Archive for the ‘Writing’ Tag

Writing/Fighting   Leave a comment

Sometimes when I am alone
I find myself in the zone.
I keep on writing ’til I
Wear my fingers down to the bone.

I write ’til dinner is past;
My thoughts are flying so fast.
I keep on fighting ’cause
I don’t know how much longer I’ll last.

My ending is on my mind.
I’m scared, but also I find
I keep on writing ’cause
I need to make my life more defined.

I don’t want to be sorry.
I’m thinking, “Memento mori.”
I keep on fighting ’til
I write the final page of my story.

– Shaman Romney 2017

Posted 10/18/2017 by Shaman in Poetry

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The Surprising Solution to Homelessness   Leave a comment

This is one of the assignments I had to do for my recent return to college. I feel it was well made, and wanted to share it, in its original entirety below. The recorded version references the site I had to create for class. If or when I decide to re edit my recording, I will send it here.


How do we help the homeless? Simple, give them homes. In the below recording, I will explain why. (Transcript and further reading below.)

Homelessness is a major issue today, both in Downtown Salt Lake City, and in other major cities across the nation. Officials are scrambling for a way to tackle the issue that is both effective and low cost. But I believe Utah has found the most effective solution. It’s simple: if you want to solve homelessness, just give the homeless homes.

I know – it sounds both too simplistic and unrealistic. But from 2005 to 2015, Utah reduced its number of chronic homeless individuals by 90%. This was accomplished by giving the homeless homes first, before working on their other issues. It is almost impossible for someone to find a job, keep appointments, or improve their life if they don’t have a stable place to live. Our typical methods of providing job training, addiction therapy, and food, are well intentioned, but if you don’t get the homeless out of their bad environment, you can’t help them effectively.

Isn’t providing housing expensive? According to the Utah Homeless Task Force, in order to provide a home and social worker to a person in need, it would cost $7,800 a year. That sounds like quite a lot, but the average cost per year of a homeless person living on the street is over twice that amount at $19,000. That is the cost when you take into account emergency room visits, jail time, etc., in addition to the social workers and care programs we already use. Society is already paying the higher cost, so why not pay half of that in order to help twice as many people?

But are these figures true? Well, it is a little more complicated than that. Firstly, the numbers above are only for chronic homeless people. That means someone who has been on the street for over a year and has some sort of mental issue, like schizophrenia or drug addiction.They make up about 20% of homeless people. The remaining 80% of homeless people are temporary homeless. These are people who are in-between jobs and homes. Secondly, as Kevin Corinth from the Huffington Post has pointed out, Utah may have padded the numbers a little bit.

However, no matter how you interpret the numbers, there is a definite decrease in homeless. On top of that, whether we provide longer term housing to a chronic homeless person, or a temporary place to live while you get back on your feet, it still helps you recover. I understand it can seem too good to be true. But even a marginal effect is better than no effect, and that is exactly what we get right now.

For example, let’s talk about counselling programs. These are programs designed to help homeless people with addiction and mental illness tackle their problems, and integrate back in to society. At the moment, many of our housing programs are contingent on people staying clean or making all of their appointments in order to stay in their home. If someone messes up, they are back on the street until they prove they are willing to try again. But addiction and mental illnesses are diseases. We wouldn’t kick someone out for having an unexpected seizure or an allergic reaction, right?

Giving someone a home that is not contingent on them behaving “correctly” allows us to remove them from an environment that actively agitates their issue. If you are living in an apartment with other people who are trying to improve their life, it is going to be harder to do drugs than if you are sleeping on the street corner a block away from your dealer. I’m not saying we never have to push someone to clean up their life. But making someone’s chance to get clean their only chance denies human nature. We fail all the time, especially when we are learning something new, or gaining back skills we’ve lost.

I am not promising a panacea for the problem of homelessness. I also acknowledge in the long term we need to solve the issues that caused someone to become homeless in the first place. But if we focus on giving people houses first, it gives us a much better position to fix everything else. On top of that, it’s much cheaper that our current methods. So, if it is cheaper and more effective, what do we have to lose? Let’s give the homeless homes.

Thank you for reading,

 

Shaman


Works Cited:

Posted 08/17/2017 by Shaman in Writing

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How do you even write fiction?   2 comments

My friends and I have started a writing group. They all want to improve as writers, and I want to try and start writing fiction stories. I have a lot of cool ideas, and I think it would be better if they are out in the world instead of gathering dust in the back of my brain. Ideas have always been easy for me, the hard part is actually writing the story.

