This is the page where I’ll be rambling about my ramblings.
Every day, I have been diligently plunging at least 1000 words into my computer, trying to find something interesting to say about a variety of topics, most of which I know almost nothing about. In this section of the site, I’ll allow myself a bit of free-form yammering about what I’m doing and why.
Hopefully the ‘why’ will eventually come to me.
11/24/13: The best part of this project has become apparent. I write to entertain myself (and if I’m lucky, someone else). I’ve written so much that there are heaps of articles I hardly remember writing. So when I go back 400 or so days and read something, it’s like I’m just reading something written by a guy with my sense of humor. It’s fun!
Until I spot something that needs fixing of course… then it becomes work.
06/28/13: I’ll be perfectly honest – my inner monologue has been dry lately. My Facebook statuses have been similarly devoid of attention to the banal. I started my two weeks vacation today and didn’t post a thing about it. Does anyone need that information? I wrote a kilograph on Rube Goldberg today; I’d much rather people read that than read about my beer consumption today (two, just in case I’m totally wrong about that). I have a Facebook friend I hardly know, who I’ve met maybe twice and within whom I’ve exchanged but a scratchpad sheet’s worth of online conversation since the dawn of time, but dammit I know when he goes to the gym.
But here I am, at the end of another year. I consider my annual summer weeks off to be my time of renewal and mental calm-downery, so for me this is New Year’s. Winter semester was a lot of work, with five days of every week running from 6AM to midnight with unrelenting crap to do. It was during this festive occasion two Augusts ago when I came up with the idea for this monstrous endeavor.
This year also allowed me the chance to turn words into money for the first time in 38-point-something years. Oh, the Super Bowl this year was great too, so was Arrested Development. And the Star Wars announcement – shit, this was a good year.
But back to Facebook.
No, literally, I feel the impulse to change my profile picture to something involving MTV’s The Head. Don’t know why.
02/08/13: I’m not going to lie – this semester is taking its toll. Three days a week I’m at work or school from 8:00 until 6:30. The other two I get the privilege of being done at 3:30. More homework than usual, a heap of German movies for one class, and then there’s a thousand-word commitment every day. Luckily I have found a few interesting topics to keep me engaged; writing about a woman who gives birth to rabbits is far more interesting than studying 19th-century Indian politics.
I suppose the idea here is that I should be that much more excited about April, when my final semester takes its bow. Except that means I’m back to full-time dreary work, and missing out on the Hitchcock and Gangster Movie classes being offered next year.
Stupid real life.
01/28/13: This has been a month of inspiration. Apart from some delicious doses of verbiage of which I’m rather proud, it has also been a test of my time crunching. Work/school stretches from early morning to well after dark almost every day, with homework and required film viewing scattered through my week like fatty pockets on a Sausage McMuffin. I’m taking a history class for necessary credit – a first-year course that doesn’t really mesh with my 38-year-old cynicism. I have no desire to ‘turn to my neighbor’ to discuss what ‘youth’ is. I’m busy trying to find a way to describe a beer I drank last night in a way that stirs the senses a little.
And speaking of beer… the good (nay, wondrous) people at Big Rock sent me another sampling of their latest concoction. I then attended the release party for said beer, and while it inspired a tasty article, it also inspired me to pick up my game. I have an audience, and while the daily traffic wouldn’t fill Letterman’s bleachers, they have been exceeding the three-hundred mark almost every day since early in the month.
If I can survive this schedule for 2.5 more months, I will see a downward tweak in my daily stress. In the meantime, these few hours every day will not be a chore – they will be my salvation.
12/10/12: Accomplishments so far in December: (1) Told a great story. Tim Lopes was downright inspirational to me. Shocking story, but the guy had cajones, and I’m glad I got to spread word of his awesomeness to a few more people. (2) Got to write an essay about the movie Airplane! for school. (3) Came to terms with the fact that I will never be able to do a Michael Stipe impression. I’m okay with that now. (4) Pulled myself out of a funk tonight because of this project.
I won’t get into why I was feeling down, I was just feeling down. Nothing but grooviness in my life right now, but sometimes one just slips into a brief pocket of blue. It was 9:30 at night and I hadn’t penned my kilograph for the day, not even a word. I had a magnificent topic lined up, and didn’t want to write a weak piece. Somehow I found it in me to swivel my mood in one cerebral stretch, and pulled myself into ‘character’ like a pro. This is encouraging.
11/28/12: It seems as though I should pause and reflect – one third of the way through this project that the doubters never believed I could complete. Were there any doubters? If so, they never doubted out loud in my presence, so I’ll thank them for that. Actually, today means a lot more to me than hitting the 1/3 mark. It’s McCartney day.
