Let it be known

The top search term to reach my blog in the past 365 days is “butt“.

 

And it’s not even close.

 

(We’re talking by a factor of 5 here)

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Giving Myself Permission

Hey, ya’ll. You may have noticed a bit of a drop-off in posting here lately. Truth be told, I am having a bit of trouble staying on top of this. Turns out that babies are kind of a lot of work! Who knew? I find that when I do have time to work on things, my creative brain is just absolutely fried. So, apologies for the scarcity of posts, but also a heads up that this is likely to continue for the near future.

I’m giving myself permission for a mental health break, so I don’t have to feel guilty when I go for days without writing or blogging.

Thanks

-The Management

Whiffing on a big milestone

I had been keeping my eye on the fact that I was coming up on my 2,000th post here on the blog. You know how they say to keep your eye on the ball? Okay, so, this is actually my 2,004th post on the blog. Whoops.

In any case, 2000 is a pretty big number considering how short lived most blogs are. On the other hand, it sure feels like I’ve written more than 2000 of these things (you have, you idiot, 2000 and FOUR of them!) WordPress doesn’t appear to have a way to count the total amount of words I’ve published, but if we pick a nice conservative number of 200 words per post (I suspect I’m well above that…I do tend to go on), we’re talking about a minimum of 400,000 words (again, I think that’s low, but that’s not even counting stories I’ve written in that time, papers at work, etc.)

And yet my wife still says she can’t get a word in edgewise.

So here’s to another 2,000 opportunities for me to go on, and on, and on, and on…

 

…and on…

 

…and on…

 

 

…and on…

I inspired someone!

As frequent readers know, I cross-post my blog to Glipho. As frequent readers also know, Sara is a frequent participant of the Chicago Food Swap, and I usually post a recap of what we traded after she attends one. Recently, these two things came together in the perfect storm of awesomeness.

Sam, a friend over at A Few Fine Things read the most recent food swap write up and was so inspired that she decided to bring the concept over the pond, and start her very own food swap in Manchester, England!

You can read her announcement post here, but I will summarize the important part (a.k.a. the part about me) below. (Forgive her the errant ‘u’; she’s British.)

Shane Halbach is a favourite blogger of mine. He has an amazing outlook on life and he and his family are a constant source of inspiration to me, his Baconfest for example…..

So every few months Shane blogs about his wife Sara participating in a Chicago Food Swap. A delicious concept where food-lovers gather to exchange homemade goods. No cash is exchanged and no goods are sold. In silent auction format, homemade goodies change hands; bread for cheese, cheese for jam, jam for peanut butter, peanut butter for houmous….. the combination and swaps are never ending. The end result is a happy community with happy tummies.

What an amazing concept.

So after searching for a Manchester Food Swap (there isn’t one) and a chat with Shane I have decided to bite the bullet and start one up.

Whaaaaaat? How awesome is that.

Since the time of that announcement, Sam’s been a busy bee. She’s got a date and a venue for the first swap. She’s getting interviewed for the local paper. She’s set up a website, a blog, a Facebook, and a Twitter account. This is happening for REAL, yo.

As much as I’d like to take all the credit, the credit is really Sam and all of the hard work she’s put into organizing the event. A million times an hour someone sees something on the Internet that’s cool, but they don’t go DO anything about it. Sam’s the one in a million who actually did. Even the inspiration credit goes to the Chicago Food Swap for organizing such a great event in the first place. Me writing the blog post was really the least part of it.

So why am I so excited about this?

Actually, I’m not really sure. Partially because I just get so excited when anybody around me is creating something. It often happens that I get more excited about something than the person who is actually *doing* the something, which can be a little awkward. But in this case, Sam is WAY more excited and committed than I am, which just makes the whole thing even more exciting.

Aside from that, blogging is such an inherently useless activity; pushing bits around on a computer screen without any hope for anything real to come out of it. This is one of those rare, shining cases where something in the world changed because of words. My words! That feels amazing. I could have lifted the stone, but I didn’t. I could have fashioned the lever, but I didn’t. But I did play my small part, and afterwards there was a real, tangible result. The stone was moved. Who’s to say my hand on the lever was any less important than any of the other pieces?

