While Of Miles Rausch will always be my heart and soul, my personal diary in the world, it isn’t always very focused. In fact — like me — it’s intentionally varied and unintentionally disorganized. How can one separate the scientist from the artist, the developer from the writer?
Well, now there’s an easy way to separate out the writer: Miles.ink. Miles.ink is my writing website. It’ll have writing news, information on how to read and discover my written works and even information on how to support my art through services like Patreon.
If you’re interested in learning more about Miles Rausch, the writer, check out Miles.ink.
You’d better believe I’m sending creepy heartbeats to everyone I know with an Apple Watch.
— Veronica Belmont (@Veronica) April 25, 2015
Well, another year has come and gone, and so I’ve finally come up with a new mixlist: (2014) Best of Last Year. Every year, I make a mixlist of the best songs that I discovered in the past calendar year. The songs may come from any decade, any era, but the uniting feature is that I only just discovered them in 2014.
Visit the mixlist page to listen to the playlist via an embedded Spotify playlist and to read more of my thoughts on it.
I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2013, but it wasn’t pretty. My month-long, prosaic journey was a study in perseverance against myself. That November was tough. My output was sporadic and entirely too little, the novel itself often lacked direction and drive, and that final day I was a ghost to everyone around me in an effort to make up for those two things.
But I did it. I completed the challenge. This year I did it again.
My 2014 NaNoWriMo was a much different experience, and I think it’s best summarized in the following graphic comparing 2013’s word count statistics to 2014’s.
I’ve spent 2014 developing a habit of writing, and the much steadier and more consistent graph shows how that work has paid off. I try to fill my early mornings with writing — and I am not a person who enjoys mornings, early or otherwise. However, having a routine made this year’s challenge easier on me and my family.
Although the recommended NaNoWriMo word count was higher than my normal, I had arranged my life to allow writing time, giving it a due time slot. What I was writing (or how quickly) was then just a detail.
The downside to this year’s event is that my novel is still unfinished. From November’s novel push, I went right into working on our 2014 Christmas Card called Familial and haven’t been back. The novel aches in the back of my mind, waiting for the telling.
Thankfully, January is a good month for getting back into habits.
Ten days into NaNoWriMo 2014, I wrote:
7 chapters. 15,000 words. Stuck.#NaNoWriMo
— Miles Rausch (@awayken) November 10, 2014
By any definition, I had written a lot. I’d been keeping pace with my daily word counts and had a lot to show for it. Chapter seven closed with both main characters having just experienced major life events. I needed a rest, and they needed time to grow up.
I pinwheeled, trying to decide what to do, where to go, how to continue. That evening I did not write. Hoping to maintain some momentum, I rearranged character sheets in Scrivener. I hacked a book cover in Pixelmator. I stalled for time, then I had to go to bed.
The next day, I faced the same issue. It hadn’t disappeared overnight. Perhaps a new character was necessary, someone who would play an important role later. Maybe an FBI agent investigates the bridge collapse. Maybe a shadowy head of state or business tycoon barks orders to a known secondary character. Maybe a small child plays with dolls in a greenhouse, rationalized later.
No inspiration hit me, but I had to keep writing, so I did something scary. I opened the name generator and created Mike, Janelle and Blaine Hancock. I created “Ch 8, Part 1” and started to write, having no idea who these people were.
Janelle is pregnant and nearly full-term. She’s complaining about how certain she is that her water broke, despite the repeated assurances by medical staff that it hasn’t. Responding to a nurse’s indelicate suggestion, Janelle says, “I didn’t piss myself. My water broke.”
Then I realized what I was doing. After I got stuck, a part of my brain must have started working on the problem. The more conscious part of my brain was so overwhelmed and negative that it couldn’t hear what the other part was coming up with.
I had a guy nicknamed Flame who harnessed uncontrollable fire. I had a woman nicknamed Frost who may (or may not) have power over cold. And now I had Blaine Hancock, the rising tide of Flood.
What’s amazing to me is that I had this solution in my head, but it wasn’t until I turned off my thinking and started to write that I discovered it. I had to get quiet enough to hear my story.
I finished chapter eight, and I certainly have enough material for three more chapters introducing this (and another) new character. Then I have some questions to deal with: why do they all have these powers, what do they mean to each other, and what is their overall purpose?
Uneasy questions that I’m sure I’m working on now. But that’s another story.
True to my word from last year, I’m still writing, and that means more NaNoWriMo. Last year I finished in high fashion by actually completing my novel (which I still haven’t edited). This year I hope to succeed again.
I’ve learned some lessons from last year. I hope to manage my time better, although trying to get some words written is a sure sign to your child that they should be trying to get your attention. I plan to circumvent this issue by writing early in the morning, during their naps and late at night. In other words, I’ll be exhausted come December 1st.
At her first birthday party, Ainsley received a lot of things: toys, books and especially clothing. The unwrapping ceremony for a one year old requires a lot of parental and sibling involvement from gathering the gifts to actually opening them.
Ainsley showed mostly passing interest. She would peruse the odd book, explore the notable toys, but then there were the clothes. With each new outfit, Ainsley would squeal. She’d throw aside the previous item and immediately struggled to dress anew. There was unbridled glee with each discovery. And that was it: she had taken on a stereotype of her gender, out of nowhere, without prompting.
And I was baffled.
