Here’s How It Happens

02052015 Italy 2015 (113)I often get asked how I am able to write a blog, write books, do critiques, and still function on planet Earth.

I’m not always sure about that last part, but we’ll assume they are not implying I am a Martian or from Hell or something.

(We recently discussed what makes great writing, HERE)

I’ve talked about it, but some of the “get up at 4am” stuff didn’t fly well with some of you, so among the many other parts of my many efficient habits, is: I tell pieces of my story into my phone.

Now, I have nothing against jotting down an idea with pen and paper. But when I’m driving, that’s not easy to do. Or good to do. And pulling over every 3 minutes when another good idea hits is equally annoying.

I use talk to text on my phone and email it to my home computer, and translate it later.

That translate is important, because I talk fast and don’t enunciate in enough robotic cadences to have my often-irritating phone from hell understand every word. Sometimes when I go to read it, even I don’t know what the hell I meant.

I was only slightly more coherent than this guy.
I was only slightly more coherent than this guy.

(I once voice-texted with an author friend while I was drinking near a Jacuzzi in Orlando. She recalls it as being particularly hilarious because my phone was at its evil best and the alcohol made my proofreading even worse than usual. She claims it was one of our funniest conversations ever. We are thinking of doing our upcoming interview drunk, using only talk to text.)

So, at the risk of embarrassing myself to the point of needing to take up residence on our closest planetary neighbor, here is the talk-to-text version and subsequent translation from a thought I had today. It took less than five minutes to dictate, and would usually take about 15-30 minutes to decipher and form into a relevant post. (Typically, a vignette like this would go into one of my Savvy Stories anthologies, like the upcoming “FOURthcoming: funny things I learned from my preschool daughter.”)

It's the phone!
It’s the phone!

First, the talk to text gibberish (keep in mind, my phone hates me but I am sober):

So, I saw how it happens.

 

Some comedian made a joke that your parents picked you up one day and then sit you down and then never picked you up again. It’s a little sad and poignant but it’s also kind of funny and thought-provoking

 

And I saw how it happens when my daughter was in preschool, she went three days a week and had a pretty late start time

 

My wife and I work some odd hours so we didn’t care how late the kids stayed up because she got plenty of sleep should take naps in the afternoon after school if she needed more sleep she go to bed earlier but

 

For the most part she would fall asleep around 930 or 10 o’clock sometimes 1030 watching TV with us on the couch.

 

We had a routine. We would eat dinner, we would do some stuff, and then we would watch TV or play games or whatever, but then when it was about that time we would start turning off the lights and put on a TV show that was deafly not interesting to a child so no cartoons maybe a baseball game or sometimes survivor because that was a pretty good show for her to watch she likes the games competitions

 

Anyway that was our routine. For long time. And it sounds funny but I won’t lie part of the reason why workout is so that I can pick up my daughter. I was around too many people who are grown and grown they had to pick up their kids. Honestly, we had a birthday party I was grunting and groaning picking up their kids as I put him on a trampoline because he’ll some of those kids are happy. The bigger ones especially. Older ones but my kids not that old and not that heavy so I didn’t want to be grunting and groaning when I picked her up

 

And I wanted to be able to pick her up for a long time

 

Putting your child in your arms and caring them off the bed is a two minute long hug that one day will stop. I knew this.

 

And then one day it got taken away from me. With the new routine of going to kindergarten every day and getting up a lot earlier, routine was formed

 

It was dinner then a little bit of goofing off and then a bath or shower. Because we usually eat dinner so late, we basically a compressed all the times and dinner segued right into shower segued right into brushing your teeth and going to bed. Often, I wasn’t upstairs helping her get her shower anymore. So often, I missed saying good night to her. But what also happened was, there was no need to carry her off to bed because she was already upstairs near her bed. She walked on down after brushing her teeth climbed in the bed and went to sleep

 

And that’s when I realized that with rear occasions where exceptions, I probably put her down and didn’t pick her up again

 

I probably carried her to bed five nights a week last year. Actually, three months ago I was still doing that. Now I’m not doing it at all

 

Now I’m Harley doing it at all.

 

 I don’t like it

.

That was borderline indecipherable!
That was borderline indecipherable!

Whew! Rough, huh? Good thing we’re all friends.

Now, the translation (and obviously, we edit a bit and arrange things as well, because speech isn’t writing, folks!):

So, I saw how it happens.

A comedian once made a joke that “your parents picked you up one day and then set you down – and then never picked you up again.”

It’s a little sad and poignant, but it’s also kind of funny – and thought-provoking.

And I finally saw how it happens.

When my daughter was in preschool, she went three days a week and had a pretty late start time. My wife and I work from home and log some odd hours, so we didn’t necessarily care how late the kid stayed up because she got plenty of sleep. She’d take naps in the afternoon if necessary, and if she needed more sleep, she’d go to bed earlier. But for the most part she would fall asleep around 9:30 or 10 o’clock watching TV with us on the couch.

What's not to love?
What’s not to love?

We had a routine. We would eat dinner, we would do some family stuff (watch TV or play games or whatever), but then when it was about that time we would start turning off the lights and put on a TV show that was definitely not interesting to a child – so, no more cartoons, maybe a put on a baseball game. Sometimes “Survivor” because that was a pretty good show for her to watch. She likes the games and competitions.

Anyway, that was our routine for a loooooong time.

