Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 (d) - How do you measure a year?

Here I am, days left in 2007. Looking back on all the things that have happened. I started the year on an entirely different note than I began it. I began the year hoping that I could make something of myself. That I could do something worthwhile. Now, ending the year, I've done something and I'm about to do a whole lot more as I march into 2008.

And maybe that's really the biggest thing I've taken from this year. Quoth the Connor: There is no future but what we make for ourselves. That contains within it all truth. All importance. All potential.

I'm still prone to angst, especially right now when winter's descended upon everything and it's dark so much. But I don’t bother with indulging it. What would it give me to do so? Nothing at all. Instead, I've decided to say 'the hell with it' for all sorts of major procrastination and struggling and waiting. I was never gifted with patience, why did I think that I needed it? That's a foolish lie. People don't need patience, not really.

I wanted to be a writer. Now I am one. I wanted to achieve something. Now I have. I am. I will. I wanted to feel worthwhile. Done that. I know the truth, now. The truth is what I believe it to be. That's been proven to me time and again, and I've finally accepted it. I wasn't a writer until I believed I was. I couldn't accomplish anything until I believe I did.

Finishing a novel and writing two more to completion is a good accomplishment for the year. Getting a new job and figuring my issues out has been a great accomplishment. Getting over a lot of my baggage has been a necessary, painful experience, but I feel a lot better for it.

This year has seen the birth of my LRS-philosophy. The Literary Rock Star title isn't just something for laughs. It isn't just me wanting fame and fortune (though those would be nice, don't get me wrong). The Literary Rock Star is a philosophy for life. For writing, mostly, but for life in general. The Literary Rock Star is taking no prisoners and making no excuses. It's dreaming big dreams and making them real. It's excess turned into energy. It's getting up on stage, no matter how coked up or exhausted or whatever you are, and rocking out. A Rock Star has a job to do. His job is to be larger than life. He dreams the dreams that others don't dare and strives to make them real.

I've discovered my EELOW. The EELOW is Tony's term, and I love it. It stands for the Ever-Expanding List (or life, I suppose) Of Wonder. The EELOW is my gift and my curse. The EELOW is what drives me ever onward and pulls me away from things I should be doing. The EELOW is what happens when I want to do a thousand things at once, when I find new things to capture my interest every day. When my goals are constantly fluid and insane and I can never settle onto anything. When everything I do is the most important thing in the universe at that moment, and then is suddenly insignificant. The EELOW is a tornado ripping through the mundane and banal.

Look out EELOW!

The future is what I make of it. And I'll make it real. I'll dream big dreams and throw them together out of whim and air and ignite fire into them and they live. This looks, to an outsider, like either incredibly hard work or goofing off. It depends on who's looking, how deep you see. And it's both, you know. And its neither. It's incredibly hard work, and I drive myself near to exhaustion time and again because of it. It'll only get worse. It's also goofing off, because at the end of the day it's pretty silly to do many of the things I do, if you're a normal fellow on the street.

But I'm not goofing off. I'm deadly serious. I'm also just kidding, it's all a big joke, hey dontcha have a sense of humor about these things, what's your big deal, lighten up and laugh a little.

I laugh and joke and I mean it. That's a pretty amazing thing, if you ask me.

So here we are, at the end of the year. The fires are hot and so are the irons. I will strike now. Strike again. Strike forever. 2007 began with hope and died into a whimper and nearly went out entirely, but it's become the roar of the tides. The tsunami of revelation. The fires of rebirth. The fancy metaphor of proving my point.

I'm ready for you, 2008. You better be ready for me.

Tomorrow: Looking ahead to the New Year

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 (c) - A Fall into Madness

In October, the writer went insane. He was tired of being at home and accomplishing nothing. He was tired of feeling sorry for himself. He was tired of making more angst than he needed to. In short, he went through a midlife crisis at 21. It was informative. It was existential. It would have provided great entertainment for both sadists and masochists alike, in entirely different ways.

He got up and found himself a job. That was a plus. Jobs aren't great, but he found something he didn't hate. He discovered that not all day jobs had to be terrible, even if they were just day jobs. This was a surprising revelation that greatly reduced his stress level.

He also had a creative revolution. If he wanted to write books, it wasn't getting him anywhere to not write. Feeling sorry for himself was great and all, but in the end it didn't gain him anything. Words weren't appearing on the page because of it. Writing was hard, but he was making it harder by indulging his writer-whining. So he swore to himself he would stop that, and turn it around.

Boy did he ever.

