Finding Distraction in the Future

So I posted a couple weeks ago that I was starting to research a new project.  I’ve only begun to scratch the surface on that research, but now I can’t seem to focus on doing any writing outside of that topic even though I can’t even begin the bulk of my research until next month when I go back to dig through the local archives.

I think the last words I wrote on the fiction piece I had started earlier were literally, “… they turned the corner to find themselves at a dead end.”  Perhaps I should take it as a message from my subconscious that this previously started piece was something that wasn’t going anywhere and I should go ahead and go full bore on the new project since that’s what I’m inspired to write about.

I’m just worried that I’ll end up constantly chasing inspiration and never finishing anything.  Writing because I like to do it is one thing, but having a bunch of scraps just floating around in my “writing ideas” notebook is another.  One of my friends has set some very specific goals for himself  on getting submissions in on a monthly basis.  I think that would work against me because I would just send out stuff to send it out, but perhaps some similar goals would be in order.

Ah, the Spam Remains

So I hadn’t written in over a year, but once I started posting again the spam comments picked up just like I had never left.  I’m kind of surprised the spambots didn’t move on to greener pastures. I guess they’ll be here after we are gone, along with the cockroaches.

The Blue Marble and the Internet

"The Big Blue Marble" taken by Apollo 17 crew

I’ve begun to wonder what the mental image of “Earth” is to kids growing up today.  When I was growing up, we were constantly fed images of the “Blue Marble”, based off the famous image taken in Dec 1972. It wasn’t the first picture of Earth as a whole in space, but it certainly grabbed the spotlight.

The world was suddenly a smaller place, and I think members of my generation grew up with a very different concept of the planet than those that came before. Environmentalism started to take off in the 70s and I certainly remember reading about recycling, conservation, and related topics in grade school. Public broadcasting was full of images of the world spinning alone in space, including a show called “Big Blue Marble”. The Earth was this beautiful thing that we could now see the entirety of instead of taking educated guesses of what it would look like.  Continents weren’t just some lines on a map, or some vague concept, they were actual land masses. When I think of “Earth”, I think of an image like “The Blue Marble”.

So what makes me think that the generation growing up today may have a different concept of “Earth”? For one, this image is almost 40 years old.  We’ve seen pictures of other planets and the impact may be gone.  I also think that the internet has brought pictures, sound & video from all over the world right to them.  The Earth isn’t just some thing out in space, but the people who live on that world.  The rise of human rights campaigns and the struggles to gain a voice in government seem to be the cause of the day, taking priority over the environmentalism of previous years. People still recycle, reduce, & reuse – but it is mainstream and not as a revolutionary idea as it once was.

It will be interesting to see where this generation takes humanity and how they define their vision of “Earth”.


Forward Into the Past

I’m starting to do some leg work on a piece I’ll start writing later on this fall.  Growing up we did a little bit of local history in elementary school and I still remember learning that the town I spent a good chunk of my childhood in had a thriving hotel and more.  It was a railroad town and thus had all the amenities.  A fire burnt the hotel to the ground and the town wasn’t quite the same again.

This will be a new experience for me.  I’ve done research before, but only a little bit of this type of topic. Plus I’ve never written a historical fiction piece.  I’m looking forward to starting this project, as I think it will be very interesting to do both. Actually, I may not even do the “fiction” piece if the real thing is interesting enough.

Enumerating my flaws

As I muddle through my latest attempts at writing fiction, I’ve come to realize that I’ve got some major issues to work through.

  1. I stink at adding in descriptive text, at least on the first pass.  I reviewed some of the scenes I wrote the past few days, and I have very little in the way of describing where the scene takes place or even describing the way the characters look.  There’s something to be said about leaving something for the reader’s mind to fill in, but there need to be some clues as to where and when the scene is taking place.
  2. I move too fast in taking characters from one point to another, both in characters movement about the scene and in plot progression.  I tend to jump from point A to point B without taking the reader on the journey.
  3. I have no knack for creating good names for my characters without sounding like something from an Agatha Christie novel. I should just name my main character Herbert P. Shufflebottom and be done with it.

Points 1 & 2 can be fixed on a second pass, and it might actually be better for me to continue on getting more of the plot/discussion breakdown written first and then fill in the scene later. Part 3 I’ll have to work on.  Then again, Herbert P. Shufflebottom is starting to grow on me.

So what happened in 2012?

This is mainly for my own use, trying to put down what happened over the year I went “undocumented” here on the blog.  I spent the year trying to get my feet underneath me as I lept into public librarianship after a decade of academic librarianship. Now in the grand theory of librarianship, they are very similar, but in actual practice there are some major differences.  Especially since I went to work in a library that served a population that was about the size of the incoming freshmen class at my old library.  That was actually a welcome change for me, being a small town boy at heart.  I had to get used to being the administrator; I had to manage as well as lead.  Getting into a new rhythm of life took me a bit longer than I thought.

One of the main reasons for that happened in May. Julie went through another health crisis.  We had a place all lined up to move to, she had a job lined up in York and things were progressing nicely when she started having problems again.  The decision was made to stay where we were and for me to commute each day.

