An Interview with Me

I was interviewed by Tony Roberts today on his blog, A Way With Words.

Tony contacted me via my bio page on Today’s Author to ask if I would be willing to participate in the interview and I agreed.  He sent me a few questions about the Today’s Author site and my wishes for it, about the writing that has impacted my life and about my feelings relating to script production and story publication.  You can read the interview here, on Tony’s blog:  Interview with Author and Playwright Rob Diaz II

Check it out!

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My New Writing Gig

As most people who have followed my writing are aware, I have been involved with the Write Anything website for several years – first as a participant in the Fiction Friday writing prompts and subsequently as a contributor and deputy editor.

Write Anything is closing up shop this month and its departure left me and several others looking for a new gig.  What we decided to do was create our own little writing corner of the internet:  Today’s Author.  At Today’s Author, our goal is to inspire creativity.  We hope to provide insights, tools, tips and tricks for writing through regular posts, but we also hope to provide inspiration through our writing prompts and the interaction between us and our readers.  The goal, of course, is to be writing and in many ways each of us involved with Today’s Author has been inspired, sought inspiration or needed the inspiration of a solid, supportive writing community.

We want Today’s Author to be that community.

Our official launch is this coming Tuesday, January 1, 2013. It seemed fitting to start the new site along with the New Year.  That said, we did a soft launch this week to get some of the kinks out, work out some issues with the technology involved and figure out what we liked or didn’t like about our chosen theme. These kinks are further evidenced by my accidental publication of a post… supposed to be scheduled for January 2, 2013 but instead I published it on January 2, 2012. Sigh. There really isn’t all that much difference between 2012 and 2013 before the first cup of coffee of the day, is there? Anyway, my first post for the new site went live on December 24 and describes a little bit of where I am as a writer, where I have been and where I want to go.

So pop on over to Today’s Author.  Read the posts we have up already. Check out the author bio pages for our team.  Interact with the writers and readers of the site.  Click through on the writing prompt submissions to check out some neat new fiction that was written in response to the prompts.  And follow us.  You’ll be getting involved at the ground floor of something I hope will become really big!

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Not Amused by My Muse

I want to take my muse out back and shoot the freaking beast.

Wait, wait… Let me take a step back and explain my frustration.

I have paper and pens with me nearly all the time. Why is it that the best ideas I get come at the few times where I either don’t have the paper and pen or when it is just not feasible for me to write anything down? It doesn’t matter what the idea might be. Whether it’s a song or a poem or a story or a limerick, the ideas come when I simply cannot do anything about them.

It has always been this way. When I was younger and writing a lot of the time—in other words, before I got a real job—my muse was always around, playfully throwing things my way at the most inopportune times: while standing at attention in the middle of a football field awaiting the start of a marching band competition, on stage during commencement speeches, during final exams, while writing down a customer’s order when I worked at the restaurant, during my driving test or while being put under sedation for surgery (for example). When I stopped being so receptive (due to the aforementioned “real job”), my muse turned to giving me the silent treatment much of the time and largely that has continued even now that I’m trying to write regularly again. I sit down with a blank page and wait for the wonderful flow of words to begin, but my muse remains silent and hidden. I’ve begged, pleaded, offered to buy it fancy, expensive coffees… but the only response I get is a huff and a sigh and an angry comment:

Oh, you want me to be available on your schedule? Well, that’s just not how I work, buddy!

But recently things have changed a little. I’ve once again started to hear the voices. No, not THOSE voices. THOSE voices have always been there, haunting me, taunting me, telling me to… well, ahem… I digress.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Recently my muse has begun speaking to me again. Once again, though, it is proving to be sadistic and mean. The ideas that come arrive in the middle of the priest’s homily, during my speeches and presentations at trade shows (again, for that silly “real job”) or while driving down the highway. Today there was the idea for the Great American Novel, which appeared to me in a vision while I stood in the middle of the shower at the YMCA surrounded by other men in various states of attire or cleanliness. (Shudder.) Yes, thanks, oh malicious muse. That was convenient. Of course, the idea disappeared by the time I was dressed and near a pen and paper, perhaps chased away by the brightness of the white, shiny pages, perhaps taken away by a spiteful and bitter muse.

