Posts Tagged ‘work’

Side Note on “the Process”

Posted: February 28, 2015 by writingsprint in Writing
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Sometimes writing is like falling in love. It just happens and the words flow the wine.

Other times it’s like digging a ditch. It won’t dig itself. It isn’t fun. Staring at the ground and waiting for the ditch to dig itself won’t work. Getting yourself into the right mood to dig the ditch only works so well. Sooner or later, you have to just pick up the shovel and dig.

I finally bit that shovel into the earth today. Now it’s time to go to bed. I wish I didn’t have to sleep! I’m finally making progress! Not much of what I wrote was creative, but a start’s a start and I’ll take it. Tomorrow I have job-work to do, as opposed to writing-work, not to mention groceries and other household stuff, so I don’t know how much writing will happen.

Maybe I can do some writing “out loud” while I run the other errands.

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Relax, Man

Posted: November 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
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Lady and her contact headed into the hotel behind them. Like the hotel where the king was staying, it was a colossus, an amazingly appointed work of art that reached half a kilometer for the sky. Lasers painted vapor holograms on fountains that graced Italian marble floors. Lady smiled and nodded at the hotel staff that obediently waited for her and her escort to pass by.

1,667 words on the nose today. Is it true that 80% of success is just showing up? Today I came to the keyboard with a lunch pail and a toolbox. Since I knew Risha a little better after the writing I did yesterday, I wrote a quick piece where she runs a scam to humiliate her worst enemy in the public eye. It went well. The story felt seedy, which I suppose was the point, but it wasn’t the kind of fun I have in mind for the overall feel of the book. Maybe I need to put a more comic spin on it.

She Only Told Him That She Loved Him

Posted: October 9, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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business womanContinuing yesterday’s exercise with moving the word “only” around in the sentence “She told him that she loved him” and seeing how the meaning changes.

Maggie threw on her coat. She had her briefcase, her lunch bag, her laptop, and her phone. Her second briefcase was in the car already. She’d checked it twice.

Bruce walked over to kiss her goodbye. Maggie turned away. “No. Don’t. My makeup’s perfect and I have a meeting in two hours.”

“So? Fix it when you get there.”

“I can’t fix it when I get there. People will see.” Maggie gave him a quick hug with an air kiss by the side of his face. “Have a good day. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Bruce’s hug was half-hearted. He let go without lingering in their hug like he normally did. Maggie asked, “What?”

Bruce looked confused. “I said I love you too.”

“I know.” She gathered up her work supplies. “You didn’t sound happy.”

“Well, I’m not. I like kissing you goodbye, but I can’t today. It’s a bummer. I hope your meeting goes well.”

“Me too.” Maggie pulled on her gloves. “It’s our first annual review with our new parent company. I need to be presentable.”

“I understand.” Bruce helped her pick up her things. “It’s easier for me, working from home. Video teleconference is more forgiving.”

That it was. There were many days that Maggie wished she could trade in her blazer and heels for a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. Bruce still dressed presentably, but he didn’t have to look flawless.

He asked, “How about if I get take-out for dinner from Dmitri’s, to celebrate when it’s done? I’ll get the alfredo that you like.”

They loaded the car. Bruce hit the garage door switch as Maggie got in and turned the ignition. She closed the door and rolled the window down. “Do they do take-out?”

“Maybe if I ask nicely. They like us.” Bruce backed out of the way of the car.

Maggie smiled. “I’d give you a much nicer hug if I wasn’t about to back up.”

“Go knock ’em dead.”

“All right. See you tonight. Love you!”

“Love you too.”

Maggie waved. She saw him sigh as she drove away. Kissing him goodbye was actually the second-favorite part of her day, after kissing him hello in the evening. Who was the moron who invented makeup anyway?

Photo credit: “Business” by Steve Wilson at Flickr
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A Dollar for a Hug

Posted: June 26, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, Weird
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vending machine

Jim saved his files. “Two a.m.? When the hell did it get that late?” Nine hours after when he should have gone home, that was when. But the program review was at noon, and their biggest customer wouldn’t understand if the review wasn’t ready.

Jim rubbed his face. He couldn’t think. He needed to clear his head. He walked down the half-lit hall to the water fountain. They shut off most of the lights after seven. He splashed cold water on his face and rubbed it in his hair.

He needed one more pick-me-up to keep going. Jim sighed. It was becoming a bad habit, but it always worked. He checked his wallet for dollar bills. He had one, only one, and a wrinkled one at that.

