This Blog Needs a Reboot

Like the Batman series after Joel Schumacher was done cinematically defiling it – and thinking George Clooney looked great in a nipple-enhancing Batsuit – this blog is beginning to seem a bit thin for me. It needs some new ideas. A fresh coat of paint. Maybe some new furniture, too.

Going forward, you’re going to see a different perspective from this blog. Yes, there will still be more dispatches from the writing front. But I will start to emphasize more topicality, blog posts that interest me far beyond what’s been part and parcel of this great little blog of mine over the past couple of years. Back when I used to blog over at MySpace, way back when (you remember MySpace, don’t you? Admit it, you loved it there, so much so that you were even friends with Tila Tequila: hell, I sent her a friend request, which she accepted, just so I could dump her as a friend. HAH! Take that, you attention whore!…where was I), a lot of my blogs were stream-of-consciousness efforts about anything that came to mind. Random thoughts and observations. I’m thinking of doing the same thing here again. Just to keep things interesting.

I’m saving Fridays for specific posts. On Fridays, I’ll post blogs about my favorite things, whatever’s keeping my attention these days. One such favorite things I’ll serialize over the coming months is my list of 101 Favorites: Favorite Films, Favorite Books, Favorite Albums. Each entry on these lists has a short paragraph or two that tells the story why they’re favorites of mine.

Finally, I’m going to redesign this blog site. I’m going to toy with some different themes, and give this site a well-deserved makeover.

What won’t change is the writing you’ve come to expect from Out Where the Buses Don’t Run. Not only will it not change, but it will get better. And I hope you’ll be there for the ride.

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (Especially if You’re a Racist Billionnaire)

Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of this guy already.

“Are those black people sitting over there? Who let them in? They smell!”

A month ago, unless you were a NBA fan, or a real estate groupie, you didn’t know who Donald Sterling was. Those of us who follow sports hate the kind of person Donald Sterling is: a spectacularly inept owner of a laughingstock of a franchise that often pleads poverty, yet laughs all the way to bank, thanks to the NBA’s lucrative revenue sharing program. Sterling’s Los Angeles Clippers were, for decades, the worst sports franchise around, thanks to his indifference. Why build a winning team when the NBA’s socialist-like share-the-wealth economics guarantees that even bad teams like the Clippers turn a hefty profit. The Clippers were a remote NBA outpost, where high draft picks turned into million-dollar busts (Michael Olowakandi, anyone?), and former All-Stars went to watch their careers slowly die. Meanwhile, across the street, the Los Angeles Lakers of Magic Johnson (more on him later) and Kareem Abdul-Jabber, and then Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, were one of the pillars of continued NBA excellence.

But then the Clippers got good. Real good, thanks to Chris Paul and Blake Griffith. All of which must have pissed Donald Sterling off. Because Sterling’s clearly the kind of owner who’s more concerned about his bottom line – as evidenced by all the years of the Clippers being the NBA’s Shittiest Franchise – than building a championship contender. Because all this winning means he’s going to have to pay the likes of Paul and Griffith (and quite possibly LeBron James, if those stupid rumors are to be believe, and they’re not) fat, long-term contracts. And Donald Sterling doesn’t like to pay fat, long-term contracts.

(All of this is moot right now, because he may not own the Clippers much longer, but let’s speculate, shall we?)

His parsimony, in spite of his billions, speaks volumes about him.

But he let his bigoted views, albeit viewed privately, say even more about him.

You’ve probably heard and read the racist nonsense that spewed from his mouth, from a conversation recorded by his then-girlfriend. Sterling managed to come across as a plantation owner (“I give these people money, clothes, cars…”), an expert on Instagram (“Stop posting so many damn pictures of you with blacks on Instagram!”) and a marketing genius (“I don’t want black people coming to Clippers games”) in the span of a privately-recorded conversation. Being the NBA is 95% African-American, of course NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had to act quickly and harshly: a lifetime banishment for Sterling, plus a $25 million fine. Some decry the punishment as too harsh, but if the punishment is too lenient, it sets a dangerous precident: the Clippers can forget ever attracting high-priced talent, or any talent, to their organization, and the loss of fans and revenue would be too much for that franchise to bear.

So would Sterling have learned his lesson? Of course not. Not as evidenced by his loathsome interview with Anderson Cooper the other night.

Sterling didn’t apologize – okay, he did say he “made a terrible mistake,” but that’s not the same thing as showing contrition – as much as he began throwing everyone under the bus. As if him spewing racist comments about black people was somehow his ex-girlfriend’s fault, or the NBA’s fault. Or worse, how he disparaged Magic Johnson in the most vile fashion possible. “Magic Johnson hasn’t done much for the black community. And you can’t trust him, he has AIDS.”

Sterling’s attack on Magic Johnson isn’t just vile and unfounded – because, after all, Magic Johnson has done a million times more for black-owned businesses than Donald Sterling has done, and he has HIV, not AIDS – it demonstrates the human inability to truly apologize for any wrongdoing. We’ve seen it happen all the time: a politician caught in a scandal, blaming his enemies or the media for being caught with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribe money. A former child actor who blames his drug addiction on “bad parenting.” In our own lives, we’re quick to find a scapegoat for our sins, rather than own up to our wrongdoings.

I should know. I’ve been guilty of a lot of wrongdoings, and I spent a lot of time finding convenient excuses: addicitions, stress, anger, bad parenting. When my marriage was crumbling, I blamed everything around me for my affair and for my horrible behavior. It was only when I was at my lowest was when I came to the realization that being truly sorry for everything I did wrong meant acknowledging what I did was wrong, and I had no excuse for my behavior. And not just that, but accept the consequences and punishments for my wrongdoings. I had to show I was sorry, not just say it. I’ve spent the better part of the past two years successfully rebuilding my marriage, and demonstrating that I’m not just sorry for what I did, but that I will never do it again.