Anyone who knows me would know that I rejected modern music in high school – 89-92 was a crappy period for top-40 radio. I turned instead to the Beatles, who helped me get through all that teenage high-school melodrama crap. In 1989 six of my friends and I went to see Ringo Starr live with his first All-Starr Band. In retrospect, it was an amazing show, not just because of Ringo but because Dr. John, Clarence Clemens and Joe Walsh were part of the spectacle. Up until September of this year, I’d pretty much given up on seeing Paul McCartney live. A couple friends of mine had flown to see him elsewhere, but it seems whenever he’d be in this half of the continent it always lined up with a relatively dry spell for me, financially-speaking. Inexplicably, he decided to book two nights in Edmonton. I got greedy, and bought tickets for both nights. The initial plan was to go tonight with my daughter (named Abbey – yes, after the Road) then my wife would go tomorrow night. That fell apart with her parent-teacher interviews falling on the same night and truly not quite the same passion for seeing the show. So I’ll be headed there tomorrow with one of my closest friends, one of the six who joined me in the Ringo audience 23 years ago.
I’ve been bubbling all day, all week really. I read rave reviews of his most recent tour, and the thought of experiencing my Holy Grail of live shows with my girl warms my heart to liquification levels. I hope I don’t cry like a bitch.
Just thought I’d vent a little. A third of the way through and I feel like I’m getting the hang of this. I hand-picked two easy-to-write topics to make sure I hit my target today and tomorrow, when work could interfere with my only free writing time. If I can make it through to Friday, it’ll be a big win. I’m feeling optimistic. And on top of it all, I was sick last week so I still have all my free Big Rock beer to enjoy when the weekend hits. Hooray for life!
11/20/12: Has it really been so dull over the past two months that I’ve had nothing to report? No inner monologue? Actually, yes. There has been more school, more work, and a laptop whose trackpad has chosen to abandon its duties for good. Now I rely on a mouse – not ideal for propped-up-in-bed use. Yes, my bed is my office, which goes against all common sense. I should change this.
If ever there was a time to take this gig more seriously it has come. No, I’m not famous, I’m not viral, but I’m becoming more aware of the finite nature of this project. Sure, I can a sub-par article here and there (that horrible stock character experiment on day 320), but eventually I’m going to get to the end, and I may not be happy I tarnished the final project with a wasted day. I’m not going to get all life-metaphory here, though that would be an easy road.
I guess my point is that I’m happy with what came two days later. I have avoided ever writing about the holocaust – it’s a topic surprisingly devoid of fun, unless you’re Set McFarlane. But the Angel of Warsaw was my favorite article so far. I didn’t get a lot of feedback, but what I did hear meant a lot.
Then suddenly, free beer. Big Rock Brewery, the topic of my day 280, wrote me a lovely email of thanks. I was invited to visit the brewery and meet Paul, the brewmaster. When I think of all the hours of joy Big Rock beer had given me because of this dude, it felt like I’d been invited to meet Matt Groening. They even offered to send me a taste of some of their newer concoctions, free of charge. Now of course, because of my strict journalistic integrity and commitment to the principles of – yeah, screw that. I accepted the free beer.
I’m sorry Rogue Ales – I love your flashy flavors and funky fusions, but Big Rock and I made a life-long commitment back when I was a teenager. And while I legally must make it clear that they don’t condone, approve of, or possibly even read what I write every day, they have become our new unofficial sponsor. I encourage everyone who reads this to head out immediately and purchase a six-pack of McNally’s Extra ale. If the liquor stores are closed, camp out in front until tomorrow. Your innards will thank you.
As for the next couple weeks – expect me to pick up the consistency, starting with a thousand-word ballad tomorrow. Watch out for November 28 and 29 though. Work, school, and two nights in a row of Paul McCartney in concert. It might just be a thousand ‘the’s for a couple days.
09/17/12: It has been a shiny month. Buckets of sequins spilled all over the calendar: daughter starts high school, son starts his college sophomority, I start my last year of workschool. I seem to remember last fall being much kinder to my schedule. I’m writing at night more often, influenced by sleep and the distraction of football. Not a fan of the Thursday night games right now. Just too much to do. Don’t tell my wife.
Reddit slapped me for too much self-promotion – my fault for not reading up on ‘reddiquette’. A few days later someone submitted Day 250, the TV spoilers article, to Reddit. I had my busiest day by a landslide, with over 4500 pairs of eyes skimming my list. And apart from a slight error in my Wonder Years entry, responses were kind. Oh, and it appears summing up Lost in ten words is not possible to do. Fans of that show – and I thought I was a fan, but apparently not – can get snippy about it. I get the same way about WKRP In Cincinnati.
