Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “The Writing Life”

A Field Guide to Dishwater

overcoming_writers_block

I have sat here for over an hour staring at this screen trying to think of something interesting to write about.  I was unsuccessful.

So then I thought I’d try to think of something less interesting to write about.  Again, I came up empty handed.

I suppose I could write about something that is downright uninteresting to write about, guaranteed to be as dull as dishwater and half as entertaining.  But I believe that is called “my journal”, and I still haven’t gotten over my fear of posting anything too personal on this here internet contraption.  I don’t know why I worry, though.  As dull as my life is, I’m pretty darn sure I don’t have to worry about identity thieves or stalkers.  Such miscreants would no doubt take up a collection and give it to me, saying, “Here, Dude.  Go buy yourself a life.”

So what is left to the man who’s life is too dull to write about?  And now you know how and why fiction was created.

Rusting On My Laurels

angif-rest-on-your-laurels

This is my 124th post (yay me!), which is about 120 more than I thought I’d be able to create when I first started this journey at the beginning of the year (2017).  Sticking to projects is not my strong suit.  I get bored easily, which, I suppose is just a euphemism for “I’m lazy” or “I have a very short attention span“.

But honestly, I never thought I’d get this many posts written.  (high fives myself)

So I’ve been wondering when it gets easier.  When will I be able to just sit down and dash off something and post it?  When will I post 2 or 3 times a day just because I have that many interesting things to say?

It’s a struggle to write even once a day.  My days don’t change much from day to day.  I’m firmly ensconced on the work-home-sleep-work treadmill.  Whatever flashes of brilliance or genius I have while in the car on the way to or from work tend to either get forgotten by the time I am sitting in front of the computer, or else when I really start to ponder them and try to flesh them out as a blog post, they take on a sort of ridiculousness or insipidness that makes me just wad them up and throw them in the trashcan (figuratively speaking).

But if there’s one thing I’ve discovered, blogging is definitely a “what have you done for me lately?” medium.  One can post every day for a month and the likes and the follows roll in (relatively speaking), but stop posting for a single day and they drop to zero quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.  It’s definitely not like a musician who has a hit song or an actor who’s on a hit TV show that goes into syndication.  The royalties don’t keep rolling in decades after the song or show was first released.

So, there’s no resting on one’s laurels.  It is, to borrow a phrase from academia, publish or perish.

The problem is, I don’t have enough interesting thoughts or experiences to post every day.  I may have to resort to just making things up.

But I’d hate to be mistaken for a journalist or politician.

 

 

The Battle for Space Has Begun

No Space

I’m getting too old for this.

The other day I read an article on some site or another — I can’t even remember what the article was about or where I read it.  It was that unimportant and insignificant.

However, as is my wont, I tend to read the reader comments after articles because often they are more entertaining than the article itself.  It is like getting to watch a train wreck … in slow motion.  Within 2 or 3 comments, the commentators are attacking each other personally.  In less than ten comments, someone has made a reference to Hitler or Nazis (even if the article was just about how cute bunnies are).  Within fifteen comments, someone has said something along the lines of “I have traced your IP address and I am going to come to your house and kick your derriere!”  There are no rules in comments.  Bad grammar abounds.  It is a punctuation-optional zone.  What little punctuation there is, is often used incorrectly.  Spelling?  Don’t even get me started!

But on this one particular day, someone made a comment about how amateurish the author of the article was.  Someone chimed in and said, “Yes, you can tell he’s an amateur because he uses two spaces after periods between sentences.”

A flame war then erupted on whether two spaces or one was correct after a period between sentences.  I mean … people were HOT.  I don’t think they could have been more upset if someone suggested reanimating Hitler as a zombie to see what would happen.

I, for one, was not even aware that there was a controversy surrounding the use of two spaces after a period between sentences.  I took typing in the eleventh grade many decades ago and that is how we were taught.  It was beat into us.  The implication was “Only chumps, cretins, anarchists, sociopaths, and cannibals forgot to put two spaces after a period.”  I never questioned it.  Why would I?  Everything I’d ever read had two spaces after a period.  Books.  Magazine articles.  Official documents.  Everything.  There was literally NOTHING that did not have two spaces after periods.  It was as universal as anything can possibly be in this world.

So why suddenly is it the fashion to only use a single space after a period between sentences?  Is it to save space?  (Ha ha … but seriously …)  Is it merely aesthetics?  Is it because some bored academic somewhere felt he needed to leave his mark in the world by stirring up a useless controversy?   Does it utilize less memory in the servers that store the world’s documentation?

I do not understand this controversy.  It is quite literally an argument over nothing.

I personally prefer the two spaces because it is a visual signal to the brain that one sentence has ended and another has begun.  When using a single space between sentences, both the period and the single space get lost in the jumble of other letters.  But that is just me.  I can read either method equally well.  I have this wonderful thing inside my head called a brain that allows me to perceive a single space just as well as two spaces, and to ignore them both.

