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"where I work"

Where I Work #7

Technically, I’m in the same room (the playroom), same corner (my corner), but there’s a big change.

A few weeks ago I posted about wanting a second screen.

Most of my freelance (and some of my personal writing, but really only when I’m in the editing phase) requires me to look at multiple screens at the same time. So, naturally, a 2nd screen would help speed this process along. I’m big on process and systems going according to plan (just look at my classroom [oh, wait, I don’t have one right now] and you’d have found everything was in arms reach, nothing I needed on a day-to-day basis was tucked away, desks and tables had a natural flow from the door all the way to the back of the room, and I was able to see all my students at any given time) so I was hesitant about getting one. Would it actually increase workflow? Would it make sense to buy one now as a freelance?

All this to say, I have a second screen now. It’s an LG QHD 31.5″ monitor.

I spaced apart the shelves underneath the desktop (it’s an IKEA Klimpen) to make a lower level to store all my notebooks, pens, and paper tabs. This gave me more room to fit a second monitor one, while also clearing out the workspace to still have room to write. Unsure about the middle support system but I’ll give it a week. Might try to rig up a middle beam.

Easier flow, dual screens, and more space. Typically an article for GeorgeTakei.com takes somewhere to an hour to an hour and 10ish minutes. The article due today took me 50, zero discomfort or accident in the flow.

Sometimes, you have the best friends in the entire world, and you don’t truly understand what that means.


Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com

Where I Work: #6

There was a time where I would write about some cool coffee shop or bookstore in this series. Someplace with lots of history, ambience, great music, and exposed brick. You know the kind.

But I’m in a different spot now.

I’m officially a S.A.H.D. (Not a fan of the acronym.)

Stay-At-Home Dad.

This is my office, now. A comfy floor and lap desk. Part playroom, part workspace. Currently, I’m finishing up a freelance article while my boys play underneath a Finding Nemo playmat, rolling around to grab their toys and books on a Blue’s Clues blanket we’ve spread out for them. Their stuffed dog and bear, DD and KB, are beside them. And yes, that is a baby arm.

If it helps, I’m using a LapGear Home Office Lap Desk (Amazon)

This is how we work, now. Whenever and wherever I can.


Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com

Where I Work #5

This is technically #5, because the 4th one I did was entitled A Little Slice so no one would have recognized it.

Occasionally I can’t meet with clients at their homes. It happens. No big deal. Let’s find the nearest coffee shop nearby. Wait? What’s that? All the Starbucks in Phoenix are overcrowded and good luck to us for finding a quiet table where some little kid isn’t kicking the chairs behind you and throwing their toy cars at the back of your head? (True story. True, awful story.)

When that inevitably happens I try to find a local shop within reason. Last thing I want is to make a client drive all the way to me.

I like to drink local. It helps my soul feel better that I spend money at coffee shops when I could be making it at home. It does make me feel better that I’m putting money into something that benefits the area where I live.

Lola’s is that place. Nice long tables. Quiet workers. Music that’s played maybe just a bit too loud but never too deafening where you can’t have a conversation. I think they serve breakfast until noon.

Sal De Mar Cookie
*drools in pumpkin

The picture is from when I ordered a pumpkin latte (because I’m basic so sue me but you can’t because all my currency is now in pumpkin) and a Sal De Mar cookie which is like a baked piece of heaven in my mouth.

I am currently behind one blog for #100DaysofBlogging. Will have to get something else out before the end of the day.


Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @probacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com

Where I Work: #3

There’s a magical place in Phoenix.

In the City of Heat and Hot and Scorching Blaze (or whatever Phoenix’s official nickname is), there’s a wonderful spot I discovered shortly after moving here. Coming from Tucson, I never imagined a place like this existing, full of everything I would need in life.

Books.

Coffee.

Beer.

…I’m sure there’s more to life, but I can’t think of them right now.

