A Brief Look at Thankfulness & Perspective

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the things I’m thankful for. It’s partly due to the recent Thanksgiving holiday, but it’s also because this time of year always has me taking stock of how my year has gone overall. December is right around the corner, and the new year will be along soon enough as well.

While things can always be better in life, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Gratitude is a beautiful thing to practice, and goes a long way in helping me appreciate the things and people in my life.

This year, I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for the few close friends I have, and I’m very thankful for my friends around the world who have helped to keep my head above water on a regular basis. For any of you who read this: Thank you so very much.

Despite so many things, I’m thankful for so many things. While it’s difficult to list them all here, this serves as a good record and reminder.

Perspective always matters.

On Preferences & Writing by Hand

I am a writer.
As such, one would think I do the bulk of my writing on my laptop. That’s true in a way, I guess. I do write a lot on my laptop, but I usually only do that after I’ve written a good chunk of text by hand first.

Many writers I know – nearly all of them, actually – would probably scoff at my overwhelming preference for writing my work by hand. I think doing so is seen by many people as a waste of time to a certain degree, as everything eventually will need to be typed into a computer anyway. It’s true, but in my mind, you have to write in a way that’s comfortable for you.

For me, that way is by hand, with my favorite pens and notebooks. (If you’re curious, I use a Fischer Space Pen or PaperMate Profile pens, and Moleskine notebooks or good ol’ Mead Composition notebooks.) I switch things up sometimes when it comes to these tools, but every project I’ve ever written -finished or not – has begun in a notebook of some sort.

Why?

Simple. I think better on paper.
I’ve always expressed myself in a much clearer way when writing by hand.

Yes, writing by hand takes time, but I use that time to really think about what I’m writing and what I want to say through my writing. Writing this way also presents the risk of self-editing, but then, so does writing on a computer. When it comes to that inner critic, you have to put up a mental block. But that’s a topic for another day.

And call me old fashioned or whatever you’d like, but in my opinion, nothing beats a good notebook and pen combination. Nothing. I’m not sure why that is exactly. Perhaps it’s because I was lucky enough to reach high school before the Internet really became a big thing. Who knows.

You can say I’m wasting valuable time by writing my works in a notebook first, but I’ll always have my reasons for doing things my way.

Have questions? Let’s have a chat.

On New Ideas & Slight Superstitions

Last Friday night, I started writing again.

I started a new story. I started writing it by hand in a small pocket staple notebook from Story Supply Co., a company I had backed on Kickstarter. When I start on new project ideas, I almost always do so by hand, as I’ve always been the type of person who thinks best on paper.

In the last few years, I’ve shifted away from discussing my writing projects and ideas with people outside of my close-knit circle of writer friends. I forget where I read it and also forget who wrote it (Stephen King, perhaps?), but I came across something that alluded to the idea that once you discuss your ideas, they’re dead. Call me superstitious or whatever you’d like, but in my mind, there’s a certain truth to that idea.

Because I believe in that idea, I won’t be discussing my new project here. Not right now, at least. Maybe soon, after I get some more things down in this handy notebook. For now, the mere fact that I have a new idea should be exciting enough, especially if you’ve been following my writing journey through the last year.

It feels good to be writing again, even if I’m unsure of what will come of it.

A Farewell to Evernote

I’ve been a big fan and loyal user of Evernote since it appeared as an open beta back in 2008. Over the last year, I’ve considered moving away from it.

Today, I’ve started doing so.

When I first started using Evernote, I had no idea what I’d do with it. I had less of an idea what it would turn into. In the beginning, it was a simple note-taking app. Years later, it’s still a note-taking app (albeit a much more robust one), but has become anything but simple, in my opinion.

I’ve always used Evernote as the main research hub for my creative endeavors. Each project was given its own notebook, and each notebook contained numerous notes. At first, it was all pretty wonderful. There were set locations for everything I need for a story. Research, photos, outlines and timeliness. It was all there, and the best part was that I could access it from my phone (which seemingly always changed), my laptop, or simply via the Internet anywhere.

I loved it. Loved it.

And then the Evernote devs gathered together and threw a whole lot of ambition into the platform. New user interfaces appeared. Work Chat capabilities showed up. What was once fast and simple suddenly…wasn’t. Evernote’s beautifully slim and functional former self disappeared into a bloated garbage fire that rendered it all but unusable.

Notebooks took nearly a full minute to load. Notes refused to open and began crashing applications. The interface became so convoluted that what once took a click or two to access now took four. The features I never used (such as Work Chat) began to get in the way, hindering my progress more than pushing it forward.

The final nail in the Evernote coffin came when paid tiers arrived. I’ve never been against developers wanting to make money. My Evernote needs didn’t require a paid tier membership, and that’s fine. My issue began when endless pop-up Prompts started aappearing every time I opened the app or visited the website.

Every single time.

If I’m going to opt for a paid plan, it’s not going to happen because of endless pop-ups. It’s going to happen because I want it to. When prompts keep distracting me from my work, an app is no longer useful to me.

So, thanks, Evernote. It was a fun ride.

On the Confusing Process of Revisions & Where to Start

I’ve been away from any sort of structured writing program for over a year now. I haven’t been working on a large writing project during that time, but had been working on some shorter projects. Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, pieces of shorter substance that have, for whatever reason, been easier for me to stay focused on.

Lately, I’ve been thinking hard about the novel I used as my thesis in my MFA program (if you’re curious about some of my experiences in that program, be sure to check out the links at the end of the post). I haven’t completed any writing on this project since May 18, 2014. That was the day before the final thesis was due to my mentor and program director.

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Looking Back: A Year Since MFA Graduation

June 29th, which is only three short days away, will mark one whole year since I graduated from Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

To say I miss it would be a gross understatement.

Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the greater Boston area were my home away from home from June 2012 until June 2014. That tiny campus on the back side of monstrous Harvard University was where I learned to be myself, believe in myself, and believe in my work. It was where I finally understood that I was a writer.

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