Archive

Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category

Write or Else!

June 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been on a crusade of late.typewriter

Well, maybe “crusade” is too strong a word. “Quixotic Jaunt” might be a better description.

The last few months I’ve been focusing a great deal of attention on getting my various projects done, or at least making significant progress on them. To that end, I’ve begun doing this strange thing I once heard about on television called “scheduling.” Apparently, the idea is that you plan to do a particular thing on a particular day at a particular time, and when that moment comes… you do it!

What a crazy concept!

For a good portion of my existence, my process has been: 1) Get an idea, 2) Start working on the idea, 3) Get distracted by a shiny, NEW idea, 4) Repeat steps 2-4. You can see how this naturally leads to an unending spiral of unfinished work.

Enter “scheduling.”

For the first time in my life, I’m actually working on one thing at a time.  And it seems to be working. I’ve started playtesting a game I’ve been writing and I’m about 42,000 words into a novel that I aim to finish by around the end of the month. (Which month, I’m not exactly sure. Probably not this one – but ONE of them, anyway, I know that much!)

I’m stepping things up not only because I desperately want to, but because I feel as though I’m denying my identity as a content creator if I don’t. Writing is a sizable part of what defines me as a person, and it’s about time I jolly well acted like it.

When I think back on every career I’ve ever considered, I realize that those career choices are just excuses to write. I once wanted to be a computer programmer so that I could write the plots of computer games. I once wanted to be an actor so that I could eventually write and perform my own material. I got into theatre because I wanted to write and stage my own plays. I got into broadcasting in the hope that one day I might be able to write and produce my own TV or radio shows.

See a pattern there? When I saw it, things became much simpler. I realized that the best thing for me to do right now is to cut out the middle man and get some actual writing done.HandPen

There’s another reason I need to get busy creating things, though.

I had an uncle who passed away a couple of years ago. He was an amazing actor, writer, singer and teacher – he was a great inspiration to me and is one of my personal heroes. The last time I saw him, he told me that no matter what happens, I *must* write. He knew me very well, and saw me for what I am. So, I’ve taken his instructions to heart.

I write because I must – not just because I’m following an avuncular edict, but because it is who I am.

And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier about it.

Download
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Categories: Observation Tags: , , ,

Don’t Kill My Buzz, Man!

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

As you may have noticed from the audio of the monologue at the end of my previous post, I’m a fan of caffeine.

The problem, though, is that the further I creep into that thing which, for the sake of argument, we’ll call my thirties, I find that I’m becoming more a fan of the IDEA of caffeine than the actual caffeine itself.  As I get older I notice that caffeine has a much subtler but more pronounced effect on me than it did in the past.

Back in the good old days when I was ridiculously young and agile and crazy like a jackalope, I would guzzle down caffeinated beverages like there was no tomorrow.  Back then the only real work I did was for a theatre company and the rest of the time I was a professional wastrel. I’d usually stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning regardless of what I’d been drinking that day.  Even so, I’d be able to go to bed mere seconds after I’d had caffeine and not have the least bit of trouble getting to sleep.

While cola, tea and the like were staples for me, they seemed to have little or no effect. But coffee was a different story.  One sip of java and I’d be bouncing off the walls.

Nowadays, if I drink ordinary caffeinated beverages, I seem to get very little in the way of an energy boost from it.  To all appearances, nothing significant happens… until I try to go to bed.  If I’ve had more than, say, a couple of thimblefuls of caffeine in the last few hours, sleep is utterly IMPOSSIBLE.

But one thing has remained consistent, and that’s my reaction to coffee.  One sip of java and I’m bouncing off the walls.  Okay, maybe it takes TWO sips these days, but the effect is the same.

This is how I eventually came to admit to myself that my reaction to coffee is probably a placebo effect.  I came to this realization not too long ago when I guzzled two frappucinos in preparation for participating in the morning show that’s produced at my broadcasting school’s radio station.  The idea that coffee can turn me into a wired and witty cartoon character is so powerful to me that when I drink the coffee, that’s what happens.

But sadly, it’s naught but an illusion.  The truth is that caffeine doesn’t really GIVE me energy.  It just changes WHEN I have it.

