Monday, September 26, 2011

Hi. My name is Jeff and I'm a Tweaker.

Though I know no one is following this blog :( (I'm not here for the audience) - I have to post that I made the most remarkable burst of progress on my book this weekend.

The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. Right?

Until recently, I've been wallowing around in details and research and dialogue on my book - Ghosts in the Machine. Granted, I have several thousand gratifying words to show for it, and a few pretty good outtake candidates in my humble opinion - BUT NO FIRST DRAFT and NO COHERENT END-TO-END OUTLINE! Something had to give.

About 6 weeks ago, I realized that I was making revisions to my intro for the oblivion-teenth time. I have been chasing my story for nearly 2 years and constructively had little to show for it. I realized that I had a problem.

I was a tweaker. Writing and rewriting each chapter, sentence, and outline until I either was sick of it or began to doubt where it was going. I needed help.

I broke down and stepped outside my overconfident-new-writer's bubble and began looking to outside resources - surfing writer's and publisher's websites, ordering books, and reading blogs. I've spent the past several weeks discovering a whole new world of writing exercises and techniques - and found many very helpful hints and suggestions. [See a couple of recommendations below]

Tweaker syndrome is apparently one of the most prevalent ailments of us young and struggling writers. It's something some of us are born with and can't really escape. Until it's controlled it will relentlessly destroy any hope of progress - and eventually sanity. Being a tweaker is not like catching a cold, or getting a spot of nasty food poisoning. You can't take something for it or wait it out. Tweaking is an addiction. I know now that I will always be a tweaker and that I must work hard every day to make sure I don't relapse.

The one tip I found most rewarding is to "let yourself write badly." It came from the Alan Watt book - The 90-Day Novel. This concept amazed me, and at first it felt totally foreign to me. I mean, c'mon! I lived in a world where a sentence might be rewritten 6 times before I moved on to the next paragraph! But as I read the words, somehow I knew it was true. It seemed so dangerous and willy-nilly (to use a technical term) - but I was excited at the prospect of just dumping words onto paper, letting character and story and plot evolve as it spilled out.

The result, when applied to several exercises I found in my desperate research was an outpouring of thoughts and directions and nuances that I knew I would have never considered had I not stepped away from my ego and and just let fly. I wrote almost consistently each night, sometimes following the advice of one book or another, sometimes just rolling with it on my own path. The results amazed me! I was actually making progress!

As of this past weekend, I have a coherent outline with a synopsis of each of the 31 preliminary chapters - and the story makes sense... and it's good... and it's what I intended! I never thought the day would come when I would be happy with what I had on paper, but it has. Will I use any of my previous work? Honestly, there probably won't be much copy & paste, but that doesn't mean the last two years were wasted. The inspiration and tone and characters I created in those tweaked chapters and paragraphs over the past 2 years will definitely fuel and feed things from here.

I know I'll have to be disciplined and continue to let it "flow" - but I have also realized that once my first draft is completed... I can use my natural talent for tweaking to hopefully polish it into something I'm proud of.

I can't wait to get started.

Hello. My name's Jeff and I'm a tweaker. I've been clean for 38 days.

[ I'd strongly recommend The Art of War for the Writer by Scott Bell - a daily tip sort of motivator. AND The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt - which provides some extremely good character study methods, stream of consciousness exercises and tips on how to get outside yourself]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2011

Today is not just another day. Today is a day that we should remember who we are and in what world we live.

Our remembrance of the tragedy of September 11th is not some dredging up of the victim-hood or hatred or revenge that unavoidably overcame many of us - in America and across the world - during the days that followed this calendar date ten years ago. Commemoration of that event and tribute to those who perished on that original September 11th is a requirement if we are to survive as a race. As Americans, it is as much an obligation as the commemoration of the selfless sacrifices our military servicemen and women have made over the decades to ensure our freedom and the freedom of others.

Coming together to share our experiences and the personal memories of the lost should not be meant to stir animosity or prejudice or the fervor of "war." It should revive the bond that we share as Americans, and as people; keep alive the memories of those who died, their lives and loved ones, and remind us all of the fact that no nation on this earth without both unity and tolerance can survive for long. As much as we would like to live in a world where these traits rule universally - we do not, and likely never will.

As Americans we can not believe that we are the only ones who deserve a world of peace, and we can not expect something of others that we do not demand from ourselves.

No matter our nationality, certain events in history, some tragic, some triumphant should be memorialized, kept close, kept alive in our memories in order to remind us that we are all human beings with fault and emotion and vulnerability - and differences. They should serve as historical markers that we must learn from if we are to live at all. They should be used to illustrate the capabilities of some in our world to cause pain and death out of intolerance and the ability of others to overcome loss and tragedy through unity.

Today is not just another day. Today is a day that should remind us all that we are all citizens of Earth and that we must learn to coexist. It should be an example for all populations of how not to treat your fellow man, how not to deal with your differences, how not to be a citizen of our planet.

