The Deep Breath Before November

Technically, I should be working right now. I have a website to maintain, articles to write, other author’s short fiction to read for Fiction Vortex, and a thousand little projects around the house patiently waiting for me to get off my butt and get to work.

Instead, I have given myself the day off. Except for this communication to my Misdirected readers, I suppose. But that doesn’t really feel like work. More like a one-sided telephone conversation with a really large group of friends.

Celebration of The One (Out of Two)

Today’s day off originates thanks to the day itself: Halloween. Those of you who know us and love us know that Halloween is one-half of the two monster holidays celebrated in our joint household. (The other being Superbowl Sunday. We’ll talk about that one closer to February.)

This year, as usual, we have decorated, bought candy, re-decorated, considered and rejected costumes, made some additional changes to our decorations, and finally arrived at today – the holiday itself.

Lor will undoubtedly make more changes to our decorations today, though.

We discussed moving to a “skeleton” theme this year but ran out of planning time. So, instead, we pulled the trusty “spider” motif out of storage. Upon applying it to the house, we decided it needed a little more “Oomph.” We added bits here and there, and now it looks like this:

Yes, that is a gigantic spider hanging just over the mailbox under the eaves. Let’s hope our mailman is not an arachnophobe.

Now, we sit and wait for the hordes of little monsters to come and beg for candy and toys. (Yes, we give away both. The kids actually like the little 10-cent bubbles and slime better than the actual candy. Who knew?) Lor still has to carve her pumpkin, but otherwise, we rest in the calm before the storm.

Speaking of that…

The (NaNoWriMo) Storm Descends

A month from now I’ll be an author.

Again.

Well, sort of.

For the first time, I’ve decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event. This is a challenge to novelists to complete an entire novel in the month of November.

Well, sort of.

The target for the month is 50,000 words, which would be a very short novel indeed. (Inheritance, for example, clocked in at 85,000 words +/-.) So, really, what I’ll be left with at the end of the month is a framework of a novel. Hopefully a beginning, a middle, and a resolution. Introductions of my main characters and plotlines. And the warm and fuzzy glow from having actually finished a book.

Well, sort of.

For me, the main goal is to see if I can finish a story in a month. My stories normally are long and rambling affairs that take me literally years to complete. I cut dozens of scenes totaling thousands of words out of Inheritance. Over the course of seven years! With the majority of that work taking place in the last two years, of course.

So the real question is: can I remain focused enough to write an average of 1,600 words a day? Every day? For a month?!?!?

November is gonna be a beast. I still have my commitments to Fiction Vortex: I will be reading and editing 10,000 words of text every week.

I still have my commitment to Misdirected: I will still be blogging once a week here.

And I still have client writing work: you know, the stuff that actually pays for food and coffee.

Somewhere, in all this, I am going to have to find time to write an average of 1,600 words a day. Every day. For a month.

I am simultaneously frightened and excited. What if the whole thing crashes and burns and I give up after 4,000 words?

But, a little voice keeps asking me: What if it is good?

Starting tomorrow, I am about to find out.

 

…And A Question For You

As part of the project, I am going to be keeping a log of sorts of what I manage to do every single day. Otherwise I will never finish. I know myself well enough to be aware that if I don’t hold myself accountable, I will hit a rough patch and say “Oh well, couldn’t do it.”

So, the question becomes: are you, the readers of Misdirected interested in this log?

If you are, I will log somewhere public. I have a Tumblr page that has literally been sitting ignored for months that I could dedicate to a “micro-blog” tracking my progress.

But, if no one is interested, I will simply write things down in a journal for my own edification. Let me know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.

Hyper Ventilating,

Jeremy

 

The Running of the Zombies

The Running of the Zombies

Anyone who follows Misdirected knows that I have a pretty simple rule I live by regarding weight loss/weight maintenance. The rule is this: Keep Moving. Every case of serious weight regain after bariatric surgery that I have been able to research had one thing in common. In every case, the patients (without exception!) stopped exercising.

So, it was with a certain amount of fear and trepidation that I hopped on the scale this morning. October has not been a good month for me. My writing production and my exercise both plummetted to nearly nothing. Now, there were some good reasons behind this – 10 days each of house-sitting and recovering from another round of kidney stones. But the fact remains that I have been sitting a heck of a lot more than I have been moving.

