Success in that I got to 50,000 words or more towards a nonfiction book!
It's still going to take a lot of work to turn it into an actual printed work.
I am in the midst of my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. This year, instead of writing a work of fiction, I've decided to work on a nonfiction project focusing on the political ideologies - the Isms - that define the American worldview.
In order to do it, I need decent research, and the best place for nonfiction research is an academic library.
So, I took a vacation day from work to drive up to Gainesville FL and visit the University of Florida libraries - arguably atop the public university system in the state - to find what I could for references for my writing.
This was also a homecoming of sorts for me. Since this is where I went to college to study for my journalism degree from 1988 to 1992. And it was a special homecoming because the library was where I spent most of my college life.
|When did they add palm trees to the Plaza of the Americas???|
During my journalism classwork I worked part-time, getting employment at the library itself in their cataloging department handling the book spine labels getting printed and applied. I enjoyed working the library more than working towards that degree (it didn't help that my grades were middling, I had to take Basic Reporting twice which was not a good sign). So it shouldn't be too surprising I ended up a librarian instead of a reporter.
While I've spent most of my career as a public librarian - working at the county/city level - my dream had been to work as an academic librarian in a university system, where the research demands were more intense and challenging. And the library I wanted to work at was at UF.
And in 2003 - twenty years ago - I got my wish. I was hired on to work at Library West - the main business / humanities / political science / general academia branch - as their Evening (tech support) Librarian.
And... it didn't last. Part of it was because the building itself went into a massive expansion / renovation to improve the floor space, which sent the West staff to work in a wing of Library East where almost none of the students visited - other than to check out DVDs - and it quickly jaded my experience. Another part was that I just didn't fit in, and I ran into a personal conflict or two with fellow staffers that led the HR department to hint that I should go find work elsewhere. By the time Library West reopened, I was looking for employment back closer to my parents and friends in the Tampa area, and I left in 2006.
I'd been back up to Gainesville from time to time: Whenever brother Phil (a fellow alum) went up to see football games with his sons, I would tag along to some of them; I had visited pre-pandemic to a SwampCon and walked the campus from Reitz Union to the library and back; and had driven by on recent swing-bys when I went to Tallahassee to advocate with the Florida Library Association's lobbying every year for funds.
But this would be the first time to visit the library and campus during a school day, and it was going to be - unavoidable - a nostalgic trip back to when I was in my early 20s, and a reminder of half the regrets I carry with me.
This video was in the early Tuesday morning, which is not often the busiest class day - class cycles were Mondays-Wednesdays-maybe Fridays, or Tuesdays-Thursdays - and relatively early enough that not every student was heading to class ("Never before 11!"). This was in the Turlington Hall plaza, between the main campus buildings for Turlington (where most of the humanities/social sciences were taught) and Marston (where some sciences - especially computer tech). The Century Tower is across the street. This plaza at midday is one of the centers of student life, where odds favor you bumping into half of your friends between sessions (the Plaza of the Americas in front of the main library is next, and then Reitz Union).
You had two main methods of getting across campus back in my day: By foot or by bike. Maybe skateboarding if you were cool enough. This visit I spotted a reasonably high number of scooters, apparently the technology - and collapsible steering rods - has improved.
The library itself hadn't changed much since the 2005 renovations, although they've moved equipment rooms around, and instead of copier machines they now use scanner trays which can email PDF copies to you (no more cash or student debit cards!).
|Never try to walk and use a smartphone camera while turning a corner...|
Going back to where I had been 30 - even 20 - years ago brought back a lot of quiet memories, and a lot of the regret I know I carry with me. Above all, the regret that I did myself poorly not being more social and active while a college student. I didn't do much other than be with a science fiction club that struggled to reach more students, I did nothing to find a dating life among the young women that populated half the campus, I made few friends from that time and haven't kept up much with the ones I did.
A lot of physical changes had happened to the UF Campus - and to the businesses and eateries across the street, ye Gods the Pita Pit was gone??? - but there was still a lot that reminded me of how it was when I was a young man with his whole life still ahead of him. It's just... I wish that young man enjoyed his time in that moment a lot more...
