Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Chasing The Buzz

A few Fridays ago my kids came home from school, as they do and, like a good parent, I waited until Sunday night to go through their bags. I waded through graded worksheets and school notices that I already read online. At the bottom of the pile was something that sent my heart racing and filled me with warm, fuzzy feelings of joyous nostalgia. The Scholastic Book Catalog. Never has a half dozen or so stapled sheets of colored newsprint brought so much joy.

I get high just smelling the newsprint and ink.
There's a great meme making the rounds about how we're all just chasing the buzz of the Scholastic Book Fair. And it's true. How many great books did we discover thanks to those brightly colored pages, not to mention the hundreds of different ways we learned to make paper airplanes, much to the chagrin of our teachers. The thing was there was no judgement, no shame in what you liked. There was nothing like ordering the books, bringing the money back in sealed envelopes and then waiting weeks for the books to arrive. The excitement of being called up to the front of the class to get them and the triumph you felt bringing them back to your desk. We really are still hunting that high, aren't we?

For a long time I sat at my kitchen counter, thumbing through the catalog, seeing what my kids marked. Then I looked for what I wanted. It was still kind of exciting. Cooper wanted lots of stuff, including things that are a little over his head. But we've started reading chapter books at night now because he wants to read. Natalie is Harry Potter obsessed and her markings were all over the place, still heavy on graphic novels and books that bordered on young adult. There's a conversation to be had about "older" middle grade and "younger" young adult but now's not the time to have that conversation and I may not be the one to start it. Another thought danced with the nostalgia I was feeling. A dark feeling. Why weren't any of my books in there?

It's a terrible feeling to have. But that's all bitterness and nothing else. I decided to enjoy the buzz. I spend too much time in Dante Hicks mode, lamenting the bad luck and decisions I've made. I'm writing, working through ideas. One day, kids will catch a buzz off of one of my books in the Scholastic Book Catalog.

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019: The Year In Review (Sort Of): The Writing

It's the start of a new year and that means it's time for a new notebook and a fresh start. This time of year always makes me think of the last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip ever.

I wrote a long, meandering draft in my notebook looking back at what I wrote in 2019, but that's not making a fresh start. That's looking back and it's certainly not what a boy and his tiger are telling us to do, is it. So instead, let's look forward to 2020.

I'm excited about this year, as far as writing is concerned. 2020 is going to be all about ambition. I feel energized, excited and focused about what I want to do. I'm not setting goals the way I used to...I've learned that's not the best way for me to accomplish anything. Last year, I discovered a new metric to measure my writing. Time not words. I can't thanks Mike Headley for that! I wrote for a total of 342 hours. That's a little less than an hour a day. That's not too bad. But I can do better. I need to do better.

I've thought a lot about how I want to approach writing in the coming year. It's not as simple as saying I want to write X number of hours. It's more than that. I need to think about logistics first. I had a great conversation last weekend with my friend Brian and I told him that I need to set aside a time, each day, dedicated to just writing. Brian wakes every morning and does three pages, every day. He doesn't measure in time. I do. I need at least an hour a day, so that's a goal I'm, setting.

I'd love to sit here and say that it doesn't matter the hour, but I already know that's bullshit. If I don't tell myself that I need to write from 10-11 every night (I'm not a morning guy, so don't suggest 5am), I'm going to put it off and ignore it. So I need to dedicate that time. I don't know if it'll be 10-11, but we'll see. I do know that it's got to be a solid hour. Add that to random times when I can find time to write (students working, after the kids go to bed, volleyball clinics, etc.), I should be able to hit 500 hours this coming year. But that's not all I need to do this year when it comes to my writing time.

In years past I've made lists of what I'd like to write and that hasn't served me in the least. I'm not going to share it here. These will be my "main" projects while I'm going to "schedule" additional projects as well. I've recently become enamored with AO3. I have a complicated history with fancfic but I've been won over by AO3 and decided to use that site to sort of stretch my writing legs a bit. This last year, I also wrote some stuff that never really saw the light of day and I want to continuing to do that along with a few other smaller projects that I've discussed with a few people. I also want to blog more.

For now, 2020 writing goals are to write at least 500 hours in 2020, try to write every day, set up a dedicated time each day to write and set aside certain times during the week to work on AO3 projects, my never seeing the light project and my blog while working on main projects.

Let's roll 2020.