Creatively Overwhelmed

Today was a day that I needed to use to get out of town, so my mom and I went to Steamboat for Pho. She had never had it before, and there is just something about it that hits the spot when it comes to…soup. It’s soup, but the broth has so many other levels of aromatics that I get a craving for it once in a while. And I also enjoy exposing people to new things they haven’t tried.

She enjoyed the Pho with rare steak, so yay! Sometimes I’ll try to show my folks something they haven’t tried and they can be a little like Mikey from Life Cereal. He won’t eat it! He hates everything!

I still don’t get that commercial nearly forty years lately. If Mikey hated everything, why did they try giving him the cereal?

Yesterday I gave myself some minor frostbite on my toes while shoveling snow off my sidewalk. Two of them are still purple and sting. At least they sting. That’s a good sign.

Today was a day of some setbacks otherwise, and some victories. After Pho, we checked out a thrift store on the outskirts of town, and I picked up a nearly new tripod for my digital camera. A Giottos Pro aluminum tripod with spirit levels and a ball mount, quick releases, and it goes up to about 70″. $25. Yes. You read that right. I also got a churchkey bottle opener and a DVD of Good Will Hunting for a buck.

When I got home, I set about to write some paid content and was met with a piece of bad news. one of the clients I was going to write for unceremoniously ditched me. They pulled four assignments, two of which I had already written. They blocked me and said, “Didn’t follow our guidelines.” This setback happens sometimes, especially with the more flakey clients who expect $1/word writing but only want to pay ten cents per word. It was a disppointment, and a loss for me of more than I’d like to think about.

A good metric of telling who is going to do this is someone who provides three pages of guidelines and 300 words of keywords for a 1500 word assignment. And when they don’t even look at your submission for a week or two after the deadline. I’d rather just not write for people like that.

So, I got on YouTube and went down the photography rabbit hole to try to teach myself more fundamentals of using my OM-D Olympus camera. I tried out a bunch of shots with the tripod and I think I’m beginning to figure out manual settings for Aperture, Shutter Speed, and things like depth of field and focus. The jargon can get overwhelming. Focus length, this and that in milimeters, all of it. Now I’ve got this tripod thing to figure out, which is actually pretty exciting. I wish I had taken photography, but as a previous artist (pencils, etc.) I understand composition pretty well. What I need to figure out now is color theory and all that technical crap that gives us pictures we like.

A few weeks ago, I applied for an assignement taking pictures of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska during the upcoming spring migration in North Platte, but they selected someone else today. It was to be a press trip/story/photography opportunity, but that gives me more time to practice and get better at photography for another project. Now that I’m accumulating better equipment, I still feel like an imposter, but less of one.

I’m writing this post tonight and drinking coffee in hopes that I can actually work on the book. A couple setbacks like this can be daunting, plus there is the ongoing struggle I have with the book. I’m getting into the short rows for the end, and I an also seeing how much the book needs in the middle, and how many spots I have either missed or had inadventantly re-written.

Writing a literary type story is difficult for me because I used to write mostly genre fiction like fantasy or SF. It has taken me a long time to change my mindset that unless there is a dragon burning down a village or robots replacing people, a story about someone’s life just isn’t all that interesting. Especially if a lot of it is based on a true story.

Who really cares?

What I know is the story wants to be written, and at this point, no other story is going to get into that feeder trough. I’m hoping to print off a first draft within a few days. Until then, I have plenty of coffee to sustain me and my itch to get the hell out of town has been satiated for a few days at least.

I have a lot of chainsaws in the air at once right now, and I’m hoping that something works out.

Shifting gears: art vs. work

Today is a “work” day with writing. I am in some serious need of motivation, since I have three legal posts to write for law firms. They aren’t very long, and if I just get into them, they will be done and I can do other things. I get the logic of this. But I’m the guy who eats the brownie first in the Hungry Man meal. I know I’m not supposed to do that. I don’t need a lecture. Believe me that I lecture myself more than anyone ever has.

