Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Face-ing Up To Woodpeckers

It’s Sunday morning as I write this. A little earlier, as I was making my coffee, I heard a familiar, distant tapping that mimicked a muffled machine gun on metal. Looking out the kitchen window, I saw a beautiful white bird with a red crest, tapping away at my neighbor’s gutter. It continued its efforts a little while longer before flying back to its nest in the woods behind our subdivision. There’s another woodpecker that attacks the gutters of my neighbors on the other side of my house. Though I can’t tell the difference between the two birds, I’ve noticed that when they fly away, they fly to opposite directions, so I’m speculating they’re not the same one.

We used to have our own woodpecker problem. One particular bird, likely the one that was drilling my neighbor’s gutter earlier, used to attack the gutter next to one of the upstairs bedroom windows at my house. On mornings when I worked from home, I could hear the bird banging against the gutter at the edge of our roof. I’d step out on the back deck and the bird would fly away. There was no damage yet, but I knew it was only a matter of time.

Enter my 11-year old son.

Last fall, at the end of football season, my son’s team had their annual banquet. One of the items all the kids received was an actual-sized picture of their own face on a stick. My son’s had been taken with him looking mean, as if trying to intimidate an opposing team’s lineman. 

We put that picture outside the window closest to the woodpecker’s target. Since that day, the woodpecker hasn’t returned.

This wasn’t a random idea. My wife looked up on-line how to get rid of woodpeckers. Placing a picture on the window was one of two suggested options. As the other option suggested placing aluminum foil on the gutter (i.e. me getting up really high on a ladder), the picture option seemed a little safer. However, my son wasn’t amused.

With the woodpecker not having returned, my son has asked that we remove the picture. We’ve declined, saying the woodpecker may return. His presence at our neighbors is evidence that he remains close.

In lieu of that, my son has asked for money for the use of his likeness. My wife and I said that sounded like a good idea, and offered to sell copies of his picture to the neighbors. If we can scare off all of the woodpeckers in the neighborhood, we figured we could sell his picture nationwide.

He wasn’t amused by this idea either.

If any of you have woodpecker problems, please let us know.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mike Golic: Writing Guru

ESPN has a well-known radio show called Mike & Mike in theMorning. The show is hosted by sports anchor/reporter Mike Greenberg and former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic.

One of the items the duo often discusses is the decision-making process of professional franchises. Per Golic, many decisions come down to one thing: Butts in Seats. Well-run franchises ask themselves what will put fans in the seats on game day and then they usually do that.

It is with that thought in mind that I think of my favorite avocation: writing. I’ve long harbored a desire to be published. With two completed manuscripts, one with several publishers and the other hidden under my bed, I take writing seriously. Two manuscripts is a good start, but in the world of becoming an author, it’s only a start. I have to keep going. I have to write more.

As most writers know, there’s only one way to write more, and it’s a sentiment Mike Golic might appreciate. It’s called BICHOK. BICHOK stands for Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. If a person thinks he/she could “write a book,” talking about it doesn’t help. He/she must sit down, block out everything else, and produce.

It’s not the easiest thing to do. There are more important things in life than writing. I have a wonderful wife and two amazing kids and my primary purpose in life is to be a good husband and father. Doing that requires that I focus on my day job to make sure my family is taken care of as well as being there to attend football and baseball games, help with homework, and, most importantly, just listen.

Still, writing is a part of who I am. I try to write every day if I can, making time because I want to do so. People might think it’s crazy to try to write when one has a job and a family. However, I know a lot of successful writers. Most of them have day jobs. Most have families. Yet, they get published because of BICHOK. They find time to write.

For me, I’m lucky if I get 500 words written in a day. Often, the words aren’t great. However, it’s just me trying to get a story down. Once the words are out of my head and on the page, I can edit them. Five hundreds words isn’t much, but it accumulates. Over the weekend, I wrote “The End” to a new rough draft, my third manuscript. It’s about 85,000 words. In other words, it’s about two weeks short of writing 500 words per day for six months. In its current form, the story stinks and will need major revisions before I'm willing to send it out. However, at least I have a framework to begin the revisions, which is good as I have to pitch the idea to a publisher sometime in May, presenting the entire idea in 100 words or less.

Butt In Chair. Hands on Keyboard.

I’ve already started my next manuscript. My goal is to another completed rough draft before the end of the year. I also plan to edit the manuscript I just finished into something presentable.

Wish me luck.
The writer of this blog is currently participating in SpeedBo, a sprint writing event run by a group of inspirational writers at a blog called Seekerville. For writers and readers, there are wonderful prizes being given away every week through the month of March. Click here to check it out.

For those seeking time to write, Author Kelly Stone has a wonderful book called Time to Write. It will help any writer find more time in his/her schedule.