At times I’ve been angry about the way this has worked and at other times I’m more at ease with it. At the end of the day, do I want writing to be “easy”?  Or do I want it to be work?  I kind of want it to be both, actually—good ideas that, with solid work, become great.  Looking back, the stories that have worked the best for me were the ones where I remembered the vague whispers that came my way during trips to the DMV or dentist appointments. If the idea has “stuck”, lingering in the back of my mind and remaining memorable for however long it takes me to get to the business of writing it down, that is an idea worth exploring further.  The other ideas, trudged from my own beleaguered, sieve-like brain, usually just lay splattered across the page lurking and glaring menacingly at me, snickering and howling with glee at my terrified glances.

So now I sit here, with time to write, a desire to write and the means to write. A few ideas have come to me in the form of a few tiny little nuggets… but nothing real clear has formed. When I ask my muse how to make these little gems work, the response from the evil beast is:

Hey, I’m just the idea guy. It’s up to you to make the 600 magical, talking, radioactive zebras and the 5000 hungry, lactose-intolerant lions play together nicely as they try to save the world from within a 500 square foot cage made of piano wire and duct tape.

This is followed by a few moments of diabolical laughter and then my friendly neighborhood muse is gone, waiting for the right moment to pounce on my unsuspecting psyche, most likely the next time I’m sitting in the little room at LabCorp for a blood test or when I’m called for Jury Duty.

Yeah, that sounds like as good a time as any.

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My 2012 Anti-Resolutions

written based on the [Fiction] Friday prompt on December 30, 2011: “What are your Anti-Resolutions for the coming year?”

 

  1. I will not petition the USDA to make them add a coffee section to the ChooseMyPlate dietary guidelines, despite the fact that coffee is an important part of a balanced diet.  I will, however, continue to pursue all avenues while attempting to ensure that coffee is identified as a vegetable, just like ketchup.
  2. I will not bedazzle my cellphone, my sneakers, my eyeglasses or my laptop bag, no matter how much my wife and daughter think I should or how much my son triple-dog-dares me to do so.
  3. I will not go quietly the next time the aliens come to get me.
  4. I will not sit and eat pizza and donuts while my son does planks, pushups, sit-ups, wind sprints and other strengthening activities in preparation for the upcoming baseball season, mostly because he can now throw a baseball hard enough to hurt me. I might chance some nice, hot coffee, though. Coffee is worth a few baseball-induced bruises.
  5. I will not spend all of my time reminding my daughter that no one likes teenagers– at least half of my time will be spent reminding my son that no one likes pre-teens, either.
  6. I will not buy a Clean Step Mat just because it resembles the magical cleaning properties of the Sisal Carpet from my play, “The Good Old Days”.
  7. I will not tell the Little Neighbor Girl that every time she freaks out about a spider, mosquito or stink bug, and every time she leaves her doll, iPod, game system or homework at my house an angel loses its wings.
  8. I will not make up a whole bunch of fake email addresses with which I then comment on my own blog posts with opposing arguments and opinions just to make it feel like my posts are powerful and edgy.
  9. I will not divorce Kim Kardashian, Sinead O’Conner, Drew Barrymore, Ali Landry, Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, Carmen Electra, Jennifer Lopez, Renee Zellweger, Lisa Marie Presley, Katy Perry or Ashton Kutcher this year.  Well, probably
  10. If I grow a tomato that looks like the Virgin Mary, I will not put it up for sale on eBay. If, however, there’s one that looks like it has Justin Bieber’s hair… well, that one will be up for grabs.
  11. I will not fall prey to the complacency that comes from everyone saying that December 21, 2012 is going to be the end of the world – my vegetable-based religion will be ready to take over the world and I will be named Prime Potato of the First Couch of Veganomicalism at the Most High Holy Time of 13:13 on December 22, 2012.
  12. I will not try to convince the kids that if they watch the cats play with balls of yarn they will be on the road to an easy PhD in physics as they solve all of the mysteries of String Theory.
  13. I will not sprinkle catnip into my wife’s pillowcase and blankets just so the cat will bother her enough to make her wake up. Well, at least not on the weekends.
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Just One of the Girls

