How I’m Spending My Summer, 2015 Edition

It’s that time of year again.

Summer is the best season there is.  This may be my personal opinion on the matter, but I do believe there’s some degree of universal truth to it as well: the weather is warm, the days are long, people are friendlier and happier, and the clothing is less encumbering.

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They Say It’s Your (Writing) Birthday

Grumpy Cat's birthday greeting

I’ve now missed my writing birthday for two years in a row.

I don’t even know if a writing birthday is something other writers commonly observe, or if it’s my own unique brand of writerly madness.

Even the exact date of my writing birthday is uncertain.  I mark it from the day I commenced my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, which was sometime in early February, 2002.

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What’s in a (Blog) Name?

If I were desperate, the internet is not without various resources.

If I were desperate, the internet is not without various resources.

I’ve been unhappy with the name of my blog for some time now.

Not that The Rules of Engagement is terrible as far as names in general go.  There have been at least two movies called that (one about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas no less; the other a military legal thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson) as well as a sitcom that just concluded its seventh and final season last year.

And yet, The Rules of Engagement is indeed the name of two movies and a long-running sitcom.

Which is to say, it’s not particularly original.

Plus, I didn’t put any real thought into it when I chose it as the name for my blog.

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Necessity is the Mother of (Re)Invention – Blog Changes Ahead

Art Gallery lion

Of all the various forms of social media out there, blogging is definitely my favourite.

The ability to blog is a wonderful privilege for someone like me, for I was always the kid everyone was trying to shut up.

At school, despite being a strong student, I was constantly criticized on report cards for talking too much – both in and out of turn – and in general disrupting the class with my compulsive need to share every last idea that came into my head.

Thankfully, my father, who was a huge proponent of self-expression, told my teachers he’d much rather I talk than not talk.

Yet for someone like me, blogging is the perfect pursuit, for I get to express my thoughts (and my thoughts are usually fairly detailed, which is why I do better on WordPress than Twitter), and those who care can read it while those that don’t can tune me out entirely.

And yet, I’m not really that good of a blogger.

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A Little Fall of Rain: The ebb and flow of my writing ideas

A/N: To my fellow Canadians, wishing you all a very Happy Canada Day!

How does an idea in one’s head go about becoming a fully-fledged plan – whether outlined or not – for an upcoming piece of writing?

This is something I’ve been pondering quite a bit lately as I continue to move forward in my novel-in-progress: this question of how it is that my writing actually comes to fruition.

Especially given that the ideas I come up with tend to rather small, vague, and decidedly non-earth-shattering in their physical and psychological impact upon me.

Case in point – the idea for this very blog post: I should blog about how my writing ideas evolve.

That was it: the brilliant brainwave in all its unexplained, undeveloped glory.

Or the idea I have for the next chapter in my novel-in-progress: I need to show the protagonist and her enemy starting to see eye-to-eye.  Okay – there’s a little more to it than that, but not much.  Heaven forbid the Muse offer me something with which I could hit the ground running.

My ideas are like – to borrow from the liberetto of Les Misérables – a little fall of rain: sufficient to get your attention when it speckles the side of your face, but not substantial enough to convince you that anything more will come of it.

For all you know, maybe you were standing too close to a conversation and just got spat on.

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Just a quick note to all my blog readers and followers:

With the approach of better weather and the ever increasing hours of daylight, I’m making some changes to my personal weekly schedule, both in an attempt to boost my overall productivity and to leave my weekends as unstructured as possible for fun, sun, and adventure.

One such scheduling change is the day I post to this blog.

Rather than on Saturdays, I will now be posting to The Rules of Engagement on Mondays.  This change will take effect this coming Monday, April 29 (i.e. I’ll be posting again this coming Monday), and will continue indefinitely unless and/or until I find that another day works better for me.

I want to thank everyone who has been reading and following me thus far.  It makes it so much easier and more fun to write posts knowing there’s an audience out there reading them.

I hope you’ll all continue to join me as I carry on along my writing journey.

