Tag Archives: Free Time

The day I realized I live at home.

All my life, I’ve felt like I was passing through.

In school, it was because I didn’t fit in and I figured the dumb jocks just COULDN’T be the ones in charge of the real world.

In the Army, it might have been because I flunked marksmanship after seven-week military career.

In college, it was because I was working towards something finite. A four FIVE SIX S E V E N year degree. The “job” and the “housing” (loose terms each) were temporary (thank Zeus).

In law enforcement, it was because I didn’t fit in and I figured my superior officers just COULDN’T be the ones in charge of the real world. (True story: My Sheriff called his IT guy into the room to ask him whether an email to England…would actually reach England. What, did he think you needed extra email postage?)

In temp jobs, it was because they were…well…temporary.

All my life:

  • I’ve lived in someone else’s property: My parents, student housing, apartments, renting a house. Today we own a house, but that wasn’t enough.
  • I’ve helped someone else’s career: My boss, my friends, whomever. Today I have my own career, but that wasn’t enough.
  • I’ve dreamed of sharing hopes, dreams, fears and trials with a beautiful woman. Today, I’m married to one. But that wasn’t enough.
  • I’ve wished I could adopt pets of my own choosing. Today, we have two wonderful cats. But that wasn’t enough.

I’m married to a wonderful woman. We have a wonderful house, a spacious back yard backed by woods. Two cats we adore. I live twenty minutes from work, and I work in a high-tech industry for an impressive company. I also pass llamas, horses, cows, chickens and goats every day on my commute. There are deer in our backyard weekly and a bunny almost daily. I work hard but I have a ton of free time.

I live at home.

Assembling these scattered pieces

I must become a great writer. This means investing years of time in writing.

The trouble is that I must also become a really good singer. Guitarist. Strategist. Gamer.

Even “gamer” is misleading because the teamwork skills that aid you in MMO raiding don’t translate to RTSs like Starcraft 2, which requires split-second decision-making and execution. In one game, you manage one character with 40 abilities. In the other, you manage 40 units with different statistics.

I design Portal 2 maps, and I would not rest until I became good at designing them. I stayed up late, got up early, and was working on Portal puzzles probably 40 hours a week in addition to the 50 or so at my day job.

I must also become great at my day job. I’ve earned a couple of promotions within a half decade and don’t intend to stop. Sometimes this requires staying late, working weekends or flying to Orlando to give a guest lecture.

The writers I follow don’t have 37 hobbies and 2 careers. They write in their free time. They might play guitar or sing, design portal puzzles, play competitive strategy games, study chess, edit machinima videos, paint and webdesign.

They do some of these things. But not all of them.

So that begs the question. If I intend to be a great writer, what should I give up?


It’s FICTION, morons.

Holy smokes, new posts on consecutive days. And immediately after I resolved to blog less.

I warned you that resolutions don’t last, didn’t? April may be the average, but when your temperament is as weak as mine, even twenty-four hours is pushing it.

Some people, it seems, cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction. For example, if you think the news is fact, you are sorely mistaken. There are reports every time the stock market drops, but how often the market rallies do you see the major networks promoting it time and time again? Do yourself a favor, and look at the market values prior to a decline. Then look at the current values. Where were the announcements the market had recovered? Nowhere.

But that’s a relatively minor examples. Those that matter to me are from my own genres: Speculative fiction.

I let a co-worker read a short story with a dark ending. While not gory (gory is the poor writer’s substitute for plot), the story definitely enters the realm of “horror”.

After finishing the story, this particular colleague said, “I didn’t know there was that side of you.” Read More →

Working hard

timeclockNo time for posts. Or writing.

Note: This doesn’t mean I have zero free time. (I hate when people use, “I don’t have time” as an excuse as if they are working from waking to sleeping.) It means the little free time I’ve got, I’m using to unwind with video games or television instead of additional work … such as writing.

Should be better by the weekend.

Off to bed now.

Monday Morning Madness (posted in final draft by evening)

The Honorable Thing is be a Quitter

case-of-the-mondaysNo intensive essays today. Work was a whirlwind this morning, though it tapered off some towards the afternoon.

