#Weeknotes S03 E08

Between rovers going to Mars, politicians heading to Cancun while Texas freezes, and radio show hosts going to Hell, it seems like people are getting out more often than I am lately — and I got vaccinated (well, shot #1 anyway).

THE CHAIN

  • This week’s writing chain: 7 days
  • Total days in February: 19
  • Longest chain in 2021: 15 days NEW STREAK!
  • Total days in 2021: 43 days


The truth is, I am getting a little bit better about stuff like this as I rebuild my writing process in 2021. Now that I’m doing better about just putting the time in, the next hurdles will be to shut my inner critic the fuck up, because wow does it have something to say about everything, from what I’m putting down to how I’m doing it.

READING
Another book I decided to look up after a Boskone panel last week was the second edition of MOTIVATE YOUR WRITING: USING MOTIVATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY TO ENERGIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE by Stephen Kelner. Some eye-opening stuff in there.

I finished the trade with the first five issues of Brian K. Vaughan’s PAPER GIRLS. I knew I should’ve paid more for the option of getting a different compilation with the first ten, instead. It’s definitely fulfilled all expectations so far in that it seems to jive with the Cleveland I remember from 1988.

IN THE WILD
It did feel like a long week. Well, let’s rest up before we have to do it all over again!

#Weeknotes S03 E07

Sorry this is a day late. Better late than never, although I apologize if this feels like a rush job this week.

THANKS, BOSKONE 58!
Boskone was the highlight of my week! I’ve enjoyed a history with that particular con, and was particularly bummed that I had to bow out of it in 2019 and 2020. But the times being what they are, COVID needn’t have stopped me in 2021!

I know there were all sorts of virtual cons last year, but I just didn’t have the spoons to Zoom for my dayjob and then keep Zooming in my off time. I could only do without live nerd talk in my life for so long, though. And while I was confident the folks running it would do a great job, they actually did exceed my expectations. And I say this as someone who, like most folks I imagine, had to put up with his share of Zoom mishaps over the past year.

I thought this would be my write up, but I don’t want to short-change the con. I’ll put those up later, probably.

THE CHAIN

  • This week’s writing chain: 7 days
  • Days in February: 12
  • Longest chain in 2021: 13 days

Slowly rebuilding the chain. I’m doing better than I did this time last year, that’s for sure.

TBR
Turns out you can’t even go to an online con without picking up recommendations. I knew nothing about Brian K. Vaughan’s PAPER GIRLS, set in a fictional suburb of Cleveland in 1988. I figured, “Hey, I lived in Cleveland in 1988!” so I picked up the collection of the first 5 issues and have enjoyed the first one so far.

I’m really digging THE DAYTON ANTHOLOGY so far.

F*CKFACE by Leah Hampton is not con-related, but Rust Belt adjacent. That’ll probably be next.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Jazz legend Chick Corea died last week. I’ve always been a trumpet guy, but you have to respect any keyboardist that could hang with Miles during his electric era. But of course Corea was so much more than that. He was a new-to-me discovery when I started haphazardly exploring the world of jazz just before college. In fact, the Akoustic Band record was one of the first jazz albums I ever owned, which is why “Morning Sprite” is a favorite song of mine.

IN THE WILD
All hail the Queen and the Crown Prince on their throne!

#Weeknotes S03 E06

The days are getting slightly longer. The novelty of a functioning government is finally starting to wear off. Only starting though, seeing as we still have insurrectionists getting their organic food in jail after all or being allowed to go on their planned getaways to Mexico. Oh, and then there are Representatives whose only non-apologetic defense to avoid getting stripped of their committee assignments was basically Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.”

Nope I was wrong. We’re a little ways away from a fully functioning government again. But at least there’s a little room for some of us to breathe. And write…

THE CHAIN

  • This week’s writing chain: 5 days
  • Days in February: 6
  • Longest chain in 2021: 13 days

Nope, couldn’t do seven days this week. Maybe one of these days, I’ll flagellate myself less. I’m getting better, though! I’ve been getting back to the story I’m working on, and have set myself the low, low bar of getting it done by the end of the month. Hey, as long as the needle keeps moving forward.

READING
I posted the other day about reading CLEVELAND IN 50 MAPS, edited by Dan Crissman. I finished it and it does not disappoint!

The impression CRAFT IN THE REAL WORLD left me speaks for itself…

OTHER STUFF THAT’S CAUGHT MY EYE
In from the transom…

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Ah, memories…

IN THE WILD
Oh look, the box of judgement I ordered arrived the other day!!

Currently Reading: Cleveland in 50 Maps

Edited by Dan Crissman
Cartography by Evan Tachovsky & David Wilson
2019, Belt Publishing

I bought this and another book the other day. I’d been meaning to get these for awhile, and I happened to snag myself a discount code by attending a cool online event Belt Publishing put on last week. It’s not a book of simple maps of geographical locations. These are maps of the 216 with narratives–historical, sociodemographic, and speculative–grouped into themes.

