A rebrand, with more new stuff coming…

I have lived many stories. I have done many things. Through all of them, I’ve never had something I’ve had interest to write so much as to write a book about it.

Writing has been a near life-long interest, hobby, and benefit to my career. I started reading at 4, with spelling and writing coming along shortly after. Until the joy of literature and creative writing was beaten out of me by uninspired and end of career teachers, and one specific very likely racist English teacher, I might have taken a more active, professional interest.

Instead, writing was left to personal notebooks until I realized my reports as a police officer were well regarded. As I left law enforcement and went into business, my professional style developed with a shift toward business writing. Eventually, I became a technical communicator as an intrinsic part of my roles, which brought new methods and skills to my writing.

Through storytelling, social media, and other blogs, I have received continuous, healthy feedback from friends and family. At work, I have been encouraged by prior managers and coworkers. Finally, throughout my life, I’ve heard a repeated, mostly serious, and occasionally pejorative phrase…

“You should write a book.”

I have lived many stories. I have done many things. Through all of them, I’ve never had something I’ve had interest to write so much as to write a book about it.

Yet privately, some things changed…

The last few years I have explored inspiration and creativity again, revisiting the joy of my younger years, and healing some of the wounds I had from childhood teachers. I have been properly diagnosed with ADHD, and I’ve developed tools to help me beyond the personal tools I had through the first part of my career. Through a renewed spiritual interest, I have explored literature, poetry, and committing emotion and artistic meaning to writing. Essentially, many of the things which would be necessary for me to even consider writing a book have now happened, but there was one final problem.

I needed an idea.

Among my reading, among the stories, among everything I have explored the last few years, I have found something unexplored which uniquely aligns with me, and is a story I am very well inspired to develop and tell. Part of me is deathly afraid that someone out there is in the process or already has a head start on writing it, but another part of me comforts and assures that even if they did, they could not and would not have the unique take for this story I do. The other part of me fears that in the uniqueness of this story, I may not gain either readers or following for more, but that is a problem for another time.

The important thing, at least right here, right now, is that I now have at least a book to write, with ideas for storytelling, art, and other mediums for a long time to come. They have come through like a fissure suddenly opening from green land, erupting lava, forever changing the landscape of my mind.

So now I do have a book to write, or at least an idea supporting one. For some people the ideas come easy, and while for me this is true, finding an idea worthy of taking action on the scale of writing a book has been new. Here’s the catch…

I don’t know how to write a book, or at least, I don’t assume I know how to write a good one.

So as with all things, the decision to write a book also begins with learning how to do it. I could assume I could start right now, write a few stories as chapters, mash them all together between a prologue and epilogue and call it done. I imagine especially in the beginning this process won’t be too far off that. I also have the benefit of this coming about two weeks before November, when the annual NanoWriMo competition (?) begins. I’ll be working on the book through the month of November, provided I get some of what I need to do done before Nov 1. I don’t want to rush my work, but I do want to do it well and get it done.

Finally, it will not be my only writing. It can’t be. To keep the skill of writing sharp, you have to keep writing to hone it. So that’s how I’m using this space, apart from my other notebooks. Here I will write about what I’m doing, my process, and from time to time I might drop other writings about other things. Maybe even some poetry as I encounter it in myself.

So I come back around to you as a newly aspiring book writer, what are your tips, tricks, and tools which you use for writing novels? What are your pains, your gotchas, and your watch-outs? I’m also interested in any groups or workshops which might be a good fit, and I’m looking out for those separately.

Finally, I want to thank anyone who has told me, at least halfway seriously, that I should write a book. I’ve usually either responded with extreme humility or absolute certainty I will, but I have never been sure the day would come where I would be inspired for it. Here we are, and here it is. Thank you. I would not be doing this if it weren’t for the encouragement I’ve received, and the support of friends, family, and loved ones.

Peace, Harmony, and Balance,

Alex

The First Signs of my life at Apple

As I approach my 10th chronological and official year with Apple (Sept 2017 and Feb 2018, respectively), I am looking back at what led me here and what the road has been. This is the first post about some of my experiences on this path leading up to next February, when I hope and plan to celebrate that 10th official year. I never take the next day at work or in life for granted, but I’m excited about the next few months.

Identifying a problem

August 8, 2005, I wrote:

Mom had bought a new Dell computer, and despite my warnings, actually paid them $100 for home installation. She said the guy wasn’t there long, and after he left, the sound still wasn’t working. I took me about 20 minutes to fix what he didn’t do right (the sound and he even used the wrong I/O monitor connections), and then spent the rest of the evening installing necessary programs and getting her Outlook set up. It almost disgusts me that so much work has to be put into a new computer to get it up and ready for the individual person. I’m about to go to a CompUSA, so I think I may go by and check out the Macs.

Discovering an old archive

I recently downloaded and logged into SpiderOak, an encrypted backup service I trialed many years ago, to give it an updated look. I thought everything had been deleted from the service when I stopped using it, but I was surprised to see it had about 3GB of data in use. I found the 3GB in the trash file, and the data was recoverable!

I was impressed the service had kept 3GB of data for years in a Trash bin without so much as a login on my part. I downloaded the data to find it was an old version of my Documents folder, complete with a backup archive of my old blog. It has posts from May 2005 through January 2006, covering the separation from my first marriage and subsequent decision to leave law enforcement and my hometown!

