Delayed Gratification

Years ago there was a psychological study in which children were given a marshmallow and told that if they waited a short period of time to eat it they could have two marshmallow. Years later it was determined that the two marshmallow kids, the ones who could delay gratification, were more successful in life. This was a good discovery but what does it mean for us in day-to-day life?

As I write this I’m actually working on no less than three books.

The first is a novel. I’m finishing up the pre writing stuff (character sketches, where is it on the map, and a (basic and subject to change) outline).

The second is also a novel. I’m at the point where there may be changes that need to be made, but I’ve worked on it enough that I can’t see them. This one is at the point that peer readers and editing people are really what’s needed.

The third is a non-fiction book that was supposed to be out in E-book tomorrow… they just got the proofs back to me today…

I can see the finish from here…

The third book looks great except for five little errors in formatting that don’t work out the way I want them. I have a choice. I could just approve the proof, get the book out on time, and live with it; or I could send in a correction order for the changes that need to be made.

I really want to have this done. I want the book to be out and selling (making money and getting to say “Hey first book of the year is out!” are good things). I also want the book to be the best it can be. The errors are going to reflect on me and people may feel like I’m not as good as I really am because I let the errors slip.

It’s a delayed gratification question. Sure having the errors fixed moves the publication date to the middle of next week, but it makes it a better book. I don’t get to say it’s out tomorrow, but it’ll be a better book and really doesn’t hurt me in the larger goal of having two books out this year. No one is really waiting for the book that can’t wait a couple more days (I didn’t take any prepaid sales and I don’t have any events planned until after Mother’s day anyway…). I have to make the best decision for me and my book even if it means waiting just a little longer.

I really want these things out and being read… but…

The same thing applies with the second book. I want to go ahead and start sending stuff off. But it is of greater benefit to have some other eyeballs on it before I do; so that it can be the best book it can be. It’s the start of a series. There’s a lot of future good that comes from choosing the best path and a lot of harm that can come from an impulsive move.

Before I do that, it’s a good idea to make sure I’ve protected myself copyright wise… I trust my friends but there are people to not trust out there and an ounce of protection can save a lot of headaches in the long run.

Seeing where I’m going before I get there…

The book I’m finishing the pre writing stuff for is a clear shot ahead. This one I’ve taking the time to figure out where I’m going and the foreseeable problems along the way. There’s no real point in delaying gratification, because I’ve already done it. It’s at a point that I can run free and have fun and so I will. I just have to be conscious of where I need to stop and check and take appropriate steps.

The secrets of making dreams come true (well one of them)

Everyone (or almost everyone) likes that immediate gratification. It can be nice to give yourself a project that you can have immediate gratification on. But you need to be aware you need to recognize where things are at and make the best possible choices. Sometimes that means going right now. Sometimes that means delaying gratification and making things or situations better before you take that gratifying step.

Sadly, not all of our choices are a good option versus a bad one. Sometimes it is two good choices and we have to choose the best. Sometimes it’s two less attractive choices and we have to choose the least bad.

Part of growing and learning dear reader is knowing when to delay gratification and when to plunge on ahead. It’s not easy but it is necessary.

That’s it for today dear reader. Until next time…

May all your choices be good, and your marshmallows be tasty!

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Crashing Through

As I said in my last post there was no post last week do to (among other things) going to a memorial service for my mother…

In one week we had Tax Day, a finished draft to go to the publisher (which had to be done before I left), my mother’s memorial, dealing with in-laws, medical issues on that side of the family, and a surprise party (not a big fan of surprise parties). You would think that somewhere in all that, all the stress, there would be the thing that gets me wouldn’t you… You would be (and I was) wrong!

I’ve talked about some of my adventures with diabetes in this blog and this was another. and not in the way I expected…

Often the problems and damage from diabetes are from really high blood sugar. Stress is a known high blood sugar trigger. As are over eating and eating off schedule. This week I was guilty as charged for all of the above.

Travel and family quickly killed the schedule. Stress was through the roof. And, I had actually given myself permission to be a little looser on my diet while on the trip (and that was before the family and well wishers got into the act). By all rights my blood sugar should have been through the roof.

I was ready for it to be through the roof. I was ready for the stress. The thing that got me was the one that I didn’t see coming.

After all that, on the last day (supposedly) of the trip home; after I was restoring normalcy to my stress,  diet and life; my blood sugar levels dropped through the floor.

Lows are a real and significant problem.

I’m off insulin and my meds don’t cause lows. I hadn’t considered my ability to adapt to stress and ask/think about what happens when  it goes away. It never occurred to me to think about the after because I was focused on the during.

I talk (and think) a lot about plans and choices and the things we learn. The thing I learned from this one is we have to think about the whole thing. Not just how we achieve X, but what happens after we do it.

Survival has consequences. Success has consequences. The choices we make lead to things that happen. And, in this world, “happily ever after” isn’t really a thing.

So, I’ve mourned. I’ve grown. I’ve learned.

You can achieve dear reader. You can get through it. So, you might as well think at least a little about what happens when you succeed (so you can survive that!). You might not expect everything, dear reader, and that’s OK. That’s OK, as long as you learn and are better prepared the next time.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Learn from your failures, and your successes.

Last year’s story this years reality

Sometimes the things you write about really do come true and when you least expect it…

A couple of months ago I submitted a story to the writers digest short story contest. It was something I knocked out last year as my brain was still cooling down from a larger project. Little did I know that this month I would be facing a really similar situation.

First the story…

The Room

 

“Sooner or later it all comes down to standing in a room full of people you don’t want to know wearing cloths you don’t want to wear.” Well Dad I guess you were right about that.

We walk in and take our places.

Has anyone noticed that without lyrics all this music sounds the same?

“Joseph, this is your uncle Walter.” Thanks mom, he’s one of the five people I recognize here.

Uncle Walter mumbles something. I’m not really paying attention.

Why do people think a coat of paint will hide the fact that your walls are cheap ’70s paneling? Why wouldn’t you do a better job of hiding that patch? The carpet is fairly new, but it’s stained already. Isn’t having food and drink at these things kind of tacky? I’m just saying.

Oh good. Aunt Caren is here, and the kids. “I know what you must be going through.” Not even close, not even close.

At least the cousins have nothing to say to me; not since that incident at the reunion. I don’t have much to say to them either.

Her husband went straight over to the video. He’s more interested in the TV than what’s on the screen. At least they finally got the tech worked out, a wired system might be more dependable.

“Joseph go get your brother.” At least that’s an excuse to move.

He’s going to the bathroom. I really don’t want to go in there after him.

I wait.

I wait.

I guess I really will have to go in after him. He’s locked the door of course. There’s a reason the locks on these doors are easily picked. Of course if he’s really a good student he’s added something else to block the door.

He hasn’t, but he’s only seven.

“Go away.” David is sitting on the toilet, but he hasn’t even pulled his pants down. He’s hanging his head and sniffing. “Go away.”

I kneel down next to him.

“Go away.”

“I can’t do that kiddo, we got to stick together.”

He stares at me with red eyes.

I gently take hold of the small end of his tie. “Dad hates it when this sticks out.”

“I tried.” His voice is small.

“It’s ok, this will fix it.” I pop the backing off one of the pins then show it to him.

“That’s Daddies.”

“It was.”

I press it through the small part of the tie and into his shirt. I put the backing back on.

“That rubs my tummy.”

“Well, that way you know it’s there.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“From the dresser. I’m wearing one too.”

“Mommy will be mad.”

“So don’t tell her.” Dad earned them not mom. It’s not like she’s a Marine. “Come on, Stewie will need us.”

David straightens a little. “Yeah, he’s only five. Sara needs us too.”

I take David by the hand. We take a winding course going back. Neither one of us wants to look at the box.

A couple of Dad’s friends from the Corps are here. The Lieutenant is with them. He puts his hand on my shoulder. “Semper Fi.”

“Semper Fi sir.” At least he knows what to say.

David hugs Sara. She’s been crying too.

The chairs are all padded. They look like somebody’s grandma lives here. But nobody really lives here do they?

Except for us, and the Lieutenant, there are three kinds of people here.

There are the ones that want to talk, but not to us. They really don’t have anything to say.

There are the ones that are too scared to say anything.

And then, there are the ones that have nothing to say and know it. Those are the easiest to deal with.

I don’t know why they bring flowers in here. They say it’s to make it happier, but it doesn’t help.  If it does anything it makes people sad when they see flowers.

Mom is chatting with some aunt or something. The aunt looks at me like she might catch something. The next one is from her work, more words with no meaning.

I wait.

I wait.

I take Stewie to the bathroom, dodging looks all the way.

Steve and Violetta are here. They talk to mom for a second, but not to me and the kids. That’s ok, we’ll talk later. Worst comes to worst I’ll see them at school.

I wait.

Couldn’t we have done this after dinner?

I wait.

Finally Mom says it’s time to go.

I reach out to touch the coffin. Well, Dad, one more of these at the chapel tomorrow, then an hour or so for the funeral.

Then maybe I can get on with grieving.

 

Next the reality…

I probably won’t be posting here next week because I will be attending a memorial service for my Mother who finally succumbed to ALS. At least she’s not suffering.

That’s it for this one dear reader…

See you in two.

The final encounter

wright_medieval1

This week I ran into a story challenge that seemed interesting…

Matthew Wright challenged writers to write a really short (200 word) story inspired by the picture above. Here’s a link to the post.

So…

here’s my shot at it…

The Final Encounter

 

Rodrick’s eyes were alive with green fire. Aelfrick could feel the heat of his hate, had it been actual fire Rodrick’s helm would have steamed in the rain.

Rodrick’s men had strayed across the line that had marked their boarder for the last hundred years.

Rodrick’s father had begun it. He turned from the old way, the old gods, to the religion of the Irish coast. His men had crossed the line to “preach the word”.

Then Rodrick came to convert by the sword. He too would fail.

They had fought for hours already, clashing and disengaging. Both were wounded. Both returned to the fight.

This would be the final time; the will of the gods, old or new.

Aelfrick swung his axe. It impacted Rodrick’s chest.  Rodrick’s sword pierced Aelfricks mail.

They fell together.

The rain turned brown. A wall of fizzing brown water drove them into the ground.

“The lid was loose” said a voice from the heavens.

“Fast food cups and writing,” said another.

“That part’s ruined.”

“So start again.”

Aelfrick stood looking into the green hate of Rodrick’s eyes. This time would be the last, the end.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Enjoy the story and create your own!