Writing is Worse than Puberty

When I hit middle school, my voice habitually creaked like a poorly-lubricated door (cliché simile). It was awful. I never had a problem getting taller or growing facial hair.  I never had to deal with acne. But my voice cracked pretty often. Chicks dug it (kidding).

Along with the physical effects came other things. I ate like an Ethiopian horse, housing two lunches a day and snacking like a fiend. My mind was out of whack. Seeing yourself morph from a smooth-faced child to a hairier, manlier, somewhat-adult-like thing is startling. Thankfully, I’ve stopped growing in that sort of way, being 19. But I’m faced with a new phase.

My ability to write has taken a dive (euphemism). Since January, I’ve been unable to write. Since January, guys. When there was snow on the ground. Here in Jersey, it’s just now starting to cool down again. At the beginning of this phase, I was so full of inspiration. The only issue I had was getting words down. Neither my vision nor my excitement wavered. But after sitting down quite literally every day with nothing but a paragraph at most to show for it by the day’s end day after day, I began to become discouraged. I didn’t initially see this as a problem because it didn’t feel like a problem. Progress was slim, but I came to the keyboard excited to write. I had the whole second act of the novel plotted out thoroughly, so it’s not like I didn’t know where I wanted to take it. I was only facing a nuisance. Surely it would get better.

It didn’t. My frustration grew. The excitement to sit and write wavered because I wasn’t making progress. I sought a solution. My best friend proposed that I step away from the page for a few weeks rather than force myself to write. I stepped away. I returned just as inspired, but just as stuck. My lovely girlfriend troubleshooted the potential root causes of the block with me time and time again. Again, my spirits were lifted, but the results did not change. My author-cousin recommended that I skip around in the story and fill in the gaps later. I wrote maybe five pages by his recommendation, then hit a block.

Recently, I spoke with a mentor of mine and he suggested that I pursue another project altogether to get the creative juices flowing (cliché). His advice pushed me into a project I had considered pursuing for a month or so. Now, I have a new document with a new outline and new notes. My original story was written in an elaborate, detail-heavy style. Frankly, that’s my writing voice. That’s how I write. (Take a look for yourself here, if you’re interested). This new pursuit has me writing more directly, with a snappier pace.

And that’s where I’m at. I wrote the first chapter in about a week. It’s been 2-3 weeks since then, and the second chapter isn’t coming along.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m just expressing my woes. I’m not. I’m letting you know what’s up, and if it sounds like it bothers me, it’s because it does. I’m at a loss. My ability to write this story disappeared over night. I don’t know how, but it did. And as I struggle to make progress on this new endeavor, I wonder if I’ve lost it all together.

Puberty was an inevitable phase. By the time I was done with it (or rather, by the time it was done with me), I was different person. At the end of this road, will creative writing be a thing of my past? Right now, it appears that this phase is something that’s out of my hands, as it’s been going strong since January.  What is this phase? Transition into adulthood? I don’t know. I became a man when I watched Braveheart for the first time, so it can’t be that.

I’m going to consider coming back to WordPress. It won’t be nearly in the same capacity as before because I am a student pursuing personal and professional endeavors, but I am going to consider it. I miss you lovely ladies and classy gents. I want to reconnect in a new way.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#2)

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

This is J.J. Azar serving you a hearty bowl of Q and A! Thanks once again for your questions and support. Here is the chowder which came of your efforts! Enjoy! (HD viewing is highly recommended).

As always, stay classy!

~J.J. Azar

200 Followers + Q/A Announcement!

Lovely ladies! Classy gents! Something RIDICULOUS has happened!

200 people across the globe tripped and hit their heads upon their keyboards, resulting in 200 subscribes to this blog. If you have sustained this injury and are receiving this post in your inbox or WordPress reader, I wish you a speedy recovery. Put some ice on it.

To all who have subscribed to this blog, thank you. Thank you for supporting me through everything. Thank you for your kind words, your advice, your comments. Thank you for sharing your love for writing and creativity with me. I don’t take a single one of you 200 for granted. I didn’t expect to reach this point, but it’s a cool place to be, and I cherish it immensely.