How does someone even write fiction? Do you just make stuff up?

I used to know how when I was younger. I could sit down and write pages of fiction without any effort. The characters, plot, and everything else about them sucked. But at least I could write it. Now I find myself staring at the keyboard, its QWERTYs, ASDFs, and WASDs burning my soul with their judging mocking gaze.

If you ask me to create a character for Dungeons and Dragons, or any other RPG? I’ll not only make a mechanically unique and effective character, but I will build him a detailed backstory with family records, milestones, mannerisms, etc. But I cant turn it into any sort of narrative story.

Ask me to write a blog post? I can put down 500 to 1000 words on a topic in an hour, 3 if I need to revise/make it sound good. It’s not hard for me to put my thoughts down, as I write the way I think and speak. But fiction means I have to put myself in someone else’s head, and I don’t know how to do that.

So when you tell me to sit down and write a fiction story? You might as well tell me to win the lottery or grow wings and fly.

I know a large part of it is a lack of experience. You don’t go into the gym and start benching 200 lbs if the last time you did 100 lbs was in high school. That is a good way to injure yourself. I can’t jump into a chihuahua crushing epic fantasy novel without tearing my corpus callosum either.

However, I have no idea where to even start. I have all of these ideas buzzing in my head: cool scenes straight out of a move, a Silmarillion’s worth of world building, and a somewhat unique magic system. I’m an avid reader of both too many books and too much TVTropes. What else would I need? Actual talent?

It’s like I have a fresh batch of ingredients and a full purpose kitchen, but I only know how to make a grilled cheese. I’m just the wordsmith equivalent of a line cook who has been asked to make whatever he thinks would impress the food critic. I hope he likes Kraft singles and white bread.

The point of this post was to state I may also start posting short stories here, in addition to rants both political and personal, and my poetry. Just like with Politalking, I am going to try and keep things labelled, so that those of you who check my blog out for the poetry alone can skip it if you want.

Time for me to drop down and give 20 paragraphs. Wish me luck!

 

-Shaman

Posted 07/25/2016 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Writing

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5 Things I’ve Learned From A Year Of Blogging   Leave a comment

I posted my first post on this blog a year ago today.

I have been blogging for a whole year. That amazes me.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve got the attention span of a hamster on speed, but I feel like it has been a lot longer than that. Then again, I also feel that way about my last year in general; so much of it has changed.

In the spirit of that change, here are 5 things I learned about myself from a year of blogging:

1.) I’m more of a poet than I am a writer.

I started writing this blog with the intent of changing/enriching the world. I wanted to write about mental health issues, personality typology, psychology self-help, etc. I felt if I was going to start writing, it would need to have a purpose, an end goal.

However, as noble and nice as those goals were, they don’t necessarily get readers, nor did they really get me writing. Doing the daily prompts did help me get a flow going, but it wasn’t until NaPoWriMo that I actually started to take this blog seriously.

It reminded me how much I love poetry. I find it makes it easier for me to express my thoughts and emotions in the moment. Even if, half the time, I end up with a bunch of depressing poems. It worked for Sylvia Plath, right?

But I also find it really fun. Trying to find the right rhyme to end your verse, without forcing things or ruining the flow, is incredibly challenging. But when you get it done right, it is incredibly rewarding.

2.) I talk too much, and I need to write more.

I have a friend who reads my blog. She’s been reading it from the start, and she makes sure to read everything I do. She says that she really enjoys what I write.

I have no idea why though. Not because I don’t think it is good; I wouldn’t make posts I don’t think are ready to be read. But because she is the one who gets to have all my pure, unaltered idea vomit thrown at her on a regular basis whenever we hang out.

Whether its philosophy, atheism, politics or any of the other things I’m interested in, she has heard me go hours and hours of diatribes that would probably make most people lose their minds.

Now, I imagine if I took all the time I spent melting her brain with my rants, and instead took the time to write them down. I’d have three times as many posts by now.

If you were to also add all the times I’ve had a personal rant in my head that I never bothered to voice to anyone….

Well, I don’t think I would have time to do anything but write.

Regardless, I should probably start writing more things down. Which means…

3.) I always should have a pen and paper. (Or start recording myself like a loon.)

I have forgotten the amount of times I have had an amazing idea, the start of a good poem, or a nice melody, and lost it forever because I couldn’t write it down in time.

Many creative people have as well, and it so it is mandatory that we all have a pen and paper on us at all times. I’m getting better with doing that, but it isn’t always feasible. So I’ve tried to expand to my note taking to other forms of technology.

