tehuti: (Running Wolf)
I normally only do posts like this after some sort of event, usually a con of some kind. But I've been really busy lately, and to catch up, I'm breaking out my "quick thoughts" entry style.

Our little Raspberry has grown up into a Munchkin. Every time we call him that, I picture him with a Baby Club of Cuteness +3 and a Spiked Diaper Cover, kicking in a door and Looking For Trouble.

Seriously, he's growing up so fast!

Thank you to all of you that got that joke and laughed a little reading it.

I've been applying to jobs on a fairly regular basis for the last month and a half. At least two or three a week. Trying to find something in my field is going to be very difficult. Finding anything at all that pays me enough to make it worthwhile to be full time or a part time flexible enough to let me take care of the baby is going to be a challenge.

Still working on finding freelance writing work. I'm getting more targeted assignments from Yahoo, which is good. My other main source of writing income looks to be drying up. Not sure if this is temporary or not.

Got leads on a few new markets for writing. Nothing to report yet, other than I'm plugging away.

Did I mention that the baby is already four months old? He's not crawling yet, but he rolls around pretty good. And he LOVES to stand. With help, of course. It wouldn't surprise me if he's one of those kids that skips crawling and goes straight for walking.

My Bunker Hill paper was nominated for an award. I'll know whether or not I win in the middle of September. Fingers crossed!

I've been offered an interesting book review opportunity. Ever read one of those academic book reviews where the reviewer looks at two books on the same subject and compares and contrasts them? I'm doing that with two new books on the Battle of Bunker Hill. As soon as the books come in from the publisher, anyway.

Last week I ran an 8k (almost five miles) with the local running club. I ran that distance much faster than I thought, which was very happy making. And I wasn't last! But best of all, with about a quarter mile to go, I reached down for the last of my reserves and finished strong. But even bester than that, after I was done, I thought to myself, "I'm tired, but not as tired as when I ran the half marathon two weeks ago." And that's when it really hit me for the first time. "Holy shit! I really ran 13.1 miles!"

Today was a tough day with the Munchkin. He was not happy without mommy, threw up on me twice, and absolutely refused to do the one thing that would make him feel better; take a nap. I was supposed to go to a fiction writers group in Northampton this evening, but was completely unprepared and frazzled so I begged off.

The silver lining? I took out my fatherly frustrations on my Bikilas this evening. Ran a 5k in 33 flat. Best time this year. And afterward, I felt much better physically and emotionally. Remember this, Micah. Running is good for you in more than one way. Make time for it.

I am really looking forward to Pi-Con this weekend. Like, almost stupidly so.

We have a fridge! Ian got us a furniture dolly with stairclimbers. They are these little tank-tractor looking things that help you slide heavy things up stairs. And with it, we were able to get the new fridge upstairs and the old one out to the garage. Our new fridge is full of awesome. And food. This is a goodness.

Family-wise, we've been having a lot of high-level discussions about goals, desires and long range plans. This also makes me stupidly happy.

The Munchkin is finally starting to sleep in his crib. When we go to bed, he still ends up in the basinet on the bed with us, for Aimee's convenience. But he's using his crib, which means we all get some adult time sans baby most evenings.

I need to make time for fiction writing. I'm sitting on a bunch of ideas that are too good to just moulder away in my brain. I'm strongly considering doing NaNoWriMo this year, for the first time since the first time I did it, to force me to write fiction. All comments and opinions to either encourage me or stop me welcome.
tehuti: (Default)
It’s been longer than I intended between blog posts. But isn’t that usually the way of these things? There’s always something more important to do, right? So this morning (as it is morning when I right this, if 6am counts as morning), I’m taking advantage of car time to write. Nothing like being trapped in a car to encourage writing.

I’m trapped in the car at 6am on a Saturday because we’re going to New York for the day. Our destination is the Met, specifically to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. I’ve always been a closet fashionista, and McQueen was one of the best there ever was. His tragic loss should not have been unexpected. Genius and madness and all that.