He began what he had always claimed he wanted to do--write every day. He wrote every day that he could, and when he couldn't he didn't get angsty, just made it up on the back end somewhere. And he stuck to that throughout October. Suddenly his novel was firing on all cylinders and it roared closer and closer to the finish line. It was amazing. It was wonderful. He felt successful and talented for the first time in a loooong time.

That's when NaNo hit. (NaNo referring to

NaNo was a golden opportunity to write more and more. He could take one of his old ideas and run it up the flagpole, so to speak. It would get him to write every day, to force it done. It would make him focus on the work. It would keep him from giving up on writing for another few months when he finished MS. There was only one problem: MS wasn't done.

And so, with two weeks left until Nov 1, the writer picked up the pace. His five pages a day became seven. Then they became ten. Then they became a bone-crushingly hard fifteen for the last three days. He was a fireball. He was a bullet train. He was unstoppable. And in his blaze of writerly glory he flew through the end of MS and before the high had worn down he was neck-deep in a new novel. A novel so complex and challenging and demanding that it tore him into pieces as he tackled it with the same fury that he had brought with him from the end of MS.

Somewhere along the way, near the end of November when the novel was shaping up to be a little over half done, I decided to start a blog. The energy that had built up didn't go away. It kept growing and growing. In fact, it's become a fierce tempest of hopes and dreams and wild imaginings. I started up the blog, as you can see if you're reading this, and last week I blew through the end of WTC only slightly behind schedule.

Now comes the hard part. Now comes the editing of MS. The work to take my drafts and make something of them. To be a 'real writer'. To make it the best thing I can and sell it and start living the life I've always dreamed of and am making real. But that's for another day. Right now, we're here at the end of 2007, looking back at the mess that's been made of the year so far.

It's horrifying.

It's satisfying.

Tomorrow: How do you measure a year?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 (b) - A Summer of Nothingness

The novel was finished. Our writer friend felt very good about himself, but was left to wonder "what next?" The problem with a question like that is that it requires an answer, and answers are hard to come by when you're talking about something like life. A writer was supposed to edit his books, right? So he should try to edit his novel and make it worthwhile.

The problem was that his first novel was a mess. It started and stopped, was full of multiple styles and genres, and had completely changed direction about half-way through. The pacing was awful, the writing pretty mediocre, and the size completely unmanagable. It was a very, very sick novel, in need of some serious work. Foolishly, the writer dove in and tried to make it work.

The problem with that is the writer had poured his heart and soul into the book for 4 years. It had taken up nearly 20% of his life. And certainly more than that of the life he remembered. And he was so wrapped up in it, it was so wrapped up in him, that it was impossible to look at it and figure it out. The writer, in a rare moment of lucidity, decided to let it go and come back to it later. And so it sits, awaiting a day when I feel equipped to fix it. Hasn't happened yet.

Now it was nearing summer. Work was being frustrating and difficult, and the writer was burnt out on his life. Lacking a new idea for a novel, he just drifted through his days uncertain about what he was supposed to do. In four years, he had collected some ideas, but they didn't grip him with the kind of insane fervor that told him THIS IS THE ONE like it had with his first. Thinking that meant he shouldn't do them, he didn't. He did nothing.

It was at this time that a concert blew into town. I had never been to a concert before, not like this. And I normally wouldn't go. But it was Dir en Grey opening for Deftones. I really had no opinion about the Deftones, but bands like Dir en Grey don't typically run through Omaha so I made sure that I got tickets and I went. The details of the concert aren't really important. What is important is that standing there with Dir en Grey playing music, the writer's mind exploded and he was suddenly struck out of the blue with an idea. An idea that was too good not to use. Suddenly, there was a second novel.

The second novel took about two weeks to slowly unravel. Ideas come in giant balls like knots and it took some time to untie it and figure out what it was going to be. But finally the writer knew what it would be, more or less, and started on his second novel. Slowly, because he was lazy and writing was hard to do, but he started. A few pages a week. But it was something. Moving on to a new novel, the writer felt happy.

Of course, it was then that the writer was fired from his job.

The writer hated his job, but money was good. And not having it, in fact having nothing to do, threw him into a tailspin. The writer's self-confidence was pretty bad, but getting fired utterly ruined it. The writer, under pretense of needing some time to deal with things (which is mostly true) took to his bed.

He didn't pull himself from it for over two months.

In that time he plucked at his novel, though his progress was spotty. Despite now having gobs and gobs of time to work with, he didn't do anything meaningful with that time. There is much that could be said for that time, but time mostly passed uneventfully. The novel, developing into something solid, was growing at a slow pace. But with nothing else on his plate, the writer had to confront his own lack of work ethic. It began to bother him that he wasn't writing, so he started writing more often. And the novel began to slowly, ever so slowly, grow in size.

