Time to Breathe

I just submitted my draft for an editorial review.  Basically, he’ll go through and leave comments on character, pacing, and overall plot on my manuscript.  The tough part, I have to wait until September 29 (at the latest, but possibly sooner), to get it back.  It wasn’t too expensive really.  This guy seems to have his stuff together.

In the meantime, I’ll still be working on writing a blurb (you’ll write one for your short story too!), and a query letter.  It’s pretty exciting, and I can’t believe this point has taken almost 10 months to get to.

The nice thing about homecoming being early is that it doesn’t interfere with a due date on the story.  Usually that’s a conflict.



Wednesday Fun Facts!

Went to UMSL tonight to meet with a bunch of teachers who have also done that writing institute thing I did in June.  I got some cool new ideas that we’ll be trying as early as Friday.  I think they’ll help you figure out what to write your short story about too.  So simple too.  I had no idea what the event was about tonight, but I wanted to see my friends/classmates from June and there was free Mexican food, win-win.  (Note: As you longtime readers know, I don’t have a lot of friends in St. Louis.  They’re all back in Ohio, etc.)  Anyway, I’m in a book club for a book about improving teaching writing.

In other news (and disclaimer, this is about religion, so cut out here if you’d like), one of my Facebook friends (not a close friend by any means, actually the wife of an old teammate in high school), posted the Bible verse about the end of the world.  Basically, Jesus returns and takes everyone who’s on board, and then the rest of the world dies I guess?  Interpret the Rapture as you will.  Anyway, people are commenting saying things like, “I can’t wait for this!”  and  “I pray for this very often!”  Really?  The end of the world?  Don’t you wanna like, I dunno, watch your kids grow up?  According to faith of this verse, that lasts for eternity.  So…what’s the rush? And it’s not that their life is rough, they’re just bothered by what’s going on in the world.  “Oh no, people are different than us!  Good thing we live in the cocoon known as Bellville, Ohio!”


Every Wednesday morning I have to work the writing center, part of the job is to send every language arts teacher the email of who’s booked in the writing center every day.  I always include Wednesday Fun Facts in my email, just to be stupid.  Today I attached these:

*The space that is now the writing center originally opened as a AAA office for distributing maps in 1926.
*During prohibition the small office and the first restroom served as speakeasies.  The password was Mustang, thus giving Marquette its mascot decades later.
*The second restroom has always been a restroom, and was officially declared haunted in 1956 when Paul Fink, the owner of the speakeasy, passed away (but didn’t leave).
*In 1988 the writing center replaced all 40 typewriters with Apple 2E’s.
*During the 1993-94 school year the writing center housed a Street Fighter II arcade game which raised thousands of dollars in quarters and allowed the school to upgrade the computers to IBM 486’s. Sadly, the machine was stolen that summer and never replaced.


Good News

I got a new joke to work tonight at open mic.  Finally.  I mean, it got a huge laugh so I’m ready to put it in my real show whenever that happens to be (October?).

I sent a 2,000 sample to http://silverjay-editing.com to see what kind of feedback they can provide.  I’m close to just dropping the $70 and having them judge it by theme and give me feedback that way.  I should know if there’s anything major I need to change before working on grammatical editing anymore.

I was going to sleep in a little tomorrow morning (6:30), but then I remembered I have writing center duty at 7:20 so that won’t fly.  Ahh well, it was a good thought.

Tomorrow we’ll read at least 2 short stories and see what works and what doesn’t while applying the stuff I’ve taught you this last week or so.  Start thinking of short story ideas, but don’t overthink.  You may get something out of the scene you’re writing if you veered from the stuff I gave you.  I think I can educate you more on what NOT to write vs. what to write.   Some students in the past listened, some didn’t.

