Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

2010 in writing

Sometimes I feel like I spend an awful lot of time at this desk and am still not as productive as I want to be. So while I was updating some of my recent project lists, I thought I’d see how many articles and other pieces I wrote last year.

Paid work:

I did somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 pieces for the automotive aftermarket industry trade publications Automotive Week (The Greensheet) and Service Executive. The vast majority of those were published in The Greensheet.

GeekDad: 56 posts. I don’t even come close to the output of the most prolific GeekDad core contributors, but man, do I ever have fun writing for the site. And it was a frakking great year to be a GeekDad, what with getting to attend both PAX East and Star Wars Celebration V. Among my contributions were 12 reviews and five interviews, and a piece about PBS’ Arthur which got a personal thumbs-up from Neil Gaiman. (No, I will nevereverEVER get tired of recalling that.)

Positively Cleveland: 20 articles, mostly for their visitors and destination planners’ guides.

East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church: 12 articles for the Joining Hands quarterly magazine, and a few online features.

Waste & Recycling News: 9 articles

Crain’s Cleveland Business: 8 articles

And one piece each for Yahoo!, UMW Response magazine, and the Tribune-Chronicle.

I also landed nine other “behind the scenes” corporate and marketing and advertising projects: Writing and editing of the sort that doesn’t come with bylines.

Unpaid work:

  • My short fiction “The Painting” was accepted for inclusion in the 100 Stories for Haiti anthology, a project to which all the work was donated, and all proceeds went to Red Cross earthquake relief.
  • CNN writer/producer Henry Hanks stumbled onto Collect All 21! and asked if I’d file an iReport video on the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, which I did. (He also interviewed me and other fans about the movie for this story.)
  • The Bearded Trio – run by a guy I’ve never met but who was one of the earliest vocal supporters of Collect All 21! – invited me to contribute a post, and I had fun writing this look at some of John Williams’ lesser-known music.
  • And there was The Meat Locker.

I almost forgot that I finished writing another non-fiction book, too, and that as a not-for-public-consumption project I wrote a detailed 16,000-word Star Wars Celebration V journal.

As for this blog, according to WordPress’ summary, I wrote 197 posts in 2010, which equates to something slightly more than one post every other day. That’s not bad – in fact, every other day is about what I’d hope for – but I know that most of those posts came in an unbroken 125-day stretch (Feb. 28-July 2) where I was making a deliberate effort to keep the streak alive. The fact that I had things like PAX East and re-learning Dungeons & Dragons and my 15-day cross-country trip to write about made it awfully easy to maintain that momentum – as did serializing Crossing Decembers – but once July hit, my blogging regularity was pretty much nowhere to be found.

Looking over the numbers made me feel a bit better about the productivity, though I still didn’t do nearly as much on the personal project side as I wanted to. And while one of my goals this year is to get back into the habit of writing regularly on the blog, I really need to make sure I’m putting some other things – like fiction and book proposals and other side projects – higher on the priority list.

Truth is, I like being at this desk. What I love is feeling like it’s worthwhile.

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, Weblogs, writing | , | Leave a comment

On the 32nd anniversary of my eighth birthday.

I don’t know that I can quite yet tie together all the thoughts that have come up while I’ve been thinking about turning 40. They’ll probably surface bit by bit over the next few days, weeks, whatever, or maybe never.

Since Jenn is working tonight – my actual birthday, Nov. 17 – she and Kelsey and I went out for a low-key birthday dinner on my last night as a thirtysomething, stuffing ourselves at a little Italian restaurant in Hartville. Best stromboli I’ve had in decades. (Yes, really.) When we got home, we dug into a pecan pie Kelsey made: my birthday dessert request.

My first actual waking hours of Birthday No. 40 came between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., during which my brain was pretty much chattering along with all sorts of ideas for writing and stuff to remember while also entertaining me with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” (Sorry. Some things you just can’t control.) Jenn woke up for a few minutes, and we had a conversation about the first few weeks after we adopted Pepper – two years ago this month.