So, I’ve long held that despite being male, I am just one of the girls. Lacking any real evidence of this, though, I’ve been forced to use more anecdotal facts to try to persuade the non-believers among my various acquaintances that this is, in fact, true. However, it seems that my distaste for monster trucks, my lack of interest in barbecuing and the unnatural-to-some number of female friends I’ve had throughout my life (historically, about 90% of my friends have been female) is not really a confirmation of my membership in the Just-One-of-the-Girls Club of America .

The fact that some kind soul has subscribed me to Redbook magazine, Working Mother magazine and has also gotten me a brand new exclusive subscription to Teen Vogue magazine (complete with a nice, big For Girls Only notice on the invitation) is also not strong enough evidence.

Well, now I have real proof.

As evidence that I am, in fact, just one of the girls, I present the Gender Analyzer for blogs. The Gender Analyzer is meant to help you, the reader of any given blog, to determine the gender of the author of the blog. I do not know the mechanism it uses, but I am assuming that a lot of science and psychology have gone into figuring out what words men use and what words women use when writing.

And science, of course, cannot be argued with, especially when it is coupled with psychology.  So, here we go:

The Theory

I, Rob, a male, am nonetheless just one of the girls

The Science

I have several blogs. Here are the results when I expand them to show all posts (so the analyzer can parse everything on the site and not just the latest thirteen posts) and then run them through the Gender Analyzer:

  • Thirteenth Dimension (this blog) when analyzed, comes up as likely being written by a woman (71% score).
  • Percival’s Place, when analyzed, comes up as being likely to have been written by a man (66% score).
  • Thirteen Exits, my travel blog, comes up as likely being written by a woman (68% score)
  • Thirteen Harvests, my gardening blog, is, apparently, written by a woman(70% score).So, three of my four blogs, when read in their entirety, appear to be written by a woman.

    The Psychology

    I suppose I’m conflicted by this. At least sort of. I mean, I’ve always just been one of the girls and I have no problem with that at all… but at the same time, having some computer program give me cold, hard scientific evidence that I may not be a real man feels like it changes things. I mean, seriously – I do like the power tools and lawn equipment that “real men” like (assuming that real men are into rechargeable, battery-powered lawn mowers and weed-whackers) so where does this computer program get off telling me I may not be a man?

    All of this leaves me wondering if I should just officially adopt a single-name penname such as “Roberta,” which was the name all the women in my wife’s all-female dorm at college called me, or if I just need to put some more cursing, fighting and pyrotechnics into my writing, just to prove that I am, in fact, a man.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that I can’t argue with science and this is clearly science. I also know that anything found on the internet must be a true and accurate portrayal of the universe, so clearly this proves that I am, truly, just one of the girls.

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NaNoWriMo 2011

I’m currently getting ready to participate in NaNoWriMo 2011.  I have been busy dealing with “The Real World” so far, and therefore I haven’t actually started my novel yet.  In fact, I don’t even have an idea yet.

The lack of ideas is, however, not a big problem for me.  I think I’ve started before November 5 only once in the past 5 years of NaNoWriMo (the only year I actually had an idea before November 5 as well).  In all honesty, though, Life has made things a bit more complicated again this year (third straight year of complicated Novembers).

If I could count the words I’ve written in tech-related forums posts, I probably already have well-over 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2011. Hmm… maybe I’ll write a novel all in forums-post format. It’s kind of like iambic pentameter, epic poetry and haiku combined, especially if you squint a little while reading it.

Or, well, maybe not.

In any event, I’m hoping to have some kind of idea by the weekend. In the meantime, I was interviewed for the Office of Letters and Light’s blog, so you should check it out!

Meet Our Team: Rob Diaz, Ticket Master

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know in the comments!

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