If you’ve purchased a Red Bull within the last twelve years, that company lied to you. At least, according to Benjamin Careathers. Mr. Careathers filed a lawsuit on Jan. 16th of 2013 in U.S. District Court alleging that the slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings” (and other advertising practices) were “deceptive and fraudulent.”
Read more on Law360, BEVNET, Google and the actual settlement website. Red Bull decided to settle rather than fight it out in court. A statement by the company said, “Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation.”
Essentially, Careathers won, and everyone who’s enjoyed a Red Bull since 2002 can join him and claim money or (ironically) some Red Bull products. Which brings us to the part where I’m furious.
My last words to LaVonne Rose Gregg, as she lived and breathed, were likely, “It was so nice to see you.” I’m sure I could pinpoint the likely moment, but that would bring with it the realization of how poorly our last words fit our relationship.
I’m sure LaVonne responded with the promise of sweet corn or beef, and I would have sincerely begun the work of mapping a path for retrieval. But it wouldn’t happen, not until she no longer lived nor breathed.
News that she was sick came suddenly. Although she had been living with cancer the past year, she had been as LaVonne always was: bright and sassy. Then Holli’s mom, Carol, sent a group text message on September 24th at 6:11 PM.
> They have taken grandma to the hospital
> She stopped breathing.
Those messages started a process of grief for dozens of people. Holli and I made plans for her to head to Hawarden that night. She’d return to teach the next day, but would otherwise be near the family should LaVonne breath her last.
LaVonne didn’t. She lived unassisted for two more days in the Hawarden Hospital before passing peacefully in her sleep.
Not to brag, but I’m the first ever winner of the Mash Stories competition. Okay, I meant to brag a little. I write this to forewarn you, the reader and likely writer. It’s not often that one finds oneself in the presence of such a contest-winner, unless you happen to be that contest-winner, as I am. Or was, at least. We’ll get to that.
Everything was roses at the end of that first contest. My formerly fragile writer’s ego puffed and beamed. Mash Stories was one of my first writing competitions, and I inflated with the unreasonable thought that maybe — just maybe — they would all go like this.
As time passed, there was no question that I would enter again. It seemed unlikely that I would win, however. How could I? There would be outrage. Mobs of angry Mashers, talented writers in their own right, would rise up against the apparent favoritism. “No!” I would shout back. “Read the story!” And they would, and would love it, and would send in beautifully crafted apology notes and little candies. Still, I’m watching my figure, so best to avoid all that.
Reaching for my laptop, I penned a follow-up. It was a return to thematic writing, like my first story, yet with a smaller cast and larger setting. The loosely autobiographical theme was how even responsible parents can inadvertently put their children in danger. It was set in space, a location I’ve long been enamored with. I felt I had pretty good story. Then I read the word count: 1,031, more than twice the contest limit.
Little by little, I honed it down. At first the edits were exhilarating, and a better story began to emerge. I finished another draft, and my heart sank. I was still well above 500 words and felt I’d have to take drastic measures.
You come to a point in every Mash story where you feel you have it, you have the story you like, but it’s too heavy. I could have started afresh, but time had grown too short. I need to make this one fit. What to do? Do you pick out every extraneous word, like clearing a cluttered room? Or do you remove entire sections, like excising an inflamed appendix? My story appeared to require both.
Neutered but still respectable, I submitted. And waited. And wilted. The email came that I had not been shortlisted. I knew, even as disappointment gripped me, that the judges were correct. And so I had fallen. I had gone from winner to spectator in three months, washed out to sea in the tide of Mash.
I won’t pretend that I wasn’t deflated. Every writer faces rejection, but it’s never easy. It comes with a choice: does one continue on in this journey or does one resign more fully to other pursuits?
Nodding, I archived the rejection email and set my resolve. We are writers. We write. We can more easily change night into day than change that fact about ourselves. I remembered a rhyme I had written for myself:
Write not for fortune
write not for fame
write out for fictions
who whisper your name.
Every quarter, the latest Mash Stories contest brings another opportunity to write your best story. A lot of talented people are noticing Mash, and it’s becoming more than simply a competition. It’s growing into a community, and a community affords a writer many more opportunities. Like this: the opportunity to write an inspirational blog post for Mashers, to boast one more time, and to hide a secret message in the paragraphs above. Just for instance.
This post first appeared on the Mash Stories blog.
Secrets work best when they are non-obvious, but kids don’t really understand this. For them, there’s a thrill in a whispered statement. When one of our children wishes to share a hushed tidbit, they begin speaking, stop, beckon us closer, and exhale whatever little nonchalant is on their mind.
It’s adorable, and it tickles a little.
This post is my way of doing that. I lost over 45 pounds by doing what every health professional recommends: eat right and exercise. I’m breathing my completely obvious secrets into your downturned ear because sometimes it’s comforting just to hear what worked for someone else. Even if that someone is standing with their mouth way too close to your earlobe.
I’ve reentered the MashStories.com contest with a story called “A Helping Hand.” They liked it well enough to shortlist it! This contest has really grown in its three quarters, and it’s attracting ever more popular and seasoned writers. I’m definitely up against some great entries.
If you’re interested, you can find the story here: http://mashstories.com/shortlist/helping-hand/
Feel free to vote for it. Votes factor into the judging process. If you have issues voting, or you know anyone who’d like the story, share the link or this post with them. I’ll take all the votes I can get!