I’m in need of a jolt of creative adrenaline. Not happy with my last attempt to play around with my style (today’s article seemed a little bleh upon a second reading), but I’ve got some ideas.
And it’s not like I can take a day off. With a six-hour class hogging the space between 1 and 7 on Wednesdays, I wish I could. And one Wednesday in November I’ll be losing everything after 7 with a McCartney show. Is it weird that seeing a 70-year-old man sing 40+-year-old songs feels like a life-affirming moment? No, it’s McCartney. He’s been the Holy Grail of shows I’ve wanted to see since I was twelve.
I’ll just have to be creative faster that day.
08/09/12: I’m on vacation. Usually the ugly runt-sibling of the travel kind, this is a stay-at-home-cation (the term ‘staycation’ reeking with the mournful tone of compromise). Last year’s well-chronicled cross-country drive inspired a daily series of articles that directly inspired this project. Those articles can be found at The Paltry Sapien. This year my son – whose relocation to Toronto was the impetus of that voyage – has returned home for a welcome pair of weeks. Colton, like his sister and mother who also endure this project, was a tremendous inspiration for this nuttiness. Had he told me it was too crazy to attempt I might have listened to him.
Maybe. But I’d probably still be here. We’ve got our long-term eyes on a voyage eastward next summer. With everything I’d want to cram into a New York day, could I maintain my quota? It’s hassle enough when it impedes on the tranquility of the brilliant warm sun this week. To date there have only been maybe three or four days when finishing an article has been a chore. Three or four out of 223. I think – I forget the exact day number until I look up yesterday’s. I fumbled my numbers once; a friend on Facebook caught it quickly.
Okay, enough work. Back to rest.
07/17/12: Ha. Someone didn’t get the joke. Reverend Marty was not universally beloved. I’ll have to make a note to pull him off the shelf next time I encounter a daring artist.
Tomorrow for #200 I took a tip from a friend and booted Wikipedia aside for an experiment. It may be completely unreadable, or it might be cute. I don’t think I’ll hope for more than cute.
07/03/12: I flew past the six month mark this weekend. I have survived. My marriage has survived. The Million Words Project has survived. I’m going to call that a win. Next checkpoint comes in two weeks when I cross over to 200. I want to do something crazy again for that day. Day 100, a hundred topics in ten words each, was fun to do, and possibly mildly entertaining. Do it again? Maybe, but it would have to be somewhat different. 200 topics, five words each? That’d get old fast. Might put out a query on Facebook, I got some good ideas last time. Good ideas save me the time of having to come up with good ideas. I like that.
Especially since time is ridiculously tricky to balance these days. I’m still finding that writing for this project is a high point in my day, about five days out of seven. That’s pretty good. And if I’ve armed myself with a generous topic, that’s always fun. But what is a good topic?
I can’t write about movies and music every day; I wouldn’t want to. The size of the Wikipedia article is not an indicator of depth of material. Some topics are simply not interesting. If I can’t make it mildly interesting and/or funny, at least to my tastes, then I can’t write it. I’ve got a catalog of a couple dozen topics I’ve compiled in Random-Article hops. Most are not quite rich enough to mine for more than 300 words. Some will be fun to write.
I’m going to consider day 200 as a complete victory, I think. The first 200 are the ones that decide whether or not I’ll finish this task. If I’d missed a day, or even had one day in which it was thoroughly tortuous to write, that would suggest the onion stench of impending doom. My first wind is still peaking though. My second wind has kicked the alarm clock across the room, knowing it has a long time to sleep before it’s needed.
Some of the ideas which may be on the horizon, which keep me glued to this Project with giddy anticipation:
- Defunct Roller Coasters
- The All-America Football Conference
- Deep Throat (the movie, not the Watergate guy or the fellatio technique)
- Astral Projection
- Les Nessman
I have heard some great feedback from people, and that tickles me that I have readers. On the one hand, I diligently broadcast my article through all channels of social media every day. On the other, I am doing this more as a personal journey than for mass appeal. The support of my family, friends and welcome party guests is just the cherries on the cheesecake. The bacon in the beer. Every message, every tweet, and every well-crafted gift basket drowns my blood in happy juice. I am humbled with thankiness toward all who take the time.
Also, I am now hungry for cheesecake.
