First Printed Draft!

This is a photograph of my first printed draft of my novel. I did all of my own edits and drafts digitally, so I must admit that holding this physical copy was far more emotionally rewarding that I ever thought it would be.

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Morning Pages

In order to prepare for writing my first book, I thought it was likely best that I practice writing in general. I know that may sound ridiculous, but I had previously written periodically and never with such continued intent as would be needed for writing a whole novel. I had heard several people praise a method known as “morning pages”, but it wasn’t until I heard Brian Koppelman, writer of the screenplay for Rounders, speak about his near religious adherence to writing morning pages that I decided to give the  practice a shot.

For those unfamiliar, the idea is two write three hand written pages of a free flowing chain of though within the first few hours of waking. It is very important not to stop writing the pages once you have begun; the point is to flow through them consistently and, perhaps most importantly, not think about what you are trying to write. I know I was incredibly surprised to discover how much my thoughts stood directly in the way of the forward momentum of my writing. More often than not, I found myself not wanting to write the first thing that came to mind for fear of what someone might think of what I had just written. Luckily, the beauty of the morning pages presents itself in that very problem; no one, not even you, are supposed to even read what is written in your morning pages. Imagine, you allow yourself to write whatever the hell pops in your mind for three whole pages, and in so doing you will have stoked a fire under your desire to simply put words on a page. Nothing south of magic lies in the freedom that the morning pages afford the author who thinks too much; all of us.

My practicing morning pages not only helped me to write my novel, it actually helped me to realize that I didn’t want to write the novel I had originally intended to write. I had completed an entire outline for a novel that I ultimately cast aside because of the things I learned about my writing when I was doing my pages. I know everyone has their own process, and no two authors are alike, but if you often stop yourself from writing because you are worried about other people’s opinions, you might want to give morning pages a try.

 

I Wrote A Book!

Some time ago a man said to me, “under-promise and over-deliver.” Those were the  words that I constantly heard in my head as I finally began writing my own book.

To summarize as quickly as possible, I have wanted to write a book since I was 9 years old. I still vividly recall the first, less than a page long, short story that I wrote in the third grade. I recall it so vividly because I was certain it would propel me to stardom, never mind that I hadn’t bothered to publish it, write a second draft, edit for grammar etc… My point is, being a shade under 30 years old and having made no more attempts to write a novel since my third grade failure, I decided to knuckle down and write.

Starting January 1st,  2016, I made it my daily mission to put real effort into completing a novel of my own. I did not set out to write the great American novel, nor did I set out to write something famous, I set out to write a book. As of April 28th, 2016 I am happy to say that not only have I written a book, but I have now completed my second draft and will shortly be sending the book off to an editor for review.

I can say confidently that I had no idea how much work would go into writing the first and second draft’s of my novel, but I know damn well that my real work is just beginning. AS I am planning to self-publish the novel in various online platforms, I still have to create and finalize a cover image, secure a copyright, lay the groundwork for a small marketing campaign and so on…

The reason I wrote, and have always wanted to write, a book can be summarized in one word; inspiration. The movies, books, songs, and plays that have populated my imagination since childhood have woven a spell of inspiration in my mind that transcends enjoyment and calls for me to create. It may have taken me 30 years to discover how to respond to the calling, but, as they say, “better late than never.”

Check in through the coming weeks as I unveil my progress in finalizing the book.

An Allegory of Opportunity

Beginning a new work-place adventure after 6 years in one place can be a terrifying and marvelous prospect. I immediately waxed poetic on the feeling. Below are my thoughts.

The ship I stand upon is opportunity.

The spray of this unknown sea promises thrill, torment, magic and malice alike.

A cold wind blows, doubt. The sun breaks the clouds, hope.

Behind me is not safety, but familiarity. I think I should like to be unfamiliar.

The creaks of the decking whisper the responsibility of adventure and the horizon is mystery incarnate.

Too long has fear kept me moored where it may have hauled an anchor.

Now the sea she calls, and I will answer.

I trust to three things; my hands, love, and a lust for adventure to spurn me on.

Fare well, the setting sun I knew so long – I’d see you rise for me now.

Haul anchor!

*It’s important to note that I have an immense fascination with maritime exploration, hence the obvious and much used metaphor of ship and sea.

