Going off the grid

I spend a lot of time online. My professional career as a software engineer demands it. Like everyone else, it’s how I stay in contact with friends and family. I also use it for recreation, watching movies and reading articles and books via the internet. Finally, most of my writing hobby involves the use of tools that connect to the cloud.

This internet is wonderful, but I want to give it a break. I need to recharge. I want to step away from the connected universe and enjoy planet Earth for a while. Maybe I’ll check my personal email once or twice, or post snippets of writing here on my author blog, but that’s it. I want the chance to kickback, unwind, and write my fiction unhindered by the temptation to know what’s going on in the world.

Palm trees and sand

Yes, in the old days they called this a vacation.

Where am I going off the grid? I’m off to the Philippines with my wife Audrey from December 21st to January 2nd. I can’t wait for the wonderful, hot weather, a welcome break from Southern California’s chilly winter weather. Some might say that where I live doesn’t get cold, but I’m the kind of person who can go for most of a hot summer without air conditioning. Dropping below 70°F is too cold for my blood. When I come back, I’ll be recharged and ready to dive back into things. I’m so excited about releasing my first fiction book, “Into the Brambles.”

Until next year,
Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Rainy Sunday in Buenos Aires

Last night’s heavy rain had evolved into a constant, slow fall. The wind remained, pushing itself into faces, tossing trash recklessly across the boulevards.

The rain deepened the colors of the forest. Trees had greener leaves, browner trunks. The leaves hung heavier on their branches, as if about to give birth to new life on the next sunny day. The wind stirred the branches, wiping the moisture off the leaves. Thus removing the ability of the trees to provide cover from the rain. At the furthest tips of the highest branches, purple flower buds were just blossoming. Proof that this cold, rainy day was the beginning of spring.

Pavement tiles had little streams in the crevices. To an insect these were as raging torrents, sweeping victims to oblivion.

Overhangs gave protection, but only after walkers braved curtains of run-off.

If the sky was canvas, then God was spreading clouds across it like the first layer of paint. Lighter patches stood in contrast to the darker shades. In a minute the canvas had changed, the clouds rushing across the visible sky, the space between buildings.

Inside the cafe was warm, dry. Smelled of heated air and coffee. The glass window next to the table a welcome barrier, turning an unpleasant day into a warm, rich experience.

On the corner of Sante Fe and Carlos Pellegrini, Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 2, 2014

Setting Aside Creative Time

I’m a morning person.

I love getting up in the early morning and doing things. In the past that has meant going on long bike rides, working out at the gym, or solving the hard problems at work.  As the morning turns into afternoon, it’s not uncommon for me to feel my productivity drop.

In the morning I’m at my most creative. Ideas seem to leap into my head. In fact, over the years the vast majority of articles on my technical blog have been written in the morning.

Audrey, my wife, is very familiar with this trait of mine. Indeed, she shares it, being one of many reasons why we’re so compatible.  With this in mind, she suggested that we dedicate an hour every morning to doing something creative.

I’ll admit I was resistant to the idea. I needed as much morning time as possible for work. Especially for solving the hard problems I so enjoy tackling. In fact, when life distracts me from work in the morning, I get antsy and irritable. Nevertheless she convinced me to try it for a week, suggesting I spend the time writing fiction. We ordered a book on fiction writing exercises. After it arrived, we began our trial week on January 15.

To my surprise I enjoyed myself!

Instead of hampering my work productivity, creative time enhanced it. I was more focused. Problems were easier to resolve.  It was like the hour or so of creativity warmed me up for work. I’m delighted to say that in general I’ve felt unusually energized and inspired.

It’s been a great lesson for us and something I hope others consider as part of their day.  Even if you aren’t a morning person, try being creative for a time before you work. It doesn’t have to be a full hour and can be anything. While I like to write, and Audrey paints or writes, you might consider other things such as music, photography, or anything else that you want to do.

California Citrus State Historic Park