Phone it in Friday XVIII: Writing

With the blog closing in on 1000 days of posts (just 162 to go!) and the release of The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard (read reviews here, here, and here), it seemed like a good time to reflect on writing, and to discuss some writing projects I have in the works.

When I revived the blog on WordPress in late 2018, I never intended to write daily.  I’d maintained a Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule on the Blogspot blog, which I shifted over to WordPress on 1 June 2018.  I kept that pace up briefly, but when school resumed I left the blog dormant until late December 2018, and after three days of consecutive posting by happenstance, WordPress informed me I was on a three-day “streak.”

That caught my attention.  At that point, I decided to write daily for the month of January 2019.  It seemed like a fun a challenge, and I figured it would help build an audience and give me something constructive to do during the slowest month of the year.

After that, I thought, “Eh, why not go to fifty?”  From there, 100 didn’t look too difficult.

Once I hit 100, I decided to try for a year.

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Brief Monday Morning Update

Last week was an exceptionally busy one for yours portly, with a number of duties and responsibilities intersecting at once.  I’m sure many readers have noticed this phenomenon, but there is a decidedly cyclical nature to workflow; indeed, it’s almost tidal in the manner it ebbs and flows:  I can go for two or three weeks enjoying a fairly placid schedule, only to have a couple of weeks of intense activity.  Everything seems to come to a head at the same time.

That’s particularly true in education, a field that is structurally cyclical, with regular intervals of heightened activity baked into the calendar.  The third quarter ended Friday, marking the beginning of the end of the school year (fourth quarter—that last, mad dash to summer vacation—starts today).  That means last week was a flurry of finalizing grades and writing report card comments.

My school requires unique, individualized comments for every student, and though we teach (on average) fewer students than the typical public school teacher, we’re expected to go above and beyond.  Because my colleagues and I were scolded as a group for comments deemed inadequate (for the record, I always write exceptional comments), I decided to double-down and write even more ridiculously detailed comments.  Our registrar read through them Friday morning (after I worked furiously and late into the night Thursday to finish them before the weekend) and said, “I felt like I was reading a novella.”  Mission accomplished.

That’s all to say that I’m very tired, so I thought this Monday would be a good opportunity to offer some brief updates.

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TBT: Dawn of a Decade

It’s the first Thursday of 2021, so here we are with the first TBT of the year!  Fittingly, I’m looking back to the first post of 2020, “Dawn of Decade.”  As I noted at the time, the decade really began on 1 January 2021, so I suppose this throwback post works even better now.

In looking back at this post, it’s sobering to consider how much difference a year can make.  At the end of this post, I wrote, “Predictions being what they are—extremely unreliable—I’ll make a bold one:  2020 is going to be a great year.”

Yikes!  Talk about missing the mark big time.  Of course, on 1 January 2020, everything was going pretty well, at least for yours portly.  Sure, Trump was facing a sham impeachment, but the economy was swingin’.  I’d just come off my best year financially in terms of musical proceeds—enough to pay cash for my plucky 2017 Nissan Versa Note (a fitting model for a music teacher), and was booking some gigs at fun new venues.

Then, of course, The Virus changed everything, possibly forever.  Despite that, I still had a great year—reconnecting with friends and family; traveling far more extensively than normal; and diving more into my love of music.  It was just a very different year than I anticipated.

At the end of least year’s post, I included a word total for the year 2019 (which now WordPress tells me is slightly higher than I reported originally:  232,348 words total for 2019), so I’ll do the same for 2020.  In 2020, I wrote 253,377 words.  Assuming a page of double-text, size-12, Times New Roman font typing is roughly 300 words per page, that comes out to a whopping 844.59 pages of writing.

Granted, some of that is from TBT posts like this one, but the takeaway for me is that it’s time to compile some essays into ebooks.  Cha-ching!

With that, here is 1 January 2020’s “Dawn of a Decade“:

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Monday Morning Update: Back to Work

Well, the glory of Christmas Break has come to an end, and it’s back to the grind this morning.  Due to concerns about The Virus, we’re online for at least this week, and I’ve received word that teachers will be allowed to teach from home for the remainder of the week.  That will make the transition back to full-time teaching a tad more endurable, as waking up and rolling over to the computer is much easier than engaging in the hasty rituals of the morning.

Regardless, I’m scrambling a bit this morning, so today’s post will be brief and belated.  I’ll cover my trip to Mississippi tomorrow; today, I thought I’d give some general updates as we head into the first fiscal week of 2021:

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Update on Letter Writing

A couple of Saturdays back, I wrote a post about “The Lost Art of Letter Writing.”  While most of the details of the post are behind the paywall of my SubscribeStar page, the meat of the post was in the preview:  letter-writing is an intimate, thoughtful, and fun way to connect (or reconnect) with old friends and family.

I started my bout of letter writing fifteen days ago, sending out ten postcards I’d purchased at Universal Studios for $12.  After churning through those postcards, I found two greeting cards in a drawer, and send those out.  The cards had nothing to do with Christmas—a former student over a decade ago gave them to me, and they featured a photograph of a lizard he’d taken in the desert—but they were better than nothing.

