Tag Archives: Construction

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, Even Might Find a Little Time to be a Thief . . . Probably Not

Several years ago I began writing a humorous piece on a couple remodeling their home. They were not performing the work themselves, but moreover acting as the general contractor.  

This is something that has become the norm, especially since all of the D.I.Y. programs have appeared across the stupid screen. Please don’t take this as an insult, for the one penning this blog absorbs entirely too much of the screen of stupidity himself.

However, I can say that I have one up on the weekend home-improvement guy. My father was a carpenter. My grandfather was a carpenter and my uncle was a carpenter. So guess what I decided to be when I grew up . . . you got it . . .  a carpenter, and graduated from high school a year early to participate in this noble profession.

I cut my teeth after school and on weekends, when I was fourteen learning how to remodel homes and then moved into new home construction, From foundations to roofing. I built everything from the simplest rancher to four thousand square foot homes, in the ritziest of neighborhoods.

I then moved on to commercial work,  finding it offered so much more. By the age of twenty three I began my first superintendent’s job, albeit small, to me I was raising the Empire State building.

Years passed and jobs in size grew, until I abandoned it all in my early thirties for a position in a trade show fabrication shop for a pharmaceutical company.

Here I learned how to build cabinets and some of the wildest displays you could imagine, not to mention traveling the length and breadth of the United States.

Due to health reasons I left this line of work after sixteen years and of all things, chose writing as my next attempt at a career.

So far things  are going well, at least they look good on paper, (no pun intended) but not as good as I would like as far as lining the wallet goes. I’ve published four novels, with a fifth on the way.

What I have learned from this lifelong experience is, never give up!

As far as being an author, I don’t believe I could have chosen a more enjoyable vocation, but if you don’t get your books in front of eyeballs that will read them, you may as well scribble on paper with a crayon. If you want to be a successful writer, then remember these three words…Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho; To Work I Tried to Go…That’s as Far as I Got

Imagine comparing different trades to the world of writing. I, myself, was a carpenter beginning in my late teens, building houses and then moving to commercial construction. construction workerFrom there, I became a superintendent building everything from small businesses to office complexes. Never having considered this before, I can now see the similarities between constructing a building and a novel. First, a plan or a plot is necessary to begin both. Secondly, a carefully thought out process of constructing a solid foundation whether brick or paper is mandatory. This is true throughout the entire building progression until complete.

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances in both endeavors. Construction is wrought with change orders, as writing is wrought with changes of a different nature.

Working on government jobs, strict standards, including safety, must be adhered to. I was an easy person to work under until procedures I was responsible for were ignored. Depending on the day, after an offender had been warned previously, my demeanor was unpredictable. It could surface anywhere between a stern alert to threatening to remove the person from not only my job, but the face of the earth if they couldn’t follow my request. (All done in a sweet, calm, soothing voice, of course.)

In the construction of a novel, more liberties can be taken throughout its building process. For instance, a carefully constructed building maybe smashed to smithereens by a two hundred foot tall, furry, scaly, fanged creature with bad breath and heartburn. These two symptoms (brought on by an overabundance of ingested human body parts) caused such a nasty rampage.

Remember, my yelling at an uncooperative employee? This might have just as well ended in a similar fashion as the people munching creature (even though cannibalism is not a regular part of my diet.)

How about a writer verses a flight attendant? (Even though this is not actually a trade, it bears mentioning.)  Flight attendants take a lot of flak from unhappy travelers-everything from terrorists to screaming babies and intoxicated knot heads. Either the coffee is too hot or the water isn’t cold. So and so won’t come out of the bathroom and such and such reclined their seat too far. I don’t like chicken. Why isn’t there a movie on this flight? I don’t have a magazine. BoBo can climb on the wing, why can’t I? It goes on and on and on and on. I’m surprised when the phrase “going postal” was coined it wasn’t instead “going attendant.”

This, again, is a suitable comparison to the writing world. Authors take a lot of flak when they’re not handing it out in their writing. I’ve been transported to the mountain top with a stellar review, only to be shredded into small strips of hamburger by another reviewer.

Within my novels I’m constantly looking for different creatures to create and at the same time unique ways to destroy my creations.

So you see writing does pair up with other trades and occupations. Now that I’ve written this I feel as though I’ve done a great service for the working community. Exactly what this service may be I have yet to establish, but it must be pretty important because I wrote it.

Hopefully by next week I’ll have it all figured out. If not, it’ll be another one for the ages.

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Twist and Shout

One of several tornadoes observed by the VORTE...

One of several tornadoes observed by the VORTEX-99 team on May 3, 1999, in central Oklahoma.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever paid attention to the structural integrity of a new house being built? I’m getting ahead of myself.  First let me ask you,  “Are you a construction type person? You know, someone who has the knowledge of building codes, solid construction practices, and pretty much know what you’re looking at when you look at it?”

I was a carpenter by trade, a superintendent on residential and commercial projects and a draftsman. I know what it takes to erect a structurally sound building. Houses of today are built to withstand high winds, heavy rains, snow loads and many of the other things this world can dish out.

Skyscrapers are erected with large steel columns and “I” beams in such a way that they can withstand earthquakes and winds at such velocity that would tear the average house to shreds.

On the other hand, many commercial buildings are constructed with cinder blocks and metal bar joists for the roof structure.

In hurricane prone areas, special precautions are implemented, such as bolting the walls from the top plate to the foundation, hurricane clips on the roof system and windows that can stand high winds and strikes from debris.

As in the case of storm cellars in the mid-west, it’s best to get out of the path of nature’s most destructive forces; i.e. the tornado. In recent years, a new breed of storm chaser has set themselves apart from the rest.  I now feel the need to start a new paragraph and express my most valued opinion.

Here’s the new paragraph and here’s my version of an op/ed. I’ve always been fascinated by weather, especially that of the tornadic variety. I have even thought I would like to chase tornadoes but in the part of the country in which I live, I would do just as well sitting on my front porch watching for twisters as I would burning fuel to run the roads looking for the cyclonic wind storms. But I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want to park a vehicle in the middle of one of these widow-makers. I guess it kinda goes along the same lines as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

To sum up, as you write (or for those who create an outline before beginning their novel) keep your story structurally sound taking care to keep the winds of whimsy from racking your building or possibly causing a catastrophic failure.

Well, I’ll be. Looks like I got a twister a coming this way after all!  Ya’ll scuse me whilst I hitch a ride. I’m off to see the wizard….

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