Moleskine, makers of some of the most popular paper notebooks in the world, have teamed up with the creators of the Neo Smartpen to make it a lot easier to digitize your hand-written notes and sketches, to move them onto your mobile device, and to share them.
An excerpt from a short story I’m working on, just under the wire for Halloween:
He started in bed with the call half heard from sleep, and from instinct he was half out of bed.
Again, a little girl’s drawn out and plaintive cry. “Daddy.”
Fully awake now he froze. She was dead. Buried in her grave soon after Halloween when she’d died. He seized on the conviction this was the dream of a mid-January night, or the whiskey having its revenge, or the duloxetine.
His scalp tightened and his stomach clenched.
“Daddy, I’m cold.”
In the dim moonlight he pressed himself back against the headboard. Through his open door, across the hall, from what had been her room, she called again.
“Daddy, I’m cold. And it’s dark.”
He shivered now, and his skin crawled. “Let me wake up.”
Fiction for all that it frees the writer to bend the world to our will can still seem a step too far beyond reality when we create a certain situation or a character. It would be hard to believe that someone could get to the queen’s bedroom if Michael Fagan hadn’t done it. Or that pitcher Randy Johnson would hit a bird that happened to fly between him and home plate with a fastball.
As a part-time writer, I make stuff up for my stories. But I don’t know that I could have made up the events of last night’s ALDS game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.
And this game came after the Jays lost the first two of the series and won the next two to force a game five. This isn’t something that happens often. Most teams that lose the first two games in the playoffs end their season and get eliminated. The stats argued against the Jays making it to game five.
In the top of the seventh inning, in a fifth and deciding game of the series, the Blue Jays are tied with the Rangers after trailing for six innings. Rougned Odor (his real name, and something no writer could make up) is on third with two out. Shin-Soo Choo, the batter, stretches his arm out to adjust his sleeve before the next pitch. Russell Martin throws the ball back to the mound. And it deflects off Choo’s outstretched arm and rolls down the third base line. Odor hesitates then runs for home. The umpire, Dale Scott waves that the ball’s dead, but Odor crosses home plate. Confusion reigns for those first few moments. Is the ball out of play? Is it dead? The umpires send Odor back to third then gather together and discuss the play. He’s ruled to have scored a run and the Rogers Centre in Toronto explodes in disapproval. After much delay and the throwing of garbage onto the field, play finally resumes. Sanchez, the pitcher strikes out Choo, but Toronto is behind by a run.
We move to the bottom of the seventh inning, where the strangeness continues. On three successive plays, the Rangers infielders make three successive errors. The Rangers should have been out of the inning, but they’re not. Instead the bases are loaded and nobody’s out. Toronto left fielder, Ben Revere, hits the ball to first base and Mitch Moreland throws it home for an out, but the bases are still loaded. Next, Toronto third baseman, Josh Donaldson, hits it just out of reach of Rougned Odor and a run scores. The Rangers manage to get Revere out at second. So now there are two outs but there are still two men on base.
Jose Bautista steps up to bat. The count goes to one ball and one strike. And in a movie moment he hits the next pitch to the third level in left field and flips his bat in a display that old time players call grandstanding. The Toronto Blue Jays go ahead six to three. The benches then clear over a misinterpretation and it looks like there’ll be a fight, but things diffuse for play to continue until the third out of the inning when the benches clear again over something minor.
If I wrote that inning in a story, or if you saw it in a movie, you’d roll your eyes in disbelief. Last night’s events were too bizarre to be a product of fiction, and reminds me why I like to take a break from fiction at times to watch baseball. You never know what can happen, and sometimes it’s just so strange you can’t believe it happened.
It’s not technically winter, but it feels like it. The snow swirls in the headlights, and the mix of salt and spray from fellow travellers need constant applications of washer fluid. Further on no one’s left on the road I’m driving. It’s dark, it’s isolating, cold, and the air from the car’s defroster is drying out my eyes. I have to keep blinking. There’s nothing beyond my car but dark shapes of trees and looming rock from the Canadian shield. I need to stop for coffee. It’s late, and I just want to be at my destination. Fuck the saying that it’s the journey that matters. How much longer?
In a word: Don’t.
In more words: Don’t unless you have the time for another hobby.
If you’re anything other than a full-time writer then home ownership is a time-consuming endeavour.
If you start in a new house that still takes your time. There are upgrades, like painting the walls other than builder’s beige, put in a garden, etc. That takes time. Then you’re in for weekly cleaning, weekly tending to lawn and/or garden.
Eventually, every house becomes a fixer upper. The requirement for maintenance on a weekly, monthly, annual basis grows as your house increases in age. Then it’s repainting, re-landscaping, repairing, and replacing.
All that time is fine if you enjoy fixing things, gardening, or painting. Sometimes that can be good, to get out from behind your writing desk and do something physical that lets your mind wander. But if you have a full-time job, those jobs add up, and can cut into time for writing a lot.
Finished and posted the fourth chapter in my Mass Effect fan fiction. And even though fan fiction sometimes feels like the writing equivalent of masturbation, at least it’s also better than not writing at all.
If you’re interested in Mass Effect, or fan fiction, the story is posted here: https://www.fanfiction.net/~mrladouceur
Young artists and anyone getting into a risky career path that doesn’t involve sitting in a cube or standing at a factory line is likely told, “have a fallback position/safety net, that you can do if this doesn’t work out.” It’s well meaning advice given by those who care about your future or happiness.
It’s also a trap.
If you know that you can fallback into a more secure/reliable/practical career in whatever, then you are almost certain to fall back into that career. When things get hard you have your cubical or factory job to go to. This comes from my past, I’m someone who took the advice and fell back into a secure, steady job while trying to write with less risk, and less chance of failure.
I’ve come to believe there’s less chance of success, because I didn’t have as much to fight for. There weren’t any consequences to failure. I needed to work without a net. You have to fight and strive for your goal. And if the consequences of failure are harsher, then you might find the motivation to succeed stronger. When you’re young and you don’t have the responsibilities that can follow steady, secure jobs, take that risk. Take it before payments on two cars, a house, daycare and all of that, because once those get heaped on, you can’t afford to risk as much.