See you again on Monday!


* SSDD = Same sh*t, different day: from Stephen King’s 2001 novel (and 2003 movie) Dreamcatcher.

Come Hell or High Water: A blogging birthday

A rare mid-week and late-night post from me to commemorate my very first post on The Rules of Engagement, which was also mid-week and late-night.

For one year now, my blog has been online.

In that time, I’ve amassed some respectable numbers, learned a lot, and made some wonderful blogging friends.

Even more importantly, though, I’ve regained the confidence I’d lost as a failed blogger in a past writing life.

My original goal for this blog was to add one new post a week, regardless of whatever else might be on my plate.  With the exception of a conscious choice to not blog one time during the Christmas season, I’m happy to report that I’ve not missed a single week.

Consistency is the key to a successful blog, as it is with most other things in life, not the least of which includes writing.

51 posts in year one.  As is often said on the birthdays of people when they turn a year older,

And many more!

(Image source)


Related posts:

The Incredible Shrinking Blog Post

Brevity, it’s true, has never been my strength – not when it comes to writing.

In 1999, while in university studying ecology, I had one particular class that came with very specific instructions regarding the format for our laboratory reports.  They were as follows:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font size
  • 1-inch margins
  • 6 complete pages

For most of my classmates, the problem was always managing to fill the entire six pages.  They would contrive all sorts of strategies: big, blocky tables; subheadings with spaced-out titles; a blank line above the page numbers.

Me – I had the opposite problem: I always needed just a little more room.

So, I contrived a strategy of my own.

This was in the early years of Windows-based word processing programs (as opposed to DOS-based), and a time when Microsoft Word had started gaining greater market share than its rival, Corel WordPerfect.

I’d been a loyal WordPerfect user since its white-on-blue-screened DOS iteration of 1993 (full disclosure: I still WordPerfect) despite the university being a Microsoft-centric campus.  I thus had both WordPerfect and Word on my 1999 computer.

And I chanced upon a discovery: WordPerfect permitted fractional font sizes, while, at that time, Word did not.  That meant that using WordPerfect, I could shrink my font size to 11.8 point (which showed little visual difference from 12 point), and subsequently gain about 3 extra lines of text.

I did this on every single lab report.

I’ve mentioned in one of my earliest posts that I possess what I refer to as the “verbosity gene”, which often leads me to write things twice as long as they’re meant to be.  Exhibit A: My novel-in-progress is actually a novel in two volumes.

Exhibit B: My blog posts.

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Don’t forget you can make a telephone call with your mobile!

A rare, mid-week post from me. I have contributed to the blog 5 Things to Do Today, which is a blog that encourages us to break out of our mold and try new things (five of them, everyday). Check it out.

A rare, mid-week post from me. I have contributed to the blog 5 Things to Do Today, which is a blog that encourages us to break out of our mold and try new things (five of them, everyday). Check it out.

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There were no “Likes” in 2006… (Versatile Blogger Award)

Blogging has changed since the last time I did it during the dark ages of the internet in 2006.

Today we have the integrated blog stats that WordPress so thoughtfully provides us all, informing me at a glance how many clicks I’ve received per day and what the clickers were clicking on and where the clickers came from, both geographically and via the internet.

We have “Likes”, which on all but the most popular blogs have replaced the standard comments of yesteryear.  There were no such thing as Likes in 2006.  If you liked something someone wrote, you would tell them by leaving a comment and let them know what exactly you liked about it.

(Not that I’m at all complaining: the world is a much busier place than it was in 2006, and comments take time to compose while Likes are quick and dirty.  I’m grateful to know at all when stuff I write resonates with people.)

We also now have blog subscribers, which I love love love, both having them and to be one.  There was nothing more annoying back in 2006 than to have to constantly check your favourite blogs for updates, especially for writers who posted multiple times a day.

And yet, despite all these innovations for tracking one’s visitors, I still have no idea who is reading my blog, and perhaps more importantly, how they’re doing so.

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