Thursday, March 28, 2013

A to Z

Hi gang!

This year, I am going to try something completely new. This will be quite a challenge for me, but my new year's resolution was to grow, challenge and improve myself as a writer, so here we go!

Starting next week, I am beginning the A to Z blog challenge. It's a blog hop of sorts with one major challenge: save for Sundays, writing a blog post every day in the month of April and each post must pertain to a letter of the alphabet. The calendar is as follows:

Week One:
April 01, Monday - Letter "A"
April 02, Tuesday - Letter "B"
April 03, Wednesday - Letter "C"
April 04, Thursday - Letter "D"
April 05, Friday - Letter "E"
April 06, Saturday - Letter "F"

Week Two:
April 07, Sunday - BREAK
April 08, Monday - Letter "G"
April 09, Tuesday - Letter "H"
April 10, Wednesday - Letter "I"
April 11, Thursday - Letter "J"
April 12, Friday - Letter "K"
April 13, Saturday - Letter "L"

Week Three:
April 14, Sunday - BREAK
April 15, Monday - Letter "M"
April 16, Tuesday - Letter "N"
April 17, Wednesday - Letter "O"
April 18, Thursday - Letter "P"
April 19, Friday - Letter "Q"
April 20, Saturday - Letter "R"

Week Four:
April 21, Sunday - BREAK
April 22, Monday - Letter "S"
April 23, Tuesday - Letter "T"
April 24, Wednesday - Letter "U"
April 25, Thursday - Letter "V"
April 26, Friday - Letter "W"
April 27, Saturday - Letter "X"

Week Five:
April 28, Sunday - BREAK
April 29, Monday - Letter "Y"
April 30, Tuesday - Letter "Z"

Am I up for this? I don't know. But I am willing to try. I want to improve as a writer, and there is no better way to do that than by something like this.

My theme will be creativity and the arts. As a person who grew up in and appreciating all art forms, I didn't want to limit myself to one medium. So, I will be discussing the arts in their various forms and creativity.

I hope you like all of my posts and I hope I can win this challenge! :)

So, until Monday, happy reading! :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Repetition and Redundancy

Happy Thursday, gang!

This week has been an usual one, to say the least.

I have spent the past few days with my family. My stepfather was dealing with a medical issue, so I made the six hour trekk in order to help my mother.

Because my routine had changed and my time was limited, I ended up using the same entry for my columns on gaylifenewsletter and gayleeds.

This is the first time I have ever done this, and I hope to make it the last. I absolutely advise against it as readers do not enjoy repetition nor redundancy.

As a writer, I do my best to keep my blog and various columns interesting and unique. Each has its own voice and audience/readership. I don't want to bore any of my readers, so I work diligently to keep every post different.

At times, that can be a bit overwhelming. After so much, is there anything new to say? I'm writing stories, blogs and columns. How much can one person say? There were times I definitely questioned my ability to come up with fresh, original work. Yet, to date, I have only reused a column once. This time now. That's not to shabby.

Readers want originality. They don't want to read the same story endlessly. Now, I'm not talking about re-reading a favorite novel. We all do that, and it is wonderful to experience your favorite story time and again. But, would you want to read a story where the cover art is different and the characters' names are different, but the storyline is the same? I wouldn't. If these stories were by different authors, I'd assume someone plagerized. If it was the same author retelling the same story, I'd call them a formula writer (something I abhore severely). Either way, I as the reader, lose.

I don't like losing, nor do I like causing other people to lose. So, I focus on originality. I do my best to ensure that you as a reader do not lose because I could not create something new. I push through the occasional block so that you are not disappointed.

This is not me claiming to be a saint or the best writer out there. I'm just explaining that it isn't always easy to have something fresh when you're constantly writing.

On the flip side, creating causes creativity. The more one paints, the more one's artwork improves and increases. The more a singer sings, the more opporunities the singer has to sing. Creativity begets creativity. Er go, the more I write, the more original my writing becomes. And that, my friends, is the best part about writing - or any art form, really. It is a gift to have the creative juices flowing.

That is the other reason why I diligently work to keep my writing unique. I am giving you, the reader, the gift of originality and I am giving myself, the writer, the gift of more creativity. It's absolutely a win-win situation.

Yes, currently if you were to visit both sites, you'd see the same column. I'm not proud of it, but extenuating circumstances made it necessary. Again, this is my first offense, and I don't ever plan on repeating this mistake again. After all, who likes repetition? ;)

Happy reading, y'all!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Happy Thursday, gang!

Today, I want to talk about something that affects us all: fear.

What are your fears? Are you afraid of the dark? Afraid of dogs? Afraid of failure?

My fear is economic. That I am money-driven by any means. I'm not. That's why I'm a writer and a vet tech. Money has never been important to me. I do what I love, not what pays the best.

For me, there is familiarity there. I have known veterinary medicine for ages. I have been writing since childhood. There is great passion there. But I am also holding myself back.

