March 5, 2006
New Blog site
I will no longer be using this blog for anything. If you are curious and want to know what I am up to, go here:
February 16, 2006
Considering Chewing The Keyboard In Frustration
I need to get better at this writing thing
I'm frustrated because I know the stories I'm writing can be better but, try as I might, I cannot seem make the jump. I have yet to develop the skill set to make them better.
I know the only thing to be done is to forge ahead. I know the only way to push past this is to continue writing and to read and study works by writers who are doing it right.
I have felt this way before (about this time last year) and it's Just. So. Very. Frustrating!
The stories I've been making small press sales with are all stories that came out of that last stretch of difficult writing, so I'm hopeful that things are about to improve.
I know intellectually the stories I'm writing right now are better than the ones I wrote a year ago and I know part of the problem is that I'm trying to build on what I've learned and I'm trying new things. Because of that, sometimes my writing sounds (to me, at least) less like prose and more like fingernails on a chalkboard!
I know that my stories should be better. I know they can be better. I know eventually I'll be able to write better. I know it's just growing pains.
But OH MY GODS IT'S LIKE PULLING TEETH right now.
Pant, pant, pant, grump, grump, grump
Okay, back to work.
February 13, 2006
A Bit Surprised
Today I must rewrite an essay for Comp II. I expect this to take about two hours of my day. After that I need to read four short stories for my Short Story class. Then a few business calls and, in-between all that, housework.
I usually don't do fiction writing on Monday, but I really want to make time today. I woke up this morning with a nebulous idea for a story in my head and it has been firming up all morning, pestering me, wanting me to write it.
But before I do, I need to spend some time studying the theory of space travel across vast distances. More importantly, I need a basic understanding of weight and thrust and speed and fuel and how they all interact on a voyage in space.
This writing thing is hard.
You know, when I started writing seriously I thought I would be writing high fantasy sword and sorcery tales. What I ended up writing was urban fantasy and magical realism. Well, okay, the Rija stories are high fantasy, I will give you that. But lately I've been writing something different, something I never thought I would write.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am about to commit science fiction.
Twice in one year.
Watch out Analog and Asimov's, I'm going to be flinging stories your way very soon!
January 14, 2006
The End of Christmas, Writer Stuff, a Meme
We finished the last of our family and friends holiday get togethers last night, visiting and exchanging gifts with my aunt and uncle in Coon Rapids. We had our traditional holiday lasagna, watched some football, showed each other pictures from our other holiday season events, and engaged in family gossip. It was a lovely evening.
I stayed away from the novel over the weekend, but as soon as I finish this post (and do dishes and start laundry) I plan to jump back into rewrites. I did start a new short story this weekend. Lately I feel like I'm not writing as well as I can. I don't know if the long slow-down over last semester took some edge off me or what, but I have not been really happy with any of my efforts lately. I am very deliberately writing my current short story using Algis Budry's seven-point plot style. Yes, it is a bit mechanical, but I feel like I need to do this to resettle myself, and if the story comes across as hack work because of it, oh well. Sometimes, when things are not working, you need to return to the basics.
And because I was tagged by Kelly:
The Seven Quirks About Me Meme
1. I need white noise or I can't sleep. I fact, I really prefer to have some kind of white noise (usually a fan) at all times.
2. Even if I decide to wait and shower later in the day, I must wash my hair first thing in the morning, or I can't think.
3. I do not like socks and only wear them when I must. I think socks are the devil's playthings. Feet should be free.
4. I am left-handed, but I swing baseball bats, golf clubs, and two-handed weapons right-handed. I can generate more speed and power right-handed for some reason. Everything else I do left-handed.
5. I cannot write, read, or focus on a conversation if the television is on. The flickering light, sudden movements, and noise are too great a distraction. This is probably why I don't care for the TV very much. I can, however, work at the computer, reading email and LJ when the TV is on.
6. I take my first cup of coffee in the morning with sugar. All the rest after that are black.
7. I cannot sit down to write unless I have finished the basic housework, such as dishes, laundry, and general straightening up of the house.
Now, I need to go clean house so I can get started on my rewrite!
December 5, 2005
Last Blog of the Course
Well, here we are, the last blog. I wish we could have been more engaged with each other, but I realize that you are busy, and that your access at school might be a little limited. I hope that something I wrote was useful to you, even if I only ever heard from one of you. I hope this blog perhaps gave you some insight to college life, and maybe even the life of a disabled student. It has been an intersting experience for me, learning about your school. I hope that each and everyone of you go on to great things after you finish school. Good-luck to each of you at Lincoln.
