I Wear Shorts To Spite The Weather

I used to be one of the people who wore shorts even during the depths of winter. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the world, but in the Midwest of the US, it is fairly common to see such folk, frequently masculine in appearance (but not limited to that by any means) trudging through blizzards and all but the worst wind chills. It always made sense to me, given that I spent most of the winter indoors, in buildings with their heat set for people who needed a higher external temperature to be comfortable. I didn’t want to attempt to change the ambient temperature for my comfort alone, so I started wearing shorts and upperbody layers that were easy to remove (zippered hoodies, mostly) so that I could be comfortable. It wasn’t that I was immune to the cold outside, just that I was willing to endure a few minutes of being uncomfortable in order to spend two hours in class or at work without needing to fight off sweat or the sleepies.

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Lingering Chill

There is a certain pleasure in hunkering down for the winter months in the cold, enduring Midwestern north. As the temperatures drop, the rain turns to sleet that turns normal stairs and sloping lawns into treacherous slides for those without adequate caution. Empty, grey days turn into cozy retreats as people turn from excusing their flight from the worsening weather to embracing it. Life goes on, as always, but the quiet moments that once demanded to be filled are now left empty save for rest and warmth, attention turned inward instead of outward. Homes become bastions of warmth and life, drifting and disconnected from the world around them save for the moments that they open up to share their light with those daring enough to still travel between them.

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Wisconsin Winter Preparations

I have lived many winters without ever needing to put plastic insulation over my windows. If this sentence makes no sense to you, well, congratulations on not living in shitty or old apartment or house in a frigid midwestern or generally northern US state. Or, you know, anywhere else in the world where the outside doesn’t get so cold in the winter that it can leech through every exterior surface of your dwelling to steal every drop of warmth you posses but also so warm in the summer that an unattended egg can cook in thirty minutes of sunlight or less.

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Snowy Tow

The snow came down, coating trees and drifting into mounds beside the road. Rosie didn’t think every drift had a car in it, like the one she was looking at, but the thought pressed on her as she tried to focus.

It was a simple job. Wait for calls on snowy nights and then drive the truck into the snow to rescue unfortunate drivers. This was probably her last call of the night. Once 3 a.m. rolled around, it was someone else’s turn.

After checking with the driver, she towed the car onto the road. Ten minutes of work and talking and the driver was on their way again. As she sat in her car and filled out the last bit of paperwork, her attention kept drifting to the mounds of snow. She’d lived around here all her life. She knew the fields down route 44 were lousy with heavy bushes and hills, but something kept pulling her eyes to the sea of white.

She set the clipboard aside, bundled up, and waded into the snow. It was up to her shins, but a particular mound kept calling to her. She walked up to it and started digging with her hands.

Twenty minutes later, she was back in her truck, driving. It had been only snow over a large bush. As she rounded a bend, looking for the county route home, she got a call. There was someone else who needed to be pulled out on route 44. Dispatch sent her back out, even though her shift was over, since she was close.

She turned the truck around and started looking for a car in the snow. She spotted it a few minutes later and smiled, despite herself. She’d been right about the drift, just half an hour early.

Melancholy

Rainy grey days and soft muted nights,
Fog in the trees obscuring the lights
Of passing cars and the lone street lamp
As the world revels in the wet and the damp.

The quick pit-patter of dripping rain
Against the roof and window pane,
The bend and sway of leaf and tree,
The storm-blown scratch of spring debris,
The susurrus of water on grass
As the clouds roil, break, and pass.

A hint of loam and earthy strength,
A touch of fresh that runs the length,
Something new to mark the year
As the scent rides wind far and near.

The cold pin-prick of rain on skin
To mark the storm will now begin,
The deep chill gust that cuts to bone
And leaves stout souls to walk alone,
All hint of warmth retreats from hearts
As the skies open and the rain starts.

Unlit grey rooms and seats to rest
By windows with forehead pressed,
A crack to pull in rain-soaked air
And a blanket warm waiting near,
Silence reigns loud to give the storm
Ample room to sooth and perform
For those who watch and wish to be
Nothing more than melancholy.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 22 (11/22)

The disastrous foil to all my plans has arrived and left me struggling to keep going. My cold is lingering and while it isn’t that bad (I can still think just fine and I’m not running a fever or anything), the constant popping of my ears, croaky voice, and over-full sinuses are uncomfortable enough to make focus nearly unattainable. Yesterday, even though my symptoms were worse, I could medicate through them and be fine, if rather tired. No such luck today. Today I can’t get them to abate at all.

I was actually going to write the rest of this post about whether I was too sick to write properly or if I was just using it as a convenient and convincing excuse to avoid trying to write today (and possibly even as an excuse to try finishing the my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo) but I couldn’t get the paragraphs to make sense. It’s pretty clear I’m too sick to coherently evaluate my options which means reason gets thrown out the door and all that’s left is emotion/desire.

After checking in with those two, it was really nice to find out that I was going to feel sad if I didn’t write today and even more sad (at the lost opportunity, not at a perceived failure) if I didn’t at least try to finish on time. This was matched by an intense desire to just write anyway because it’s not like I need it to make a lot of sense right now anyway. I just need to get the words out right now.

If I’m too incoherent to lose what little focus I’ve got, then I can probably just disconnect my computer from the internet and leave my comic books and video games downstairs. It’s not like I’m feeling restless or anything. I’d be perfectly content to sit in this chair (well, a more comfortable version of this chair) until I no longer felt sick, so I might as well write while I’m waiting. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.

