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What an awesome weekend! My wife and friends threw me a great birthday party. I requested a kidless kid party and I was not disappointed. There was construction paper, origami, finger painting, toys, games, candy, Kraft Dinner, Sloppy Joes, and BOOZE. Yes. Lots of that. Mmmm. 

Now the finger-painted masterpieces of my friends are taped up on my wall to make me smile whenever I turn around. This year I have selected a My Little Pony calendar to put up on the wall, its bright cheery colours in strong counterpoint to the freezing rain outside. Bleeeeeh. I wore my Oscar the Grouch pajama pants and we listened to Raffi and Sharon, Lois, & Bram while we jabbered about writing, politics, and sex … yeah kid-friendly topics there. I had an awesome time. The only bad bit was that I seem to be allergic to the fingerpaints because I broke out in a rash over my neck and shoulders at the close of the evening. At least we’re assuming it was the fingerpaints because that was the only thing I’d never come in contact with before. We’re going to experiment later to see if using them again makes me break out again. It’s useful to know when you’re allergic to something! Thankfully, someone pointed out the rash fairly quickly and I jumped on it with Benadryl, a bunch of water, and went to lie down. This is what my drunk brain told me to do. Not bad programming!

As this will be my last year in my twenties, I think I shall focus on celebrating youth and vigour this year. I’ve been told countless times by my elders to “enjoy it before it’s gone” and I’m the sort to listen to and respect my elders. A dying breed, I know!

Anyone want to join me? C’mon. Get out there and do something childish today. You’re not dead yet.

My Year as a Freight Train

I was going to take the day off, really, but then I came across an answer I wrote to a writing exercise. We had to pick a metaphor to describe what our 2013 year of writing was like. This is what I had to say:

 

My writing year was like a freight train.

My writing year was like a freight train. Heavy with a long, long train of baggage, yet moving fast. Unstoppable. No matter what obstacles came across the track, I ploughed through them. No time for bullshit or bitches. Drama-llamas smeared across my grill, eyes wide with the revelation that I stop for no one when my dream is on the line. I got a schedule, and your whining and excuses are not important.

Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

Sometimes, it went too fast for me, but there was no stopping it. I just had to hang on. No time to watch the scenery blur past except for one stop to refuel at the station of August.

Gods, I needed that.

When I came back from KG, I found the balls to take on yet more cargo. Every deadline met with clockwork-precision. Every hand on board needed to make this machine move. The conductor waits for no one and yes I did leave behind those who slacked off at their posts. If you want to be the boss, you’ve got to act like one.

I came to the end of the line, all wheels screaming and sparking and now I’m fucking HERE, but don’t you dare think I’m staying for good. Once I’m offloaded, I’m gonna get my ass turned back around and go back for more. Oil my joints, fuel me up, and get those cargo cars queued up nice.

I’m ready, 2014. Destination: Sequel. Let’s fuckin’ go.

Pride and Arrogance

In line with the month of reflection, I’d like to share with you another rule I live by.

When someone gives you a compliment,

take it, and say “thank you.”

Don’t argue, or self-deprecate.

I know it’s often a cultural thing,

but stop doing it.

Understanding your own self-worth

is not arrogance.

The reason why you never feel amazing,

is that you keep defending

society’s mandate of mediocrity.

You are allowed to be awesome.

I do not buy into this whole “humility is a virtue” crap. I do not listen when advertisements or religious officials tell me that I am not good enough as I am. I will not feel ashamed of my talents or my accomplishments; I will take pride in them. That’s not arrogance. That’s a natural reward for doing a good job.

Why is it so hard to take a compliment? Why do we feel compelled to say things like: “Oh, well, actually this dress is kind of old,” or “Yeah, well, the top of the cake kind of cracked. Sorry about that,” or “Eh, well, I guess it was a pretty good test but I really screwed up on the section about thermo-dynamics”?

Don’t excuse away your own excellence. Recognize when you’ve done a good job and accept praise when you receive it.

Reflections on the Year

For me, December is always a time of looking back and reflecting on what I did well, and what I didn’t do so well. Perhaps that’s why I was so attracted to the idea of the Renew and Review Writing Challenge right away.

In my introspection, I’ve come across some ideas that I tend to structure my life around. After musing on this sticky note on my desk for a few days, I decided I’d share it.

Define success for yourself.

You will never be happy so long as

you’re trying to live up to someone else’s

definition of success.

You will only live long enough

to live out ONE person’s lifetime

of dreams.

They had better be yours.

Tell everybody else to go live 

their own dreams instead of hoping

you’ll have the courage

to do it for them.

Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether or Not it was Intentional

Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether or Not it was Intentional

I loved this article. I for one hated analysing a perfectly good novel to death in English class. There are some novels that I read in school that I actually enjoyed until we picked them apart with tweezers. Can we please stop destroying childrens’ budding love of reading before it has a chance to thrive?

As an author, I look at articles like these and wonder what kernels of extraneous “meaning” would be slapped onto my books if anyone were to analyse them. Such thoughts always lead to cringing and the need to go look at pictures of kittens.

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing

This article is one I re-visit several times a year to remind myself of the big picture. It can be easy to get lost in bad habits, especially when one works for oneself. Writers, and artists in general, need to take ourselves seriously, and this list is something I find helps me to do just that.

In other news, I burned the midnight oil last night and got caught up on my NaNoWriMo. 73% done! Woo!

Tunes for Writing

Hi guys! At present, I have chapters 1 through 10 of Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy submitted back to my editor and things are looking great. I’m about ready to start posting some samples of the novel here for you to see if you’d like to read the rest when it comes out but I want to be absolutely sure that it’s as polished and nice as it can be. You know I wouldn’t give you crap to read!

Other than that little announcement, I’ve found a great resource for writing. It’s a site that lets you search for music playlists based on mood.

Stereomood.com seems to be rather new but I’ve already discovered its usefulness. All I have to do is type in the mood I want to set for the scene and it pops up a playlist of songs that people have tagged for that particular mood. 

I’m not about to throw away all my youtube playlists but I’m eager to see where this resource goes in the future. Take a crack at it. At worst, you’ll discover some cool new songs.