Friday, July 12, 2019

Your time may not be now / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-July-2019

A number of years ago, I used to submit stories to the Writers of the Future contest--check the contest out, if you're able to submit to it.  It's well worth it.

Unfortunately, I stopped submitting.

The reason: what if I won?

Now, this may seem like a stupid reason because of course one wants to win.  But at the same time, there are a lot of perks that go along with being a finalist in the contest.  The biggest is a week-long intensive workshop with a number of authors in the science fiction / fantasy genre, and the knowledge gained is priceless.

Unfortunately, given my wife's health, I stopped submitting.  I cannot be away from her and our kids for a week--this would be in California and I live in Minnesota.  For two weekends in November, I go deer hunting about an hour and a half away from our home.  Even this is a feat, because I may have to return on a moment's notice--and I have, more than once.

At my full-time job, there is an industry experience program that allows 3-4 individuals to learn about various aspects of the electronics business.  This goes for 7-8 weeks, with a full week at the end for travel.  Again, I cannot do this but would love to experience other aspects of the industry.

I am fine with all this.  Despite these obstacles, there are plenty of things I can do.  I may not enter the WOTF contest, but I do continue to write on an almost daily basis.  I also publish.  And I support the contest by purchasing the books.

On a final note, I didn't write this for any sort of sympathy.  I love my family and will do anything for them.  They are the reason I write (and publish) in the first place.

Friday, July 5, 2019

My next five / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-July-2019

The second quarter of 2019 has come and gone.

And what a wild ride it was.

As you may (or may not) know, I have a list of "to do" each quarter that I call "My Next Five."  I list out five major things I want to accomplish in a given quarter.  This list is personal (no, I won't share it here) and I do give myself the freedom to revise it as the quarter comes.

For example, my original plan for 2019 was to complete an epic fantasy novel.  By early April, I had the first (of four) parts complete.  By the time I was well into part two, I decided to halt the project and work on a few others.

One thing that derailed "my next five" for the second quarter 2019 was health-related.  My wife's health took a severe turn for the worst.  Although she is recovering nicely, she still needs some much-needed TLC.

My next five for the third quarter consists of completing my current project and writing another one, along with brainstorming ideas for future projects.  I also hope to get a newsletter out by the end of July, so if you haven't signed up, please to do here on this link.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Knowing that you're going down the wrong path (and you still keep going) / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-June-2019

A few weeks ago, I had to halt my current work-in-progress as I had no way of knowing where it was going.

Some stories I've written completely in the dark, with little to no roadmap as to where it was going.  I love those stories as they seemingly wrote themselves.

My current work-in-progress was like driving through a gigantic forest of dense brush . . . and there was no letting up.  I've ran across obstacles (no, I will not call it writer's block!) where I slogged my way through the story until I finally found the way clear.  Remember driving through the dense brush I mentioned moments ago?  The clear path was right on the other side.  All I had to do was keep going.

Not this time.  I had to reverse . . . then, when I found what was causing the mix-up, I turned in the right direction.

My current work-in-progress now has a much clearer path.  I know where it's going . . .

If you ever find yourself struggling with your story, stop and examine where you are.  Could you be going down the wrong path?  If it is, go back through your story and find the new direction.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Stop dwelling; move on / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-June-2019

What's in the past cannot be changed.

So why are you dwelling on your past mistakes?

Stop dwelling.

And move on.

Think back to your New Year's resolutions.  Let's keep it simple and say you had a personal goal to go to the gym four days a week.  Doable, right?  Then, after a few months, you decide to take a short break.  You don't go to the gym for a week.  Then two.  Realizing what's going on, do you cram in a bunch of times to "catch up"?

No.  Start over.  Hit the reset button.

For roughly a month, I've been dealing with some weird medical issues with my wife.  It has caused me a lot of stress, and in turn my writing has been dealt with one heck of a blow.  What am I doing about it?  First, prioritizing my life.  Family is and always will be first.  Without my wife and kids, nothing else matters.  Alongside that is my health.  After that is my writing.

Writing will always be there.  Even if life happens and I don't get to the laptop for months, the stories will always be there.

I must stress that no matter what happens, take time for yourself, don't dwell on what you haven't been able to do, and just hit the reset button.  Move on.  It's okay to go slow.

I am currently at the 5,000 word mark on a new story.  Will it be done by the end of June?  Nope.  Shooting for July.

And if I don't do that, it's okay.  It will be published.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Can you do better? / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-June-2019

Better is a fine line between perfection and just slapping something together with duct tape.

But is it really a fine line, as if one was balancing on a high wire?  I would argue that it isn't.  Better is a wide chasm, where you should have your sights set on the other side.

You should also resign to the fact that you will never achieve perfection.

What is perfection when it comes to art?  This may be in books, movies, paintings, sculptures, houses, well . . . virtually anything that can be created.  The deer stand that I sit in each hunting season may not be perfect, but it's better than sitting my butt on the cold, frozen ground.

How many movies have you seen where you enjoyed it and everyone else criticizes it to no end?  Or books?  TV series?

Strive to do better.  If you really want to see this in action, look at your favorite artist, be it musician, author, painter, singer, etc., comparing from their early works to those decades later.  Those who persist over time will be more refined and far along the "better" line than those just starting out.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Write to your readers, not writers / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-June-2019

I watched an interview, by a famous CEO, who said one of the biggest problems companies make is that they focus too much on their competition.

Who should they be focusing on?


This makes complete sense.  I follow a number of authors on social media and I chuckle how much they seem to focus on other writers, comparing themselves to be better than other writers.  In fact, they take great pains in critiquing other writers, only to build themselves up.

I have not watched the last season of Game of Thrones, as I do not have HBO and I only watch the shows on DVD.  But I have seen many criticize how the last season was done.  Again, I sit back and chuckle to myself, thinking, "If you think you can do better, do it!"

Honestly, that is what I should have titled this post, and I may expand on that notion next week.

So, to my fellow writers out there, quit focusing on other writers and delight your readers.  Take them on a journey.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Writing as therapy / Happenings In The Outhouse 31-May-2019

For me, writing is therapy.  No need to lay on a couch and talk with a shrink.  Writing, like reading fiction or Scriptures, is the best therapy for me.

If you have been following my blog for a considerable time, you'll know that my wife was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2011.  Eight . . . long . . . years ago.  She's still cancer free, but a variety of illnesses bring her down from time to time, not including she gets tired very easily.

Which brings me to May 19th, just a few weeks ago by this point.  My wife hadn't been feeling well for several months, despite going to frequent doctor appointments, with a distinct yellowing in her skin.  On this fateful day, she grew rapidly disorientated.  By the next morning, with the help of my in-laws (her parents), we brought her to the doctor, who advised us to admit her to the ER ASAP.  What they discovered was an elevated level of ammonia.  Her kidneys and liver were failing, due to an infection (UTI), but it could be reversed.  She spent most of that week in the hospital, where she received the best medical care.  She had no memory of the events of the 19th and 20th, where she exhibited her odd behavior.

What does this have to do with writing?  Doesn't this sound a bit selfish for me to think about my writing when my wife was severely ill?

Not at all.  Her needs came first.  At the same time, however, I had to take care of myself.  With a severe lack of sleep, my stress level was probably off the charts.  I rested when I could.  Then, I set out to heal myself.

Enter: writing.

I am currently writing a new story.  Originally, I planned on punching this story out in about two weeks.  Well, it may be a little longer.  Not much, but I delegate what I need to delegate (at home) and I'm setting aside more time for my writing--ahem, I mean therapy.