I owe a lot of updatey goodness, so I think I should start with explaining why I owe my blog so much attention. In the last two weeks, I’ve starting writing for two different websites. The first one you may already know about. I’m working freelance for Yahoo, through a service called Associated Content. It doesn’t pay very well (which is a gross understatement, as hard as that is to believe), but at this stage of my writing career, that’s not the main point. I’m writing every single day, usually on different topics, and generating clips. Clips are what it’s all about. Each one is a tiny little writing sample I can use to show what I can do. I’ve written mostly about sports and current events thus far. One of my pieces made the News Blog, and another is on the Sports page. I must be doing something right. I choose to believe I am doing something right. The reason that this market doesn’t pay well is that it is largely based on page views. The more people that read it, the more I make. So please do share my work around, if you think it’s interesting. Or even if you don’t.

The other market is more exciting. And not just because it pays better. The company is called Demand Studios. You may know them from such exciting websites as eHow.com. They use freelancers to generate all of their content. And unlike many similar sites, which are simply aggregators, they insist on original content. The content is based off of topics they gather from all over the Internet, which they throw into a massive database. The writers can pick from literally thousands of potential topics.

I’m in a probationary period with them at the moment, which means I’m only allowed to claim a limited number of topics. But I get extra attention from copy editors, so I can learn their expectations and practices. What I’m enjoying most is the opportunity to research topics that I otherwise would never do. My first assignment is on encephalitis in dogs. It’s been fun to research it, especially since they specifically disallow using sites like Wikipedia as sources. I just have to do well enough on my first three articles to pass probation, and then I’m good.

I’ve got a few other writing irons in the fire, but nothing I’m going to talk about just yet. The other thing that’s been taking up my attention is my job search. For the first time in my life, I’m looking for work with a completed college degree. Two of them, actually. What this means is that, for the first time ever, I’m not looking for a job, I’m looking for a career. And luckily, with my supportive family, I’m not in the position where I have to find and take just anything. In fact, there isn’t much economic sense in me taking a job that doesn’t make a decent percentage higher than what childcare would cost. Having me at home means Aimee is a lot more productive during her work day. So I am also looking at part time opportunities, should they be a good fit.

Thus far, I’ve answered about a dozen ads. Most of them are either in academia (like the admissions counselor job I applied for last week), or public history. I’ve had only one interview, for a part time position at a local museum, but it went really well. When I know more, I’ll let you all know as well.

It took me all day to write this, half on the way to New York, the other half on the way back, so I think it’s time for me to be done. Got more to say, but that will have to come in another post.
tehuti: (Tehuti)
Ten years ago, I started taking classes at Springfield Technical Community College. I'd been interested in going back to school for a long time, but the timing was never right. Finally, I realized that would always be true unless I specifically made it a priority. At about the same time, I quit the job I had in a dispute with an employer over my wages. The dispute ended up in court, which doesn't matter much now. But it mattered then, because said dispute made me eligible for unemployment. So instead of just going out and getting any old job, I went to STCC, and my second life as a college student began. Two weeks ago, I sat for my written Masters exams, last week was the oral portion, and just like that, I was done. I am now a graduate of UMass Amherst, twice over.

Obviously, this summation glosses over a lot of details. OK, it outright skips over and blows by most of them. Some I've written about previously, like the royal screwing I got courtesy of the UMass computers, the summer between undergrad and graduate school, or my much more documented career as a grad student. Many things happened long enough ago that they predate any and all online blogging I've ever done. Most of my junior college career falls into that time frame. Again, some of it I've written about. How I spent 9/11, for example. But most of my higher education story is still untold.

And now that I'm at the end, after a week's worth of reflection, all those details seem less important. The journey may be what matters most in the end (and I suspect I'll be writing about some of those stories, to make sure they don't escape me), but right now, it is the destination that looms largest in my mind. And what comes next.