I was lucky – my weight is still dialed in at 177 pounds. I could have very easily taken a few steps back rather than maintaining the 175-ish weight I have settled in at. However, I’ve decided to reenergize my exercise routine. In honor of the season, and to really motivate me to get back in gear, I’ve decided to be pursued by flesh-eating mutants.

Umm, What?

For those who have no idea what the heck I am talking about, let me clue you in. I am referring to the 5K-training app called Zombies, Run! produced by Six To Start. The premise is simple – you are unceremoniously dropped into a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with the walking dead and must run to avoid them. The catch is that you are a “Runner”, being directed by an air-traffic controller of sorts. This controller tells you when to speed up, when to slow down, etc.

The premise is brilliant, and it works extremely well. It doesn’t hurt that the story you are participating in is written by novelist Naomi Alderman. There is plenty of exposition, character development and, of course, sheer mind-numbing terror as your imagination (and audio cues) feeds you the idea that you are this close to being eating by a pack of mutated cannibals.

I was introduced to the concept by Wil Wheaton, (whose blog I follow semi-religiously) who has been using the app for his own self-improvement program. I had tried it last year but found that it didn’t lend itself to working out in a gym.

This year, I revisited it and found that it now works fabulously not only for free-form running but also for treadmills and other types of stationary exercise equipment. It has now replaced C25K as my 5K trainer of choice.

Amping Up The Creepies

One of the neat things about the software is that it enables you to run your own music in the background, during periods where the narrators aren’t directing your next moves. I had been using this to build an exercise-themed Spotify playlist to work out with.

But, the thought occurred to me…what if I could improve on the fight or flight factor?

So, instead, I am no longer using music as my soundtrack for running. Instead, I have loaded up Podcast Addict, and am streaming the entire run of the Lore podcast. If you don’t know about this, you should. It is some of the creepiest story-telling around. Narrator Aaron Mahnke delves into real-life tales of grim death and horror. These stories serve as the perfect background “music” for the increasingly scarier story developing with Zombies, Run.

It also is a great research tool for me as a horror writer. I am simultaneously working out and working. It is the kind of life hack that just makes me quiver. In fear. Of the monsters beneath the bed.

Those wanting to give their adrenal glands a break may want to stick with music from Nickelodeon or something, though. It can get a little rough at times the way I am doing it.

5K By December 31

And, though we may not get the opportunity to run in an “official” 5K before the end of the year, I am still determined to run a full 5K before the year is out. Lor and I will continue to train diligently. If we can’t find one to sign up for in December we will simply design a 5K course here in Albuquerque and run it ourselves. It seems a fitting way to close out the year that has seen so much personal and physical development for us.

In the interim, though, I will keep running from the blood-curdling horde of zombies that are right on my heels…and take “breaks” by listening to Aaron Mahnke talk about hauntings and mass murderers. To give my fight or flight system a rest.

There might be something wrong with me…

Hoping There Is A 10K Version Of “Zombies, Run” For Next Year,

Jeremy

My Thoughts on #MeToo

 

My Thoughts on #MeToo While I was away house-sitting, a social revolution erupted. Harvey Weinstein got himself deposed on the basis of his assaults on women. This led to a Net-wide discourse on sexual assault and harassment, which was topped off by Alyssa Milano creating the following Tweet on Twitter:

And the Internet exploded.

Hiding In Plain Sight

I’ve seen many a Twitter trend in my years near the platform. But I don’t know that I have ever seen one with such a broad demographic. Many authors I follow “Me-Too”-ed. But so did many of my friends, who’ve never mentioned it to me before. My wife, of course, was not hesitant to #MeToo, given some of the horrendous experiences she has endured over the years. But many of my female family members were also not silent, with aunts and cousins all speaking up about this shared awful experience. My own mother, for heaven’s sake, felt compelled to add her voice. Where there had been nothing, suddenly a tribe was forming through a public statement of two words. It was like watching a vast army erupt from nothing, all united against the foes that had spent so long hiding in plain sight.

I saw a few men, both gay and heterosexual, attempt to jump on board as well, I also read a few well-reasoned opinion pieces on why maybe they should remain silent. Their experiences are no less valid, of course – but this was, at its heart, a battle cry of millions of women who have been victimized by a system of male hierarchy and dominance. In my mind, this would be like joining a symposium on breast cancer and spending time talking about epilepsy. It is not that the subject is less valuable – it is just that this is not the time or place for that subject to be aired.

