Now for Summer 2020

The major thing I wanted to highlight about this past spring is I worked on the Deep Life challenge from Cal Newport. In this you spend one month on four areas of your life to delve deeper into a life that isn’t shallow.

In April, I amplified my contemplation or mental health. I generated a To-Don’t List, something I learned from Margaret Atwood. I think I did fairly well there. I reduced the SPIN/SLIDE victim reactions by countering them with creator language, like rather than Shame counter with Love, rather than Pessimism counter with Optimism, rather than Isolation try to connect with someone else. Rather than No creative or productive outlet, do something productive like put stuff in the dishwasher or take a walk, or meditate. I’m going to focus on this in September.

In May, I amplified my craft by doing a partial GTD installation at home, that I need to complete because the kids are going back to daycare in August, Meggan received a promotion at her job, and she has her first book coming out! I’m also transitioning to a higher paying job with more autonomy and less reactivity to always being available over email and such. So for the craft side of things I reduced tv time to know I managed that mostly but id like to reduce it further. I’m going to focus on this in August again. I would give myself a C on this challenge. Lots to still do and work on.

In June, I worked on my community. I spoke to a lot of my friends and former colleagues back in New York in what was a hectic time for our family. That went hand in hand with the reducing activity—I only used my phone for communication—no social media, no email, nothing like that except talking on the phone and texting. I would give myself a B- on this one this month.

This month, I’m working on my constitution or physical health. I’m walking daily and reading for a bit before returning home. I’ve reduced alcohol consumption to just two days a week. I’m doing okay with this right now but the bar is very low.

I’m going to repeat this cycle over the summer to close loops and improve. Then afterwards I’ll focus on each one over the course of a week and level it up.

That said, this summer sees a lot of things happening:

  1. The kids are going back to school meaning things are going to be getting crazy with potential spikes and all of us coming back to this house for a time period probably this fall when the students return to IU. That means, staying loose and flexible because we can still get sick at any time.
  2. I’m transitioning to a deeper job this month, so I’m going to focus on Craft in August to make sure that I’m starting off on a good foot.
  3. I’m five chapters into the manuscript of the memoir, and halfway through editing the novel, so I’m going to start preparing the query letters, proposals, and other materials for submission to Pitch Wars and to agents.
  4. I’m also starting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy soon—as soon as I can find a provider that has openings—because there is still a huge gap between intention and impact and learning how best to communicate my needs, and to work by getting started. I don’t have a problem with time management, organization, or task management but I do have a hard time just getting started on something if I’m unsure about the start of the process. This is why this season’s journal has these notes from John Rogers and Cal Newport:

That said, it seems like I suffer from something I call Seasonal Resistance Disease. Every change of season: January, May/June, September and that means , I slow down from the progress I made all season and regress due to transition points. I think this is a strong sign of my Aspergers as that’s been the case since I started teaching. Every season change there seems to be a regression of behavior and progress. Obviously this has got to change, and it’s why I’m trying CBT, because knowing this issue hasn’t changed the fact that it happens every year.

That’s all for the review of spring. I’ll talk to you all again in the fall where hopefully we’ll be healthy and things will have reached some form of normal, and I’m making progress in CBT. As always my letters will go out weekly, and I’m thinking about doing a weekly thing on Instagram with my marginalia. We’ll see though.

Stay healthy, safe, and wise.

–Dave

Current Status for Summer 2020.

The Scarlet Oak Woods

Happy summer everyone! I hope you all are doing well. Staying healthy and staying employed.

We made it through this season with without getting sick and our employment staying mostly in tact. There are changes coming on that front but we’re not on the unemployment line and we’re all healthy.

I’m writing this from Michigan. Where we hope to spend portions of this summer visiting family because who knows when we might see them again in 2020. Especially considering this crisis and its persistence.

Over the course of the spring I’ve written four chapters of the memoir and have a complete outline of the novel, and I’m working hard on keeping the fire hot on the novel while I work on the manuscript of the memoir. I’m doing that through research of the various legal procedural aspects of the novel because it is a crime novel.