I woke up for real about 7:30 and decided to go for a run. It took me a full 10 minutes and three trips in and out of the bedroom to find my shoes. Gray outside, and windy, and about 40 degrees or so, but once I got out there, it felt good. I did just over 4 miles – once around our semi-rural “block” – and though I didn’t time myself, I managed a good kick the last couple tenths of a mile and crossed the finish line at our driveway going full-tilt.

The morning consisted of some breakfast and some Stargate:Universe on the DVR, and hanging out with Jenn a bit, and then going out to renew the license plates and get a new driver’s license. (Sporting, of course, the new “work outfit” Jenn & Kels had gotten me – a nice pair of jeans and a Kermit the Frog T-shirt. My girls rock.) I also had a few errands to run, and it was a decent day just to be driving around and thinking and probably overthinking.

It was lunchtime when I got home, and Jenn was already getting ready for work.

After she left, I took a really short afternoon nap, and then tried to wrap up a short assignment before Kelsey got home and needed to go to her physical therapy appointment.

She and I watched last night’s Conan O’Brien – the one with Harrison Ford – and then my friend Jim called, and we talked for a long time, wrapping up the conversation with some good idea-bouncing about the whole balancing of creative endeavors with work.

Because lately I’ve been feeling awfully unstructured, creativity-wise. The last independent project I worked on was a detailed journal of Star Wars Celebration V, and though I’ve had several ideas since then, I’ve really struggled to focus on my non-work-related writing, whether it’s been here on the blog (witness the frequency of my photo-collecting posts of late) or with the fiction and non-fiction inspirations that currently exist only as scraps or notes or vague possibilities.

There’s also, frankly, the whole stress-over-work thing. It can be excruciatingly difficult to focus on personal creative work when I’m wondering where my next paid assignment is coming from and waiting on news from the mortgage modification people and worrying about that tiny but brand-new noise my 115,000-mile-plus car seems to be making.

But I got to thinking about 2000 – the year I wrote Crossing Decembers, and how part of that process involved keeping a journal of the creative process of writing that book. Since my goal was to work on the thing every day, no matter what, I kept note of what that work was. Just a sentence or two summarizing the parts I’d worked on. Some days that meant several hundred words, others – and I’m thinking of a stomach-flu stretch here – the work consisted of just coming up with an idea and making sure I jotted myself a reminder to run with it the next time I sat down at the keyboard.

That journal kept me honest, in a way, and I think I’m going to give it a try again, only this time, just making sure that every day I spend some time in personal creation or creation-related mode – whether it’s writing for the blog (and I’m talking real sit-down-and-hammer writing, not the photo dumps), or working on a project, or maybe working on project proposals or query letters or something that’s tied to writing I’m doing that’s not tied to my freelancing.

And rather than wait to start it when the calendar flips, I’m starting it today – the first day of my 41st year.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, photos, writing | , , | 4 Comments

Flying solo: Year one

So yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my first-ever “sorry-we-have-to-let-you-go” meeting, and tomorrow is the anniversary of my last actual day of corporate employment. (Today, then, marks a year since I wrote this, which was a weird day, because technically, still being employed, that means I got paid to sit at home and blog about losing my job.)

Honestly, I thought I’d have more to write about it, since it’s been on my mind as the first day of spring has neared and I’ve been going over paperwork and pay stubs and receipts and things like that for tax filing, but now that it’s here, it feels very much like any other day. Jenn left for work at 5:30 a.m. I got up at 6:15, got Kelsey off to school, checked email and news and blogs, had breakfast, turned in one assignment and started wrapping up the next one.

That this workday rhythm feels not at all extraordinary to me, I now realize, is an incredibly good thing.

In fact, the only other thing I want to make sure I note at this point is that there is no way I could possibly have survived this sea change without my friends and family and parents and my daughter Kelsey and most of all my wife Jenn, who never failed for a second to find the good in all this, despite the stress and worries and uncertainty and instability.

Though I have often described my freelance writing career as “flying solo,” the truth is, it never has been that at all.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | writing | , , | 1 Comment


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