06/28/12: Alright, I confess. It took me literally hours to write today’s article (going up tomorrow), and I like it less than my previous two. Why is that? Why do the ones that make me laugh the most seem to happen the quickest? A couple days ago I got over halfway through an article and threw it out because the funniest thing in it was a Marty Feldman joke that wasn’t funny. Then I wrote a thousand better words in a fraction of the time it took me to bleed out 600 words.
So what’s the lesson here? If it’s going slow, junk it and start fresh. Either I’m in the moment or I’m not. Maybe I should start tracking all the factors that went into those high-speed bursts of better writing: place, time of day, mood, music, quantity of bran I’d eaten, how recently I’d heard the word ‘potato’, and so on. There has to be a common factor.
But I’ll have to take notes right away. After almost half a year, six straight months of burrowing through this project, I’m losing track of myself. I edit and post early almost every day. Then at some point I write. In the evening, if someone asks me what today’s topic was, meaning the one I posted in the morning, it takes me a minute to remember. They’re all bleeding into one, except for the quirky ones – the letter to bacon, the 70+ haikus, the bitter teacher, the awestruck preacher. The ones I have classified under ‘atypical style’ because I couldn’t think of anything more clever.
I have an idea for a regular feature though. I came across three categories: music, TV and movies considered to be ‘the worst’. There were several articles’ worth of material there. Hell, I’d already done one weeks ago when I wrote a piece on Starship’s funky (in the odorous sense) song, “We Built This City.”
Another thing – since I’ve neglected this monologue page and feel I should be thorough in catching up – I posted the question on Facebook for suggestions of new styles to throw into the mix. The sermon idea came from that, and it was the most fun I’ve had writing a piece since the love letter to bacon. I also received the suggestion of a short story. That one scares me, to be honest. Creative non-fiction, which is my style 90% of the time, is conversational. It’s natural. But the thought of firing out a piece of fiction with one quick edit needles me. I’m a compulsive editor. When it comes to second-guessing myself I’m like a blind walrus in a sack full of fish.
I’ve written a lot of fiction, but not in years and never in the morning. I was an afternoon-on writer, always have been. This is a challenge, I suppose. I should push myself and try it. But “in code”, Laurel? Seriously? That was a cruel suggestion. Brilliantly devious. I could do a letter substitution code and leave it as an article of gibberish, but I’d have to hunt down a way to have that done for me. It’s hard enough writing a thousand words; doing that by hand would require me to abandon literally everything else I’d do that day.
But I don’t want to brush off any suggestion. Hugh, the same witty soul who proposed the sermon idea, had suggested musical theatre months ago. I laughed when he said it, filing it in the ‘Probably Never’ file. But one day I just did it. It may have sucked (the only feedback I got from it was from Jodie, and I sang it to her so she could hear what was in my head) but I did it. Now this code idea is sitting there in the middle of my keyboard, looking up at me with those pleading, butterscotch eyes. It’s crazy but I want to try it. This is my training ground. My sandbox.
Alright, I’m done for today. I’m finishing my third consecutive Thursday toward the end of what has been the longest, most tedious week of my life, and the upcoming three day weekend beckons me with a bribe of sleep. Goodnight, Wisconsin.
05/21/12: Very happy with this week. I got angry and I enjoyed it, even if I was aiming at an easy target. I also got tracked down for my 20th high school reunion. My first thought was how many TV shows had played the reunion card as a plot device. Was I to triumph like Louie on Taxi? Would I beat someone up like Al Bundy? Would I be the only one from my graduating class still alive, like Ethyl from Dinosaurs? (I had to look that last one up)
I probably won’t go. I didn’t have a bad time in high school, but do I really care who sells insurance now, or who married a bald guy she met in Estonia? Maybe a part of me would rather avoid having to smile awkwardly at the guy upon whose car I vomited after too much Southern Comfort one afternoon. Or reminisce with someone whose only shared memory with mine was a grade eleven physics class. Nope, it’d be a Very Special Episode I’m sure, but I’ll skip this one.
05/11/12: i’m trying to update this from my iPhone and already regretting it. I wrote about the Beatles this week, but about a fascinating project in and about them. Someone else’s manic web-based love labor. David Barrett, the artist behind the project, liked the article too. Yesterday I also learned I was to receive my first writing award. The U of Alberta likes the work I did this year. Okay, it was probably because of something I wrote for class, but I’m not ruling out the persuasive power of a love letter to bacon.
Tomorrow’s article I want to treat carefully, as the subjects are two of my favorite artists. I didn’t worry if my words would do the bog turtle justice; Kevin Smith and Ben Folds are another matter.
