Writing habits: a questionnaire

Last evening I ran across Jodie Llewellyn’s also-named Writing Habits: A Questionnaire, inspired by The YA League’s similarly named series. It seems like a good set of questions for me to work through as well, so here goes…

1. Typed or handwritten?
Almost everything I write is recorded on a qwerty keyboard. I have a couple Microsoft Word docs and OneNote pages on my phone (currently a Lumia 925), auto-synced to SkyDrive OneDrive, to record snips of inspiration on the go. Heavier-duty fare calls for the normal-sized keyboard I use with my tablet (currently a Surface Pro).

2. Cursive or printed
Thoughts flowing from my pen tend to be something you could call printed cursive. Cursive print? When it comes to a keyboard my choice of font is usually a sans serif.

3. Show us your favorite pen
Bic Crystal® pens and a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencilThese days I don’t really have a favorite pen. If it feels comfortable in my hand, the ink flows smoothly, and said ink’s color is appropriate enough for the task at said hand, then it is my favorite pen for the time being. That said, I used to really like the Bic Crystal® pens.

On the pencil front, a yellow #2 Dixon Ticonderoga fits the bill. Nicely sharpened, thank you. I used to go for mechanical on occasion. But by the time I’ve gone through a couple leads, I have had enough of leads that break too easily or rotate back to the dull side of the point.

4. Where do you like to write?
All I need is a reasonably comfortable chair. If a desk or table is involved, one a comfortable height relative to a chair. As far as overall environment, I don’t like people reading over my shoulder, and repeated interruption gets old. (As I write this, the repeated interruptions is downright ancient.)

5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?
Book cover: Mid-life Cyclists, by Chris McHutchison and Neil BlundellHard question for me to answer. Right now I am reading Chris McHutchison and Neil Blundell’s Mid-life Cyclists on the Kindle apps on my tablet and phone. I like their style of humor, and how they make use of it to tell their interwoven stories.

6. What are you your three favorite books on writing?
None come to mind at the moment. I will probably try to dive into a few as NaNoWriMo approaches. Speaking of NaNo…

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?
Yes, five times tried, three times won. My stories always seem to die off during the month, and I end up need characters read way too much news. So, a lot of people, myself included, would say my victories were not so victorious. I have a really hard time coming up with plausible situations for my characters that aren’t so horrendously boring that they are driven to read the news instead of live out their factious lives.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?
Didn’t we just cover that?

9. Have you ever had anything published?
Assuming you aren’t counting blog posts, no.

10. What projects are you working on now?
Every few weeks my thoughts turn toward NaNo 2014.

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?
That depends on what I’m currently hooked on. For the last few months (yes, months) I have had Clubfeet on auto-repeat on my phone’s media player. I am particularly partial to Cape Town, Get Loose, and Everything You Wanted from their album Heirs & Graces, but I generally like every one of their songs.

Incidentally, I found Clubfeet purely by accident. I happened across an article about the video Oh Yeah Wow created for Everything You Wanted just after it became a Vimeo Staff Pick. Between the video and the five synthy guitar-like notes at the 1:48 mark, I had this song on auto-repeat all day everyday for about a week. Now look what you’ve done: it’s on again…

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?
No. What gets me pumped to write is an idea practically screaming in my head to flow into a keyboard.



Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be about 6’6″ (2 m) tall. But then I wouldn’t fit my clothes or bike, so it’s best that I am the height I am.


My friend, if you’ve got religion, I suggest you get rid of it and exchange it for Christ. Now I personally do not think you can call Christianity a religion. There’s no ritual given, none whatsoever, with Christianity. Have you ever stopped to think that? And that’s the reason you can have all kinds of churches. You can sing the doxology if you want to, there’s nothing wrong with it. And there’s nothing particularly right about it either, because you are never given a form to go by. Why? Because Christianity is a Person, and you either have Christ, or you don’t have Christ. You either trust Christ, or you don’t trust Christ. And religion just hasn’t been very helpful to man.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Introduction to Ecclesiastes 5 (audio version)

Thawing winter’s inertia

Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride jerseyWell, well, well. In just 77 days, a mere 11 weeks from today, the 48th annual Minnesota Ironman® Bike Ride begins.

It is not a triathlon, which is good, because my running and swimming skills are nowhere near good enough for a triathlon.

It is not a race, which is also good, because I can’t say I have ever been able to sustain a race pace for longer than, oh, 3.14159 seconds. Going downhill. With gale-force winds at my back.

It is still winter where I live, and I don’t have the appropriate bike or clothing for polar vortexes and blizzard conditions. Fortunately, I have a variety of options for training indoors. Indoor cycle classes (a.k.a., spinning—wool and magic lasso not included), stair climbing machines, elliptical machines, treadmills, etc.

Unfortunately, I find myself having difficulty thawing out winter’s inertia.

