Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More and Less

We all know the usual New Year's Resolution drill. My usual approach is a laundry list of detailed goals. There's really nothing wrong with that--it works well in many cases. It's nicely defined, black and white. But speaking of black and white, I tend to be all or nothing. If I miss a goal, it makes me want to just throw in the towel. At that point there's no way I can get a perfect score, so what's the point in finishing?

I'm going to try something a little different this year. Yes, I do have a few concrete goals: for example, as I mentioned in my last post, I want to finish editing a particular story. I'd also like to finish the first draft of another particular story. I have some tunes I want to work on. Etc.

But mostly, this year I've decided to work on "More" and "Less."

Pray more.
Write more.
Play more music.
Learn more.
Bike more.
Walk more.
Love more.
Forgive more.

Spend less.
Complain less.
Worry less.
Eat less junk.
Waste less time.

Quantifiable? To some extent. But there is no exact point of failure or success. It's meant to make me reflect, as opposed to my usual over-analyzing.

I can use more reflection.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Number of Housekeeping Items

1. As one New Year's Resolution, I've decided to finally complete the editing process on The Secret Princess: a kids' chapter book I wrote some years ago for my little sister. It's a princess-and-goblins-and-dragons-and-a-quest sort of thing, pretty lighthearted and silly. I'll hopefully be looking for a few beta readers by late January. Preference given to those who have or have been young children.

2. I have too much fountain pen ink. I really have a handful of colors I like best, and now that I can get samples from Goulet Pens when I have the itch to try something out of my usual realm, I don't see the need to keep a lot of it around. I will be selling off a bunch, at least if The Fountain Pen Network ever comes back up. In the meantime, though, if anyone wants dibs on a bunch of Private Reserve blues and greens (Avacado (sic), Sherwood Green, Midnight, Black Magic, Lake Placid), or a 90% full bottle of Noodler's Blue-Black, let me know.

I may also be selling off or giving away dip pen nibs, some pencils, and a few fountain pens (nothing super fancy), so watch this space!

3. You must go read Mike Clemens' and Richard Polt's reports of the Bay Area type-in on the 27th. (Please feel free to add to my list if you were there!) Looks like a great time was had by all!

4. And now back to actual, real housekeeping. I'd like to start off the new year feeling like I could at least have my more forgiving friends over without fatal shame...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Ran across this G.K. Chesterton quote today. It seems a nice antidote to my last post, so I thought I'd share!

"WE read a good novel not in order to know more people, but in order to know fewer. Instead of the humming swarm of human beings, relatives, customers, servants, postmen, afternoon callers, tradesmen, strangers who tell us the time, strangers who remark on the weather, beggars, waiters, and telegraph-boys--instead of this bewildering human swarm which passes us every day, fiction asks us to follow one figure (say the postman) consistently through his ecstasies and agonies. That is what makes one impatient with that type of pessimistic rebel who is always complaining of the narrowness of his life and demanding a larger sphere. Life is too large for us as it is: we have all too many things to attend to. All true romance is an attempt to simplify it, to cut it down to plainer and more pictorial proportions. What dullness there is in our life arises mostly from its rapidity; people pass us too quickly to show us their interesting side. By the end of the week we have talked to a hundred bores; whereas, if we had stuck to one of them, we might have found ourselves talking to a new friend, or a humorist, or a murderer, or a man who had seen a ghost."

~G.K. Chesterton: 'The Inside of Life.'

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Hey, it's been awhile since I did a woe-is-me post! How about we break that trend?

I've been feeling pretty down lately, cheery Facebook and Twitter posts notwithstanding. You could call it post-NaNoWriMo slump, and I suppose that's part of it, but not merely because of the change of pace. The truth is, my story was much smaller and less meaningful than I hoped it would be. Less mystery. Less complexity. Not much more than ordinary people in a slightly less than ordinary setting. Simple, fairly predictable. All right, I guess, in its own way, but nothing like my original vision and certainly no Great American Novel.

Which is pretty much always how these things turn out. And I end up feeling rather like someone who sets out to create a symphony, only to find themselves unable to compose anything more than a predictable little single line melody. Depressing, especially when you know enough to appreciate and admire the complexity and texture and richness of something deeper, but can't summon any of that into your own head.

Sometimes I feel like a poseur in the writing and blogging world in general. For one thing, it seems like writing, at least in today's world, primarily belongs to people who come from appalling-but-colorful circumstances, or to people you might call the elite: well educated, well traveled, highly experienced. People who have had the time and money to volunteer in remote locations, or to travel to historic sites all over the world, to brush elbows with the best and brightest in a variety of fields--or who are, in fact, among the best in brightest in their fields.

On the other hand, people from lower middle class but stable backgrounds, shabby but never quite destitute; people without college degrees or exotic experiences; people who settled into dull jobs at a rather young age and who have never had time or money for anything more exciting than splurging on a CD or a new pair of shoes or a trip to the beach now and again: these are not writer material, at least not unless they are geniuses or "edgy" or are extroverts with incredible drive and originality. Or so it seems sometimes.

So I haven't felt much like blogging or working on finishing my story, because it feels rather pointless. And yet, writing may be what I'm best at (which is not at all the same as saying I'm good at it), and I feel a bit lost when it isn't part of my days.

I suppose the secret is to accept one's limitations and work within them. Paint with the palette you have at your disposal instead of packing it all away for want of better materials. If you can only write simple little slightly-formulaic stories about more or less ordinary folk, make them the very best simple little slightly-formulaic stories about more or less ordinary folk you are capable of writing.

But it's hard sometimes not to get so bound up in frustration and envy that you tie your own hands until you are incapable of creating anything at all.