Does it matter, though?  We do all kinds of crazy things to motivate ourselves – you only need to see footage of any random sports rally to confirm that.  So why not let me have my fantasy of a magical concoction that throws my personality into overdrive?  If it amuses me and helps me get things done at the same time, I call that a victory.

What this really means is that while I’m not drinking nearly as much caffeine as I did in the old days, I’m more determined than ever to harness my power of self-delusion and use the resulting tide of caffeine-inspired wackiness for the greater good.

So don’t kill my buzz, man!  Don’t rain on my parade!  Don’t repossess my euphonium!  Lest my army of encaffeinated ninjas descend upon you!!

Er… or words to that effect.

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Download
Music by Django Reinhardt
Categories: Observation Tags: ,

Publication News

July 11, 2010 1 comment

Hey, folks!

Just wanted to let you know about a few things of mine that are seeing the light of day.

A couple of my monologues were recently published in Main Street Rag, which is a local magazine.  It’s the first time any of my monologues have seen print and I am very excited about that!

Also, the From the Dark Side anthology has just come out.  It’s a charity anthology benefiting Letters and Light – that’s the organization involved with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  So if you’re interested in helping support and encourage new writers, I suggest you check it out.  The anthology includes a short story I wrote quite a while ago called The Looking Glass at Lughnasa, where I kind of put a fey twist on a few of Lewis Carroll’s ideas.

You’ll see the links to both of those in this article and as a new part of the general sidebar on my web site as well.  It’s a really great honor to be included among the very talented writers in both publications and I’m really happy about it!  And I’d be very pleased if folks would go and take a look at them.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now.  See you suddenly!

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Download
Music by Dave Girtman

Living or Dead?!

March 31, 2010 2 comments

It’s time for everyone’s favorite game show, Living or Dead?!

Here’s how the rules work: I’m going to name some celebrities and it’s up to you to tell me if they’re still living or if they’re dead!

Ready?

Here we go!

Rodney Dangerfield

picture courtesy of Jim Accordino

(Answer: Dead. Though he may still be moving around a bit.)

Andy Rooney

picture courtesy of Stephenson Brown

(Answer: Living. Despite everyone’s best efforts. The man is still putting out content, though, so I have to give him props for that.)

Frank Sinatra

(Answer: Dead. Though not for nefarious reasons, from what I understand.)

Dick Clark

picture courtesy of DianthusMoon

(Answer: Living. Though it’s possible that he’s mostly animatronic by now.)

Glenn Ford

(Answer: Dead. Quite suddenly. It may have been my fault – if you believe in tachyons. I declared that he was dead without knowing it had only happened that day.)

Abe Vigoda

(Answer: Living. Believe it or not: http://www.abevigoda.com/ffb.php )

Dan Rather

picture courtesy of Ed Schipul

(Answer: Living. Though I think the man has probably defeated more assassins than I would care to count.)

Elvis Presley

(Answer: Probably dead, though that doesn’t seem to stop him from being seen in public.)

I’m afraid that’s all the time we have!  Thanks for playing Living or Dead?!

(Okay, admittedly this was a quick and dirty way to get a new blog entry up, but it turns out I did have to look most of these guys up before I was sure if they were pushing up the daisies or not.  How well did you do?)

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Download
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Categories: Observation Tags: , ,

A Quick Status Update

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

So, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted an entry in a little while.

Don’t worry, folks.  I still love you.  I am not seeing other blogs behind your backs.  But unfortunately I got buried under what I can only characterize as a Mountain of Year-End Work.  And so, some of my ongoing projects got pushed back a little bit.  Doing more entries for the blog got pushed back a bit.  The Great Debate! got pushed back a bit.  The other things that I do for War Pig also got pushed back a bit, unfortunately.

And some of that had to do with the fact that I got sick a couple of times, but a good deal of it was that I had a lot that I had to get done by the end of the year.  I wrote a few short stories for presents for some of my relatives – an option that I highly recommend if you’re short on cash and don’t mind burning the midnight oil for several nights in a row.  I also was crusading to finally get the second episode of the Every World News put together and released and thankfully was successful at that!  I was gunning to get it out by Christmas and thankfully I made that deadline.  I also started lending my voice to a couple of other podcasts: Starla Huchton’s The Dreamer’s Thread and the forthcoming The Last Guardians by “Indiana” Jim Perry.  So between all of that – and of course, still going around job hunting – I kind of had to let a few things slide for a little bit.

