Post-apoc-a-lip-service

I didn’t want to (and still don’t want to) write a “post-apocalypse” blog because that whole Mayan thing is simply one more example of the vast majority reading only the headline and not the full explanations, or they were too damn lazy to find out the real story.

In my lifetime, I’ve survived at least two raptures, the Mayan apocalypse, Y2K, and both Saved By The Bell and Glee. I’m a survivor.

glee-logo

Anyway, something did capture my attention this morning, the always-interesting blog of Jason Darrick. He wrote a blog based on some tweets done with the hashtag #ApocalypseConfessions. I’ll let Jason explain it, because he does it better than I ever could.

A funny thing happened on Twitter yesterday, at least, it was meant to be funny. The hashtag “ApocalypseConfessions” made the rounds, with most people throwing a joke at the wall and hoping for a retweet or two. The thing about me is that I don’t open up very well, so I took the opportunity to speak some truths about myself, not so much in the event that we all die, rather because there’s demons in my head that alcohol just won’t kill. So below are my confessions along with two retweets that apply to me.

Jason

He then went on to list fifteen tweets that applied to him. He didn’t add any explanation, which I found equally interesting, letting those little 140-character blasts stand or fall on their own.

I’d like to add some commentary on some of them, simply based on my own experiences. I checked with Jason first. He said he doesn’t mind.

#ApocalypseConfessions I really hate the personal situation that I’m in. I’d rather be with someone(s) than alone.

Ah, this is a great place to start. I’ve seen this a lot, especially with my own family. I come from a family of people that really can’t be alone. Unfortunately, what that means is, they’ve made some truly horrible choices in partners, simply because they settled. Yes, it’s shitty to be alone, however, I also believe you have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with someone else. Never settle. Someone out there is waiting for you. Don’t let them slide by because you grabbed the first one that showed any interest. As the song says, shop around.

#ApocalypseConfessions I often feel that the image I project isn’t anywhere close to who I want to be. Rather, it’s who everyone wants.

#ApocalypseConfessions Why yes, I AM afraid to be myself. That’s why I have a blog under an assumed name.

These two seem to go together well. This was also the topic of a brief conversation I just had with the Girl yesterday. I’m always reminded of the Billy Joel song when this topic comes up.

Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin, some are steel
Some are silk, and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on

We all have many images or faces we project. There’s the professional, assured one we wear at work. There’s the sometimes vulnerable, sometimes confident, loving one we wear to our partner. There’s the gently authoritative one we wear for our children. But sometimes we just need to let them drop and be who we are. Because, in the end, if others can’t like us for who we are, if we have to play someone different to get that job, to get that partner…then really, are they worth being around? Be honest to others, but more importantly, be honest to yourself. Don’t wear the face of a stranger.

#ApocalypseConfessions I motherfucking hate Xmas. I put a brave face on for my daughter.

I’ve covered this one at length here. Long story short, this is one where you simply have to put your head down and barrel through it. The good thing is, it ends. The bad thing is, it keeps coming back. Later on, this is another face of the stranger you can drop with your child, when they’re old enough to understand. But they’ll likely appreciate what you did for them. Being a good parent means thinking of your kids before you think of yourself. You’re doing that.

“@stateofego: I’m deathly afraid of failure. This fear often holds me back.  #ApocalypseConfessions” DITTO.

My favourite quote of all time is, “What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?” by Robert Schuller.

It seems to also fit nicely with a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Fear Litany Worm

Fear is crippling. If you fear that you can’t put on your shoes, you won’t put on your shoes. If you fear anything, then try it.

This may be the main reason I’m so loyal to the company I work for: About a decade ago, they sent me on a course that was designed only to allow me to coach agents much better. Which it did, however it gave me a life lesson I never forgot. They, over the course of two days, taught me that if I’m comfortable, I’m not learning. They forced us into uncomfortable situations, then allowed us to learn from them and succeed. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten and I’ll be eternally grateful for them teaching me.

I’ve accomplished so much by allowing myself to be okay with being uncomfortable. Has it always worked out? Hell no. But it has worked out much more than it hasn’t. And once you get a couple of those victories under your belt, it gets easier. Give yourself permission to fail, then go and do something that scares the shit out of you.

“@StaceyONeale: I have over 100 unread books in my house and my kindle. 80% of them I got for free. #ApocalypseConfessions” Over 200 for me.

This is something I’m going to total up too, but I think I’ve got you both beat, between traditional books, ebooks, and audio books. A culling is in order. But it’s also wonderful to always have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

#ApocalypseConfessions I never wanted to be a reviewer. I was told authors just do it. Had C. not invited me, I wouldn’t be at DT.

#ApocalypseConfessions I wanna write about pro wrestling and work for Cracked. That way I’d have all the base forms of entertainment covered

For these two, I’ll always say to write what pleases you first. It’s great that C. invited you, because it took you out of your comfort zone. On the other hand, if it’s no longer helping you (and I’m talking in general terms to any writer here), then move on. Too many writers don’t challenge themselves enough (and I’m likely talking to myself here too…so I hope I’m listening). About a year ago, Ed Kurtz approached me to write about a PI that investigates a case that turns supernatural…his excellent Sam Truman series. Now, I was born in 1962, so what do I know about being an adult in 1960? And I’d never written a PI story before, so what do I know about being a PI? Of course I said yes to his offer. Still not sure the experiment was a full success, but I enjoyed the experience, let me tell you. If you want to write something, don’t keep wishing…write it. It may be shit, it may be gold, but it will always be a learning experience.