Alright, you’re right, it was totally me. I DO take all the credit.

I wish I could do more to help out. As far as I know, I don’t have any readers in Manchester to send to the food swap. But on the off chance someone is in a position to signal boost this, please do!

Cutting Back (Again)

The Internet basically only exists to suck time away from us. This is especially true in my case. Some obsessive aspect of my personality really latches on to the Internet and can’t let go. I have to friend every person and read every status, tweet, or blog post of anybody I ever even remotely knew, as well as anybody they recommend, etc. I try to suck it all up and absorb it, but the Internet is endless. There is always one more website to read or blog post to write or link to share on someone’s wall. Slowly but surely, the Internet eats me until there is nothing left.

This is not the first time I have crawled my way out of this black hole. In defense of my sanity, as well as defense of all my other hobbies (including sleep), I’m going to throttle down a little bit. So if I don’t comment on your Facebook as much as I used to, or if I unfollow you on Twitter, Please don’t be offended. It’s not because you are uninteresting. Quite the opposite in fact.

Additionally, I will also be cutting down on my blogging.

On Jan. 3rd 2009, I started posting on my blog 5 days a week. It was a little bit of an experiment to see if I could. At that time I didn’t think it would last very long. It seemed impossible, and I also worried it would hurt the quality of the posts. A little over 4 years later, I am ready to call the experiment quits.

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and I think that, not only did the quality remain high, but I think it actually improved. Blogging is still something I love, and it really became part of my personality during that time. I’ve received such nice feedback from people, and it’s really kept me in touch with a lot of people that I wouldn’t otherwise had any contact with. Lately, however, it has become too much of a burden. Sara could tell you how much time I spend fretting about things like, “I need another post for this week!” or “Is this really good enough for a post?” or “Why is my traffic going down? Was I boring this week?” or “Make the kids do something funny! I’m short on quotes!” This becomes doubly difficult when something’s going on, like stress at work, or queuing up posts for a multiple week vacation.

Since I receive no tangible benefits from blogging, there’s really no reason to add this kind of stress to my life. I will still continue to blog whenever I feel like it, which will no doubt be multiple times per week (maybe even every day!). However, I will no longer force myself to make an arbitrary post count.

Thanks to you who have enjoyed my blog over the years. I hope you will continue to enjoy it as it enters yet another new chapter.

-The Management

Someone said I’m lovely!

First time for everything I suppose!

Sam from A Few Fine Things nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award!

I don’t believe I’ve ever received any sort of blogging recognition or award before. And though Sam is not exactly a *stranger* per say, since she comments on Glipho frequently, it’s nice to be recognized by someone I don’t exactly know! So thanks Sam, much appreciated (and also for cluing me into some new blogs to read!)

Rules of the award:

– Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
– Share 7 things about you
– Pass the award to seven nominees
– Thank the person who nominated you
– Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these “things about me” lists (since Feb. 2009 apparently), but nonetheless I can’t think of a SINGLE THING about me that I have not already plastered all over the Internet. Not one. Really struggling here.

Okay, here goes….

1. I am afraid of busses. Well, afraid of them is not really the right word, but they make me anxious to the point that I would never choose to use them if I could help it. Trains are okay. Trains are on a rail and they can only go where they can go. A bus can just close the door and drive to Abu Dabi.

2. I used to be blond. Like, really blond, all through my childhood, long after you would have assumed my hair wasn’t going to change color. For that matter, I USED to be cute:

3. Speaking of things I used to be, I used to be a mallrat, like you read about. I would spend hours there, bumming around stores, buying things, getting pizza at Sbarro (or free samples from Chik-fil-a), meeting up with people, etc. I could still probably draw you a pretty good map from memory, with all the key stores marked out. But it was so much more than that! There were like rival gangs. For example, for arcades I was a Tilt guy. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in the Golden Nugget. Likewise, I would only buy music in NRM. Sara finds all of this absolutely hilarious, and can’t fathom how this could be a part of my past.

