#Weeknotes S03 E19

Your lights are on, but you’re not home
Your mind is not your own
Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love”

Whenever I’m in a long non-writing funk I think, “Where did all the mojo go? How will I ever get back to it again?” I could’ve been writing the day before but it feels like a hundred years ago. And then it comes back, and you wonder how you ever lost it in the first place even though I know I will, eventually, and be equally clueless.

I described it in therapy once like a faulty lamp switch. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’ll only work if you jiggle it. Sometimes it works if you push the switch 2/3 of the way in. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Then one day, boom, works like normal. For about a week. Then it’s the same dance.

WRITING
I successfully jiggled the switch this week! Mostly the equivalent of sketches in a sketchbook, but I accumulated a good bit of material.

  • This week’s writing chain: 5 days
  • Total writing days this week: 6 days

READING
I find myself in an interesting reading pattern. You can see from the past few entries that I flip back and forth between a couple of Filipinx-related, a couple of Rust Belt related things, with some nonfiction in between. I followed up the first five TRESE books with MANILA NOIR–which even has a TRESE story in it. Talk about a book that exceeded my expectations! Even the “meh” stories were pretty good.

I’ll be following it up with COLUMBUS NOIR after I finish THE CREATIVITY CURE by Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron. I try to stay away from self-help books that sound too woo-woo–I live in Ithaca, NY, so you know I know what I’m talking about–but I’m hanging with it so far. I was led to this book by Belt Publishing’s latest offering, OUR ENDLESS AND PROPER WORK: STARTING (AND STICKING TO) YOUR WRITING PRACTICE by Ron Hogan, which I think is definitely worth checking out.

IDIOT BOXING
I binged watched two Netflix series in two days. TRESE absolutely met my expectations. Animation could’ve been a little better but it was on part from what I’ve seen of other Netflix original anime. But the adaptation of the source material was awesome, and I’m all about seeing (well, hearing) Lou Diamond Philips’ Filipino side. I’m biased, but I really want this show to succeed. I mean, where else am I going to see a walis tambo used as a weapon?

I wanted to like FRESH, FRIED & CRISPY, I really did. But dude had to go and disrespect the Spam fries from a Las Vegas Filipino joint. I mean, c’mon man.

IN THE WILD
Nature is healing, therefore…

May Writing

  • Longest Chain in May: 7 days
  • Total May days: 17 days
  • Total 2021 Writing days: 98

I said May wouldn’t be better than April, but I guess it wasn’t much worse. It’s okay, though. I have the programming I caught from Balticon 55 to thank for getting me back on the writing horse this time. Can’t help but pull the writing stuff out when you’re around other writers, even virtually. And even though it was mostly writing to keep my fingers moving, I need to remember that it’s the sort of thing that got me back on the horse last November for a good few months.

Forgive the markup of the March/May days. I thought it’d look misleading otherwise.

#Weeknotes S03 E18

Back on my bullshit with two weeknotes in a row!

By the time this gets posted, I’ll probably have gone on 3 or 4 post-vaccination for-the-fuck-of-it trips outside. Masked, of course. I really have to get my walking legs back up. Luckily, there’s a barber shop near me.

WRITING
The fact that I even got stuff down at all was a win!

  • This week’s writing chain: 3 days
  • Total writing days this week: 4 days

READING
I’m through four of the first five volumes of Budgette Tan’s TRESE, but it’ll probably be enough to get me ready for the upcoming Netflix show. So psyched!

IN THE WILD
Goodbye, pandemic hair! I think I’m up to go Roundabout

#Weeknotes S03 E17

I know, at this point it’s more like bi-weeknotes isn’t it? I’m working to get back on a weekly groove, but it’s not a huge priority right now. It is summertime after all.

It’s been a wacky couple of months. The world’s supposedly “returning to normal,” but we’re not there yet. Feels a little surreal–which is probably why this image I saw on TV didn’t phase me as much as it should’ve.

