On Blogging, On Writing

Resolved: I Will Come Up With Resolutions

A solemn vow
A solemn vow

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I’m not even one for staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve (I was singing “Auld Lang Syne” to my pillow at 10:30, thank you very much). But something tells me that 2015 is going to be my year.

My problem is that something tells me this every year – and that something is rarely right. So I figured I’d throw in a little New Year’s resolution self-improvement to karmically sweeten the deal.

Let’s begin:

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My first resolution is for my beloved wife.

Resolved: I shall neither form opinions nor comment on the opinions of others until I have finished at least one big mug of morning coffee.

It’s for the best.

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Golf-wise, 2014 was a very good year for me. I don’t play golf, I fill my pockets with lost and/or abandoned golf balls from a nearby course. I now have 376 golf balls filling my office desk drawer. Also filled? My head – with questions like: “What on earth was I thinking?” and “What am I going to do with all of these stupid things?”

This is what 376 golf ball look like. If you want to see what a doofus looks like, check out the photo at the top of this blog.
This is what 376 golf balls look like. If you want to see what a doofus looks like, check out the photo at the top of this blog.

Resolved: I will get rid of my golf ball collection in a manner that is – at the very least – mildly amusing.

Suggestions are welcome.

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Since I started this blog three years ago I have broken bread with five blog pals and met at least a dozen more. I am delighted to report that every single one of them was funny, charming and interesting. I am still a bit gobsmacked by this. Seriously, what are the odds? Maybe I’m tempting fate, but I want to meet more!

Resolved: I will meet more blog buddies in person.

In other words, if you reside in or visit New Jersey, New York City, or Eastern Pennsylvania, feel free to hit me up for coffee.

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When I was in college, I earned a reputation as a skilled Laundry Fellow. One time when I was in the Laundromat folding a load of colors, a female classmate I had a nodding relationship with – let’s call her Liz – entered with her meathead boyfriend. She was there to do Mr. Meathead’s laundry for him. (Don’t even get me started.)

I nodded to Liz, as I usually did, and resumed my folding. After a few minutes, I realized that the laundromat was unusually silent. I looked up from my work to find both Liz and her meathead staring at me as if I was some kind of circus animal.

“I bet you iron, too,” Liz said with a contemptuous smile.

“Well, if you fold the clothes when they’re still warm,” I replied, “in many cases you don’t have to iron.”

It was at that moment I could see Mr. Meathead’s brain drawing conclusions about my sexual identity.

Since those days, my laundry muscles have atrophied. I still do loads without having to be asked, but washing my wife’s clothes have made things more complicated and intimidating. (Delicate cycles? Wha?) At times I feel like a babe in the laundry woods.

Resolved: I will become a Laundry Master.

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Here’s the obligatory writing one:

Resolved: I shall write early and often.

I already sort of do this. But I plan to write earlier and often-er. And with more gusto. I also want to get my word counts up.

Rebekah, one of my blog pals, banged out 14,000 words in one day for NaNoWiMo. Let me say right here and now that I have no plans to challenge this record.

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And the big finish:

Resolved: I will do something bold, yet well-planned.

I can’t do bold without my boldness being well-planned. And yes, I already have something planned. ‘Cause that’s the way I roll; I plan my planning!

So! What are some of your resolutions?

 

 

On Writing

The Writing Road

As Yogi Berra once said: “If you come to a fork in the road, wash it before you put it in your mouth.” Good advice if you ask me.

I can’t just sit down and write off the cuff. I need a plan. I need to know who the characters are, where I want to take them, and where they’re going to end up. Only after all that stuff is nailed down am I ready to write.

Almost all of that preliminary work takes place when I’m doing something else – showering, eating, or working at my day job. Much to my wife’s chagrin, it also happens late at night in bed. I scribble notes. I make doodles. I outline. Sometimes it takes a long time to do all this preparation, but luck favors the prepared, so I do it.

When I finally sit down to type, I have a tall-ish stack of notes and doodles and outlines by my side.

But then I type – and  the plan I spent oh so much time crafting is pushed aside and ignored. My carefully constructed characters are no longer the characters I had once envisioned; they say things I never considered, they do things I had never imagined, they shove the story in directions I never contemplated, and I am transfixed and fascinated by it all.

It is at that moment I know that I am on a creative roll. I’m in explore mode. It’s a kind of heaven.

Since I am so eager to abandon my writing plan once I begin writing, one might assume that I don’t need a plan at all. But I do. I’ve tried working without one, and the results have been uniformly terrible.

I’m not exactly sure why this is, but if I was to guess, I think it is because I need something rigid to rebel against. I need something to thumb my nose at and say, “Pfft. I can do better than that.”

The only other time I have ever abandoned my plans with such reckless delight took place years ago when I embarked on a solo cross-country trip. I had my route, and my maps, and knew where I wanted to settle down each night. Once I got in the car and started driving, however, I was all “Oh. My. God. The world’s biggest rocking chair is just 100 miles north of here!” And, in a twinkling, I was off down a potholed two-lane blacktop passing an alarming number of stores that sold both fireworks and alcohol.

I discovered this big guy on one such unscheduled detour. His name is Big Amos and, if you push a button by his knee, he will beg you to try the shoofly pie.

Sure it might be a colossal waste of time to drive hours out of the way to someplace that might as well be called Lickspittle County just to see a ginormous chair, but none of that mattered to me. I was in explore mode. I found joy in the journey.