All posts by nkendall

Cleveland-born, Purdue-trained, Detroit-toughened engineer and author. I like both of the footballs and when Detroit wins stuff. I swear a lot, I write a lot, and I drink coffee a lot.

Game Day

Newcastle plays today.

We have some good form behind us after months of suffering. Today’s opponent is QPR, one of the worst in the league. A month ago they were ahead of us, today they are half a table behind. We have a good chance today to push forward, though many of my fellow toons are worried. It wouldn’t be unlike Newcastle to lose this one.

Kendal Town plays today as well. They are already one up on their opponents.

Detroit City’s season is a far off tropical island, its alluring and sunny shores calling gently to me through the wind and ice.

Game day is one of the  few times I completely block off from any writing. During the DCFC season that might mean not writing all day. I spend all day in downtown drinking, reveling, partying, and supporting.

But in the midst of winter, when my beloved magpies play, things are different. As of writing we are in the 37th minute, 0-0, though we’ve had plenty of good chances. Something has to break eventually. Hopefully in our advantage. Since I don’t live in England, I don’t go to Newcastle games. I might comment and commiserate on /r/NUFC and that is about it. I’ll chance that eventually.

There are Newcastle fans in Detroit. I’ve met  a few through DCFC, including one of the fan-favorite players: Dave Edwardson, who is a Newcastle native.  Unlike clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and the Manchesters; there really aren’t Newcastle watch parties in the USA. There aren’t more than a handful of us in any given city.

2 minutes of stoppage.

As I sit here, not writing in my book but writing here and watching the Newcastle game, I think about travelling to Newcastle next year and catching a game in St. James.

Half-time in Newcastle, all tied up 0-0.

On an only tangentially related note I should learn Arabic. That way I could understand the commentators on this stream. I’ll add it to the list after Hindi, Farsi, and Urdu so I can understand the other engineers at work.

Half-time in Kendal Town, all tied up 1-1.

Going to call it quits for a while. Writing resumes after the game. This is my little sports break for the week. I can’t spend all my time working.

Sláinte.

Reread Your Work

Been writing this morning. I fell about a thousand words short of my goal last night but some things came up that couldn’t be avoided as easily as Facebook.

Decided to try to make a made scramble to catch up today. Am I going to make it? Maybe. Not that I care. All my deadlines are artificial constructs of my own mind.

So, in a pause between chapters I decided to re-read one of my previous chapters to reset my tone and consistency. I do this a lot. I love to reread my work. I specifically write what I want to read. I don’t read a lot. A book or two a year is pushing it for me. I was barely able to drag myself through high school “English” (read: “Reading”). There is only so many times I could read a book I hated and write a five-paragraph BS essay every few chapters.

I’ll bitch about fivers later.

So I lost a lot of interest in reading because to me it was all associated with the pain of over-analysis. Nothing is fun to read if some mad-woman is stopping you every few lines to ask you what it means and why it was done that way. I don’t know bitch, maybe he was being paid by the word and all those words contribute to a higher pay cheque. (Pro-tip: never suggest to your English teacher that Nathaniel Hawthorne was being paid by the word.)

This led to the golden-age of my childhood writing. I was writing the equivalent to a novel every year or so. That is a lot for a kid. I’d hardly finish what I’d start, writing a third of a novel and moving onto the next third. I did this for five years (counting the first year of middle school) until I went off to college, by which time I had started my serial publishing.

Everything I write, including this, will be read and reread countless times by me. I write what I want to read and so I get great enjoyment out of rereading my stuff over and over again.

Echo_and_Narcissus

The comparison is inevitable.

After I finished a bit of rereading I checked twitter and got the following tweet on my feed:

I’m sorry. I completely disagree. If it said “editing” I’d still disagree but to a much lesser degree. What you need to avoid is over-analyzing everything you do. Reread all you want. Get back into your character’s heads, remember what motivates them, what they were trying to accomplish right before you stopped. Reread your favorite bits because it can inspire you to keep going.

Yes it is a first draft, yes you can change anything later. But it is later. Changing a piece because the necessary change is on your mind is important. Don’t let that idea fade. Act on it. If you characters are in a pickle because of some stupid choice last chapter, change it. Don’t “wait until the editor gets to it.” Do it now. Your editor isn’t your ghost writer.

Reread your work, it isn’t a bogey man hiding in the dark. It is a creation that requires attention. And no attention is more important than yours. Just don’t write fivers every few pages.

I Guess I am an Author?

Well, maybe I am in the midst of becoming an author. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this last two years. I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) in the past, successfully completing it in 2012. But while I like the idea behind NaNo, I was turned off to the organization when I saw that an editor’s choice link to the forums included ways to essentially cheat yourself out of what NaNo is really about to me: getting experience.

The suggestions, right out of the gate in this editor’s choice thread included: giving characters long titles and having them introduced a lot so you can repeat the title. Having a character who is hard of hearing so he can ask other characters to repeat themselves and then actually repeat themselves. The best was to have a character sing a popular song, and then include the lyrics.

