Tag Archives: diet

Trimming the Fat

There are several things that I could talk about with a title like this one. I could talk about starting a diet, which I certainly need to do. Somehow I managed to let myself gain back almost all of the weight that I lost a few years ago. It just kind of snuck up on me, a couple of pounds a week, until this week when I had to break out my XXXL shirts again. Naughty writer! I also need to cut back on driving in to work and commit to riding my bike more often. I mean, really! The main route I take is only three miles, with very few hills. The only excuse I have not to ride is when it is raining, and that’s a pretty flimsy excuse considering the number of times I rode my bike in bad weather when I didn’t have a car.

Another thing I could talk about is something all writers need to do, and most don’t enjoy—editing. Getting the first draft down on paper is good, and we all want to make it as good as we can get it the first time around, but any writer that tries to publish that first draft usually finds out that it isn’t as good as they might think it is. I recommend a second or even third draft before handing it over to a professional editor, who will tell you how much it still sucks, and give you a chance to redeem your failures before it goes public. Most of the stories that I have written so far are still in the first draft stage. The ones that I have spent more time on have only gone through a second or third draft, and none of them have gone to the pro. Not even the one that I got published, and believe me, I could kick myself for not doing so. The only excuse I have for not spending more time on it is that I had a deadline.

But let’s get away from that and start talking about what I really wanted to say tonight. In order to spend more time on my writing I need to trim out some of the other things that take up time in my busy life. For example, sleep. Actually, I’m kidding about that. What I have been cutting down on is watching television. I still record some of my favorite shows, but I confess that I have been letting them pile up on my DVR without watching them. Another thing that I have been considering cutting back on is this blog post. I am thinking about only posting one time per week, probably on Sunday. That way I will be able to give everyone an update on each of my latest Dirty Little Freaks stories right after they are finished, and I will have the rest of the week to write the next one without worrying about what I am going to post on my blog on Wednesday.

What kind of fat are you trimming from your life recently? What are your inspirations for doing so? Is there any way we might be able to help each other keep on the right track? I would love to hear your comments, and I’ll be back with another blog post next Sunday.

Oh, and by the way, my latest Dirty Little Freaks story (# 23) is finished. It may have been inspired by Hogan’s Heroes, but I’m not sure how well I captured the feel of the show. But that’s okay, because that is what editing is for, right?

See you next week!

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Ouch!

I started writing Dirty Little Freaks #14 on Sunday, and I actually got most of it done. It’s not a very long story, so far only about 500 words, but it’s okay.

And then Monday came. And I decided I had waited long enough to get on my new bike, so I rode to work.

Ouch.

After a two-year hiatus of riding, my body is pathetically out of shape. I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost a few years ago, which I had sworn never to allow to happen. So now I’m back at square 1.5 (not all the way to square 1 because I didn’t regain ALL the weight), and I’m starting over.

The reason I stopped riding was because my poor bike was worn out. I had been riding it almost every day for eight years. And yes, I do mean every day. The bike had well over 10,000 miles on it, and while I paid for the shop to rebuild it every other year, they had never changed out the chain, and it should have been replaced after the first 5,000 miles. Between the stretched out chain, the worn out gears, and the overall wear and tear on the poor thing (including a cracked frame), I just couldn’t ride it any more.

In February I bought the new bike, fully intending to ride it in March. And then March happened. You know the old saying that if March comes in like a lamb it goes out like a lion? Well, after last month I am convinced that both the lamb and the lion were eaten by a polar bear. So I never got a chance to ride my brand new bike. Until Monday.

I took the “easy” route to work, avoiding the worst of the hills. About three miles. But by the time I got there, I knew just how badly out of shape I had let myself become. And then I had to do it again after work. By the time I got home I was so beat I couldn’t move. My wife helped me get my helmet and bike clothes off so I could collapse onto the couch. When I could finally manage to function again the first thing I did was adjust the seat height. I had thought it was okay when I left for work, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that it needed to go up at least an inch. I also installed my bike computer, so I could track my mileage and speed. Then I took some Advil and went to bed early.

On Tuesday I did it again. Adjusting the seat really helped, and I wasn’t nearly as winded or worn out by the time I got to work. I stopped to vote on the way home, so I can’t say how I would have felt if I hadn’t, but I’m hoping there was at least some improvement. I was, however, very disappointed by the numbers on my bike computer. Before I stopped riding I was averaging fifteen miles per hour on my rides, and now I have trouble getting over ten.

I’m going to continue to commute by bicycle as much as I can from now on. It will save me about $40 a month on parking, not to mention gas for the car. And it will help me get my fat ass back in shape. Hopefully it won’t be long before I can make the ride without feeling like someone is sitting on my chest. Either that or I’ll have a heart attack.

