#ROW80 Round 1 2013: First check-in

Wednesday is my regular day for an update, so even though the round has just started, here is my progress so far:

  1. Write for half an hour a day: Accomplished this all three days so far. Wrote for close to an hour today, in fact.
  2. Read for half an hour a day: Managed this yesterday only. Mary picked up Simon Winchester’s The Alice Behind Wonderland, a short book (a hundred pages) about Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and just about everything else the man wrote. Evidently, Vladimir Nabokov referred to him as “Lewis Lewis Carroll Carroll,” no doubt comparing him to his Lolita‘s main character, Humbert Humbert. Unhealthy relationships with young girls aside, I’ve been a fan of Carroll since reading his A Tangled Tale during my math major days. An interesting study…
  3. Comment on two blogs a day: I’ve managed this on two days out of three so far.

The important goal here is writing every day, so I would say that I’ve found some early success. Hope everyone else is having as much success.


Two for Tuesday: The Manhattan Transfer

When I first saw and heard The Manhattan Transfer sing “Java Jive” on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the mid-Seventies, I really liked them. They were doing music that was far removed from anything I or any of my friends were listening to at the time, but I really enjoyed the vocal harmonies and the songs that they were doing. One of my friends said that he thought they were the best thing to happen to music in years, and I had to agree with him. Over the years, they’ve covered nearly every style of music and won multiple Grammy awards, and it’s a testament to their popularity that the group is still performing and recording over forty years later.

Named for John Dos Passos’ 1925 novel of the same name, The Manhattan Transfer has been around since the late 1960’s. After the first version broke up, the group reformed in 1973, with Janis Siegel, Laurel Massé and Alan Paul joining original member Tim Hauser. They developed a following after their many performances at Max’s Kansas City in New York, and were signed to a recording contract by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegün. Their eponymous first album included the gospel-flavored “Operator,” their first hit. It’s our first video here, and comes from their summer replacement series on CBS in 1975. Laurel Massé was seriously injured in a car accident in 1978, and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne, who appears in our second video today, a cover of Joe Zawinul’s “Birdland,” originally recorded by fusion band Weather Report, with lyrics written by Jon Hendricks. The recording, on 1979’s Extensions, earned their first Grammy Award in 1980 for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, with Janis Siegel earning a second Grammy for her arrangement. Their latest project is a retrospective of their forty-plus years together, called The Vaults.

Enjoy The Manhattan Transfer, your Two for Tuesday on this January 8, 2013.

#ROW80, Round 1 2013: Will the circle be unbroken?

As of this morning, I’ve written my “morning pages” on the 750words.com website 322 days in a row. It’s little more than a daily word dump, but the important thing is that I write 750 words or more every day. I mentioned last week that I wanted to bring the freedom that I experience when I’m doing that to the writing I do for submission, and do that every day.

Last week, Hunter mentioned something that I should have realized, but didn’t: there’s an incentive to keep the chain going. In my old factory days, we had a sign near the time clocks that “this plant has gone ____ days without an accident.” It was an encouragement to do everything we could to keep that string going. I’m sure that Cal Ripken felt the same way when he was breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record. He didn’t want to break the chain until he was ready, which he did after 2,632 games.

What I’m hoping to do, starting with this round of ROW80, is to start a couple of chains:

  • Write every day
  • Read every day

I’m going to start at thirty minutes: write for thirty, read for thirty, every day. I can go over, but I won’t go under. I’ve printed a couple of calendars from timeanddate.com to keep track of how many days in a row I can do each of these things. Seeing the progress is key to the exercise.

There’s a third objective for this round: to comment on two ROW80 blog posts a day. I wasn’t good about this last time.

So, those are my objectives: read for 30, write for 30, comment on 2.

Good luck, my fellow ROWers!

Everyone else seems to be doing it: 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

A year of reckless abandon

Happy 2013, everyone. If my grandfather were alive, he’d point out that 2013 is divisible by eleven.

One of the funniest things I’ve seen is something from a Monty Python book. It was their take on the first drafts of stories and poems by famous writers. Keep that in mind.

The good news is that I wrote 247,132 words in 2012. The not-so-good news is that they were all part of my morning pages on 750words.com. I tried to figure out why, if I can write that many words that people won’t see in less than a year, why can’t I write that many that people are actually going to see?

I analyzed the problem, and realized that I write more freely when I know that I’m the only one who will see it. It doesn’t have to make sense, I can be as obscene, profane, politically incorrect, sacrilegious, and vulgar as I want, the hell with spelling, punctuation, and grammar, I don’t have to even be able to read it myself. I’m taking a word dump every day. On the other hand, if I’m writing for publication, I have to consider what impact what I say will have on anyone who reads it. I need to make it readable, and have to consider my audience (as well as the law).

For all the talk of keeping going and telling the committee to shut up and saying whatever the hell I want, I’m still trying to write a final draft on my first try, and I’m bringing the hangups and baggage that doing that entails into my writing. You know what that does? It suppresses the ideas. It keeps me from saying what I want to say and how I want to say it. It prevents me from telling my stories. I want to get better at writing and write stories that other people will want to pay money to read. Yeah, let’s be honest about it here.

So, that’s my resolution for this year: write with reckless abandon. Everything else (learning Scrivener, NaNoWriMo, etc.) is secondary to writing like no one’s watching.

May you have health, happiness, success, and a whole lot of laughs in the new year.