And it sounds funny, but I won’t lie: part of the reason why I work out every day is so I can lift up my daughter.

I’ll wait for your amusement to die down. Hear me out on this one.

I was around too many people who moaned and groaned whenever they had to lift up their kids.

Didn’t want to be one.

It all goes by too quickly to waste time complaining about it.

In all honestly, we had a birthday party and I was grunting and groaning picking up their kids as I put them on our trampoline, because, hell, some of their kids are freaking heavy!  Especially the bigger ones that are just a few years older than my kid!

But that’s why I caught it. The “heavy” kid was eight. And I don’t mean fat or anything, I just mean she weighs more than the 45lbs my kid clocks in at. Enough to notice. Enough to groan when picking her up a fourth and fifth time. You get the idea. You’ve been there.

My kid was five.

That meant in just three short years, I’d very likely not be picking up my kid so much. Maybe sooner.

And of course, that means some time after that, I wouldn’t be picking her up any more.

Awww...
Awww…

And I want to be able to pick her up for a long time.

Putting your child in your arms and carrying her off the bed is a two minute-long hug that one day will stop. I knew this.

And then one day, without warning, it got taken away from me.

With the new routine of going to kindergarten every day, and getting up a lot earlier, a new routine was formed.

It was dinner, then a little bit of goofing off, and then a bath or shower. Because we usually eat dinner so late, we basically compressed all the times and dinner segued right into shower segued right into brushing your teeth and going to bed.

Often, I wasn’t upstairs helping her shower anymore.

So often, I missed saying good night to her.

But what also happened was, there was no need to carry her off to bed because she was already there. She brushed her teeth and walked down the hallway, climbed into her bed, and went to sleep.

It was perfect. She didn’t fuss and cry about her bedtime like a lot of kids do. Not yet, anyway.

And that’s when I realized that – with rare exceptions – I probably put her down and didn’t pick her up again.

I probably carried her to bed five nights a week last year. Actually, I was still doing it three months ago.

Now I’m hardly doing it at all.

I saw how it happens.

I don’t like it.

.

So? Did I get ya tearing up a little? No? Maybe?

It’s okay, sometimes it’s too early or you’re not in the right mood. Usually if I play around with it I can tug at the heartstrings a little. Remember, no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

Anyway, that 670 words sample is a taste of how I do some of the stuff I do. Hope it helps!

.

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

29 thoughts on “Here’s How It Happens

  1. That has to be better than my present routine! I make a lot of notes during the day, while I’m out or watching TV, whatever. Trouble usually starts when I want to read them. I swear an idiot wrote most of them…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I used to do that until I realized my handwriting has seriously declined to the point where I can’t make a grocery list that my wife or I can decipher. Even when my phone hates me, which is all the time, at least the letters are legible. They may not make words but they are legible. And one day I said, you know what, there may be something to this. Speak slower and get the idea down, then send it to the computer. Muuuuuuuuuch simpler than transcribing notes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Doesn’t get easier when they are older and too heavy to pick up. My youngest can faff for England and take up to an hour to get ready. The oldest takes umbrage at having a bed time despite being a nightmare to get up in the mornings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the post. It’s so easy for me to think that other authors’ writing as beautiful right from the get-go. It’s nice to see how messy it is at first. I would love to see the first draft of chapter alongside the published version. I think that would be a good learning experience as well.

    That’s a good tip about using the phone to dictate the ideas while they pop into your head. I never thought to do that. I scribble ideas down on paper, but then have to remember where I put it.

    And don’t get me started about not being able to carry my child anymore. Sniff Sniff. Those days are precious. But each stage is wonderful. (remind me I said that as mine becomes a teenager this month!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It made a hell of a lot more sense than some of the stuff I dictate, but yeah I do that too and often read it back later thinking “What was I on about?” Sometimes I get characters names mixed up, then try to correct myself and end up with a conversational ramble.

    “Lisa told Dean about the appointment, no she didn’t Jessie told him Lisa wasn’t even there anyway, Jessie told him about the appointment.”

    Duh what? Someone throw cold water over me please!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The closest I can come to that are the notes I take when I wake up from a dream. I can usually only get in a short graf because this beautiful story that’s sizzling in my brain fades to handful of withered leaves in that time.

    But some of the notes have been coherent enough to base stories on. The rest have been worth a head scratch or two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I use talk-to-text to get down those great ideas when I’m away from my laptop too… most times they’re still great when I look at them again. Sometimes what my not-so-Smart-phone takes down is so far from what I could have possibly said that the idea is gone forever. 😦
    I get what you mean about carrying your daughter. Watching our children grow can be so rewarding and so heartbreaking, all in the same moment.
    My sons both tower ten inches above me, and they now carry me…more accurately, they pick me up and put me where they want me to be. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have started to use Evernote and talk some of my thoughts down. It’s definitely not perfect, far from it, and some times, at the end of the day when I can look at the notes, I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote them. But…. it’s that, or write while driving.

    On a completely unrelated note…. how come the best ideas we have as writers always ALWAYS come at the most inopportune times?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Children grow so fast. It does not seem that long ago that I was carrying my children to bed. I have 4 children, the oldest is 23, and the youngest is 17.

    Keep working out each day. Keep working out. You just might stretch out this routine a little bit longer> (thanks also for the follow). 🙂

    ~Carl~

    Liked by 1 person

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