 

Daily Prompt

There are a lot of things we do not like or enjoy doing and would never consider doing every day for the rest of our lives or having as our main source of income. At the same time, there are often people out there who enjoy these things or find them fulfilling. For today’s prompt, have your character meet someone who enjoys doing something they extremely dislike and use the interaction as an opportunity to expand your character’s worldview.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is the wonderful composer, Theophany, who created these amazing re-orchestrations/remixes of some of the music from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that fully capture the various emotions that game carries into each moment. My favorite song from the so-far two-disc series  (Theophany released Disc 2 a year ago today, which was four years after the first disc) is The Clockworks. If you like The Legend of Zelda and beautiful music, you will love Time’s End and Time’s End II. I definitely recommend checking out the music and, if you like it, buying it from the artist. It’s an officially licensed album and set up with a “minimum $3” cost, so feel free to kick in a few extra dollars to support the next couple albums!

 

Helpful Tips

If you’re writing sequentially and can’t figure out what comes next in the story, try moving what is currently happening to a new place. Take the group of friends talking at a restaurant and have them go for a walk. If you change the scene, it can often lend itself toward new action or a new character’s introduction, both of which are great ways to move stories forward. Don’t worry about making it smooth or finding a good place for them to go or to be going to, but make the change and see what shakes out.

NaNoWriMo Day 21 (11/21)

Well, I’ve officially pushed myself to the point where the minor cold I’ve been fighting all month has fully developed. I’m actually going to need to make sure I get enough sleep every night because I can’t just caffeinate my way through a cold. Nor can I DayQuil my way through one, not really. If I had any sense, I’d take the day off tomorrow so I can sleep before I spend the rest of the week traveling for the holiday. Truth be told, I have so much sense that one of my graphic designer friends made me a little icon that I can send to people with a label that says “Mr. Good Plan Certified Good Plan.” I have some pretty stellar friends.

That being said, I managed to get my writing done last night after my D&D session. I had started it before the session, but 2400 of the 2800 words I wrote last night happened during the last two hours of my day. It feels nice to be back into the writing game, able to throw up something close to my old numbers. The quality’s still a bit lower than I used to produce at this speed, but I’m also pretty exhausted. I don’t typically get 4-6 hours of sleep every night during any month other than NaNoWriMo. Usually, I just write 4 or 5 nights a week, whenever I’m not filling an evening with video games or reading, and there’s no word count goal for every day. That means I don’t wind up staying up an extra hour or two just to finish for the day. I just stop writing when I get sleep and go to bed.

I’ve actually had a few friends and one coworker ask me why I’m subjecting myself to this much stress and exhaustion, beyond the feelings of fulfillment. Which is a fair question. I’d feel just as fulfilled if I was writing at a less demanding pace and I’d also feel a lot less like crap. Trying to meet a goal like updating my blog every day and writing 50,000 words in a month is about more than fulfillment, though. It’s a challenge. Its something I’ve never done before and I want to see if I can. I want to push myself to my limits and see if I can push those limits out further.  I want to remind myself of what I’m capable of doing if I’ve set my mind and aligned myself toward one goal. If I succeed at this, I’ll have updated my blog every day and written not just 50,000 words in a month, but written almost 40,000 of those words in only two weeks. A couple of years ago, for one of NaNoWriMo’s “Camp NaNoWriMo” events, I wrote 40,000 words in four weeks. Now I’ll know that, next summer, I’ll be able to do twice that many words.

Assuming I succeed, of course. I’ve got a head cold now, so all bets are off. We’ll see how things go after I’ve slept in tomorrow.

 

Daily Prompt

By the very definition of the phrase, no one enjoys being told something they don’t want to hear. Some of us handle it with more grace than others and some of us willingly subject ourselves to these things if we think they’re in our best interest. Despite our grace or our willingness, the end result of being told what we didn’t want to hear can be unpredictable depending on the subject matter itself and what seems like something that shouldn’t be a big can quickly become one. Write a scene in which your character is subjected to something they didn’t want to hear and then have them react differently than expected.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is my favorite D&D comic and my favorite place to go for esoteric rules and game-breaking character builds for version 3.5 of Dungeons and Dragons, Giantitp.com. Giant In The Playground, as the website’s banner reads, is the host of the Order of the Stick comic, which is one of the longest running D&D comics I’ve read and the story is amazingly well-written, with plot-twists at all the right moments and epic scenes that draw you in despite the fact that it has a rather slow update “schedule.” The characters are represented by stick figures, but you can easily tell the artist puts a lot of work and effort into the comic by the detailed backgrounds and how consistent everything is from one panel to the next. If you like D&D comics, good story-telling, excellent villains, and can appreciate jokes made about weird D&D rules, this comic is right up your alley!

 

Helpful Tips

One skill that is essential to develop is you want to be a writer is discipline. All the inspiration and motivation in the world won’t do you any good if you are not disciplined enough to sit down and write regularly. If you keep it up long enough, you’ll move beyond the need for inspiration and motivation (though they’ll always be welcome). Like any habit you’re trying to establish, writing during the same time period every day can help you get more done every day. During my more prolific times, I would sit down and write from 8 until 10 every evening. Two hours, at least, of writing every day. I’d get about 2500 words written a day on average and it only ever got easier to sit down and write every day. On Weekends, I wrote from 10 until noon every morning, getting a little less done on most days but more frequently letting my writing time leak into the rest of the day. Creating a schedule will help in the same way, even if your writing time isn’t at the same time every day. Discipline is the key to consistency and consistency is the key to writing success.