And I WILL finish #14 this week. And do my taxes. It’s good to have goals.

I’ll check in again on Sunday (if I’m still alive) to let you know how I’m doing. See you then!

P.S.: My new bike is a Marin Muirwoods 24 speed with disk brakes. And it’s black. If I make it through the week maybe I’ll post a picture.

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Distractions

I have to confess. I don’t have much written on my new story. I know that I said that I hoped that this one was going to go just as quickly as the last one, and it might actually happen that way, but first I have to start.

Instead, what I have been doing is archiving these blog posts. I have over 200 posts here, and I thought it would be a good idea to save them offline. So I have been copying them to Microsoft OneNote, along with some of my other writing notes.

While I normally write my stories in Scrivener, I like OneNote for this because it is searchable. It’s like a Wiki in that way. I can simply dump the info into the notebook, and then enter a search word or phrase later to find it again. I’m thinking that this might be a better way for me to organize my story notes as well, so I can quickly find details such as hair and eye color for my characters, as well as other minutiae that comes up as I write.

But all of this is a distraction from getting my words on the page. And that just won’t do.

I’m going to leave my book at home today and just take my netbook to work so I can concentrate on getting this story out. And tomorrow too, if I have to.

I’ll be back on Sunday. Hopefully with good news about finishing this story. See you then!

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Trying to find Balance

One of the hardest things for me as a writer is finding a balance. I’m not talking about balancing plot points and character development, although that is difficult as well as important. No, what I am speaking of is finding a balance between my writing and the rest of my life.

Part of being a writer is opening yourself up to the rest of the world. You have to share a vital part of yourself in order to engage the reader. The tricky part is figuring out which part, and how much you can show. Show too much, too soon, and people will think you are overeager. Show the wrong parts, and people will get bored, or angry.

Kind of like being an exotic dancer.

Think about it. If you went to a strip club and the dancer showed you the goods right off the bat, you would be a little disappointed, wouldn’t you? After all, part of the show is the “reveal”, and you can’t have a reveal if you never cover it up in the first place. And if the dancer never showed you anything, you would be just as upset. After all, you paid good money for this show, and there are certain expectations about what is going to happen when you get inside.

Okay, now this analogy is starting to get me off-balance. See what I mean?

What I am trying to say here is that I am having trouble reconciling my personal life with my writing. I have certain, deep-seated beliefs that frequently conflict with the things that I write. There are many times when the words that come out of my head make me uncomfortable, because they aren’t the kinds of things that I believe I should be writing. And yet, there they are.

I’ll come right out and say it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Otherwise known as the Mormons. Yes, the same church that Mitt Romney belongs to (even though I think he’s a bad example of our faith).

One of the tenets of being a member of my church is living the law of chastity. That means so much more than just not having sex. It also means avoiding pornography and keeping your lustful passions confined to the marriage bed. And it means that when I start writing about sex and use four letter words in my stories I am either walking a fine line or stepping over the edge. And that’s what makes me uncomfortable.

This is tough for me. On the one hand, I’m not being unfaithful to my lovely wife. I’m not even looking at dirty pictures on the Internet. But when I write about other people having sex, it’s like letting a fantasy out of my head. And it’s probably not a fantasy I should be having in the first place, much less share with the rest of the world.

What makes it even more difficult is that I know for a fact that there is a huge market for erotica out there, and writing about sex would be an excellent way for me to make enough money to keep the hounds at bay. An important consideration in this economy.

Last week I announced my “Dirty Little Freaks” project, and I said that it would possibly contain some erotica. To be honest, I’m rethinking that decision, for the reasons I have just stated. I started the series with an introduction to the narrator, Boomer. I wrote it as a one-legged midget who uses his “other leg” to make up for the missing one. He used words that I would never use in public (or in private, for that matter).

I don’t think I like this guy. I think he needs to go away.

But that means that I need to come up with something to replace him. I kind of liked the idea of a dirty little freak introducing the stories as tales of the strange and unusual that he came across in his travels around the world. But that also means I would be limited to stories set in the modern age, and on this planet, and it may be better to open the floodgates a little wider and give myself some more room to play.

I was thinking that doing this series would be a good way to have some stories on file for possible submission to assorted magazines and anthologies. And the more different types of stories I have, the more options I have to present to editors.

Pardon my rambling. I find that I have a tendency to start on one topic and end on another. I hope you guys don’t mind. And this post is getting a bit long-winded, so I had better wrap it up anyway.

But first, a few other things that I need to say about my struggles with balance.

A few years ago I made a commitment to lose weight. I started at 320 pounds and by the time I was done (about a year and a half later), I was down to 175 pounds. I was proud of myself, and I swore I wouldn’t let myself get that fat again.

I broke that promise. I am back up to 290 pounds, and I have to say that part of the reason for the weight gain is the hedonistic lifestyle of being a writer. I have splurged on unhealthy food and gone out to eat at restaurants when I should have been dining at home. I have enjoyed cake and candy when I should have been sticking to carrots and celery. I have stopped exercising, and my bike (which I used to rely on as my main mode of transportation) is rusting in my basement.

I’m sick of it. I hate what I have let myself become and I have made a resolution this year to get back on my diet and start dropping the pounds again. I have started logging my food intake again and I am trying to keep my calories under control. I plan on getting my bike to the shop for an overhaul this spring so I can start riding to work again.

The diet and exercise will also be taking time away from my writing, which will make it more difficult for me to meet my writing goals, but it is more important to me right now for me to get back to a healthy lifestyle.

This is the balance that I am trying to find. Balance between my faith and my words. Between my diet and my urges. Between my health and my writing.

Life is all about finding balance. I am working on finding some in my life. How are you doing in yours?

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December 19 – Getting Stuck

I don’t know what to do. So I’m not doing anything. 😦

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I missed Saturday. And Sunday. And so far I haven’t written anything today. Not good.

I could make excuses by saying that I haven’t been feeling well. I woke up on Friday with a sore throat. Not a great way to end my last week of work before my vacation. I felt a little better by Sunday, at least enough to go to church and a family Christmas dinner, but right now I feel awful. I’m going to try to get some more writing done tonight, but to be honest, I’m not looking forward to it.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

My word count is now 54,317. Not a lot done since last time. As a matter of fact, the last time I wrote anything (on Friday) I only added 56 words.

The reason I haven’t written anything is because I think I’m stuck.

I know. On my last post I said I was fine with doing fight scenes. And yet, I don’t know where I’m going with this one.

I think the main problem is that I tried to get in some conversation before the weapons came out. It’s a lot different writing a battle when there is a reason for the fighting.

When I was writing the fights in my first story, it was easy. One side was a bunch of demons whose only motivation was death and destruction. The other side was the heroes trying mainly to survive. My second story was another Valkyrie story, but the fights were also pretty simple. She was fighting against a werebear, whose main motivation was simply to kill her and her friends.

So now I have a fight with a Valkyrie and a giant sea serpent, but the monster isn’t just out to kill her. It has a secret plan, and it also has the added advantage of knowing that she has the restrictions of law and order to keep her from simply attacking it, even when she knows it is guilty. So I have to somehow make her either lose control and attack first, or make the villain do something to provoke her into attacking him.

The thing I wanted to use for the provocation is the death of her new husband. The trouble is I don’t really know how to get him involved. He is on the boat, but he isn’t on the deck with her. And with the size of the monster I really doubt he would be stupid enough to attack it on his own.

So until I figure out how to bring him in I really don’t know how to go any farther.

Anybody have any ideas?

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

The scale was not my friend again this morning.

I usually only weigh myself once a week, but I’m tempted to try again on Thursday morning, before my next post. Maybe if I am careful and get on my exercise bike (another thing I haven’t done today) I might be able to have some good news on that front by then.

I know this is my vacation, but I swore I was going to be doing some writing during these two weeks off, so I really need to stop screwing around and get my butt in the chair! I’ll let you know how it goes in a few days.

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December 15 – Fight Scenes

I’m fighting to keep going on my book.

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I missed another day. Last night I planned on doing some writing after our weekly Dungeons & Dragons game. The game was actually cancelled, so I got home early. And what did I do? I picked up a book instead of sat down to write. I thought I would read for just a little while, then do my writing.

Then I fell asleep on the couch.

By the time I woke up, it was past my bed time. I could have done a little writing before bed, but I was so beat the thought didn’t even cross my mind. So no new words last night.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

Despite my failure last night, I have managed to write on the other days, so my word count is now 53,743. The fight scene is right around the corner, and I think I’m ready for it. The last thing I wrote was that the villain (a giant sea serpent) is hovering over our heroine, dripping water everywhere.

I have written several fight scenes in the past, and I never had much problem with them. My NaNoWriMo story last year had at least three major battles in it, and I used to like writing them. As a matter of fact, it got to the point where if I wanted to boost my word count I would throw in a battle, which would practically guarantee an easy thousand or so words.

I don’t know why the fight scenes are so easy for me. Maybe it’s because I can visualize each move of the battle. Maybe it’s because it’s mostly action and reaction. One thing leads directly to another. The hero punches the villain, he punches back. In this case, the villain drips on the heroine, she pulls out her spear.

But jumping straight into combat isn’t what I’m doing here. This needs to be a little more than just a fight to the death. This is, after all, the finale.

What I’m looking to do here is start a conversation between our two combatants before they start trying to kill each other. She is supposed to be a police officer in the normal world, and in my mind the main job of the Valkyrie is to keep order in the supernatural world. So even though this monster killed her father, she has a duty to negotiate with it before resorting to violence. So my main concern now is showing that internal conflict before I get to the external one.

Don’t worry, there will be blood. And death. And lots of pain. But the pain needs to be both physical and mental, or it won’t be a strong enough scene.

How do you feel about fight scenes? Have you ever written one? Was it easy for you, or hard?

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

The potluck was everything I expected it to be. Tons of food, a lot of which ended up on my plates.

Yes, that was plural. I had way too much to eat. Stuffed to the gills and crying for mercy.

I tried to make up for it by not eating breakfast before it started. I also skipped dinner afterwards. And breakfast the following day. I’m not sure how effective that was, but I’m hoping to at least stay even when I get on the scale next Monday. I do have a family dinner to go to on Sunday, but those usually aren’t quite as bad as the potlucks at work.

I’ll be back with another update on Monday. The first day of my vacation! Woohoo!

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December 12 – Working Toward the End

I’m still pushing on, trying to wrap things up by the end of the year.

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

Mission accomplished. I managed to write something every day. Not a lot, but at least I wrote something. I focused a lot of time on catching up on my reading, and managed to read four books over the weekend. Now I’m back to being ahead of schedule on the Goodreads challenge and should have no problem finishing on time.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

My story is up to 52,715 words now, and I’m working on the final confrontation with the villain. I know I need to write a fight scene, and I don’t think that will be a problem, but I’m struggling with the buildup to the actual battle. I think it’s important to set the right mood for this, and I’m not sure what I’m doing is working.

It’s hard to transition from a wedding to a fight. I made the choice to go directly from the wedding, so the bride will still be wearing her wedding dress during the battle. I know it has been done before, but I couldn’t resist. Besides, it makes it easier to drag the groom along with her if he doesn’t give her a chance to ditch him. But I’m still not sure if it was the right thing to do.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about it and just get to the fight already. After all, that’s what editing is for, right?

Do any of you have any tips on the best ways to work up the tension towards a final confrontation? Or anything you want to share about your own struggles with this?

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I went to my church Christmas party on Saturday and ate too much. I had two plates full of salad, scalloped potatoes, and ham. I did make sure that the salad covered half of each plate, so I tried to at least make some good choices. But I should have stopped with one plate.

Despite the indulgence, I managed to lose some weight over the last week. I guess walking to work every day is paying off. I am planning to walk almost every day this week as well, even though the weather forecast is pretty dreary.

I won’t be walking tomorrow, though. Tomorrow I’ve got a potluck at work. I’ll be bringing pumpkin bars for my contribution. I am going to try to restrain myself, but I’m not making any promises. We’ll see what the scale has to say next week to find out the damage.

I hope you are all having a good time this holiday season, and wish you the best of luck in your writing efforts!

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December 8 – Reading vs. Writing

I’m falling behind in my writing. Bad author! No cookie for you!

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I missed another day yesterday. I feel bad about it. My excuse for not writing now is that I am trying to catch up on my reading. I’m on Goodreads, and I signed up for their reading challenge by committing to read one hundred books in 2011. I was ahead of schedule for most of the year, but then when NaNoWriMo hit I stopped reading for the whole month of November. Now I’m two books behind and need to read another nine books by the end of the month.

There is good news. I have two weeks of vacation coming up at the end of the year, and plenty of books to read. By the end of December I should have made a significant dent in my to be read pile.

Of course the bad news is that every hour I spend reading is an hour that I’m not writing. Maybe what I should do is reward myself with an hour of reading for every hour of writing, at least until the story is finished. Or maybe two hours of reading for every hour of writing. Or at least no reading until I have done at least some writing.

How do you handle conflicts like this? They say that it is just as important for an author to read as it is to write. How much reading do you do compared to your writing time?

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

November is over. The story isn’t. I am up to 51,687 words now. I’m not sure how much longer it will be when it’s done, but I don’t think it will be more than 70,000 words. Maybe even less than 60,000.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

As far as my health goes, my doctor added another pill to my daily regimen to try to control my blood pressure. He put me on triamterene-hydrochlorothiazide a couple of weeks ago, and now he has added lisinopril. I have another review at the beginning of January and we’ll see if they need to add anything else.

