Dog Ear
Clearing the slate (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:00

ast week I wrote about coming up flat for a blog entry (actually, I rallied and got a respectable piece out of it). But I’ll confess that even after lumping it out over lunch at the desk, I was still zombiefied for the rest of the day. Drones were lining up at the desk, the IM light was flashing and some poor sod even tried my phone. When I got home, I slept four hours before even trying to rustle up dinner.

But it was getting home that made all the difference.

You see, unlike virtually everyone else on the planet who trudges out to their cars and joins the great double-terminator rush with billions of cars fighting across too little asphalt, dawn and dusk, I rode my bike yesterday.

Now, granted, as I pushed the bike out to the loading dock and heard the rumble of rage from the nearby boulevard, I wasn’t overly thrilled with my lifestyle choice. I wanted to get home. I wanted the day to end. But then I got out and eased across the first obstacle, the Keller Warpath, and a strange thing happened. As I rode down quieter streets and my legs transferred energy down the spokes to the pedals to forward gears to chain to rear gears to the motion of the wheel, as the torque spun up and the bike found its equilibrium in the world, as the pavement rolled past and the wind crackled and the birds chirped and my smile broadened, things got better.

Yeah, I was still tired and people will still trying to kill me in their distracted disinterest, but suddenly my head was clearing. While scanning for hooks and crosses, I found myself thinking of my code and my writing again (and in positive terms, too). The office miasma was behind me and optimism in front of me. Things were clean and clear once more.

So there might be a lesson there – if you have to write, need to write (or compose, construct, or cogitate) and you are in a muddy emotional hole, get out. Take a walk, ride a bike. And leave the phone behind – Facebook will not clear your spirit (no, it will actually cloud it). If you have a dog, take it for an energetic walk. If you have a cat, play with it in delightfully unexpected ways. Just a couple of minutes. Get out of that rut.

Then come back to your desk, your easel, your symphony and make magic.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:37
Dog tired (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:16

always say that there are days when you won’t feel like writing. Like, say, today.

It’s Thursday and I owe the vast consuming maw of the internet another short piece on writing. In that perfect world, I should have been developing a bit earlier in the week and refining it in my various downtimes (like when driving or even biking). Wednesday I’d take a break at work to compose something that I would review Wednesday night and post up Thursday. That would have been the plan.

Reality is bleaker.

In my reality, I’m playing with a couple of game design ideas, things I want to put together, some experimental stuff. And this means I’m thinking mostly about them, all the way through to midnight. This morning (for the second night in a row) I woke up at 4am, tired by wide awake, my mind spinning away with its rooster wakeup call. Yes, I did wake up with some new ideas (I wrote about doing that very thing in a recent Dog Ear). The solution is neat. The depredation is not. And I haven’t put a bit of effort into the blog post save some preliminary thought on it a couple of days back. So Thursday AM, no piece yet.

At work, we’re under a crunch  and for most corporations crunch brings out the micromanagement in their hierarchies. So I’ve had meetings all damn day. 9:15. 9:30. 11:00. 11:30. And I still have a 2:00 coffee-gulper and possibly another loose meeting floating around like a ghost. The problem with these meetings is that it breaks up the day into useless chunks. I’m only writing at lunch because it’s all I’ve got. When I get home? I’m going to bed. Still dog tired from this morning.

As for what to write about, yeah, I did mention I had a good idea of a piece a few days back. When this happens I generally write email to myself so I can remind myself. Looked in my drafts (where I keep them). One email. One word. “Audience”.

That’s it? I remember it being something profound I’d thought it, something that was sharp and relevant. But now I couldn’t even guess what the reference was about. Since you guys are my audience, do you have any ideas on this? If so, let me know.

So yes, I’m tired and meeting-mush-headed and clueless. Perfect to write something about writing.

But write what you know. And so I am writing. And what’s the point?

(A)   Often you are not going to want to write. Home and bed are looking really nice now. And…

(B)   Also, often you are going to have to write on a topic with very little prepwork.

But the good thing is that I wrote this on the fly and it seems to be holding together. It’s not my masterpiece but it does capture this moment in my life and provides a tie-in lesson to writing. I have heard of authors who get a deadline crunch to produce vast amounts of creativity in a short span. For Fire and Bronze, I had two days to proof it. That’s writing. That’s life. I could turn this into a piece about childbirth and babies and it would probably read the same.

Anyway, if you are a writer, get ready for this sort of thing. You have to be able to find that “writer’s soul” even when life has plucked it from your body. Good luck!


Not a bad piece if I do say so myself

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:35
Ingratitude (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 09 November 2017 18:09

ou might have read my piece from last week (if you didn’t, it’s HERE). In it, I blistered my company for not giving me recognition for an above-and-beyond assignment I worked on, and that thinking that a crayons-and-coloring-book seminar approach would settle things.