Other than being a huge waste of your time and that last one might actually be illegal if you choose to move to publishing, what did it matter? They were missing the point. Other suggestions included striking through unused or edited text but not deleting it, which I guess is half fair, but it is still only you who is losing. Don’t be a dick. Don’t cheat at NaNo. If you want the stupid PDF at the end just lie and say you wrote 50k words and collect.

Anyway… End  rant and a bit of history.

I’ve been writing for years now. It started when I was 12, really poorly written completely incoherent messes that were based off page counts and not word counts but I generally enjoyed. At my heyday I probably spent at least two hours a day writing after school. It was something I looked forward to.

Fast forward  and I eventually found myself at the Paradox Interactive Forums, specifically the AAR section. AARs are essentially fanfiction about a game for all intents and purposes. Most are sort of like tutorials on how to play or how a specific person plays. But there was a core of us who focused on alternative methods: narrative and history book. I did a lot of writing there, including a rather ambitious project called Báltikjá which was going to cover roughly a thousand years of alternate history.

In it, the Saxons of Northern England flee before William the Conqueror could begin the Harrying of the North and head east into the Baltic. They settle in what is today the Kaliningrad Oblast and eventually expanding to create a massive medieval  empire, which promptly collapses in civil war.

I got well into the 1300s, maybe even the 1400s, but had the whole history plotted out through 2022. I still have all my notes, flags, maps, symbols, everything really. I went as far as creating a conlang that was part Old English, part Latvian, and part just a lot of fun. I was very proud of it. But I was getting busy with college and after so many years it just wasn’t fun to write anymore.

Part of that was because the medium: the serial format and the ages and ages of samey go-nowhere posts got boring to me and I think it got boring to my readers. I tried to keep things interesting. Tried to introduce arcs, but in the end the story was just too slow and I grew to loathe my time spent writing it.

I posted an apology, posted a general timeline of all the cool history bits I hadn’t gotten to yet. And moved on.

Later that year, I think, is when I did NaNo and was able to get something like 50,030 words out in just the nick of time. It was a lot of good experience. I enjoyed it. I still poke around at the characters I wrote, but that was a notes in a sketch pad to me. It will never see the light of day. Not because it is “bad” or because I am ashamed, but the purpose was to see if I still wanted to write, and I did.

In August of 2013, after being laid off, I sat down and opened Microsoft Word. I wasn’t too worried about being laid off. I mean, engineer, in Detroit, already hearing back from recruiters. But I did have some free time thrust upon me so I took at it with new life. There was a piece I started when I was about fifteen or sixteen. It can be hard to tell. It was a dark fantasy and involved a normal Gary Stu finding his vampire Mary Sue and them banging and eventually becoming King and Queen. Did I mention I was fifteen or sixteen?

There were a few things I liked about it though. I liked the setting. I like the idea of a nation-state run by vampires in a world otherwise inhabited by moral peoples. I like the pseudo-medieval, light magic, big world feel. I like the way an immortal character and a mortal character might interact. So, essentially stealing my opening lines I began…

More than a year later, after three job switches, a move, a dead car, two new cars, plenty of soccer, getting on twitter, making this site, so much more… I am much further along. This series WILL get published, it is just a matter of when, not if. Book 1 Mark 2 is in the hands of some first readers. Once I upgrade to Mark 3 it will go to copy editing and then will probably make some rounds with publishers or maybe just get self-published.

I am very pleased with my progress so far. The balance of work, life, video games, DCFC, and writing has been hard but manageable. And enjoyable. I have been very happy to once again be at the helm of something like this. My character have been making me happy and though Book 2 has gone through the first of its rough spots, I am certain I shall see it to the end. And then the next one. And the next one. Because trilogies is so 80s. Now it is all about the Quadrilogies.

Sláinte!

Becoming an Icon

I mentioned some sports (I also mentioned being a writer but that can wait) and I want to talk some sports. Specifically I want to talk about becoming an icon of a city.

Now there is already a great blog specifically on Detroit City from a supporter’s view, it is called Boys in Rouge and I highly recommend it to those interested in the growth and soul behind our great team. I also recommend it if you want opinion and well-researched facts. This is a place for opinion.

I want you to read this tweet and then I’ll give you some background.

The Apostolopoulos family is a Toronto-based group that owns a lot of property in Metro Detroit, top of the list is the Silverdome (a complete wreck of a building in Pontiac) and also the State Savings Bank, a historic building in downtown. They are also the number one advocate for bringing MLS (Major League Soccer) to Detroit. Paints it in a different light, eh? DCFC knows its supporters have its back. It sees many of them calling out the Apostolopouloses on their bullshit attempts to both “invest” in Detroit while simultaneously trying to tear it down. There is no fear there. Detroit City looked a potential investor in the face and burned that bridge so readily, so quickly, and so fearlessly I can’t really help but be very proud. Detroit isn’t some dime-an-hour hooker to be partitioned and sold, no matter what Lansing or people like the Apostolopouloses want to believe. It is our city.