I collect my award on Wednesday. I receive $100 in books. I don’t know… Far Side anthology or Calvin & Hobbes anthology?
04/29/12: My Bobby Fuller article certainly drew some attention. First, Fuller’s former road manager (and one of the pallbearers at his funeral, apparently) dropped me a couple of comments which included clarifications on his former client’s chart success, and some interesting information. Also, he was complimentary, so he rocks.
I got an interesting note tonight. My article contained a comment about original BF4 drummer Dewayne Quirico being fired for not showing up at rehearsals. Dewayne’s wife, Joyce, wrote the following comment:
“DeWayne Quirico was not fired by Bobby for repeated tardiness or skipping rehearsals. That is a lie that came from someone who started givinng interviews soon after Bobby was killed and it just keeps popping up over and over in these articles. The parting of the was was personal and Dewayne Bobby and Randy Fuller are the only ones who knows what happened. It would be nice if you corrected this article! I am Dewayne’s wife and I was with him when he was with Bobby so I know what happened!.”
Now, I wasn’t there, so I’m hardly one to argue. That was a tiny sentence in my article, one that was not at all central to the story I was telling, and I never thought to question Ms. Wiki’s expressed wisdom on the matter. But a first-hand (or, I guess second-hand) testimonial has to trump the user-edited Wikipedia page, right?
This was my reply (in email):
04/22/12: I am suspiciously happy with the previous 20 or so articles. Finals have come and gone for my first (and fullest) university term to merge with this project. I survived, and haven’t missed a day. I write so often at night now, I hardly ever watch TV. This, after a decades-long routine of ending my day with the glaze setting onto my eyeballs, reflecting Letterman, Stewart, Pompeil, etc.
I find the biggest hassle every day is still selecting a topic. I’ve been spending up to 30 minutes clicking ‘Random Article’ to find something with enough story or humor potential to be worthy of a kilograph. Once, in practice, I tried a ‘shuffle-mix’ article. I wrote as much as I could about a topic, then clicked to the next when I ran out of steam. While that adds a bit more variety to an article, it also means I’m running out of steam six or seven times within the text. So a topic has to be worthy of the investment.
Yesterday my manipulations were a stretch. I landed on some brand of malt liquor, clicked through to the American Breweries category, then all the way down to ‘R’ for Rogue Ales, the brand I happened to be drinking at the time. In fairness, it was a bacon beer; it deserved to launch an article. But instead of finding an article I can manipulate through parent categories to find a topic, I want to do something else. Let’s face it, ‘Living People’ is a topic category. That’s pretty open, and I like the element of randomness.
So here’s what I’m thinking. I build a database of random clicks. Truly random ones, and I jot down the ones I think might bear the most fruit. Every morning after editing/posting (or afternoon – I sometimes have to work at my job), I handpick from the batch of randoms. No pre-research done, no pictures collected. If I top up the database every so often when I have time, this could shave some time off every day’s work, without compromising the rigid integrity I feel somehow obligated to follow for this project.
Is that weird? Probably.
04/09/12: I’m happy with article #100. Actually, I’m happier that I made it to article #100. Moments after I posted it, Jodie pointed out that she had misunderstood my intent. I picked 100 random topics and wrote exactly ten words about each. She had thought I was going to recap the first hundred articles in ten words each. I realized, that would have been so much better. I missed my opportunity to go all Family Ties on this place and air a clip show.
I may do that for article #200. Maybe a huge bonus article for #500. Maybe my 1000th article will be a summation of every previous article, one word for each. Wow, that’s a terrible idea.
I came across one topic that was far too interesting to be summed up in ten words, so I saved it for article #101. I figured it would save me some time in coming up with a suitable subject, which was nice since I’d spent the previous half-hour copy-pasting links into today’s piece.
I gotta say, it was nice to write normally again. I was getting sick of counting to ten.
04/07/12: Tomorrow I write article #100. I have an idea for it, and it will either be really fun or astoundingly stupid, I look forward to figuring out which. Mostly I’m just happy to be into triple digits. I’ve completed enough of this project to know whether or not reaching its goal is even possible. The simple answer – yes, but it won’t be easy.
Time is easy to take for granted. Taking 60-90 minutes (at least) out of every Saturday, every Sunday, every busy school/work day, it isn’t easy. It’s taking a toll on everyone around me, I can tell. I’m building a thousand words of space between myself and my loved ones, and we’re all trying to keep the bridge in good shape.
Is this the path to becoming a writer? Bludgeoning myself into habit? Is this discipline?