I am holding myself from being a full-time writer. I have wonderful excuses as to why I don't quit my job (which I am more than happy to complain about at any given moment). I have a family to support: a wife and pets to feed and care for; vehicles to maintain, bills to pay. You name it. I have to be responsible. It sounds good. It IS good.

Why on Earth am I talking about all this? For a few reasons.

First and foremost, it is a constant topic in The Artist's Way, a program that I am working with several wonderful and amazingly creative women.

I was just introduced to The Failure Club as well. I LOVE the idea and highly recommend it. Check it out here:

On a personal level, a family member is going through a very scary time right now. A major medical issue has come up unexpectedly. Though the doctors are hopeful, it's not a guarantee. I love my family and would do anything for them. Some people at my job have been wonderfully understanding. Others not so much.

I have been through enough in my life time to know that when I am on my death bed, I will not regret having not worked more. What I would regret would be time lost with loved ones. I refuse to live with that kind of regret. So when this news hit and I got a reaction that was less than stellar, I knew the time to move on was coming.

The only reason I have not quit is the fact that I have nothing lined up. I have several writing "gigs," but none bring a weekly or bi-weekly check. A differet day job simply does not exist for me currently, and it is not for a lack of trying.

What I see, though, is that this fear is holding me back creatively, emotionally, physiclly and even spiritually. I m not fulfilled. I am not satisfied emotionally. I am worn out. I view my job as a hinderance rather than a joy.

Change is coming. And change is good. What I have to do is have faith. Have faith that even though I don't see that safety net, I must believe - I must KNOW - that it is there. Have faith that a higher power, the universe, God will catch me and is in control. Have faith that what is meant to be will be and it will all happen in perfect time. I have to have faith and not fear.

That is far easier said than done, but I am trying. I try daily to not allow my fear to destroy me or to slow down my progression; to never stop working towards my goals. I try because I know that what I want and what I am capable of are far greater than my current situiation.

My message to you would be to try to conquer your fears as well. Go after that dream. Do what you want to do. Live the kind of life you want to live. Don't let fears hold you back. Don't live with regrets because of fear. We only get one shot at this thing called life, don't sell yourself short.

With all that being said, I bid you adieu and will go write some more so that the big scary monster known as fear can be seen in its true, rather small proportions. ;)

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Education

My wife is an educator. More specifically, she teaches learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children. Over the years, her students have run the gamut from autism to anger issues. Last night, we were discussing the state of the educational system.

In New York state, there is standardized testing. Which sounds harmless until you consider the fact that the results of her students' test scores are added in with other students' scores and then we get the state average. How can one of her students, who might be severely learning disabled be compared to a non-LD student?! We all know that they can't. It's not balanced - it's not a fair fight.

Unfortunately, in the end, the students - the children - will be the ones who lose. Neither the average student nor the LD student will get the full education that they need and they will then be thrust into the real world, forced to struggle unequipped.

What does any of thids have to do with writing?

For me, even as a child, education was of the utmost importance. You had better believe that English class was a top priority. I knew the differences between there, their and they're a long time ago. It saddens (and even frustrates) me that my peers - my colleagues - do not know those differences. I look on Facebook and just see such horrible grammar. When I do so, I am appalled.

Now, I am not trying to pass judgment on people. Maybe they didn't pay attention in English. Maybe they had a crappy teacher. Who knows? The point is, they were not properly prepared for "the real world."

You may be asking yourself, "what difference does it make if they use there instead of their?" The differences are: (a) we are not the only English speaking country in the world. The British know their language pretty darn well. I can guarantee you, they just checked to make sure I used the proper "their." (b)As an aside to (a), we look like idiots on the global stage. We are not looked at in a good light by other countries. The fact that we cannot master our own language makes us the laughing stock of the world. (c) Isn't it important to know how to balance a check book? It's a part of our daily lives, right? We speak constantly, right? Words are also a part of our daily lives. Ergo, proper use of our words should also be not just a part of our daily lives, but an important part of our daily lives.

It is for those reasons that I proudly call myself a grammar nazi. I refuse to appear ignorant and inarticulate. I refuse to fall into the stereotype of the ugly, uneducated American. This is our language, but sadly, I have met many people for whom English is their second language and they have mastered it far better than we (the native speakers) have. I have tremendous respect for those people and their native tongues. I also have tremendous respect for my own language.

What's sad is that a key part of this linguistic issue is that teachers aren't able to teach proper grammar because they are overworked, underpaid and forced to follow curriculums set by the government. They have to cram ridiculous amounts of information into shorter time spans. They do not get the opportunity to teach the way they want to teach. They want to teach proper grammar as much as I want to see and hear it. Sadly, they just can't due to these regulations.

We need to master our language and we need to improve our educational system. Both are in a very sad state. I think that if we were able to improve both, we as a nation, would improve. Our global image would improve and our culture would improve as well.

So, here's to better education and better grammar for us all!