29 May, 2019

Writing My Way to "The End"

Friends know that I'm writing what might be the world's first novel tap-typed on a tablet PC. (Calling it a zombie novel is on par with likening The Hunchback of Notre Dame to a romance novel.) I wrote how my typewriter crashed and burned in January, a catastrophe that left me no real choice than to use the JP5s tablet I blogged about receiving last year to finish the final draft of my novel-in-stories. That's exactly what I've been doing, these past four months, and it's been even more challenging than you might expect.

The JP5s has a seven-inch screen. Without my pinchy new nerd glasses, writing on it sometimes makes my eyes hurt. Never mind the slowness of dispensing with my lightning-fast keyboard skills in order to thumb the onscreen Android keyboard like a maniac. I might be getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

My tablet features no word processor program. That would be too much like right. Instead I've had to type hundreds of pages into JPay's proprietary e-mail app, which limits each e-mail to 6,000 characters — roughly two and a half typewritten pages. Special characters like ñ and é are for some reason deleted by the app when a message is sent. Worst of all, there's no spell check. Good thing I'm fastidious.

Nevertheless, the final draft is about twenty-five pages from being done. Oh, wait, make that twenty-seven. My finger slipped. I accidentally deleted an e-mail in my Drafts folder yesterday. In my defense, it was right above the e-mail I intended to delete, which was pointless and silly and had nothing at all to do with this nine-year project I'm striving to get done. There's no message-recovery option; gone is gone.

Today I retyped the missing bits, hoping like hell that I recall the good revisions I originally made. What I have now is pretty close to what was there before that errant finger did its thing. The zombies still kill pretty much everyone. It's all in a day's writing.

23 May, 2019

Do All Bald White Guys Look Like All Other Bald White Guys?

What is it about white guys with shaved heads? Even if there's no real resemblance beyond the shiny dome, we get compared to other white guys with shaved heads all the time. Or at least I do. It's ridiculous.

Since I first took a razor to my scalp at nineteen, I've been likened to a slew of other men with prominent pates, fictional and otherwise:

1. Household product mascots

2. Cinematic misfits

3. Angry young men

4. Pod people

5. The undead

6. Comic book aliens (technically not white at all)

7. Teen drama supervillains

8. Video game characters

9. Rock stars

10. Anime heroes

I only kind of agree with that last one, and I've never even watched the series.

08 May, 2019

Meet the Veep

Expressing myself in writing has always come more easily for me than for the average person, but effective face-to-face communication is trickier. I joined ERDCC's Gavel Club because Toastmasters International (with which Gavel Clubs are affiliated) has a sterling reputation for empowering members' development as communicators and leaders. I assumed I'd get something good out of joining. What came as some surprise, though, was others getting something good from me joining.

At last week's election there were two nominees for vice president education. According to Toastmasters' constitution, the VPE "is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing a club program which meets the educational needs of the individual members." In our club, this means maintaining a schedule of members' roles in meetings (which is tricky in prison, a volatile, protean environment requiring lots of last-minute changes), facilitating and tracking members' educational achievements, and organizing speech contests. It can get to be a lot of work.

My fellow Gavel Club members obviously trust that I'm up to the task. They elected me their next VPE. It was my first time being voted in as anything, ever. That kind of validation felt pretty good.

New executives are traditionally sworn in at the annual banquet; however, our outgoing VPE has already stepped down. As I write this, my predecessor is a free man, probably enjoying some fresh air and sunshine in bluegrass country. Nature abhors a vacuum; so do executive committees. As a result, I went from VPE-elect to sitting VPE one month early. Thank goodness he trained me, over the past three months, to succeed him. I'm glad his confidence wasn't misplaced, or I'd now be training someone else.

Not even a year after joining, I hold the Speak Easy Gavel Club's second-highest office — proof that the Toastmasters slogan, "Where leaders are made," isn't hyperbole. It's an honor and a thrill to serve.