Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, November 12, 2012

Under Cover of Invisibility

I'm still working toward completion of the first draft of my novel. In the meantime, however, I have finished the first draft of the cover of my novel. I hope this will help motivate me to write faster, either since more of you will start badgering me to do so, or because I won't want to wait any longer to have a copy of this in my hand:

I like to think it captures my novel's marriage of action, drama, and humor quite well... perhaps better than the novel itself. Of course, I like to think a lot of things. Over-thinking is one reason I've changed the working title more than a half-dozen times so far.1

More importantly, what do you think?

1 Yes, inquiring readers, the story still contains unseen simians, despite the fact I've strayed from the original title of And Then Came the Invisible Monkeys. At least, for now...

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, That's Not Entirely Accurate

There are a handful of improv groups in central CT. Last week, I auditioned with one for which I felt I might be a good fit. After a couple minor hiccups early on, I thought I did quite well, certainly well enough to guarantee a callback.

I was wrong.

This is becoming somewhat of a theme for me. Apparently, I came across as nervous, undecided, and occasionally frustrated, although I was none of these things.1 Clearly, there's some disconnect between what I think I'm doing and what I'm actually doing.

I was under the impression I'd gotten pretty good at improv — at least on par with my fellow improvisers who keep getting snatched up for spots in established groups — but if I've learned anything over the past few months, it's this:

I'm not good at improv.

That's not to say I'm bad at it. I've been in some great scenes, and gotten plenty of laughs. But whereas a few days ago I'd have said I was pretty good, this latest setback (in a series of many) has finally made the truth sink in: I'm mediocre at best. It's become abundantly clear I'm not fit for any improv troupe.2

It's okay, though; I've already come to terms with this. In fact, I think it might be for the best. In their rejection, the group said I showed potential and should keep at it. And I will, since I enjoy it. But this rejection may be just the impetus I need to shift most of my focus back to something I know I'm good at: writing.

Then again, if I was so far off regarding my improv abilities, I might be deluding myself about my writing, too. After all, I've really only shared my fiction with friends and family, and it's not like they're going to say it sucks.3 The novel I'm writing might be utter tripe. I have no idea.

And that got me thinking. I soon realized I'm probably not as good as I think I am at a slew of things. In fact, I've put together a list:
  • Improv
  • Novel-writing
  • Web design (yep — my day job)
  • Volleyball
  • Imitating accents, eh?
  • Hostage negotiation
  • Self doubt
  • Making lists
Luckily, there are still a few things at which I'm exactly as good as I think I am:
  • Being a dad
  • Husbandry Being a husband
  • Scrabble
  • Photoshoppery
  • Juggling knives
  • Humorous footnotes4
Of course, I won't know if I'm actually bad at novel-writing until people read my novel. And I won't actually let people read my novel until I've finished the thing. So, I'd better stop lolly-gagging around here and get back to the word mines.5

Wish me luck!

1 Except for one brief bout of indecision during the first warm-up exercise, when my brain wasn't yet firing on all cylinders. (Actually, my brain never fires on all cylinders; I always leave one cylinder alive to spread the word of Nate, the Geometrical Killer.)
2 Well, unless they're Damn Fools.
3 Sure, a few in the local writing group gave negative feedback, but I'd already learned not to trust their opinions.
4 As opposed to humerus footnotes, which I'm no longer allowed to do, ever since they discovered my medical credentials were courtesy of Milton Bradley.
5 Stepping on one of these causes a literal explosion.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pleas of the Costumeless

When kids come to my door on Halloween, their eyes wide and hands shaking in search of their next sugar fix, I require only two things:
  1. They must say "Trick or treat!" 1
  2. If they're not wearing a costume, they must tell me what they're supposed to be.
After all, being lazy is one thing. But lazy and uncreative I can't abide. And I'm strict when it comes to giving out the goods;2 no sweets in the bag until both conditions are met.

With 130+ trick-or-treaters, we saw our share of the unadorned among the shambling hordes. Of course, some of these were also lazy in their creativity. They claimed to be:
  • an athlete
  • a basketball player
  • a hobo
  • a rapper
  • I don't know
Others, however, managed to make me chuckle:
  • a flyboy (complete with an appropriate flyboy pose)
  • a citizen
  • a realistic person who goes to school3
  • just a kid looking for candy
Next year, I think I might institute a tiered system for my candy dispersal. Costumed children will get the best (or the most) candy. Uncostumed but inventive kids receive the lesser brands (or amounts). Those lazy in both action and mind get the stale leftovers from this year.

Alright, kids, you've got a year to come up with your stories. Wow me. Otherwise, you're stuck with year-old Bazooka Joe.

1 I'll waive this rule if they open with a more amusing alternative. For instance, the girl who groaned "BRAAAAAAINS!" and the group singing adapted Christmas carols ("Good tidings we bring, for sugary things...") got a pass. And some oh so delicious candy.
2 And the plentys.
3 This was the same kid who first said "I don't know." He then took ten seconds to come up with his answer. I restrained myself from humming the Jeopardy theme.