On Halloween Night in 2013, a brave little tuxedo kitten began meowing for food and love and I offered both to her.
|This is Wiggle Cat. I named her Ocean because the vet nurses|
felt Wiggles was too silly for her.
|This was in 2021 when I ordered a couple of cat posts during|
the pandemic. Ocean prefers napping in this one, but the tall one
at the window is great for morning suntans.
And today October 31 2023 is our tenth anniversary together, you wiggler.
Well, this year for some reason the Florida Writers Association was not selling a Day-Only attendance for me to attend on Saturday, they were offering the full weekend which cut into my work schedule (and honestly I cannot afford). So I missed the conference presentations and discussion groups.
I did pay to attend the Royal Palm Awards banquet as I was a Finalist this year in the Nonfiction - Published Blog or Article category and I had high hopes for my submission "All Which Wicked Designs" this year.
|Checking in before the dinner.|
|It seemed to be a smaller crowd than last year's, but well attended.|
Only a handful were finalists, the rest were there for the good food
and the friendships.
|Nice mix of zucchini, mashed potatoes, and a chicken/steak combo.|
|I have to admit this photo is 7 years old, I may need a new|
As I already planned to include the article in the collected essays book I'm currently putting together, I will need to include the update for it.
Once again into the deep dive of National Novel Writing Month!
This year, instead of stressing over a fiction novel idea that I quickly look narrative control over, I'm going to focus on a non-fiction work: Going with my background in journalism and my political interests, I've decided on writing about about American socio-political ideologies.
I've even got a title: American Isms.
I've done some preliminary research on the primary Isms - Liberalism and Conservatism, naturally - but also looking to include the less-common Isms - I'm finding there's no moderate/centrist Ism on record so I've got more research to fill that gap, arguing to give Pragmatism some due - to give it more depth.
We shall see how it goes.
In the meantime, if you're in the Lakeland / Polk County FL area needing a NaNo group to join for Write-Ins and inspiration, and if you've got a Facebook account, check here for the Facebook updates! Otherwise, sign up FREE with NaNo at their official site (link above) and join the US>FLorida>Lakeland Region for updates there!
Good luck, fellow writers!
It looks fantastic.
If you need someone for fantasy / science fiction book covers, I highly recommend Folse to you! She's at https://www.stephaniefolse.com/
Also, I need to let people know that National Novel Writing Month is barely two more months away! I hope my fellow Lakeland area writers are gearing up for their novel projects!
So yesterday was the inaugural street fair in Bartow FL for local authors to promote their works and help fundraise for Bartow's Community Service Center.
And, hoooooo boy, when I say "I survived," I am not kidding.
And for the first couple of hours, it wasn't TOO bad, considering how hot and humid the weather can get in central Florida in the middle of May.
By noontime... One big NOPE about being outdoors without air conditioning or even fans/blowers to help cool the tent areas. Even in the tents, covered from the sun, you couldn't get away from the fact the street you were on was turning into an open-air oven. The humidity turned into a brick wall. You couldn't get up to move except for the fact that it was too hot to sit still.
Smarter people than I brought portable or rechargeable cooling fans, only to have their batteries run out. That's how hot it got.
I started plans on designing tent covers with sewn-in solar panels charging up ceiling fans you could mount inside the tent frame. (I've been informed someone may have beaten me to that)
We didn't get the big crowds I've seen for their annual SyFy street conventions in mid-Februarys (and THOSE could get relatively hot and bothersome, but tolerable). Almost no one showed up in costumes, except for one author promoting a fiction work about a zombie war in 19th Century Europe, dressed up in the woolen uniforms of that era. I was amazed that guy didn't collapse from heat stroke.
We did our best to raise money for the community center, but there was little else we could do. Finally, before 3:00PM, the organizers okay'ed an early end to the street fair to let us pack up and flee for air conditioning by 3:30PM.
To Sean and Lori, thank you for hosting, and I am sorry the climate was against us. This would be a fun thing to do for local authors, except we gotta consider better times of the year. Some of the attendees were offering suggestions - my personal one is to build everything in downtown Bartow up to five stories high and install street cover roofs with solar panels to charge up massive F-16 sized blowers mounted at ground level to keep everything air conditioned during these street fairs, but we'll need federal aid for all that - and some of the more practical ones deserve some thought.
