Open For Business!

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog recently, but that hardly means that I haven’t been busy! I’ve been building up to this day for some time (and have even dropped a few hints along the way).

But I’ve finally pulled the trigger, as it were. It’s time to take action. And that action is to start my own business.

I’ve called it Garnet Services, and it will allow me to serve you, my faithful readers, in what I can do best – editing and proofreading services. I have also combined this with computer maintenance and service, including house calls, but since that aspect is more of a face-to-face transaction, I’m afraid I have to limit that to Latah County, Idaho. Perhaps, if my business gets big enough, I can set up a shop in your location, too!

But little steps. Little steps.

The Website can be found at www.garnetservices.net. It still needs a bit of development (I’d like to add more graphic elements, for example) but all of the important points are there – what I have to offer, my rates, and some information about me and the business.

This is the first time I’ve tried to start a business. This is the first time I’ve tried to run a business. I’m sure that it’ll be a learning experience, at the very least, and quite an adventure, too.

Hopefully, a rewarding one.

In any case, I look forward to hearing from you on the site. And don’t worry – this blog isn’t going anywhere right now. I’ll still be providing writing tips and my perceptions as a writer from the great State of Idaho for quite some time. In fact, I may have some more time here in the short future to provide more tips.

Stay tuned. This business adventure is one of the big changes happening in my world, but by far, it won’t be the only one!

And, as usual, thank you very much for reading! I do appreciate it!

 

Guilty pleasures – are you in or out?

I generally don’t watch television. It’s such a passive activity. You just sit there and watch moving images on a flat screen.

I know some people – all right, a lot of people – enjoy it. But I much prefer reading a book or playing a game. I prefer activities which do more to challenge me and engage my brain. With most TV programs, I just sit there and absorb.

Or, more often than not, think about other things I could be doing, instead.

But tonight is different. Tonight will be the premiere episode of a reality series that my wife and I do enjoy.

It’s Season 15 of Project Runway.

For those that don’t know, this is a competition where 16 designers from across the country (and, occasionally, from other countries) compete to make fashions and complete various challenges. Some of them are somewhat traditional, like a dress inspired by architecture around them. But some of the challenges are really outlandish, like making an outfit out of car parts or candy wrappers.

I think I enjoy it because it serves as a time to bond with my wife. We talk about the different fashions and designers and try to guess who will win, and who will be cut. (Sometimes it’s also fun to go shopping later and actually recognize some of the designer’s names. For example, Christian Siriano has a deal with Payless Shoes. He also was the winner of Season Four of Project Runway.)

The shows can be seen on the Lifetime Channel, and they typically have the latest episodes available to watch for a couple weeks after they air. My wife and I will be watching!

Now back to writing. I have a novel to finish!

 

Top 10 Post – books that have influenced me as a writer.

My Facebook account occasionally pops up “memories,” or posts that I made years ago. I’m sure those of you with Facebook have seen these as well. Quite often, these memories will be something completely irrelevant to today’s situation (like when my laptop needed a new charger).

But today’s was an interesting memory – one of those “post this to 10 friends” thingies, but it was a list of the top 10 books that have influenced me in some way. It hasn’t changed since I posted it, either.

Here is the list as I posted it two years ago:

1. “Carrie” by Stephen King. Or pretty much anything by Stephen King. From an early age, I never could tell why an author who sucks so bad could sell so many books! I’ve used this as motivation for my own writing – I want to produce something of quality that can entertain as well as enlighten.

2. “The Terminal Man” by Michael Crichton. A lot of Crichton’s novels focus on “science gone horribly wrong,” and this is one of the first novels I’ve read of his. If you want real horror – and not the schlock like King writes – pick up a Crichton novel.

3. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. Speaking of “science gone wrong….”

4. “1984” by George Orwell. It’s hard for me to imagine a socialist utopia that doesn’t turn into this….

5. “Pawn of Prophecy” by David Eddings. The first “high fantasy” novel that I read, and it’s stuck with me throughout the years.

6. “Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett. High fantasy mixed with humor, and this is one of Pratchett’s best.

7. “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov. Forget the crappy movie with Will Smith. This collection of Asimov’s short stories lays out his “three laws of robotics” and helped to revolutionize the sci-fi genre forever.

8. “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury. Another collection of stories from another science fiction writer, some of these tales have really stuck with me over the years.

9. “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

10. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. I’ve read this one multiple times, and I still get a chuckle whenever I contemplate the Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

I noticed that these are all fiction. I wonder how the list would change if I considered the nonfiction books that have affected me as well.

In any case, what do you think? Are there any books that stand out to you in your own life, or motivated you in some way to pursue the career you chose? Feel free to comment and share!

 

 

 

A short challenge?

My wife has been kicking around an idea or two in her head. She would like to write a story, but she is having trouble with the whole writing process. We were talking about this a couple nights ago.

“I’d like to start, but I can’t do it,” she said.

“Why not? National Novel Writing Month is coming up. You should do it with me.”

She shook her head. “I can’t write like that.”

“Why not?”

She wiggled her fingers. “Because I can’t type as fast as I think. I won’t be able to keep up.”

