Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thomas Hardy

In the next few months, I haven't set a firm date on it yet, but I will be re-releasing my short story collection, Tales from the Fringes.  I wasn't happy with the amount of typos that I missed so I am going to re-proofread it extra carefully.  Also, I have reformatted the e-book versions so they are formatted like fiction and not nonfiction.  I did it like that because I put it out in haste and didn't take the time to research it enough.  But now, over the summer, I have done that, and I can afford the time right now to do it, since it is something I can do to get my mind in the right state to do research or studying.  I am actually working on my thesis now, which is nice.

Most of my time is still spent learning how to teach, which is really exciting, challenging, and fun!  It's kind of an adrenaline rush.  After I'm finished I feel like I have run a marathon.  Yesterday -- and it's mainly because it's August and humid and I am wearing long-sleeved shirts and ties -- I was covered in sweat.  I am someone who sweats in the middle of winter, though, so it doesn't really make much of a difference.  The hardest part is getting them to participate, but I think I actually made some progress yesterday.  They really started contributing as much as I could expect a bunch of people who are looking for the practical value of what I am teaching.  I am fine with that, but I still expect them to try and have fun with it.  It's a lot easier to learn something that you are having fun doing.

My philosophy is essentially dropping them in the deep end  and urging them to take off the life jackets and starting to swim.  I don't know how good of a swimming coach I would be -- but with writing there is really no other way.  You almost have to feel like you are drowning, like the only thing that will keep you afloat is if you actually fight for your life and say everything you need to say. In the real world this might not be a good approach but here in the theoretical realm of the classroom, with pencil and paper and computers, it is all possible.  If I am getting through to them and actually teaching them how to swim, eventually -- hopefully at least a few of them -- will learn to swim and feel comfortable taking off the life jackets.  Hopefully the rest of them will at least stay afloat and make it on to the next class.  Hopefully no one will take off the life jacket with the intention of drowning themselves.  Don't get me wrong, ideally, I would like to see everyone swimming on their own, but, realistically, I know that is not going happen.  I will try to reach as many of them as possible in the time that I have.

It's harder than I imagined it would be than to set the class I am teaching aside to work on my other classes, but I can't lose sight of the importance of those classes either.  I have to maintain my GPA and I truly want to learn everything I can and write some good papers.  While I will definitely continue applying to conferences, I think I would rather focus on writing papers for publishing.  Either way will help me build my C.V., and the more I am published, the more likely I will be invited to speak at conferences, which will all help me get into a PhD. program -- well, as long as they see the potential in me and that I have the drive to succeed.  If I want to get tenure this is the game that I have to play.

That's why I am also taking Out in the Garage and Tales from the Fringes very seriously -- the better they look, the better they are written, the fewer the mistakes/typos I leave in them, the more likely they will be an asset, eventually.  I do have to work more towards exhausting my avenues of  distribution and promotion so that I can maximize my fan-base and continue building my Internet reach.   That's why I will continue to write and move forward with all of my projects, along with school, because the only way I will succeed is if I keep trying -- I just have to be reasonable with the amount of time I can spend working towards these goals.  The more successful I am, the more time I will spend towards reaching them.

But, for now, it's back to reading "The Darkling Thrush" and "On the Departure Platform".  It won't be long before I jump into finishing the writing prompt for my class's first essay, so I can get it looked over by my adviser before I hand it out tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Description and page count of Out in the Garage updated on Books page.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Leaving Prep City and Entering Reality

My main concern about being a TA is the possibility of it taking over my life.  I don't want to let it do that, in spite of the fact that teaching is a main component of my future, and this is my learning teaching on the fly.  I plan on treating it on the same plane as my other classes -- and any other aspect of my life that I deem to be as important.  If I don't put it on the same level as everything else, I will be negligent to the other parts of my life that I believe to be just as important.

Playing guitar might suffer, but that will push me to focus on the most important aspect of it, which for me is merely just doing it.  As long as I able to do just that, from time to time, when my schedule permits -- in fact, I find it to be a good distraction, when I need to hit the restart on my hard drive.

It is a new part of my life, and it fills me with exuberance.  Every day I can't wait to devote a chunk of my day to it.  It has consumed my time over the past week.  I guess that's what happens when you wait until the last minutes to get it all together -- not that I had a choice, since I didn't have much to go off of until I started reading the book and went to orientation.