So I have a new stalker.  She attends open mic (let’s not label her a comedian).  I tried to help her a few weeks ago.  I think I wrote about it even.  She has an impediment and she doesn’t address it on stage.  I give feedback one time and if you don’t listen, I’m not wasting my time the following week.  Last week she kept interrupting the conversation I was in to tell me about something so boring I don’t remember.  Tonight I was facing my pal Scott and he was telling me about a concert.  She sat on bar stool to my right, bumped into me twice, tugged on my shirt, and breathed on me.  Gross, right?  Then she babbled to the bartender while she was pretty much in my ear.  I put up with it for a few minutes and then mouthed to Scott, “I have to go.  I can’t take this another week.”  He was confused for a second and then finally figured it out.  My poor bartender friend was left to hear her sob story about being poor and not having a good phone, and not being able to Uber, and having to wait on her ride, and other stuff that no one wants to hear about.

So I escaped.  For this week anyway.  With a new joke about how people are way too excited about Yeti mugs.

Be sure you keep start blogging.  You should have, what, at least 3 by now of about 250 words each.


Hanging up signs

I went ahead and made a very basic sign for creative writing club, so if someone who’s hung signs before would like to help, I need them taped on stairwells, poles, etc. (Wherever it’s permitted).  Turnout today is a little low, so we need to spread the word.  You can do what you want here, or work on whatever we’re doing in class, either way is fine.  Just write something.

Speaking of, as of week two it looks like you’re mostly behind on blogs.  I’m getting more blogs from my past students than present.  : )

Everybody Hurts

You know that spot about halfway up your shin where the muscle hugs the tibia?  No, of course not, because I didn’t know that spot could hurt either, but it does now!  I won all three games today, but I can barely walk.  My right toe feels broken (it’s not, just sore toe muscles), my knees are screaming on the outside, and my back is going to ache just as bad when I wake up tomorrow.  I’m not old!  I don’t know what happened.  I run.  I lift.  I’m active, but now, an hour of pickleball and I feel 80.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.  It did.

In high school I would finish cross country season in early November right as basketball began.  I was in the shape of my life, yet during basketball conditioning I would almost puke.  There are different types of “in shape” and I seem to be better at the slow and steady kind.  I often wonder how my joints will (continue to) hold up over the years.  I played three sports from 6 straight years grades 7-12, and was just as active before and after high school.  I’m not sure what kind of DNA I come from.  My father’s parents didn’t live very long, but my mother’s thrived through their 80s.  I guess it’s up to how well I take care of myself.

There was a time when I considered myself out of shape.  I wasn’t overweight, but I had no muscle tone or cardio fitness.  It was when I took my first professional job at a bank.  I ate 3 donuts most mornings (the tellers went and got them…$1.89).  I didn’t lift.  I didn’t run.  On the rare occasions when I ran to my car in the rain, I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, this.”  Right before NYE heading into 2004 I got a gym membership and started lifting again.  I’ve been pretty steady since, even when it meant sneaking into gyms on expired passes (right as I moved to STL in ’05).

Now I’m not motivated to lift.  Or run.  Just pickleball on the weekends.  I still workout, but it’s only 2-3 times a week and I don’t enjoy it.  I don’t want to lose too much though.  The older you get, the harder it is to get back into something, right?  I’m blessed with legs that work, so I need to keep using them.

If you’re not into fitness at this point in your life, I don’t blame you.  There are so many other priorities and your body is still like a new car in its first year.  You can even pour sugar in the gas tank and it’ll work.  (Nice, metaphor Durham)  So many things won’t seem interesting until your late 20s.  It’s weird.  I hit 28 and all of a sudden I loved to read and work out.  And cry about aesthetics.

You think, it won’t happen to me.  I won’t be like that.  Just like when you were little and the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re gay) didn’t excite you all that much.  Then it all changes.

Enjoy the journey and when priorities alter because of age, don’t fight it.


Writing Cool Down

I won my first match rather easily.  2 bratwursts and a bunch of other stuff later, Old Man Paul wanted a rematch.  I won the first game (best of three) easily again, but then he changed strategy.  He stopped trying to do anything except hit it back to me.  This made me the aggressor and I’m not sharp enough to do that just yet. And I lost.  We’re playing again tomorrow at noon when it’s going to be much hotter.  That’ll help me out.  Hopefully my back holds out.

