Friday, October 18, 2019

Three Things / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Oct-2019

I was recently listening to Lewis Howes's podcast, The School of Greatness, and during an interview with Simon Sinek, he asked if, at the very end of your life, all of your possessions and creative works disappeared and you were given a blank sheet of paper to write down three things (pieces of advice, if you will), what would they be?

This brought to mind a post I wrote in December last year, titled "Have Fun."  Go ahead and read it.  I'll wait . . .

Funny how life turns out, given the current situation with my wife.

Here would be my three things:

Be Kind

Be Faithful

Be Happy

What would your three things be?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Trimming Da Fat / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Oct-2019

In December 2016, I went on a podcast fast.  I had done this a few times over the years, as I had found myself with too many podcasts to listen to in any given week.

Last week, instead of going on a full podcast fast, I decided to trim back on a few.  I listen to podcasts at a little more than normal speed--around 1.5 speed.  I do this to listen to more.  But I have soon discovered that while I have a number of favorites, some I had trouble listening to.  So I asked myself, "Am I gaining anything to listening to them?  What if I took them out of my feed and quit listening to them?"

What a relief!

I had already done this with three other podcasts--all with the same hosts--as they changed the format from MP3 to M4A files.  I could still listen to them on my MP3 player, but it was a pain.  It didn't have the same quality.  So, I decided to ditch them.

My ideal podcast length is between 10-40 minutes long, although I would rather them be short.  The ones I got rid of last week were typically over an hour in length.  Not only did I get rid of two, a third one also found itself on the chopping block.

I love learning new things and deep diving into topics that interest me.  But there are times when I need to start doing, putting things into action by writing new words.

Hence, trimming da fat from the podcast feed.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Planning for the rest of 2019 / Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Oct-2019

It is now the first week of October 2019.  The start of the 4th quarter.  What is on the docket for the remainder of the year?

Looking back on the last quarter--and my list of the next five--I managed to cross off one thing and start on another.  Knowing how the summer has been for our family, I'm changing the focus to fit the circumstances.

Sure, I could write this grand list and pray for the best, knowing that I may only accomplish one thing, but I'd be kidding myself.  I need to be a bit realistic.

With the YA book I'm currently writing (I am around 6,000 words!), I also plan on exploring a print version as well.  My first one.  At the same time, I have identified another book (along with a workbook) that I may put into print as well.

Keeping it simple.  Cheers!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Treasure The Memories / Happenings In the Outhouse 27-Sept-2019

For anyone who knows me (or even spends a little time with me) will usually hear this phrase more than once: "Years ago . . ."

The Netflix show Stranger Things, set in the early to mid-1980's, brings back a lot of memories unique to that era.  From Dungeons and Dragons and the iconic music of that age to Ghostbusters and the Neverending Story, I love that period of time.  In season 3, the "pool" scenes were classic from my days of practically living at the local pool with my friends.  I can smell the chlorine, even to this day.

Thinking back on those days also reminds me of the iconic memories with family.  So many Christmases were spent at my grandparents' home, with relatives gathered from near and far, playing their Intellivision video game console, opening gifts, and eating hordes of hors d'oeuvres from cookies and crackers to lefse and grandma's famous (to us, anyway) "green punch."

June 2002 changed a lot of that.  A flood cascaded throughout much of the town, and my grandparents' basement was forever changed.  The entertainment room where many Christmases were shared was destroyed and had to be filled in with cement.  After that, the basement wasn't the same.  But the family was resilient and pulled together, moving future festivities to the upstairs living room.  Even this past Thanksgiving, my son and I helped to move (for the last time, I am sad to say) from the basement (from the very room, now filled with cement, where those Christmases were shared) to the upstairs.

After my grandfather's passing on August 23rd, their old house has been sold.  I have been asked a few times if I would like to see it again, as the new owners are currently remodeling it.  For me, that answer is simple: no.  The home will provide new memories for the next generation of families to grace its floors, its hallways, its rooms, and I pray they cherish those as much (if not more, although that would be a stretch) as I have.

To quote Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the movie Silence of the Lambs, "Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view."

Memories from years past are etched through the pages of my stories.  Sometimes even the slightest detail can be found.

During my childhood, many weekends were also spent at my grandparents' cabin on Minnesota Hill.  It has been close to 20 years since I've been there--I won't bore you with the details on why this occurred--and if I was ever asked to see the old cabin again, despite any remodeling that may have taken place, my answer would also be the same.

Nope.  Nada.  Thanks but no thanks.

I cherish the memories of years past, but I don't dwell there.  Instead, I cherish the memories of times to come.

Friday, September 20, 2019

What's in store for Q4? / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Sept-2019

As I am winding down on the end of the Q3 2019, I am looking ahead to the final three months of the year.

Under normal conditions, I would have a book I'm writing then publishing along with planning a series or two along with a few other improvements toward building up my writing empire.  This would be my "Next five".

Given the recent developments with my wife's health, two deaths in the family (one being my grandfather, whom I will dedicate an entire blog post about in the near future, and another being an uncle on my wife's side), a vehicle that I need to sell, and other home improvement projects, I am still charging forth with my next five things for Q4.  But they will look a little different than they have in the past.

I am scaling back my writing goals to writing/publishing my first YA book and maybe one other item.  The others will be geared toward other aspects of my life.

What they are, I still do not know.  I will write more about them soon.

Friday, September 13, 2019

How much is too much? / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Sept-2019

My kids and I went to see the new movie It Chapter Two last weekend.  Afterward, my youngest daughter thought it was good, even though she was scared.  But one thing she said made me stop and think: "Dad, it had the right amount of jump scares."

What a profound and interesting statement.

It was true.  I've been to movies and watched TV shows where there is an overindulgent of an element of storytelling.  Jump scares are fine, but overdoing it is another.  When it comes to telling a good story, you can't always have your feet on the accelerator.  You need to stop every once and a while, just for a breather.

Even though good thrillers are typically fast-paced, they do slow down at just the right times.  But don't take my word for it.  As my basic writing advice is:

1) read a lot

2) write a lot

3) publish/submit for publication a lot

If you spend enough time reading and analyzing stories, you'll know how it works naturally.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Managing your time, even as you manage yourself / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Sept-2019

It's vitally important to manage your time.  And managing your time shouldn't take a back seat to managing yourself--meaning, your health or the health of others.

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, look at what needs to be done and what you should do, and use the "kiss" method: keep it simple stupid.

Delegate where you can.

Sometimes it's okay to sit back and watch a movie or TV show, or even read a book--for us writers, reading may be better, but there is power in watching a movie/show.

Right now, I'm dealing with the health of my wife.  I won't delve into much detail here, but needless to say it's stressful.  But I have the absolute best relatives and friends who have been helping out where they can.  A few Sundays ago, after my wife was taken into the hospital (for the third time this summer!), my son and I went to church.  Upon our return, we found friends who were in the process of mowing our lawn.  They probably would've finished if we stayed after church for coffee and bars, and then I would've been wondering what happened to our nicely-manicured lawn.

I am in the process of writing my first YA book, and I am a little over 2,000 words into it.  It's going well, even though it's going slow.  And the reason it's slow is because I've had other things to deal with.  As of this writing, we're in the process of getting my wife into a skilled nursing home (yes, a nursing home at the young age of 47, mind you!) for the short term.

Again, I must repeat that it is vitally important to manage your time deliberately.  What is important to you?  Write it down.  Then, schedule them, even if it's only for a few minutes.