P is for Priorities

I haven’t been blogging the A to Z Challenge these past few days because they were blocking me from getting the necessary things done—namely writing my novel, editing Kate‘s novels, and preparing books for publishing (and other life obligations).

PI’ve been blogging for well over a decade, and love it. I’m not stopping blogging altogether. It’s just that, given the day job, trying to wedge in the A to Z Challenge as well was turning out to be a burden. I have to focus on priorities.

So no more A to Z, unless serendipitous Muse comes for a visit. Thank you, everyone who stopped by and commented. I hope to see you again.

K is for Keyboard

Regular keyboards give me a pain — a pain in the wrist, specifically. It makes a huge difference when you’re typing a lot for emails, blog posts, proposals, articles … and novels.

I tried a number of keyboards.

Kinesis keyboard photo

The Kinesis Advantage is one of the most radical ergonomic keyboards out there. With scooped-out keyboard forms, it’s designed to conform to typical finger paths, not conventional keyboard grids. However, there’s a very steep learning curve. What put me off, though, were the rather long keystrokes. This issue can be addressed somewhat with some hacks, such as swapping key switches and adding rubber rings underneath each key to try to limit they keystroke distance, but this already is a very expensive keyboard (several hundred dollars) and having to take it apart key by key just to make it acceptable didn’t feel all that sensible, so I somewhat regretfully returned it.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic photo

The Microsoft Sculpt keyboard is a lightweight and modern offering from the company that had the most popular ergonomic keyboard in the 1990s. It wasn’t bad, but the Option and Command keys are swapped in position, which would require new less-optimal keystroke habits. In the end, I sent it back primarily for this reason.

Goldtouch Go!2 keyboard photo

The Goldtouch Go!2 keyboard does not have curves, but it does have a universal joint in the middle that allows you to angle they left and right halves of the keyboard, and even peak it in the middle, so you can find your own comfort position to avoid things like wrist pronation that can contribute to RSI. I like the quick-action scissor-switch keys, which are most like the keys on Apple keyboards, and don’t require a ton of motion in order to register a keystroke—very important when you don’t want to feel like you’re typing through mud. The keyboard has a switch for Mac and PC layouts. And it folds up, making it portable. Some people may dislike that it’s a USB keyboard, but I don’t mind—one less battery-driven device to worry about.

How I am happy.

I is for Iambic Pentameter

ITo what domain should I devote my pen?
To verse where I betray my ignorance?
For I to put these words on blogging, sense
Is strained by hackneyed turns of phrase — what then?
Oh Muse! Betray me not! This dalliance
Is but a metered post occasioned when
The A to Z endeavor strikes again
A block on all my words. And so I hence
I am giving up writing iambic pentameter.
Trochee troubles set up by dactyl frustrations.
And lines get tangled up in dull calculations
So my all my metrical feet can all, in the end, fit inside there.

H is for Ho Ho Ho Hee Hee Hee Ha Ha Ha

HIt’s one thing to know formal English, but this is not all that’s required for the subtleties of communication. Consider these monosyllabic grunts—and their variants—that begin with H:

  • Ha! (That’s funny!)
  • Ha! (I don’t believe you.)
  • Ha! (Go away, critter!)
  • Aha! (I see!)
  • Ha–ha! (That’s very funny!)
  • Ha–ha! (That is not funny.)
  • He… (Who?)
  • He (Helium)
  • HECKa–BBBBBB! (I’m making a hip TV reference you probably don’t get.)
  • Hee! (Made me giggle.)
  • Hee–hee! (That’s funny.)
  • Heeeeyahhh! (I didn’t really want to be President)
  • Tee–hee! (I want you to think that I think that’s funny.)
  • Hee Haw(How old are you?)
  • Hey–hey! (I have arrived, and I have a tattoo.)
  • Hi! (Hi.)
  • High. (Probably best not to drive.)
  • Hi ho! (Don’t say more or you’ll get a DMCA notice.)
  • Hmmm…. (I’m not sure about that.)
  • Ho! (“Whoah,” but more indignant.)
  • Ho Ho’s (Yum!)
  • Ho Ho Ho! (Fat man in red suit coming.)
  • Ho–ho–ho! (Did you eat your peas?)
  • Ho-ho-ho! Hee-hee-hee! Ha-ha-ha! (I am the walrus.)
  • Hoo! (Small mammals, watch out!)
  • Hoo–hooo! (Small mammals, seriously, pay attention here.)
  • Hooray! (I am now cheering for you.)
  • Huh! (I see.)
  • Huh? (WTF?)
  • Huh uh (My answer is “no,” but I don’t want to say the word.)
  • Huh huh huh! (That’s funny!)
  • Huzzah! (Hooray [in some retro-ironic kind of way]!)
  • Hwahhh! (I know kung fu!)
  • Hyeeahh!! (I like pretending to know kung fu!)
  • Hyohhh–oh! Yo–ee–oh! (Stay away, airborne monkeys!)