Some days the hardest part is finding a fire of inspiration on Wikipedia large enough to leave a thousand-word trail. I’ll be honest, I’ve hit the 500-600 word mark and run out of flame. I’ve written another 50-100 words of dead ash, then thrown out the subject completely, starting fresh. I have a small stash of rehearsal articles from last September, or in the 2-month gap before January 1. They’re there not to allow me to skip a day, only if my article looks, upon review, embarrassingly heinous. In 100 days, I have used this lifeline once.
One week left of school, then I turn my attention to writing things other than these articles. I’ve stretched, now I want to get on the field.
I couldn’t do this alone.
03/27/12: Two and a half years until my next day off. Is that a good thing?
I don’t know, but I think so. I started this project six days before beginning my busiest school term since Cosby was on television. I haven’t missed a deadline, even when the deadlines for papers and projects were sharpening their blades above my neck. Two writing classes, two film classes (and three films) per week. Work. About 90 minutes of bus travel every day. And this daily challenge.
Sometimes I click through dozens (it can feel like hundreds) of articles that won’t work: soccer players, villages in Hungary, proteins, non-famous Nazis, death-metal bands from Australia, middle schools in Nebraska, numbered asteroids, Irish sporting results from 1928… there’s no end. Finally something strikes me. Something I can write about. It might be chairs, it might be a low-budget action movie from 1995. But I have found time every day somehow.
Is it going to get easier when school is done? I’ll be working full-time and trying to throw some words at other sites around the net-world. I’ll have the temptation of sun and warmth and vacation and my hammock. Two and a half more years.
Two and a half more years of reminding myself that I’m almost 40. In fact, after today I am closer to 40 than to 35. That sentence kind of sits in my gut like an old McRib. Wow.
So between now and then maybe I become a writer. I’ll have 913 more articles to write between now and then. I want to shake it up more. New styles, play around with the format. I traded emails with the president of the flying car company (who didn’t actually make one, but still…); I got a comment from my subject’s spouse for my Day 86 article yesterday. I think I can do a lot in a thousand words.
Mostly, I think I get around to this project every day for two reasons: I made the commitment to myself, to do something that hasn’t been done before in this way, and because I love to write. I have removed Writer’s Block from the realm of the possible because this project won’t allow for it. One of my profs compared this project to a hockey player enjoying the freedom of playing with friends in a back yard rink. I rarely played hockey as a kid (I was a defective Canadian, I suppose), but I like the comparison. It’s me and my words, my freedom to make my third Arrested Development joke of the week. My choice to write 70+ haikus. My choice to turn 9th century Italian politics into a piece of musical theatre. Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s horrible. But it’s mine.
Two and a half years is going to be fun.
02/28/12: Tomorrow I publish my first and only Leap Day article. I’ll also write my 60th piece in a row. I’m not sure if this is impressive or not yet. Four hundred and sixty is impressive. I don’t know, I didn’t find another project like this in my combings through the Googleverse last summer, so I don’t have a gauge, really.
Is this a pointless exercise in spitting mediocre practice sessions into thin air? I feel a greater sense of achievement when I twist the prose into something out of the ordinary, like my “Subservient Chicken” story, or the substitute teacher lecture the other day. Even the A-Z list of sports teams was strangely gratifying. The comments have been wonderful, as has the feedback on Facebook and elsewhere. I’m not quite approaching Twitter followers in the Kutcher spectrum, but there are a handful. Many of them write me personally, with offers to click here for a gift card from Walmart. I love my fans.
So I’ll try for more variety in styles. Musical theatre was one proposed genre to tackle, as was a piece of serialized fiction. As long as the element of random Wikipedium is incorporated, I’ll give almost anything a shot (please, no more emails requesting Ralph Malph / Potsie Webber slash fiction. It isn’t happening). I love that element of the unknown; that’s what keeps a bit of ‘danger’ in the writing, if you can call the possibility that you’ll be writing about mollusks as ‘dangerous’.
Time for bed. 5:30 is a stupid time to have to wake up to work in an office building. If we’d all agree to make the office workday just start two hours later, would that be so bad?
02/05/12: One month down, and I’m busier than I’ve ever been. If this page is to be the personal chronicle of this experience, here’s the lesson learned from month #1: Don’t Overdo It. Five courses, working, family, and this site = too much to maintain sanity. I dropped one course, we’ll see if that helps.
I built my categories last night, and I’ve started to submit a few articles to StumbleUpon, which seems to be driving interest up. Starting today I’m posting one of my columns on thePaltrySapien.com every Sunday. Hopefully I’ve settled into a sort of routine, though I miss that thing I used to call free time.
Oh, and the Giants just beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl a few hours ago. So I guess I’ll be locked in an unflinching grin for a few days.