I've always wanted to be a writer. A paid writer, I should specify. And while I cannot explain it, since I know plenty of writers, and know of many more, I've always thought that, if I was going to be a writer, I had to be educated. Which meant that silly little piece of paper that announces to the world that you are smart. Or, in the case of a graduate degree, a masochist. And while I didn't have any piece of paper declaring either, I couldn't pursue my dream.

I know. Stupid, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. But that's what my brain convinced me was true.

So I've been sitting on a ton of ideas, some for a very long time. Some are articles, others are books. One is even a movie idea. Some are fiction, some non-fiction. And one, maybe two, have the potential to be fictional series, if I get really lucky. And now, after a week's worth of reflection, I realize that I no longer have my old excuse.

In the last four years, I've received three pieces of paper that say I'm smart. And while I was still in school, I could easily justify not pursuing my dream. School is time consuming, at the very least. I barely had time for all the things I had to do, and was required to do, let alone anything extra. So my ideas sat, some partially developed, many little more than ideas or book titles, jotted down in electronic notes to myself, sitting in my inbox as unread reminders of the life I always claimed to want.

As of the end of summer, I will no longer be a student. Even during the year I spent taking care of my personal life when my marriage ended, I still thought of myself as a student. Since the first day I walked into the admission office at STCC, all those years ago, "student" has been part of my identity. For ten years, I've been either taking classes, recovering from taking classes, planning what classes to take, or what school to go to next. And while I am not ruling out a return to school (I'm so conflicted about getting a PhD that it really deserves its own post), it is definitely time to add a new facet to my identity. After ten years of college, it's time to replace "student" with "writer".

In many ways, this has been the best ten years of my life. I've been working for tangible goals, and reached them one at a time. I've been stretching my mind, working with brilliant people, most of whom were my intellectual equals, and more than one or two my superior. I've been studying things that really interest me, and I've made insights that were both original and interesting to other people. I've honed my skill as a writer in ways I never thought possible. Ten years ago, I'd have told you I was a good writer, but with little conviction. That man had no clue what he was doing, and deep in his heart, he knew it. This one knows he is a wordsmith, and if given the opportunity, he can shine!

This is what my week of reflection has led me to. I've spent ten years, far too much money, and many hours of lost sleep to get where I am today. For ten years, I've been pursuing my educational dreams, and now it is time to pursue my life dreams. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be to try to become the writer I've always wanted to be.

Now is the time to shine.
tehuti: (Running Wolf)
A long time ago, I used to enjoy running. For a lot of reasons, I stopped. Earlier this year, at the urging of my Princess, I took it up again. If someone had told me at the end of 2009 that I'd be entering timed races in 2010, I'd have laughed at them. I cannot even begin to guess what I'd have thought if that same someone told me I would be seriously contemplating running a half-marathon in 2011. More than one, actually.

But here I am, approaching the end of the year and I'm a runner again. For many years, I've done year-end wrap-up posts on my LJ. Starting this year, my running results are getting added to the list. I'm posting them a bit early for two reasons. First, to get me back in the habit of posting at all. Second, and more importantly, I am not planning to run another timed race this year, so this list is complete.

The format for the list is race name, location, date, place, time and pace. Click to see it! )

Not to bad for a guy that hasn't been doing this very long. All of the hiking I do helped a great deal. It suddenly occurred to me, as we were climbing up Mt. Mansfield, that if I could hike up a mountain, which is pretty strenuous, with minimal rests over three hours, then I could learn to run that long, too. So far, I can run a little over an hour non-stop, which is about half as long as I would need to in order to run a half-marathon. The biggest obstacle to me running a half next year is time. I simply may not have the time to devote to nothing but running, especially with comps and a child both on the way in a few months.

This would be a great time to write up some thoughts about becoming a runner again. As it happens, I already did. In my magazine writing class, our first assignment was to write a personal essay (approximately 2000 words) on any topic we wanted, so long as it was personal. I choose to write about running. This is the final draft of the essay, and I am planning to send it out. Some of you mentioned in my last post that you would be interested in reading samples of what I wrote this past semester. Here you go:
More stuff under here... )


tehuti: (Default)

January 2012

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