#ApocalypseConfessions Joking aside, that last tweet was true.

So write about pro wrestling and create a Cracked.com article. Do it.

#ApocalypseConfessions Goodreads says I’ve read 18.5 books this year. That’s more than theyears 1995-2008 combined. Yes, I regret that.

According to my website, I’ve read 95 books this year and I’m still pissed that I’m not closer to 156. I really wanted to average three a week. Though, to be honest, I could go through double that and likely still not be happy. I’ve even tried to do the speed-reading thing, but it doesn’t work for me. Anyone got some tips for reading faster? I’ll take them.

#ApocalypseConfessions About 8 years ago, I planned on moving East to work in porn. If I was in shape, I’d still do it.

Okay, I originally wrote, “This one’s so far outside my experience range, I can’t comment on it.”  Then I thought about that…and of course I have stuff to say about it.

ninja porn

I’m not a big porn guy. Hell, I’m not even a little porn guy. Porn doesn’t work for me, though I must say, I find it fascinating how something that, even only three or four decades ago was still very much an underground, never-discussed thing, is now so mainstream. But that’s the internet for ya.

But that’s not what I wanted to say. The point here is, I find it absolutely fascinating that the person who wrote most of these tweets obviously doubts their abilities in many ways, yet they are confident to actually come out and state they wouldn’t mind working in porn. I’m known for saying a hell of a lot of off-colour things, but I don’t think I could ever work up the courage to even state in a public forum that I’d like to work in porn. And I know I couldn’t actually do it. Instead of being known as H.R. Puff ‘n’ Stuff

hr-pufnstuf

(I always thought that was the perfect pornstar name), I’d likely be known simply as SD&RB, which was an acronym my college roommate used to use. It means “shrink dink and raisin bag.” Yup, that’d be me on a porn set.

So, bravo Jason. Good for you stating that one. That takes balls. (see what I did there?)

#ApocalypseConfessions I write short stories because I can’t be bothered with long rewrites. Working to fix that.

This comes back to the “write what you want to write” suggestion. For me, initially, I couldn’t even envision myself writing anything longer than about fifteen to twenty pages. Why? Because I had never done it before. Then I started on this neat little story about a demon in a high school. This little short story, after all was said and done, turned out to be something like 400 manuscript pages. 100K words.

Write the story that’s inside you, not what you can be bothered with.

#ApocalypseConfessions If you’re hitting on me, you need to make that abundantly clear. I’m terrible at reading women.

Good lord, this sums up my love life from the age of 12 to meeting my wife. Women essentially had to throw themselves at me for me to take the hint. And yet, for all of that, my wife still insists that I chased her. Wrong.

#ApocalypseConfessions I keep hair on my head because folks don’t like me being bald. I hate my hair.

Then go bald. It’s your head. What if someone said they didn’t like your nose? Would  you change it? Not only should you be the person you want to be but, within reason, look like the person you want to be as well. I only state “within reason” as, if you work in a professional, suit and tie environment, then you either have to conform or be so damn good at what you do that they tolerate your personal appearance.

But as much as possible, go by this quote from an unmarked grave in Kansas: “Be what you is, ‘cos if you be what you ain’t, you ain’t what you is.”

“@babymoondrop: I buy books, but I never read them #ApocalypseConfessions” A million times THIS.

I’ve bought books that I was sure I was going to read, only to get a few pages in and hate them, so I never finished them. Some book by Charles Stross. Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. That one damn near killed me. I can only handle so much New Agey shit before I start getting the heaves. Then there were some I shouldn’t have finished. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. But I don’t think I’ve ever let a book languish just for the sake of not having read it. I always get around to it. May take some time, but I’ll always get around to it.

APsycho

Anyway, that’s Jason’s list and some of my added life lessons and crap commentary. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong on any of this.

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I’m one year old

Hard to believe, but it was a year ago today I started this little blog.  Who knew I had a year’s worth of stuff to say?

This isn’t going to be a long one, but I have a few people to thank for this blog still being here a year later.

First, Monica Kuebler.  She published Vanishing Hope and she was the first one to urge me to develop some sort of web presence.  She also told me not to worry about posting about “writing stuff” all the time.  So if you want to blame someone for the shit stories and the vasectomy stories, etc…blame Monica.  She started it.

Next, a collective thank you to Ann Douglas, Mary McIntyre and Allyson Latta.  During last year’s Ontario Writers’ Conference, Ann gave a talk on Shameless Self-Promotion and it made me realize I could likely consider this blogging thing.  She also pushed me to Twitter and Facebook.  Mary then, on the same day, introduced me to WordPress and correctly read my wild-eyed look of fear and calmed me down and explained in simple language that even moron like me could learn it.  She used much nicer language than that.  Finally Allyson, in meeting me for the first time, was an enthusiastic supporter and nodded her head in all the right places.  They all encouraged me to write that first blog a year ago.