01/21/12: Today I wrote the worst thing I’ve ever written. Not just for this site – I hope I’ll never match the Mysore (Region) miscalculation. It was just horrible. I Wiki-ed onto a list of songs that Lennon-McCartney wrote for other artists. I know these songs, and I know too much about them. Any sense of entertainment or engagement with the subject was overshadowed by facts and figures. I stopped at about 350 words and deleted it all.
After an eleven-hour break, I returned and was given the random topic of ‘penmanship’. What I wrote was fun, marginally educational, and more focused on the delivery of the language (ie: a Penis joke) than on the delivery of the data.
01/20/12: I wrote a haiku article this week. It took about three hours. I can’t figure out if I have far too much free time, or far too little. I have a 1500-word essay due in three days – not a research essay, just a ‘write some stuff that happened’ essay. First draft. Might be the easiest assignment I’ve had in a while.
Unless I try to write it in haiku.
01/15/12: It occurred to me that I am now 1.5% through this project. The end is within reach.
I have two writing classes this semester, as I clearly don’t write as often as I’d like to. I introduced myself (as we all did) to my Creative Non-Fiction class, and mentioned that I’d begun this project. My professor sounded intrigued, and one of my classmates (I’ll call him Roy, since I have no idea what his name was) asked how many days in I was. The answer was nine. It sounded fairly unimpressive.
I estimate, using the statistics available to me, the comments I’ve read and the discussions I’ve had with people over the past couple of weeks, that I have amassed a semi-regular audience numbering in the dozens. I am humbled by this; I wasn’t sure anyone besides my wife – who is legally obligated to read this page every day – would read my yammerings. Even my mother, who acquired her first computer in the summer of 2010, and acquired it ONLY TO PLAY SOLITAIRE, reads my stuff every day. Hi Mom!
I haven’t played around much stylistically, partly because I don’t want to fall on my face with an embarrassing set of bad haikus and partly because doing so takes about double the time. But I will. I’ve had some great suggestions – writing in musical theatre style, writing out a really bad white rap (which I would not perform and post to Youtube, but I would hold auditions), and my favorite, a serialized piece of fiction, still somehow based on daily random Wikipedia articles. I will find a way to keep having fun with this.
And fun it is. I was actually given ‘American Football’ this weekend. I almost fell over into that large wooden cross I hung on my wall – though I swear it’s a lower-case ‘t’ in honor of Tebow (I have already burned this… damn you Tom Brady). My next article will be about the Occupy Las Vegas movement, which means my site will become almost marginally topical.
So, how long does a Honeymoon Period last? When does the fun wear off? When does this all become a painful daily grind, reducing my prose to angry exclamations? (“Today’s topic is the maize weevil. Fuck you, maize weevil.”) Maybe this is like that beginning part of a marathon, when you can still appreciate the scenery.
I’d like to thank every eyeball that has read this site, including the 103 who visited my Sodastream article because they thought it was actually useful information about the product. When I’m past 500 days and my audience is up into the even-more-dozens, you can say you were here before it was ‘hep’ to be here.
I’d also like to thank anyone who read that marathon reference up there and truly believed that I know anything about running in a marathon.
01/08/12: One week in, and I’m settling back into the feeling that my brain is doing more than dissolving into mush every day. I’ve been fortunate to receive topics about the theatre, movies, television and music this week. The response has been very encouraging, though I try not to think of the fact that my mother is reading this.
I start my next semester at school tomorrow, cramming five classes (including two writing classes) into my life along with work and this project. By the end of January, I will either have mastered this complex routine or else there will be Skittle-size bits of my exploded brain buried in the drywall of my bedroom. By the end of term I will have written about 100,000 words, not counting whatever my profs at school assign.
The good news for now – I will hopefully never have to write about the desolate landscapes in Greenlandic cinema again.
12/31/11: And after a couple months of silence, tomorrow this site becomes my home for a thousand days. I’ve been training well: Every day I count to a thousand to make sure I remember the order. I ride the Random Article wave in Wikipedia, coming up with a poop joke for every entry. Try it, it’s not easy. I re-read my older articles, then berate myself for foolish choices, like turning a choice topic like the Mysore Region in India into a description of a horrific skin disease, with a picture. I have one thousand days to get in shape. Success will mean the ability to literally bathe in money (though I’m not sure exactly how writing regularly for a free blog will bring about that result, but I’m confident it will all just come together somehow). Failure will mean this site gets turned into that Quantum Leap fan-fiction exhibit I’ve been working on.