For me, personally, being able to say I’m sorry has the best thing that could happen to me. I hesitate to use language like “it’s cleansed my soul,” but it’s given me a peace of mind I don’t think I’ve ever really had. It’s allowed me to resolve guilt, the guilt which unnecessarily fueled more destructive behavior.

I realize saying you’re sorry is something a lot of people have a very difficult time doing. For some, it’s a matter of vulnerability. For the likes of politicians or actors or Donald Sterling, it’s a toxic combination of arrogance and denial. You’re beyond reproach. So what if you got caught? You don’t get punished, because punishment is for little people.

As it stands, when Sterling is forced to sell the Clippers – not if, but when – the $15 million investment he made back in 1980 (when the Clippers toiled in San Diego) will net him a profit close to $500 million. As a businessman, he’d see the potential in making nearly a half-billion dollar profit, and ask, “Where do I sign?” because, after all, anything’s for sale, depending on the size of the check. But in Donald Sterling’s perverse world, he’s making a principled stand against those who have wrong him: his snitch of an ex-girlfriend, the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, the NAACP, and Robert E. Lee, just to name a few.

Sterling’s shown he’s not going down without a fight, because losing his cash cow is his punishment. So the NBA will now brace itself for a fight. A needless, ugly fight. And he’s not sorry. Not one damned bit.

Planning (For Life, and For Writing): It’s Not Just For Planners Anymore!

I think a lot of you who read my blog know I don’t really like to plan much. Nothing against planning, really. It was just something that ran contrary to my nature. Of course, there was a lot wrong with my nature…I’ve since been on this “kick,” if “kick” is the right word, about finding ways to make myself more accountable. So I’ve embraced the idea of making plans. Setting realistic goals for myself. But also giving myself the right to not reach those goals, and, conversely, not beat myself up for not reaching those goals.

With 2014 already underway, there have been a slew of blogs and countless other postings about resolutions and plans for 2014 and the like. A great many of these posts have been eye-opening reads for me.

I was particularly inspired by Lorraine Reguly’s blog post about planning. In her post, Posting, Planning, Publishing, Productivity and a PDF Planner for FREE for YOU! (boy, that was a mouthful…), she documents her reasons why, as someone who didn’t like planning much, she was making a more concerted effort to plan and schedule for the upcoming year. If you go to her blog post, you’ll find what she means by planning and scheduling, in which she’s created for herself some planning aids that include a daily checklist, a weekly checklist, and some other ways to plan her week. She and I talked some more about planning, and I was encouraged to use her planning aid – she’s offering it free on her blog site – and tailor it to suit my own needs.

I took her planning aid one step further. I wrote what I wanted my weekly accomplishments to be, without fail. They are:

WEEKLY CHECKLIST

  • Continue with my diet and exercise regimen
  • Spend every available moment with Jaime and Sophia and make that time count.
  • Meet with my therapist once a week
  • Read one book per week
  • Write 8-10 hours/1,000-2,000 words per week
  • Reconnect with someone I haven’t spoken to in some time.
  • Talk to my father and sister.
  • Post 3 blogs per week.

Then, being the writer that I am, compounded with need to be completely granular about planning – that is, for anything that doesn’t involve my life – I wrote a goals summary for 2014 that looks a lot like the project plans I’ve devised for many a project in my professional career.

SUMMARY

        I.            Personal Goals

  1. Marriage and Emotional Growth
  2. Physical Fitness
  3. Financial
  4. Inter-personal Relationships
  5. “Personal Time” Activities/Vacations

      II.            Professional Goals – Current Career

  1. Current position
  2. Future contract/full time job opportunities

    III.            Professional Goals –Writing and Blogging

  1. Writing
  2. Blogging

    IV.            Weekly Checklist

      V.            Monthly Checkpoint

    VI.            Annual Checkpoint

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of every single deliverable needed to meet each goal – not to mention, there are some things I’d rather keep to myself – so I’ll instead dispense with the “greatest hits” version of my Goals for 2014, along with some commentary:

PERSONAL GOALS

  • Marriage and Emotional Growth – the end of 2012 and all of 2013 was time I dedicated to my own mental wellbeing, and towards rekindling my marriage. It was a rocky, often times emotionally taxing road, but it’s helped me gain a strength I didn’t know, or forgot, I possessed. However, this is an ongoing process, and 2014 should be no different for me.

(1)    Continue improving my marriage and build upon the trust and commitment that have been the foundations upon us – and me – rebuilding our marriage.

(2)    To keep being the best husband I can and will be for Jaime.

(3)    To keep being the best father I can and will be for Sophia.

(4)    Continue working with my therapist using IFS programs and strategies on helping me with the following:

(a)    Understand and resolve deep-seeded emotional issues – i.e., unresolved anger, guilt, shame, trauma.

(b)   Learn how to best quiet my inner critic.

(c)    Gain more self-esteem and a more positive image of myself.

(d)   Understand why I am prone to procrastination, how that procrastination leads to my being depressed, and how to work through my procrastination and achieve my goals.

(5)    Continue working with my psychiatrist on medication management, suited to what works best for my mental and physical well-being.

(6)    “RELEASE THE BATS!’ – More on this in an upcoming blog…this is my mantra for 2014.