“Then try slowing your thoughts down. Take things slower.”

“I can’t do that,” she replied, laughing.

I smiled at her. “Then you need to practice. Why not start with a shorter piece? I challenge you to write a short short story. Write a 100-word story.”

She shook her head while she laughed. “That won’t work at all! That’s not enough space to get into the detail that I want. That I like to read.”

“Why do you need to write so much detail, then? Let me give you the main example. Ernest Hemingway – ”

“Ugh, I can’t stand Hemingway,” she scoffed.

“Still, he gave an excellent example of a short, short story. It was almost inadvertent. He was able to tell a story in just six words.”

My wife gave me a skeptical look. “Really?”

“Yep. I think it was during an interview.”

“OK, what are these six words?”

I extended my hands to help punctuate the sentence. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.”

She pondered this for a moment before giving me a sad look. “That’s so sad,” she said, her voice edged with tears.

“I know, isn’t it?”

“The poor baby died.”

“Did the story ever say that the baby died?”

She thought about this. “No, but still….”

“Exactly. It’s implied, but never actually stated. Just six words, but the way they’re presented creates great emotional impact. So, what do you think? Ernest Hemingway only needed six words. Do you think you can do it in one hundred?”

My wife gave it some thought. “Maybe. I’ll have to see what I can do.”

So, dear reader, what about you? Can you come up with a moving short story in 100 words or less? I certainly enjoy these sorts of challenges. What can you come up with?

 

How about a poetry slam! In the most literal sense – I’m going to slam poetry.

I’ve never been much of a fan of poetry, really. Even all the way back in high school, when I took creative writing classes, the teacher, Georgia Tiffany Toppe, wanted to start by teaching us all poetry.

It sort of paid off because it helped me to learn how to write in a colorful, yet abbreviated fashion. This was later further reinforced by my time at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Why write two dozen words when five will do?

But at the time, I wasn’t fond of the approach. I didn’t really like poetry. And I still don’t, for the most part.

(Incidentally, a part of the reason for this post is to explain myself to you, my dear readers. I thank you all for reading and following my humble blog. I often try to return the favor but if most of your work is poetry… I’m sorry, but I’m not much of a fan of poetry.)

My wife and I have been going over our personality tests lately (I’m an INTP and she’s an INFP, and we make a great couple!), and I’ve learned that my personality type apparently has a reputation for being somewhat emotionless.

Or rather, in my case, I do have emotions. I just set them aside until I need them later. I have better things to do than get emotional.

But I think that this also has been what’s affected my outlook in most forms of poetry. A lot of poetry is centered around love or emotional turmoil. It’s a way for the author to express their feelings about a flower, or a lover, or a relationship.

Me, I tend to spot the typos, where the meter fails, and if the rhymes match up. I have an annoying tendency to focus more on the structure of the poem, rather than the content. As a result, most poetry is lost on me. This isn’t to say that I hate poetry – after all, it has its place.

Especially in the greeting card industry.

So I do apologize to my fellow writers – those I have known, those I know now, those I have yet to meet – but you don’t want me to read your poems. And you really don’t want me to edit your poems. Otherwise, our conversation will probably be like this:

You: What did you think of my poem?

Me: I thought it was good, for the most part. I circled the words in red that were misspelled, and you have too many syllables in the third line. 

You: But how did my poem make you feel?

Me: … I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the question.

Now if you have a short story or a novel, I’d love to give that a look! As long as it isn’t written in verse. If you’d like, you can e-mail me, and we can chat about what you have to offer, and the editing / proofreading services I can provide. Thank you for reading!

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

A few years ago, I read a quote by Steve Jobs. I’ve written about Jobs before. The founder of Apple Computers, the guy was a genius.

Nutty as a squirrel, but a genius nonetheless.

In any case, the quote is one that I’ve been turning over in my mid for a while now. It is this:

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

It’s a place where I’ve found myself for the past few years. The challenge has been trying to figure out where to proceed from here. What do I need to do to change that “no” to a “yes?”

I get the feeling that I’m not alone, either. Too many people are stuck in a situation or routine that they don’t like. They want to make their lives better. They hate their jobs, or their classes, or their relationships, whatever. But day after day, they still do the same thing. Why is that?

More than likely, because it’s comfortable. We are creatures of habit. People often don’t like doing things differently because that would mean change, and change is scary. So as odd as it sounds, we remain unhappy in our comfort zones.

But life is too short to spend most if it trapped in unhappy circumstances. We’re not here to be miserable. We all need to find our way to step out of that routine – out of that comfort zone – in order to find our purpose in this crazy world. What truly makes you happy? Are you doing that right now? If not, why not? As one of my previous blog posts asked, “What’s stopping you?”

The title of this post is not from Steve Jobs, but a much older source. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, this was something Socrates said during his trial. So this struggle is hardly a new thing! We should all take time to examine our lives. Try to determine if we truly are happy. And if we’re not, then we should take that as a cue that we need to change things.

I’ll go ahead and end with another quote from Steve Jobs. It’s specifically related to work, but that’s a big factor in most of our lives – and our happiness – anyway.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

Once again, thank you for reading!