Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Writer... in theory

I'm supposed to be a writer, but I haven't posted much about writing, either the craft or any actual writings. Part of that has been the press of work this year; my "free" time has been quite limited, and usually stolen in secret. It occurred to me this past week, however, that as a writer, my blog should have some writing in it. Since fiction comes easier than reality anyway, at least for me, I have decided that I want to have more writing on the blog. So, you can now look forward to reading some writings here. Some may be extra stories from novels that won't appear in the actual work, such as character backgrounds, cut chapters, or extra scenes. Others will be random short pieces that were just something I felt like playing with that week. I do hope you enjoy them, and as always, I welcome commentary!

Miracle Johnson sighed and slumped lower in her desk. She wrinkled her nose as her knee encountered someone's long forgotten chewing gum. It may actually be hers from first semester, she realized, and chose to ignore it. She curled a lock of purple hair around her finger. It wasn't all purple. Most of it was jet black. The right side had streaks of purple; the left had streaks of bright green.

Her eyes flicked up as the teacher called her name. He wanted an answer to something on the board. He had erased most of the board and started over since she last was paying attention. She shrugged and waited for him to give up hope on getting an answer from her. Eventually, he moved on.

She fingered the edge of the old textbook. Every page had some sort of doodle or writing on it. She'd checked. She'd found a few that had escaped notice, but she'd fixed those herself. The cover of the text was faded and scarred, but even if it had been new, it would have been boring. The children smiling up from the hard cover looked foolish. One of them now sported horns. The other two had blacked out teeth and goatees.

Miracle looked out the window near her desk. Outside looked so much nicer than in this dusty, old, boring classroom. A dungeon would look nicer than this classroom. At least more interesting, anyway, she thought. The wall clock clicked as the teacher continued to ramble on. There was a stain high on the wall above the chalkboard. She often fantasized that it was a bloodstain. That some student had finally had enough and decided to end class early. A flicker of a smile crossed her face. Maybe this guy was actually a zombie. That might even make him halfway cool.

"Remember, everyone, test tomorrow on levitation." The class groaned as expected; Miracle didn't waste her breath. "Also, your projects on magical jinxes are due on Friday."

She sighed again. She hadn't even started hers yet. Why did she have to suffer these boring classes when the real world was just right outside?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Workaholic: disease or superpower?

Today, I find myself home sick, and, curiously, feeling guilty at not being super productive with my time. After taking care of the kids this morning, and getting them to their proper places, I came home and fell back into bed, sleeping until a little before noon. Clearly I needed it; that isn't a usual practice of mine. Nevertheless, I feel guilty that I have not used this "free time" effectively. I should be lesson planning, writing a test, preparing materials, organizing last minute details for the show in a couple of weeks, working on Slave Princess, or at the very least doing housework! (I did just unload and reload the dishwasher, for the record.)

My wife made a point about that feeling: what would I tell her if it were reversed? Naturally, I replied with the correct answer.
"But you are a princess; you are supposed to be pampered!"
Despite her royal condition, she made me think. Were she feeling ill and home, and doped up on NyQuil, would I encourage her to telecommute and work anyway? Or insist that she relax and take it easy, in order to get well? Certainly, I would insist she relax. When I try to tell myself that, though, I hear a host of complaints in my head. There is so MUCH work to do! I am always feeling short on time; how dare I throw away this discovered full day of opportunity when I could get work done?

I have always considered my brother a workaholic. He always keeps himself busy. I have usually admired that about him. I feel that it has been part of the key to his success. So, I lie here on the couch, tissues at the ready, wrapped in blankets and thoughts and guilt. Work? Not work? Work on writings? Work on school (the paying gig)? Housework, to help take care of my family? Watch a movie? Plan next year's shows? Read a book? Sleep more? Lazily analyze grades? Go through old emails?

Through all these musings, I end up here, writing my weekly blogpost, and thus accomplishing something afterall.While it is good to be productive, it is also good to relax. There must be a balance. But where is my next step?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Twitter hater

I have a Twitter account. I don't follow anyone. (Technically my wife is marked to follow, but she doesn't post, so it doesn't really count.)  I don't sign in, and I don't "tweet." The very thought of Twitter is just distasteful to me. I'm very aware that this is not a popular opinion. Twits all over the interworld tweet their day away, follow their four thousand Facebook friends, and know exactly what their five favorite celebrities are doing every ten minutes.

Without being a twit myself, I feel a little presumptuous talking about it. Maybe it isn't really fair to criticize something you haven't tried, but if I really believed that, I wouldn't be able to advise you not to set yourself on fire, and how dare I refuse to do drugs.
I base my dislike of Twitter on two things. One, the vast majority of "tweets" that get tweeted are inane, pointless trash. I love Nickelback's music, but I don't know them personally, and I don't care what time they go to bed, what they ate for breakfast, or which if them is fighting over some groupie chick. I definitely don't want to know about Ozzy Osborne's stomach flu. (Got to lay off the bats, man.) However, at least part of that is our society's  obsession with celebrities, which I also don't grok. 

My other problem with tweeting is that this service is encouraging our society to communicate in 160 character messages. We already have problems teaching people to communicate in complete sentences. This is only going to compound the problem. There have been numerous studies about tv watching and how it impairs the development of people's attention spans. The same thing is happening with language. Twitter is contributing to the degradation of our ability to communicate well.  

I do realize that not every Twit falls into these traps, but so many do, that I don't get the appeal.