I can already hear some of you getting ready to rebuke me. Tell me about business plans and how all investors are alike and how teams should shut up and just play sports.

Fuck you.

That is the wrong attitude. That is the attitude that lets racist bullshit like the Redskins and Cleveland Indians exist into 2014. A team isn’t supposed to be just a business venture. It is supposed to be a little piece of a city’s soul, stitched together like a quilt made from those who wake up early, don their colors, drag their friends and family, and stand in the smoke and fire of the game.

Detroit City has done so much right. So much. They put vets back on their feet. They support our schools. They were proud to support LGBT teens in our city and wear kits donned with rainbows against a foe known for using homophobic language. And when people would tear down our city and our history they stood up in a small way with a picture of Jerry Seinfeld.

Because it isn’t about appeasing every investor – bending down a licking the hand that might feed. It is about that little slice of the city that is your soul. That’s why when Detroit City goes out onto a field they are marked by the Spirit of Detroit. Because if not them, then who? Certainly not the Wings, Lions, Tigers, or Pistons. They need fucks like the Apostolopouloses to sit in their court-side seats while the real fans can hardly afford the nose-bleeds.

And we are okay with that. We as Americans are okay with the idea that fans should shut up, sit down, golf clap when the jumbotron says so, and if you so much as think about doing anything more than the wave then the polite gentlemen with the badges and guns will show you to the door.

Why is that good? Why is what we have bad. Pro-tip. It isn’t. People will keep telling themselves that it is bad. Bad for a team to embody more than a business professionalism. Bad for supporters to chant and sing. Bad for people to stand. Bad for drums and coarse language. Bad to set off smoke after goals. Bad to tetris and bad to leave with no voice.

Bad to be an icon.

Well it isn’t. And the fucking line has been drawn. Detroit City Football Club isn’t becoming an icon, it is an icon.

 

Edit:
Detroit City still has its claws out, apparently:

10 Going on 26

Well this is essentially post #1 so it might as well be an introduction. My birthday is in 19 days. According my my mum it should only be 5 but things are weird. What is especially weird is that this is my 26th birthday.

When I was young, not sure how young but I’ll say “10” and be done with it, I thought 26 was going to be some magical year in my life. I held this in my head for quite some time, especially long for a young boy headed blindly in puberty.  I had a list of things I thought I should or would do before hitting 26 and luckily I’ve remembered a good chunk of it. So let me tally my score card here.

#1 – I’d live in Australia. Okay, to be fair, what kid wouldn’t want to live in Australia? I mean snakes and shit. And sharks and a bunch of other shit that would probably make me cry. Plus it is far away and they still speak English. Score: 0/7

#2 – I’d have had sex once. I was ten. I was ten in a time when making it past 2012 was uncertain to say the least. Plus I was a loser. Needless to say… Score: 1/7

#3 – I’d be in a relationship with a significant other or have met my future wife. Yeah! Score another one for Nick. Bonus point, I correctly predicted she’d have brown hair. Score: 2/7 + 1

#4 – I’d work on airplanes. Now this is where life goes all wonky. All my life I wanted to work on airplanes. I studied aeronautical engineering, I followed that pretty far. But as a student I became more and more fascinated with using computers to predict and influence design and the door into the automotive industry was open a smidge wider for those of us who barely scraped together a 3.0. At first I thought I’d be a temp. Work a few years and leave. But I’ve found working at Ford very rewarding and so I’ve bounced between suppliers and finally got my Blue Badge, signifying that I am a direct employee of Ford. That is something I am proud of. I’m giving myself the point. 10-year-old-Nick would too. Score: 3/7 + 1

#5 – I’d own a house. Check. I live waaaaaaaaay out in the boonies in a town called “Howell” known primarily for having once been the HQ for the KKK. Didn’t know that at the time of purchase. I love the location but it means I drive a long way each day. It also means I cannot hang out with friends as much. Which does suck. Score: 4/7 + 1

#6 – I’d have cool adult friends and we’d do cool adult shit. In the last few years I’ve met a slew of amazing people, both in college and in Detroit. I consider my friends to be family, especially with my actual family far away. People like Zak, Garrett, Schade, Brigid and others from Purdue and my friends in the Northern Guard: Drew, Pat, Novak, Josh, Puck, Pomp and many others. I am very lucky. Score: 5/7 + 1

#7 – I’d have grown up. Lol. Loooooool. Looooooooooooooool. Score: 5/7 + Eleventy Billion

 

Seriously though, fuck growing up.

Work in Progess

I guess this is where one would normally say “welcome to the site check back later when I am done fiddling with things.” Chances are I’ll never be done fiddling with things so…

This is my site. It is rather barren right now as I work with a good friend of mine learning tips of the trade when it comes to working on this. Eventually you’ll see my (usually) NC-17-ish twitter handle and get to listen to me talk about things I care about such as: my wife, my job, my writing, my sports, my house. “Normal” stuff. I’ll probably also talk about other cool stuff and some stuff you won’t care about but I do.

So there.

Welcome to my site. Sit down. Buckle up.