Prying It Loose: On Writing Poetry Again

Like many teenagers, I wrote poetry in high school. I cobbled together a journal from spare ruled notebook paper and a used binder, hand-sewing and gluing the spine. The pages were deckled (not intentionally) by my inability to cut straight. I filled this upcycled journal with confessions, story snippets, and poems.

I wrote far more fiction than poetry in the years between, but I indulged on occasion. I used to post Wednesday poems on this blog some years back. I’d mess around with metaphor and meter in my stories, but not to great effect. (Rhyme was always hard for me.)

Since my writing block last year, I’ve struggled to find ways to put words to screen. I practically reinvented my writing process twice, but that didn’t seem to fix things. Even blog posts have been difficult and sporadic, though to be fair my topics have been difficult, deeply personal, and met with a great deal of hostility.

Earlier this month, unsure of what day exactly, I started writing poetry again. The first poem was excruciating to write, like turning a rusty nut off a threaded bolt, but the threads caught and subsequent poems have been easier.


Does Unitarian Universalism Have A Future?

Short answer: not as it exists right now.

Long answer:

It’s no secret I left my UU church last year. While my specific grievances are personal and partly confidential, I can speak to an overall trend that I’ve witnessed in other UU churches.

Mainstream denominations are in big trouble, and Unitarian Universalism is no exception.


Embracing Boredom: Why I’m Ditching Streaming Video in January

Though I no longer do New Year’s resolutions (too ambitious, too inflexible, you’ve heard this already), I’ve decided to do some month-long commitments. Among my commitments this year: abstaining from most streaming video, i.e. Netflix, Disney+, etc.

I have several good reasons for this.


NaNoWriMo Post-Mortem

Yeah, about that…

I knew I wouldn’t be hitting 50,000 words this month. I wasn’t expecting to fall short by 49K, though!

There were two primary issues: one of which is just luck of the draw, and the other is more significant:

1) Changing priorities meant losing my focus. Some family drama, professional uncertainty, and other (undisclosed) personal issues kept me from giving Field of Shards the attention it needed.

2) I over-planned.


Course Corrections

I may have been a little too ambitious with last month’s plans.

For a variety of reasons, I’m back on Facebook earlier than expected. I’ll remain off Twitter (much more of an issue with me personally) until the end of the month.

As it turns out, people expect you to be on social media to keep in touch. I tried to be proactive in reaching out to friends, but that skill has really atrophied, and unsurprisingly I felt isolated.

I’m also ending my plant-based diet transition. I thought a gradual transition would help with fatigue, but uh, it really didn’t. I’m going to look at other ways of reducing my carbon footprint, but yeah, this one’s out of the picture.

As it turns out, I have other, more urgent priorities. NaNoWriMo, of course, is this month’s primary objective. There’s also something I’m planning for next year that I’m not ready to discuss yet, but I need to be clear-headed and confident.

More NaNoWriMo updates to come.


NaNoWriMo 2019, Day 4

Total words written: 1,034.

It’s, uh, not a great start, but it is a start, nonetheless.

I haven’t scheduled my time well this week. I was socializing all Friday evening, then was out all of Saturday. I had some time Sunday morning, but didn’t take advantage of it. I’ve been getting words in here and there.

Hopefully I can gain some momentum this week, as I have nothing planned for the next few days. The challenges this year are different than last — this time around, it’s a matter of maintaining emotional engagement rather than time management. At least, that’s what I thought until I actually started writing this year.



NaNoWriMo 2019 Prep: Loose Ends

I’m wrapping up my revisions to the existing draft of Field of Shards. Other than some scene rewrites in the first chapter, it’s been smooth sailing.

I noticed a very Hemingway-esque trick at the bottom of my manuscript: leaving a sentence unfinished as a prompt to continue writing. I recall doing that a bit last year, sometimes out of exhaustion, having finished my writing quota and not wanting to keep going. It sorta works — there’s a compulsion to finish the sentence, sure, but afterwards is harder when you’re drowning in the tar pit of writer’s block.

