Archive for April, 2010

I really am not falling off the face of the earth…

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


This has become a bigger project than I projected. Doh!

Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong story.

(And don’t call it a “mancave.” It’s my new studio.)

A long several days home…ramble warning

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

So I am still fighting the demons of nine time zones. What’s strange is, when I was younger, it never took me this long to go West-East after just a two-week trip. Actually, I know…there is nothing strange about it. I am an old fart now and my bod just isn’t springy like it once was for these types of things. I am in awe of watching Annalaan, because she was not only back in school the next morning, she was back to gymnastics, choir, shot putting, line drawing art class, Chinese 101, and just about everything else by that afternoon (ok, you get the point).

I came back no less motivated to get caught up and get stuff done, and I have been going in these incredible bursts and halts. It’s better now as we near a week, but I was flush with energy for the first couple of days, then I crashed, then I burst for a day, and then I’m back to crash mode.

For me it became more of like fightng a war against a to-do list.

One of the first things I decided to do was get this freaking novel out of my head. It’s driving me nuts. I have spent about 70,000 words on it in various forms. Most of that has just been notes and little things here and there. My problem is that I have never written fiction. Ever. I don’t even remember writing it in school. I was always a journalist and a non-fiction writer. DOH! But through all that non-fiction, I have pads all over various work spaces (more on that later) that I have scribbled story ideas. The problem with my novel is that it was scaring me to death. It’s so complex and so many characters, I kept getting overwhelmed by it. I have tried to actually put a group of good writers together who may, or may not, be in the same predicament to help make it happen. This thing has to get out of my head and onto paper, and I realized I couldn’t really do it alone.

But first I needed to get a little lesson in actually sitting down and writing fiction. Seriously banging and banging. So I chose one of my notebook pages and started writing from a stone-cold start. Some friends have been helping me edit it, and after a 3,000-word chapter one…I have to admit…I am kind of surprised. It’s not bad.

But I am writing it like a blog…not like the “big story” I want to do. Think of Holden Caufield’s narrative. It’s so easy, with one character and his POV. But it’s the perfect story just to get my discipline down for fiction writing. I can free-form it, and really just be one character with lots of descriptions and details. I’m using familiar turf in the setting, and I have an easy roadmap in my head of where it’s going.

So I wrote 5,000+/- words in about two hours. Then we all went through that and edited and played with it.

This even involved my friend Laura and I spending waaaaaaaay too much time Friday making it into a drabble for a Facebook contest. A drabble is a complete work of fiction that is exactly 100 words. Great excercise!

The thing is that it would make a great short story. But that’s been my problem when I make all my notes about this fiction stuff…they are all pretty solid short stories. I could write volumes of short stories. But if I am going to go for the Holy Grail of getting the single book that’s in my head on paper, I need to first watch myself kep banging away at one of these tidbits and make it 60,000 to 80,000 words and publish it. Then we can move on to the Thornbirds of books.

The other thing this does is start to develope an understanding of who is in with me for an epic battle with the words and story telling. Sound dramatic? Good. Seriously, if we do the big story, it’s going to be very, very big. It’s so thought out and so compelling. I would feel like James Cameron if we pulled it off.

But I need to work out the kinks of how you write that way. And I am going to need the help of people who see how I write and want to jump onboard with it, because I want help writing it.

That was a huge spurt I am going through…I have all of these ideas in my head for stories, and I just don’t get focused enough to sit and pound them out. It’s almost like I need a writing ADD support group to goad me along.

The second thing I realized was that I have not been taking art seriously enough. This is my second mission that I came back from The Netherlands determined to just get out of my head. I am very good at art. I know it. People that have bought it know it. My family knows it. I just kind of treat it like my fiction writing…I know it’s THERE but I never sit and actually focus enough on it to truly learn what the potential is at any given time with an idea. What if I actually used paint and a canvess larger than 4×6 inches? How far can I go with pen and ink? What happens when you fiddle with charcoal? What is the difference between oil and acrylic paint? Brushes? What’s my type of art?

Which leads to my third thing…I needed a studio. Now, some of my friends have jokingly called it a mancave, and I suppose in the jocular parlance, that’s what it is, but I needed an absolutely controlled space that was completely my own. I wanted to design it. I wanted to be able to walk to it easily from my bedroom. I wanted it to have computer access, no TV, and hookups for a very large stereo. The fates are working so far on this one. We bought a barn to move onto our property. It’s footprint is about 200 square feet (think 10×20 or so), with a loft that is big enough for storage to get all of my crap out of the various work spaces and living spaces in our house. It will become ground zero for work. Period. I am going to make it my office/art studio/writer cave.

The barn is actually a win-win-win…I get my quiet spot, P gets a bunch of my junk out of the house, and A can control the TV when I’m working (I listen to music blaring on the Dish Sirius radio when I write). It also frees up all three spaces I have nested for various art activities, gives me a commute, and sets some real bounderies between home and work.

One last thing…

My tax return scared me to death. For the first time in 28 years, I had no w-2. Crap. Every working bone in my body took that as a wakeup call. Think about that. A complete year of totally fitzing and faddling, jabbing and jiving. Starting and stopping. Up and down. Granted, I am not hurting financially, but that was a complete ego freezer. Which is what ties all of this together…I have the most important resource to create and make money off of it in one place…my head. Duh. I can apply for every job, make every contact, talk about anything I want…but when it comes down to it, maybe what I really need is to just sit down by myself for 6-8 hours a day and start creating all of the things in my head.

Hence, that’s going to be the conflict. I am very good when it comes to two things…making money for large organizations and saving money for small ones. I have never been good at just making money for myself. This is the final frontier into middle age for Eric. How to take all that brainpower, and actually turn it into better returns financially.

Toldja 39 was a tough age.

Sarah Palin in Boston haiku

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Red leather tight suite

Shouting loud and being mad

Tea party nipply

I’d post photos, but…

Monday, April 12th, 2010

…they aren’t organized at all yet.

This was 14 days in The Nederlands and I took more than 1,500 photos. Don’t worry, I didn’t sit and just shutterbug my way through…it’s just that almost every place we went to I’ve been to before, so I could spend more time behind the glass watching Big A enjoy her first international trip.

At some point I’ll put a few photos on the website…I just need a couple of days to get back to work and get going.

Big A was stellar and thorough throughout the whole two weeks. We only had a few minor 10-year-old meltdowns, and that was only because mommy and daddy were arguig about logistics for planning in the heat of a train station or something. Our fault.

Mark Twain once said you really can only test if you are truly in love or truly care about someone is to travel with them internationally. YEAH!

P and I travel very different from each other. I am more of the business traveller, she’s more of the tourist. I just figure you can wing it around anything, she wants a plan and a itinerary. Both perfectly fine ways to travel, but completely different. I stress about keeping on budget and keeping moving, she stresses about how much you see and where to eat. Or something like that. But I get into a set plan to solve things, and I am really independent and poor in my general flexibility to try to accomodate both of them with sightseeing, with a “wing it” attitude. Maybe that means you starve for an extra hour…oh, well.

But the cool thing was, as we went along, we kind of meshed to where it was actually yin and yanging quiet well together. But that also meant some heated “debates.” The best part was that when we came to a decision that was screwed up…we couldn’t blame each other because we BOTH screwed up.

But that was all minimal.

Let’s just say our styles of international travel are different. I don’t use guide books much and I mostly just get around by word of mouth and a general plan of where I want to go each day and how I want to get there…and if it doesn’t work, you just adjust the plan. P gets completely stressed out by this approach.

Major things we agree on, though…keep moving in the direction of something and have fun with it. We hate tour guides in general. Audio tours in museums are a waste of money and time. Eat well. Make friends with as many locals as you can because they’ll surprise you when you need them and ask for help. Learn a little of the language. Don’t do too much in one day. Prioritize and just argue about the details, but not the big picture. Shopping is ok, if it’s local stuff. (Ahem…define local. See, great example of the debates we had about money.)

We had a blast.

Annalaan’s life will never be the same, I hope. She saw incredible things. And she amazed me as she started putting two and two together as we looked at art and achitecture and history and culture. She is a very, very smart, alert, inquisitive cookie. She got tired and got cranky, but we pushed her very, very hard actually. I am in awe how well she took it and was aware of it at all times.

Yeah, we spent a day at the zoo. Yeah, we spent a day at the flower garden. Yeah, we ate a lot of pizza. But Big A needed those breaks from seeing Rembrandts and Van Goghs and Vermeers and Monets.

I knew she was getting it in the art museums when she actually sought out a Van Gogh I was referring to and pointed the brush strokes on his self portraits changed as he became more crazy, er, sicker, er, whatever. But she was looking at the labels and looking closely at the paintings for hours at a time. And she was enjoying it. It wasn’t anything she ever seemed to not appreciate or get bored with during the whole trip. (OK, at the top flights of the Van Gogh museum, it did get a little academic when it came to technique and the science of restoration…and we had been there three hours and had not eaten all day…so I get that one. But in my defense for wanting to read EVERYTHING it was one of the best break downs of a masterpiece restoration I had ever seen because it not only had the painting and the restoration process, but they did it like an archeological dig explaining what they know about HOW Vermeer painted it. This was the perfect storm of “awesome” for me, and it needed time to absorb, and “meltdown” for her, because she was hungry and it was really scientifically echnical shit. She won…we scooched…but not before Pilar stalled her in the gift shop. I mean, I never knew that when patrons sold art the new owner sometimes hire the original painter to come back and fiddle with colors to make it match a specific room in their home.)

Great trip. More later on it, I’m sure.