WRITING
I posted April’s writing stats last time and like I said then, May isn’t going to look much better. Somebody I follow on Twitter, I forget who right now, tweeted something to the effect of feeling they were writing in circles that day. That’s actually a good way to describe my writing the past couple of months. Bits and scraps, anything to keep the fingers moving even the tiniest bit.

READING
A couple weeks ago I ran a Twitter poll asking people what I should read next. It wasn’t helpful–two of my three choices ended up in a tie. Anyway, I did get a lot of reading done.

And no, before you ask, I haven’t gotten to the books I got at the Book Sale last time.

WRITER FUEL
Aside from reading, the occasional connection with the greater writing world always helps me lubricate my mental gears. I’d almost forgotten I’d signed up for another online salon from Belt Publishing called “Bearing Witness: Collecting Oral Histories in the Rust Belt.” I really hope the whole virtual event thing doesn’t go away entirely when the world is fully in person again.

I didn’t know until the last possible second that last weekend had a plethora of virtual sci-fi/fantasy conventions, including Wiscon and Balticon, the latter of which I spent a good amount of time in! It was funny though, seeing myself keep to the same sort of panel attendance pattern as I do at in-person cons.

IN THE WILD
If I have anything interesting come up between now and Sunday, I’ll post. If not, then I’ll be with Asher Mir here…

April Writing

  • Longest Chain in April: 8 days
  • Total April days: 17 days
  • Total 2021 Writing days: 81

Time flies when you’re down in the dumps! Almost forgot to put this up.

It’s been a little harder to get back in the saddle than I anticipated it would. Illness didn’t help–got knocked out for a few days there. I got the flu shots and two COVID vaccinations, but being inside for the better part of a year, who knows what my immune system is no longer prepared for. And, it’s crunch time at the dayjob. Anyway, I can’t blame it all on those things. Best to focus on what I managed to get done.

I did better than March, but not by much. May will not be better. That’s okay though. Well, not really, but I’m letting it be okay because if nothing else, I’ve collected more data points that I’m hoping will prove or disprove some theories I have about the natural rhythm of my writing process. That is, when it’s unencumbered by the usual self-flagellation. Coming up with some interesting things, though.

But man, I can’t wait to see if this actually leads me to finish shit.

#Weeknotes S03 E16

Three weeks since the last one. Really? Time flies when you’re busy and sick. Not sure what we’d been sick with for the better part of two weeks, since as I’ve had the flu shot and both COVID shots. But I’ve also been inside for most of the year, so I imagine my immune system has at least as many holes as the Colonial Pipeline’s firewalls. This’ll be a catch-up post, then.

I felt good enough to finally go for my first utterly recreational post-vaccination outing (still masked, of course)–the last weekend of our town’s bi-annual Book Sale.

YOU HAVE TIME FOR THIS is a microfiction anthology from a few years back that I’ve been meaning to get and read since it came out. I didn’t need Lenora Carrington’s THE SEVENTH HORSE, seeing as I have the ebook of her complete stories. But her books are kinda hard to find in print so, score! Of course, I jumped at the chance to get more of Victor LaValle’s work, what with how good THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM is.

I’m especially looking forward to PSY FI ONE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF PSYCHOLOGY IN SCIENCE FICTION. I’m not familiar with the editors, but the TOC of this 1977 anthology has a lot of familiar authors (Silverberg, Spinrad, Sheckley, Bradbury, Le Guin, et al.)–and of course Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon.”

READING
So if I’m adding to my TBR pile, I gotta take some stuff off it. RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Jolie is probably the best thing I’ve read so far this year! This led me to want to go back and finally finish RUST: A MEMOIR OF STEEL AND GRIT which I’d started just before the pandemic and got about 3/4 of the way through.

WATCHING
Season 5 of THE EXPANSE was essential to my healing process. And, while getting my energy back, there are worse things to feed my head with than LODGE 49, which I totally slept on, regrettably.