When I hit 100 followers, I did something special to commemorate it. Many of you may remember that I held a Q and A session in which I answered a bunch of your questions about me, my blog, my writing, and other nonsense in video form! I had a blast making the video, and, if the comments on that post are anything to go by, most everybody enjoyed watching it! I’d love to do another!

So, if you have any questions for me regarding myself, my blog, my writing, my likes, my dislikes, my thoughts, my attractive personality, etc., please leave them in the comments below. Serious or not, it doesn’t matter! I’ll answer em all! On camera! I may even don a suit!

My top 5 favorite posts since my last 100 follows are as follows. If you happened to miss any of them, I’d recommend checking them out, because I think they suck the least out of all of my posts!

Violence and Gore in Writing: Is There a Limit? – This post prompted me to look to literature in an effort to answer the grand question posed. The post generated a wealth of discussion in the comments section, which is why I consider the post to be such a success.

A Missed Deadline, a Hard Look – This was a difficult post to write, as I wrote it in light of the fact that I failed to reach my self-imposed deadline for the first draft of my novel in the works. In the post, I propose a game plan to help tackle the draft.

Writers, Trust Your Readers – This is a good ol’ writing post. I dig discussing writing and storytelling (that’s what my blog’s about!), so this one was a blast. +10 for Lost gifs.

Writing the Five Senses: Sight – I enjoyed writing all of the five senses posts, but this one stands out to me because I wrote it with such confidence. I really felt that I touched upon significant points.

Novel Excerpt #2, Campfires at Midnight – I’m proud of this short passage from my novel in the works. It seems to have been well-received thus far, which is cool to see!

Once again, thank you for being a part of this exciting journey.

Here’s to the next 100!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

When Writing Matters: Writing a Eulogy

I write fiction. I write about cowboys and Indians, sheriffs and highwaymen. I write about a fantastical version of the Wild West with rickety historical accuracy and plenty of anachronisms. That’s what I write. I love my manuscript, it means a whole lot to me, but it’s fiction. Does fiction matter? We’ll ponder that point later.

In these last days, my cousin Jordan and I were tasked with writing something that undoubtedly carries meaning. We were tasked with writing and delivering a eulogy for my grandfather, who passed away this week.

Writing a eulogy is a daunting task for anybody, but knowing the kind of man my grandfather was made the burden all the more heavy. George Issa Azar was a man who could say more than most men by saying nothing at all. When he did speak, his words were wise and witty. His faithful, family-oriented mindset has left a lasting impact upon his 5 children and his 14 grandchildren. The values he instilled upon his kids, including my father, have shaped who I am and what I cherish.

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George with my mother, my father, and my aunt.

George was a great man who was well-respected by all who knew him. He was the patriarch of a large, close family. How could anybody’s words do him justice? Jordan and I had a grand task, one which we both took very seriously. Before anything, we focused on George. What kind of man was he? What was he like? Who was he? We listed his dominant qualities so we could refer back to them and reference them in the eulogy.

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(from left to right) George’s daughter, George, George’s wife, George’s daughter, and George’s son (my dad).

Once we had the foundation for the eulogy, we determined its structure. We would begin by thanking the family, going through the formalities characteristic of an introduction. Then we would remember the man and his story. We would talk about how he came to the United States with 5 kids and 500 dollars in his pocket, and how he was already working on the second day. We would connect his story to his hardworking nature and his love for his family.

Then we would share a couple of personal anecdotes, referencing his quick wit and glowing personality. All of this would culminate in the message which Jordan and I, among our other cousins, wanted to emphasize: his integral role in the creation and sustaining of the family. We wanted to emphasize his legacy.

George was a father to 5 kids, but he was, above all, a father to his family. He and his wife fostered a strong, loving family. Jordan and I put our heads together for a couple of hours, tackling the eulogy line by line. It would never be perfect, but it would have to be the best we could make it.

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George with young me and my grandmother.

Then came the funeral. We delivered the speech. Addressing the grieving family and friends who were in attendance was not easy, but I am proud of Jordan for sharing the burden with me. It was an emotional eulogy, but we got through it.

