The Elusive But Vital Pursuit of Balance, Part 571

TDsweatsTHINGS WERE proceeding smoothly, until suddenly they weren’t. Everything blew up.

Work exploded, as the calendar moved into my department’s busiest time of the year and we took on a major new project on top of our usual other duties.

Home exploded, as the girls added play rehearsal and spring sports to their already lengthy litany of activities, as I tacked t-ball coaching to my bulletin board of commitments, and as J. and I delved further into the planning stages of a big-time renovation initiative.

And I exploded, as months of wintertime consumption and hibernation had me feeling heavy and dull, my clothes uncomfortable and my body looking decidedly middle-aged.

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Chocolate, Professional Development, and Writing Beyond the Job

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THERE WAS chocolate, of course, as we were in Hershey. Even better, there was astoundingly rich camaraderie and fellowship to match the professional development offered by this year’s annual spring CUPRAP conference, a gathering of secondary- and higher-education communications professionals.

As chair of the group’s conference committee, I encouraged attendees to tweet the sessions using the hashtag above so that we could get some nifty online conversation going and allow those who couldn’t make it to follow along. And it worked wonderfully. (Go to Twitter and search for #cuprap13 and you’ll see what I mean.)

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Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Crap Without This One Important Thing

YOU FINISH your list yet?

If not, you don’t have much time. It is the 31st, after all. If you don’t figure out how to be a better you in the next 15 hours or so, you’ll have to spend the next year as the current, subpar you.

Then again, if you’re like me, you can make it easy by recycling past years’ resolutions. My annual late-December self-reflection tends to yield the same goals: Continue reading

Okay, So It Wasn’t 1,667 Words a Day; I STILL Had a Good Month Writing

NOVEMBER STARTED with high hopes. But as the month draws to a close, I will emphatically not be among the thousands of writers celebrating the completion of their works and hence their victories in National Novel Writing Month.

blogrssAt the same time, on this final day of November, I am very happy to have had my best blogging month in … years, probably. These posts will never get published, and no more than a couple of hundred people, if that, is likely ever to see them, but I’m writing, goddamn it, and it feels good. It’s as if I’ve reconnected with an old friend and realized over a couple of beers how much I missed him.

So for those who have stuck with it from Shallow Center and Poor Richard’s Scorecard on through to Dadlibbing, my heartfelt thanks. And to the newcomers getting acquainted through Facebook and Twitter, welcome. I’m grateful that you’re here and hope to give you more to read in the weeks and months to come. | DL

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Other Things for Which I’m Thankful

Yes, of course I’m thankful for my family, my health, my friends, my job, and my house. But there are other, less obvious things for which I am grateful on Thanksgiving Day 2012:

  • “Lonely Boy.” The guitar-crunching, beat-driving, blessedly economic anthem celebrating unrequited love was my gateway to the Black Keys, and the best rock song of the year. (Yes, I know it was released in 2011, but I didn’t hear it until this year.) A staple on my iPod.
  • Cole Hamels. The suave southpaw would have commanded a massive contract on the free-agent market, but instead signed a massive extension to stay with the Phillies. No, he won’t be hurting, but Hamels’s deep ties to Philadelphia–he and his wife are among the most visible and outspoken philanthropists in the region–seem to be genuine. Here’s hoping a few Cy Young Awards and World Series titles are in No. 35’s future.
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November: National Novel Quitting Month

 

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED words and change. That’s how much fiction I wrote on November 1, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, a balls-to-the-wall creative sprint in which writers challenge themselves to produce a new, 50,000-word work in the space of 30 days. That works out to 1,667 words a day, so I was right where I needed to be.

The idea behind the thing is to force you to get words out of your head and onto the page, working so quickly that you just don’t have time to listen to the crippling criticism of your inner skeptic or fuss over each sentence until you have the precise word picked out, the exact punctuation marking your sentences. That stuff comes later, after you’re done; for one month you’re doing nothing but writing, 1,667 words a day, your personal editor bound and gagged and locked in a closet like the Gimp.

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Ever Notice How When You Don’t Actually Do Something, It Never, Y’Know, Gets Done?

ImageWHEN I was 23 or 24, I wrote the first chapter of what I intended to be my first novel, and to call it a piece of shit would be to insult all of the shit that has ever been published.

It was an angsty and lovelorn and overly earnest chapter about a guy not long out of college, who, sure as shootin’, looked and acted very much like his creator, an angsty and lovelorn and overly earnest guy not long out of college. Like virtually every young, first-time novelist, I was writing about myself and, like virtually every young, first-time novelist, I was doing a piss-poor job of it.

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