Changing Hands Bookstore

Changing Hands Bookstore is located in central Phoenix (with another location in Tempe, but we’re talking about the Phoenix one, here.) They’re a local book store that hosts dozens of reading events for all-ages, author signings, Harry Potter themed parties, and monthly book clubs. Inside is a modern aesthetic mixed with an industrial vibe, concrete floors and exposed ceiling steel beams.

On the other half, is an open bar, First Draft Book Bar, with an entire room of tables and lounge chairs. A brick fireplace gets lit when the weather dips into unfavorable, and a chandelier large enough to crush a semi hangs overhead.

It’s refreshing and inspiring.

To be able to work alongside the individuals you’re chasing after, to look up from your laptop or notebook, order an espresso, witness dozens of people shopping for books in a technological age, is a wonder of times.

I go at least once a week for a casual look around, and at least 3 times for work. It’s a second home for me, and a nice escape from the City of Blazing Sun Death. (What is Phoenix’s nickname…?

Changing Hands Bookstore

Where I Work: #2

Typically, I try to avoid working at home.

It’s strange, since I’m a freelance writer and independent contractor my home is technically my “office.” Most of the work I do is from home, and though I don’t have the numbers in front of me *rifles through notes* I’d say I spend about 70% of my non-tutoring work from home. But, since my living quarters are my workspace, I like to treat it as I do all of my non-home offices. Like my classrooms, mostly.

I need it to be clean.

My classroom used to be heralded by the custodial staff for being the cleanest in the entire school, and I took that pride and instilled it into my students. We spent 5 minutes at the end of every day to clean up our room. Multiplied by 30 kids, that’s a good deal of cleaning. According to my numbers *rifles through notes* but that’s roughly 4700 minutes of cleaning.

Not a mathematician.

So combine my need to clean my workspace with the very typical human emotion of “I don’t want to clean my house it’s my house no one can tell me what to do I will live in my own filth,” and you see the conflict.

I sit my desk in the corner, turned away from the television. I used to have my desk against the wall, in the middle of the room, and that never felt right. It felt like I was trying to declare my work as more important than people’s foot space. The corner creates a comforting closed-off feeling, like a sensory deprivation tank that keeps me focused.

The rest of the visual space is filled up by things that are either necessary for my work or stuff that inspires me. My goal is to have all the artwork rotate, featuring different styles and genres from people I typically find at comic cons. I’ll talk about the art of people I love in a future post, probably. There’s a foam Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts, one of my top 3 favorite video games of all time and a real inspiration for how I’d want my epic fantasies to feel. The white board details deadlines of various projects assigned per quarter. Along the wall against the back of the desk are notebooks. All the notebooks. Field Notes used for day to day writing, novel ideas that aren’t being pursued, Bullet Journals from the last two years, task notebooks, and onward. Gray rack holds all pertinent materials to my current writing projects.

Honestly, I could spend another 1000 words talking about all the little things at my desk that keep me in the right headspace to work, but just keep looking and let me know about your own home office

Where I Work: #1

I like seeing where people work .

Writing Space
@skybambi

 

The above comes from Instagram user, @skybambi, who posts wonderfully shot images of bookstores and coffee shops around the world. On top of that, she shares videos of her calligraphy works, which make me doubt and criticize my own handwriting on a daily basis.

This falls in line with a secret love I have: desk porn.

Oh yes, those pictures floating around on your Instagram and Tumblr feeds of serene desk settings, with perfect lighting and all those parallel-aligned notebooks and fountain pens.

*kisses tips of fingers

I love that stuff.

I understand the impracticality of it all, because honestly, who could work with all those pens and cups of espresso around them? That’s a spill waiting to happen, but still. There’s simple beauty in the posts, and the feelings they evoke. The feelings of want, as in, “I want to work there. I want to go there.”

To add my spots into the tapestry of well-shot workspaces, I have a few select spots I enjoy working in, and I’ll share them from time to time.

Above is a photo, taken today, of my working spot at The Grand in downtown Phoenix. Eagle-eyed blog readers (all 2 of you) will know this is the spot I used to describe in my Monday post, Writing Skill-Grid: #1. It’s a beautiful place outside, with an industrial/steampunk-esque look that is a rusted gem in a desert city.