But some people like to argue over nothing.

 

(P.S.  I wrote this article with two spaces after every period between sentences.  Let the flame war begin!)

Poor Biff’s Almanac: The State of the Blog Report

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through April.  It seems like just a day or two ago that I was bemoaning the fact that the Christmas holidays were over and that I had to return to work after being off for two weeks.  It was January 3, 2017 and the new year yawned in front of me like that stretch of desert highway that is used ubiquitously in movies and pictures to signify a long, arduous (and probably interminable) journey ahead.

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And yet, somehow it is already midway through April.  We are already more than a quarter through the “new” year.

Except that it isn’t that new any more.  It is a slightly used year.  One owner.  Low miles.  Non smoker.  Maintenance records upon request.  Shimmies slightly when accelerating.

If I was a business (and thankfully, I’m not), I would have had to write a quarterly report, explaining our losses to date and presenting plans for recovery in the second quarter.  It might go something like this:

Blog post inventory was high, but low foot traffic led to a year-over-year loss in same-blog readership over the same quarter last year.  A slow January start (seasonally adjusted) was followed by a strong February.  Month-to-date (MTD) data for March looked impressive, but when scaled to account for the 5-week month, performance was slightly below February’s numbers.  April is shaping up to be disappointing, especially among new readers.
An unusually warm 1st quarter led to declining rates of torpidity among readers as they sought more fulfilling activities out of doors.  Long term forecasts indicate seasonably warm temperatures for the 2nd quarter and so torpidity rates are not likely to increase, and thus readership is expected to continue declining.

So there you have it.  That’s how empty the well of ideas is.  I’ll try to come up with something soon.  If I can’t find something interesting in my real life, I may have to resort to writing more fiction.

(No, that was not a threat.)

 

Fun With Music: Crowded House

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Tonight’s Background Music is provided by Crowded House.
Album:  After Glow
Best Song:  Private Universe

I’m adding a new feature to my blog entries.  I’m going to indicate what background music I’m listening to at the moment when I’m writing a journal-type blog post.  Why am I doing this, you ask?   No good reason.  It fills up space.  It adds a bit of color to an otherwise uninteresting blog post.  It’s like when the teacher would ask you to write a 500 word essay on something, you very quickly became adept at padding the essay with a lot of unnecessary words.  This is no different.  Padding R Us.

By the way, when I pick out what music I’m going to listen to when I write, it is largely random.  My iPod has over 6000 songs on it and choosing a song can be a little overwhelming sometimes.  So I just sort of “spin the wheel” and see what comes up.  However, I veto a lot of things that pop up.  For instance, I don’t like to listen to anything too abrasive  or “heavy”  when I’m writing.  This would include artists such as Nazareth, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (or any ELP spin-offs or derivatives), Def Leppard, GooGoo Dolls, etc.

Also, I generally don’t like to listen to songs with lyrics to them if I’m going to be writing, though there are exceptions.  Crowded House is one of those exceptions.  Their music is just so evocative of a certain mood that I really like.  Their songs are very literate and cerebral, as well as very complex musically.  Pink Floyd is that way, too.

When i write, I usually like to listen to jazz (e.g. Kirk Whalum,  Chuck Mangione, Dave Koz, Larry Carlton, Eric Darken, the Rippingtons, etc.) or “new age” (e.g. David Lanz & Paul Speer, Andreas Vollenweider, Acoustic Alchemy, Jim Brickman, Secret Garden, etc.) or “international” (e.g. Loreena McKinnet, Enya, Basia, etc.).  Those types of music help block out ambient noise without intruding into my thoughts too much.  They shape my thoughts in subtle ways, but they don’t derail my thoughts.  I feel they enhance, rather than distract.

What about you?  What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

 

I’m a Centenarian!

100 Posts

This is a momentous day for me.  I reached my 100th blog post!

I have had other blogs in the past, but I don’t think I got anywhere near 100 posts in any of them.  Heck, maybe even if you put them all together I didn’t have 100 posts!

So, I’d like to thank everyone who has encouraged me with your follows, your likes, and your comments.  You have put the fun back in blogging for me and I am very grateful to you all!

Have This Blog Back Before Midnight

Writer Cartoon

Okay … here we go.  It’s blog time!

[Stares slack-jawed at computer screen for 45 minutes.]

Oh, who am I kidding?  Blogs are for people with interesting lives.  There are only so many ways I can re-package and re-sell this lump of beige … lumpy … insipidity.  It’s like I’m trying to sell you a Pet Rock™, except that I’ve already sold you the same one 55 times before.  Oh, sure, you make a pretty good gift face, but in your head you’re thinking, “Wow … this is the exact same rock this guy gave me yesterday, except this one has not the same rock written on it in purple Sharpie.™

I should just give up.

Poof!

Hey!  Who are you?