3M Vs Frog Tape(Delicate Surface) – Home Imbrewvement #1

I’m Back! I decided to take this past week off for a little R and R, and I could think of no better way to kick off a new year on the site than with a series I’ve wanted to start since for some time. I call it, Home Imbrewvement. The function of the series is to pair the trials and tribulations of home improvement projects with the alcoholic beverage necessary to forget the parts of the project that didn’t go so well. Example: a glass of whiskey does wonders to calm the nerves after forgetting to shut off the electricity before installing a new light fixture. You get the idea.

The fixture in question. I may have received a mild shock or two, but look how well it matches the cabinets! File that last under things I never thought I would some day say.

The fixture in question. I may have received a mild shock or two, but look how well it matches the cabinets! File that last under things I never thought I would some day say.

For most first time home owners, myself included, one of the seemingly easy projects to take on is painting. For those who have painted their homes, I need not detail how wrongly the word easy is used in relation to paint. For those who have not, I’d hate to spoil the surprise. However, any pro, amateur, or casual painter will agree that a good paint job is all in the preparation. This means that painters tape will be among the first things you’ll consider before painting. The omnipresent and classic 3M sprung into my minds eye without ever having put brush to paint, this is how heroically they have endured in the market. Confident in the ability of a time tested product, I used their tape to paint my basement earlier in the year. The tape performed remarkably, but, the shortcomings of the previous home-owners were thrown into sharp relief. Imagine, if you will, that the persons who used to live in your home didn’t do a job well. Though thus thought is shure to drop your jaw, it became more than a real horror in our home (future blogs I assure you). Remember how I said a good paint job is all in the prep? They clearly chose not to prepare well, as evidenced by the photo below.

Not sanding the trim before painting = this mess.

Not sanding the trim before painting = this mess.

And so, the tape did its job, but it also revealed a job that had not been done. Now suspicious that the trim had not been sanded upstairs I took to the store to find a delicate surface tape in the hope of avoiding the same issue. It was then I noticed FrogTape. Previously against the idea of using any other brand of tape, my curiosity had me asking opinions. As I found none conclusive, I decided to test them against one another. After all, why the hell not? Now, they both tout an “edge lock” or special sealant that one is to believe is some sort of magical barrier that will never allow paint to bleed. They also both sport enlarged width acting as a better barrier when painting. Following is my photo data.

One hell of  a clean line. Seems Frog Tape works as well as they claim.

One hell of a clean line. Seems Frog Tape works as well as they claim.

3M tape also performs admirably.

3M tape also performs admirably.

Ahh, here we notice some bleed from under the 3M.

Ahh, here we notice some bleed from under the 3M.

Never the two shall meet... Or I forced them to.

Never the two shall meet… Or I forced them to.

An after photo of the trim. The discerning eye would see that the Frog Tape side seems to have out performed the 3M, if only marginally.

An after photo of the trim. The discerning eye would see that the Frog Tape side seems to have out performed the 3M, if only marginally.

My conclusion on the tape is this – FrogTape is well worth your time and consideration. 3M tape still performs as well as you would believe, but its normal adhesive is very tacky, and its delicate surface leaves something to be desired. However, a truly good prep job should result in a wonderful paint job regardless of the tape used.

My conclusion about painting in the winter is this – DON’T. Cold temps don’t bode well for paint drying, dust gets all over, and into, everything. Ventilation and air flow is poor, and the added dry time of each coat will leave you feeling ill accomplished compared to warmer weather painting.

If you must paint in the winter, you’ll need a whole host of beer to get you through it. Nothing fancy, specific, or particular, just good old fashioned beer. Trust me, you’ll need it when you realize that not even the delicate surface tape doesn’t leave the trim paint where it ought to be.

The most important tool for the job.

The most important tool for the job.

Christmas Folk, An Original Audio Play For Christmas

This story has become something wonderful for me, not just because it marks the first time I was able to employ a full cast behind the mic, but also because creating it reminded me of the wonderful, innocent, beautiful magic that surrounds this season. I dearly hope you enjoy, and please, share with your friends and family.

Now presenting – Christmas Folk

Written, produced, and edited by Doug Dorda.

Pecos Bill – Dan Rickabus

Babe – Colin Ragan

Johnny – George Benson