The diet is tough with all the holiday potlucks and special events I have to attend. I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about it, though. I have to watch my blood pressure, you know. 😉

How is your writing going during this holiday season? Are you struggling to find time to write among all the other distractions? What tips do you have for getting your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard?

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December 5 – NaNoWriMo Withdrawal

Less than a week into December and I’m already starting to FAIL!

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I skipped Saturday. I don’t know what it was, but on Saturday suddenly the whole day was gone and I hadn’t written anything. I have no excuses. I wasn’t very busy, I just didn’t write.

I haven’t written today yet, either, but I am planning to work on my story as soon as this post is finished.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

Done and done.

I completely forgot about the wrap party until it had already started. And since it was at a regional member’s house instead of a public venue, and I didn’t have the address, I missed it.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I am still walking to work. I didn’t get on my exercise bike this weekend like I had planned, but I tried to watch my diet and keep the calories under control. I weighed in this morning at the same weight as last week. That isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either. At least I didn’t gain anything.

I really want to finish my story by the end of the year. I want to take it apart and edit it at least once before giving it to anyone, but I think I might have to share it with my Muse as soon as it’s done. I wonder what she’ll think of what I did with the character named and modeled after her.

Have you ever used a volunteer as a model for your characters/story? Or do your stories have unsuspecting victims and you deny any similarities to actual people or events as coincidence?

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December 1 – NaNoWriMo Recap

I’m a winner!

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I have done this. NaNoWriMo was a struggle, but it forced me to do a LOT of writing every day. Now that it’s over I have slowed down a bit, but I am still writing. I want to finish the story I started by the end of this year, and it feels like I have a long way to go.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

I logged 50,113 words on 11/29. I didn’t bother updating my official tally yesterday, but I did get a few more words in after that, ending at 50,270. I worked on it some more today, so the story is currently at 50,499 words and I plan on doing some more writing tonight.

But before I start my writing, I thought it would be useful to go over my NaNoWriMo experience and let you know how I felt about the last thirty days.

First, let me say that I didn’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as I did last year. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I’ll try to go over several of them now.

  1. The shine has worn off. Let’s face it, last year this was an all new experience for me. I had a challenge to face. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it, so I threw everything I had at it and I pulled it off early. This year I knew I could do it if I could manage to stay focused, so it wasn’t as much of a challenge for me. In short, I didn’t really care if I finished or not, because I had been there, done that.
  2. All the planning and preparation I did before November didn’t work out too well. This was no different from last year, but this year it seemed more of an issue than last year. One of these days I am going to do a proper outline before I start writing and see how much easier the story is. This year wasn’t it.
  3. I wasn’t really excited about my story. This is probably the biggest reason for my disappointment. If the author isn’t excited about the story, he can’t expect the reader to like it. This, along with the lack of an outline, may be why…
  4. The story felt like it was rambling and unfocused. My characters were going all over the place, and doing interesting things, but there weren’t really any character development reasons for them to go those places and do those things. For example, one of the last things I was writing was a wedding scene. Somehow my Valkyrie ended up getting married at a racetrack. How did that happen? And why? I have no idea, and that is a big problem.
  5. The local participation seemed to be not as good as last year. We had about twenty people show up for a kickoff write-in, but I never saw most of those people again during the rest of the month. We invited everyone to join us at our regular Tuesday meetings, which had been converted from critique sessions to writing sessions, but nobody came. This week even the rest of my regular group failed to show up, and my wife and I were the only ones at our regular table in the restaurant. I don’t know where everyone was writing, but I’m guessing that most of the time they were doing it alone, and one of the best things about NaNoWriMo is getting to know other local authors. This year I just didn’t feel the love.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for NaNoWriMo and all it does for writers everywhere. It is a great program and I will continue to participate as long as I can. Just because I was disappointed this year doesn’t mean I’m going to quit. And a big part of the problem was with me and my lack of interest in my own story. I have eleven months to come up with a new story for next year. Hopefully I will be able to come up with one that I can get excited about.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

Today I walked to work. I drove to work for all of November, as I was lugging my laptop in to work on my book during my breaks, but since NaNoWriMo is over I don’t have that excuse anymore. So the car is parked and I will be trying to walk as much as I can. I just have to make it through the next two weeks before I start my Christmas vacation. I should be able to do that easily. I’ve also got my exercise bike at home. I plan on dusting it off and getting some more miles in before the end of the year. With luck I’ll be able to at least get below 240 by the end of the year.

How about you? Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Share your story with me, I would love to hear it.

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