Monday, May 16, 2022

Moderation Can Be a Good Thing

by

Scott D. Parker

I’ll admit something: it’s been harder than I expected to get back into the writing routine after it laid dormant for a couple of months. Which is odd considering I like this book (why else would I be up to chapter 31 of it) and want to get to the end—I’ve mapped out the scenes up through chapter 39 so it’s not like I don’t have a road map.

Part of the reason I’ll admit is health. I’m healthy, eat well, and walk about two miles every day per week except Fridays and Saturdays. But it’s the lack of sleep that’s actually started to get to me.

There are more things I want to do on any given day and there’s just not enough time to do them. That includes writing, living, working, being with the family, and doing my own thing (usually reading or watching a show). As a result, I recently found myself staying up later in the evenings (a little past 11pm) but still waking up at 5am. After starting off as an evening writer, I’ve become a morning writer.

Every time the alarm went off this past week, however, the body was having none of it. Usually I all but jump out of bed, but this week was a struggle. I actually felt myself dragging throughout the day, including when I’m in the office three days a week. I even resorted to a 15-minute power nap in my office, doors closed, reclined in my office chair, the legs up on one of those padded-top short filing cabinets. After those power naps, I’m good, but its necessity cut into my lunch hour writing time.

And that irritated me. I would have to do something about that.

Late last year as I was enduring some harsh times at the day job, I found myself drinking more. I never got drunk, but I’d have the five o’clock cocktail and then wine at nine almost every day. It wasn’t a good habit to keep, so when Lent rolled around, I gave up alcohol. First couple of days were not hard, but I certainly wanted to keep the muscle memory of drinking alive.

But on Easter, I didn’t rush to the liquor cabinet and make a cocktail. Instead, I reminded myself that it’s perfectly fine to have a glass of wine or a martini but I didn’t need to have both every day. Heck, I could have a day or two per week in which I don’t have any alcohol and let that become the new normal.

Couple the lack of enough sleep with the more limited alcohol intake since Easter and both things got me to thinking that a little bit of moderation can go a long way to a healthy lifestyle. The alcohol consumption is pretty easy: Just limit to one glass of wine on the days I drink and save the martini for Fridays and savor the heck out of it. That’s working well and it’s made the martini preparation something more special.

The sleep thing take more of a challenge. I literally have to cut out something I want to do in favor of making sure I get my six hours. That one’s tougher because there’s just so much I want to read and do and write and watch. But how much do I actually enjoy watching a show or reading a book when I'm nodding off?

What the heck does this have to do with writing? Well, moderation.

I’m fortunate to have a day job that takes care of all the bills and insurance and makes sure we have enough money and peace of mind to get us through the days. Granted, it also curtails my writing/watching/family/myself time, but that’s the trade off.

Where the writing part comes in is this: Moderation.

Right now in my writing career, I have no external deadlines. I have internal deadlines for writing and publishing stories well into 2023, but they are well enough in advance that I can write—wait for it—at a moderate pace and achieve my deadlines. The moderate pace will also enable me to do some moderate marketing and not interfere too much into the day-to-day life.

Because that’s the key, right? Sure, I could have kept drinking at last fall's pace, but sooner or later, I’d have hit the wall and the physical health would have suffered so much that the doctor would advise me to stop drinking. That’s no fun. Neither is constantly being tired during the days because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.

And neither is writing when you’re under the gun. Yes, the old pulp guys using to do that to pay the rent, but guys like Walter Gibson and Lester Dent ultimately suffered physical ailments because of their constant demands.

I’d rather enjoy the writing process in the time I have rather than be sweating a deadline. I sweat deadlines at the day job and of course I’d sweat a fiction deadline if it ever presented itself.

But for now, I’m just enjoying the ride…moderately.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Alone on the Beach - Now Published

I have a new short story now available. It's a little bit different thing for me. I actively wrote a love scene...but with a twist. 

