A Day Late, A Dollar Short, and a Story Board Recap

I’m a day late with my post… I have no good excuse, and thus I will not offer one.  Rather you will just have to rest assured that my self-flagellation for this oversight will be intense and masochistic; however, nothing can be as intense and sadistic as the holiday shopping season, in which my wife and I have been engaging lately much to my chagrin (how’s that for topical segway?).  When one enters these months, it is no uncommon thing to find oneself bereft of funds even when attempting a frugal approach to the whole matter.  If I had a different mindset, I would swear that there was some form of retail conspiracy designed to subliminally create desire for stuff that, on the one hand is only used once a year, and on the other is generally shit that will wind up forgotten in a matter of months.  I love this time of year… I don’t really love this time of year… I’m not even sure I like it… no, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it… I loathe it.

A big part of this stems from the fact that I’m not a Christian (and that’s all I’m going to say about that), and so to me this whole holiday thing is an exercise in making the economic wheels turn; and that’s not entirely a bad thing, mind you, but don’t expect me to be all cheery about it.  This kind of outlook is made complex when one has small children, as I do… you need only imagine.  Thus this time of year becomes more a celebration of family and, yes, gift-exchanging; because gift-exchanging has significant social value beyond the purported symbolism attached to it due to the religious element underlying this particular holiday season.  [Important note: I’m not criticizing any one particular approach to celebrating the holidays (by the way, “holidays” means “holy days” in case you weren’t aware), nor am I attempting to pass a judgment on you whether you celebrate in a religious fashion or a secular fashion… I’m just, in the interest of diversity, telling you how all this appears from my perspective — you’re welcome to skip ahead to the Story Board part of the post.  Go on… it won’t hurt my feelings.]

When I was young, I believe, this outlook which I adopted was an attempt at having some kind of ironic, intellectual objection to the whole holiday thing… but then I was young, so how intellectual could it have really been… when you’re young, your experience is limited no matter how intellectual you think you are.  As I got older, though, I observed an unfortunate amount of Christmas related misery… enough to last me through the remainder of my adulthood.  Mind you, this was nothing that happened to me personally… well, not most of it anyway; say a 20/80 split between first-hand experience and observed experience… or perhaps it’s better to describe it as empathetic experience.  I put it this way because I’m a lucky dude: I have a good, loving family; a nice home; a job I enjoy; and, between my wife and I, a fair income that meets all of our needs and affords us a modest amount of luxury.  Others aren’t so lucky, and this time of year puts some terrible stresses on people… undue stresses which, in all likelihood, are principally the individual’s fault if we’re going to accurately assign responsibility here.  That doesn’t mean I like it, or that I don’t believe that there is an organized industry behind duping these poor folks.

Personally, I think it’s unfair to take advantage of people even if everyone involved makes that snide aside and says, “they ought to know better.”  They don’t… that’s the problem.  Hello: housing market and banking debacle of our recent history… remember that shit?  This holiday thing might be on a much smaller scale, but it’s in the same vein.  I work at a library and one of the main tenets I believe in with regard to library work is the idea that it is our responsibility to give people access to resources which will allow them to make informed decisions about important matters which affect their lives.  It’s important to me; I believe in it; thus, my gift to you this holiday season is an invitation to visit the library to do some research on the things you intend to purchase for your loved ones — you don’t have to get rooked, or allow yourself to get rooked… and the big box stores and multinational corporations are completely indifferent to whether or not you’re an informed or uninformed shopper… they’re there for the money, and if they can have you hand it over to them with a smile they’re okay with that.

I encourage you to shop local; give the little guys a chance this holiday season — they’re the ones who have a more direct impact on your local economy anyway, and they’re the ones that actually care if that economy is healthy or not — the big guys don’t give a fuck.  Put your hard earned dollars in the hands of your local merchants; believe me, it’s the better way.  Sure, you can’t always do it… there’s plenty of things you can only get through Walmart and Target, and you want to keep those places viable too because they employ your neighbors, your friends, and your family.  All things are better in balance, right?  So yeah, I’m sorry to wax a little preachy — I’m not a fan of the red suit or the dead tree; I participate because it’s important to my wife and kids, otherwise I’d probably opt out.  This time of year, season wise, makes me pensive and this bubbles up to the forefront of my mind every year.  Again: I’m not inviting debate here, nor am I challenging anyone else’s enjoyment of Christmas or “non-specific, politically correct, secular holiday season” or what ever.  I don’t like Christmas, but I do like the season and I do enjoy the spirit of the season… and I like Krampus, the Christmas devil… heh!

That lovable Christmas devil...
That lovable Christmas devil…

So, Patrick Rothfuss’ Story Board rocked this past week — it was a total geek squee for me (okay, okay… you got me, they all are).  This past episode was about blogging, and Patrick’s guests were: the Bloggess herself, Jenny Lawson; Wil Wheaton; and John Scalzi.  Now, you’ll note that I didn’t link any of those names like I usually do because they’re all in my blogroll — these are people I read and follow, they’re on my Feedly and my Twitter feed.  I’m a fan of each of these folks, but especially of John Scalzi, whom I look up to (like Patrick Rothfuss) for his accomplishments as a novelist.

The discussion on blogging was an extremely informative one, and I believe Patrick thought it was of particular interest to aspiring writers because blogging has become something of an essential component to being a successful author.  Patrick’s guests brought a high degree of experience (they’ve all been at if for a long time) to the discussion which became more about the art of blogging itself rather than a discussion of how it can be used as a tool to promote work and grant fans access.  Personally, my favorite part of the discussion was when the four panelists (for lack of a better term) spoke about blogging as a form of memoir writing, which I’ll readily agree is a constituent of why anyone would want to blog.  Sharing of oneself, even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers, is a huge part of being a writer.

For me, personally, blogging has eased my anxieties about sharing my writing which is kind of essential to being a writer.  Someone who glanced through my blog said, “you don’t put any of your writing up on your site.”  Bullshit, the entire site is my writing — it’s not my fiction writing, which is what the person meant, but it’s my writing never the less and it’s more personal than my fiction writing.  Sure, like any social and interpersonal interaction, there is a persona involved — it’s all part of the show, folks — but this persona, especially in this case, is very limited… it’s an extremely thin veneer, I assure you… I really am this much of an egotistical bastard, all writers are.  Any writer who tells you he or she is not egotistical is full of shit.  Being egotistical doesn’t mean writers aren’t good people; all artists are egotistical, it’s part of the drive which compels them create.

Watch this episode of Story Board and see what you glean from it; I’d be interested to know:

I don’t know why I haven’t been embedding these prior to this; it’s a dunder-headed oversight I will rectify from this moment on.  I actually got to watch most of this live when it aired on Tuesday which was the first time that ever happened — I may have missed the first twenty minutes or so.  I have to warn (only because Geek & Sundry does), these four have potty mouths so you may want to use headphones if the kids or pets are around and it’s definitely not safe for work.  If you feel inclined, I’d like to hear your impressions of the episode and you can do that in the comment box below.

I’ve started work on a new project, it’s something I’ve been meaning to write for some time and have just put it off repeatedly.  I’m going to begin by writing a series of short stories and perhaps a novella or two (yes, this is in addition to the other stuff I’ve been working on and the edits on both Hell-Kind and The Everlasting Darkness).  Again, let me emphasize that the best part about this is that I’m not on any sort of deadline — I’m my own boss, I work at my own pace, and I enjoy the freedom.  Until next time kiddies!  Cheers!


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