Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I gave up on "The Expectant Father"

I've read a few books about parenthood now that I have a little one and one thing that bugs me to varying degree about all of them is that they tell me what I'm feeling at any given point. Not that they tell me what I might be feeling or even what I should be feeling, no they all say things like, "Now that your wife is five months pregnant you are experiencing anxiety about such-and-such." My feelings almost never matched up with what the books said they were and it bugged me. Basically, I wanted instruction manuals and what I was getting was "Iron John" disguised as a baby book. "The Expectant Father" struck me at the time when I was just getting fed up with all this touchy feel-y nonsense. So I set it aside and never got around to picking it up again.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Looks like fun!

This is the best thing I've seen on the Internet in quite a while. Via the excellent Boing Boing.

About that last post

The one about my love of bad pop music. At the bottom of the post the keen-eyed observer will notice a stamp from a site called Plinky. Plinky is another micro-blogging site, but with a twist. Every day, the site feeds you a different prompt for you to write about. I decided to give it a try because Maggie Mason, she of Mighty Girl, wrote about it. I will do anything Maggie Mason tells me to do.

I almost decided not to join in, but then I started thinking of these daily prompts as little exercises to get me into that day's writing -- a lot like we used to do in one of my creative writing classes. Doing these helps warm up my fingers, gets them used to the keyboard, and it limbers up my brain. For the week that I've been doing it, I've found it helpful. A second benefit is that will help flesh out this blog, something I've needed help with of late.

I just thought I'd mention it in case you were curious and wanted to check it out. Please disregard its twee name, something of a must for new web sites, it seems.

That is all.

In defense of my vice: bad pop music.

I think my love of pop music is well documented, but less well known is how much I love bad pop music.

Seeking Avril by

I think that we can all agree that crap pop music has a place in the world, can't we? I mean, it's not entirely despicable that I own Avril Levigne's first album is it? And I love and appreciate what the rest of the world calls "good" music. It's like the difference between a gourmet $15 hamburger and a Quarter Pounder. They're almost not the same thing and sometimes you have a craving for junk that can't be denied. Sometimes you just crave the bubble gum. You know, the more I think about it, the less convinced it's even a vice...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'll get some sleep soon,right?

Oscar turned nine-months old today! Nine months he's been in our lives. Granted he was in our lives prior to that but, for me at least, in a sort of theoretical way.

I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I could not have imagined how much I am loving being a dad. The time I get to spend with Oscar is the best use of my time ever -- possibly excluding the time he was being made.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My muse versus time management

At the request of The Wife, I'm writing today about a piece I read on-line and how it's affected my productivity.

Corey Doctorow, a very good SF writer, posted a column on the Locus Magazine site called "Writing in the Age of Distraction" that I found very helpful. In the four or five months prior to reading it, I hadn't done much writing. As my son's primary care-giver, I never felt like I could devote the chunks of time I felt I needed to get some writing done. Before Oscar came along, writing for four or five hours at a stretch wasn't uncommon. After he was born and before The Wife returned to work, I was still getting regular two-hour writing sessions. Now-a-days, that's a rare luxury.

Doctorow's column is mostly about how to write when all around you are the distractions of the Internet, but it applies to someone with a very limited schedule, too.

The main piece of advice is to set a very regular, short schedule. He says that when he's working he only aims for a page or two a day, often only devoting twenty minutes to it. In that way he can write a novel a year, half-a-dozen columns a month and other various things.

I've taken that advice and I now use the 30-to 45 minutes I get to myself everyday while Melissa is nursing Oscar in the afternoon as writing time. Because I felt like it wasn't enough time to accomplish any writing, I used to just read or even try and catch a nap during that time. Now that I'm using it to write, even if I'm only getting a page a day, I feel amazingly productive. I'm going to be pitching some comics to a publisher soon. I used to wonder where I'd find the time to write any comics if any of those pitches got accepted, now I know where that time will come from.

Doctorow has other advice as well in that article which I am experiencing varying degrees of success following, and I recommend you read it to see for yourself everything he says.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back in action?

This week I seem to have regained something that I set aside for a while. Anyone who reads this blog regularly--well, anyone who reads it regularly would know that it's been a while since it was updated on anything resembling a regular basis, and that was part of it. "It" being an unwillingness to take the time needed to maintain my writing.

I don't want this next bit to sound like I'm blaming my son for this lack of drive, because that's very far from the truth. But I did exchange the writing drive for a willingness to observe Oscar and all of the changes he's been going through for the last few months. I've been able to watch him go from a bundle of cuteness who seemed undifferentiated from other babies his age to a little person who is starting, in a very rudimentary way, his likes and dislikes, desires and preferences.

I'm figuring out, with his help, which games, toys, and songs delight him; and which he could do without. It seems like just a couple of months ago that his movement was limited to rolling over--and sometimes he got stuck on his belly and needed a helping hand to return to his back--and now he's crawling backward with pretty impressive speed and can crawl forward with a lot of effort using the arm-over-army Army crawl method.

I feel so lucky. I know that for one reason or another, most dads don't get to see this evolution in their kids. And my new-found devotion (or is that newly re-found?) to writing isn't going to take away from my watching it with Oscar. Where a lot of my free time went to reading or trolling the web, I've lately been using that same free time to actually working. To that end, I had a good week: I got three proposals into shape (enough that I felt comfortable sending them off to one of my managers to read and critique), I started notes on an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a couple of years, and I got a start on the next chapter of 100 Girls. For those keeping score, I wrote chapter eight a couple of months ago and sent it off to Todd; Today I started in on chapter nine.

All in all, not a bad bit of business. I really hope I can keep it up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good advice from an unreliable source

Falstaff: ...I must give over this life, and I will give
it over: by the Lord, and I do not, I am a villain:
I'll be damned for never a king's son in
-Henry IV, Part One
William Shakespeare

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Archival Print

I recently had a conversation with a friend (Hi, Beth!) and we talked about our children and watching them grow into little individuals. That got me thinking, as so many things do, about a poem. It's by one of my favorites, William Stafford:

An Archival Print

God snaps your picture--don't look away--
this room right now, your face tilted
exactly as it is before you can think
or control it. Go ahead, let it betray
all the secret emergencies and still hold
that partial disguise you call your character.

Even your lip, they say, the way it curves
or doesn't, or can't decide, will deliver
bales of evidence. The camera, wide open,
stands ready; The exposure is thirty-five years
or so--after that you have become
whatever the veneer is, all the way through.

Now you want to explain. Your mother
was a certain--how to express it?--influence.
Yes. And your father, whatever he was,
you couldn't change that. No. And your town
of course had its limits. Go on, keep talking--
Hold it. Don't move. That's you forever.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Film at 11.

The wife, who is a better human than myself, has beat me to the punch where posting videos of our offspring is concerned. Go and watch the first one and prepare to need an insulin shot when you're done. And for those who are wondering: yes, that sound you hear at about the :20 second mark is our son blowing a respectable fart.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Photo parade

So, so many new photos up on our flickr page. No titles or captions yet, but we'll get those done before too long. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today is my dad's birthday. If he were alive, he'd be 71. He died nine years ago.

My mom's birthday is on January 6--Twelfth Night, or Three King's Day, depending on your cultural bias. She's been gone seven years now.

I miss them both more than I could have ever guessed.