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Monday, February 23, 2015

I Gotta P

Prequel:  In 2006, not long after starting the Roblog, I wrote a post about why I started blogging.  It has some good points, but it meanders a lot.  Thank goodness I don't do that anymore.

Ooh!  Look!  Something shiny!

Anyway, I am adding a new Purpose to the Roblog.  No, wait, that sounds funny.

Roblog now has an addendum to her mission.  Ugh.

Roblog is here to kick ass and chew gum, and it's all out of gum and doesn't have legs.  Never mind.

Priorities: I want to improve my writing skills.  About a year ago Horyon and I were at a marriage seminar playing a version of The Dating Game.  The question came up: What is the husband's dream job?  She wrote "Math Teacher".  I've tried it.  I might actually enjoy it under certain circumstances.  (Sorry, Kansas, you are not the circumstances I am looking for.)  I knew instantly that she would not know my answer, but I wrote it anyway.  I want to be a writer.

I've been told that I am good at it.  I like words, and putting them together.  Properties:  I like that they can be squishy and tell lies.  It's the opposite of the way I like numbers, and how they are mostly solid, blocky, and resistant to being messed with.

I love reading.  My friend Mike Colvin turned me on to the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett.  The setting (after which the series is named) is this:
So why is it called Discworld again?
Cool, but not cool enough to drag me into an ongoing series with 40 books so far.  What did it, in fact, was that he gave me the first three books of the series.  I read one while we were in the states, then I got distracted and wrote a very long paragraph or three about something only tangentially related to the topic at hand.  When I came back, I pointed out that I love Pratchett's writing.  It reminds me of the late Douglas Adams' work, except that Pratchett managed to be consistently Productive.

I, too, want to be Productive.

I want to write things that people enjoy reading.  So far in my life writing has been lost in the triangle formed between hobby, pastime, and communication.  I would like to raise the bar for myself, with the goal of converting these warm, squishy words to cold, hard cash.  I want to join the ranks of productive society, if towers of verbiage count as produce.  I want to move my teaching from rooms full of students to larger venues, with more leg room and fewer grades.

I want to be Published.

Or perhaps gainfully emPloyed as a writer.

Pipe Dream?  Perhaps.  I have rarely demonstrated the kind of resolve that leads to major changes in the past.  But one good thing about the past is that it's all behind you.  It can be overwhelming if you spend all of your time looking back at it, but if you can turn your back on it and start again, the cliches will rise up to meet your feet and at the end of the tunnel you will reach the mountain top.

Whew.  What was in that pipe?

I have not worked out the steps that will take me to my goal, but one is surely required:


And so Roblog is going to be my vehicle for practice.  I am going to Post within a week of the previous post.  Every post will be an attempt on my part to polish my craft. [craft me some word sammiches./ sling some words around./  experiment with words.]  I expect that sometimes I will agonize, and sometimes I will just ramble.  There will be posts with pictures of my kids, to keep their grandparents and Uncle Bob happy, but I will also season them with words.

It will very likely get messy at times.  There may be fragmentary stuff, bits that feel like they fell out of a book that doesn't exist, ideas that you like, or hate, or both.  I'm going to try to tag my posts so that you can tell by looking whether I am attempting to communicate the current state of the Korean Sack Family or exploring the undercurrents of my mind.

I would really appreciate your help.  If you are still reading this, there is very likely something in the Roblog that you enjoy.  And while we have had conversations about it, they have not gone beyond the small talk.  "I enjoyed your post."  "Thanks for writing!"  "More pictures of your kids!"

Now it's time for me to say Please.  Give me a little more of your critical thinking.  I'm not necessarily looking for proof-reading, though I really want to know if I am using a word incorrectly.*  I am hoping that you can help me home in on what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.  When you comment (please comment!) here or on FaceBook, copy and paste anything that you really liked.  My friend Josh replied to my post, The Goodbye, using my sentence:

Every day I saw five years old and 71 years old connect in the way that only happens when each calls the other "Grand."
I wrote that!  I labored over it, but by the time I published it was just part of the post.  When Josh pointed it out, I looked back on it in a new light.  Every sentence I write is a little sculpture.  There are so many of them, and they are all covered with my fingerprints, so they kind of look the same to me.  But some of them are Pretty!  I want to make more diamonds!
Snagged from Batman Online, fun article about Superman III.
But I'm not sure how, because I'm often not aware that I've made them.  When you Point out a diamond to me, I can look at it more closely, and try to do it again.  It doesn't have to be a sentence, and it doesn't have to be perfect.  If you think a little cut will make it sparkle more, let me know!  

On the other hand, I need to know when I've done this:
Did I mention that I also want a career in photoshopping stuff?
Because the most delicious ice cream sundae in the world takes a pretty big drop in value when it's garnished with a dog Poo.  When I am reading an offering from a new author, my poo tolerance is extremely low.  If I am constantly stumbling over the editing, I will give up.  If I see words used incorrectly, I sometimes literally speak out loud to the offending book, startling the people around me who think that "literally" means "figuratively."  And if I find myself rewriting and cutting too much, I stop reading.  

I need you to be more Patient with me than I am when I read.  But don't be afraid of hurting my feelings.  If I'm going to ask people to pay me for me words, I need to get used to hearing criticism.  

So hit me with it.  I can't promise to agree with you**, and I will probably not be revising my posts.  But if you help me out here, I'll try to get your name listed in the credits, some day.  For now, all I can say is Thank You.

The last thing I need to ask is for you to Propagate the Roblog.   Share it with people who you think will enjoy it, even if they don't know me.  I know, it would be easier to do that if it had a more cohesive structure or description.  But you know what we call people who like things that are hard to describe?

No.  Not Packrats.  Not Padawans, Pencil-Necked-Geeks, Paleontologists, or Paranormal investigators.  Not Prudent, Precious or Pensive.  

They are Perfect.

*For example, when I was writing home from Nepal, I told my parents about going to the local bizarre, a weekly farmers' market.  It took three weeks for me to get the feedback that while she was sure it was bizarre in many ways, the word I wanted was bazaar.

**Not even you, Mom.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Rob. I admire the dream of being a writer. Nelson

Linda said...

I love words,especially Pretty words. I would love to read yours. I have sporadically followed your blog in the past. It would be wonderful if you could post the blog on Facebook each week. Your mother will tell you that I always have an opinion and every once in a while, one of them is good.
String them words together purty!

Beth Cain said...

Rob, one of the things I find most fascinating about your writing is that it seems to be a somewhat polished stream-of-conciousness kind of writing. It's the way you think, the way your mind has everything organized. It's cool.

As for the squirrel thing... I have the same problem. One of my favorite jokes goes like this;

How many scientists does it take to change a light bulb?

I don't know. How many?

Wanna go ride bikes?

We all struggle to stay focussed, especially when there are so very many things that can fracture that focus - things that mean a lot more than writing. Things like your wife and kids. They seem to be more important to you, (as they should be) and thus, they tug at your superpower of focussing. That's cool too.

Some of the best stuff you've written has touched me, deeply. I will always remember the piece you did about Grandma Sack. That was truly masterful, and lovely, as well.

Please keep writing. You do it so very well.

Beth (Yvonne)

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.