All during this time, I kept pushing forward at work at the expense of writing and connecting.  I went into a social networking hiatus – barely touching Twitter and only really getting into Facebook to wish people happy birthday and to update the library Facebook page. I think the sacrifice was worth it, as I got a lot of things accomplished in my first year with the help of a great staff, board, and community.

I’m not saying this to look for pity or accolades. Like I said, I’m just trying to get it here where I had documented a good chunk of my life before and think the story needs to continue.

Surprise, the keyboard still works!

I turned 40 years old at the beginning of this month.  A bit of a milestone, I guess. It certainly did make me stop and think about what I’m doing and where I’m going.

I gave myself some time over the long weekend to review my life and I decided on what things were important for me to actually work on and what things are merely distractions or time-sinks.

I actually laid out a schedule of what I’m going to do and when.  I’m both impressed and upset with myself.  I’m impressed on how much of the stuff I feel I should be doing (exercising, writing) I was able to get into my day, even with two hours of my day eaten up by commuting to work.  I’m upset with myself that I had frittered away all that time I could have been using during the past year.

One of the inspirations happened when I had was a talk with one of my best friends the other day.  He’s got just as long of a commute as I do, a two-year old at home and another kid on the way.  He’s submitted several short stories, agent requests, and had works published.  Two other friends of mine have also been published recently as well. And by published I mean paid professional rates for their work.  I did get a book chapter in a recent book that was released, but that doesn’t really count for me because it was work I did as an academic and therefore it was for my tenure & promotion folder and not as a stand-alone paid project.  There may not be much of a distinction, but I feel like there is. I always joked that my retirement hobby would be to write fiction, but I’m feeling that calling right now.

I’m very aware that I’ve probably said these words before, and I’ll probably say them again, but hopefully each time it will get easier for me to keep working at what I want to improve.  I need to get both sides of my brain going on the right track, using the creative side to make things interesting and using my logical side to actually make sure my sentence structure and verb usage is correct.  I imagine, I’ll need to do a lot of work on both sides. This blog will be an exercise in that.

Here we go again. The keyboard still works, now lets see if the gray matter can still produce.

The next chapter begins

Today was a emotional day for me. One of the hardest days of my life.  Today was the day I left my job as emerging technologies librarian at UNL.  I’ve been there since my student days, starting as a shelver.  My entire adult life has had the UNL Libraries as a major part of it.  I achieved tenure as a faculty member. I’ve met some really good people there including my best friends and my wife. Deciding to leave was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

I held it together during the big “cookie crumble” as people I had known for so long came and said good bye; telling me how they will miss me and how much I had helped them during our time together.  I only really lost it when I had to say goodbye to my coworkers in my department after the crumble and it was time for me to leave.  These people I had worked with during good times and bad; dealing with crisis events and big projects and really forged great relationships with. My best friends, not just in work but in life.

I’m excited about the next phase of my life; being the director at Kilgore Memorial Library in York, NE.  I start tomorrow and am ready for new challenges, meeting new people, and starting the next chapter in my life.

I had to go through today to get to tomorrow and today was kind of rough.

Chapter end. Turn the page.

Thoughts on 23 Things

So I started the 23 Things for professional development and got to thing 9. What does that say? It says this method of learning wasn’t for me.  I just didn’t feel like I actually was getting much in actually staying with the program. Did I get some insights? Maybe. Could I have done a better job reaching out to engage more with other participants? Probably.

I think the biggest obstacle was that I was dealing with other “things” that made doing 23 things seem like a extra burden.  I had a deadline to finish a book chapter. I had to run the elections for the state library association. I had a wife dealing with a serious health issue.

The reward for me wasn’t worth the cost of time to do the things. I’m not saying that the program or method is bad. Far from it. I’m saying it wasn’t the program for me at this moment.

Looking forward & back

As the past few posts have said, I’ve had a rough summer this year.  I’m so looking forward to this coming weekend. Labor day weekend and the start of college football season makes me happy.

I’m starting to get my creative writing groove back.  Last night I couldn’t fall asleep because I had the beginnings of a story rumbling around in my mind. I pelted out a prologue for a new sci-fi story that had been forming in the back of my mind for the past couple weeks.  In my initial stages of writing, I’m not a plot-centered writer, but one of those that sets up the scenario and the characters and then see where they take me. I’m a bit rusty, so this will be good practice even if it none sees it but me.

That’s all good, but I really need to finish a book chapter on computer networking that is due in September.  Kind of bad timing for inspiration to hit, but bouncing between fiction and non-fiction might help me by flexing both sets of writing muscles.

So that’s looking forward.  Looking back, I see I’ve been blogging for 10 years.  The past few years have been really spotty as far as actually posting on a regular basis. I guess most of the personal stuff I’ve been putting into Facebook where I get that immediate feedback from family & friends – the people who would most interested in it.

I suppose I could make a deal about a decade of blathering, but really I don’t think it is that big a deal.  Maybe the next 10 years will be more interesting.

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