Perusing an old blog archive

I spent time today reading through the posts. It has been almost twelve years since that place and time. In my writing I see the sparks of the person I was to become. Early signs of the growth I was to experience in leaving my first career and hometown in search of something different.

In twelve years, I have changed religious beliefs and political parties. I have lived in four different states, including moving across the country to the west coast. I have remarried and had a son with my second wife. I have had a life-altering surgery to correct a heart condition which had not been properly diagnosed at the time. I have built a second career in Information Technology, and I have worked for [what I believe is] the best computer and personal device company in the world for almost the last ten years.

Many things have changed since I was the person writing that blog. Yet, among the differences, I see the foundations which would become the life altering events the last twelve years.

Getting a solution

Before I was in tech, I was a cop. My interest in tech blossomed during that time, and I began learning what I consider now to be the basics. By the time I had written the quote above, I had become the “tech guy” in my family and occasionally at work. 

When I wrote the first quote, I was outlining a problem. I didn’t know that problem would lead me to recommend an iPod to my stepfather early the next year.

January 30, 2006:

Ok, something has been on my mind since my trip to Charlotte last weekend. I set up my stepfather’s new iPod Shuffle 1 gig, basically from scratch. This included downloading and installing iTunes, ripping about 15 of his favorite cds to the computer, and adding them all to the new shuffle. Having not used iTunes since version 1, I figured it would take me a bit to figure it all out and that it would involve reading instructions, directions, or maybe even a call to tech support (those of you that know me KNOW it is an absolute last resort). I was wrong, and that is my problem. It was all so simple and easy to learn. The interface was so intuitive and user friendly. My beloved podcasts are integrated into the program, without a need for a separate program like iPodder that I use with Windows Media Player 10. Transferring files to the new iPod was fast and simple, unlike the complex world of syncing with WMP. Somewhere in the simplicity, I was hooked. I thought of the ease of conversion of my current music library from the unprotected WMA I use now to the AAC format of iTunes. I even came to accept that the files that did not transfer well could easily be purchased through iTunes, having never given myself over to the confusing cacophony of various music stores available through WMP (fear of obsolescence, I guess). Having received an offer from a coworker just last week to purchase my current RCA Lyra, I have found myself perusing the Apple store online, searching and deciding whether to jump on the iPod bandwagon.

I didn’t know that recommendation would lead me to buy one myself, or that it would lead me into an Apple store. I couldn’t have imagined those early trips to an Apple store would influence me to apply to work at one in 2007.

Ending up on the right path

I’ve been asked many times why I left law enforcement and how I ended up in tech. The months of the archive I read today cover the answer I’ve always given: I had a choice between staying where I was and looking for something different. I took the bold choice, the one of a dreamer, the one that didn’t make sense, and it eventually worked out. It wasn’t all roses. It was far from it. Tech wasn’t the first career I tried. Apple wasn’t my first employer.

Before that decision, I was never the risk taker. Making that decision was the single pivotal choice between the life I knew before and the life I have now. It was the first decision that challenged me to think differently than before.

Things I do when I should be writing.

I should be writing

I enjoy writing. Whether for pleasure or work, I enjoy taking a blank page and putting words on it. There are few feelings of satisfaction for me compared to taking a blank page and forming structure from ideas.

I think the best way of improving any skill is by doing it. Reason would hold that to become a better writer, I should be writing more. Apart from this blog, I have business and technical writing at work, various personal projects and internet correspondence, and a handwritten journal I update occasionally.

Instead of writing, most days I end up:

Best option: Reading

If writing is the best way to become a better writer, reading is a close second. I read books, magazines, articles, anything about anything. I enjoy reading, and through reading learning about the world, imaging new worlds, and considering different perspectives. Even in the wildest fantasy fiction, we experience characters which present a different view of their world than what we would have. We are put in positions to build empathy and respect for characters, although fictional, which may affect how we empathize and respect those in the real world.

If I cannot write, I think I should read, and even some times I can write, I should still read instead.

Statistically probably option: Sleeping

Clocking in at six to eight hours of every 24 hour cycle, can’t rule out sleeping as something I should be doing instead of writing.

Sad but true option: Thinking of what to write

This is when I’m waylaid by my own jackassery. Maybe I need one of those writing prompt idea books. Ultimately, I think my goal in writing is to write the book I want to read. Right now, I can think of two non-fiction writing projects I could take on and a series of three to four fiction works. Why I haven’t so much committed an outline to paper is my own doing. Maybe this is the year I get motivated.

The I’m human too option: Maintaining basic hygiene

Everyone poops. Isn’t that a book?

The just like crack option: Consuming other media

Television. YouTube. Movies. Wacky internet videos. All of these things contribute to distract, calling out for precious neurons to interconnect and process, taking away from more productive tasks. As I sit here watching Rick and Morty I know my own focus is not where it should be, but hell, the point of this post is to get the juices flowing again.

Option gotta pay the bills: I’m working

Writing isn’t my day job. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’d ever want it to be my day job. I like having an office, working with other people on the type of things I work on. I’m not sure the idea of the lone writer, or even the collaborative writer meeting up in coffee shops is my cup of tea.

Nothing else to do? Write away

Which is where I am tonight, looking at a blog I started months ago which is woefully short of content. This is my jumping point to get back on the horse. Now when I’m doing those other things I am probably doing when I’m not writing, I hope to recall this post and remind myself I should be writing, then get to it.