Day 1 will be New Year’s Day, tomorrow. Day 1000 will be September 26, 2014. Day 1001 will be my fortieth birthday. On that day, I’ll rest. Two years, eight months, twenty-six days. 24,000 hours. 1,440,000 minutes. That’s two words every three minutes for over two and a half years. Starting tomorrow. I’d better stretch.
12/18/11: The site’s popularity has increased significantly since I stopped writing. So has its influence. When I posted my final practice essay on Halloween, I’d never heard the name ‘Sodastream’, nor was I more than vaguely aware that it was still a thing. This Christmas season it was everywhere, in flyers, ads, and staring me in the face next to that trippy aisle of humidifiers at Bed Bath & Beyond. I’m not saying that my infomercial-style script inspired the product’s surging popularity, but I’m not saying it didn’t. Other people, in fact most, or possibly all of people, would say it didn’t. But not me.
12/07/11: I’m impressed. November was more consistently busy than October, and I didn’t publish a single post. It seems that (a) I’m more popular when I’m not in the room, or (b) way too many people have found my site by searching for “19th century / nazi gay porn.” Seriously people, I’m not judging here… I just maybe should have retitled that one article. Oh well, this update was made via iPhone, so in some Internet-less emergency, it’s good to know I’ll still be able to meet my quota. Like if I’m trapped in a refrigerator or something. As long as I have 3G I’m covered.
11/08/11: For just over one week, the site has been silent. I have hung up my ‘pen’ and entered a period of quiet meditation. In two months I’ll be eight days in with 992 to go. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, and I can do this with allowing time for editing and collecting at least a couple of pictures to beef up the articles.
My lack of writing has really impacted my life over the past week. I miss having a daily mission, an obligation to create and make myself laugh. I find myself clicking through Wikipedia pages, wondering if any good jokes will hit me. Yesterday I re-read my last entry, the infomercial for home-made soda. I laughed at the midget-swimming-pool joke. I congratulated myself, it felt good.
I’ve noticed people still find this site, usually by searching for ’19th century porn’ (wonderful idea, using that in an article headline), but sometimes through other means.
So little time between now and January 1… I wonder if I’ll have time to catch up on ‘Boardwalk Empire’?
10/23/11: Practice can be fun. Nearly 60 days in to practicing and over 60,000 words. This marathon of words has really eaten in to the valuable hours I would have otherwise spent watching downloaded episodes of WKRP or playing online Flash games. Today it even bled into my coveted NFL Sunday Ticket. But what’s strange is that also among the best moments of my day. I wake up and edit. I find I’m watching grammar and lexical skeleton more than really fine-tuning the funny and that worries me. But when it comes time to pick a new subject and start, my imagination is awake.
Sometimes, like when I wrote about New York Highway 365 this week, I go in with a style choice. I’m going to keep playing with it for the next couple of months, but this site will likely go quiet after October. January 1 will come quickly, and with it a long-haul commitment. I may want a rest first.
Maybe when all this is done, I can parlay the experience into a wholesome ABC family sitcom, possibly starring John Hodgman as me and featuring an uplifting but hauntingly catchy theme song. Ooh, maybe I can even do a walk-on cameo during a Very Special Season Finale Wedding Cliffhanger Episode Part 1.
10/02/11: I survived my first head cold, maintaining my schedule, if perhaps not my quality of product. My system seems to be working so far: I’m logging on every day, editing the previous day’s article and making sure it isn’t completely dreadful, then posting. After that, I select my new topic and write my rough draft. This type of routine ensures that every article gets, at the very least, proof-read.
I have tried a couple of new things this week. I felt cocky and wrote an entire article in meter and rhyme. Today’s article (to be posted tomorrow) was written as a second-person drug-fueled narrative. I was given the suggestion that I devote one day per week to a piece of serialized fiction, pushing the story onward with the help of Wikipedia’s magic randomizer. I like that, and I might try it out in my practice runs.
I’ve got just under three months left to decide how I’m going to put this together. If I miss a day between now and then, it’s forgivable. I’ll probably take some time off before the New Year in order to attack it truly fresh. Of course I’m always open to ideas, suggestions and even bitterly hateful reviews. It’s just nice to know that someone’s reading.
9/26/11: Three years from today I should be posting my 1000th entry and looking for something new to do with my time. I posted my first ‘practice’ run today. Not my first practice article, but my first write-n-post-within-12-hours article. My goal by January 1 will be to figure out the best rhythm for this process. Right now I’m thinking I’ll write the article one day, then (hopefully) edit and post the article the next day. Editing is part of the writing process, and I should allow for that.