However, my working spot is on the inside. Second floor loft space, in the farthest corner overlooking one of their bars. There sits a marble top table, lower than the others, with a chair that would have made Trumbo weep. Two desk lamps sit on it, though, only one of them works. There’s a power outlet right underneath the table, and if you’ve ever worked in coffee shops before, power outlets are literal wall gold.

It’s removed from the chaos of the food and beverage bar downstairs that takes up most of the floor space, but it faces the stairwell, so I can see people coming up to work as well.

It’s barely lit, catching light from the garage-sliding doors made of glass, but not that “sun scorched brightness” that forces small infants to wear sunglasses to the zoo. There’s minimal A/C, but a rotating fan, that is doing all it can to keep us thought engineers cool. We still sweat, though. Everyone sweats here.

It’s perfect.

And it’s where I love to work.

STATUS – A Working Cyberpunk –

Working on Project: NESS right now, barreling through these last few thousand words to finish this thing before 2021 kicks the door in. It’s right there, all the pieces, all the players, everything I was hoping to be building to, but I just need to grab it.

I’ve tossed up the CryoChamber Twitch channel on my phone as a second screen of sorts. They play synth/ambient/horror music against the backdrop of a futuristic punk city. A “cyberpunk” city, if you will, except this one actually works.

Too soon?

Need to get a second screen, but I’m not sure how I would keep the boys from yanking it off of my desk. Also, I realize using a picture of my Batman Beyond collection would have worked a lot better for this CyberPunk 2077 smackdown of a post. I will adjust for next time and make sure my featured image ties into the contents of whatever AAA game I’m insulting.

Still haven’t quite figured out how to put a non-picture signature at the bottom of these posts. Just something to sign off with easily when I type one up on my phone. Everything I find is either for an image signature, which I don’t like, or a signing form for legal purposes. If you see anything or know of a way around this, let me know, please.

Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com

Figuring Out What To Work On

My name is Robert Acosta and I left my job as a classroom teacher to become a professional writer.

And here we are.

It’s been 2 years, and I finally decided to stop hiding behind my keyboard and launch my personal author site. A landing hub, of sorts, to practice my writing and examine what I’ve learned.

Because, as it turns out, I’m not alone.

Thousands of people out there are dreaming of becoming accomplished, well-known authors. They follow their favorite writers on social media, like Tweets pertaining to what “real” authors do from Writer’s Relief, and buy “how-to-write-like-a-champion” books in the hopes of absorbing the life essences of successful storytellers before them in some strange, dark reading ritual.

Or maybe they want to learn how to write engaging dialogue, I’m not sure.

For me, I made a decision to leave my dream profession to chase my fantasy profession. Stepping away from my 4th, 5th, and 6th graders was not easy, and I’ve felt like going back to the class about a hundred times, but I’m still here, 2 years later.

Chugging along.

No published manuscript as of writing, but I have a job as a freelance writer.

And a lot farther to go.

So, one objective I hope to expand on is a dissection of writer advice that floats around online, popping up in my feeds, and giving me migraines. Since many of us gonnabe-writers might look to this advice as gospel, let’s do what all people should do with gospel:

Break it down and absorb it’s essence in some kind of dark, reading ritual.

…What kind of churches did I go to growing up…?

“Write what you know.” – Mark Twain

This is a quote that gets tossed around because the message is simple. Don’t try to write anything you’re not comfortable with. Steer your pen and mind into the well-known and experienced, and your stories will speak truth.

Makes sense, but it can be limiting, and can keep you in a lane that may become a prison.

One site, Narrative.ly, publishes real life, human submissions, outside of the clickbait-y titles often shared with a goal of “focusing instead on ordinary people with extraordinary stories.” So, I wrote up a submission and sent it in, detailing how one of my 5th grade girls once told me she wanted me to die.

…It was a whole…thing.

Writing non-fiction was never supposed to be in my wheelhouse. My strongest influences, I thought, were comic books, fantasy, adventure, humor, aimed towards a middle-grade audience. I spent most of my teaching career instructing my kids how to read and throw themselves into the words. We lived in the worlds of Narnia and Olympus, and this was supposed to be “what I knew.”

If I kept myself in the lane of all that, I never would’ve convinced myself to try and write that story for Narrative.ly, to share what being in the classroom is really like.

They politely declined my submission, but I still tried.

There’s another short story that I’m writing, due at the end of the month, “Project: MOON.” (I like to give my stories ridiculous project titles. Not my idea. Stolen from writers greater than myself.) It’s a horror-themed, psychological tale for an anthology, WAAAAY outside my lane.

I guess that’s the point. “Write what you know, but TRY AND WRITE WHAT YOU DON’T.

To wrap, the above Featured Image shows my current writing set-up. A Kylo Ren Moleskine Notebook, Hard Cover (Amazon US), an OLPR Moleskine Cover (OLPR) with a Moleskine Cahier softcover, (Amazon US), alongside a Pilot Frixion Erasable Pen (Amazon US).

Inside the Kylo Ren notebook, the story’s plotted, and I plan on hand-writing it in the OLPR. Deadline for Project: HARP (again, silly name, but it’s what I’m about, yo.) is June 30th.

My name is Robert Acosta.

I want to be a writer.

It’s Time To Go Back…

I am on day four of eating nothing but toast with butter and cinnamon, saltine crackers, and arroz caldo after battling one of the worst flus I’ve ever had. Was it COVID? The at-home test will tell you ‘No,’ but I’ve never felt the kind of pain I felt/am feeling. It’s been 3 days of laying in bed, struggling to keep my mid-section from erupting, and stop my brains from falling out because I wasn’t allowed coffee.

Special shoutout to my wife who held down the fort by herself, wrangling the twins while also keeping the newborn, Baby C, happy as best she could while still not 100% after giving birth less than three months ago.

Thankfully, like the Turtles say, “It’s time to go back.”

That saying resonated so strongly with me while I laid in bed with nothing to do but let my mind wander. I read some books, but one I stopped 50 pages in for not liking, I finished Matt Bell’s “Refuse to be Done,” (Amazon) which I should dissect on here at some point, and started Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first “Paola Santiago” (Amazon) book. I’m liking that one okay, but, we’ll see.

Since my brain was hurting so bad from no-coffee-mad-angry-sick time, I switched to YouTube. However, you can only watch so much Power Rangers critique videos on YouTube and you can only do so much active scrolling (the opposite of doomscrolling), so that’s when you turn to old films. I have two comfort movies I watch on the rare occasions I get sick: The 1989 Batman film starring Michael Keaton and the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

(Fun note: I just learned legendary composer, Shirley Walker, helped work on the music for this film, so not only did she shape my childhood ears by composing music for the DCAU, but she also had a hand in one of my all-time favorite films.)

The Turtles, after suffering a devastating loss to the Foot Clan, retreat with April O’Neil and newfound ally Casey Jones to April’s farm in the countryside. Recovering, and rediscovering a new spirit to help them go on, they return home to their NYC sewer, but not before letting April and Casey know what’s on their minds with this line.

“It’s time to go back.”

Anyway, I’m not going to let this first post back ramble on and on about what I was thinking about while recovering. Honestly, I couldn’t if I wanted.

It’s more about sensations than anything, feelings about thought in the moment that can’t be elaborated on. You have to remember the moment, how you felt, then act on it in the present based on it.

I want to be a professional writer. I want to provide for my family in any way I can. I have a gift, an opportunity, to chase that dream with as much freedom as life can afford to me right now.

I can’t read the future, and anything I do from here on out might not help lead to anything new or better for myself or my family, but you reach a point where there’s nothing else to do but act. I think you have to, you know? I don’t think there’s any way for people in the same spot as me to proceed forward until the levy is full and the dam breaks.

It’s time time to go back.

Just listen to the first 18 seconds…

Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com

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