I hope to find the balance that I need, though, which means I will have to be disciplined, in spite of my state of mind, which is more often than not, chaotic, messy, racing.

However, the more I work, the more self-consumed I am, and the more I accomplish.  It becomes all about setting goals and never giving up on them -- even after I have accomplished them.  It's all about patiently forward motion, building momentum, and hitting all the random tasks along the way -- kind of like passing a level in Super Mario Brothers.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to School

I am nearly finished with my first syllabus.  There are a couple of things that I need to add that I will find out about tomorrow, and then I will be ready to email it to my supervisor and get it okay'd.  I actually have more control over it than I had expected I would, but I stuck pretty closely with what he gave us -- I just added a little flair of my own, including a Kurt Vonnegut quote.

 My goal as a composition instructor is to be tough but fair and to help them become better, more confident writers.  The direction of the class will really depend on how they are as writers and where they need help.  I have a lot of freedom as far as the day-to-day structure of the classes, and what kinds of things I can do to teach the students.  If possible, I want to find ways to teach them that are fun for both them and me.  I don't know if I will do in in the fall, but in the Spring I might have my class do blogs and post their homework on them, or something.  I can help them set them up in class and then they will have the choice whether they will publish them for the mass public or just the class.  I have a lot of ideas and I am getting some good direction right now, and I am also working on the reading and getting myself into the right frame of mind.

 I am not going to use any of my own writing as examples -- I don't have that much of an ego.  The text book is adequate, and, if I want them to read a short story, I will find one online.  I will talk about my writing though -- mostly my essay writing, but I will bring up my fiction when it is pertinent.  I haven't decided whether I am going to tell them that I am self-publishing my own books or not -- although I do feel like it gives me more credibility.  I don't think I will tell them about this website, though.  If they find out about it on their own, it doesn't matter.  It's not a secret.

I should, however, be building my name as a writer around the department.  I will introduce myself in class as a writer who avidly advocates for self-publishing, as I believe it is the wave of the future, and so long as the publishers aren't censoring what is being written, the writers can prove how hard they are willing to work and learn as they go, and sell their own books, which are written the way the writer wishes them to be written, and fuck everybody else.

Even though the Internet has grown a little douche-y in recent years, I still believe it is the best hope yet for keeping the punk / DIY ideal alive, and, really, stronger than ever.  We are like entrepreneurs who are willing to work hard and do what is necessary to stay true to ourselves, and fuck what the status quo says.

Okay, so maybe I won't go into it like that, but that is what I believe.  Maybe my audience will never be huge, but at least I don't have to become someone I'm not just to turn into a monster.  I would rather earn a living as a professor or a teacher or a librarian or whatever the Hell I can find a job doing.

As I grow older and my life progresses and I eventually have children who live to be old enough to understand that life is all about how you perceive it, or should be, anyways.  So long as some major totalitarian shit doesn't take place between now and then.  It should be about how you perceive and can use your perceptions create your reality.  It's really the same thing as visualizing and achieving. And success should therefore be measured by how well your are able to perceive and realize.  The more closely your reality matches up to your perceptions, the more successful you are in life, that is if you let it be a positive thing and not a negative one.

That's why I believe I am successful, even though I am not rich.  I have found a way to do what I enjoy doing for a living, and it is only temporary if I don't take it seriously enough.  There are opportunities for me if I continue to work hard and take my work seriously.  It will only be a matter of time before I will actually be able to earn a decent living.  I just have to keep my head done, my brain focused, and put my senses to work, on high efficiency.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Poems

New Poems, "Stereophonic Slamdance" and "Press Release Style", posted on the Poetry page.  (Keep scrolling down, they are the last two on the page.  When I get time, I might reverse it, but, I kind of put them in a specific order).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Penguin Rangers Unite!

Watching as I pour myself into something I have not really done in a long time: writing.  I have forgotten what this feels like, but the sensory memory is still there. Anyways, this is why I love my profession, I may never make a lot of money, but I would rather be able to do this as often as possible.