I suppose the point of this post is to highlight something I discovered while writing this speech with Jordan: whether you’re writing something as important as a eulogy or fanciful as fiction, love carries its own meaning. Write with love so that the reader might glean something from the experience. Empty words have no place in this life.

Rest in peace, Sedo.

~J.J. Azar

P.S. To all followers new and old, I’m back. Posts coming at you every Tuesday and Friday on a weekly basis, just as before the break. (Note, this post is being posted in lieu of this Friday’s post). Thank you for dropping by! I hope you stay tuned.

The Circumstances

The eleventh chapter of my novel-in-the-works is titled, “The Circumstances.” In the chapter, Clarence Cash awakes after a brush with death to find himself scatterbrained and days behind in his pursuit of a smuggler. Before he mounts his horse to continue his hunt, he evaluates his situation. He evaluates his circumstances. Much the same, I’m assessing my own.

I have not been a present blogger. Worse, I have not been a productive writer. About two months ago, I was both. I was highly interactive with all of you. I was up to date with my Reader. I was cranking out substantial posts two times a week. On the writing side, I was writing every day. I was moving with forward momentum nearly every day.

But the circumstances are different today. My course load this semester has proven far more intense than that of the first. Where I didn’t work a job during my first semester in the interest of advancing my writing (and I did!), I’ve since returned to work. Thus, my time for writing and blogging has been reduced. Not reduced to nothing, but reduced enough to make this post.

Many take breaks from WordPress because they’ve become tired or overworked or uninspired. The case is the opposite for me. I am bursting with energy and posts. I want to rock 120%. The trouble is, academics take precedent, and it’s crucial that I stay diligent for another month and a half.

I’m not putting a hold on blogging. Rather, I’m putting a hold on the promise of a post a week. I won’t have a posting schedule for two months, maximum. I hate to do things this way, but this is how I can best balance college with blogging/writing at this time. I will be around to catch some of your posts, but I can’t say I’m going to check my Reader every day, because I won’t. I hope y’all understand. It’s worth noting that there are a host of bloggers who have stopped by with blogs I want to read and follow and explore, and I intend to do so as soon as possible! After this period, I can assure you that I’ll devise a system so I can be more consistent when life moves faster. I’ll leave you with the final line from Chapter 11: The Circumstances.

“I hope you’re ready for an adventure, because I see adventure on the horizon.”

~J.J. Azar

Officially Lovely: I Received the One Lovely Blog Award

I shed a tear upon seeing that I have been nominated for my very first WordPress award by the wickedly popular WordPress newcomer, Jamie at The Comic Vault. It was a manly, salty tear which fell like a rock, but it was a tear nonetheless. If you like comics, you have to check out Jamie’s blog. Despite being on WordPress for only a short time, he has made his position in the community clear: his blog is the place for comic musings and analyses. He hasn’t made that claim so boldly, but I’ll say it for him! Thank you, Jamie!

This whole thing is wild because if you take a gander at my posts you’ll see that I often begin by saying hello to you “lovely ladies and classy gents.” This is the One Lovely Blog Award! Coincidence? I think not! So, what does this award entail? Allow me to don my monocle and investigate the fine print. My instructions are as follows.

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
  • Include this set of rules
  • Inform your nominees

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It seems I’ve been tasked with sharing 7 things about myself. If that’s what it takes for this blog to be certified lovely, I won’t spare a moment!

Numbah One!

I firmly believe that there is one steak to rule them all: Ribeye is king. Yes, yes, Filet Mignon is perfect and well and fine, and I will certainly crown it king in my older age when I can no longer indulge in fat, but for now, Ribeye is my go-to. The steak’s thickness and trim of fat gives it potential which surpasses other cuts.

Numbah Two!

I am a college student with a double major. I am currently studying Political Science and Philosophy, gearing up for Law School. I can’t say I won’t change anything (I probably will), but this is the plan for now.

Numbah Three!

I’ve made three major moves. I was born and raised in New Jersey. I moved to California at the age of 12. I moved back to Jersey at the age of 16. The four year stint provided me with a world entirely different from Jersey. Three things you should know about California:

  1. Californians take it slow. It’s like they all take some kind of organic vegan environmentally friendly Jack Johnson pill every morning. They stand in stark contrast to New Jersians, who run exclusively on coffee and road rage.
  2. The traffic is brutal. You want to go somewhere? California laughs at your foolishness. Plan on sitting in your car for far longer than is reasonable by any standard.
  3. There is so much to do. I lived there for four years and did a ton of cool things, but the state is so vast I haven’t seen a fraction of it. If you can stand the unholy traffic, you can see a whole lot!

Numbah Four!

I rank the four seasons as follows:

4. Autumn. Autumn is the season that kind of just has to be there. Given that I’ve been a student all of my life, it has always signified a return to school, a place which pales in comparison to the beach and the pool. Leaves fall and pile up on the sides of the roads which further complicates my life. No thank you, autumn. Get outta here.

3. Spring. Here in Jersey, it gets humid during the spring. By humid, I mean you step outside and you immediately feel as if you’ve just emerged from the shower. But spring offers warm weather after the chilling cold that is winter, so I welcome it like Idina Menzel welcomes mispronunciations of her name.

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2. Winter. It’s all about Christmas time. Christmas time is my jam. The music, the food, the family, the time off, the vibes, the celebration of Christ’s birth and the New Year all come together to make one heck of an exciting time-of-year. I like Christmas so much, in fact, that I intend to write a book set in my western world that takes places during Christmas.

1. Summer. Summer provides me the opportunity to do my favorite things: swim, hang outside, go to the beach, hit amusement parks, run amok…Who doesn’t like summer? Please, identify yourself in the comments so we can fix you.

Numbah Five!

I am a member of a squad of five strapping lads. We are formally known as the Five Strapping Lads. Meet my cousins:

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From left to right we have Robby, yours truly, Justin, Jordan, and George.

How’s that for a team?

Numbah Six!

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My favorite book is Book Six of the Wheel of Time series, Lord of Chaos. It is a refreshing book of astronomical scale that is written expertly. Furthermore, it is full of moments which prompted me to leap out of my seat and run laps around my house.

Numbah Seven!

I am a fan of the Magnificent Seven, both the original and the remake. I have yet to see the original original, Seven Samurai, but I intend to. This tidbit is relevant because my writing takes place in the western genre, however different my take on the American West may be.

So that’s a bit about me! If there’s anything that stood out to you, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments.

___

I would like to pass the Lovely Blog Award along to the following blogs which are highly deserving of it. If this happens to be a repeat nomination for any of those named, my apologies. I nominate:

A.Z. Anthony

Eva Blaskovic

PencilNeckGeek

Aimee Davis

Thank you all for reading.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

J.J. Azar is Back with a Vengeance

LOVELY ladies, CLASSY gents, HELLO!

As some have noticed, I’ve been gone for a while.

“Why did you leave us, J.J?”

Fear not, disembodied voice! I will tell you. There have been some new developments in the unusual and often moist thing that is my life. For starters, I’ve begun a new semester of college. My new class schedule paired with my newfound workout plan have launched me into an exploratory phase where I’ve been figuring out how I can best fall back into the writing process (I’ve been going to the gym, as I said I would in my Missed Deadline post. So sore, so worth it).

To lighten my workload, I spent the weekend getting ahead in a couple of classes with the sole purpose of freeing up writing time. I return to the novel-in-the-works tonight! Additionally, I’m back in the working world! I’m enjoying the time I’m spending helping out the family business and earning some $$. I’m also seeing a lovely lady who is classy enough to satisfy even the highest of standards we hold over here. All-in-all, all is well! I’ve just taken a week to prepare myself for writing, is all. I’ve made a fair effort to keep up with my WordPress Reader, but if you think I’ve missed a post of yours that you think I’d enjoy, please do share a link in the comments!

With that, I will be making a change to the blog. In the interest of focusing on my novel-in-the-works, I will be posting a minimum of once a week as opposed to twice. I may accumulate views and followers more slowly by posting once a week, but a) I’m here to interact with y’all, not track statistics! b) the novel takes priority until I complete its first draft, as I’m sure you understand. As promised, I will provide you with my new first-draft deadline by the end of the month.

What’s nice about this is I can put more effort into each post and spend more time reading your posts. Some posts to look out for in the coming weeks include:

  • On Trusting the Reader
  • Writers, What’s Your Style?
  • Writing the Five Senses
  • You Want to Write? Write!
  • One Lovely Blog Award Reception

Thank you for your continued support. I don’t intend to take another leave of absence this long (12 days!) without informing you first.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

A Missed Deadline, A Hard Look

I drafted this post one week ago. One week ago, I conceded that I would not be able to complete the first draft of my novel-in-the-works by January 1st. Originally, the tone of this post was somber and slow. I wrote it late at night and it read like a bummer. So I scrapped it entirely and rewrote it in light of reflection. Here’s what I’ve got.

____

I kicked ass this month. From December 1st to December 21st, I was getting 4-5 hours of sleep because I was writing into the early hours of the night. Through these 21 days, I was ill and amidst Finals season. Nonetheless, in face of the phlegm, the sleep deprivation, and the Latin (blast you, Latin!), I was happy, driven, and willing to work into the early hours. I made bounds. Picture an artist splattering paint onto a canvas with a stupid grin on his face. That kind of progress. “Oui oui. Zees is amour!” (Do I have any followers from France? I know I have Canadians and Aussies and Brits and Turks, but where are the Frenchmen at?!)

On December 22nd, I boarded a plane for California. (I don’t believe I’ve yet mentioned that I lived in the Golden State for four years. To quote Dave Matthews, “I got people here.”) This may sound familiar to you because I wrote a post the following day about how I wrote five hours on the plane.

Upon arriving, I gave my situation some thought. I hadn’t reached the home stretch of the story. I hadn’t set myself up for a knockout on January 1st. Thus, I decided that it would make the most sense to put the writing aside so I could fully enjoy my time with friends and family. I’ve made some writing progress in spare moments, but I’ve largely put the novel-in-the-works to the side for the duration of the trip. My efforts have been focused on one chapter, which begins, “It was a horse-faced lady wearing a housewife’s apron who pointed the boys to Carmengrove.” 

So I’m here in Cali for a couple more days before I fly back to Jersey (where we say cawfee and wahta). Once I return, I’ll be back into writing mode. But things need to change. I made a strong effort to write consistently for the better part of December, but I hadn’t exercised that level of resolve prior. I wrote, no doubt about it, but I didn’t make it a point to write every day with such ferocity. I’ve taken this week to reflect and evaluate what I can do moving forward to blaze the trails of ink. It’s taken a hearty dose of honesty to reach some of these determinations, but I’m a believer that honesty is better than any alternative. Here goes.

For the sake of organization, I’ve pinpointed changes that need to be made in terms of both addition and omission.

Addition

Let’s start with addition. I asked myself, what am I lacking that I need?

  • A Writing Environment

My buddy Aurelius has been a huge supporter of my writing journey. He’s given me a book on publishing, talked shop with me, and asked for updates as to my progress. When I recently told him I didn’t expect to meet my deadline, he presented me with the “environment over effort argument,” something articulated by James Clear. Aurelius summed it up as follows:

It’s this idea that personal willpower is an imperfect basis for important habits. It’s better to construct an environment that facilitates the habit and to immerse yourself in it. Stephen King writes in a barn that just has a desk and a window in it.

Aurelius has a point. I am driven. (Sure, I talk, but I talk because I’m sharing my journey with you. There’s work to show for the talk. You can see my progress updated weekly on my Projects page and I dedicate a post a month to my progress alone.)

Still, my drive is not infallible (My Latin grade is evidence of that. Blast you, Latin!). I need an environment which facilitates the drive. In other words, I need to make my life easier. When I return to Jersey, I’m going to scout my house and find the best area where I can write with minimal external distraction and maximum convenience. I’ll need an outlet nearby for my laptop charger and a nice chair. Of course, I can scrap all that if I build a writing barn. If anybody would like to loan me money for a writing barn, you can email me at jjazarauthor@gmail.com.

So that’s the first thing: I’ll need a writing spot. If floating around helped me to write, I would float around, but it doesn’t. Thanks, Aurelius.

  • A Set Writing Time

My status as a student prevents me from designating an hour-based time block to my writing. I can’t declare 8 PM a writing time because sudden assignments and due dates prevent me from operating that way. It just won’t happen. Still, I recognize that I need structure. I need a routine to facilitate and focus my drive.

I’ve determined that I write best at night, when there are no longer any non-writing obligations for me to fulfill. Therefore, I will make it a point to work in the nighttime in my to-be-determined writing environment. Sometimes I’m beat by the time I take care of everything I have to do, but if I wrote 21 days straight in the early hours while sick and after preparing for finals, I think I can manage to implement this dynamic of a set time and place.

  • Exercise

For years, I’ve been on and off with working out. Recently, I’ve been off. I’m healthy, thank God, but I’m not where I want to be. Working out boosts the mood and keeps me sharp. If I want to write this first draft and beyond, I’m going to need to be in top shape.

The addition in this case is straightforward: my university has a decked-out gym. I’ve resolved to use it as soon as I return from break. This semester, I have classes four days a week. I will make it a point to go to the gym every day before I leave campus.

A healthy writer is a happy writer.

  • Focus on Demand

Writers know the joyous feeling of flow. Sometimes, we are able to reach a happy place and write without stopping, without hesitation. It’s a beautiful thing. When the ocean of bliss subsides, we notice the clock and sit dumbfounded. “I was writing for that long?” I want to reach that sweet spot as often as possible.

Tam al’Thor of the Wheel of Time series taught his son Rand al’Thor how to enter “the Void,” a state of extreme focus. I long for the Void, yet I don’t know how to grasp it. As of now, the Void falls into my lap whenever it pleases. I want the Void to fall into my lap whenever please. Well, the Void or a leggy lady. One of the two.

If anybody has any insight into focus and concentration methods, particularly as they pertain to writing, I would be delighted if you would share them.

Omission

I asked myself, what do I have which I do not need?

  • YouTube

80% of my YouTube consumption is related to politics (didn’t you hear that the U.S. is having quite an interesting time with politics and things?). I’ve always been one to keep informed, but YouTube is a time-drain.

Solution: My dad will keep me in the loop. He has a knack for picking out the truth through all of the smoke and mirrors. I’ll still be reading news for my Politics classes, but aside from that, I haven’t the time to bother with fiction peddled by the nightly news. I have fiction of my own to peddle.

  • BioShock

I know, I’m essentially broadcasting my age. I get it, I’m a young lad. But one cannot deny that BioShock Infinite is a freakin’ fantastic Xbox One game. To my credit, I haven’t touched the console this entire month, and I hardly play as it is. Still, it has to be declared: I cannot play BioShock Infinite until a more opportune time. The game is remarkable, but now is not the time.

  • Music Indecision

Before I settle into writing, I like to get music going. The problem is, it often takes me ages to search for the first song to play even though I have an extensive, nearly exclusively instrumental playlist. It needs to stop. This may sound like a small thing, but it’s a tiresome focus leech. I used to write to a loop of a couple of songs. Now I’m back to the basics!

  • Snapchat

My sisters give me crap for this on a daily basis. I just recently returned to Snapchat after a short, frankly pitiful stint years ago during which I actively bored myself using the app. The thing is, this time around, I’m having fun. Yeah, I raise the phone in front of my face to take stupid pictures that will be seen for 10 seconds or less. It’s stupid. I get it. It interrupts my writing. I get it. But keep in mind, I’m not conversing with the Snapchat ghost, I’m conversing with people. A couple of people, to be more specific. As I see it, that’s not a waste of time.

So, maybe I should excommunicate Snapshat from my life, but I’m not quite ready to do that. Depending on how the tides ebb and flow, I may or may not keep on with it. Time will tell.

  • Blogging

“*gasp* JJ, you’re leaving WordPress?!?!”

No, disembodied voice. I will do nothing of the sort. I’m here to stay.

“Darn.”

I appreciate that, disembodied voice. You always have my back.

I’m still going to post twice a week. I’m still going to read your blogs and respond to your comments. I’m still going to compulsively check my stats. The difference is, I won’t do any of this when it’s time to write. It’s always tempting to change tabs and check into the blog when writing gets tough, but I’m just going to have to fight it like how teenage indie-punk artists fight their parents: that is, with passionate angst.

___

In my first blog post, I acknowledged that there would be stumbles. I wrote, “As I brave the Road of Authorship, stumbling over every rock on the way, I invite you to walk alongside me so you can point and laugh and cheer as I fall on my ass and get back up again.”

Yeah, I fell on my ass, but much to my surprise, I haven’t disappointed myself. Rather, I’m optimistic. I have a sober plan and method ready to be implemented. I hope I haven’t disappointed any of you. Your encouragement, advice, and immensely kind words fueled me through this entire month. I cannot express my thanks adequately enough. Thank you. I hope you decide to stick with me as I continue this grand, exciting journey.

I promise to share a new, reasonable deadline by the end of this month.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

 

Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#1)

Boy, do I love referring to myself in the third person! (Honestly, it’s a struggle titling these blasted posts. This is the best I could come up with).

Anyways, you asked, I answered! In celebration of reaching 100 Followers(!), I gathered a bunch of your questions and answered them in video form. Thank God I didn’t answer them via text. The transcribed wiseassery would come across as far too pretentious without a goofy face attached to the words.

I did my best to keep the video as short as I could (5 quick minutes), well aware that you and I typically hop onto WordPress to read, not to watch videos. I had a blast making this though! If you have any thoughts about the video (or would like to compliment the fine candles behind me), drop a thought in the comments! I hope you enjoy. (No, really. I dressed up in a suit and everything. I went all out on this. LOVE IT, I TELL YOU!)

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Read

When I was a wee lad, I enjoyed writing stories as much as I enjoyed letting Elmer’s glue dry on my hands just so I could pick it off. In other words, I enjoyed writing stories quite a bit. Perhaps it was my mother who spurred my interest in writing. After all, it was she who taught me how to read and write. That’s right, folks: I never went to preschool, which probably explains why I am illiterate in colors.

The primary colors? Psh, I could name the 50 states and probably the provinces of Canada by sheer guess before I could ever provide you the names of the three primary colors. Did you know that scientists and artists have different primary colors?! How can I possibly keep up with that nonsense?!

Is it navy, or is it blue? You might as well ask me the difference between a hawk and an eagle.

What color do you get when you mix yellow and green? I don’t even know if that’ll make another color!

*end tragic rant*

Yes, it was very likely my mother’s diligent instruction which oriented for writing. She opted to keep me out of preschool because she wanted to spend time with me and teach me one-on-one. My mother singlehandedly taught me how to read by using Disney’s Golden Books and Disney’s infamous-in-my-household Elegant Book of Manners. My dad probably read to me once or twice but my mom deserves the credit. Sorry, Dad, this post isn’t about you. I can credit you for teaching me how to swim, though!

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Thanks to my dad, I was comfortable in the pool before I turned 2 years old! Apparently I was a wickedly talented child *read as John Travolta.*

Starting with letters and escalating to sentences, my mother conditioned me to be a reading machine. I mean she literally conditioned me. Every day after Blue’s Clues, we would read and write. If that isn’t conditioning, I don’t know what is.

I am glad my mother took it upon herself to instill upon me the imperative skill of literacy, but the thought of her taking on that mighty task terrifies me when I reflect upon it. In fact, I often stir in the night and wake up in cold sweats, wondering…What if she messed up? What if she accidentally shuffled a couple of letter-flashcards when she drilled me on the alphabet? What if she didn’t properly correct my misprinted ‘k’s? Gosh, if that were the case, I’d be writing like an oaf!

But at this point, unless my mom paid off all of my teachers from 1st grade on in the interest of allowing my writing mistakes to go unmarked, I think I have a solid grasp of the English language. My grammars is very good, thankfully.

The point is this: I am grateful for my mother. Even though English isn’t her first language, she still managed to teach me how to read and write. Simply put, that’s badass (she hates when I use the word so here I am, using the word).

Thanks, Mom. You’re the best preschool teacher I ever had (but I still don’t understand colors).

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To those reading, I’d like to know: for what do you owe thanks to your mother? Share the love in a comment.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar