BEDN (Blogging Every Day in November)

It begins! I plan on blogging every day in November. My goal is to write creatively each day this month. I hope to focus on one story, but I realize that sometimes what I post may not seem to relate to the story told so far. Feel free to ask questions, but realize they may get answered much later on. If you think you know where the story is headed, try to not spoil it for others! Lol. Here we go:

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November 1, 2015

Life shouldn’t be this hard, should it? I mean, I have a pretty easy life compared to most people, and still I have days when I wonder – when is it going to get easier?

For me, I think this mindset started the day I was born. I came kicking and screaming into this world, demanding everything … and everything was given to me without question. I didn’t even have to ask. My parents would just figure it out. Diaper change? Feeding? Rocking? Singing? They’d try it all until they’d find whatever I was wanting, and I’d be calm for five minutes. But then I’d get needy again, and start their whole dance back into motion. By the time I was three months old, I could have told them what I wanted, but I was a real jerk at that age and refused to talk until I was almost two. Luckily, they liked me anyway.

Their willingness to please me was endearing, of course, but it engrained in me this unhealthy expectation that life would provide whatever I need, when I need it. I came to expect that, rely on it. It sucked getting older, let me tell you! Having to learn to walk, talk, get dressed, feed myself, take myself to the bathroom … damn! That’s asking a lot. My parents referred to those years as “the terrible twos.” I’ll say! I hated having to become so independent. I don’t think I ever got over it, either.

The next ten years or so were a tug-a-war between me wanting my parents to do it all for me, and them wanting me to be self-reliant. Then, when I finally started to embrace the idea of being independent, they laid all these rules on me of what I can and can’t do. Seriously? Being a teenager became a daily battle of wills with them. By the time I was an adult, though, my parents felt like they’d won. They’d turned me into a responsible, productive member of society. Or so they thought. Between you and me, I still get annoyed when I cry and no one else steps up to immediately solve the problem for me. What a waste of energy crying is. Cathartic, my eye!

So they set me loose on the world, expecting me to do great things. And what have I done? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Well, let me rephrase that. I’ve done a ton of stuff over the years, but nothing that they’d hoped I’d do. I’ve had a lot of fun. I avoid responsibility like the plague. I hate being an adult.

Everything I do has consequences. I mean, everything. Mostly because the whole world notices me. I’m one of only a handful of first gens on the planet at the moment. So everyone treats me like I’m still a kid. Even strangers have an opinion on what I should be doing, and I hate being told what to do. Sometimes I wish I’d grown up on Mars! I wouldn’t mind it as much if Immortals were the only ones treating me like I’m a child. Everyone must seem like a child to them, after all.

Ben keeps telling me, “Hale, people will treat you like an adult when you start acting like one.” I usually stick my tongue out at him when he says that. He feels more like a second dad than a brother when he tries to lecture me. He’s been a really great brother, though. I hope he doesn’t die today. Or his wife.

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I Am a Grammar Nazi

I remember not speaking much when I was little. I had trouble understanding verbal communication, so it wasn’t until I learned how to read that my speech began to improve. People assumed I was shy because I would not talk unless absolutely necessary. Because of my underdeveloped skills in this area, I had to see a speech therapist in first grade to prevent being held back a year.

Conversely, I developed strong writing skills. My grammar was excellent from a young age. I have always noticed when words are misspelled or commas are amiss. I learned to point out these mistakes to family and friends very early on in life, and received a lot of gratitude and positive feedback for doing so. I do make mistakes when writing, of course, but I always appreciate when a courteous observation is made so I can correct my errors.

My practice of focusing on grammatical issues started innocently enough. I began assisting fellow students with their school work to keep their grades up. I was happy to do so. I was helping others and putting my knowledge to good use. As an added benefit, I was teased less for my silence. I never imagined my assistance would one day turn into a bad habit.

I still help friends today with their college papers or works in progress. It makes me feel good about myself to share this skill with them. However, the world today is different than the one in which I grew up. The Internet exists now, where people chat, blog, tweet, and text daily. The vast majority of online interactions are written correspondence. I rarely used the Internet before this year to engage in any of these activities though.

Now I find myself in the unusual position of reading strangers’ writings on a regular basis. These people do not request nor want grammatical feedback on what they’ve written from me. Yet I find myself offering unsolicited advice anyway. Once a beneficial skill to share, my editorial focus now upsets others. I’ve tried to stop. A lifetime of learning to attenuate to these problems and offer solutions is difficult to break, but I’m working on it.