Countless lessons from countless days have been forgotten to history - we should all hope that this one is not.

Monday, August 29, 2011


like rain falling from the sky
no one can feel an entire storm
only the drops that hit them

oh to be above the cloud
every drop in site


I think
I'll meet myself -
find my way
to the a place where
everyone else lives -
I'll bring with me
all the things -
forgotten lost
in the fray of
life's second act -
so much time spent
throwing bottles
over the parapets -
notes to the world
asking how it is
what it's like
how it feels -
where connections happen -
people refuse to stare

afraid of me
afraid of the things
I will see looking
in through the windows -
my eyes burn -
flames behind glass block -
it's hard work
only being not to be -
always climbing the walls -
reaching the top
only to add

My Song of the Day

Love this. Today.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Self-initiated homework assignment:
Read "The Lottery" 4 times.
Write an exploratory analysis of it.
Learn from it.
Apply that learning.

Monday, August 15, 2011


(AKA Bumper Nuts) Enough with the stop light tea bagging! I guess if your 3-story-tall truck wasn't compensation enough - then trailer hitch balls are an obvious next move. [ref: for visual explanation]


No one wants to see your gnarled, 40-year-old, yellow claws. Go get some Lamicil and put some shoes on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A Book Review

I recently purchased a copy of ROOM, the recent (late last year) best seller by Emma Donoghue. In a non-spoiler-style nutshell, it is the story of a young woman (Ma) and her child Jack who are held captive in an 11' x 11' room - with heavy emphasis on how this limited environment has shaped and affected young Jack.

OK. As a reader who tends NOT to skim, preferring to read every word and feel the full effect of the writing - I was having a tough time by page 50. The story is told in first person from the perspective of the 5-year-old Jack. Though he is an extremely intelligent child whose Ma has done a remarkable job of teaching and raising him, his language is very childlike. His language, grammar, and sometimes his vocabulary made for a pretty difficult slog. I felt like I was reading Notes from Underground all over again. Yes, I exaggerate, but the read was disrupting the flow of the story for me. Maybe I'm just lazy, maybe I'm getting old and crotchety, but I just didn't have the patience for it.

However, I was enjoying the story SO MUCH I decided to hit my Audible account and download the audio book. (Cop Out!)

This changed the flow and the meter of the read entirely. Not only was the voice talent used for the audio book excellent, but the added clarity to Jack's speaking style helped to better convey his intentions as he spoke.

Now that I had found a way to comfortably absorb the book, I couldn't take my headphones out (and occasionally couldn't put down the hard copy book). The first 2/3 of the book were riveting. Ms. Donoghue pulls you into Jack's head, presenting his strange world as an almost idyllic place. Since his birth, Jack's mother has sacrificed herself completely to his protection, shielding him from their situation and providing him with a remarkable upbringing as close to normal as she can manage. She puts their health and Jack's mental stimulation and development first without fail. She creates an almost fantasy-like world that allows him to grow and understand much of the "real" world without raising the questions of where they are and why. Her answers allow Jack to stay protected within his own natural blanket of naivety as he grows. There is nothing in their simple, limited space that Jack doesn't have an answer for. All the while Donoghue manages not to pull any punches as she describes the disturbing events going on around Jack – despite his own inability to understand them.

Though the book shifts gears, dropping almost back to an idle about 2/3 of the way through, the author doesn't lose you. The pages that follow bring you deeper into the characters and help to further illustrate their tragedy and illuminate the amazing preparation and protection provided by Jack's mother. Even though this shift was a let down (a bit like the moment the roller coaster levels off and begins to slow), after the fact, I don't feel the book could have been completed meaningfully without them.

ROOM is a wonderfully insightful, often beautiful and sweet, often dark and disturbing look at our world and human nature through the untainted eyes of a 5-year-old child - and from the walls of his 11' x 11' universe. I highly recommend it.


You know the place. It looks like a bomb went off in there (and not just in the stall). Assuming the employees who hand out the giant 18" 2x4 keychain that provides access to the facilities use these restrooms too, one must wonder if they have crap on the walls and pubic hair in the sink at home...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Debilitating disregard and crippling rudeness does NOT constitute a handicap. Someone should help you earn a real wheelchair tag.


BYOB - and please invite your friends...

Pet peeve partaaaaay!


Competition is a great thing. It teaches us to work hard and to strive for bigger and better things. Giving the 17th place soccer team a trophy only teaches our kids that they are entitled to a reward in life no matter how crappie they play the game. Welcome to the Entitlement Generation folks. (contrary to my opening post, I did make this #1 on purpose)

And so it begins...

We'll keep the red pen warmed up with some humorous (?) if not pithy peeves.
Issues that all patriotic and/or sane (take your pick) citizens should take issue with. They are in no particular order - so prioritize at your whim.

Oh, there will be other more fiery red pen posts along the way, but the pet peeves will be a staple. Enjoy.

** All pet peeves included in this blog are © 2011 Jeff Snider Designs. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication without express written consent... might just land you in court. :)