  • Physical Fitness

(1)    Paleo Diet – continue diet that places emphasis on high protein grass-produced meats (i.e.,  chicken, turkey, beef, bison, etc.), fish/seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils, and removes cereals, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed food, salt, and refined vegetable oils from my diet. – This was MURDER for me the first week. Quitting sugar was a bitch, but the more I’ve detoxed from sugar and processed foods and cereals, the more I’ve realized how much these were staples of my diet. On the flip side, I’ve eaten more steak in two weeks than I’ve eaten in almost a year, and, while I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, I’ve grown fonder of them even more.

(2)    Physical Activity – Begin running again: –I was an avid runner, until a hardcore case of plantar fascitiis slowed me down. It pains me to say this, but it’s been more than six months since I last went on a run, and now it’s time to rebuild, one running step at a time.

(a)    Short, timed runs, 30 minutes in length.

(b)   5K races before Memorial Day 2014; start signing up for races to give myself a deadline to work towards.

(c)    10K races before October 1st

(d)   Half-marathon by 12/31.

  • Interpersonal relationships

(1)    Make a more concerted effort to talk more frequently with my father and sister.

(2)    Re-connect with someone I haven’t spoken to in some time.

  • Personal Time Activities/Vacations

(1)    Read more – 50 books in 2014.

 

WRITING/BLOGGING GOALS

  • Writing

(1)    Write 1 hour per day, minimum. – So far, so good!

(a)    Impose no word limit; give myself the freedom to write as much or as little as possible.

(2)    Complete final draft of current work-in-progress by end of 2014.

(3)    Implement beta reading program for current work-in-progress, regardless of status; solicit call for beta readers. – If anyone wants to raise their hand, well, then, raise your hand.

(4)    Submit material to various online and print sources – Use Poets & Writers and Duotrope to research these sources and their submittal guidelines.

(5)    Research writers’ conferences to attend after July 2014.

(6)    Begin researching editors for hire – determine if the cost would be prohibitive.

(7)    Look into participating in online writers’ groups.

(8)    New home – have my own writing place, with a writing desk, a filing cabinet, and a bookshelf.

  • Blogging

(1)    Blog three times per week, without fail.

(2)    Solicit and post new guest blog posts for 2014; post guidelines on expectations for guest blog posts. – Many of you took part in this, and if you’d like to participate again, or if you’d like to take part for the first time, then let me know!

(3)    Sing up for guest blog posts where and when possible.

(4)    Discover and follow at least five new blogs per month.

But goals arent’ goals, and a project isn’t a project, unless there’s some accountability. Which is why I will do a monthly checkpoint to determine where Iam I at the end of the month with my goals? Have I been reaching them so far? Which goals have I been successful at accomplishing? What are the areas where I need help the most? Which goals have I decided not to pursue? An annual checkpoint will also take place, to determine where am I at the end of the year with all of my goals? Have I reached all of them? Which ones were the most successful? Which ones proved the hardest to achieve? Which ones did I not achieve? Were there any goals I decided not to pursue any further?

So there you have it, folks…my goals for 2014. What are your goals for 2014? Go on, share ’em!

2013 in review

Here now are the key stats for my blog for the year 2013. I’d say I had a pretty good blog year, dont’cha think?

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What We Need For the Holidays is a Good Old Fashioned Rant (From Yours Truly)


WARNING: This blog post contains some potty language. You’ve been fucking warned.
The holidays is a time to bring cheer and good will to your fellow man. You know, be nicer to other people, more charitable. I don’t need the notion of a holiday season to remind me to be nice to my fellow human being. Common courtesy and decency go a long way.

But sometimes common courtesy and decency are tossed out the window by a hardcore group of douchecanoes hellbent on whipping out their proverbial dicks and pissing all over everywhere. Some people have an amazing capacity for assholitude, no matter what.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to spread a nice holiday Fuck You! to some assholes being Mega-Assholes.

fuck-christmas
Asshole(s) #1 – Best Buy

Stories of customers getting bent over and mercilessly sodomized by Best Buy are legion. From blue-shirted customer service flunkies who can’t tell you the difference between a 120MhZ and 240MhZ refresh rate on a 60″ flat-screen television to store managers who simply can’t be bothered to deal with your petty shit – like a malfunctioning laptop under warranty, for example – inevitably Best Buy customers will feel the sting of terrible customer service.

I was spared a bad customer service experience. Until last week.

I took my iPhone in to Best Buy for servicing, since it’s been acting very weird lately. Lots of crashing for no apparent reason. It’s where I’d purchased it less than a year ago, and it’s still under warranty. At least that’s what I was led to believe. When I purchased the phone, I was told I had an extended warranty to go along with the manufacturer’s one-year warranty. Well, come to find out from the shifty-eyed weasels at the Geek Squad counter – and, by the way, Geek Squad are notorious for their incompetency – that the so-called “extended warranty” wasn’t a warranty, but a trade-in offer: if the phone were to go bad, I could trade it in for another phone, but not another iPhone.

The hell?

Nor would they honor the manufacturer’s warranty. As far as they were concerned, yeah, they know my phone’s acting all fucked, but that’s not their problem. They got my money, but it’s Apple’s problem now.

This was bullshit, and they knew it. Basically they were trying to talk me into buying a new phone.

I took my phone to the Apple Store at the mall. They ran some diagnostics, confirmed the phone is still under warranty, and replaced it with a new iPhone 5, no questions asked. That, my friends, is customer service.

You’ll have a worst cry at Best Buy.

 

Asshole #2 – The Petty and Overly-Aggressive Guest at the Christmas Party

Let’s face it: Christmas parties bring the asshole out in people. And you don’t need spiked eggnog to bring the asshole; the asshole just comes out naturally.