The Internet has helpfully coined a term for people like me. We are Grammar Nazis. Some people are proud to be one. Others, like me, worry that I do more harm than good pointing out grammatical errors to strangers who are simply trying their best to communicate. I know what it feels like to be made fun of for not being able to communicate effectively, and I don’t want to ever make another feel like I’m being malicious or mocking them. I try to present my advice in a friendly way, though it doesn’t always come across that way to others.

I still receive requests for my grammar skills from family and friends, but I’ve become more hesitant to provide it lately. Logically, I know I should just give my advice to those who ask for it, and withhold it from those who don’t. Yet I do not find it that easy to do in practice. I know I’m not alone, either, or this moniker wouldn’t have been created in the first place.

So if I slip and correct you when you’ve not asked for my advice, please know I mean no harm. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about your writing skills. I want to help you improve them. Many people still thank me for this advice, and I feel great when I can help others in this way. Sometimes I get a rush from that feedback, and all is good. At other times, I upset someone, and I feel terrible about it. I hope I’ll strike a balance soon and stop offering help when it’s not wanted, but I’m not there yet. Please bear with me.

Has anyone else had this experience, or do you have some other talent that has become a liability in your life or social interactions? Please feel free to comment about your experiences below. Thanks for reading!

inner demons

New Poems For The Week

Here’s ten new poems for the week! I usually don’t post this many at once, but I was ten away from having an even 100 poems posted on my website, so I went for it!

When I’m Out With You
Use Your Words
Wednesday Whining
Enough
By Design
Safe Harbor
Talismans of Despair
The Wedded Nightmare
The Dream
Cracked

Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

If you like my writings, and wish to support my efforts to become a full-time, professional writer, you now have the power to make that happen! Simply sign up at my patron’s page at http://patreon.com/xzonia and pledge your support to drop some coins in my online bucket each month. Any contributions will be appreciated, and will help me have more time to write.

If you like these, you can purchase a book of my best poems here. Thank you for taking the time to read my poetry!

Fanfics, Journaling, and NaNoWriMo

I love the show Criminal Minds and adored it in solitude for years. I finally went online in 2008 to the CBS message boards to chat about the show with other fans, and I ended up making some really great friends there. CBS shut down their message board a few years later and turned it into a Twitter-styled posting area, which was not conducive to fans actually talking with each other, so a small group of us made our own message board. We still chat on it together regularly, though I have limited my talk time to once a week to chat about the latest episode since I became more serious about my writing endeavors a few years ago.

Since our conversations are all written, many of us have strong writing skills. Two years ago, one of my CM family members, Thn, decided to write a piece of fan fiction for the show every day for a year. She called the project 365. She succeeded in writing about the show every day in 2013. I didn’t read it until after I finished my first novel last year. I was impressed and inspired by her dedication, and I enjoyed many of the storylines she came up with for these beloved characters. It’s an amazing piece of work that she accomplished, which you can read here.

I decided to start a daily journal this year where I could write down all my story ideas and scraps of writing each day to keep track of them. I named it 365 as a tribute to Thn’s work, and it serves as a reminder for me to write daily. Today I noticed that my journal is 382 pages long. Some of those pages are filled with screen shots of pictures, drawings, and other visual information I wanted to save, but they also contain (at this moment) 179,371 words that I’ve written. I was surprised I’ve written so much, and there’s still three months left to this year! (To give some perspective, my novel was just under 76,000 words after I edited it, and it took me two years to write.) Thanks for your excellent example, Thn!

I’d like to say my 365 journal is full of remarkable musings that I will someday spin into entertaining stories, but most of what I’ve written within those pages isn’t worth sharing with anyone else. It quickly turned into a normal journal, and I have written a ton of my thoughts, feelings, and nightly dreams in it. Still, it has kept me writing this year, and I find that process therapeutic. I strive to limit what I blog about here on my website to the “best of” my thoughts from this year, and spare my readers my rambling reflections. However, I do have a few story ideas I’d like to develop that wouldn’t fit neatly into a short blog post.

NaNoWritMo is coming up soon. For those of you who don’t know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is an organized event each year for writers to sit down and write 50,000 words for a novel in the month of November. I’ve participated in the past, but I’ve never met that writing goal or finished any of the novels I started for NaNoWriMo. I usually lost interest before the month was over.

