Thursday, May 15, 2008

Writing, Not...and my new roommates

Okay - you may be wondering why I haven't posted much lately about my writing journey - and my exploration of The Hero's Journey, and my outline, and....

Uhmm...I haven't worked on my book for at least two weeks.

Now, this was a conscious decision on my part. I've had a lot going on, and a number of commitments, and I just knew something had to go. But I swear, come Monday, I'm back in the saddle. Besides, I'm responsible for a Hero's Journey workshop starting in June on the Compuserve forum, so I'd better get myself moving!

But I do wonder, why is it when life gets busy, writing always seems to be one of the first things to fall by the wayside? Do you find this to be true for yourself? How do you combat this? Do you have any special techniques for getting yourself up and running again quickly after spending time away from your writing?

And while you ponder those questions, check out my new roommates. For Mother's Day, my kids purchased supplies to get my aquarium up and running again (it's been about 10 years). The tank now resides on the shelves behind my desk chair - shelves just recently relocated to that wall, replacing the Eliptical Trainer that sat there for 2 years collecting dust (I thought I'd be more motivated to exercise if the Eliptical Trainer was so "convenient" (blush).

Anyway, my tank now has 5 fish, and they watch me work over my shoulder. No, really! Whenever I turn around, they are looking at me through the glass. Very intellectual fish!

The Atlantian theme was the kids' idea.

Here are four of the fish. The last one is shy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Writer's View

Many authors of my aquaintance have posted views from their office or writing space window. My office is on the third floor of our old house, so I view the world from tree level. 363 Days a year the view is quite mundane. We live across the street from the back of the Middle School. So on a typical day, I can watch the kids running laps in gym class.

But once a year, on the first Thursday and Friday of May, the school festival - know in these parts as May Fete - arrives. On these days, I have a totally different view.

Around here in the small suburb I live in, May Fete is a big deal. The festival has been happening since the beginning of time, or at least as long as anyone living can remember. Tradition holds that school is cancelled on Friday, and rides run both Thursday night and all day Friday.

Beginning on the Monday leading up to the big day, trucks arrive pulling rides and games, and the set-up begins. Now, if you don't happen to live across the street from a festival, you may never have considered how exactly those movable amusement parks come and go. Here's a few shots of the set-up this week.

The Pharoh's Curse receives its head (top right). The Merry-go-round is still packed up in its truck, (center right). Three men assemble the mini-roller coaster (bottom right). And of course, no festival would be complete without the all-popular Monkey Maze! (below).

Living across from an amusement park would probably be considered the dream of many children. Who wouldn't want a field full of rides in their backyard (or front yard, as the case is here)? And we do have fun. Every year we set up a buffet on our front porch. The kids run back and forth, and tired and weary adults - particularly those running the game booths, stop by to sit and relax and, later in the afternoon, drink Margaritas with us (the adults, not the kids). And did I mention endless access to funnel cakes for two whole days?

But when my kids were little, May Fete was a week of sleepless kids. Not only was the anticipation hardly bearable, but each night the carnival workers test the rides until way past bedtime, the multi-colored lights flickering in through the windows. May Fete at night is a really spectacular display -- better than Christmas. To get the full impact, you really need to see it in action...

But the most impressive part of May Fete is the illusions of what was. On Friday night, everyone goes to bed and sleeps soundly, tired from the long day. Everyone, that is, except for the workers. The workers stay up all night, disassembling the rides and packing up the game booths. By Saturday morning, nothing is left in the field but empty cups and an amazing collection of silly-string wads in all colors of the rainbow (Don't ask. It's part of the tradition.).

And the view from my window becomes mundane for another year.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Last Lecture

Today I posted a review on my reviews blog, see link to right, on The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow (non-fiction).

Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is invited to participate in the University's lecture series, known as "The Last Lecture". By the time his lecture date arrives, he has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. While the lecture he delivers is both uplifting and lighthearted, it also contains a philosophy of life that everyone should take the time to consider. Here's one of my favorite quotes: "The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the "other people."

Mr Pausch inspires people to reach for their goals, to achieve their childhood dreams, and to give back to the people who gave to you.

While there is some overlap between the video and the book, the book expands on many of his thoughts, while the video includes material of a more visual nature that was excluded from the book. I would describe the two media as complementary. The video is 76 minutes long, but well worth the investment of time. Mr Pausch is one of those speakers who is probably fascinating, no matter what his topic. The book, a more portable format, would make an excellent gift for a graduate this spring.