IN THE WILD
Here, something that I actually saw out in the wild, as opposed to the wildlife I have indoors…

Okay, that’s enough catch-up. I know I owe a writing update–which won’t be much, but still.

#Weeknotes S03 E15

This’ll be a quick proof-of-life post. Couldn’t get this in last week, or much of any other writing for that matter. Yeah, when I post my April stats, it’ll likely look like March–unimpressive, but not nothing. Still, maybe I was a little too cocky thinking I was as fully back on my bullshit as I thought I was last time.

This is typical for this time of year. My dayjob is on an academic calendar which is nearing the end of its semester when work traditionally takes a lot out of me. And while my mood over the past weeks might not have been the best, the basics of life are still happening. So yes, there’s a little bit more urgency to “get back on the stick” as it were, where the writing is concerned. But I’m resisting the usual lamentation of “Woe is me, I haven’t done anything, I’m a loser, blah blah blah….”

READING
I finished Mia Alvar’s IN THE COUNTRY. It was tough to get through because of how hard it hit home, but well worth it. I felt compelled to follow it up with Isabel Yap’s NEVER HAVE I EVER, and I’m about halfway through it. So far it’s pretty much what I expected having read and enjoyed the story “Asphalt, River, Mother, Child” when I first saw it on STRANGE HORIZONS.

Of course, I can never read one book at a time. Nor can I resist a good discount code, which I got after attending a couple of very enlightening virtual salons from Belt Publishing. I picked up three.

  • The one I’m reading right now alongside Yap’s collection is Edward McClelland’s FOLKTALES AND LEGENDS OF THE MIDDLE WEST. Exactly what it says on the tin, including not just Indigenous tales but immigrant/settler ones as well.
  • I’d never read the work of Claire Winger Harris, a speculative fiction writer with Cleveland connections who published, very roughly speaking, in that early WEIRD TALES era, making her a contemporary of other writers I like, such as Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman and Margaret St. Clair. So when a scholar compiled some of her work in THE ARTIFICIAL MAN AND OTHER STORIES, I knew I had to have it.
  • I also picked up Phil Christman’s MIDWEST FUTURES because aside from the subject matter, I’m a sucker for micro/brief essays.

LISTENING
I don’t know if I’m going to do this every week, but I wondered what it would look like to push out a weekly playlist of the grooves in my head. Besides, it’s not like I’m doing much else with my Spotify account.

IN THE WILD
Maybe I’m projecting, but Mazikeen has always seemed like her father’s daughter. I mean, this is pretty much the pose and the face I’ve had for the past couple of weeks…

#Weeknotes S03 E14

This week I got back into the writing saddle and today, I get back into my regular Sunday Weeknotes routine. Of course, maybe that’s why this week feels like a blur and that there isn’t much go post about. That’s what it can feel like for me sometimes when my focus comes back.

THE CHAIN
So, after almost 3 weeks of no progress…

  • This week’s writing chain: 7 days
  • Longest chain in 2021: 33 days

It was all about getting back in the saddle this week, so all of my daily bars were set really low. I just picked away at a short story and dumped my brain of some ideas I might develop for an essay (or two). Maybe nothing will come of them, but it’s the groove that’s important.

PLANNING
Yes, we’re getting vaccinated now but that shouldn’t mean cool virtual events should stop. I signed up to attend two in the coming weeks, both part of Belt Publishing’s Spring Salon (despite what the link says).

There’s a nominal fee for each event, but there are definitely worse ways to spend $6 (about $3 each).

LISTENING
You know that scene in ENTER THE DRAGON when Bruce says to Han, “You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin Temple.“? Well, I’m just glad no one’s around to kick my ass on behalf of Sci-Fi and Classic Rock nerdery.


Also, it’s been a week since they came into my life and I’m still not sick of having Miss Velvet and The Blue Wolf on daily rotation in my playlist. I mean, if they put in even half as much work recording as they seem to, then these motherfuckers are the real deal!