4. I come from an *extremely* big extended family. My dad was one of 7 kids, and my mom was one of 17 kids. No multiple births (twins, etc.). Just lots and lots of babies.

5. I am ranked as one of the top 3 pillow jugglers in the world.

6. One time when I was driving my car caught on fire. There was the smell of burning wires and smoke started pouring out of the steering column. It turns out that with that particular model, it was not exactly unheard of. The weirdest part about the whole thing was that the car ended up being totally fine without any sort of repair required.

7. I am a terrible cook, but I like baking. It’s not crazy to go through 5 pounds of flour in a weekend, although not as much lately perhaps. A lot of that is bread for the week, and most of the rest is pancakes. Lots and lots and lots of pancakes. We usually go through 30+ pancakes on a Sunday.

On the matter of my own nominees, here are some of my favorite Gliphers at the moment:

1.  Tess Wynn – I’ve been kicking myself for missing her on my Meet A Glipher list of favorite Gliphers!! So glad I got a second chance. Love her sense of humor, plus we’re both originally from Wisconsin, so there you go.

2. Kami McArthur – Kami is a super sweet, just starting out writer (like me!), and I feel like her sincerity and ernestness really come through in her posts.

3. Woelf Dietrich – Another writer, but sort of the photo-negative of Kami. 🙂 Dude’s got HP Lovecraft and a giant man-eating squid on his homepage right now. Not only is that awesome, but I want to see how he’s going to fit a “Lovely Blog” award on there with the rest. 🙂

4. Laura Locket – Laura writes every day, and no one knows better than me what a challenge that is, not only to do it, but to keep it interesting!

5. Garden Geekery – Bees! I am currently fascinated by bee keeping, as we’d like to keep bees one day, and therefore this blog.

Alright, I hate to go outside of Glipho for this, but…

6. Alexis Abell – An old friend, with some hilarious kid adventures. If you’re a fan of Quote Monday, you should check out her blog.

7. Rodan – A VERY old friend! It’s kind of hard to explain his blog, but I lurves it. Each post is like a surreal dip into the inner workings of his strange brain, where everything starts out normal, but nothing is as it seems.

To my nominated (Glipho) bloggers – if you could click the version button at the bottom of this blog post when you wish to do your own nomination post then it will link all our blog posts together in harmonious loveliness.

Engage the Blog Brain

I posted awhile ago about whether blogging helps with author voice or not. Lately it has been occurring to me that blogging might be able to help me with another aspect of craft: the speed at which I write.

I write *so* much faster when I blog, but how do I engage that for fiction writing? It would be a huge jump in productivity for me. Basically, I think that when I’m blogging I am writing more directly from my stream of consciousness, and when I’m writing fiction I spend more time thinking about every little word choice. Occasionally I tap into my subconscious and write faster, especially when I know a scene very well or I get close to the end of the story where all the little threads are starting to come together. So I think that it is possible, but for some reason it just comes more naturally to me when I’m blogging.

I have to think that a lot of it is just practice. I’m so used to writing in my own voice that I can do it seamlessly, but when I’m out of that head-space all of these other little things start to creep in and slow me down, moving me from the deep “feeling” part of my brain to a more frontal “thinking” part of my brain. But as I write fiction more and more, I’m hoping to break through into “writing beast mode” more and more often, until I can slip into it at will. Like a dislocated shoulder, the more it happens, the easier it is to do it again, right?

It’s kind of like when I was learning how to play the guitar. At first it seemed *impossible* that I would ever be able to get the fingering right. Many times I thought to myself, “I’m just not meant to do this, in fact, maybe I am physically unable do it.” And then I practiced and practiced and then one day I found that I was just doing it.

Lately I’ve been thinking about writing some non-fiction, or at least some literary fiction that is closer to home. Perhaps I can “trick” my brain into slipping into Blog Brain often enough that it becomes a permanent habit.

Now all I need is all that practice.