I don’t really like typing notes into my phone, because it takes too long, and I have a crappy, unreliable phone. However, recording my self tends to work in a pinch, especially with how good voice to text has gotten.

With it, I can idea vomit onto a computer at record speed. It is probably the best way for me to get my ideas down.

So why don’t I do it more often?

Because I get most of my ideas on the train, bus, or walking around. People tend to be sitting/standing/walking by me, and so I look crazy. Plus, sometimes I like to write about more controversial topics, and I’d rather not have to fight the bible-thumping MRA republican Nazi Sith lord that may happen to sit next to me some day.

So, until I either lose enough shame to be fine with looking even crazier in public, I will just stick with the writer’s classic.

4.) I do my best writing on the spot, but I should still revise.

I tend to write best when I just throw my ideas down. Whenever I have been able to sit down and get into a groove, I write the stuff that I am most proud of. The things that I have found to be the weakest were things that I planned out, made outlines for and then wrote over days.

It’s a little counter intuitive, but working out what I want to write just stifles my natural creativity.

I know that doesn’t work for a lot of people. They need to create outlines, rough drafts, revisions galore, etc. before they have something they feel is good enough for people to see.

I tend to write how I speak, and I think I’m well spoken. So my writing reflects that.

That being said, you can always clean things up. You can polish up the writing to make it shine, cut out excess bits, change things around to flow better, and just make it a better piece in general. You are able to do the type of things that you aren’t be able to do in conversation. (Although it would be really awesome if we could.)

It’s something I don’t do nearly enough. So I just need to carve out time every week where I can sit down and write. Not too hard, right? Well…

5.) I need to do more to motivate myself.

Last, and most importantly, I need to motivate myself more. I can’t do any of the things I listed above if I can’t get myself motivated enough to actually do them.

Back when I started this blog, I had motivation. I was trying to find a purpose, a direction in life. I wanted to give myself a reason to get up in morning that wasn’t just paying bills. Other blogs and armchair psychologists told me blogging would do that, one thing led to another, and now the plague that is my blog was released on the internet.

But now I have a new, much better and more mentally stimulating job. My self-esteem is at healthy, levels, and am feeling more positive about life.

Because things are going so well, and with how busy work has been lately, I have been letting this blog fall to the wayside. It’s become easy to push a post off until tomorrow, then until next week, and off until next month.

Do I need to write? No.

But it is something that I enjoy. It is something concrete I can point to when I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something. I allows me to leave something behind when I go, even if it’s just in my own corner of the internet.

All those things should motivate me, and they do. But like I have stated before, misery is probably my best motivator, and will continue until it eventually kills me.

So hopefully this next coming year of blogging will be eventful, inspiring, and just miserable enough to keep things going.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Shaman

Posted 02/11/2015 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Writing

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Poems   Leave a comment

|Some write a poem by making rhymes,

|

|Some

|just hit

|the enter button

|four

|times.

|

|Some write in i-ambic pen-tame-ter.

|Some write simpler, shorter,  and neater.

|

|    Some

|        write

|                in

|                  a

|                way

|                that

|                   avoids

|                    straight

|                           lines.

|

|While       \

|Some write \

|Their poetry  \

|In differently    \

|Shaped confines \

|

|Some write words from the depths of their hearts.

|Some write, between childish giggles, of farts.

|

|♪ Some write their poems in the measures of a song. ♫

|While some write a poem that goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on… for |far too long.

|

|We all may write different ways, but one thing is true.

|We all write poetry; it’s what we love to do.

 

-Shaman Romney 2014

Posted 10/22/2014 by Shaman in Poetry

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Are you really a writer?   2 comments

I don’t consider myself a writer.

In the most technical sense of the word, I am. These are in fact, words I am typing, and supposedly people read them.

But a waiter at a restaurant writes out my lunch order, and I read it when I get the bill. A cop writes me a ticket for speeding, and I read that also, before cursing him in the name of all deities fictional and imaginary. Luckily for me, I take the bus. 🙂

My point is, just writing things down doesn’t make them writers, and doesn’t make me one either.

I’m just an EDI configuration analyst who writes a blog on the side.

But maybe I’m a bad example. I do this as a hobby; as a way to get my voice out more and to rant at my friends less. It is not my dream to one day be The Next Great American Author™.

So how about other examples?

I have a friend who writes every day. Her dream is, in fact, to one day become The Next Great American Author™, as famous as Stephen King or Mark Twain.