IN THE WILD
Who’s a good boy ready to devour the week? Besides me. It’s Asher Mir, of course!

March Writing

  • Longest Chain in March: 10 days
  • Total 2021 Writing days: 64

Not a great month. But, 64 writing days since January is better than my usual track record. When you throw in last November and December, it’s the best 5 months of writing I’ve had in years! Anyway, like I said in my last Weeknotes, the haze is lifting, I think.

I’ve been through this before. I hit some kind of bump and I find myself with almost zero capacity for any kind of creative work. It usually stems from a combination of depression, anxiety, and general exhaustion. I try to fight it for a bit, of course. Push through on willpower. But eventually everything creative stops and I feel like a general loser for a month or four until the haze lifts or something pulls me out of it.

Except this time. I did a few things differently.

First, I didn’t fight it. I let the slump happen.

Second, I actually watched the slump take its course. This was a risky move. I mean, what if it was another week/month/six-months/eight months until I could write again? Well, I gambled against having racked up 5 months of the most productive writing I’ve had in years. As well as, you know, all the other times I got back on the horse and had a productive period whether it lasted a week, a month, whatever. I decided that the worst likely outcome was that one day in the future, I start up again.

Third, and most importantly, I actively fought my natural tendency to berate myself for falling off the horse. And let me tell you, it was not fucking easy. But if there’s one thing I can point to that made the difference between the past three weeks and every other time I felt blocked, this is it.

And so after three weeks with only 2 writing days, I seem to be back in the saddle as of this past Sunday. We’ll see how long this lasts. We’ll make some notes, and we’ll see what happens.

Until then, I’m…

#Weeknotes S03 E13

Back on my bullshit after a couple weeks off. Guess these are #fortnightnotes? Anyway, I took some mental health days. I kept up the basics–didn’t miss a day of work and managed a couple of Sunday dinners–but outside of that, my mental and emotional state wasn’t conducive to much else.

Definitely not writing.

THE CHAIN
Since we last spoke…

  • This week’s writing chain: 1 day — same as my missed week’s.
  • Total days in March: 13
  • Longest chain in 2021: 33 days
  • Total days in 2021: 64 days

I’ve been through this before, you see. Weeks of solid progress at a time, only for some mental/emotional fuse to trip and shut things down. For a depressive haze to set in, making everything that isn’t a muscle-memorized routine feel impossible until the fuse magically flips… and that’s assuming I even realize it’s flipped back days or weeks later.

But like I’ve done for the past few weeks, I allowed myself to roll with it with as little self-recrimination as possible. Which is not to say no self-recrimination, but still. I’ll have more to say about it when I do my March writing post, but let’s just say that the haze might just be lifting. Maybe.

LISTENING
I like it when I get in at or near the ground floor with a new(ish) band, in this case, Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf. It’s even better when the discovery is totally serendipitous! What with all these acts nowadays incorporating ’70s/’80s yacht rock sounds and the occasional ’90s R&B groove into the 21st century, I wondered who might be bringing the old ’70s jazz-rock back. One cursory Google search later, I found this…

It’s been awhile since I came across a new (to me) band and thought “instant buy.” It’s definitely on the “rock” end, but the jazz, R&B, and funk are definitely there. And after a bit of research, it made sense why, given who’s been shepherding them the past couple years. Suffice it to say, if their stuff is good enough for Dr. Funkenstein himself, it’s good enough for me!

READING


Most of my reading has been working through Mia Alvar’s story collection IN THE COUNTRY. Yes, I mean “working through,” but in the best way. It took me three attempts to get through the first couple of stories because they hit so fucking close to home.

IN THE WILD
With any luck, I’ll at least get back to these Weeknotes next Sunday, as usual. Until then, I’m going to try and take care of myself at least as well as I take care of my fur children…