Beth and I watched Southpaw on Netflix tonight.  Fairly typical boxing movie, but we like those.  It was easy to identify the plot points (I’ll show you those and Act I, II, and III later this semester).  We’ve been taking it easy this weekend.  No going out really, just relaxing.  We played Monopoly to a stalemate Friday night (did I already write about that?).

Texas A&M blew a 44-10 lead in the second half.  Ha!

As you’ve noticed, I’m a big fan of Iron & Wine.  I ordered their CD for Beth’s birthday.  I’e been listening to this song all weekend.  I like the piano at the end, and the guitar at the beginning.


I finished going through my draft.  Technically it’s like the 7th draft.  Next week I’ll print it out and then I have to go through and draw a line where each scene starts and stops.  From there I have to make sure each scene ends in a way that makes the reader want to continue reading.  It can’t be 45 different cliffhangers because that would get annoying, but there are 8 or 9 different methods to a ending a scene and keeping it interesting.

I thought the lesson would tell me a little more on how to start my book, but it just said to avoid weather descriptions.  I’m not sure if I quite violated that rule or not.  You guys can be the judge.  Are you hooked?  When do you put it down?  I joked the other day about the only reason I teach, and teach creative writing is so that I can live out my dream as a coffee house type of DJ.  Well, the other motive is to have a test market for these books I’m trying to pump out.

I should go to bed now.

Pickleball, The Championships

Today is the day, I play Paul.  My 66-year-old nemesis (actually we’re pals I guess) up at the pool.  Our condo place has it’s final pool party today so attendance will be high. Dozens perhaps.  Actually one dozen is more likely.

I’m very excited for class this week.  We’re nearing the story writing process, and we’ll cover scene after this whole dialogue thing (due Wednesday).  Also, this is the last week I’ll be doing the prompts for freewriting.  Starting next week we’ll assign an order, and you’ll get your turn to think or find one.  It’ll be rated on a 5-point scale, and you’ll put it on Classroom so that all I have to do is share it that morning.

College football was fun yesterday.  I’m still hoping to make the OSU Nebraska game in October.  Not cheap, but worth it.

It’s nice how the weather isn’t blistering hot now.  (until tomorrow)  We ate outside last night.  Not sure how to get rid of the mosquitoes, other than burn our little candle.  The pool water won’t be warm at all, but a free hot dog is a free hot dog.

Maybe one of these mornings we can take class outside.

Keep writing today.  It looks like a few people are behind.  Try to get out of the habit of saving your post for later.  Write until it’s complete and then post.  A bunch of half-written blogs that you forget to post won’t help you.  Still plenty of time to get on track…next week, not so much.


I’m 40% through revising the wording and sentence structure of my draft.  It’s basically a solid manuscript now.  My next task is to fix the beginning and end lines.  The first line of a book is very important.  We’ll even work on that in class (we won’t write a novel, but we’ll pretend we are, and who knows, maybe you’ll sprout one).  I think I can get through a lot of this draft over the three-day weekend.  Once football season begins, my weekends get…slothier?  Ohio State plays Thursday night though, so that frees up Saturday.

I can’t say that I wasted summer.  I wrote then too.  A lot.  Tomorrow in class we’ll finish the last few tips on that PPT and then I’ll assign your dialogue scene.  I think it’ll be fun to read those, and I appreciate how well the class picked it up today.  We’ll head to the writing center to get a start on it, and then by next week we can start writing scene.

Oh–this is important–we’ll have our first “author’s chair” on Friday.  Anyone can read anything they’ve written.  It can be from long ago, a recent journal entry, a poem you turned in or wrote on your own, …anything.  I’ll share too if there’s time.  How about an excerpt.

Here’s that song a lot of your were digging today:

I need a graphic design favor if you’re up for it…

I need a sign made for Creative Writing Club.  I think I’m going with Tuesdays this year.

The important stuff in a bigger font, make sure it’ll look good in black and white.  Leave questions in the comments on here.  Thanks!

Writing Club, Room 361 with Mr. Durham, Tuesday after school.

Poetry, fiction, and everything in between.  Learn the mechanics of writing a novel.  Make friends.  Share your work.

(Anything else I should mention?)