Looking forward to school starting: this is my last week at my summer job! *does back flip*

Right now I am just working on some ideas and feelings I have been having, in story form, scene by scene.  My goal is to be able to leave the final product as much as it is originally written as possible, and to just work on it when I have opportunities to do so.  As a writer, I have been stuck in a rut, working and working and working on the same thing over and over again, and only getting marginally further than where I have been for six years.

Sometimes I will almost ruin a project before I finally get exasperated and want to give up, which is what is happening to my first novel, and I don't want that to keep happening, I just want to continue moving forward and working on my craft and applying what I learn as I am writing, and just try to get better with each project.

I am forcing myself to stick to one version of Out in the Garage, make minimal changes to it, and put it out, because, quite frankly, I have enough other things to worry about, I want to move on and begin writing a new rough draft, more or less in a stream of consciousness style, which I think will be very therapeutic when I am deep in the trenches of school and teaching and writing my thesis. Still, I do want to feel like Out in the Garage is actually finished when I publish it, so I am holding myself to reasonably high standards.

And, actually, what I said earlier isn't entire true, either, the changes I am making -- adding better descriptions and changing the text to the present tense (for the most part) -- aren't exactly minimal, they just aren't very complicated changes, they are building on what is already there and making it better.  I am trying to just keep in mind all of the advice that I have gotten, but follow my gut instinct, which is usually how I am most successful as a writer.

That's how I feel justified in it, that, and I am going to do another proof no matter how many changes I make -- and I am going to still publish it on October 18, 2013, no matter what.  My   schedule is as such: finish the last rewrite by September 11, finish proofreading by October 11, and have a smooth release on the 18th.

I really, really hope the next book doesn't take six years.  I am shooting for one year, but it will probably, realistically, be more like two, with the whole school and getting a job or going to get my PhD. thing, not to mention my marriage and family and friends and what not.  Still, writing fiction and recording music / playing guitar are good releases when I am stressed out and  have the time, and everybody needs that.  I am assuming the thesis is going to be stressful, especially as it approaches April-May.

Anyways, enjoy some RHCP!  Josh Klinghoffer impresses me -- it makes me want to see them in concert again, eventually.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Always Moving Forward

Still working through my first proof of Out in the Garage.  I am taking my time with it, trying to get the language as close to perfect as possible.  I have made some definite improvements.  The hard part for me is to not do too much.  I think that balance comes from experience, something that I will know more about after I get this done.  After I go through it and make the changes to my manuscript, then I will order another proof and solely focus on eliminating typos.

This will take some time, especially as I am trying to focus more on getting prepared for school -- particularly the College Composition class that I am teaching.  Now I have the texts that I will be teaching from, I can thoroughly go through them. I want to be comfortable with the material, because I know it will take a little while for me to find my rhythm as a teacher.  The more prepared I am the better off I will be.  My goal is to educate and make it as interesting as I can, because the hardest part won't be the teaching, it will be combating the indifference of the students.

I am also trying to focus more on my thesis: do my research and write my prospectus.  While I won't get it all done by the semester starts, I want have a good start on it.  My goal is to have my prospectus done by the end of the first five weeks.  I will probably be doing a lot of writing over Christmas break, but I have two semesters, so I just need to pace myself and not procrastinate too much (more than I already have).

In general, I am going to start focusing more on school and my school work and my career than on my hobbies.  It is the only way I am going to accomplish my goals.  I don't want to keep working in wage slavery -- or, at least, if I am going to continue being poor I want to at least enjoy my job and not be as poor as I am now so that I can at least pay all of my bills, pay back my debt, and still have a little money left over.  I don't need to be rich or famous or anything like that, I just don't want to feel like I am struggling.  In short, I just want the simple life -- which is far more difficult to achieve than I ever imagined it could be.

Finally, I am going to re-release my short story collection, Tales from the Fringes. I have taken the time to learn how to put together a professional-looking e-book version, and I am going through and trying to eliminate typos.  I put it out so quickly that I didn't take enough time to do everything I need to do, and, as the publisher, and a perfectionist, I feel that the product I have for sale isn't as high quality as I am capable of.  Not that it is bad, or anything, I am just learning and am trying to hold myself to higher standards.  I am also going to release the e-book through Smashwords and many other websites where it is not currently available, including the iBookstore.  This will all be happening relatively soon.  I have reformatted it; now I just have find the typos.