I have a few other character bits to add before I start writing anew on Friday: better descriptions, a few names to add, and an entirely new bit character to fill a gap caused by my one big character change from the existing manuscript. Nothing that would stop me from starting, but good to take care of while I can.

As for official NaNoWriMo meetups this year? I’m not sure. I need to see what my schedule is like, and I’d rather not drive across the bay to St. Pete or Clearwater on a weekday afternoon. More than likely, I’ll just keep in touch online.


Plants, Plants, Plants

I’ve decided to make the transition to a plant-based diet.

“Again?” I hear you say, dear reader. Yes, but with some important changes this time.

True, I’ve had some false starts the past few years, which you’re familiar with if you follow me on social media or know me in meatspace. My issues with maintaining a plant-based/mostly-plant-based diet has been documented extensively on this blog. This time around, I’m making several important changes:

1) I’m not going cold turkey. Before, I’ve made the switch in a fairly short amount of time, though not quite overnight. This time, I’ll be transitioning over several months. I’ll first eliminate meat from my diet over a seven-week period, reducing the number of meat days week over week. Afterwards, I’ll transition to a 90% plant-based diet, also over a seven-week period. This process should be done by the end of January.

2) I’ll still eat dairy occasionally. This is largely so I can travel without relying exclusively on the availability of vegan outlets, but also to keep some of my sanity.

3) I’ll be off social media for part of the journey. A certain segment on my end of the political spectrum treat veganism with contempt, with some justification. (There’s a discussion to be had about the intersection of white privilege and extreme vegan lifestyle choices, but not on this blog, sorry.) I hadn’t planned on taking a sabbatical from social media at the same time as beginning this transition, but it was a happy coincidence.

4) I’m doubling my B12 supplements. I was very lax with my supplements the past couple times I tried this. It’s harder to overdose on B12 than to eat too little, and much B12 in supplements isn’t absorbed when consumed, so this shouldn’t be a concern.

5) Accountability, i.e. this blog post.

I don’t need to reiterate the many reasons one might go plant-based, whether ethical, environmental, or medical — Google is your friend, dear reader. If you know me, you’ll guess that I’m more concerned about the looming climate crisis than PETA liberating lobsters from tanks in restaurants.

I’ll keep you posted, as always.


Erik the Hermit

One thing I’ve developed a skill for is knowing when to step away from social media. Like Ross and Rachel, we’re always on a break, never a breakup.

(Though now that I recall, they did break up on that show, didn’t they?)

This time, I’m taking time away from Facebook and Twitter in particular. There are a few reasons, chief among them a need to reclaim some free time for NaNoWriMo next month. I’m also noticing that I’m getting angry over social media interactions as much as real-world tragedies, which is so very wrong.

I just can’t give the same spite to Ellen befriending George W as kids locked in cages in detention centers. Ellen’s friend group — and no, under no circumstances would I befriend W., just to be clear — don’t really matter.

I would rather reserve my anger for things that matter. Like, you know, the fact that our country is locking kids in cages. But that’s difficult when the topic du jour changes every damn hour on social media.

It’s like being locked in a white room with wall-to-wall computer screens, each displaying a rotating mix of tabloids, tragedy, shouting matches, and cat videos. Eventually the distinctions blur. (I’d like to keep the cat videos, of course.)

Naturally, like coming off of any addictive substance, there’s a serious drop in dopamine during a withdrawal period. Let’s just say I’ve been watching a lot of restoration videos on YouTube lately.

I’ll continue posting here, of course, especially as NaNoWriMo gets into swing. So I’ll see you folks around.


NaNoWriMo 2019: The Preppening

As November 1st approaches, I’ve begun preparing for this year’s marathon of words. Read on for the details.

This Year’s Project: Continue working on Field of Shards

Although I eventually stalled out at ~17K words, Field of Shards had a great start last year. I’ve learned from NaNos past that you should never start a new project if there’s one you’d rather be doing, and this story’s pretty decent, if I may be conceited for a moment.