My mind has been similarly chaotic today. This morning, an Anthony Robbins quote echoed repeatedly through my brain:

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

Well, I’ve always sat on my ass playing video games; every day.

And I’ve always hated myself for not writing; every day.

When I hear that Robbins quote, it translates into my brain like this: “You should quit WoW. You should quit WoW. You should quit WoW.”

Why don’t I quit World of Warcraft?

There are several reasons; not merely excuses, reasons.

1. I’ve quit WoW before and come back. Some call this addiction; I choose to call it “loyalty”. No, in all seriousness, it was something I enjoyed and I missed it, just as since my back was injured, I have missed playing frisbee and tennis. I fully intend to return to those also.

catgun2. It’s not like I can write 24/7 of my free time. I enjoy writing, but it’s also exhausting. There are few moments more satisfying than when I’ve written for an hour or so, I like what I’ve written, and so I turn to a video game to relax for the rest of my evening.

3. Most other forms of recreation bore me. I won’t watch tv with commercials, and I barely watch tv without commercials. When I do, I plow through season after season of a show to evaluate it critically and then shelve it. “must-see” isn’t in my vocabulary. Similarly, although I like reading, there aren’t enough good books out there to keep me entertained if I weren’t playing video games; when I’ve gone without online gaming, I find myself trying 2 or 3 new books, being disgusted and disappointed, and then rereading old ones again.

4. One player video games are almost as boring to me as television. Co-op and party games offer a little more, but only when you have other people to play with. And they, too, stale after a time. Usually two weeks.

world-of-warcraft-addictionWhen I stop MMO gaming, I truly miss it.

But this weekend, I only played WoW for an hour and I still didn’t do any writing. (I was playing Spore.)

Of course the advantage to single player games is (even with a sandbox game like Spore or Simcity) there’s only so much you can do. And then, like a favorite movie or episode, after awhile you want to go revisit it.

I don’t know what the answer is. My buddy tells me “sh** or get off the pot” when he wants me to make a decision already. Part of what draws me to WoW is the social community, and I usually game with people I know in real life. Some of those have faded away from the WoW community, so that’s less of a factor, but right when that happens, I make new friends who also play. Rinse, repeat.

Will I get more writing done if I quit WoW? Probably. Will I be happier? Unlikely. Will quitting have any permanent impact on my writing career? I have no idea.

So this is what gets people talking?

starcraftI wrote a thoughtful mini-essay on the competition facing any new novelist; no comments.

Mention that I’m hooked on a video game, and everyone starts talking.

Very well; I DID install Starcraft over the weekend. What a blast from the past. The graphics are horrible! And compared to the improvements made by Warcraft 3, AOE, EE, and others, the interface is pretty bad too. I was horrified to discover you can’t give units queued commands, particularly queued build commands. I was equally horrified to discover that units won’t move out of the way if you want to build where they’re standing; the worker unit just reports “can’t build there” and gives up.

I’m extremely rusty. At the height of my SC skill, I could beat 7 computers allied against me, and did so with all three races. This weekend, I played vs. 7 computers on Free-For-All, and couldn’t beat my last remaining opponent.

If you want to take a shot at me in SC, now’s a good time. I’m about as bad as I’ve ever been. Same for Warcraft 3.

I’m a slave to my hobby, please wipe out my bank account.

keyboard-and-mouseThis is what I tell people usually when I visit a D&D hobby store. RPG books are insanely overpriced, and yet for RPGers, nothing else scratches that itch exactly.

This weekend, I used the phrase in a different context.

I bought a new keyboard and mouse:

Total cost: $170.

I know what you’re thinking. $170 for a keyboard and mouse? Are you out of your @)*&!@#$*@#$!@# mind?

Possibly. But I spent probably 90% of my time on my computer, where my keyboard and mouse become my virtual voice, hands and feet, legs and arms. Whether I’m gaming, writing, or just surfing, it should be as quick, ergonomic, and efficient as possible. That it’s hi-tech gadgetry doesn’t hurt much either.keyboard

Do you say it’s a waste of money? Fah. I contend that anything one enjoys is not a waste.