For the last year and a half, I have been working at Illinois Central College. The first six months there, I worked as a desktop technician. I applied for an open network technician position and have been working in that position for a year now. It has been a great place to work.
My wife graduated with honors from nursing school in December and now works on an OB floor at local hospital.
What we’ve learned is to struggle through and you will achieve good, if not great, things. It takes hard work and perseverance.
Outside of work, I have been writing some fiction and a couple of screenplays. I am nearing a release of a few short stories. They will be sold individually and as a collection in different ebook formats. More stories will follow, perhaps even a novel or two. In addition, I will be pitching a couple of screenplays. My hope is the earnings will help me pay for college. I want to return to college to earn an elementary school teaching certificate, so I can teach junior high mathematics and computers.
As for this blog, I will resume posting articles on Linux and software when family and time permits. Life is full of awakenings on paths we choose as well as on paths we do not choose. Recent paths continue to lead me away from technology, computers, software and operating systems. And this is the journey with my family that I am enjoying most.
From 1991 through 1996, I wrote on a Brother word processor that was comprised of an electronic typewriter attached to a monitor. The monitor displayed amber characters and it was great. Edits could be made on the screen without needing to be corrected on the paper. My resume and cover letters were stored on one diskette. I had a database for mail mergers on another diskette. It did well for my job search then, but the main reason I had the word processor was to write fiction. I filed two file cabinet drawers with fiction and submitted one short story. It was published and later nominated for an Illinois Arts Council Award. Then life and work interrupted and I let that dream slip away. Read more…
If you use OpenOffice, I’m sure you’ve encountered formatting monsters when dealing with files saved in Microsoft Office‘s proprietary formats. And more often than not, you become the monster as you wrestle with the formatting to try to return the document to its well-structured condition. Then you press save and hope the other party sees a well-structured document when he/she opens it. But what is often revealed is Frankenstein. The body parts are still there, but the stitching and proportioning will make it appear you are still flunking Monster Making 101. Read more…
For much of the last 12 years, I have worked IT jobs. For all of the last three months, I have made pizzas for minimum wage.
Every time I drive off for work, I struggle with hope. I do this for my family. I do not do this for me. I can honestly understand why men abandoned their families during the Great Depression. It is much more than humbling. For the sense of self worth, it is humiliating. Granted there have been times I have come to better appreciate the struggles of others who have long worked such jobs. The struggle is in knowing that I have done better and can do better, but for the troubling economic times.
I hope my underemployment soon changes for the better, for I am very near the end of this.
I have used Ubuntu Linux for years. I enjoy using Ubuntu, but the problem I have had lately is that my hardware has aged. My desktop runs on an AMD Duron CPU. My laptop runs on an Intel Atom CPU. My next desktop will likely run with an Intel Atom. I do not have a need to be cutting edge. I simply have a need to be able to work from my computer… writing, surfing, emailing. Nothing more.
Ubuntu worked well for years, but I am tired of it not working after a fresh install or breaking after an upgrade. On the desktop, it is usually due to my NVidia video card. I do not have the time or patience to track down fixes.
Debian, on the other hand, works. I may spend time upfront configuring a few things, but I find it works and updates/upgrades smoothly.
So I contemplate switching from Ubuntu to Debian… Am I alone in this consideration?
I finished the major draft of my spec script and began eliminating unnecessary scenes, compacting it, and fixing a few ambiguities in the story. I estimate 20 hours of work left until I can comfortably let it be read.
The problem is finding the time. I lost my IT job, which helped me finish the story. But put a severe financial strain on my family. So I really need a job. Really need a job. I submit applications and resumes almost daily. My location is not a hot bed for IT jobs and in this economy it really sucks.
But how is it I don’t have time to write when I am out of work? My wife is working full-time toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing and working part-time on the weekends as a CNA at a nursing home. We have four children. The youngest three are four-years-old, almost three-years-old, and 17-months-old. Interruptions never seem to cease. At their ages, they do not understand Dad is at work. They see that I am at home… with them!
So I write when I can. When I don’t have time to write, I carry around index cards and jot down ideas when they come or most often, when I resolve a scene transition or a stubborn scene. I have written scenes on index cards. I have also done late night and all night writing sessions. Whatever it takes. Writing is my profession. It just does not pay the bills yet. I forgo some sleep, but hey… I still function well enough that the kids know I am awake. Like me sleeping would prevent them anyway.
John August had a recent post on writing. I agree fully with his views. To be a writer, be professional and write. It is that simple.
After years of ignoring my need to write, I now know it is what I have to do. There was a void in my life not being filled by earning paychecks doing jobs that seemed to suck the life out of me. Writing fills it.
What bothers me is that my family is now financially caught in this creative gamble that is a spec script. It may end up breaking my family. I am willing to drudge through more IT work. But I am more than willing to go to the edge for my craft.
When I take that next step, I hope my family has climbed upon my back. I am taking that step for them.
It will be a challenge to fit the needs of work and its daily 2.5-hour commute (damn job), family (blessed part of my life), and running (training for an October marathon) in with the time needs of writing 100 pages of comedy. As I type this my day-away-from-one-year-old son squirms upon my lap, my 2-year-old daughter hovers behind me, my day-away-from-four-year-old son pops in from time to time to ask plaguing questions, and my 12-year-old daughter surfs indifferently on her mother’s computer… and I fixed supper for the family (my wife is working a double shift at a local nursing home).
Why add more activity to my day when it is full already? Because I must. I am tired of IT. That’s information technology. Not it. I have put aside writing for too long. Almost 15 years of telling myself that I will write when this or that happens. Well, it isn’t going to happen unless I make it happen. Writers write.
Fifteen years ago, I had a short story nominated by an editor for an Illinois Arts Council Award. He told me he almost nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. I had completed a novel-length manuscript and numerous short stories fifteen years ago… and I stopped submitting my work for publication. I went fifteen years looking for what life could give me and lost fifteen years of seeing what I could give to life.
What the hell am I attempting to say? If you consider yourself a writer, write. If you are a web developer, break the browser and then go back and fix the page that broke it. If you work IT, be an IT worker. If you are a student, study. If you are a teacher, strive to teach your students and not just earn a paycheck. If you are an artist, push yourself and your art to its limits. If you are a parent, be that guiding force, that upstanding example for your children to emulate as they grow into themselves. If you are a musician and/or singer, make everything you produce an exploration of music’s soul. If you are a politician, be a damn statesman or stateswoman and use your own mind instead of your party’s hive mentality.
In short, everyone, simply be professional. Use your given talents to develop other talents in yourself and in others. Don’t rest.
You only get one revolution in this frenzied life. Happily make the most of it.