Archive for March, 2015

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A Bookcase Full of Writing Reference Books

March 18, 2015

BookcaseI have a bookcase. A tall one. I live in the city of the world famous Powell’s Books. So yeah, my shelves are stacked and overflowing with books. One particular genre of books taking up precious space on my bookcase are those from the writing reference section. Dozens upon dozens of books face me each day as I pass by begging me to “Write That Novel”, and exclaiming, “You Can Write Romance!”. I have encouragement from Julia Cameron and her Artist’s Way (and btw, I’m counting today’s blog as part of my morning pages.) And I have all the forensic procedures and poisons I can swallow (sorry, that pun just had to happen.)

Now the big question I’m sure you are begging to ask is, “so have you read all those books?” Of course not! They’re for reference! When I need to know how to pick a poison I have just the guide. If I need a plot structure helper I know where to go. I would say I’ve read close to one-third of them. And many of them I have not even cracked open. So the point is why own so many how-to books if I don’t read them, or even open for a quick reference.

To me it is encouragement. I have succeeded in writing online articles and content, but I am committed to writing a novel. Each time I stop by Powell’s Books I browse the writing reference section to check for another used copy of a handy and helpful writing guide. A novel full of 70,000 – 100,000 words requires a bit more creative thought, planning, outlining and plotting than a simple 300-700 word article. And by a ‘bit’ I mean exponentially harder. My books are my mentor. Stephen King encourages me in his On Writing memoir. Janet Evanovich tells me How I Write and I can model her example.

Could I write without all these books? Sure I could. And so could you. But if writers didn’t need encouragement and support there would be no MFA programs in creative writing. And the Artist’s Way would never have been published. And the Writing Reference section at Powell’s would be boarded over and in its place would probably display blank journals. So I cherish my books, unopened as some of the may be. But I’m confident that when I finish my first novel the investment in my writing reference shelves will have paid off.

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Confessions of a Dyslexic Accountant

March 12, 2015

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Hi. My name is Bob. I’m an accountant. And I have Permanent Onset Radically Transposing Late Adult Number Dyslexia (or ‘PORTLAND’ for short). Self-diagnosed, of course. I don’t even know if there is such a thing as “onset number dyslexia”. In fact, a quick Google search of the term returns nil. So I am announcing herewith that I have discovered a new debilitating number transposing syndrome and I am calling it PORTLAND.

Historically I have always been a number cruncher. I could whip out multiplication tables lickity split. Give me a short list of two digit numbers and I could give you back the sum in no time. And that’s why I studied accounting in college. I like my accounting day job. Every business needs a bean counter. I get a lovely sedentary job in a comfortable chair with a pair of monitors and unlimited computer access. Excel is my best friend, and at the end of the day the debits and credits all just have to add up to $0.

Why do I think I have PORTLAND? Lately I’ve noticed things just don’t add up. I have noticed clues pointing to this fact. Perhaps you’ve noticed clues as well? Here’s a starter list. See if any of these sound familiar:

  • A stranger answers the phone and you realize you’ve transposed numbers and dialed the wrong person.
  • You punch an incorrect number sequence on an adding machine, causing infinite frustration for an accountant trying to reconcile $0.27.
  • You expect to pay the bargain price of $9.99 for a set of name brand headphones and discover at the register that the actual cost is $99.99.
  • Your bank sends you a message that you just deposited only $23.21, not $32.12.
  • You look at a set of easy numbers, say, ‘12345’. And while performing quick data entry you catch yourself typing ‘13254’ (and subsequently ask yourself, ‘WTF did I do that for?’).

Yes, these clues have all happened to me. And it only happens with numbers, not letters. Since there is no official diagnosis for PORTLAND, there is no cure. Thus, it I am categorizing it as a progressive syndrome that may or may not get worse with age. The only treatment is support groups. So far I’m the only one.

Anyone want to join mine?