Early January I decided I was long overdue on losing a few pounds. Fifteen for sure, preferably twenty. I made it a solid, steady two. Yesterday’s, scale said they were back after six days. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Yesterday, I decided to get off my lazy rump and play Dance Central 3 with my son. There is a reason I don’t dance, and the game’s periodic replay feature reinforced that in spades. But I was moving. Until a painful calf cramp put an end to my poorly done Frederick Austerlitz impersonation.

But, I still have 77 days, a whole eleven weeks to prepare for the ride. I will be ready for the Ironman’s century route!

Dirty cleanliness

I was just reading An Unexpected Delivery on Awkward Laughter, where Kim extolls the anti-virtues of flyers tossed onto your food.

I haven’t really thought much about those flyers. Really, kind of odd now that I think about it. Finding my receipt comingling with my fries always briefly eews me out. This would be same receipt handled by the same cashier who just received a wad of skanky dollar bills from the customer ahead of me. Those would be the same skanky dollar bills given to me as change.

As bad as flyers and receipts are, there is something I find considerably more disturbing: fast food trays. You know the ones. “Cleaned” with the wipe of a once-white wet rag, covered with a paper tray liner, and added to the stack. Ba-da-ba-ba-ba, I’m lovin’ it.

To this day, I cannot understand why wipe-and-line is considered sanitary. And yet, on the rare occasion I do dine-in at such a fine food establishment, I manage to put the thought out of my mind long enough to choke down my 1360-calorie pinnacle of nutrition.

Actually, it is more like text on the flyer does a good job of making me forget about top-notch food tray sanitation. It’s the thinly veiled attempt at nutrition education. “Your meal is more healthy if you opt for a bag of apple slices.” The same apple slices that somehow don’t turn brown. Ever. Or, the liner features a tantalizing ad featuring the collectible toy I could be enjoying now if I would have purchased a kid’s meal instead. “Collect all 5!”

By the time I have finished pondering the entire ridiculousness of what the tray liner says, I am done with my meal have forgotten about high-quality tray sanitation. Until I see the very same once-white wet rag being used on booth tables and seats. At least “quality is their recipe.”

Crosswords (take 2)

Good grief, I managed to publish an empty post from the WordPress mobile app. How about we try this again. And remember, friends don’t let sleepy friends write blog posts…

Think back to last night, when you were doing whatever it was you were doing. While you were doing that, I was occupied with what I was doing at the time…

As is often the case at this time of the evening, I find myself in need of a little down time. OK, more like in need of a full night’s shuteye. The evening news has lost my attention, so I head to the head.

Hmm, it seems I should take a seat upon the throne. Not that you asked, or even really care, but as part of this glorious backstory you might as well know that I don’t normally require throne time before. But tonight I do.

Why is it called the head? Why is it called the throne? Seriously, if I actually owned a castle, complete with an actual throne, I would make sure my royal chair would be comfy enough for my royal seat and not put my leg to sleep.

Working a puzzle helps pass the time while passing whatever needs passing. I grab the crossword puzzle book that lives in the rack attached to the vanity. “In the rack” isn’t the right phrase. More like “on the rack.” As in “on” whatever collection of printed matter has been jammed into the rack. We really should clean that thing out. But not tonight. I hear my bed calling. And a puzzle.

My latest chicken scratching is on puzzle 4. Only a few words filled in. Just like puzzle 3. Just like puzzle 2. And just like the one before that. Pitiful.

I had finished the previous crossword puzzle book a couple weeks ago. I could complete almost every puzzle in that book about ten minutes. Fifteen if I was tired. And I could complete an entire puzzle in that book without resorting to checking the answers in the back. At least up until the final ten or so puzzles. Whoever created those got a little too creative with some of the clues. Like on the order of 37 down: roadside gamble, two words in eight letters. Fast food. Most clues, though, were just easy enough to be relaxing. 13 across: four-letter word for sign, starting with “o”: omen.

Annoying crossword puzzle book in the recycling bin

Good riddance, and good thing garbage and recycling pickup is tomorrow!

Omen indeed. The new book is nothing but obscure clues and confounding references. I ignore puzzle 4 and start on 5. Half a dozen questionable words later I have a few cross words of my own for this puzzle book.

Just as well; my bed calls. I finish getting ready for bed, and take a detour by the kitchen recycling bin. I toss the pulpy rag in.

Now I don’t have a puzzle book for the next time I have royal business. I will have to remember to pick up a new book sometime. Meanwhile, I can play a few rounds of Words By Post and AlphaJax on my phone, but please don’t tell my opponents where I made my last move.

Incidentally, in addition to Windows Phone, Words by Post is available for Windows 8, Android and iOS. If you own a device running one of the latter two, I will leave it to you to find the game. AlphaJax is also available for Windows 8.