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

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! =)

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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Writing Not Blogging

I haven’t posted about writing much lately. Somewhat interestingly, I’ve been writing an awful lot. I think I’ve been so focused on improving that I haven’t taken time out to share much about what I’ve been working on.

I was one of about a half dozen writers lucky enough to get into a short story class being taught by Hugo-award winning author, Mary Robinette Kowal. We’re four weeks into the class and I’m both impressed by what I’ve learned and humbled by how completely ignorant I am about the craft of writing fiction.

Our family vacation and the workload from this class have combined to put my current novel project on hold. That project is somewhere around 25k words and it’s going to stay there until I can internalize some of what I’ve learned from Mary. I want to apply my short fiction lessons to both the story structure and my prose before I get any deeper into the first draft of that novel.

What I have been working on is a handful of short stories and a variety of plotting and POV exercises. I can’t say that they’ve been easy, but the effort (and the resulting stories) have been absolutely rewarding.

For instance, I’m sure most young authors listen to the same podcasts and read many of the same books and blogs as I do. One thing that you always hear about is writing the same scene from the POV of different characters. Well… I’ve done that now.

Easy?
No.

Heavily freakin’ educational?
Yeah!

I’ve been learning how to identify the character, idea and event threads in my stories. I’ve learned to make sure that I close those threads. Dialogue, focus, pacing… I’m loving all of it.

I have been left with a question, however. What do I do with the stories that I’m writing? As much fun as I’m having and as much as I’m learning from working on short fiction, there’s no mistaking that novels are where my heart lives.

So… I’m starting a new segment called Free Fiction. It’s not going to be a regular segment like the Sunday Sketches are. I mean, I’ll be submitting my short stories for publication, and who knows how long they’ll take to either get picked up or come back to me. Regardless, there are things that I want folks to see and, hopefully, to comment on. I’ll post the first piece on Thursday after I finish a 20-hour continental commute and figure out how I want to set things up in WordPress.

Stay tuned and, as always, leave your thought in the comments.

Hiatus for Family Adventures

Hello from Lipsovsy Mikulas, Slovakia!

I’ve been vacationing with the family and, despite having plenty of time to write, Internet access is intermittent, at best.

I’ll put up a Sunday Sketch for the week and try to put up a post or two about our family adventures in Slovakia. Posts will be more regular once we get home in three weeks.