I could have done them yesterday, but I didn’t. Today is the deadline in just nine hours. Wow, am I fighting it. Last night, being a Friday night, I decided instead to work on the book. It’s kind of nice when writing a book is the dessert you want and not the fat and flour you have to choke down. I feel this story coming together in so many good (albeit painful) ways. The story itself is pretty hard to take sometimes.

But when I’m done writing it, I usually feel cathartic.

I hope one day it helps someone else. I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day. If it does, I might publish under a pen name, so you might not even know it from here. Which kinda sucks, since who doesn’t want to see their name on a bookshelf? It’s all very close and personal and jeez, sometimes you get a taste for that sort of self-reflection/exploitation. Not that you really want people walking down the street to say they know your deep and dark secrets. Another reason writers are pretty lonely creatures.

So, today (at least until I get them done) I write content for law firms about estate planning.

Cue puke emoji.

When what I really want to be doing is assembling a work of art.

Who knows, I could be fooling myself and the story could be as interesting as a grocery list. Yet I cannot see past the testament of my own vanity.

Crazy couple of years

So, a couple years ago, they told us we might have to spend a few weeks inside because someone in China ate soup with a bat in it. (Yes, I know the bat thing was bogus. We all know the damn virus was made in a lab). And yes, that is plausible, considering we are talking about a country that enjoys weaponizing stuff. If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself the last time you heard of a virus that makes your sense of taste go away. It might kill you, it probably won’t, but if it does it will be like drowning for a week or so.

So, we spent going on two years for some of us inside. Some of us drive around with masks when we are alone. All of us have been affected by some form of depression or anxiety by the process.

The USA is more polarized than ever. I won’t get into the discussion much, but let’s just say it was suspicious that the person who became POTUS, who even his own party was lukewarm about, won more votes than the most hyped President elect in history, who at the time had more voter turnout than anyone in history. Until his second banana won this election. Just sayin’.

Then people got arrested for meandering into the Capitol Building, after the cops let them in, and that was a bigger deal than when people burned down businesses in several cities. Canada experienced soft facism. Which is fitting for a country normally very polite.

Gasoline costs twice as much per gallon as it has for years. Food is expensive (when it’s on the store shelves).

Oh yeah, Russia invaded Ukraine.

It strikes me how strange it is to see a modern city like Kyiv with Toyota Priuses and freakin’ missiles sticking out of the ground. It’s not the view of war we’ve been given for the last 70 years. It’s surreal.

The amount of dumbass rednecks posting shit on social media about how they are warfighters and gon’ fight fer ‘Merica is fucking astounding. You aren’t the Wolverines. You aren’t Mad Max you piece of shit. You aren’t John Wick. You’re a fat, ignorant redneck who couldn’t pick Ukraine out on a map. Yeah yeah tough guy. That’s why you are stockpiling guns and ammunition. Fuck you. You’re gonna do the same thing you’ve always done about anything in life ever.

Not a goddamned thing.

“Back in Dubya Dubya THree, I fought on the front lines of the meme wars!”

Good for you. Fuckhead. What were you doing for the last couple of years? What have you ever done? Watched other people do all the heavy lifting. Spilled Natty Lite on yourself yelling at your ol’ lady because she didn’t have the house clean when you got home maybe. Told the kids to leave you alone because the game was on.

Not that I’m all that my damn self. But I’m not running around talking tough, beating my chest, and bragging about some bullshit. “Just let me at them Rooskies!” I’ve seen tough guys crumple like a folding chair so many times. It’s always fucking hilarious when they do too.

It’s not Call of Duty out there, Cap’n Warfighter. You don’t just get to duck and regenerate the arm someone shot off. At the end of the day you’re sleeping on the cold hard ground and you don’t just get to hit pause and get tucked into your snuggly-wuggly bed.

Meanwhile, there are civilians watching tanks roll into their towns. And the world just watches.

It’s been a crazy couple of years.