As summer pulled up into fall and suddenly it was nearly October, the writer was forced to admit that his experience so far had been unfulfilling. He had worked a job he hated, wrote books at a pace that was completely unacceptable, and hated himself for doing both. Which made it hard to motivate himself to do better. Everything that had been in his life had been mediocre and frustrating and leading down the dangerous road to dissatisfaction. The writer couldn't have that. Not at all. It was completely unacceptable. The writer was supposed to have potential! The writer should be able to make something of himself!

It was at this point as calendars the world over were flipped from September to October that the writer went crazy.

Tomorrow: A Fall into Madness

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Amazon Holiday

Amazon for the Holidays

US Economy: The Retail Sector
List Price: $23.4 billion
Amazon Price: $14.9 billion
You save $8.5 billion (36%)

Availability: In Stock. Ships from and sold by

Not available for Free Super Saver Shipping. Special Shipping Information: This item can be shipped only within the contiguous United States. This item is shipped via's white glove delivery service.

3 used and new starting from $8.2 billion.

Average customer review: ** ( out of 303,619,006 )

I love Amazon, don't get me wrong. They're perhaps the best store evar. But when they pull stuff like in the above story, it's hard not to laugh and laugh and laugh as you watch them take over the world with poorly written reviews, annoying recommendations, and Free Super Saver Shipping.


So MusicBob has a game called Brick. It's breakout, of course, but they call it brick. You start off with two rows of bricks to break. You get the drill. If you don't know what breakout is, you need to go find out.

Anyway, once you complete the first cycle of stages, it starts over, except you're juggling two balls. And then when you complete that, it starts over, except you're juggling three balls. And then suddenly your paddle gets cut to 50% its normal size for cycle 4. Cycle 5 sees the return of multiball.

I was at Cycle 6 when I lost just now. 593 points.

I think I'm officially done playing brick forever. I don't see how I can do much better without an outrageously stupid time commitment.

That is all.

2007 (a) - The Winter of Our Discontent

Let us hop in the way back machine to the dim days of January in 2007. If memory serves, it was a mild winter, though it got terrible late in the season. I was still working the first job, the job I hated. Here is our aspiring novelist, dead-ended and frustrated. He has a couple hundred pages of his first novel written, but it's not close to finished. He's suffering from a broken heart that he's nursing into full-blown angst and from wrists and hands that are losing more and more of their strength and hurt more and more often.

This is not a happy life. Oh no, quite opposite. This is the life of the contentedly unhappy. Our writing friend here wants very much to achieve something but struggles with what he wants. He thought he knew, but that turned out to be wrong (for a number of reasons that are truly outside of the scope of this discussion, even if the issue was a major focus of the year). Of course, when you're only twenty one many things you know turn out to be wrong. But to our friend at the beginning of 2007, the mistakes were inexcusable and he was falling apart with questioning everything he had ever believed in all at once in the most wrong of ways.

Our friend wanted to be a writer. Yet he never wrote. He hemmed and hawed about writing, but when it came to putting words on the page? There was always an excuse. There was always some sort of issue that prevented it. Admittedly he was having wrist problems, so I'm willing to cut him a little slack. But he caused more trouble than he needed to. He was good at that. His angst was comfortable, in its way. He was so used to it that it was easier (or at least less frightening) than the alternative.

He had been stuck in his day job for a while, and he was overstaying his welcome. He could do more, but the company and him just didn't get along. There are jobs and there are jobs, in that some are based on shutting up and following the rules and there are jobs where the best thing to do is always excel and break out of the box and make yourself stand out. Our friend, when he sets his mind to things, is good at that second one. That first one? He's not so good at that. Never had been, even though he pretended for a while.

He slogged through his book with a pace that could best be described as glacial. Though, to be fair, glaciers would file libel suits against me at the comparison. And likely win. This book had been started in high school. Since then he had moved numerous times and been to college and been kicked out of college and gone back to college to fix his grades and stopped going to school because of money. He had fallen in love and fallen in lust and ended up in a deadly serious relationship that ended in madness. Friends had appeared in his life, lived out their usefulness, and disappeared into fate's currents again.

I can tell you that this is the WRONG way to write a book. Joyce and Tolkien can take over a decade to write their masterpieces, but they were both barking mad. Books are like bandaid removal or setting a bone or pulling out a splinter or somesuch. The fastest way is to just do it, damn the consequences, and grimace and moan afterwards when you're writhing in the surprising sudden pain. It sucks, sure, but it's a lot easier than suffering over such a long time while you try to take it slow and easy. Let me tell you, taking it slow and easy will get you that first half of your goal and make the second absolutely impossible.

Yet, with his pain and suffering, the writer threw himself into his work (as much as he was able, with his hands the way they were and his mind the way it was). And he wrapped up his book in the early springtime. That was a bit of happiness. Four years work, with all that baggage, wrapped up and tied neatly. It wasn't pretty. It was a confused mess. It was a ginormous monster of a piece, full of crazy and contradiction and really, really bad writing. But it was done. There was a hope, a glimmer, of happiness in the writer's life. He thought, as he wrapped up his book and the days grew warm after the depths of a late winter, that he was finally coming around to something happy and better and all those things he hated himself for not having.

Little did he know that things always take that nice little upswing right before the plummet down into the depths. But he would soon find out.

Tomorrow: A Summer of Nothingness

Monday, December 24, 2007

I'll make no excuses.

I live in an ever-expanding life of wonder. It is scary and fun and full of random things like cheese that is joyful and potatoes that wish they weren't and spoonerisms that nobody would ever make and redefining the definitions of common words to suit whatever arguement I want to make.

I can look out my window and see nothing but bleak self-destruction. I can go up to a person on the street and get them to tell me their dreams and make them believe in them, if only for a second.

A gift.

December 24th, 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time

So my weekend was full of the various get-togethers and celebrations of the season. Or as many as I'm going to stomach. On Friday I swiftly (or not so much) made my way shopping for this and that, which was wonderful. I'm now the proud owner of a gorgeous gold-on-gold Winnie the Pooh from the Disney store. It's soft and festive in a classy sort of way.

I've also seen Sweeney Todd, which is one of the best Burton films, and certainly the best one he's whipped out in at least a decade. I've been kind of dissatisfied with most of his lately. They were good, but they were always leaving me feeling as if they lacked. With three hours of material to work with, this film is chock full of stuff, even if it's slightly condensed from the stage show. But the violence is wonderful and the film is beautiful in that gorgeous darkly-impressionistic sort of way that every moody period film should strive for. Ha!

Not to mention the most wonderful performances by actors who aren't known for their singing. When Johnny Depp is your weak link vocally, you know you're doing all right. And that's mostly just because he doesn't get as much material. His Sweeney is very understates and stoic. Like Johnny Depp doing a Hannibal-Lecter-meets-Beetlejuice kind of character. I immediately rushed out and bought the soundtrack, which is so rare for me as to be seen as the highest recommendation.

And then on Saturday I floated about with Tony, who is visiting the Big O for the holidays (I truly wish Omaha could claim a title like the Big O. It tries, but Midwesterners seem opposed to anything quite as full of abandon as a Big O, though I blame the influence of the Bible Belt and the coldness of the weather rather than some inherent prudishness on the sake of the population).

Tony purchased for me a wonderful book on finding your strengths. The StrengthFinder test/book put out by Gallup. It's mostly done for businessmen and whatnot, it's certainly career-oriented, but the advice is all pretty decent if you can alter it to fit everyday life. He explained his results when someone had gifted the book to him, and I was incredibly intrigued. So he paid it forward and I took the test. The results were, to say the least, amusing.

Everything points towards me being an incredible ideas person. Full of philosophy and opinion and insight, absorbing and learning information at an absolutely feverish pace and then turning it all into a very individualistic philosophy that I apply to the world to wring everything I can out of it. That this all strikes me as true is encouraging, as this is the path I've been going down lately, anyway. The only oddity is that it claims one of my strengths is strategy, and I would never claim that in a million years. I've been wrong before, though, so … we shall see. We shall see.

In other news, tonight is Christmas Eve. I don't really do christmas celebrations in the typical sense of the word. I don't dislike this holiday, but this year I'm just not feeling particularly festive. This winter's been rough and I'd rather celebrate with good company than anything resembling traditional holiday activities. It's actually been rather refreshing to feel no obligation to pay lip service to an expected Christmas.

Tonight, as my post also alludes to, is the night where the bulk of Rent takes place. To celebrate, I'm heading over to have a fantabulous musical night with Adam and Katie, singing Rent and lamenting the fact that the film version (which we'll be watching) cut out my two favorite musical numbers from the stage show. Oh well. It's a pretty movie, and the remastered songs sound lovely. I wouldn't be surprised if we forewent the movie at some point in favor of just the broadway soundtrack, though.

This week will prove to be a slow one at work, I fear. The goal for the blog is to provide some sort of insight/recap on the year. 2008 is going to prove to be full for me, I certainly hope, so I'd like to neatly examine this past year and put it all out there in preparation of the first of January. So expect some sort of thoughts. I expect they'll be lengthy, but they might not be. It's one of those things that's very hard to figure out until you're doing it.