David Bowie: A Cosmic Inspiration

Bowie

So we learned today that David Bowie left us for some transcendental plane. Whether you believe in heaven or not, it’s comforting for me to think that the creative consciousness of this remarkable spirit has burst out into the cosmos and is somehow lingering among us.

Along with all the other fine tributes from folks far more talented than I – Neil Gaiman and Peter Gabriel among them – I have to step in to offer my own small account of how this artist affected me. Continue reading

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5 New Year Resolutions for the Aspiring Freelancer

2016-New-Years-ResolutionWith the new year, lots of folks cast their minds to a life change. For many, that change involves leaving the 9-to-5 working world and becoming a freelancer.

A while back, I was supervising my son at a birthday party for one of his elementary school classmates. The birthday boy’s father and I got to chatting about work, as dads often do in social situations, and he revealed that he was an engineer. He asked what I did, and I told him I was a freelance writer. When he probed for details, I shared my relatively flexible, work-from-home lifestyle as his eyes widened in awe.

“Oh, man! You’re living the dream!”

I demurred, as I often do when confronted with others’ disbelief, because I know in my heart that as good as freelancing sounds to people who don’t do it, it can have some pretty big ups and downs for those of us who make a living without being tethered to a single employer.

Sometimes I’m asked what the “secret” to a freelance career is. Truth: There is no secret. But there are a few commonsense steps you can take to prepare yourself if you’re seriously considering breaking free of the corporate cubical farm and going out on your own. Here, then, are my five things to do before you become a freelancer. Continue reading

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NoNoNoNo: The Tyranny of #NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

We’ve now officially passed the middle of what all writers (and exasperated spouses/family of writers) know as National Novel Writing Month. And I have come not to praise this obnoxious exercise in virtual participatory nonsense, but to kill it, burn it, gather the ashes in a bucket and bury them. In a deep, deep hole.

But what is NaNoWriMo, as it is so frequently described and hashtagged by those writers the rest of us just want to punch in the throat? It is a challenge, issued to writers annually by NaNoWriMo.org, to pound out 50,000 words of a novel during November. Continue reading

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Funky Friday: Clinton In the News

Clinton

Been hearing a lot about a certain Clinton testifying before Congress for something or other. Pretty sure it’s not this Clinton, though.

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Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

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Call me an overachiever.

It’s not enough for me to just imagine characters and settings and plot and all the tasty ingredients that typically go into a novel. No, I’ve got to go the extra mile and imagine what those characters are listening to, what music might be playing the background of a given scene and what songs would accompany the film version of the story that I spend years imagining in my head.

And yes, I do it all for you, my beloved readers.

OK, not really. The fact is, I can’t help it. I’m an annoying hipster’s worth of musical knowledge packed into the body of a middle-aged prepster. The combination of the words and the music is just there, and there’s really not much I can do about it. Continue reading

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Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Soapbox

Spoiler Alert: This post relates to a political issue. If you would prefer not to hear what I have to say, please move along. Thanks!

Another mass shooting. Another “quiet loner” armed to the gills and packing a gripe about … something. Another 10 people dead for doing nothing more than existing in particular place and an especially unfortunate time.

After years (YEARS!) watching these tragedies take place, then grumbling to myself, hoping they would stop by the time I had kids (those kids are now 8 and 11), then trying to move on, today I finally did something. It was a small thing, yes, but it’s something you and everyone else around you can do, too. I wrote my U.S. senators. I wrote my U.S. congressman. I told them how I thought they were being pathetic little bitches by letting us know their “thoughts and prayers are with the victims,” then not actually doing anything about the root cause, which is that anyone who is so inclined can get a gun in this country, no matter who they are or what they intend to do with it. Continue reading

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Here’s to a Surreal Start to Your Week

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Time and space are funny things. I know this sounds like a Dr. Who quote, but stay with me.

For example, It never seems to take as long returning from a distant destination than it does getting there in the first place. Get head down in work you love and it almost seems you can accomplish superhuman feats of productivity with baffling speed. Then again, pause to check Facebook for 10 minutes and you might find you’ve frittered away an hour without realizing it. Colors and perspective inside buildings can make rooms seem far larger or smaller than they actually are. Continue reading

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Thoughts Upon Turning 47: Embrace the Thing You Love

Forty-Seven

As of today, I’ve spent 47 years roaming this earth (or at least various parts of the United States) with the rest of you, trying to figure out how this life thing is supposed to work.

And here’s a little something I’ve learned along the way:

If there’s something that you’re good at, something at which you excel and that brings you pleasure or joy to others, you are obligated as a human being to pursue it. You might not get paid for it or even get much recognition by others who do it. But your proficiency at this thing and the joy it brings you are the gifts you have been given as a member of the human race. Whether you see it as having come from a divine source or simply from a combination of evolution, heredity and life experience, it’s one of the biggest qualities of being human that sets us apart from chimpanzees and bonobos. Continue reading

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Monday Motivation: Keep Things Groovy and Weird

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I always got the feeling when I was working in the full-time office world that – despite the diverse and disparate personalities that surrounded me in the newspaper business – I was always considered one of the worker bees who was a little … off.

Former co-workers can render their own opinions on this, but a few might agree that there was something a bit different about that Pruden guy (whether it was in a good or bad way is up for discussion). I distinctly recall this conversation between me and the day city editor at one newspaper who was filling in for the normal Sunday city editor.

Her: Scott, you’re not wearing shoes.

Me: Shoes? It’s Sunday. You’re lucky I put on pants. Continue reading

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