Of course, Serendipity is a cruel bitch. I went back across the street to the hotel we were attending for this thing, and that’s when the VP from my department got up in front of over a hundred coworkers and told a story of dedication and commitment and what it means. And suddenly he’s talking about me. In front of everyone. So, sure, crayons won’t solve angst, but if an egomaniac like myself suffers a broken arm, say something nice about me and watch me heal.

But that left me in an odd position. Leave it in place (and look like an ingrate) or remove it. In the end, I decided to leave it up. Look, this blog is a seat-of-the-pants deal, explaining how I feel in the moment. If I cleaned up everything that at one time pissed me off, I’d have a monotone voice. Part of who I am is my own reaction to the conflicts, the betrayals and the stupidities I face every day. So, yes, I’m pretty much covered now. I got the respect I demanded. But for months, not a single thing had been said. No trophy. No plaque. No handshake. So in my mind, my company earned the anger I felt. It’s done now, but a week again, an hour before my assentation to Narcissist Heaven, it was the world I was in.

Writing can be this way. You have to look at anything you write from two angles. First, are you writing in the anger of the moment? If so, maybe you need to step back for a moment and reconsider. Resignation letters and bomb threats aren’t as easy to take back as blog postings. Even email has a permanency. But on the other side of the coin, perhaps your passion is a good thing. Sometimes waiting for things to get better and burying your opinion isn’t the best thing. Hitching the horses of Anger, Despair, Depression and Angst to your cart can really carry your writing far. You just need to know how far to go, who to hurt, and when to stop.

Write with your heart, not your head.


Angst (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 November 2017 19:12

come across my hating fair.”

This from Poopdeck Pappy in the ill-fated movie Popeye. It’s a great statement from the top-down look. It says that hate (and anger and other passionate emotions) are not just felt, they are controlled and considered. I really like that.

The thing is, I’ve mentioned that I’ve had a hard couple of months and work has significantly factored into this. Without going into details, all the things they claim they do (compassion, caring, teamwork), they, well, haven’t. I labored over long evenings for over a month and nobody said anything, did anything, or supported me in any way.

Don’t get me wrong. As mentioned a few DOG EAReds ago, Nemo and Ahab were two captains who let rage and resentment shape them into who they were. You can be sure that if I were going to write some sort of anti-corporate story, the events I endured would factor in. I’d simply allow the experience to course from my memories, down my arms to my typing hands, and there it would be. A lot of the first few chapters from Early ReTyrement came from actual experiences, and Skip Mattocks? I took him from a person I really resented, an absolute shit weasel. Hey, why not? Write what you know.

So the point of it is that I’m carrying a lot of resentment about the last few months. My rah-rah attitude is very much diminished. I’m not doing anything about it. No nuclear powered submarines nor hijacked whaling expeditions. No, I’m just nodding that it happened, that I got a glimpse of the true corporate soul, and I’ll carry in it my literary back pocket if I ever need that sort of thing.

But then again – my company recently sponsored a two day event where they threw a long series of exercises. It’s about play and discovery and experimentation and all that other bullshit that doesn’t mean anything, not in the cold light of my experience. There were childrens’ books (I kid you not) and coloring (I kid you not again). And did that help?

If a person was dealing with the aftermath of a horrible event, a murder of a relative, say, do you think crayons will help them?

Doesn’t help me. When I’m made to stand up, to run over and get some card so we can draw the next pointless image with our apologetically inartistic abilities (because nobody want to really draw, do they? They don’t want their art to stand out), it actually had a counter effect. I’m actually even more angry now, simmering in the resentment of making my frustrations and debasements into a game. It doesn’t answer anything. It doesn’t address anything. It is the clouding of the truth (the human condition, as dark as it needs to be) with the corporate mission (whatever it takes to get a task checkboxed for the next departmental review).

Artists grab their emotions with both hands. They don’t draw bunnies when they are unhappy, they draw Cthulhu. Most artists wrestle with depression and frustration and anger their entire lives. Artists are not “most people”. We are not consumers, and we are not suburbanites. We fuel off our passions. And our passions are not resolved by drawing circus clowns with a marker.

“I come across my hating fair.”


P.S. Okay, so the very next day, it was like the entire corporation showered me with praise. I received high accolades from people in senior positions. Everyone liked me. And that leaves me looking like an ingrate. I almost didn’t post this, but I will because this is how I felt when I wrote it a few evenings back. The point here is that we writers should ride our emotions and not suppress them.

Still, this sort of thing, I feel like Rick at the Council of Ricks. And you’re cool if you get the reference.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2017 19:18

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