Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Hamster

My daughters latest hamster is a big of fun. His name is Coconut and he is full of energy as he climbs all over his cage. This is our daughter’s second hamster and she is enjoying having a little critter again.

I am no stranger to hamsters. As a young boy I had many, many hamsters. This is partly due to an exploding population due to ignorance. So having hamsters was a learning experience.

Pets are good for people. I have little doubt of this. They improve our understanding of the natural world. Help boost our immune system. Reduce stress levels (depending on the pet!). They might even help children to reduce their chance of being allergic to animals in the future.

My daughter loves her hamster, and I love my daughter. I am happy, even though we live in a city, she can have the chance to play with an animal everyday. To be honest I enjoy it too!

Keep writing.

Advertisements

I Hate Negativity, So Why Can’t I Shake It?

As a writer and teacher negativity can be a major road block between you and getting things done. On top of this life steps in front of the bus and ends up being negative at times you don’t want to be.

As a Christian I feel negativity is beaten back by the grace God has give to all of us. It is an incredible and encouraging message which also explains why people are the way they are, this perspective is positive for me.

And there is so much in life to be thankful for, as a line from Plank Eye, a Christian band, say in a song-

“And I can’t complain, for all my bills have been paid, thank You so much for all the wonderful-”

How true that is, but I still have my days just like everyone else. Trouble with work, spouse, writing, kids, my own expectations of who I think or where I think I should be right now, all can be factors. I am sure I am not alone in this at all. We all feel like the world is against us-even when everything is fine and dandy!

One of the things that makes me negative is reading biographies. I know this sounds ridiculous, but here is my point: seeing others have adventures or talk about life often throws my own self image into question. This can, of course, be positive if it pushes me to be better in some weak area of my life, but more often it just breads foolish contempt for the fact I am not out hiking the Appalachian Trail or sailing the Pacific or cycling around Europe. These peoples adventures are great reads, but I have stopped reading some genres (hiking journals) because they make me too anxious to be out there hiking.

In comes the Bible, a book I can read and see more peace from in life. It’s the unflinching nature of that ancient book that brings reality into focus. Nothing changes, people are always going to have tough times, either of their own making or not. Yet God is there and faith comes along with it.

You might never pick up a Bible to bring something positive for your day. I understand that. What I do hope is that you can stay positive and keep moving forward in the life you are living. I’m trying, giving things my best shot (and praying too!) and know down days also have their neighbors the up days. I’m moving forward, hope you are doing the same.

Keep writing.

The Editing Phase

There are people out there who hate editing. This is understandable, after all it is the act of changing what you have written in order to make it better. It can be daunting, challenging and tiring.

I have been lucky in that I actually don’t mind editing. Writing is only one part of the equation in a chain of steps necessary for getting a work out the door. I know that if I don’t do it I won’t finish-and the goal is ALWAYS to finish what I’ve started, within reason naturally.

While editing my thoughts revolve around “is this working?” or “could this be better?” each time I glance through pages. My recent technique has been to print out the rough draft and then retype it on my typing pad. This is what people used to do with typewriting. It is a good practice. The best stuff sticks and the not so good stuff goes out with the draft. My rough draft might get shorter, but it says more, in a better voice, clarity over clutter. Less is more if it tells your story better.

I think I would even use only a typewriter (yes I have a couple still), but the sound of them is a deterrent for me! Still, seeing what you type on the physical page does make you more careful along the way. Still I am taking retro methods for modern novels.

Right at present I am editing through my current project. I see what will need to be created, pulled, re-organized for clarity and punched up to fortify. This is exciting for me to do I will admit. Key here is getting it done. That is what it comes down to every time-Am I getting the work done on the current work? Always in the back of my mind.

Now my only trouble, that of many creative people, is taking down the notes for future projects and putting them aside until I finished. A new project is always exciting and filled with possibility, but I have to persist today to get what needs to be done further along.

Keep doing your best everyone. I am here rooting for you. Never give up, ever. Things will get better when you see the light growing closer on a finished project. May you write with passion and a reason every day of your life.

Keep writing.

I’d Like to Learn to Throw My Voice, But How Would I Get it Back?

Life teaches you many lessons, that is true. In fact that first sentence can only be known from observing life and learning from it! Writing and teaching give the practitioner a great deal of opportunity to see mistakes and refine weaknesses. The other side of the coin is how difficult criticism really can be-from within as much as from without.

There are a great many things I have learned from being a writer. Patience, determination, making good habits, taking a critical look, using more expressive words, simplifying, cutting out the fat and never giving up. I have gotten over the facts that I will not sell any books, that my wife steadfastly thinks of my writing as “your hubby” (unless she notices a deposit of money from a book sale) and that my closest family and friends will have less interest in what I am up to than what is happening on a news show on any given morning.

Teaching is a different bag of apples altogether now. I get feed back instantly, I make a profit at my job, habits are lessons and I have an actual classroom to do my work in. My wife is all for more classes and students. I am thankful for all of my students and their parents. And of course teaching children is a lot of fun on any day of the week.

In the end my two jobs balance each other. Both are up-lifting and have their days, but only one is an income source. Dream big some people say, well yes I can do that! But you also have to be practical too-if you love your day job quitting it would be a foolish direction. I would rather teach than do only writing. My wife would definitely sigh in relief to me typing this!

I hope all of you are enjoying your writing times and your life times. For to live is where the flavor dwells. Good day to you all.

