Tag Archives: friends

Traveling to Tucson

24 Apr

Despite posts to the contrary, I do get out of the house on a frequent basis, but I rarely get out of town. So when I get the opportunity to go see a friend down in Tucson, I took some days off from work and did it, despite my misgivings.

For those not in the know, the drive from Phoenix to Tucson can take anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours, depending on where you want to go in the metropolis… and how willing you are to speed. There is a whole stretch of nothing, so apart from the obligatory speed traps, it’s really a close drive.

So I have to ask myself–why do I only see my friend twice a year if he’s that close? Well, the first is because I’m a family man, with responsibilities at home. Although I can easily demand that I have a couple hours off one evening, I can’t demand a whole day trip without seriously inconveniencing my wife and kids.

The second is… my friend’s a bit agoraphobic. That’s the best term I can give. He won’t drive up to Phoenix to see me because a) my car’s not working well, b) my cat’s sick, or c) some other BS reason. It’s very hard to nail him down to a time/date to hang out. Even when I offer to come down to see him, there’s a chance he’ll bail on me for some excuse which would sound reasonable from another person, but sounds lame after hearing variations on it over the years.

So you might ask, why do I bother going to see him? Well, it IS only twice a year, but more importantly, I don’t have that many close friends. My friend in Tucson met me in college, we were friends, we were dorm roommates, we were roommates after we left school… we know each other pretty well. It’s very hard to maintain that kind of relationship. So I value these relationships as I have very few of them left.

I’ve found that it’s harder to make friends the older you get. I’ve been blessed with the fact that I am able to make a couple… but only a couple. I certainly get stuck in my ways, and it’s a lot more difficult to be flexible to a new personality, when you’ve already put up with the crap before.

However, the longer you know someone, the more of their crap you’re willing to take because you know them so well. (See marriage.) You realize that someone being crabby with you is not to be taken personally. And, just like any relationship, you get comfortable with them being around and accept them, regardless of their eccentricities. Because after all, they put up with you, right? 🙂

So how do you deal with old friends that really make it hard to maintain a relationship with? Let me know in the comments below! Then if you want a relationship with me, get out one of my books. I guarantee my old friends have never read my writing, despite me throwing them free copies. However, if $1.99 is too steep for a new relationship, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. Then we’ll have something to talk about.

Working with Writing Partners

15 Apr

After talking yesterday about getting creatively burnt out, I met with my writing partner yesterday, and felt a lot better. Working on a project WITH someone is an unusual experience, but can be great… if it balances right.

I’ve worked on MANY collaborative writing projects. When I finished my first novel-length story–Manifest Destiny–it was because of me and my friend decided to work together on this massive outline that we had come up together. When it was finished, it printed out to 500 pages of glory, and… I discovered that my writing partner had stopped reading after 300. At that point, we were living in different cities, and I had to email new revisions. But… it’s really hard to read off the computer, so… he didn’t.

I love that man like a brother, and I’ve forgiven him for that, but I certainly haven’t forgotten. This was back in 1996, so it was prior to the self-publishing revolution, and so when I sent my magnum opus to publishers they said, “Thanks but no thanks.” I revised it into a 200 page book that just had the first part of the story and got the same result. Once I learned I could self-publish it, I’ve tried to go back and revise it again, but… for a technothriller, it is SO dated that it’s not worth publishing. Plus having to re-read your old work is a certain level of hell. Which is why you won’t see my first novella, Suicide Kings and Drama Kings, written when I was 17, anywhere on my available books page.

My second experience with collaborative writing was a play-by-email game called Tech Infantry. Now the problem I had with PBEM games is that you told the GM what you were doing, and the GM wrote several stories to each of the players telling you what you did. This is very time consuming on the part of the GM and leads to burnout… fast. So that first experience was short enough to get self-published later as The Daughters’ War.

When we did it again, this time, everyone got the SAME story, and you could follow everyone’s story. Then the players wanted to write much of their own material, with me editing for grammar and game play, so it became a collaborative writing project. So Rage Against the Dying of the Light became a HUGE writing effort, spanning 10 months, with a 20-page excerpt every week, and was rather enjoyable. Eventually, that burned everyone out. A couple years later we tried it again with The Middle Kingdom which was similar, except it lasted 5 months, and everyone rather enjoyed it. In that experience, I learned what it meant to be an editor, as well as having to balance your writing vision with other people.