Jim walked up to the hug vending machine. Inside, an elderly man wearing a flannel shirt sat reading a newspaper in an easy chair. He looked more comfortable than anyone had a right to be at two o’clock in the morning. The man smiled at Jim as he walked over, smoothing out a dollar bill.

“Hello, Jim. Back again?” the man asked.

“Coming here is worse than buying Doritos from that machine next to you. At least I kicked that habit,” Jim said.

“Doritos don’t provide any nourishment. At least this is good for the soul.”

“Says you. Hugs and money don’t mix.”

The man shrugged. “I can think of worse ways to spend your money.”

So could Jim. Junk food. Cigarettes. Beer. Crap that he just didn’t need. He wanted to be home in his wife’s arms, but she would be asleep by now, and there wouldn’t be time for anything but a quick hug and kiss before they ran off to their jobs in the morning. He couldn’t very well ask his coworkers for hugs, could he?

Jim handed the man the dollar. The man got up and hugged him. He reminded Jim of his father, dead seven years ago. Jim had gone through a quadruple bypass two years ago, and they were working him to death even now. But he needed the job. He had a daughter getting ready to go to college, and she was good enough to make it to the Ivy League.

He felt better. Enough to wrap up the program review and go home.

“Take care, Jim,” the man said as he sat back down.

“What’s your name?” Jim asked.

He shook his head. “I’m not allowed to say.”

“You’ve got one, haven’t you?”

“It’s our business code of ethics. No relationship with the customers. Otherwise, there’s a conflict of interest.”

Jim felt like he’d just put clothes he hated to wear. “Well, we can’t have that.”

“Don’t work too late. I’ll be here if you need me.”

Jim just walked away. Time to break another habit. And get another job.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt “Vending Wishes.” I tried to think of the weirdest, most non-toxic vending machine I could think of. This wound up being far more creepy than just buying beer, a pony, or something else that people buy.

Photo credit: “Receive Change Below” by Kenyaboy7 at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

Looks Like One of Those Weeks

Posted: June 10, 2014 by writingsprint in Weird
Tags: ,

Businessman Buried in Paperwork

I’ll let you know when things settle down again!

Businessman Buried in Paperwork — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Work Has Gone Berserk

Posted: June 3, 2014 by writingsprint in My two cents
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Hi all — FYI, no new posts for the next few days. We’re suddenly swamped and I’m pulling late nights to keep pace. See you on the other side!

The Shortest Commute I Ever Had

Posted: November 9, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay, My two cents
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Ever since July I’ve been working from home as a proposal specialist for a consulting firm. Working from home isn’t something that you would normally expect for a proposal specialist. There are too many cats to herd, too many moving parts to coordinate. It’s the kind of thing that’s ideally done with everyone locked in one room until it’s all over. It turns out that remotely is the only way to make it work when there is no central office – everyone is all over the country and there is no central location where things get done. The consultants’ cars are their offices. Their location is measured in states, not addresses. Our work space is cyber space, and that’s where we pull it all together.

Most of our communication is by email. People are working in different time zones and the consultants are working odd hours. Depending on the deadline, I may be working odd hours, too, but that’s rare. Email is the best way to read what has to get done on a schedule that works for each person. If it’s urgent, we flag it. If the figurative roof is on fire, or things are too complicated to explain electronically, we call. We probably do two or three video teleconferences a week.

With the nuts and bolts of getting the job done out of the way, the main concern becomes work-life balance. People say that you should have a separate place in your home that’s your work space. I have a good-sized home office which has a corner desk, a bookcase filled with my science fiction and fantasy books, and a yoga mat that’s permanently laid out and ready to go. I get to pick the music – lately it’s Latin jazz – and I’ve had a candle burning lately, too. They say it’s good for creativity. I’ll take all the help I can get. I do put on work clothes to stay focused. Put me in jeans and soon I’ll working in pajamas and bunny slippers. To

My favorite part about working from home is that my house is my work space. When it’s time to put my head down and work, I’m in the office. When I need to clear the junk out of my head, I hit the yoga mat and go into whatever poses I feel like I need. (Usually it’s downward dog and warrior I or II.) When I need to brainstorm or read, I move to the living room. If I really need to chill, I head to the basement where we set up a reading corner. If I’ve had enough, I go outside and take a walk around the property. Two weeks ago I surprised a deer in our driveway. I couldn’t do that at the plant at my last job.

Hmm. I should make a leaf angel in the yard.

The challenge of working from home is that you are your own motivation. When you’re in company office, even if you’re a self-motivated type like me, the presence of your boss and your coworkers means that inside your head you have a little mini-me’s of them tapping you on the shoulder to get things done. Now they’re gone, and the work still has to get done. Unless you like nagging yourself, you become even more mature about your work than you were before.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. If you can’t handle solitude or quiet, or if you have kids who aren’t mature enough to understand they can’t bother daddy when he’s working, you may want to stick to working at the plant. But if you’re open to some flexibility in your work life, you may be taking the shortest commute you ever had.
home office

Details, Details…

Posted: August 17, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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lake

It really is 🙂

“Life is better at the lake,” it said. The coaster is made of white stone. It feels solid, like the earth in the north country. The coaster is heavy when you pick it up. It soaks up the water off the sides of your drink as it falls down the glass, whether it’s beer or wine. It soaks up everything, absorbs everything. It takes it in. It shows a picture, painted by hand, of an Adirondack chair next to a sunset.

People from the north country take in what you give them, good and bad. It becomes part of them. They never forget. They are granite. They’ve been there forever and they’ll be there forever after you’ve faded away. They drive trucks, hunt and fish, hug their dogs, love their families, cook in fires. They know when it’s time to draw a line and say, “You might cross it, but I’m not.”

People from the north country are water. Their minds are as open as their blue skies. They are what they are and dare anyone to try to tell them otherwise. They swim in lakes, paddle in kayaks, look at stars. They know when it’s time to dig out the snow and when it’s time to ski it. When the time comes to choose freedom, they will, every time.

People from the north country cherish their leisure time. They work to live, not live to work. They know leisure time is living. They know leisure time is family time. They set aside their gadgets. They sit in Adirondack chairs, which some genius made so hard to get out of because the point was to stay in it. They sit in a little porches watching the sun set, playing impossible trivia games where half the fun is making up an answer.

People from the north country have earned their leisure time. When it’s time to work, they go until it’s done. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave. They do their own work. If they ask you to help, their fingerprints will be on it, too. They’ve brought spare tools if you forgot yours. They sweat, they cuss, they rip it all down and start over if they have to. What they’ve built will last. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be a thing of beauty, too, if only for the heart and soul that went into it.

Today’s post brought to you by the following exercise: take one square inch sitting next to you and describe every single detail. Whew.

Part 1 of… a couple, I guess. In the last brainstorming session, I came up with the idea of writing a story that was just about a regular guy, going about his day, in a solitary job. Most of the stories that I write are weird or have adventure or some challenge that the main character has to overcome. For this, I’m hoping to get close to a character and find… I don’t know, something sympathetic? Insightful? That kind of thing.

Frank arrived for work at the parking garage on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6:00 a.m.. He got up at four, showered, dressed and had breakfast, kissed his wife goodbye, then drove in. Sometimes she was groggy and awake, sometimes she was still asleep. Frank retired five years ago. He didn’t need the job. It was something he did to help supplement their income, and it gave him something to do.

He parked his car on the garage roof. It had a view of the Schuylkill river and the Penn trauma center. Frank watched a jogger on the paths down by the river. Some young man, probably a student. He half smiled. Frank used to run like that, too. These days, it felt too cold, and his knees were shot a long time ago. From running. He could have parked his car on one of the lower floors, but he felt bad taking one of the better spaces away from the paying customers. If the weather was threatening a foot of snow or something, well, that would be something else. Frank had a conscience, but he wasn’t dumb, either.

There were two parts of the office. First there was a foyer, between the main area and the outside door, where they stored a shovel, a broom, a squeegee, and a few other tools. More important to Frank, it kept the cold out in the winter. He crossed the foyer and unlocked the inside part of the office.

Frank started every day by opening the office and raising the garage’s gates. After hours, when there wasn’t anyone to watch the place, you could only get in if you rented a space there and had a clicker. He smiled at a calendar he’d put up by the desk, of a street corner in Louisiana. It was funny who a dingy like rat trap like the garage’s office could become a home away from home. It was a small space, probably about ten feet by ten feet, with a desk that was about as old as he was facing the door, and a carpet that might have been older, that covered nothing but the same concrete floor as the garage outside. There was an old TV sitting on top of a second-hand VCR sitting on top of a filing cabinet, next to the desk. It belonged to the girl who worked Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Frank wondered if it had been used at all, ever since everything had gone to DVD’s.

Frank read books. So far, he hadn’t watched any DVD’s at the garage, yet.