Happy Holidays to each of you,
November 28, 2005
Hello There, Lincoln Schools!
Well I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My wife and I stayed home and had a quiet dinner together. We ate, watched football, and hung-out together. It was a good day.
So what did you do for Thanksgiving?
Christmas, Hanukah, and all the other winter holidays are just around the corner. This year my wife and I are traveling back to Oklahoma to see my oldest son. He and his wife are expecting a child anytime. This will be my second grandchild; I have a granddaughter named Ember.
What plans do you have for the winter holidays? Are you traveling anywhere? Are you having family over for the day?
I'll write again next week!
November 14, 2005
Answering Your Question
I am back to answer the question I received from one of the fine students at Lincoln Community School!
"Now I have a question for you how long have you been in college. Has it been a dissapointment"
Well, this is actually the third time I've been to college. I attended at North Texas State University in the mid-1980's for one semester. I dropped out to work and take care of my family. I went back to college for two-semesters from 1988 to 1989 at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Now I am attending class here at the University of Minnesota. The one bad part is that, because I waited so long to go back to school, I lost all my credits at the other schools. I had to start all over from scratch.
The only thing that has been a disappointment to me is that it has taken me so long to return. The one serious piece of advice I would give you is: If you start college, try your best to stick with it and finish in a timely manner. Going back to college so late in life makes it very difficult to stay focused.
But honestly, despite that little disappointment, I love it here!
October 31, 2005
Hello Again, Lincoln
Today I'm going to tell you two things I think you should know about college. Remember, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them.
First of all, college is different from high school in that there is no one telling you every day you have to go to class. Once you come to college, you are considered an adult. Making it to class every day, and doing the work is all up to you. It might sound like fun, but you have to be able to keep yourself motivated, or you will quickly fall behind.
The second thing is that your classes are going to be less about memorizing stuff, and more about thinking about what you are being taught. You will discuss in class, and you will write a lot of papers, so make sure you pay attention in your English class!
Now, I'm going to ask you a question. I hope you will answer. What do you plan to do once you've finished school? Go to college? Go straight into a job somewhere? Travel? Tell me what your plans are after you finish high school.
October 20, 2005
Hello to Lincoln Community School!
Hello, Lincoln Community School Students. My name is Michael Merriam, and I am a student at the University of Minnesota (well, I guess that's obvious, isn't it?)and it looks like you and I will be talking a lot with each other over the next few weeks as part of a special project between our two schools.
So, I'm supposed to tell you a few things about myself by way of introduction. First of all, I'm a lot older than the typical college student. Most of them are 18 to 21 years old. I'm 40 years old.
So why am I in college at my age? Because a few years ago I lost most of my vision, leaving me legally blind. I had to quit my job as a freight manager, because it was no longer safe for me to work in a warehouse. So here I am at the U of M, learning new things for whatever the next part of my life will be.
Also, I write (and sell!) science fiction and fantasy stories. Mostly fantasy, but not exactly like Lord of the Rings. I like to take everyday, normal people, like you or me, and place them in fantastic situations with creatures from fairy-tales and nightmares.
So now I would like it if you could tell me a little about yourself. How do you like school? What are you planning to be when you're done with school (I know, it seems so far away, but you will get there!)? What is a typical school day like for you? What do you like to do when not at school?
I hope we can get to know each other better over the next few weeks. Any questions you want to ask me, especially questions about college, please feel free to ask!
20 October 2005
We met with our revision groups yesterday. I thought it went fairly well, though we were missing one member of our group.
Good feedback. I was given some things to think about, and some suggestions to maybe make this piece stronger in the long run. I'll sit down this weekend and hammer out the second draft.
I think these revision groups are really useful, but them I already belong to a fiction writing group, so I'm use to getting face–to-face feedback.
It sounds like we will be changing the way we use these blogs. Apparently, some of my classmates are having trouble with the blogging. Also, we may have students from Lincoln Community reading our blogs soon, so we are going to change the voice of the blogs to a more conversational tone, going from discussion about class to a more introspective conversation about our experiences at the U with 7th graders in mind.
If anyone is curious, I already keep a conversational blog at: