this rock and move on to the next stage of existence, I'll have completed several more. That wasn't the point. I guess if anything I might have polished some skills in the stream of consciousness area. Let it flow, don't look back, just write, baby, write. Over the course of the month I averaged over 1500 words a day, bumping my average up considerably from my normal, pounding out of a first draft, pace. I also added more hours per day to my writing schedule than my usual hour in the morning before I have to get my ass over to the job that pays the bills (or at least some of them). So I guess I could say now I know I can do it. Terrific. I'll be sure to put that in my memoirs that will probably never get written because I've certainly got a lot of rewriting and editing to do.

Which brings me to the big question that I started the month of December off with. Where do I go now? Surprisingly a writing project has presented itself that, while not something I would have ever thought of on my own, has the potential to not only make me some money, but also broaden the scope of my skill set. I'll divulge more on this as it unfolds, but for right now I'll just say the timing is perfect. I have two first drafts to work on rewriting and as we all know, rewriting and writing aren't the same creatures. I always hate getting into rewrites because I feel that as a writer I should be writing something new at all times. But once I start writing something new, the older stuff that needs work usually gets pushed aside. For example, the rough draft I have of my book "Paramount," which has been sitting for almost exactly a year waiting for me to get back to it. It's become somewhat of an elephant in the room when it comes to my file folder where I stick my work. This morning I opened that folder and, for the first time in a year, went through the first couple of pages. Yeah, maybe it has potential.

As for my Nanowrimo novel "Auto Focus" (working title only), it will be there. It's not going anywhere, and neither am I. I already wrote about distractions, well, I'm certainly not lacking any of those. Maybe I'll get back to "Auto Focus" (again, that' just a working title only) before 2012 rears its ominous head.

Hee Haw