Personal Archives


Over the past ten years I have (in no particular order):

  • Set foot in nine different countries.
  • Gotten a divorce.
  • Had my heart stomped on two other times.
  • Acquired a useless master’s degree.
  • Bought, restored, and sold a house.
  • Raised chickens.
  • Started and sold a business.
  • Coped with the deaths of several friends.
  • Attempted one unhappy career change.
  • Written one very bad novel.
  • Moved to New York.
  • Had seven different addresses.
  • Run three half-marathons.
  • Edited many, many books.
  • Tried, haltingly, to learn to play an instrument.
  • Made more new friends than I thought I was capable of.
  • Seen many, many amazing concerts.
  • Become a much better cook.
  • Been robbed.

And lots of other stuff. On the main, it’s been a decade of a lot of growth, but also a lot of turbulence. I’m ready for things to stabilize a bit over the next ten years.

Argh. I was off to a very strong start, even ahead of my daily targets at first, but then life got in the way (in the form of continuing freelance work and a parental visit that consumed precious evening hours), and as a consequence I’m now about 2,000 words behind where I should be for today. I’m going to try my damnedest to reach 10,000 before I go to bed tonight, which will mean I only (only!) need to write a little over 3,000 words tomorrow. Ugh! I’m also getting a little tired of my storyline, so I need to shift gears a bit. How, I don’t know, but I’m hoping something will just sort of flow from my fingers tomorrow.

As Bethie points out in the comments in the post below, this whole quantity over quality thing is proving very, very difficult for me. I am, have always been, a compulsive self-editor. I simply can’t keep writing if I know there’s a glaring error on the page, or if I know I just used the same adjective or phrase within the past few paragraphs. It makes me crazy. I scroll back up constantly to fix tiny things, which is stupid, since nobody will ever read this “book” anyway. It’s simply not sustainable.

I think I need to fix myself a drink. Maybe a black Russian will loosen my uptight little paws and allow me to let the words fall as they may.

UPDATE: Yes! Alcohol does work! One small cocktail, and 1,100 words flew onto the virtual page. Fitzgerald and Hemingway were really on to something. Now, all I need is a whole bunch of amphetamines, a la Kerouac, and I’ll be a literary superstar in no time.

Rather, I need goals. The past few months have been busy, but also rather aimless. Fun, but nothing that really bears reporting (aside from my trips). So, heading toward the end of fall and into winter, I have two goals. First, and most consuming, is that I’ve signed on with National Novel Writing Month. This strikes many people as odd, since I’ve never expressed any interest in being a Writer (I write competently but not creatively), much less a novelist. Indeed, I haven’t written fiction since I was in the 8th grade, and I recall that effort at a short story as desultory at best. I like (need) assignments, which has always carried me in a journalistic direction. But I figured I needed a little direction and a lot of challenge this month, so I’m going to do my best to follow NaNoWriMo’s rules and churn out 50,000 words—a pretty short novel, actually—by November 30. In addition to generating the sheer volume of words, the big hurdle for me will be to resist my compulsion to edit and trim as I go along; the project’s directive of quantity over quality runs against nearly 20 years of academic and professional training on my part. To my surprise, though, it’s going rather well so far; I’ve managed to get 3,500 words down in the past two days, and while my fingers itch to revise and refine, I actually don’t hate what I’ve written. I have a long, long way to go, but if I can focus, I think I can do it.

Goal #2 is to get back into running. After competing in three back-to-back half marathons over the summer, I simply got tired of training, and in the absence of another race goal I cut back to one or two very slow, short runs a week over the past couple of months. Now I’ve decided to enter the Hampton Beach Half, which takes its runners down New Hampshire’s wee coast in the middle of February. The hour gained over the weekend has made getting up for early morning runs much easier, and I did a pleasant (but slow; I’ve lost some stamina) four miles before work this morning. I love running in the cold and look forward to building my endurance back up.

So that’s all; a book and a race. Guitar skills could use some serious sharpening as well; can someone give me an assignment?

Scary Babies

About this time last year we spent the afternoon out on Governor’s Island, an uninhabited former Coast Guard base, to check out the art installations and hear a friend read from his new novel, which is set largely on Governor’s Island. Will snapped a bunch of shots of these crazy cast-concrete babies. Would not want these critters in or anywhere near my house.

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This is a couple of blocks away from my first apartment in Brooklyn. It was kind of a crappy neighborhood, but did offer unexpected visual treats like this.

bazaar kitty

Continuing with last month’s visit to Morocco…boy oh boy are there a lot of cats wandering the streets of Moroccan cities. Most seem mangy, neglected, and mutilated (lots of mangled feet, missing eyes, torn ears), though not exactly wild. And they serve a valuable public service; trash control seems indifferent at best, and I’d imagine the rat situation would quickly spin out of control if it weren’t for the cat population (I never saw vermin of any kind, actually, despite the mounds of garbage). Anyhow, this little guy napping in the bazaar in Marrakesh’s Jewish quarter seemed a bit cleaner and more domesticated than most of the felines we saw.

Murphy!
In our last apartment my cat Murphy liked hanging out by the stereo and often posed cutely with the records that spilled out from the shelves. She hasn’t quite found her listening/napping station in the new apartment yet.

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