Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Penny Drops

I AM AFRAID!! No, it's not because Halloween is right around the corner and the creepy crawlers are set to make an appearance. It's because the day after the costumes are packed away and the sugar high has gone, it will be time to start National Novel Writing Month.

It's been a couple of years now, but I can still clearly remember sitting at our humble little dining room table, looking at Penny, and asking, "What should I do."

I have been writing for as long as I remember, but I had finally taken the step of trying to make a little bit of money doing so. It was starting to pay off, but the demand for my services made working a full-time job seem like an inconvenience. There was never any hesitation or doubt in her voice when she replied that I should quit and write full-time. My wife is a woman who puts everyone else first and who does all she can to make sure that I am happy. She only ever harps at me when I am off my meds and not behaving as well as I can. I call it nagging with a purpose, whereas she will describe it as looking after the man she loves.

I love what I do now, but there are days when the things that I write become a chore. You can only talk about foot fungus, new cars, or wrapping paper for so long before you start to feel as though your creativity is slowly but surely slipping away. When those days hit, Penny will nag once more, telling me to take a break and write about something that does excite and inspire me. I try, but since I don't get paid to do that, I become distracted and give up.

And so we come to NaNoWriMo, which is something I have always wanted to do, but have been too afraid to get into. It's not the idea of writing 50,000 in 30 days that seems big, especially since I usually triple or quadruple that amount in the average month, but rather the fact that I want to do this so badly and fear that I will fail. The story i plan on writing is one that I have had in my head for more than 2 years now, and is one that I know will stay off the page if I don't commit to this.

I'd find an excuse to back out now where it not for my wife. She believes in everything that I do, even when I feel as though it's all crashing down around me. She lends encouragement when needed, but will not sugar coat her criticism if I do something half-assed. That is how she views my short stories. They were all created as small ideas that I would build into something bigger, yet have left untouched. She knows this, and as much as I sense her pride when she reads what I write, I also see the tinge of disappointment that there isn't more.

I never want to disappoint that women, because there hasn't been a single moment in out time together when she has left me feeling that way. And so November 1st will come and I will tap away until the word count hits 50,000. I don't know how the finished tale will look or read, but when it's done, I know that I will look at my wife and see that I have made her happy. What else is there to live for?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NaNoWriMo With a Side of Bangers & Mash

As the calendar on the wall becomes a little thinner and the month of November draws ever nearer, I begin to harbor thoughts of the approaching National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This same routine has played out for as long as I can remember, but I always seem to find a way to wriggle off the writing hook and cop out of participating.

That is all about to change this year as I am stating my intention to go after the 50,000 word mark that needs to be achieved during the course of the month. It will be a tough task, especially as I look at the amount of writing work and deadlines that are currently piled up on my desk. The desire to use that as an excuse is strong, but I cemented my entry by declaring to my wife that I was going to do it.

This is something that goes way beyond the promises made on our wedding day, and has more to do with making her happy. Promises are important, but not as much as seeing that what you do makes the person you love so very much proud of you. My wife is my biggest supporter when it comes to writing, but also my biggest critic. She refuses to blow smoke up my perfectly sculpted ass, choosing instead to point out flaws or flights of fancy that simply don't fit in the narrative being created.

I was talking to her the other day about not being able to write for myself as much as I would like, to which she responded, in her usual style, that I should make the time to do it, but only if I was going to step out of what I do relatively well and try something different. That means ditching the short, flash fiction style of writing that I love and heading into the deeper waters of a fully fleshed out novel. The fact that she knows I have a couple floating around in my head made the statement hit home pretty hard.

With all of that said, I will be dusting off a story that I started a couple of years back called Bangers & Mash. It's basically the tale of a pair of supernatural detectives who inhabit the English countryside along the ley lines. The story is pulled from parts of little tales I would tell my kids at bedtime when they were little. I have a ton of weird little characters from that time, a couple of which will make it into this book.

I will be adding a little widget to the site that will show my current word count, but if you want a closer look at what's going on, be sure to follow the Bangers & Mash Facebook page. Oh, and wish me luck!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pardon My French, I'm Scottish

I overheard a conversation recently where one of the parties involved was telling a sordid tale that required the use of some colorful metaphors. It was obvious that not everyone approved, as that old "swearing is a sign of a small vocabulary" nugget was once again thrown into the discussion.

As the name of my blog suggests, I am a writer (yes, I have no other job and I get paid to write on a daily basis), albeit of questionable talent. Money regularly shows up in my Paypal account for the words that I string together, which means that in the eyes of some people, I must be doing something right.

In the course of those writings, I am seldom if ever asked to use salty language, although that does not prevent me from hurling a stream of obscenities at my ham hands when I misspell "the" for the umpteenth time in a single paragraph.

It therefore stands to reason that my vocabulary may not be as weak as my swearing habits would suggest. I would also say that the theory of that being the case is somewhat moot when you consider that some of the best writer's in the world using curse words to emphasize a point or create a character in their storytelling. People tend to write what they know, which means those words must somehow be a part of their everyday life.Is their vocabulary stunted, or that of their editors, for that matter? I think not.

My foul language came by being a product of my environment. I grew up in an area of Scotland that you don't tend to see on whisky bottle labels and shortbread tins. It was a rather downtrodden place where where unemployment was high and tolerance to alcohol abuse was low. That was not a combination that resulted in flowery language being the norm. Instead, the C-word (and I don't mean Cancer) was regularly used as a way of describing the positive aspects of an individual, as in ...."that fucking Bobby is a good cunt."

As much as I was a quiet, studious kid that liked to read and spend time in the library, I was also the son of a bar manager, and as such spent a fair amount of time in the pub. It was there that the more putrid of curse words started to break through my literary filter and into my impressionable young brain. The point is this: Yes, I may swear a lot, but I'll be fucked if it's because of a lack of vocabulary!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In Praise Of Tim

I was jut flipping through my blogs and became appalled at how long it has been since I have written anything here. Truth be told, I haven't really had anything happen that has inspired me to rant or praise, but that all changes this morning.

I may have mentioned in the past my love for coffee and how I need my morning jolt of caffeine in order to get the day started. The problem has been that since I moved from Canada to the US, getting my hands on a delicious cup of java for the coffee maker has not been easy.

We have gone through several different brands and flavors, before finally settling on Folgers 100% Colombian as our coffee of choice. As good as that brew is, it still pales in comparison to the coffee delivered by Tim Horton's.

Imagine our joy yesterday when my kids returned from a visit with my sister holding a giant can of Timmy's coffee in their delicate little angel hands. The first pot was made this morning, along with a stunning homemade breakfast quiche, and I am in heaven, which is actually saying something coming from a confirmed atheist.

To every silver lining, though, there is a cloud attached that cannot be ignored. The cumulus crapper here is that there is only a finite amount of coffee in the can. Every spoonful of coffee grinds shoveled into the filter brings closer the day when the tin runs empty and my might heart starts to break. It is at that point that I will have to switch from drinking java made from the sweat of the greats in the Hockey Hall of Fame to the juice of Juan Valdez's Donkey.