Keep writing, but don’t quit your day job if you love it!

Starting Too Many Projects???

Well it is a challenge to manage time and get as much writing done as I can fit in between the job of teaching English, but somehow my mind was in gear yesterday.

I started outlining for the next installment of Gold River City, a book that will have more chapters than the last. It will be another short story collection and to build up material I have to sit down and do it.

Next up was the first brainstorming sessions for a non-fiction book called Sticker Book. I got a good amount of ideas from the brainstorming which was encouraging. I hope to use this as my NaNoWriMo project, either way I want to finish it as soon as I can.

“Nathan! Come on man you are already working on a current novel aren’t you?”

“Yes, that’s right invisible critic, and I got some of that writing done yesterday too.”

“Well then, good on you.”

Creativity comes in waves, yesterday it was breaking on the beach of my mind and I can say that it made me happy-any time spent building up stuff for the production bank is well worth my time. It is motivational and inspirational.

I even came up with an idea to combine a series of cover titles I had churned out by using them as the outline points of a story I had written extensively but could never get it off the ground. Why couldn’t I? Maybe because the story as a whole is unwieldy, a behemoth of sorts, and braking it down into separate “titles” makes it easier to develop and refine. So, another point for the creative Monday!

It’s raining, but my spirits are far from dampened! Have a great writing day people.

Keep writing.

My Writing: What It Means to Me

Writing has been a habit of mine for a long time. I feel truly thankful for parents who didn’t put me down for creating stories, for making odd ideas into fanciful characters and spending time with my nose in old dictionaries.

My first stories were for school and luckily many of these survived the years, tucked away in boxes in my parents attic. My wife was surprised. I took photographs of all of them, then dumped them so as to free up space.

You did what?!?!

I dumped all of my old writings, but they are taking up a tiny space on my hard drives now. The point is that taking pictures reminded me that I have been writing for a long time, since at least the age of 10. Fast forward 30 years and I have written 5 books and journal-ed extensively. Japan was the game changer in this, if I had not come here, I wouldn’t have become a productive writer.

gold-river-city-100mini
The author’s 3rd fiction novel.

English isolation breeds the need for reading. I had no TV, internet, computer or even radio when I moved into my first apartment here in Japan. I only got a radio and a typewriter so that will tell you how cheap I was living-but my days were filled with cultural excitement and my nights with the hundreds of books I borrowed from the library a few minutes walk away, or from my friend Jon’s house. Reading lead to writing, the two go hand in hand.

intelligent-octopusmini
The author’s first novel!

I started writing store scenes in notebooks before and after work at Starbucks. This was back when there was only one Starbucks in my entire city and it was a mixing place for people at all hours. I wrote and wrote, with double espresso in hand, until ideas began to form for a novel. I still haven’t written that novel, but it sparked all kinds of short stories and ideas to flow.

The first year married I wrote a 50 page outline for a novel and hammered out 10 edits with great gusto. I really enjoyed it and that first novel was easy. A common occurrence I later learned for new writers. My next books took longer, but I have enjoyed writing and dreaming ever since.

The Cards
The author’s 2nd novel

I guess what writing really means to me has to do with the best things in life. It’s love, excitement, fun, pro-active and productive. I am not thankful than proud. More rich in understanding than rich in funds. The value is in knowing it is possible to complete something you set out to do. That alone should bring those good things along with it!

killing-the-paper-tiger
The author’s first non-fiction/fiction blended work.

Life is short, I would rather spend mine with the ones I love, writing and teaching my life away. God has been there leading me to write and now, at the edge of really taking off, I feel grateful for all He has shown me in my life to this point.

Keep writing.

The Livescribe 3 Pen: A Review

This summer I got a very unique pen, the Livescribe 3, from my brother and sister-in-law. It seemed too good to be true, a pen that would digitally record everything I wrote down and then could be uploaded onto any device? Well then!

P9132849.JPG

The truth is the pen had problems connecting to my Samsung Tab A, that is until they updated the application, more on that later. You also must write on special paper that reads the position of what you write. Just scribbling across a regular pad of paper would not do anything for the pen at all.

P9132851.JPG

The pen works by having a camera in the front of the pen, just under the tip of the ballpoint cartridge. It reads the paper’s marks and records them so that they can then appear on the application. This works well, but I can found that it doesn’t work well when it comes to “remembering” what is being written while the pen is not tethered to a device. Hopefully I can figure that out better in the future.

The application kept stopping until Livescribe updated their application and now it works a lot better, though it still stops from time to time. I suspect the Tab A’s memory might be to blame more than the pens and application.

So how is it working? Well I do find it useful for journaling, the very reason my brother gave it to me. I am working through a note books and am getting used to the page style. I am a legal pad type of guy. Switching to a vertically bound page takes a little practice. The recorded text appears on the apps screen in real time, but I find that if I shut off the tablet and keep writing the app seems to behave a lot more accurately (again I think it might be caused by memory usage here).

As a writer the idea of writing and having my text in digital form is a great idea. In practice there are still some issues, but I like the technology and will use it for as long as I can. The price and availability of notebooks (which are not available in Japan that I have seen) makes this a little bit of a challenge. We will see.

Verdict? Well it is a nice pen, and it does something no other pen does, but I am waiting for more support and better transfer abilities. Otherwise it is a fair device.

Keep writing.