My wife and I attend her office Christmas party each year, always held at the team leader’s home. The highlight of the party is the gift exchange. It’s not your run-of-the-mill gift exchange, but more of a cutthroat version of Who Can Swindle Who. The Cutthroat Version of the Gift Exchange is simple: everyone brings a gift, and when it comes time to indulge in crass shrieking and braying like horny goats over some scented candles no one wants – and will likely re-gift to a relative they really fucking dislike – each participant draws a number to see who picks first. The first contestant picks one wrapped gift. Each contestant thereafter can choose to pick a wrapped gift, or steal an unwrapped gift. Best part of this game of Christmas Nut-Punch? Even if the gift’s been stolen, it can be stolen AGAIN!!! A gift can be stolen up to three times before it’s taken out of circulation and no longer part of the game. If a contestant has their gift stolen, they then have the chance to either pick an unopened gift or steal an opened present.

Got it?

Jaime got to pick early, and I spotted something I thought might make a good gift. Good eye: it turned out to be a stuffed teddy bear, all Christmas-themed and shit. We both knew our daughter would love this teddy bear. Shit, we thought this loud enough for everyone at the party to hear.

This did not sit well with one of the guests, the wife of one of the retirees invited to the party. She was eyeing that teddy bear with the same kind of unbridled lust teenaged boys ogle their dads’ stash of nudie magazines. Counter that with some serious daggers she was throwing at Jaime. Careful, I said to Jaime, nudging her, she’s lusting over that bear like a fat kid lusting over an open box of fresh Krispy Kreme donuts.

The old bitch stole the bear once, but we reclaimed it after a smart bit of tactical manuvering on my part: I instructed Jaime to steal a package of gourmet peanuts and the accompanying $25 barbeque coupon, knowing that gift would be stolen from our hands pretty quickly. Lo and behold, it was, and we swiped the teddy bear back. But now that meant the teddy was stolen twice; a third time, and it would belong to whoever stole it last, no takebacks.

Now the old bitch is playing dirty. She’s loudly moaning at how much she wants to give the teddy bear to their granddaughter, and please please please wah wah fucking wah…She and her husband get a gift stolen.

“Well, I have no choice,” she says, giving Jaime an eat-shit-and-die-you-stupid-twat look as she steals the teddy bear one last time. Adding insult to injury, she gloats. “My granddaughter will love this!” she shouts.

Fuck your granddaughter. Jaime’s furious, although she’s not showing it.

The party ends, and as we’re saying our goodbyes, a few of the revelers expressed their displeasure at Grandma’s petty shenanigans.

“That’s okay, karma’s a bitch,” I said. “The best thing that could happen is that her granddaughter hates the gift. Even better is that the granddaughter hates her grandmother.”

This got a big laugh.

But seriously, choke on that fucking bear, bitch. And fuck you for using your granddaughter as a pawn, you petty shitmouth.

 

Asshole #3 – NC State Senator Bob Rucho

You know, it’s a funny thing, freedom of speech. Our right to freely voice an opinion without persecution is protected by the Constitution. Too bad there isn’t a right to protect us from stupid people voicing ignorant, inflammatory opinions, especially via Twitter.

Take what this douchenozzle, NC State Senator Bob Rucho, tweeted the other morning:

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Those of us who follow NC politics, like myself, have to suffer brain-dead imbeciles like Rucho, who makes no bones about his intense dislike for both President Obama and Obamacare. Fine, he’s not the only one. But when you begin to compare Obamacare – and Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court – to the atrocities committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, and terrorists combined, not only are you losing credibility as a politician – he didn’t have much to begin with – but he’s exposed himself as an ignorant, hateful cunt. Yeah, cunt.

Let’s do the fucking math here: the Nazis killed millions. The Soviets, under the rules of Lenin and Stalin, murdered millions. Terrorist groups have killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Obamacare has not killed one single person.

Look, I get that with a large segment of this society, Obamacare is about as popular as a herpes outbreak at a swingers’ convention. Comparing Obamacare to the mass slaughter of Jews isn’t just ridiculous, it’s insulting, and it demonstrates an amazing lack of historical understanding, not to mention a lack of compassion for those who have indeed suffered under truly totalitarian standards. And it angers me greatly that we live in a country where not only are people in Bob Rucho’s position are allowed to voice inflammatory and hateful rhetoric, they’re allowed to get away with it. Rucho has defiantly refused to apologize, and he won’t be censured for his comments. Rucho will hide behind the Constitution and crassly boast that it’s his right to call Obama a Nazi and compare his policies to that of Hitler or Stalin or other dictatorial mass murderers.

The truth is, Bob Rucho is a brainless, festering anal sore on the ass of our society, and the sooner we lance ass cancers like him, the better off we’ll be without oozing anal sores like him in positions of power.

So fuck all of you. Merry fucking Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to all of you, dear reader.

 

Post NaNoWriMo Insecurity (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

Author’s Note: Another first Wednesday of the month, another post for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Be sure to check out the many other writers participating in this blog hop. Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for leading the IWSG. Thanks to the awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG Julie Flanders, Heather Gardner, Kim Van Sickler and Elsie is Writing!

This Blogging Things Works Wonders! (Insecure Writer's Support Group)

 

I wrote a post last night talking about what to do post-NaNoWriMo, and how despite not reaching your 50,000 word/30 day goals, you shouldn’t consider yourself a failure. I didn’t make it to 50,000 words in 30 days, yet I’m refusing to hang my head in shame. I got started on a work-in-progress, and I’m extremely excited about the direction the WIP is going. I can’t be bothered with “winning” and “losing,” and I cringe everytime I see someone refer to themselves as a “failure” for not “winning” NaNoWriMo.