Did I miss any?

F is for Fear

FI confess! I have many fears: fear of death; fear of illness; fear of embarrassing myself; fear of letting people down; fear of heights; fear of spiders; fear of being stupid; fear of intimacy; fear of ending up alone; fear of the dark; fear of food poisoning; fear of ridicule; fear of failing….

They’re all irrational, and many are contradictory. That’s the nature of fear. It fucks with you. It makes you hesitate. It makes you timid. It compels you to make conservative choices — not great for a creative artist. (Not great for an entrepreneur, either.)

Fear is everywhere. It poisons our souls. It paralyzes us. It brings out the worst in us.

Fear corrupts our culture.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
—Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

Fear poisons our politics.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

Fear is something we try to laugh off.

Coward, n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Facing fear can be daunting in itself, but is there any other way?

A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.
—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

I may be afraid to face my fears, but I’m even more afraid to not face my fear. I’m afraid of a life governed and controlled — even destroyed — by fear. This fear trumps all others.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
—Theodore Roosevelt, Strenuous Life

So how do you defeat fear? Maybe it’s through counting your blessings? Or focusing on what’s real and what’s only imagined? Maybe it’s through a mantra or litany?

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
—Frank Herbert, Dune: The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

I do a little bit of all of that. Yet defeating fear is not an accomplishment. It’s a practice. I work to defeat my fears every day.

My fear of heights, though, I’ll leave be. I can live with one.

E is for Education

E“The problem with the School of Hard Knocks,” they say, “is that the final exam comes first, and then the lesson comes after.”

I am a student of this school. No, don’t ask for an ID card. No cards are necessary in this school. We enroll ourselves, and if we flunk, that’s on us.

How do you flunk? You fail to learn the lesson. What about the exam, you ask? That doesn’t matter. Almost everyone fails that at one point or another. It’s the lesson after that counts.

And there are no grades, except what you give yourself.

B is for Blocked

BWhat do you do when you’re blocked? I freewrite. That’s what I am doing here. I just keep my fingers going, typing on the keyboard, spitting out words, not stopping for anything. I don’t kow what my next sentence is so I keep typing. Why am I blocked? Why? There are a lot of B topics I could blog about. I could blog about blogging. I could blog about beauty. Or bitchiness. Or bits. Or brandy. Or bugger. Or bollocks—

Don’t the Brits have great swear words? So arcane, so bizarre, so regional. So rude. And yet with their accents they come off as being polite even when they’re describing animal testicles.

It was Writing With Power, by Peter Elbow, where I learned about freewriting and the act of separating the Creator within from the Editor within. You see, if your inner editor is too powerful, too ascendent, then nothing you write will be any good and your editor will have you deleting what you write long before any blue pencil could be brought into action. It’s the separation of the processes that is the key. Writing. Then Editing. Not both at the same time. Otherwise it’s like driving with your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time. Or trying to–never mind, I was going into some bathroom analogy that would be inappropriate for this venue.

Anyway, where was I? I was wondering what to write next. I have no idea so I’ll just keep going if you don’t mind. After all, if you get bored you can just click away. Amazingly foolish, that last sentence, actually asking you to click away. Not very wise of me, is it? But hey. What can I say? I’m freewriting. This is the uncensored truth. Or at least the unedited truth. Or at least the unedited blathering on of someone who was feeling blocked on this letter of the A to Z Challenge.

I mean, when you think about it, I’m in trouble if I have to resort to freewriting on only the second letter of the alphabet. I mean, how hard is B, anyway? It’s not like it’s X or something.

X. That will be a hard one. Most of the X words that come to mind actually use X as a word in some silly, colloquial way, like “X marks the spot” or “X Men,” where X means just a mark on a map indicating a point at the vertex of the two lines, or extraordinary, respectively.

So back to the freewriting. If I get stuck on F I’m not going to be able to go here again. That would be rather redundant, wouldn’t it?

Lest I bore, I’m going to stop bitching about Brits and bits and buggers and go have a glass of brandy, so that I can sit in the comfort of my home and think about all the things I could’ve blogged instead of this.