With that, sharing a few more photos of people I met at the event and pics from other attendees I'm stealing off Facebook...
|Big hello back to Bill Hatfield, whos been at many of these|
statewide authors events over the years! He's still recovering
from major health issues, best wishes and healthy hugs to him!
These photos were from earlier in the day, when the heat and humidity wasn't wilting everybody in sight.
|That fan was the biggest reason why these authors were smiling on-stage.|
That bottle of water was there in case any of them burst in flames.
These were the other local authors invited to the event. Several of them did dress up as part of the scheduled events - there was a Jane Austen-themed tea party - and the author who dressed up as Anne Rice was kind of the default winner of the "Dress As A Famous Author" contest.
We did our best to print out a big check to the Bartow Community Center!
Big shout out to Marie, my neighbor at that Fountain Lakes apartments so long ago, who was there at the event volunteering for the food vendors and providing overall moral support. You can tell the humidity was getting to me at that point.
So that being all said and done... oh man I need another nap ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz oh right, uh, until the next writers event... KEEP ON TYPING, YOU FIENDS. ZzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Oh, I should have mentioned this sooner.
I will be one of many local authors at the Bartow Writers' Block Party and Street Fair happening this Saturday May 20th from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Lemme get the details here:
All types of activities including, painting with a friend, kids coloring with a Klingon, a Jane Austen panel, guest speakers, music & so much more.
We are inviting people or their pets, to dress up as characters from books. This also includes your favorite author like Herman Melville, HG Wells, Mary Shelly, Edgar Rice Burroughs. The skies are the limit on who you want to be. It could be from a movie that was adapted from a novel or a character from the book itself, including the author.
It's a pet-friendly event, but make sure your alligator is emotionally prepared to attend.
There will be painting activities for kids and teens, I believe.
Food vendors will be in the area, so lunches and refreshments are available (bring moneys for books and food, don't eat the books eat the food).
I may have drink mugs and mousepad giveaways. I need to check supplies.
To the nine people I think follow me, hope you can make it to Bartow this Saturday!
Which is also considered Revenge of the Sixth for tomorrow, because May 5th conflicts with Cinco De Mayo...
Lemme get you some Sith:
Nickelback just called, Megan, they need you for the next tour.
This whole transition thing is a thing on TikTok and YouTube...
But how long have the geeks been making lightsaber video clips???
This was maybe 17 years ago (!):
FINISH HIM! Wait, wrong franchise...
It was more than a year ago, but I'm still kicking myself over losing a USB Flash drive that contained the most current stories and writing projects I had on file.
I forgot a cardinal rule of working with computer files: BACK IT UP. Some of the stuff had earlier versions of stories on file on a hard drive between my desktop computer and my laptop, but I had foolishly kept the major stuff - especially a gathering of short stories I was planning to put into a new anthology - onto that one USB stick... and then I couldn't find it.
If I'm lucky, it just fell behind some furniture that's too heavy to lift up at the moment. I'm not desperate enough to re-arrange the entire townhouse to find it. However, it's frustrating me enough to curse my very existence.
If I had to, I could recover some of the works and edit them back up to where I'm sure I had my finished drafts, but I am definitely missing several key stories I would love to include in that planned anthology to make it all tie together in a nice theme.
REMEMBER MY SINS, WRITERS. BACK UP EVERYTHING YOU GOT.
Happy St. Patrick's Day ye Irish devils ye. Have some shenanigans from Inisfree!
The drinks are on the house! (every spit-takes) Well, they ARE!
The whole movie is like this. Impetuous! Homeric!!!
Erin Go Bragh!!!
Almost wrote "For 2022" but yeah it's a new year, ya moran.
ANYWHO, Who wants to say hello to a krazy kat on a Friday the 13th!!!!
This giant Feline of Ferociousness was only willing to pose with a bowl of dry food over his head, heading the yearning eyes, the quick meowing insisting on FEED ME, etc etc.
Mal the Krazy Kat will also be rooting for the Seattle Seahawks this playoff weekend because he was born during their Super Bowl win 9 years ago (has it been that long already?).