I posted this on my Instagram feed last night

photo

My post earned the following comment: “So the other people should be declaring themselves failures?”

I responded, “Nope. NaNoWriMo unintentionally creates this “winners” and “losers” mentality, meaning quantity somehow trumps quality. No one should declare themselves anything, except “finished” when they’ve reached the last page of their novel.”

It got me thinking about a lot of the congratulating that’s taking place by those who’ve “won” this year’s NaNoWriMo. Of course they should congratulate themselves, and hold themselves up for praise. I congratulate you, as a former winner myself. However, I can strongly feel the insecurity from those of us – well, I’m excluding myself, for obvious reasons – who are made to feel that just because we didn’t finish what we set out on beginning November 1st, that somehow we’re “losers.” Or “failures.”

Writing is a competition in which the only person you’re being challenged with is yourself. It’s like a marathon, and you’ll hear a lot of comparisons made to running and writing; Haruki Murakami even wrote an entire memoir called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. You’re not competing with other writers to see who can reach 50,000 words first. You’re competing with yourself to see if you can write the novel you’ve already written in your head.

As writers, we deal with enough insecurities, about our writing, about the publishing process, about whether or not we’re cut out for this whole writing thing in the first place. What we don’t need is the good intentions of NaNoWriMo to foster needless competition, thereby further fueling our insecurities.

Me thinks this writer may skip NaNoWriMo 2014, just on principle. What say you?

Post-NaNoWriMo: It’s Not About Winning or Losing or Failing, It’s About Finishing What You Started

So you took part in NaNoWriMo 2013. Some of you successfully cranked out 50,000 words or more in 30 days. That’s outstanding. If this is your first time, double outstanding then!

But this post isn’t written for those of you who’ve met the 50K in 30 days goal. You’ve gotten enough congrats and accolades; you don’t need any more from me. I’m talking to those of you who didn’t meet the 50K in 30 days goal. 

Yeah, you. That’s right, you. Listen up.

Some of you didn’t make it, for whatever reasons. Life got in the way. The work-in-progress got a little unwieldly. Whatever. Some of you made it to Day 30 just several thousand words short. Some of you probably threw in the towel around Week Two. The point is, you didn’t finish.

Am I going to give you grief about this? Nope. Because I didn’t finish, either. I knew I wasn’t going to. My total word count for NaNoWriMo: 14,474 words. I was well aware I wasn’t going to have the time I’d wanted to fulfill the NaNoWriMo goals, but no matter. I’d written a solid outline, figured out my plot points, got to know my protagonists, learned what the concept of my WIP is, and wrote a synopsis that for once doesn’t make me want to squirm. Guess what? I’m perfectly fine with not “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. It doesn’t make me a failure, because I’ve got an unshakable belief in my WIP, and that doesn’t mean I’ve failed.

Ah, there’s that word: failure. That word’s been bandied around a lot in many a blog right before the end of NaNoWriMo, and in blogs post-NaNoWriMo. I’ve read a lot of “I failed at NaNoWriMo” blogs over the past few days, and not just from the first timers trying their hand at this marathon writing thing, but from those who’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo before.

“Didn’t reach my 50,000 word count in 30 days, so I failed at NaNoWriMo.”

Failure. Failed. Fail.

You stop using those words RIGHT NOW.

You are not a failure. To quote Gene Kranz, “Failure is not an option.”

Yeah, we live in a competitive society, and we treat the concept of 50,000 words in 30 days as a competition. But we’re missing the point of NaNoWriMo. Sure, it’s great to reach the 50K in 30 days goal, but once you’ve started on your manuscript, the real competition is with yourself, to finish the manuscript. So whether you’ve reached 50,000 words in 30 days – and if you did, give yourself a giant pat on the back – or if you didn’t, you’ve got work to do.

Look, calling yourself a failure means you’re selling yourself short. Once you start using the word “failure” when it comes to your writing, you become used to describing both yourself and your work as “failure.” So fucking what if you didn’t bang out 50,000 words in 30 days? Take comfort in the fact that there’s a lot of people who wrote 50,000 words of pure shit and have smugly declared themselves “winners!”*

Because NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning or losing. NaNoWriMo challenges you to write within a specific time frame, but the true purpose of NaNoWriMo is to challenge you to write, period. I was one of those newbies, all full of hope but without a clue as to what I was doing, and by the second week, all was lost. So I declared myself a failure. Last year, in spite of so many challenges, I plowed through, and met the 50K/30 days goal, but even if I didn’t meet the goal, I was writing, and I was going to finish what I’d started. That’s what NaNoWriMo asks of you: finish what you start. It shouldn’t matter that you’ve only written 22,714 words in 30 days. What should matter to you is that you started something that’s grabbed your attention, enough of your attention to wrest out 22,714 words. So finish it through. See where it leads you. Because you don’t want to be that person that never finishes a damned thing they start, and then spend the rest of their days lamenting this very same fact.

So here’s the deal I’m going to cut with you: I’ll ride your ass about finishing the novel you started more than a month ago, if you promise to do the same. Need the motivation, the push, someone to vent to? I’m here for you. Point being, writers shouldn’t have to go at this alone. Writers support one another, and if you’re feeling like you want to take your laptop outside and fire several rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun at it, don’t. Press through, but most importantly, reach out. I’m happy to listen.

And while we’re at it, I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to go ahead and get on me about the progress of my manuscript. You’ll notice I put a word count widget to the right of this blog. I’m going to update this every few days, and talk about my progress as I go along. Of course, I expect a lot of you to ride my ass in return. It’s only fair.

