30 September, 2011

Table Time in the Modern Age

Family on Friday!

Or should I say, "Table Time in Spite of the Modern Age?"

The point is, too many people feel that just being in the same room is enough.  And there are those who rarely do that anymore.  I'm not saying to kill your t.v. or check your phone at the door.  I am saying that it would be better to have some place and time when the outside world is left outside.  Signing up your family members for a MMORPG account and doing quests together is social, yes, but in a sad, sad way.

Tables are great for social interaction.  If you can't seem to connect with your family on a meaningful level over a meal just yet, then try any of a wide variety of table games that are out there.  Not all families can converse without heated arguments sending something into the trashcan (I've eaten with you.  I know).  Try turning those arguments into competitiveness.  Nothing can justify animosity better than a game.

Families that have fun together...  well... have fun together.

My daughter isn't old enough to play anything more advanced than look-at-the-toy, hold-up-your-head, or how-long-can-you-hold-the-rattle.  As a former youngun, I can remember living in my parents' very social home.  I've been to houses with teens, tweens, and energy vampires, and it doesn't take long to tell which families set aside time to be a family from those who pass each other in the halls.

I wouldn't suggest quitting the screens cold turkey.  Start off just by trying to demonstrate some simple courtesy (hundreds of thousands of moviegoers will thank you).  And lead by example.  Nothing will build up resentment and rebellion more a than do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude.  Think about your attitude toward our government and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Courtesy can and will prompt a change from looking in the area between the plate and stomach to heads up, eyes forward, and realizing that there are people in the room with whom to speak.  The best way to get there relies on incentive and reward, not restriction and punishment.  You've got to be ten times more interesting than whatever they're doing to avoid you, not the subject of their next flame.

What's worked for you?

28 September, 2011

Perfectionist's Guide to Poor Writing

Writers' Wednesday!

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times:  throw up, then clean up.

As a perfectionist, this is easier said than done.  I want to control the angle, distance, splash pattern, contents, colors, smells...  you get the idea.

The reason for throwing up is that edit-as-you-go is a complete waste of time.  Until you have finished whatever you're writing  (a limerick, protest sign, tweet, treatise on wolf calls, or great American novel) all that precious editing you've done will have to be redone anyway.  Again, and again, and again.  You can literally waste weeks perfecting some scene that will end up being deleted after the end when even you'll agree it doesn't belong.  The more time you wasted perfecting it will make it that much harder to get rid of when it has to go.

Now for the big question:  If you're a perfectionist one parallel positioning of the three-hole punch away from full-blown OCD, how will you ever manage to move on from one word to the next without electroshock therapy?


I speak of candy in the general sense.  Could be cookies.  Could be fruit.  Could be dark chocolate covered peanut butter caramels...  for example.  Just be sure it has sugar and you give it to yourself after you've blasted through a mess of everything that rhymes with Nantucket but before you write about the man and his bucket.

It's not just the idea of the rewarding small steps that helps you forego editing for now.  The mind on sugar is as forgiving as Docker's pants with the little elastic parts by the belt loops.  And if you can caffeinate it...  Bingo!!  (thank you, Diet Dr. Pepper!)  I once knocked out a ten-pager on A Brave New World in five hours (including the time it took to "read" the last half of the book) all hopped up on No Doze, Mike&Ike, and a few soft drink cans.  I turned it in knowing my road to fame and fortune had just been paved on the most brilliant Huxley analysis ever!

Edit sober.  I repeat.  Edit when you are sober.  It's okay to stop mid-sentence and then proceed to rewrite the sentence without ever grazing the backspace key on a first draft.  But, those kinds of things need to be caught at least by the fourth draft.  And certainly before you think it's done.

Lemme take this time to advise that you write responsibly.  I am not trying to boost sales of insulin.  What I am saying is that if you (like me) are incapable of reigning in your perfectionist urges, find a way to motivate yourself to move on and find something that helps your mind not realize it just repeated the same word several times and managed to spell it differently every time.

What about you?  Are you a perfectionist?  How do you cope?  (And don't tell me you edit as you go.  That is just not an option.)

27 September, 2011

A Brand New Routine

My daughter is three months old now.  That means several things are changing.
  • She sleeps longer at night.
  • She tries to talk more.
  • She's getting better at laughing.
  • Tummy time can be fun.
  • She's starting to grasp this whole hand thing.
  • We get to break out a whole new wardrobe.
But, the biggest change is that wifey is going back to work.  We've worked it out so that she will work Tuesday through Saturday and I'll work Saturday through Monday and nights.  Grandma will watch the bug on Saturdays and, booyah!  No expensive childcare!  Mwahahahaha!

Oops.  That means wifey and I won't have a day off together.  And what about my writing?  All those hours of statuesque staring at a computer screen have to fit in somewhere.  I'm in the middle of writing a novel.  These things don't just write themselves (trust me on this, I've waited for it).

This blog will chronicle my newly acquired role of write-at-home dad and the struggle to keep up with word count in spite of diaper count.  I'm not the only one going through this.  Can I get some help?  Is it possible to be a responsible father, responsive husband, keep up with a job, and maintain some semblance of productivity with writing?