I have been thinking that this year I might instead start a story here on my website on November 1 and add to it each day for the whole month. I’m hoping that having an audience would motivate me to stick with it and finish the story in that time frame. I want the exercise to be about getting myself into the habit of writing creatively daily, not about word count or whether I finish the story by the end of the month. Writing my thoughts and dreams down has been helpful to me, but I want to move away from that to producing work I can share with others.

I have an idea for a novel that I’ve wanted to write for a while that has a little mystery in it. The story would be rough and unedited, nothing like what I normally post on here. It might have continuity problems since I probably won’t remember everything I’ve written as time goes on, and I might go off on tangents that don’t initially make sense. I think it could be fun though. I considered just starting it at the beginning of this month, but I liked the idea of doing it concurrently with NaNoWriMo, as I don’t plan on joining in with that competition this year but want to do something creative. So that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.

Please feel free to comment with any thoughts you may have on this idea. Thanks for reading!

New Poem This Week

Here’s a new poem I wrote today! Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Know Me

If you like my writings, and wish to support my efforts to become a full-time, professional writer, you now have the power to make that happen! Simply sign up at my patron’s page at http://patreon.com/xzonia and pledge your support to drop some coins in my online bucket each month. Any contributions will be appreciated, and will help me have more time to write.

If you like these, you can purchase a book of my best poems here. Thank you for taking the time to read my poetry!

What Is the Answer?

I saw this posted on Facebook yesterday:

What is the Answer 1

Several people posted that the answer to this question is 90. Others said 72, 36, 0 or some other number. None of them were wrong.

This is a logic problem that does not provide enough information to explain it with only one correct solution. Several answers can satisfy the question as it is presented. How valid those answers are is debatable. For example, here are two solutions that are questionable:

What is the Answer 2
In the first example on the left, the proposed solution is that each number is multiplied by a number that increases by 1 each time. It looks simple, but the numbers on the left skip from 6 to 9. Should this absence be taken into account when writing the multiplier numbers on the right? This solution opts to ignore the skipped numbers, so 9 is multiplied by 8, and the answer is 72.

The solution on the right suggests multiplying each number by the number below it to get what the top number equals. This approach does take into the account that the numbers 7 and 8 are skipped. In fact, this solution does not work if they’re not taken into account, as 6 x 9 equals 54, not 42. Further, this solution assumes that the number below 9 will be 10, giving the result of 90. Some people responding to this problem on Facebook argued that the numbers could start over again at 0 or 1, or perhaps wrap around from 9 back to 2. These assumptions would give the answers 0, 9, and 18 respectively. Any of these solutions could be considered correct.

Returning to the solution on the left, let’s look at how it changes if we take the skipped numbers into account. Then we can write the solution in this way:

What is the Answer 3
In this approach, the answer becomes 90, not 72.

This solution can also be written as a mathematical formula:
What is the Answer 4

Using this formula, we find the answer of 90 again:

What is the Answer 5

What I like about using this formula as the solution is that it no longer matters if we add 7 and 8 into the solution or not; the formula still gives the result of 90. However, this is not the only solution that works whether we consider the missing 7 and 8 or not. We could instead use the equation X*||X-6|-7|, which provides an answer of 36:

What is the Answer 6

These are not the only solutions to the proposed problem. They are a few examples of how this problem can be interpreted and solved.

The respondents on Facebook could not agree on what the correct answer would be, and many argued that their proposed answer was the only correct one. Many resorted to name-calling and belittling to make their points, so I won’t be providing a link to that discussion.

Thinking about this problem led me to wonder, not for the first time, what is reality? Even from the rigorous perspectives of math and logic, sometimes the same problem yields different answers. Growing up, I liked the idea that science could boil our reality down to hard truths, absolutes that we can rely upon when making decisions. This isn’t always true, though. Some things cannot be quantified. Some problems have multiply answers that are equally valid. How do we choose between them?

We’re not accustomed to thinking both sides can be right on a given issue. What if they can be? What if some of our most complex problems in life are a result of multiple solutions being equally valid? Our politics are polarized today, but what if the various parties are all presenting effective solutions to the problems we face? How do we choose among them? We argue about religion, spirituality, and the physical world as if only one idea can be true. What if everyone is correct? Is it possible that the truth isn’t black-and-white, or grey? It could be all three simultaneously.

Perhaps I’m being too radical in my conclusions, but it is interesting to contemplate. Could we achieve more harmony and happiness among groups with different values and priorities if we understand that each group could be “right” in their point of view? The truth may be less absolute than we like to think of it as being, and sometimes reality may genuinely be a matter of perspective.

What are your thoughts on this topic?