Sunday, March 22, 2009, posted by Q6 at 11:32 AM
So I'm now starting to wonder if I've got the chops to pull off this writing thing.

I've got a couple of stories in my head. Three are short stories (and how short stories get published anymore is a mystery to me), one's an autobiography (which, for a while, people told me I HAD to write), and two are novels. I've chosen one to start writing . . . and whenever I sit down to write (and that's not frequently; I've got a job and a family, a house that needs work, etc.), I've hit enormous brick walls the likes of which I never thought I'd encounter. The last couple of times I've sat myself down with the intention of doing some work on my novel, my ideas do not come out in any fluid way--or, more accurately, they come out too fluid, like cookie dough that's all runny and won't take shape. And nothing makes you want to get up and walk away more than spilling runny mental cookie batter all over your keyboard.

I have no idea what to do next.

I do, however, have two things in mind. The first is to apply some goal-setting skills (learned in the book I just finished, The Power of Less by Leo Babauta) and see if I can't do this successfully in more incremental steps. This might prove to solve only part of my problem; I think one of the other problems I'm having is getting the story itself to take its proper shape. I've got plenty of devices, quite a few characters, and a basic plot . . . what I don't seem to be generating is a narrative that anyone outside my head would understand, nor am I creating anything that seems as good or enjoyable as the stuff I've been reading from established authors. Many people have told me that they like my writing, but I don't see what they're seeing, so I'm having a difficult time reproducing that which I cannot identify. The other day I thought that seeking help from professionals might be, if nothing else, encouraging. To that end, I might check my home library for Stephen King's On Writing. I have no idea if that will help, but it couldn't hurt.

In the end, everything is going to encourage me to write, keep writing, and write some more. Some of it's going to be crap--some writers suggest that most of it will be crap--but that as I get through it the whole thing will eventually take shape and I'll find my rhythm.

I'm trying not to get discouraged. I think the goal setting will help. I hope it will, anyway.
Friday, March 20, 2009, posted by Q6 at 12:00 PM
My seventeen-year-old son is still looking for his first job.

Because I haven't been following him around constantly in full-blown "Mother Hen" mode, I don't know to what degree he's seriously looking; I know that he IS fillng out and turning in applications, and I know that the home phone has not been ringing as a result. (I also know that he was, at one point, showing up to these places in torn jeans with his skateboard in his hands; I have since warned him off this particular visual.)

Is it possible that in these declining economic times so many people are struggling for employment that all the ex-CEOs out there have taken my son's burger-flipping job? I've purposely stayed out, for the most part, of this job hunt; at one point I printed a few things up I found online, if for no other reason than to encourage him to look in multiple places (I want to be helpful and supportive, on one hand; on the other hand, he won't be able to DO the job himself if he can't FIND the job himself, right?). Everything turns out to be a bust, and the entire household feels his frustration.

(And I think things have changed since I was a teen. Way back in the day, I would call or stop in and check on the status of my application, and they would actually tell me the status; when my son checks on the status of HIS applications, the response is, "I dunno--you want to fill out another one?")

He wants to have a job. He wants to earn money for his own car. He wants a new, slightly higher level of independence. I want him to have all of that. Can you call someone a victim of unemployment if he hasn't yet found his first job?
Monday, March 02, 2009, posted by Q6 at 2:04 PM
I am a lover of books. I am an avid reader. I have a library. (Yes, I have a library. I have an entire room of my house lined with wooden shelves filled with books. There are places to sit and books to read.) I cannot imagine a world without books, and I was worried that the Kindle was going to ruin the literary world. It would, I feared, do to books what the iPod did to the CD. I was worried that in five years' time I wouldn't be able to find books anymore. I thought that the Kindle was a bad thing.

Now, I want one.

When my wife and I went to see Neil Gaiman on his The Graveyard Book tour, the Q & A session included my question: Do you think that reading--and the printed book--will suffer as more and more people do their reading on the Internet? His answer was wonderful (I'm quickly learning that Gaiman is part author, part guru). He quoted Douglas Adams (probably the coolest thing he could have done to answer my question): There is nothing else in the world like a shark; in thousands of years there have always been sharks and there will always be sharks; and because only hsarks do what sharks do they will never be replaced by anything. He also reminded me (and everyone in the auditorium) that the Kindle and printed books are not mutually exclusive; he said that he likes printed books, and he likes his Kindle, and he does not fear the end of literature on paper.

And that was enough for me. I've not only calmed down, I've started to consider what books I would feel ok about reading on the Kindle 2 and what books I would want to read from the printed copy. This is irrational, I know: I'm trying to figure out how to fit the Kindle into my life before I even start setting aside the money for one.

It's still an "if" for me, but I'm not afraid anymore. Thank you, Mr. Gaiman.