So let’s recap:

  • Hitting your target goals is great, but refrain from calling yourself a “winner.”
  • Not hitting your target goals should not be a reason to turn you into a mopey sad-bastard, so refrain from calling yourself a “loser” or a “failure” because you’re either 1,000/5,000/30,000 words from finishing what you started on November 1st.
  • You started something. Now let’s finish it. No matter how long it takes.

 

* – Speaking of which, NaNoWriMo is notorious for having produced some terrible writing from people who believe that simply hashing out 50,000 words or more in 30 days, and not bothering to either edit or ask a friend or colleague to give their steaming pile of unfettered literary horseshit their honest and brutal feedback. These same misguided bunch will either A) send their first draft manuscript to every agent and publisher in the country, and then gnash their teeth wondering why they’re not getting a response, or, B) self-publish this first draft, thereby adding to the thousands of volumes of poorly written, badly spelled, terribly edited self-published crap that will no doubt add to the negative reputation self-publishing gets, especially among the old guard publishing houses and their sycophantic acolytes.

In other words, don’t be this loser. Edit your work. Then edit it again. And get a few people to read it before you send it in or throw it up on CreateSpace or SmashWords for the world to read.

A few other blogs to read and motivate you:

From Chuck Wendig – NaNoWriMo: On the Language of Losing

From MJ Wright – How to Write and Not Be Driven to Eat Your Own Weight in Lard

 

Milestones Reached, and More Fun With Spam!

Happy Day After Thanksgiving, America! And for the rest of the world, Happy Friday! Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving with family and lots of great food. Just think: you’ve got a few days of turkey leftovers to give you tons of energy to help you take part in Black Friday. Ah, yes, Black Friday…the busiest shopping day of the year. When retailers slash prices, and slash inventory, and step back as shoppers basically push and shove and punch their way through the mall to save 50% on a pocket flashlight for Uncle Pete. This is the America I live in, folks.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m probably going to the mall later today, just to take advantage of a Buy One, Get Two Free sale at one of the local retailers, and to make fun of shoppers acting like crazed fools. Making fun of people caving into their worst tendencies is one of America’s greatest spectator sports!

Anyway, I had a very nice Thanksgiving, thank you for asking.

This morning, I noticed this in My Stats:

wp

That’s right: Out Where the Buses Don’t Run now has more than 1,000 followers. When I first started this blog, even just a mere hundred followers would have seemed like an amazing success. The fact that I’ve more than increased my followship (???) by 800% – I was at around 120 on the first of January of this year – really blows my mind. Thanks to everyone for choosing to make this blog part of your reading pleasure.

At the risk of sounding like I’m biting the hand that feeds me, I do realize that not all 1,000 followers do actively read my blog at once. I mean, let’s be honest, quite a few of my followers are counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag sellers from Jakarta, or travel agents from India or Bangladesh organizing some rather dubious vacation packages. There’s the smattering of webcam hussies, and there’s the proprietors of some shady online businesses. At least if I needed to get some Viagra online, and fast, I now know where to go.

In other words, spammers. They pad my numbers. I’ll take ’em. Call me a stat whore. Just like A-Rod. Or A-Roid. Oh, crap…I just outed myself as a blog juicer. “I did not take performance enhancing drugs for this blog. Ever!” Ehhh! Wrong!

But then there’s the lurkers, the readers of this blog from all corners of the globe, those who do read, and perhaps “like” my blog, but are maybe a bit shy about commenting. No, please, comment! I don’t bite! I’d love to talk with you! That’s why I run this blog, to meet people from all walks of life, with similar and diverse interests. So if you’re a single mom from rural Kansas, or a history student from Hong Kong, and you like what you’re reading here, let me know!

And to all of you who’ve actively and continually read my blog over the course of 18 whirlwind months, my deepest and most heartfelt thanks for stopping by and making Out Where the Buses Don’t Run one of the blogs you choose to read. Knowing there are millions of blogs for you to choose from and read, the fact that you read mine keeps me humble, and keeps this blog going. So, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I feel like I should reward you for your loyalty. I’ll think of something. Maybe I’ll post a brief excerpt of my current work-in-progress here very soon. Or some not-so-flattering photos of me. What say you: how should I repay your loyalty?

Speaking of spam, one of the many benefits of blogging through WordPress is Akismet. What is Akismet, you say? Well, it’s a spam-filtering service that protects your blog site from anonymous spam commenters, peddling everything from discount designer clothing and shoes to Russian mail order brides. I don’t want their wares gumming up my blog comments section.

Thanks to Akismet, Out Where the Buses Don’t Run has been protected now from almost 29,000 spam messages. Not a single spam message has been populated into any of the Comments sections of any of the blogs I’ve posted here. Thank you, Akismet, for protecting me from spamalicious badness.

Still, I like to review my Spam folder from time to time. Akismet may once in a while mark someone’s comment as “spam” when it shouldn’t be; it hasn’t happened often, but it does happen every blue moon or so. But the ones Akismet does block are, to be honest, freaking hilarious.

So I thought I’d take a moment to go through some of my favorites in my queue right now and “reply” back to those comments. Like I’ve done once before.

Example #1

 
Submitted on 2013/11/27 at 7:42 pm 

http://www.helenmarshalldesigns.com/images/waterlilie.asp
helenmarshalldesigns.com/images/waterlilie.asp

hvdrkvz@gmail.com
76.164.217.251

 

If facts have been far more truthful, I could put 60 men and women back again to operate tomorrow.
http://www.helenmarshalldesigns.com/images/waterlilie.asp http://www.helenmarshalldesigns.com/images/waterlilie.asp

Dear Helen Marshall Designs,

As opposed to “facts not being truthful?” What part of “facts” do you not understand? And who are these 60 men and women you’re putting back to operate again? Operate on what? What hinky shit are you up to? Who are you, Blackwater? Donald Rumsfeld? Stop reading my blog, now.

Example #2

 
 

Hello. And Bye. http://google.com

Dear Neunsedog,

You sound a lot like many a woman that’s given me the brush-off throughout the years. Nice to see you’re still the same stuck-up snotty hag that recoils in horror every time a drooling idiot handsome man like me offers to buy you a drink.

Example #3

 

 

http://www.floodrisk2012.net/register7.asp?p=30
floodrisk2012.net/register7.asp?p=30
glmyugmng@gmail.com
76.164.234.155

He’s an effective person. I feel the worst element which will come from this really is that Chris Kemoeatu can be a horrible person, Meyer reported. “That’s not the case in the least.”
http://www.floodrisk2012.net/register7.asp?p=30 http://www.floodrisk2012.net/register7.asp?p=30

Dear Floodrisk,

Which one is it? Is Chris Kemoeatu an effective person, or a horrible person? Or both? And why should I care? Fuck Chris Kemoeatu.

Example #4

 

 

http://www.sunsetrun.at/defauit.asp?p=29
sunsetrun.at/defauit.asp?p=29
zknmpgfvxf@gmail.com
23.89.132.46

You should to formulate an notion to acquire the cash you owe paid off. Even when these items will even so clearly show up in your assertion, you won’t be penalized by having a full ton past due financial debt.
http://www.sunsetrun.at/defauit.asp?p=29 http://www.sunsetrun.at/defauit.asp?p=29

Dear Sunsetrun,

Your advice sucks. Who are you, Suze Orman?

Example #5

 

 

the north face gotham jacket
the-north-face-gotham-jacket.bikeshopchicago.com
jestinehungerford@gawab.com
192.99.11.146

It is perfect time to make a few plans for thee long run and it is time to be happy.
I’ve learn this post and if I could I wish to recommend you few fascinating issues or tips.
Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article.
I wish to read even more things about it!

Dear The North Face Gotham Jacket,

Thank you for the kind words. Regretably, I don’t do requests. If I ceded to your request, the next thing you know, I’d start writing articles on Justin Bieber, and shenanigans with spam.

I do have a request for you: Please slap your parents in the mouth. Hard. For giving you such a terrible name. “North Face Gotham Jacket?” You must have gotten the shit beaten out of you in school. Hopefully your parents paid for karate lessons. Or psychotherapy. Either way, your parents are the worst parents this side of Kanye and Kim, for giving you such a lousy name. Fuckers.

Example #6

 

 

Keith Hecht
autotransport123.com
autotransportautoshipping@gmail.com
59.161.68.217

I appreciate the advice that you gave. It was very helpful.

Dear Keith,

What was that advice I gave you? Oh, yes…DON’T HAVE SEX WITH TRANNY HOOKERS. BAREBACK.

Look, this blog is a judgment-free zone. I couldn’t care less if you’re a Scientologist or you enjoy sex with transsexual hookers or vote Republican. It’s your right, I’m all about free will, and who am I to tell you otherwise? But, Keith, if you’re going to indulge in risky behavior – and, let’s face it, having sex with chicks with dicks isn’t your run of the mill hump-and-run activity – then it’s best to practice safe sex. Little Keith thanks you. The tranny with the fake 38Ds and the very real 9″ boner thanks you. And Mrs. Keith thanks you as well.

PS: Thank you for having a real name.

“The Lithium Shuffle,” Or: Fun With Music Playlists

Music plays a large role in shaping the words I write.

In my current WIP, music plays an integral part in how the story is told. Rather than the story being told in Part/Chapter format, I’m incorporating that so very ubiquitous relic from the 1990s to help tell the story: the mix tape.

There was an art form to the mix tape. You didn’t just throw 15-20 songs onto a 90-minute cassette (or did you?) and simply write “MIX TAPE!” on the label. You chose the songs carefully, those songs revealing a veiled clue about yourself, or something you wanted to convey to the person you were making the mix tape for. My mix tapes were short autobiographical essays – something I covered in the essay “My Life as a Mix Tape, Parts 1 and 2,” in my book, Out Where the Buses Don’t Run: Seven Years of Rants, Raves, Dirty Jokes, and Bad Ideas From a Small But Loud Corner of the Blogosphere. – that were constants in my mid-twenties. The bulk of the music on those mix tapes were what was burning underground in the alternative music scene, some of which became hits, others destined for obscurity.

My WIP takes place right around 1995-96, which would have been during my mid-twenties. So why the mid-nineties? For starters, there seems to be a trend towards writers obsessing over New York City’s past, and I’m one of them. As I’m writing this book, I’m reliving streets I used to roam, conversations I’ve had at bars and clubs, the women I loved, and the music I listened to. The mid-nineties was when the Internet first became a household word. When Friends and The X-Files were what we were watching on TV. This was a particularly difficult time for me, as I was feeling rudderless, the first onset of what would be depression coming down upon me. Music was the salve, what I could most identify with, especially when you consider the music at the time was very feeling-centric. Singer-songwriters who were confessional, stark in their approach. Kurt Cobain, yes, but also Jeff Buckley. Elliott Smith, too. They’re all dead. I don’t know why I’m bringing them up.

Music from the Nineties has something of a mixed reputation these days. The Nineties gave us Radiohead (praise Allah), Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Massive Attack, Pavement, the Chemical Brothers, the Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G., Portishead, Mariah Carey, just to name a few. It also gave us some of the worst one-hit wonders ever. The “Macarena,” anyone? How about “Tubthumping?” “Mambo No. 5?” 