By that point, facing some free time and having caught the bug, I wrote two letters.  Lacking cards or postcards, I turned to an old notebook I’d picked up at Target years ago—a simple spiral-bound, ruled notebook with a wacky robot on the cover.  The single page opened up new vistas of development, allowing for slightly longer, more detailed letters.

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TBT^4: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

Another year has passed, and another Thanksgiving has rolled around.  In the tradition of this blog going back to 2017, I’m throwing back to past Thanksgiving Day posts.  I’ll alternate between italicized and non-italicized posts so readers can see the layers of commentary and annual updates.

In re-reading “TBT^2: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle,” it’s interesting to reflect on the contrast between 2019 and 2020.  Yes, 2020 has been a rough year universally, but it’s personally been one of my better years.  The Virus really took its toll financially, especially on my private music lessons and gigging empire, but both of those are recovering as folks mellow out about The Virus and the holidays approach.  I’m back to six students now, and have been blessed with some truly God-sent bookings recently.

The Virus brought a silver lining:  it forced me to slow down.  All the shutdowns made me do what I would have been loathe to do voluntarily—give up various extracurricular activities and side gigs.  For the first time in probably seven years, I took the summer off, other than my History of Conservative Thought course and one intrepid piano student (and three days of painting for the school, because they were desperate).  I reluctantly got on some extremely mild anxiety medication, and now I love the stuff—I’m not fretting over insignificant things anymore.

I enjoyed distance learning, too, though I am glad to be back with students (most days).  It provided the opportunity to laser-focus on my teaching, without all the extra little duties and responsibilities that normally come with teaching generally and my position specifically.  I missed putting on a big Spring Concert, but I didn’t miss the stress, the lack of institutional support, and the hours and hours of unwinding and connecting XLR cables.

All in all, it’s been a very good year.  I’m up to eight generous subscribers now to my SubscribeStar page, and many of you have purchased my music on BandcampYour support came when I needed it most, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

—TPP

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Brief Saturday Update

It’s been a busy Saturday for yours portly, so today’s SubscribeStar Saturday post will go up sometime tomorrow, more likely than not.  I took my spunky little Nissan Versa Note to my younger brother’s house to change the oil, and spent the morning and early afternoon playing with my niece and nephews.  His father-in-law rolled in with a small U-Haul trailer packed with ancient, heavy furniture, so my payment for the oil change was to carry a nineteenth-century cherry wood cabinet up a flight of stairs.  Still, it’s cheaper than Jiffy Lube.

My girlfriend and I are about to head to a small get-together at a friend’s house, so she’s baking up a storm.  Now I know how photog feels when he’s hosting a party and Camera Girl prepares the goodies.

Also, the big news this weekend is that yesterday I filed to run for Lamar Town Council again.  I paid my $17.50 to run in another special election, which will be 12 January 2021.  Hopefully I won’t be blown away by a surprise, last-minute write-in campaign again.

More on that when I get the SubscribeStar Saturday post completed.  Enjoy your weekend, and have fun!

—TPP

empty gray road under white clouds

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Quick Friday Morning Fraud Update

Today is my busy day in the unorthodox rotating schedule at my little school, and I didn’t have the foresight or energy to post something last night.  So before that first bell rings and the long day of mind-molding begins, here are some reflections and thoughts on the latest election news:

It’s looking more and more like the election is going to drag on for weeks to come.  The deliberate slow-walking of vote counting in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina just opens up the door for more and more fraud in those States, though the Trump campaign and its internal pollsters seem optimistic about all four States.  There will be a recount in Wisconsin, and almost certainly in Michigan.  Pennsylvania seemed clearly in the win column for Trump until corrupt Philadelphia officials started stuffing the ballot boxes.  Even the sheriff there has refused to enforce the court order allowing—requiring!—the Trump people to observe the vote counts.

The gall of the progressive Establishment at all levels is appalling, but it suggests their utter contempt for the rest of us.  These people hate us because we don’t embrace their kooky weirdness and abnormality—because we just want to live quiet, peaceful, God-fearing lives.

Fortunately, even if Biden wins, Republicans look poised to hold the Senate, and even picked up seats in the House.  If we can pull out a majority in the House, a Biden presidency will be a lame duck from day one.  Voting all over the nation suggests a repudiation of radical progressivism—defund the police, Antifa riots, etc.  When I have more time, I’ll write further about the potential future of national conservatism.  This Rod Dreher piece does a good job of summing it up, though (indeed, that’s my source!).

More to come.  Keep praying, and remain ever-vigilant.

—TPP

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Election Day 2020 Updates at OCF

My blogger buddy photog at Orion’s Cold Fire is posting Election Day updates all day.  You can view them here:  http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2020/11/02/pre-game-jitters-and-an-election-day-open-post/

I will also be posting updates, schedule permitting.  Election Day also happens to be my girlfriend’s birthday, so we’re going for a steak dinner.  Then I’ve told her I’m going to be awake most of the rest of the night watching returns rolling in.  Hopefully it won’t be too late, but we’ll see.

If you haven’t already done so, go vote for Trump.  Please!

—TPP

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