However, I also learned how to crank out a lot of words in a short amount of time–it’s a pretty amazing experience. If you’re wanting to find out what this looked like, click here. Out of this project actually came a couple stories. Because this was a shared universe, there were a few GLARING plotholes, so I filled in one by writing my own novella called Prayer for the Technocrats, which you can buy now. My dear friend, Editor Ed, also took his story out of Tech Infantry, revised it heavily, and published Predatory Practices… which is one of my favorite stories (that I helped write). So I thoroughly recommend it.

Now I’m working again with another friend, but in this case, he wrote the outline, I’m writing the story, and he’s editing. I can’t go into any greater detail than that, because the novel is still gestating… one doesn’t want to announce anything until it’s born. 🙂

As long as you have clear expectations of what each other’s role is, then you’re more likely to be successful. In Tech Infantry, the players could write what they wanted, but they understood I had editorial control. In this, he has the background knowledge and the story idea… but can’t write. I can write, but don’t have the background, so he’s able to edit technical mistakes that I miss. Of course, our collaboration still leads into needlessly long discussions of gun calibers, how to build a Faraday cage, and bitching about the news… but a writing partnership is not just work, it’s a friendship. You’re going to get off topic.

Have you had a writing partnership? Did it go well? Did it go badly? Let me know in the comments below! And after you type that, check our my books, some of which were collaborative, but many are not. However, if $1.99 is too high to pay for curiosity, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

It’s Race Time, Sports Fans!

2 Mar

What was intended as another boring weekend turned out to be one of the busiest in recent memory. Sleepovers, Nerf battles, park visits, and racing got packed into a two day extravaganza. It was great–but is this what going back to normal feels like?

The most excitement I was expecting in my weekend was doing my taxes on Sunday afternoon. I got all my forms to fill out the “more difficult than it should be” tax form, but in truth, it’s a lot less complicated now that I only work for one company. Back when I was a consultant, and I had to fill out up to three state tax forms, it was a bear. (Pro tip: never work in Maryland.)

However, I never got to any of that. Instead, someone texts us right before candle-lighting to confirm a playdate for one of my daughter’s friends. Cool–almost forgot about that. Then a family friend stopped by later that night and realized he forgot to invite Asher to his son’s birthday party. They were going to K-1 Indoor Racing on Sunday; well, of course, we said yes.

So after services on Saturday, the wife and Eliza went out to the park to play with her friend Sophie and her mom… who came back with them. So I had a nice time half-reading, half-talking to Sophie’s mom while the girls had scads of fun. (I don’t get to use the word “scads” very often–my great-grandma last used it in 1914. True story.) Meanwhile, my son was over at his neighborhood friend’s place playing Nerf battles in their house (not MY house). That took all day for both of them, and Eliza and Sophie had so much fun, they asked if Sophie could sleep over.

Why not? It turned out to be the first time that Sophie ever successfully stayed the night anywhere. They had THAT much fun.

Which led to Sunday, where we almost forgot about Asher’s Hebrew tutoring session, so the cantor and him had a quick half-hour on Zoom singing, and then we went out the door. Because they put this racing place in an industrial park, and no signage, I made three wrong turns before I found the place. Asher was at least 4-5 years older than any of the other kids at the party, but because they met at a Montessori school, this is not that unusual. They did three races around this track in side a warehouse. (To my non-Arizona readers, you HAVE to have this inside, otherwise, it would be too hot to use for half the year.)

This was expensive as hell and not something we could do more than once a year, but thankfully, I didn’t pay for any of it! When I did something similar his age, it was outside, and it was with little lawn mower engines… and I’m sure it cost much less comparatively.

Anyway, they topped off Sunday afternoon with both my kids hanging out with different friends, different activities, and my wife even getting to hang out with her friend while I got to play computer games. Lord, that was a good weekend! Even before this shutdown, we usually only did one of those things–we crammed in four events! Are we overcompensating? Is it just a strange confluence of different events? Did you go go-karting as a child? Let me know in the comments below!

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