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Archive for August, 2013

On love: Oh Sweet Lorraine

August 31, 2013 7 comments

It’s been long enough that anyone who follows my blog has probably already seen this video. I first saw it last week when one of my friends on Facebook posted it. I watched the whole thing (about 10 minutes, but it goes by fast) and, I must confess, by the time it was done, I was crying. It’s true. Perhaps that’s just what happens when you get to a certain age (uh, well, let’s put it this way … AARP has been searching for me).

Anyway, the video has now gone viral, which is awesome, because I think Fred deserves the attention it has brought him. But for any who have yet to enjoy it, here is the wonderful video about Fred and his undying devotion to the love of his life.

BTW – I bought the song, just because I thought Fred and Lorraine deserved. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to it.

PS – Many thanks to Jacob Colgan from Green Shoe Studio for recognizing such a beautiful story and for investing his time and energy into making a dream come true for Fred.

–dp

On writing: Pantser’s dilemma

August 27, 2013 15 comments

When it comes to writing, I’m a pantser (as in fly by the seat of my pants). I’ve always been one. An idea will come to me … a scene, a line of dialogue, a title. Just about anything can start me off on something that I know is a bigger story. Once that happens, I’ll sit down and start typing away. Almost always, the words will then flow onto the virtual page. Soon, I feel like I’m watching a story unfold and I become an observer, there to simply record what’s happening, like a courtroom stenographer. When I’m in this mode of writing, there is no better feeling. It’s quite a magical journey. But there is a downside to this style of writing, and it finds me frequently (thankfully not always).

For example, my current work in progress is complete in the sense that it has an opening and an ending (both pretty close to what I originally thought of back when the story first came to me) and, for the most part, all that goes in between. But now I feel stuck. I have characters that I don’t think are fully realized, and a significant plot detail that I haven’t dealt with very well, at least in my mind. So I’ve been spinning my wheels over and over, trying to figure out how to flesh out my main characters. And the plot detail in question, which is central to the story, has been just about impossible for me to work with, leaving me less than satisfied with how it plays out through the book. So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, I’ve begun wondering if I would be in this same position had I switched over to the other end of the writing spectrum, to that of a plotter. The plotter, unlike me, thinks about the structure of their story and outlines the plot and characters and chapters and scenes before typing away at the story itself. If I’d spent time thinking about everything beforehand, would I have envisioned the problematic plot element earlier and perhaps avoided missing the mark? Would my characters be more three-dimensional and believable? And would my overall novel have turned out better? Or would it have fallen flat and felt stale from overthinking every detail? Would all the spontaneity and fun of writing evaporate, leaving the experience dull and boring?

I don’t have the answers to these questions for myself, yet, though I’ve read many writers on both sides of the fence swear by what they are doing, whether it’s taking a structured approach, or pantsing their way through from beginning to end, or even mixing the two together. Time will tell, but I am tempted to try writing my next book from somewhere over on the side of the plotter, just to see how it goes.

Anyone have opinions? Are you a plotter? A pantser? A combination of both, a hybrid method of sorts (making you an inbetweener as I’ve heard someone else call this)?

–dp

Couch to 5K update – one week down

August 27, 2013 6 comments

Today I completed the final run of my first week using the couch to 5K in eight weeks iPhone app. After the first run, my legs were a bit sore, and got worse over the next couple of days. The second run felt a bit better and wasn’t as hard to complete. Two days later, today, and I was able to do the third run of the week without much trouble. As a bonus, I actually felt very good this afternoon after my run. Funny how getting out and exercising a bit can make you feel better. What a concept 🙂

Two things I think I’ll do next to encourage/guilt myself into keeping up with my goal of reaching a 5K are:

  1. Spend a buck ninety-nine and buy the C25K app, so I’ll feel bad if I don’t use it; and
  2. Buy some new shoes. Mine are really, really old. If I spend $100 on a new pair, I’m going to feel pretty stupid if all I do is put them on to go out somewhere instead of running.

So, that’s where I’m at. One week down … uh, seven weeks to go until I hit that three mile mark. So far, so good!

–dp

On running: a confession

August 21, 2013 19 comments

Believe it or not, a few years back, I was a pretty decent runner. I got up to where I could run 6 or 7 miles at a 10 minute mile clip. Nothing spectacular, but I was pretty proud of it. At the time, I’d even toyed with the idea of working my way up to a half marathon. And then, for no real reason, I stopped.