Next, I want to thank everyone that stopped by to read my musings over the past year.  If someone had told me a year ago that I’d have had almost 38K hits to this blog, I would have laughed.  I likely would have been delighted if, a year later, I had a couple thousand hits.

I’d also like to thank all those that have supported me in my “writerly” ambitions over the last year, including Gavy Swan, Dan Mansfield, Elizabeth Young, Deepam Wadds and Noelle Bickle from the Writers’ Community of Simcoe County, all the folks from the WCDR, including James Dewar, Sue Reynolds, M-E Girard, Dale Long, and a list of others too long to name, as well as Colum McKnight and Jason Darrick from Dreadful Tales, two of my first fans and good friends, and Ian Rogers, my fellow BE peer, as well as Ed Kurtz of Redrum and Abattoir fame who was crazy enough to give me a writing gig.

To Cara Michaels, who came up with a crazy idea to write 500 words a day and it’s taken over my mornings, as well as a page on this blog.

To all the students in my Creative Writing classes, many of which I consider friends now. Especially Pat Flewwelling, my constant supporter.

Finally, I want to thank my long suffering family, the Boy, the Girl and the Wife so frequently mentioned and lampooned on this site.  Hunter, Madison and Karen, thank you for your patience, your encouragement and for not killing me for some of the stuff I’ve written.

And an extra-special thank you to Karen.  I always know when she’s reading one of my so-called “funny” blogs because I’ll hear an occasional whoop of laughter and a whack as she pounds the desk.  Kind of makes it all worth it.

I know I’ve forgotten a lot of people along the way, and forgive me and remind me if I’ve missed you. No slight intended.

 

A quick wrap up

This will be a short one, readers.  Just cleaning up a few end of year details, getting ready for the new year and highlighting a milestone of sorts.

So this is 2011 damn near done.  For the first third of this past year, I say, good frigging riddance.  They were a rough time for me personally and professionally.  On the plus side, I changed jobs (within the same company), and I think I grew up a lot personally and learned to place blame squarely where most of it lay.  With me.  Then I learned to deal with it.  I also learned to stand up for myself a lot more.

The last two-thirds of the year are a whirlwind.  I joined the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) writing community and went to the Ontario Writers’ Conference on April 30.  Two days later, as a direct result of the conference, I started this blog.  Only 244 days ago.  Or 5856 hours.  351,360 minutes…or 21,081,600 seconds…give or take.

From a chance meeting at the OWC, I ended up a founding board member of the Writers’ Community of Simcoe County (WCSC).  From meetings at WCDR, I ended up great friends with members of the brand new Writers’ Community of York Region (WCYR).

At the same time, I also taught three Creative Writing courses and met a lot of new friends and writers that way.

So I’ve met a lot of writers/editors/enthusiasts.

I got published for the first time ever in August at the Festival of Fear and the response not only at the booklaunch but also ever since, whether it was readers, fellow writers or reviewers, has been so much more positive and passionate than I ever could have hoped for.

I also got reacquainted with some old friends and family and met some new ones.

In all, though it started out as the worst time of my life, it’s turned into one of the best years, professionally and personally, that I ever could have hoped for.

In the beginning, I had modest hopes for this blog.  244 days ago, I’d originally planned to put up a new blog every day.  That turned out to be unrealistic, but I have managed an average of one every two-and-a-half days.  I’ve almost hit a hundred posts, which seemed so unattainable way back in May.

Which leads me to the milestone I was talking about.  Sometime today, I’ll cross 10,000 hits (only 26 to go as I write this).  Now, I’ve come across some blogs that have had ten or twenty times that, but for me to have an average of forty people viewing this site daily or about a 100 or so per blog post…when it didn’t even exist in April…that’s surprising to me.  It always shocks me that so many people are somehow interested in anything I have to say.  Because most of what I say is either dirty, profane or doesn’t make sense.  Ohid I actually good peanuts!

And yet, still you come.

And starting tomorrow, or next year, however you want to look at it, I’ve decided to make three resolutions.  Two are easy, the third’s going to be a challenge for me.

  1. Keep doing what I’m doing when it comes to my family and friends.  I don’t want to lose any of them because of my boneheadedness.
  2. Create a page on here to let you know what I’m reading.  As a heavy reader and a pathetically slow writer, I’m always interested in what others are reading.  When I visit someone’s house, I always look at what books they have on their shelf.  So I’m gonna let you know as well.  Could generate discussion…could suck.
  3. (And this is the hard one, folks)  Write an average of 500 words a day.  Every day.  I came across a site (thanks Jason Darrick!) that is set up like an all-year NaNoWriMo, but, at least for me, seems a little more attainable.  So I’m not going to count blog posts in the word count.  Only actual fiction writing.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress here.  Yes, in public.  Humiliation works wonders.

That’s it.  Next year at this time, we’ll see how I did.

So, thank each and every one of you who take time out of your day to stop by.  I really do appreciate it.

Have a fantastic 2012 and let’s keep doing this, shall we?