By The Way, #MeToo

I say that because I do not want my own silence in the Twitter uprising to be misunderstood. I will stand by and watch (and cheer) as these women gather together and recognize their numbers and their strength. Who knows what they will do with such a powerful consensus? In an age when an admitted sexual predator holds our nation’s highest office, there is no better time for these women to stand together and speak together with a single voice, demanding change.

However, Misdirected is my personal forum, and here I am perfectly comfortable saying whatever I wish. With those caveats in mind, here goes:

#MeToo

It was 1991, and I was only 21 years old. Those who know me know the department store I was working for at the time. An extremely aggressive female supervisor began making flirtatious advances. Then unwanted physical contact. And eventually began proposing sexual acts. I attempted to back off on the basis of my marriage and my religious beliefs. She was unmoved and unrelenting, being also married herself.

My male co-workers were of no help. Their opinion was unanimous: “Dude, you should just hit that.” Most were baffled as to why I would turn this woman down in the first place. My female friends at the store were sympathetic, but had some bad news for me: “You’re just going to have to put up with it.” They had, of course, been dealing with this kind of behavior from their supervisors for their entire careers.

Desperate, I spoke to the store manager. (There was no HR department to chat with in those days.) He grimaced, turned red, and said something to the effect of: “Yeah, Jeremy, sorry, but…no one is going to believe you.”

I quit the next day.

You Go, Girls

So, ladies, thank you for stepping up and stepping forward. I applaud your courage and your self-worth. And I can only hope that, out of this movement, changes will come.

The kind of changes that a single young man was not able to make because no one would ever believe him.

Sound familiar?

Stay Strong,

Jeremy

…And Here We Are Again

Jason Aldean Quote

I had a blog post ready to roll this morning. A charming little piece, talking about back-sliding and goal setting. Just the thing to inaugurate our re-focus on all things fitness here at Misdirected.

And I woke up this morning to a Facebook report from a close friend who had been at the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas last night. “Active shooter situation Mandalay Bay dozen or more shot shooters on 32nd floor…confirmed one officer down with GSW to neck.”

The Morning Brings No Answers

His post was dated seven hours ago. First, I confirmed that he was ok – he was still posting to FB as of a couple of hours ago, so I can breathe a sigh of relief that someone I really care about – someone who has been a surrogate son to Lor and me – is currently out of harm’s way. I quickly checked to see if my cousin, who also lives in Vegas, had checked in. Using the Facebook “Safety Check” he, too, had declared himself safe. Another sigh of relief.

Then, turning to CNN, I found out that a whole lot of other loved ones are not OK this morning.

Deadliest Mass Shooting in US History.” I won’t repeat the details here. I am no journalist, and you can get far better info than I can give you. But, once again, a single person (apparently) has decided to act upon their rage by attacking a large group of innocent people.

I don’t know what this person’s motivations were. In truth, I don’t particularly care. There is no motivation that justifies attacking thousands of people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Yes, that sounds like Queensryche, and no, I don’t particularly give a damn about that either right now.)

One man. More than 8 rifles. Thousands of fans enjoying Jason Aldean.

And now we have more than 50 people dead, and better than 400 injured.

And, today, my own perspective has shifted. These weren’t just random strangers I feel sort of vaguely bad about. My own family members were among those in harm’s way last night.

A Harsh Slice Of Reality

And the damnable thing is, I am a gun owner.

My guns are securely locked up in a gun safe miles away, but they are still mine.  I am part of what gets referred to as “gun culture” in the U.S.

You know, the same culture that works tirelessly to protect the rights of people who want to haul multiple rifles into a hotel room in Las Vegas.

I am sure that, as the days and weeks roll on, we are going to hear about the various laws that are already on the books that this shooter broke. The new gun control laws that would have had no effect, the existing laws that weren’t properly enforced…all the usual tropes and quotes that emerge after another mass shooting.

Yeah, there’s the rub right there, isn’t it? “Another mass shooting.”

And, in response, the families of nearly 500 people will be asking why something wasn’t done to protect their loved ones.

Kurt and Jeremiah, I am so thankful that you are safe.

But half a thousand other families have nothing to be thankful for this morning.

The gun control debate is about to get rolling again, and I am no longer sure I am on the right side of it.

Pray For Las Vegas,

Jeremy