How was your spring? Anything good happen during this time?

We’ve been hiking a lot and that has brought us a lot of serenity and peace.

What I’m working on for Spring 2020.

The home office setup.

Good morning! That’s the end of our posts for the transition between winter and spring. It is obviously a difficult time. One of the new habits that I’m working on is cultivating more of my Stoic-self to counteract my Aspergers, ADD, Anxiety and Depression. I realize it’s a very white-guy thing to do but it does speak to me and I do think it helps in a wholistic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Way.

Here was March 29’s entry in Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s Daily Stoic: Why Do You Need To Impress These People Anyway?

The irony, as Marcus Aurelius points out repeatedly is that the people whose opinion we covet are not all that great. They’re flawed—they’re distracted and moved by all sorts of silly things themselves. We know this and yet we don’t want to think about it. To quote Fight Club again, “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.”

That’s so true. Do I need all these books, notebooks, paraphernalia to call myself a good father, husband, and writer? Some of them do serve a purpose — a purpose I value—showing my story the way I want. But could I be better? Yes of course. For every book I buy, I should donate one to others. To be a minimalist. To be present with my kids and my wife because I regard this time right now as a gift.

I don’t need all that much to tell my story: just a notebook and a computer. And not even really the latter.

But most of all I’m not writing here to impress anyone. I’m writing here in hopes that what I’ve learned over specific seasons of life will help someone else down the line in their own seasons of life. Who knows if I’m doing it well. It’s not up to me other than putting one word after another, one sentence after another, and so on. That’s the only part I can control.

So here’s what I’m working on this spring:

  1. Keeping my family safe, healthy, and together.
  2. Writing the first draft of a novel that I’ve been playing with off and on as an interconnected short story collection that will probably end up being more of a straight-up murder mystery like Winter’s Bone and Before the Fall.
  3. Solidifying my GTD habits and methods for working from home by using Bear and my Journal.
  4. Reading the backlog of parenting books I have.

I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy spring, and if you need anything at all (other than monetary and a visit from me)–despite my nickname (Depress)–I’m actually a pretty positive and optimistic person. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

My newsletter will continue to go out weekly (as long as me and my family are healthy). Please note the new url for the letter as I’ve transitioned away from TinyLetter.

Talk to you again this summer.

Dave.

Current Status for Spring 2020.

This is the face of a writer who is working from home and playing with his family.

The major reason I became a writer is so that I could work from home. Really anywhere.

Now my day-job has nothing to do with writing, but considering circumstances these days in Indiana, mostly everyone is working from home—or have been laid off. The latter is not the case for me, thankfully. But there are a lot of people who are not so lucky.

The Press Gang is healthy.

But for right now, I’m extremely grateful to be able to work from home, play with my kids, and hang with my wife. It’s been very challenging this past week, but it’s been filled with a lot of ups and downs. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow, next week, next month — but today — and this week has been hard but with a lot of great things!

That’s life.

In the meantime I full intend to grow my beard to Alan Moore levels.

The home office setup.

Now for Winter 2020

The new work bag, from out of a William Gibson novel and into my life, designed by Mark Ryden.

Good morning.

I’m coloring a donut throwing unicorn robot with Doodlehog crayons.

So, I have something to tell you all.

The daily reality of my life is no longer a fit to blogging; because, well, life with two kids, a busy day-job, and some great writing projects (here are a few loglines) on the horizon makes blogging more of a chore than a joy. So I’ll write posts during the first two weeks of every new season and whatever I end up posting is it. Can’t promise it will be daily.

So it goes.

Here’s what I’m working on this winter:

  1. Perfecting my GTD process and applying what works to my personal and professional life.
  2. Writing a memoir
  3. Then writing a murder-mystery novel similar in vein to Winter’s Bone.
  4. Engaging in Cal Newport’s Analogue Challenge.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have a productive beginning of the New Year.

See you in the spring.

Now for Fall 2019.

Loft space book shelf.

That is all for this season. Apologies in advance for the shorter posts, but I am kind of busy this season. Here’s what I’m working on this fall:

  • Adjusting to life as a family with a newborn.
  • Reading a lot of first novels that I’m mining as I begin to write my third novel that will hopefully be a breakthrough.
  • Editing the novella for (hopefully) publication through one of my favorite independent presses.
  • Developing something completely different from comics or novels or nonfiction.

And that’s it for now. As always, you can find me weekly at my newsletter. Be good to one another. Talk to you between Christmas and New Years.

Currently on my nightstand.

Now for Summer 2019.

Big Woods Restaurant at Hard Truth Hills. Nashville, IN.

That’s all for this season. Thanks for reading some of my radical transparency. I hope you got something out of it rather than my crazy repeated phrases and concepts that may or may not have made any coherent sense. Here’s what I’m working on for the summer: 

1. I’m preparing for the birth of our second child.

2. Spending a lot of time on home improvement as a result of looking at Digital Minimalism and getting the house in order before the baby arrives.

3. Being less planned in what I’m working on, going with the mood of the week. I have diary updates, short stories I want to write, probably a nonfiction article for a magazine to do, a pair of comics, and a short film script that I’m going to play with between now and the fall.

I like to joke that ever since moving to Indiana that the summers are so hot here that I behave in a way that I used to during winters in New York: the only reason I go outside is to go to my car and turn on the air conditioning—which is currently broken, so…But the winters here are no big deal. In fact they’re delightful because no one goes out to the woods to walk around and we do.

As always, you’ll be able to find my weekly progress in my newsletter. Don’t hesitate to subscribe, say hey, or talk to me about whatever is on your plate. I’m here and willing to listen to you as you’ve willingly subscribed to listen to me.

Have a great summer. Stay cool. 

First piece of short fiction published.

My first short story was published in this!

To kick off the summer posts, here’s the first big win of the season: My first short fiction story was published in Providence College’s The Alembic.

This, obviously, is a big deal for me. For years, I’ve wanted to be a published fiction writer and now I am. For some reason…I never committed myself to submitting. I was more focused on the output of work than submitting it, but in the past two years, I realized that I’m not going to get anywhere if I want to publish a novel or anything else if I don’t submit my work to publications to show that, yes, I can write fiction. I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with my tendency to talk a good talk but not act on it. That’s something I worked on overcoming this spring and I have to say that I’m getting there. I’m not perfect, but I am getting there as a person and a writer.

You read the whole story for free here, but you have to download a pdf, and then scroll to page 30. It’s called “The Club,” and it’s the opening to a novel I’m going to start writing in Winter 2020.

Let me know what you think.

What I’m working on now for Spring 2019.

Just a stack of books I have downstairs. You should see my nightstand.

That was the series of posts for spring. Thanks for reading and following along. I’m going back into my Writing Den, where I’m going to spend a lot of time in my notebooks, and catch up on the stack of books I have. I’m going to rest, dream, and mess around in a notebook.

Also, I’m going to move house.

We closed on a house this past Friday and we’re moving over Easter so there is A LOT to do and I won’t have a lot of time to be messing around online, so I won’t be posting on here, Twitter, or Instagram again until after Summer Solstice, BUT! My newsletter will still go out weekly. In fact, I’ll be writing it as I hit post on this.

Have fun, be well, and enjoy the weather. Now take a hike!

Now for Winter 2019.

The Adirondack Mountain Range framing the golf course across from my parents house.

Hi,

I’m currently not updating this website because I’m writing these things:

  1. I’m writing the fourth and final draft of the Emerson Novel, a book about two teenagers who find out that what they write can change reality.
  2. I’m also submitting fiction. One of my first stories will be featured in The Alembic.
  3. I’m not updating my Twitter or Instagram, but if you want to keep up with what fuels me and my writing life, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. It’s filled with strange, wonderful, and hard things I thought about that week, and what I read, listened to, or watched that I found memorable.

And that’s all. Stay warm. Stay close. See you in the spring.