Why, I’m your Fairy Blog Mother.

Oh cool!  Can we sing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”?  I love that song!”

No … Blog.  Blogmother!  Try to focus.

Ow!  Hey!  You whacked me with your wand.  That wasn’t very nice.  And it hurt!

Oh, suck it up, you big baby!  I only have a minute.  I have 759 more disillusioned bloggers to visit tonight.

Wow!  That many?

Yes, and that’s just tonight.  Tomorrow I’m pulling a double shift to try to clear up the backlog a little.  You think you’re the only blogger who lives a bland, vapid, nugatory life?

Hey!  I’m standing right here!

Like I said, I’m a little pressed for time tonight.  I don’t have time to come up with euphemisms.

So how does this work?  Are you going to cast a spell on me or something?  Make me interesting?  Make my life glamorous and fascinating?

Again, I am a fairy blogmother.  You keep confusing me with that other company that has a much bigger budget.  And that gives their employees benefits.

So … no magic?  I’m not suddenly going to be interesting?

Nope.

So … what?  Do I get like a pep talk or something?  Where you convince me that my life really is interesting and that I just need to look deeper inside myself?

No, I’m not going to lie to you.  You’re life is pretty dull. I was watching the tape to prepare for this visit and I nodded off three times.  One time I even hit my head on the monitor.

So I guess I’m at a loss as to what exactly you’re doing here.  No magic.  No pep talk.  What exactly does a fairly blogmother do?

You’re looking at it.  You got this fine post out of it.

What?  This?  This is all I get?

What did you have before I got here?

Good point.  So what’s the wand for then, if you don’t do magic?

This?  This isn’t a wand.  It’s a chopstick.  I was having chop suey before I got here, but I must have dropped the other one when I poofed.

Well, thank you fairy Blogmother.  I couldn’t have done this post without you.  I may never forgive you for that.

Think nothing of it.

Oh, don’t worry.  I won’t!

Hasta la vista, Baby.

Yeah … ciao.

I won’t be back.

Don’t let the door …

Poof!

Ah well … that’s that then.  It’s not as cool as a glass slipper … but it’s something.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing While Uninspired

gray clouds

Friends don’t let friends write while uninspired.

But as there is no one here to stop me, I’m going to do it anyway.

If I had to pick a color for today, it would be gray.  I suffered from low energy all day long and could not seem to stay focused on anything for more than a few minutes.  The weather was kind of gray, and even during those moments when the sun would peer timidly between the clouds, it did so in a sort of bland, colorless way.  There was nothing about today that was inspirational or motivating.

These are the days that try writer’s souls.  It is easy enough to dash off a few lines when a day is vibrant and exciting and chock full of activities.  But on days when it seems as if the whole world is one great big sensory deprivation chamber, it is hard to write anything at all except a post about how un-inspirational the day has been.

There.  Mission accomplished.

(Insert mic drop here)

 

 

Getting Around the Block

writer

Okay … stand back.  This could get ugly.  I must tell you of my secret shame.

I have been suffering from writer’s block for several days now.

(I’ll wait for the gasps to subside before continuing.   All done now?  Okay … fine.  Here we go then.)

I know that is nothing new to anyone here.  Everyone who calls themselves a writer suffers from it from time to time.  There are no less than 3,753,216,891 blog posts written about writer’s block.  The posts are written by people who are either suffering from it, who have recently recovered from it, who fear it, or who are just writing anything at all in an attempt to rid themselves of it.

Which begs the question:  Is there anything more boring than reading someone else’s post about writer’s block?  I think not.  If that’s true then that means I am boring you to tears right this very moment.

Perhaps that is my superpower.  I have the ability to bore people unconscious by talking about my writer’s block.  This could come into handy.  For instance, if there was a bank robbery in progress, I could sidle up to the miscreant and, speaking in a lilting tone so as to lower his guard, I could say, “Have I ever told you about the time I had writer’s block so bad that I couldn’t even write my name on a credit card receipt?”

By this time the malefactor would be sleeping soundly and I could pluck the zip gun or shiv (whichever he prefers) from his relaxed hand.  Someone would call the gendarmes.  Reporters would descend on me looking for a statement, etc etc etc.  You get the picture.

So see, writer’s block can be a good thing.  (This blog post notwithstanding.)

And make that 3,753,216,892 and counting.

Best .. Day .. Ever!

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I’d like to give a warm and heartfelt “thank you!” to all of my friends, fellow bloggers, and fellow WP readers for helping me have my best WP day ever yesterday.

While I know it doesn’t compare the the hundreds or even thousands of views that some bloggers get on a typical day, I consider myself to be in my “crawling before I walk” phase, and so this milestone means a lot to me and is very encouraging.  I know I will get there.  After all, it’s only been about 5 weeks since I started blogging in earnest.

Thank you all!

 

P.S.  Sage and constructive advice on how to get better is always appreciated.

 

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