I’ve read her writing, and I like it a lot. It could use some peer review and revision, like everything else. But she has a lot of raw talent. She is reluctant to call herself a writer; at least not yet, and I agree.

I would call her a dreamer, who aspires to one day be a writer.

How about my dad?

He’s actually written 3 novels (that I know of) and is currently working on another. He’s tried to get at least one of them published, and would like to get all of them out there some day. But I’ve never read any of them. I also wouldn’t consider him a writer, because that isn’t he is known for.

I would consider him a radio talk show host who has also written some books.

How about some on who has an English degree, and writes every day, and also dreams, like my friend above, of being The Next Great American Author™?

Nope.

Having a degree only shows that you should be a competent writer, it doesn’t prove you are one. Just look at JK Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut, and the other famous writers out there without a BA in English. You need the actual skills to back it up, or it’s pointless bragging.

No, I would call this person a barista (or sales clerk, fry cook, etc.) with $50,000 worth of student debt, who dreams of being a writer.

So how would I discern a “true” writer?

Well, it isn’t through dreams, or degrees, or rough drafts nobody reads. A dream keeps you going, a degree teaches you skills, and a rough draft gets you started.  Those things are all good, and they can help you be a writer.

But they aren’t what earn you the right to call yourself one.

The thing that does that is proof,  plain and simple.

Because it doesn’t matter what you say, or how loud or often you say it. What matters is what you do.

A musician doesn’t go around introducing himself as a musician at parties, he goes out and plays music.

A smart person doesn’t tell her coworkers she is smart, she shows it by excelling at her job.

A chef cooks, a painter paints, an actress acts, and a dancer dances.

A writer doesn’t go constantly exclaiming he is a writer to everyone who asks (and probably many people who didn’t.)

A writer sits down and writes.

So if someone tells me they are a writer, my next question is going to be, “What have you written?”

If they stumble and bumble their way to some excuse about how they just aren’t ready yet, or some other weak not-really-an-answer, I won’t take them seriously.

Because you can call yourself whatever you want. I can call myself Grand Dictator Shaman Romney, Wizard King of the Etherium, Esq.

But if I can’t back it up with full caster levels and the ability to practice law, I’m just making stuff up to make myself feel important.

If you can’t show proof that you are a writer, you are doing the same thing.

However, that is just one EDI-configuration-analyst-who-writes-a-blog-on-the-side’s opinion, and I would love your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman

Posted 10/18/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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I Should Be A Game Designer… So I’ll Be A Writer.   Leave a comment

In an earlier blog post, I talked about how I might try being the Albert Einstein of blogging. I posted a piece of advice Teller gave Brian Brushwood that changed his life. I talked about one part of the advice, and I’d like to cover another part of it.

To quote the book:

“I should be a film editor. I’m a magician. And if I’m good, it’s because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint. That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point that others. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.”

I love games. Video games, board games, role-playing games, card games, games, games, games. My favorite kinds are turn based strategy games and role-playing type games. I love the interplay of the rules, and the rich and deep stories. I will dig into the lore of a great fantasy world like Dark Souls, or a Sci-Fi  universe like Mass Effect. I love creating a character with desires, drives, quirks and questions, that pull a game along.

I also, much to other people’s chagrin, love to poke holes, abuse rules, and optimize my characters and games as much as I can. I will find the interplay of skills, ask the annoying questions, and overall try to take your plans and throw them out the window.

I’m not a munchkin by any means, but I will play around with the rules a lot. My favorite character I mad was in a wild west setting. I made a bounty hunter who fought with a lasso and took people in alive. The other smallish detail… he was bullet proof. It was legal by the rules, and made for one hell of a game.

But I am getting off topic. Why do I bring all this up?

Because as I was trying to figure out the plot and world for the book I’m writing, I noticed I had an easier time when I created characters via a character sheet, the magic as a magic system, and scenes as campaign events. If I start to picture my novel as a game and write it that way, the plot flows easier. It also stays much more consistent. I no longer have to wonder what my character can do with his magic. I already know what his powers do, what he would need to do to learn more, and how the laws of the world works. That way if I get to a moment and think,”How will he get out of this one?” I can do it without any trouble.

I get to design my own universe, with its own rules and own logic. At another level, since I want to write something more urban fantasy style, I get to change and redesign this one. I don’t have a god complex, but it is fun.

I get to create my own game system via my writing. I get to live out one of my dreams of designing games. Maybe not in the way i wanted. But I’ll take it. 🙂

-Shaman