Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Bringing focus back to my daily blog


I’ve been following the Postaday challenge like a homework assignment and it’s really done nothing more than give me 24 touchy-feely posts about random topics concerning the inner workings of my thoughts on vague ideas. Yesterday I waited hours to see what the next topic would be only to be  a little let down again. The topics aren’t bad, but they don’t seem to fit either.

The topic that brought this call to action: What’s your idea for a perfect Sunday? Reading, writing or taking pictures. The follow up question: How would it differ from a typical Sunday? It doesn’t. That’s what I did. I did that Saturday as well. I also spent too much time trying to find something to write about because the topic didn’t hit home for me.

Let’s get Dr. Phil on this situation:

Dr. Phil: Why are you writing about topics that don’t hit home for you? You should be writing on topics that matter to you instead of waiting for someone else to come up with topics.
Me: Well, it was easier to write about the topic than to come up with my own.
Dr. Phil: Has it been easier?
Me: Not really.
Dr. Phil: You’re cheating yourself out of your own ideas. How does that make you feel?
Me: Dirty.
Dr. Phil: You need to get focused and take charge of your blog.
Me: People seem to like what I’m writing, though.
Dr. Phil: Do you afraid people might not like your ideas? Maybe they like the way you write.

Thanks, Dr. Phil.

The way the blog topics are going currently feels very unwieldy and chaotic. I cannot keep going as is for another 340+ days. Most folks seem to be enjoying the topics, but I know me and I have certain needs as a writer and editor:

  1. I need coffee.
  2. I need the vision.
  3. I need an editorial policy.
  4. I need cohesion.
  5. I need a focus.
  6. I need my next five stories right now in case something falls through.

In a series of posts this week I’ll show how all those work together to keep you on track. Yes, even the coffee.

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Entry 23: I’ve got nothing.


Are some days easier than others to find an idea to write about or on some days does the idea not matter as much? This is the 23rd day I’ve posted during this pledge to write every day in 2011. This is one of those days where no idea seems good enough.

I’ve stopped and started a few times, not to mention rewrote and restarted. I’ve deleted quite a bit that I probably shouldn’t have. Some of it might have been good later on a different day, or with a little editing and focus. Too late now. I wonder how many perfectly good ideas writers throw into the waste basket.

Right now I’m watching some really horrible movies while I wait for the NFL play offs. I guess these movies seemed like a good idea at the time, but really they should have ended up in the waste basket.

I’m throwing in the towel today. There is hope for tomorrow, maybe even later tonight. Right now I have nothing and I can’t find anything to watch I find inspiring. The TV is getting turned off. I have some Joseph Campbell to read anyway.

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First love: A stream of consciousness post


I didn’t write last night because I wrote earlier in the morning. I couldn’t decide on anything to write and the topics weren’t appealing. On top of that, I spent, and this is a little embarrassing, six hours setting up a new social media website, connecting it to Twitter and Facebook, then unlinking Twitter from Facebook so as not to create a black hole of status updates. I forgot to eat because I was so focused. I posted one photo.

At the time it was fun and engaging, but this morning when I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to write it didn’t seem like time well spent. I had actually set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., but my brain decided it was Christmas morning.

I’ve been sitting here wide awake for what feels like three days but has only been about an hour. Thankfully I have coffee and the Palladia HD channel, which for those that don’t know is what MTV was before the dark times, before game shows and “reality” TV. It’s the only channel I’ve watched for about six months now, just music and concerts from some of the greatest bands to ever be filmed. The downside is I have to sit through the occasional Justin Bieber video.

I kid about the kid. He’s catchy, he’s popular, the girls love him. I respect that. Yet, I have to chuckle when I hear him singing about love.

What does he know? He’s just a kid. I’m twice his age…and then some. I remember 15-16 and how everything was so damned important. I remember that feeling of having that first love and every time after that. I have journals from back then about what I was thinking and the girls I liked. I read them now and I don’t remember writing them. I barely recognize the handwriting. Clearly I’m not the guy I was 18 or 19 years ago.

I wrote similar things back then to what he sings about now. Glad I didn’t show them to anyone. I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve even loved a few more times. Nothing beats that hormonal out-of-your-right-mind first love, though. Maybe that’s why we never forget that first one.

I laugh at the kid who doesn’t know anything singing his heart out about love only because I was that kid at 15. Now I’m the kid at 34 writing his heart out about imaginary people having real love. Time is meaningless, love is forever.

It makes me a hopeless romantic, but I hope to get that first love feeling again. I’ll be happy as long as she reminds me to get off the computer and have some dinner at a reasonable hour.

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My favorite genre


Tonight’s topic is brought to you by the number 6 and the letter H. I’m deviating from the writing prompts of the Postaday2011 blog because it didn’t inspire me at all. Their topic is “The wackiest advice you’ve ever received.” I don’t really receive so much as offer the wacky advice. I can’t narrow down the wacky advice to just one time. I did get plenty of material from the movie Surrogates, hence my favorite genre.

I read and watch a lot of movies across many genres. Classics, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, suspense, humor; I like it all. The book or movie has to inspire me in some way for me to like it. I’ll watch even some of the worst drive-in classics as long as I get something out of it. Some movies I’ve liked only because I imagine how the movie should be written instead of how it was.

I liked Surrogates. I can’t tell you if it was a good movie, but it made me think of genres in general. It reminded me of my favorite type of fiction, horror.

Horror brings up different feelings and ideas in people and it’s not everybody’s favorite. I also don’t think it’s entirely a genre but a feeling or reaction to an idea thereby slipping into other genres. It can be blood and guts, it can be supernatural beasts or it can be the horror of everyday life ala Stephen King. I’m more of a fan of the mood and atmosphere of horror, the Poe style of horror.

I don’t read or watch horror to get scared. I’m more interested in the response of horror to the situation. The “My god, man! What have you done?” reaction that happens just before the scared part with the pulse racing.

Surrogates had an aspect of that as do all of the sci-fi cautionary tales. People invent something, mankind is changed for the better, the hero discovers it’s all a lie/mistake. It’s the “Soylent green is people” moment.

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Virtual social anxiety


I’ve been playing video games since Asteroids/Pac Man/Space Invaders. Gaming has evolved dramatically since then, not only graphics, but how many people can play together at the same time. I’m not playing alone with a couple other people standing around watching me. I’m playing with 40 some people from around the world and thousands more in various parts of the server.

As an introvert (Specifically, introversion, intuition, feeling, perception or INFP for the psych students) with a little social anxiety, I was not thrilled with this evolution of gaming. On the one hand, games are now vast and there’s no end to the game itself, there’s still all the total strangers I’ll have to deal with.

It all started for me with Everquest, probably the most well known massively multiplayer role playing game, MMORPG for short. Role playing games were traditionally single player video games or a bunch of us nerds sitting around a table in someone’s basement eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew. Don’t laugh. It was an escape from normal day-to-day boredom. When I played pretend I chose to take on the role of a warrior instead of Joe Montana. More to the point, I was having fun with a small group of friends.

In MMORPGs a person chooses a role they want to play in the game, picks what side they want to fight for, and then decides what they want their character to look like. I picked a male warrior and set off for adventure with several thousand other people. To put it mildly, it was nothing short of a terrible disaster for me.

Online anonymity creates an environment that condones behavior that wouldn’t be acceptable in normal “polite” society. There were many new rules that only apply to the virtual world that were not followed by everyone. It was very sink or swim with no guidance on how one should swim or even where to find the water. If you asked even the general direction to start looking for the water, you were instead told something about your mother.

It was then that I realized my slight social anxiety was seeping in to the virtual world. My brain and fight or flight reactions were responding the exact same way to virtual stimulation as it would real stimulation. While I was having fun with the game, I was not having fun with the complete strangers I was playing with. I was so weirded out by this new situation, I deleted my character and switched servers so no one would find me.

I had a lot more luck with my second character because, well, I made a female character. I reasoned guys would be nicer to a woman and I was proved correct. It wasn’t difficult to pretend to be a female. I had three things going for me: 1.) The character looked female; 2.) I was nice to people; and 3.) I type complete sentences using proper grammar. Sad, but true. Within five minutes of playing the game someone made be a suit of armor for free and someone else insisted on following me around to protect me. He laughed when I told him I was a guy. I had him fooled because I “spoke English good.”

World of Warcraft, the current MMORPG champ with 12 million subscribers, was next. WoW started about five years ago. Guys became hip to the ruse and some actually were even nastier to people they suspect of playing a different gender. Again, anonymity. It’s even worse when they have an audience.

With new MMORPGs, I play four or five characters for a few levels before I decide on a finale avatar. The anxiety makes me want to have the exactly perfect character visually and be able to play flawlessly when first playing a game. By making practice characters I can ensure all mistakes will be assigned to them and not the character I truly want to play. What people think of my imaginary character is more important than the actual game. Rather than pretend to be a female, I now pretend I don’t speak English until at least level 10.

Inevitably, my main character will make a mistake or a perceived mistake and I’ll have to stop playing him. I hate to see him go, but the next run through the game is even faster and I’m less likely to make mistakes.

Recently, I started a new game. I played six characters on both factions and decided on a character I wanted to play. I made him look similar to me, gave him my standard name for my main character and sailed by the first few levels as I was quite familiar with the basics of the game. I was about 45 minutes into the character when I was accused of theft.

Now, I behave online the way I would in real life. I don’t kill people unless they are trying to kill me first. I don’t steal.

In MMORPGs, one of the rules that not everyone follows is “First one there wins.” The quest was to run and collect ten items. The items to gather glow or sparkle so gamers can find them easily.

I saw a glowing shrub and started to run toward it. I saw another character in the game run toward the same glowing shrub and he was well ahead of me. He ran past, so I thought he wasn’t going for the item. When I got there, I clicked it as I was the first one there and only one person can click at a time. The other person realized his mistake and backed up, not knowing I clicked on the item two seconds before and clicked as well.

I received the item, put it in my bag and started to run off. The other character said that was “low. real low man.” Now, I can see where he might think that, but I was in the right. Not only that, it was a very low level quest and really didn’t deserve accusations of underhanded behavior, in my opinion. Besides, there are tons of glowing bushes and they start glowing again in a minute or two.

Let me put it into a real world situation. Imagine going to the store and on your list is milk. You are walking behind someone in the dairy section and you think they might take the last container of milk, but they keep walking. You grab the milk and put it in your cart and head to the register. The person turns around and claims that was their milk because they meant to stop and pick it up, but didn’t, then talks down to you as the stock boy is putting more milk on the shelf. Kinda asinine.

I should’ve dismissed it and forgotten what happened, but there was now a person in the game that thought my character was of poor character and that was a reflection of me. This ate at me for a good hour and started affecting my ability to play the game.

At one point, I was fighting a creature more difficult than I could handle on my own and someone jumped in to help. Together we beat the creature, I took my loot, turned my back and saw the person that had accused me of theft running by. While I thinking of a way to avoid him, the person that helped me beat a creature was stomped into a bloody pulp behind me by the creature I had had trouble with. A perceived violation of my ethics caused an actual violation of my ethics. Not only did I not return the favor, I ignored a person that was weaker than me when they clearly needed help. I stopped playing the game at that point.

The worst part of it was the next day when I realized that situation had affected my mood outside the game. A day later I felt like crap for letting down a complete stranger and someone else thought I stole from them. Telling myself it was just a game really didn’t help as what I was feeling was real. At least with a game, if you leave the game for an hour, the person you don’t like will be somewhere else entirely.

Aside from a few isolated incidents, I think I manage it pretty well. It affects me more in a virtual environment. The real world matters and people are physically there so I’m more likely to push through the anxiety. In fact I find all the symptoms fascinating. I’ll focus on a symptom like shaky knees and think of why they are shaking and the chemical responses that are happening. That always takes my mind off the situation that’s giving me anxiety and I can refocus on the task at hand.

 

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Still blocked


Well, so to speak. I can at least put some words together for some semblance of coherent thought. Enough of this drivel and I have a blog post. Yay.

Basically I say blocked because the creative juices are not flowing. I browsed the Web for some help and saw tons of writing prompts that I sweepingly dismissed as “dumb.” When the first thing that comes to mind with a writing prompt is a no answer, then I think the prompt is terrible. For example, “Write a made-up magic spell, including ingredients, chants, and actions. Now, turn it into a poem.” No. See? I got that one from Writer’s Digest. There’s one a little further down that interested me. I may try it in a bit to see what happens. This week’s is just poo. I’m prejudiced against poetry though. I was looking forward to doing it every week. I still have hope.

I’m not suffering from a lack of ideas. I give you this analogy; it’s like space. The outer kind of space. There’s tons of stuff floating around and all of it is just fascinating to me. Traveling from point A to point B requires planning and the vessel to make the trip. I have the plan, I have the vessel, I have too many destinations. With too many destinations I start to see space for what it is, infinite. In all directions. All at once. I try to wrap my head around that and I want to vomit.

I’ve loved space since I was a kid, yet it scares the hell out of me. Probably one of the dumbest phobias I have. At least clowns are tangible. Seriously, though. Drifting through forever? *shudder*

That digression is brought to you today by the word “focus.” I need it. Sitting down to write at a certain time every day has resulted in about 800 words of non-fiction and 0 words of fiction. My ADHD puppy brain gets distracted terribly easily. I am probably being too harsh on myself. It’s really only day two of this new schedule.

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Vacation blocked


All that time off and I got nothing written. I’m not sure if it’s writer’s block or some kind of seasonal affective disorder. I think it’s the former and not the later due to the fact that depressed people write just fine.

I think I spent more time working on my wardrobe than anything useful. Sad.

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