But the good news is we are now coming up to the end of the year, so with any luck that’ll mean I can get back up on the horse and return to the trail – hopefully without steering myself into a ravine on the way.  I have many, many more blog topics planned and will be getting to them presently.

So, worry not!  All shall be well!  Everything is under control.  Do not rush for the life boats.  There is no reason to panic.  All is in hand!

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Download
Music by Dave Girtman
Categories: Observation Tags: , ,

Thought Without Thinking

October 12, 2009 4 comments

Whenever I talk about my own thought process, I feel as though I’m about to attempt an impossible task.  After all, it’s not possible to talk about what a maze looks like from the outside when you’ve never been outside the maze, is it?  It’s like trying to see the top of your own head – without the aid of mirrors.

Nevertheless, let’s give it a shot.

I have a little issue with getting tasks done.

“But Jim,” I hear someone saying, “you’re writing an article for your blog right now, aren’t you?  Isn’t that a task that you’re getting done as we speak?”

Sure it is, but all that means is that the issue isn’t completely insurmountable.  It IS pretty overwhelming, though.  Also, this article is pretty short compared to the plethora of other tasks I need to be working on, so that makes it easier to finish.

The issue is this: I think too much.  A shocking revelation, I know.

A few years back I came to the conclusion that I have the ADD/OCD cocktail.  This means I have trouble keeping thoughts in my head and am distracted fairly easily.  It also means that I obsess over pretty much each one of those fleeting thoughts for the duration of its brief stay in my cranium.  When I’m working on something, I analyze it to the nth degree and try to get it as close to perfection as possible… until I’m distracted by something else (which I then proceed to work on to the nth degree and try to get as close to perfection as possible… until I’m distracted by something else… and so on and so on and so on…).

I don’t have much in the way of direct experience of this, but from what I’ve heard, when you have a child it becomes incredibly difficult to hold onto a thought for more than a few minutes because the kid is constantly distracting you.  If that’s truly the case then I think living in my head must be somewhat analogous to running a day care center.  I spend a lot of time chasing down individual thoughts that are important to me and trying to deal with them while all of my other thoughts are yelling for attention.  I can keep them all quiet if I play a video game or watch a movie, but if I then try to do something else, they all start acting up again.

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to follow the path of least resistance and just do whatever I feel like doing.  Unfortunately, this has made me a champion procrastinator.  It has also led to a lot of half-finished projects.

So, how do I get past this to be a good, productive, drone-like member of society?  Is there a way to harness my childlike, multi-headed thought beast and make it work FOR me?

Honestly, I haven’t worked out a COMPLETELY satisfactory solution yet, which is likely why I’m still unemployed, but I have at least started to get a tiny bit further on my creative projects.  Granted, this is about like Sisyphus just getting an inkling of how to position himself to move the boulder up the hill, but at least it’s a start.

So, what did I do to make it possible to write this article?  True, I haven’t finished it yet, but if you’re reading it now then that means I must complete it sometime in the near future.  Either that or we’re about to experience a rift in the space-time continuum.

"Maze" courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The truth is that when I do something, I have to trick myself into not thinking about it.  This is an especially strange process when writing because the words have to form in my head before they appear on the page, which of course means I’ve thought about them.  But how to think about something WITHOUT thinking about it?

There IS a way.  It requires sneaking up on my psyche and suddenly leaping into action without any thought whatsoever beforehand.  If I begin working on something without warning – even though I’m really just going through the motions because I have no Earthly idea what I’m actually doing – it seems to kick some part of my mind into a state that can only exist AFTER all the necessary decisions regarding the task have already been made.  If I’m lucky, the rest of my brain will then play along and supply me with the bits I need to keep doing whatever I’m doing.  Thus far I’ve been able to get it to work better for shorter tasks and I’m hoping that with practice I can sustain it over time.

I don’t understand how the process works.  It shouldn’t be possible to just skip to the second step of doing something if the first step involves figuring out what the second step IS.  And yet it must work somehow, because I see that we’ve just about come to the end of this article.  I’m sure that if I spend too much more time trying to figure it out, my head will explode.

So in the interest of maintaining my cranial integrity, for the time being… let’s just say it’s magic.

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Download
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Observation Tags: ,