There was also Hootie and the Blowfish. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Boy bands also ruled the roost. Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and N*SYNC, although the latter can be forgive for giving us Justin Timberlake. The Nineties also gave us Britney Spears. Actually, I’m not going to dump on Britney. I admit to liking a few songs of hers. “Toxic?” Three-and-a-half minutes of pure perfect pop. FACT.

But there was a lot of shitty music. If grunge – Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden – did smash hair metal into thousands of aerosol-stained pieces, it also begat its slew of hideous copycats. Stone Temple Pilots. Creed. Filter. Limp Bizkit. Oh, Jesus, I just threw up in my mouth typing their name…

We also saw a greater influx of women in the music industry, through both the singer-songwriter – Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrisette, Fiona Apple, just to name a few. The spiritual daughters of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Carole King recreated the confessional tomes of Blue and Tapestry for the Nineties, paving way for future female singer-songwriters.

And there were the Women Who Rocked. The Riot Grrls, lead by Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toyland, and L7, proved you didn’t need a dick to rock hard, just the attitude and killer riffs. Across the pond, PJ Harvey’s minimalist garage punk, Bjork’s mad-hatter beats and otherworldly banshee wail, and Garbage’s Shirley Manson’s darkly comic lyrics and no-bullshit demeanor left me breathless. Then there was Hole, led by America’s Sweetheart, the delightful train wreck known as Courtney Love. Live Through This was a festering, oozing wound of past traumas, unresolved anger, unaired grievances, dark psycho-sexual politics, and black comedy, and it’s still as emotionally gut-wrenching a listen today as it was when it came out the week after Kurt Cobain romanced a shotgun.

“The Lithium Shuffle” is the playlist I’ve put together to put in the frame of mind as I’m writing this novel. As I listen to this playlist, and write this novel, the idea of the novel as a mix tape began to come to mind. Instead of a book separated into “parts,” it’s “Side One,” and “Side Two.” Each chapter is a “track,” the novel an entire mix tape that tells the story of a suicidal woman embarking on a road trip across 1990’s America with a fictional character.

I thought I’d share with you a few songs (well, some of my favorites) on the “Lithium Shuffle” playlist, a playlist that’s growing daily.. Some of these songs make up the titles of the “tracks” on the novel. Enjoy!

Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You

Pulp – Common People

PJ Harvey – Dress

Morphine – Cure for Pain

Sugar – Helpless

Garbage – Milk

Folk Implosion – Natural One

Nada Surf – Imaginary Friends

Yo La Tengo – Big Day Coming

Joan Osborne – Right Hand Man 

Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out

NaNoWriMo Checkpoint, Week Two, Or: Getting Sick is No Excuse For Not Padding Your Word Count (Also…a Giveaway!)

WEEK TWO

WORD COUNT: 13963

First, the good news: I’ve been able to write an outline and write a short synopsis for my NaNo WIP. The bad news is that I’ve been laid up with the early onset of the flu. I never seem to get the full-blown flu, albeit on maybe one or two occassions. I get symptoms, or lingering side effects, but no full-blown illness. Like right now, I’ve got an irritating cough that makes it hard for me to speak – which for someone as verbose like me is pretty much like a death sentence, even with the so-called “sexy voice” – and some chest congestion that’s got me feeling cranky. This has all pretty much ground my writing down to a few precious trickles here and there.

My plan last week was to take advantage of the alone time I was to have. My wife was away on a business trip for 4 days/3 nights, which would have given me a couple of hours during the day to write (always a plus, since I work from home), and some more hours at night, once I put my daughter to bed. But the flu bug started toying with me. “Oh, want to do some writing, huh? Yeah, I don’t think so!” Other than one day where I managed to string together more than 3500 words in about 4 hours of writing time stolen throughout the day, while fending off the I-feel-like-crap feeling, I got very little, and I mean VERY LITTLE writing done.

So I concentrated instead on fully outlining the WIP, and writing a synopsis in a sentence or two that neatly summarizes what I’m setting to accomplish. From this focus, I saw the novel take some interesting turns I hadn’t foreseen, but I was happy with nonetheless. For example, my protagonist has gone from being a male to now a female. Why? Because the story is far more interesting with a female protagonist, and the secondary character, which I discussed in my last post, plays better with her. There’s a road trip across America in their future that I honestly have no idea where that came from, but it makes perfect sense.

In all, I’m obsessed with the idea that this story must remain within the boundaries of being crazy, bat-shit crazy. The synopsis should tell you something about the level of crazy I’m working with her:

A suicidal woman embarks on an existential road trip across 1990’s America with a fictional character.

Sort of like Adventure Time, but with Finn as an adult woman an Jake as a fictional adult male, and with more adult-oriented existential silliness.

finn-n-jake

At any rate, I am feeling somewhat better, now that a visit to the doctor has armed me with enough antibiotics to rid me of any infections for the next decade, so I should start hacking away at my WIP and make some serious progress. I know I’m not going to reach 50,000 by November 30th, but who knows? 36,000 in 12 days…totally doable.

 

THE GIVEAWAY!

About that giveaway…I’m giving away a subscription to Poets & Writers magazine. It’s my favorite writer’s magazine, one that I’ve spoken of very highly on this blog. If I re-up for another year, which I will, P&W will give away a subscription to the person of my choice, on them.

The first person to correctly answer this question will win a one-year subscription to Poets & Writers magazine. Answer in the Comments section below. And no Googling!

Which of these American authors have NOT won the Nobel Prize for Literature?

A. John Steinbeck

B. Philip Roth

C. Ernest Hemingway

D. William Faulkner