DESCRIPTION:

Bob Kirk is a federal agent, on desk duty and ordered to see a psychiatrist after he killed a man while protecting his team. Carol Marcus is his doctor, prescribing Bob some pills to help ease his pain.

They’ve been secretly seeing each other and want to take their relationship to the next level, more out in the open, as his department-mandated time with her comes to an end.

What better place to start than a crowded beach?

Excerpt:

Bob’s stomach flipped as he took in Carol’s beauty. She wore a green bikini, modest for the doctor’s forty-two years, but revealing enough to make Bob’s mind think about later. He wished there might be a later. Her blonde hair, always coiffed in a professional manner in the office, now hung loose around her shoulders. The sea breeze caught it and blew the strands around her face. She carried a beach bag over her shoulder. Dark sunglasses hid her eyes, but he knew from the angle of her head she was checking him out.


In a fit of self-consciousness that morning, Bob had done a hundred push-ups and sit-ups. He wanted all his muscles to stand out for her. He even purchased new swim trunks, not the oversized surfer kind yet not a speedo either. His light blue swimsuit hugged his hips and showed off his ass. When he had tried it on at the store, he had asked one of the attendants if the suit fit well. The narrowing of her eyes and the parting of her lips told him all he needed to know. She had lightly touched his arm as checked out. She also gave him her number. He had even groomed his body hair a bit. Brown hair still coated his chest and stomach, but in other places, it was cleaned and well groomed. He just didn’t know how the day would play out.


Carol stopped at the foot of Bob’s large beach blanket. A coy smile emerged. With delicate fingers, she lowered her sunglasses and looked at him over the top of them. “Mind if I join you?”


Bookstores

Here is the link to the story's main page on my website. It is widely available in all the usual places.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Writer’s New Year: 2022

It was now nine years ago today that I made a renewed decision to write more stories. I had an idea that began with an image—a man, wearing a fedora, knocking on a door, and bullets ripping through the wood—and that idea became my first published novel, WADING INTO WAR.

Every May First, I commemorate that decision and take stock of my writing life. Some years are good ones. Others not so much. But on 1 May, I allow myself a chance to reset and forge ahead.

In past years, I laid out my plans for the new Writer’s Year. Again, in re-reading those past entries, I cringe at missed opportunities and goals not fulfilled. Now, I used to really beat myself up about missing those milestones but I don’t do that anymore. It’s not constructive and obscures a more positive outlook on my writing life.

I have big plans for Writer’s Year 2022, and this time, taking a cue from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, I am actually scheduling my books and stories on a calendar. That is, in effect, making a business plan for my writing. I have to tell you, the amount of relief that washed over me as I actually mapped out the rest of the year—and especially the summer months leading to Labor Day 2022–made me smile and got me excited for my next projects.

And those projects are not merely new stories to write. I have also planned on a publishing schedule as well. I’ll admit I’ve fallen behind on where I wanted to be in terms of publishing stories for the public to read. As such, my name has fallen by the wayside in the minds of future readers, including folks in my own newsletter group.

That’s on me. I have recently begun to realize, with a huge assist by Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art book, that I’ve been treating my fiction and publication more as a hobby than a business. I’ve had an amateur’s mindset. Which is weird because from Day One, back in 2015 when I published my first book, I created my own company.

But the amateur’s mindset kept being dominant. I’m not sure why, but if Pressfield were sitting across the table from me, he’d tell me it was Resistance. Veteran writer Dean Wesley Smith would concur and throw in fear. Smith would also toss in the variable of “fun.” He’d tell me I’m not having any fun with my writing.

Both of them are correct. I need to conquer Resistance and become more professional with my fiction and have fun along the way. After all, I’m the first reader of my stories and I’m supposed to have fun writing them for myself. That I get to share them with others is a bonus.

So that’s where my head is at on this Writer’s New Year’s Day 2022. Each day this year, I will strive to overcome Resistance and Fear in my writing. I will strive to have fun with the stories I tell. And I will strive to make them available on a more regular schedule.