Fast-forward to today. I’ve essentially not run at all over the intervening years, except for a few short bursts here and there. Nor have I been going to the gym regularly. My day job is nearly completely sedentary, especially because I work from home (as a programmer), so about the only exercise I get is running up and down the stairs in our house. Better than nothing, but not by much. To say the least, I’ve gotten pretty out of shape.

For a while now, people have been telling me about an iPhone app called C25K (Couch To 5 K) in 8 weeks. Its purpose in life is to take you through the steps necessary to work your way up to running 3 miles, and to do so slowly. Considering my lack of any exercise, this seemed an ideal way to get back into something healthy that I enjoyed. So I downloaded the app and stared at it on my home screen for a few weeks. Yesterday, possibly out of guilt, I finally opened the app and pushed a few buttons to see how it worked. Pretty cool. Well, today, most definitely having reached the point of needing to do something besides sit at my desk, I got out my chair, strapped on my iPhone, put on my headphones and headed outside. I clicked start and away I went.

I returned home 30 minutes later more tired than I expected and sweating like a pig (not only because I’m out of shape but also because it was 100 degrees outside). Despite the sore legs, I’ve got to admit that I really do feel good at having accomplished something today. Granted, it was minimal, but it was a start. But, as they say, the longest journey starts with the first step. I consider this my first step, and for now, my journey will be hitting that 3 mile distance.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and if time goes by and I don’t post anything else about running, be sure to call me out on it. I need all the accountability I can get 🙂

–dp

On writing: ever feel like this?

August 19, 2013 13 comments

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
— Dorothy Parker

I have. Not often, but sometimes …

–dp

Mini Memoir Monday: Heading Home

August 19, 2013 4 comments

Tracy, over at her wonderful blog, The HeSo Project, was kind enough to include me as one of her guest posts for her mini memoir Monday series. If you haven’t read my blog for long, check it out. You’ll find a piece I wrote a while back about my dad. Thanks for letting me be a part of your blog, Tracy.

The HeSo Project

This week’s mini memoir was written by David Pagan. You can check out his fantastic blog, According to Dave, and read about the ups and downs of being a writer. If you would like to submit a mini memoir, please follow this link. Without further ado:

It’s 7:08 on December 5th. I’m in seat 8F, next to Debbie. She is watching “A Knight’s Tale” on her iPad as I type on mine. It’s dark outside. I find myself reflecting on all that has happened.

Ten days ago, I sat alone on a flight from SFO to DFW, heading eventually to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where my father was being kept alive in the ICU. I fully expected him to be dead by the time I arrived, But God had other plans. He allowed me the chance to see my dad alive, albeit gravely ill. On Tuesday, I was able to talk…

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Categories: Family, Life Tags: , ,

On writing: the guilt we all feel

August 2, 2013 17 comments

So, these days I consider myself a writer. Don’t laugh, because it’s taken me a while to get to this point. No, I’m not published, but the desire to write remains, despite rejections and a host of other life issues and emotions attempting to derail anything remotely resembling the life of a writer (whatever that may be). Deep inside, despite it all, something pushes me, speaks to me, tells me I must keep typing words and stringing them together into sentences, paragraphs, scenes and stories. If I don’t do it, all that I think about is doing it, or that I should be doing it.

So yes, I write, but something is holding me back, keeping me from reaching my full potential as a writer. I’ve struggled with it for so long I’ve very nearly giving up writing altogether. And it’s been relentless, beating me down until I barely have the motivation to lift my fingers to the keyboard. The culprit? A little thing called guilt.

Isn’t there something better you could be doing with your time?

Shouldn’t you be spending time with your wife?

Couldn’t you be working a little more so you can get a better year-end review?

Bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah … insert favorite cause of guilt.

On and on it goes, until soon you feel no more able to write than someone frozen by fear of rejection. It doesn’t matter … there’s no difference … you get nothing done. You spend your time surfing the web, researching for your latest idea, doing just about anything but putting one word after another into your latest short story or novel, or even blog post. It’s a sad state affairs, at least for me.

And all along, I naively assumed it was something only I struggled with.

So what made me think of this particular topic? Well, I can thank Victoria over at Crimson League
for making me think about this. While I’d thought about it frequently, it wasn’t until I read her recent post that I realized that, yes, I dealt with this very same problem. All the time. Fortunately, she also had some great ideas on how to beat these guilt feelings. It’s definitely worth a read for anyone who’s not yet read it and thinks they themselves might be suffering from guilt feelings over writing.

–dp