Drive Write: Support Structures

Drive Write podcastDrive Write: Episode 15 – Support Structures

This week I’m talking about personal support structures. In particular, I’m expressing appreciation for everything my wife does to help me perform on my creative projects. I’ve been reminded of just how much having a teammate and partner means during this past holiday season. She was overseas for the past several weeks and it has been difficult to balance all my personal projects against family, parenting and the day job.

Let me know if you’ve had similar experience or challenges in the comments. And definitely let me know if you have any tips!

Feels Right

I received the most wonderful text from my wife last week. She is traveling overseas and her text to me was that it “felt right” for her to be where she was. It may seem strange that “feeling right” about being away from home is a good thing. But it is. In this case it is, at least. In fact… it’s awesome.

I’ll tell you why.

My wife is a physical therapist and a thumpin’ good one. She’s good at a LOT of different aspects of her job. But what she loves most is hands-on sports therapy.

And that’s what she’s doing right now.

She’s the physical therapist for the US Nordic Ski Team and is traveling with them on the World Cup circuit. Her job right now is to keep the team competitive and healthy during the run-up to Sochi and the Winter Olympics.

When she sent that text, she was standing at the finish line in Oberhof. The team was absolutely killing it. The text read, “I’m in heaven here, feels right to be here.”

It is an amazing feeling to help your spouse and best friend find that one thing they love to do more than anything else. To help them chase that one thing. And then to engineer life such that it is attainable.

It’s a damn good feeling.

It’s been a long road. Two years apart for the masters degree. The risk and expense of owning a company. The clouded indecision of selling one. All-nighters and long weekends away from the family for the doctorate degree. It all adds up.

“Feels right to be here,” is the payoff for all of that effort. It’s worth it.

Somewhat selfishly, I take a fair bit of personal pride from having helped make this happen for her. And it’s also got me thinking.

So many of our decisions in life are based on the expectations of others. I mean, we tell our kids that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, right? At least we tell them this here in the U.S. And it’s probably true. Well… just so long as whatever they want to be includes an education financed on debt, mortgages, multiple car payments, insurance out the wazoo, and dual 8am–5pm incomes that provide both health and retirement plans. Sure. They can be whatever they want to be.

I think a much more heartening message is to let your kids see you do the things you love. And I’m not talking about things that are simply fun. I mean things that are truly and deeply rewarding. I believe that actively pursuing the things you find fulfilling will keep you happy and engaged around the home. They make you a better person to be and to be around.

Let your kids see the effort and dedication that it takes to accomplish meaningful work. Let them see the sacrifices that need to be made. And let them see that those things are worth it.

Hell. Let everyone see.

Sure… it might not be “proper” to forego the stereotypical American life. It might not be common to pass on the big salary or public sector benefits. Proper is fine. Common is safe. But when Zuzi comes home and I ask her how her day was, I don’t want her to sigh having slogged through one more weekend-obstructing day. But that’s the script, right? That’s what we’re supposed to do.

I’d much rather see her smile and hear her say that what she is doing feels right. How could you not want that for your spouse? Or for yourself for that matter?

I do.

And I most certainly want it for my wife and kids.

Merry Christmas 2013

2013 was full of family, friends, fun and firsts for us. There were many trips, visits and gatherings, each of them treasured and too many to mention here. Instead for this year’s Rogers family update, we’re going to call out some personal accomplishments.

In May, after many years of effort, study and all-nighters, Zuzi completed her post-professional doctorate in physical therapy from Texas Tech University. To fill her newly-regained free time, Zuzi has become a physical therapist for the Nordic US National Ski Team and will be traveling worldwide to keep everyone healthy and competitive on the road to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Andy finished the rough draft of his second novel and is neck deep in planning the third. He and the kids made up a bedtime story about stretchy, underground creatures called Droblar. The kids wanted to see the stories that they listened to each night and Andy started drawing again for the first time since high-school. The story is now unfolding online as a weekly webcomic.

Lucas (7 years old) spent the entire summer hiking Slovakia and Alaska and now continues exploring AK in his beloved Junior Nordic Program. This fall, he entered the Ignite enrichment learning program at school and is loving it!

Eva (4 years old) is riding her bike and learning how to read. She’s already mastered her online kindergarten math program and is starting in on the first grade lessons. Also, to make her mama proud, she is picking up skiing really fast – both nordic and alpine!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all from the Rogers family.

RogersChristmas2013

Take that, Cancer!

Movember 2013November is in the books and with it would normally go my accumulated months worth of face fuzz. This year? Not so much… and not so fast.

In case you don’t know and are wondering why the hell I’m talking about my month-long growth of facial hair, Movember is part of the worldwide war on cancer. Men are encouraged to grow out their mustaches and/or beards during the month of November. This is both a show of support and a campaign raising money to fund a variety of cancer battling programs.

The goal is to kick cancer’s ass so hard that its breath smells like boot leather. Men around the world are helping to swing that metaphorical boot one scraggly snot mop at a time.

So for the last few years, I’ve lent the support of my own greying cookie duster.

I don’t normally wear a beard. My wife’s not the biggest fan of being stabbed in the lips every time I sneak a kiss. Still, she’s insistent about my participation in Movember. We’ve both lost friends to cancer and know people who struggle daily against the disease.

When December rolls around, I usually take the beard off and rush into the holiday season with pale, bare cheeks. This year, I’m keeping the ‘stache around for a couple extra weeks.

A good friend is having an eleven-inch tumor removed from his kidney in a couple days. The beard is my show of support for him and his family through the surgery.

It’s my way to tell cancer to piss off. From Hell’s heart, I wave my mouth brow at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath through my soup strainer at thee!

Good luck in surgery and recovery, Phil. We’re sending our thoughts and prayers out to you and the family.

Drive Write: Writing Out of Order

Drive Write podcast

DriveWrite: Episode 13 – Writing Out of Order

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about writing out of order. The gist of my argument is, if there’s a piece of your book that you’re excited to write… write it. Stitch everything together later.

You’re going to have to write the entire story eventually. Might as well write the stuff you’re excited to write when you’re excited to write it. Right?

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, you should be past the half-way mark at this point. Great job!

Regardless of how you’re doing this year on your NaNoWriMo project, you might benefit from a little encouragement and strategic advice. If you’re not already listening to them, I’d encourage you to check out Mur Lafferty’s daily I Should Be Writing podcasts. She’s posting every day through the month of November to help us all accomplish our 50k word goal.

Thanks, Mighty Mur! =)

Until next week. Good luck, be well and write hard.

Drive Write: Droblar.com Launches

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 12 – Droblar.com Launches

This week on Drive Write, I give a mid-month update on my NaNoWriMo progress. I also introduce (formally, and kinda/sorta for the first time) the Droblar webcomic. I talk about why I started drawing, how the story came to be, and some technical and scheduling challenges that I’m learning to navigate as I go.

The artist I mentioned who got my attention focused on #SundaySketch-ing is Jake Powning. Find Jake and examples of his incredible swordsmithing at his website.

Enjoy, please visit the comic site at droblar.com, and feel free to leave questions/concerns/critiques in the comments.

Drive Write: Writing on the Road

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 9 – Writing on the Road

The past six weeks have had me at three conferences in as many states. I’ve traveled from Alaska to Texas, back to Alaska, down and over to South Carolina, back again to Anchorage, up north to Fairbanks, and finally back home to stay.

Whew…

Somewhere between coming home from Charleston and leaving again for Fairbanks, I recorded this. It’s a collection of my thoughts on writing while on the road and how to keep productive. I don’t know about you, but planes, late nights and strange hotel rooms don’t necessarily inspire me to great volumes of writing. However, I’ve found a couple defensive measures that keep me in the game. I hope you find them valuable on your travels.

If you have any travel tips for writers, please share them in the comments. Safe travels and get your words in! =)

Scholastic Book Fair 2013

The surveys are in, the results are tabulated, and we have the flavors du jour for this year’s Scholastic Book Fair.

Scholastic Book Fair is a pretty big deal in our house. My seven-year-old goes on and on for weeks about which books might be the best pick-ups of the year. Ninjas had a strong showing in 2012. Zombies got their grey, pallid foot in the door with Steve Mockus’, How To Speak Zombie. But last year’s clear winner was Pokemon.

(You can find last year’s results here.)

Well… it all came down to a few tense moments late on a rainy Friday afternoon. Decisions were made and forms were scribbled. Now, I’m proud to give to you all the results.

Drum roll, please…

Scholastic Book Fair 2013

The winners of the 2013 seven-year-old Scholastic Book Fair Selection Committee are:

As you can see, the undead are still clinging to life (figuratively). However, the clear winner this year – and with a dominant performance – is LEGO, claiming two of the top three slots.

We’ll be watching next year to see if the blocky little figures can rival the staying power of the walking dead or if they go the way of Pikachu and friends.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got kids and if they picked up anything sweet from the Scholastic Book Fair.

Drive Write: Worldcon Wrap-up

Drive Write: Episode 2 – Worldcon Wrap-up

Worldcon 2013 is over and in today’s podcast, I go over some of the highlights while everything is still fresh in my convention-pickled brain. If you don’t know, Texas is warmer than Alaska so I go over that little known fact. I also talk about meeting members of my online writing group, go over what the heck a kaffeeklatsch is, pimp the value of Barcon, and make plans to attend future conventions.

Listen. Enjoy. And feel free to leave suggestions/notes/etc in the comments.

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The Strangest Places

I was still in my office when the janitor came in last night after my writing class. I was busy. He was humming a tune… each of us could easily have ignored the other as if they didn’t even exist. But that’s not what happened.

My office is somewhat odd. I don’t have a desk, just a tall table. I haven’t had an office chair since 2003. I keep a guitar close at hand, you know… just in case. Also, Vera makes a bit of an impression.

Vera

The janitor – I know now that his name is Alberto – grabbed the trash and shook it out into a bag and then turned to leave my room. But he stopped short, back-peddled a step and complimented me on keeping music involved in my work life.

To be fair, weeks can go by where I don’t lay a finger on Vera and I don’t much care for my office guitar. Also, I was headed to a friend’s birthday party and rushing to get some work stuff wrapped up so that I could leave. However, I’ve found that it is worth taking the time to get to know the people who live and work around you. Rather than thanking him and getting back to what I was doing, I stepped away from my computer and asked him about his interest in music.

An hour and forty-five minutes later, Alberto and I had discussed family, philosophy, medical school, currency exchange, retirement, game design, the Federal Reserve System and America’s move away from the gold standard, small business ownership and the cultural value of art.

Alberto left me with several pieces of advice, but one in particular stuck with me. Actually, quite a few are sticking with me because he insisted on writing them down. This one, however, I want to share. It’s a simple little equation and it is just the exact thing that I needed to hear last night. It goes like this:

Passion + Action = Results

It’s a simple and perfectly commonsensical bit of math, but powerful. It doesn’t need explaining. All you need to do is recognize it and start iterating.

Awesome!

I live a charmed life… and encouragement and motivation find me in the strangest places.