I made a thing. Here it is. It’s a work in progress.
So I’ve been working on the Department for Mutated Persons this holiday week, and I know there hasn’t been an update since Christmas Eve. Maybe you’re chomping at the bit, or maybe you forgot about the Depart for whats-its. Either way, I’ve been working on Chapter 6, but also working on the end of the book. I’ve had a real breakthrough for how I want the first book to end (yes, the first one!). I decided I wanted to break the narrative into two books because of how the story flows, and what I want to do with the second half just didn’t make sense to be in the same book as far as themes and characters were concerned.
So far this story has been unfolding as I write it. I haven’t made much of an outline, which is not something I normally do; but I wanted to get this first draft out in front of your lovely faces instead of procrastinating. That means the story will evolve over time, and you have the ability to change it with me. So if you have any suggestions for the future of the story, you can comment below, tweet me (@robfike), message me, or email me. Any feedback is crucial to making this the best it can be.
This is also a YA fiction work, which means I want as many middle, high school and college people to see it as possible. I want to know how you guys feel about it: what’s missing? what’s great?
Thanks for sticking with me thus far, and I hope I give you the excitement you were wanting out of this read.
I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day (see: an ambiguous approximation of time ago), when I was struck by something not-so profound, but (all the same) important.
When it comes to talking about our problems, you can see someone else in two different ways. You either see a person with a problem, or you see a problem with a person.
A Problem with a Person
The problem-first type see the problem before they see the person. They may even cut off the person explaining their problem in order to ‘fix it’ right away. If you are this type of person, you might face these types of issues in relationships.
You cut people off before you really understand the problem.
You are so excited to solve the problem, that you forget you are listening to a living, breathing person, and they aren’t finished speaking. Most problems are not as simple as we want them to be. They aren’t black and white.
Remind yourself: Slow down. Let them finish. Address the human element of the problem.
Your friend doesn’t really want their problem solved.
This is probably the hardest part of seeing the problem first (or only seeing the problem) because sometimes people just want to vent about their problems and hear that someone empathizes with them. But you don’t like this sentiment. There is a problem and it needs solving. The person will only feel better if you solve it for them. But here’s the deal: their problem is usually solvable by them. Many times someone knows what they have to do, and they’re just looking for a sympathetic ear to acknowledge their issue.
Remind yourself: Listen to them first. Offer sympathy. Ask if they’d like help.
A Person with a Problem
While acknowledging a person is the more important part of any relationship, this type of person can also create unhealthy frustrations. With a tendency to over-protect a person or a relationship, the person-first type won’t address the problem or will sugarcoat in such a way as to prove unhelpful or – worse than that – destructive to the other person or relationship. Here are just a couple of situations where the person-first type can cause damage.
Your friend truly needs a solution.
So many times a friend comes to you seeking a solution, but you only go as far as sympathy for their plight. You don’t address their problem, nor offer any help in finding the solution.
Remind yourself: There is a problem here. If you truly care about your friend, coworker, family member then you will offer help.
You worry about hurting their feelings.
Sometimes (most times) we bring problems on ourselves. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes we get stuck in problems because of it. The person-first type has a harder time telling harsh truth because they care about the person first and the solution second, and they don’t want to harm their relationship.
Remind yourself: Everybody makes mistakes. Understand your relationship with the other person. If you have the kind of relationship which allows you to tell them the truth, listen thoughtfully and tell them like it is. Don’t dilute the truth to protect a friendship because you will inevitably exacerbate their problem and could inevitably ruin the relationship anyway.
If you see yourself in either of these two types of people, acknowledge it and move forward. Bear in mind that there are others out there just like you, and you can use your techniques on them just fine! They will probably enjoy it!
Also, if you see someone else is behaving as the opposite type to who you are, cut them some slack. Either way, they probably like you and are doing the best they can to be helpful. If it’s becoming a problem in your relationship, have a conversation about these different types.
And finally, if you are having relationship issues (work, home or otherwise) look at the other person and see if you have conflicting styles. If you make the effort to match what they like, it can have a great effect. It may even open up a conversation to see how you both can serve each other better.
Dealing with a lot of transitions lately. I just finished the rough manuscript of my first
novel, so I’m transitioning into the edit process; and it’s proving to be a pain the ass.
My birthday is on the 20th, so I will be transitioning to age 32, which is just what it is at this point. Birthdays lack the excitement they use to. Probably because I only ask for the essentials from my folks anymore (“Can I get a grocery store gift card? Maybe Amazon? We need groceries… I need to order diapers…)
I am graduating from college in December, but with a full time job already (the same one I’ve held for 10 years) that transition doesn’t seem to be affecting me like it should. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be finishing my Bachelor’s degree in History, but it feels more
like a tedious end to an obscenely long journey. It feels a bit like Frodo at the end of Return of the King; I just want it to be over already (so stop fading to black!).
I also just transitioned into fatherhood (you can follow me on Instagram @dafiker to see how that’s going – be warned: cuteness). It’s a rewarding experience, full of sleepless days and nights. It’s probably the most profound transition I’ve faced in my life, even more so than the transition into adulthood. Priorities change drastically. My mind seems to be hardwired for this change, as it appears completely out of my control. So, sorry I haven’t been writing in this blog lately (Oh, I forgot you don’t read it.), but I’ve been preoccupied with doctor visits, poops, sleeps (hers, not mine), and all the little intricacies of a newborn’s life.
If you are interested in seeing what my book will be, you can keep tabs on me by subscribing to this blog. But let’s not kid ourselves: you probably stopped reading this already and are looking at the baby pictures.
A man promised glory. He pointed the finger at others and cast blame. And they applauded manically.
Roses in the air as the car drives through town. The people smile with glazed eyes. Dictator on parade.
My daughter turned one week old today. Her lifespan could still be easily calculated in hours (over 168 as of 5:32p.m. this afternoon), days (7), and now week. I was having a conversation with a fellow dad, one who has been on his journey five years longer than I am. We were talking about not having time and having it at the same time.
It seems to me that these early stages of my daughter’s life are marked with an abundance of half-measured time for me. I can occupy myself with little things, but my time is also occupied with her needs. It has made me more aware that my life has always had half-measure time. I have always let my time be tied down to various anxieties and activities. Whether I’m at work thinking about my writing, or, at home thinking about my work; my life is occupied in various spheres.
Like filling a bucket, we only have so much time to occupy with our energy (liquid), but are we filling it efficiently?
I am not sure, but I do know being aware is the first step toward finding better uses for my bucket.
The dog was a mutt, with no clear ancestry to speak of. He was smiling in the dumb way all dogs do: mouth agape, tongue slung back and forth and bobbing. But one eye was happy and clear, while the other – still happy – was infected and compacted by swollen flesh.
We packed our car, while the dog made itself a curious visitor on our sidewalk, inspecting our day-old thai food bag and gazing up at us with childlike wonder. We tried to think of a story about him; where did he come from and how did he get his eye infection. As I helped my wife into the car, the dog turned his adoration solely on me. He followed me to the driver’s side of the car.
I pointed away, shoo’ing him to get going. It pained me to watch him back away, his eyes still happy despite my shunning. I closed the car door, and he sauntered around the back end of the vehicle. I watched from the rearview mirror, then the side mirror, as he came walking back up the sidewalk to the front of our car. My wife sighed an empathetic tone. We started the car, and the dog finally knew we were leaving. He saw a man down the street mowing his lawn, and ran after him with a burst of exuberance.
Despite his pain, the dog knew that a new discovery was just down the street.