Usually, I make myself read a book in order; I’m masochistic that way. But once in awhile I give in to the temptation to skip around. And I’m glad I did because immediately I found maps that resonate with me, just from some of the titles…

  • “Cleveland Metroparks Sized by Visitor Occasions/Sq Foot” — Lot of memories in a couple of those parks!
  • “Car Accidents in 2018” — There are 4 large sections marked that had the most accidents that year. If my memory serves, 3 of those spots are the same as they ever were.
  • “Noise Barriers in Cuyahoga County” — I remember when the I-90 ones weren’t there.
  • “Race & Ethnicity in Cuyahoga County” — I mean, obviously I’m interested in the Asian population.
  • “Great Lakes Brewing Company Distribution Routes” — I’ve been living in upstate New York for about 15 years now. Luckily, in an area along one of the routes! Got’damn, I could go for a Dortmunder Gold about now…
  • “NFL Players from Cuyahoga County” — Pretty sure St. Joes is on the map, even if it isn’t marked like St. Iggy’s, Benny’s, and Cathedral Latin.

Can’t wait to dive into these and the other maps in more detail!

January Writing

No excuses for the gaps, but no apologies either. I’m still focused on the long term re-building, not just a more-or-less daily writing practice, but a sustainable one. Sure, 4 day gaps suck; 4 month gaps suck even more. And I’m not going back to that without a fucking fight!

You know, I’m not even worried that I haven’t finished the current short story I’m working on yet. Yes, I’ve finished stories in less time; heck, one time, inside of 12 hours back at Viable Paradise. I’ll get back to that point once I get back whatever the writing equivalent of muscle memory is. And at some point between here and there, I’ll get to posting things like word- or page counts. One step at a time, though. I’ve been very bad in life at trying to walk the line between accountability and self-flagellation.

#Weeknotes S03 E05

I can’t remember the last time I got through a whole week with so little doomscrolling. The oddest part was how things that would’ve been normal four or five years ago felt like absolute novelties. Like legit White House Press Conferences and intelligence briefings. I mean, apart from people so far receiving slaps on the wrist for insurrection attempts and plots to sell government laptops to Russia while BIPOC are still serving decades in jail for weed. Dunno, it kinda feels like the calm before the storm… a real storm, not the big Qthingy.

Between all that and the handle I’ve got on my dayjob stuff currently, I’ve had time to get back on the horse.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 7 days, for 8 days in a row and 23 days in January.

Not a bad start for the year, if I do say so myself. It is a struggle for me not to compare January to what I got done last November and December. But I’m through subjecting myself to Harsh Writing Advice, my own or anyone else’s.

FEEDING MY HEAD
The other day, I attended one of the Winter Salons held online by Belt Publishing. They published a piece of mine in one of their anthologies, THE CLEVELAND NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDEBOOK, awhile back. The discussion was on “Writing About Cities,” featuring writers and editors of various books about different Rust Belt cities, which is what attracted me to this outfit in the first place. I even picked up a couple of new books that I’ll probably write about here once I get through them.

READING
I got a few pages into these three books that seem to be the “in things” in the writing world this week…

I haven’t had the brainspace to go more than a few pages at a time, so I don’t have a coherent impression of each yet. I’m intrigued, and that’s good enough.

FEEDING MY EARS
Picked up my favorite Yacht Rock blue-eyed soul singer Bill Champlin’s latest album LIVIN’ FOR LOVE. I need a couple more listens to get a handle on it, but contrasted with the stuff he did in the Champlin-Williams-Friestedt albums–80s AOR for the 21st century–LIVIN’ reminds me of Champlin’s 90s late 80s/early 90s output, redux.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
C’mon, this wouldn’t even protect you from an active shooter…

IN THE WILD
I, like Asher, am open for business!

#Weeknotes S03 E04

Not that I feel the U.S. is out of the woods, not a damn sight. But the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States makes me feel a little bit better.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 3 days, for 5 days this week and 16 days in January.

Yeah, okay, less days than last week but hear me out…


There were things to feel positive about last week, but I still find myself in one of my cyclical fallow periods — periods I used to call being “exhausted,” “burned out,” “blocked,” or “depressed.” It’s not that I haven’t been any or all of those things, but each time it’s a little different. I just never took the time to pause and look at what was happening each time before now. And when I unpack what’s going on internally this time, I encountered things I know I’ve encountered before, and reckoned with them with a lot less personal judgment and self-criticism. than usual.

One of the many things I’ve noticed is that it’s typical during these times for my notebook to fill up. Pages and pages at a time of ideas, plans, and other things I’d hastily dismiss in the past as “wasted time” because they weren’t in service of whatever project I was “supposed” to be working on at the moment. And when I play around with those things, when they become the potential beginnings of something I can use later, then guess what? That’s writing, and that’s how I got my 5 days this week, along with one or two peeks into the current WIP.

READING
I got a few pages into these three books that seem to be the “in things” in the writing world this week…

  • Matthew Salesses, CRAFT IN THE REAL WORLD
  • George Saunders, A SWIM IN A POND IN THE RAIN
  • POCKET WORKSHOP: ESSAYS ON LIVING AS A WRITER, ed. by Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans, essays by instructors for the CLARION WEST WRITERS WORKSHOP.

I haven’t had the brainspace to go more than a few pages at a time, so I don’t have a coherent impression of each yet. I’m intrigued, and that’s good enough.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK


I just saw the other day about the woman who stole the laptop of the Speaker of the fucking House, planning to sell it to the Russians is out on bail, too. Not to mention the QAnon Shaman.

You know what, I can’t even…

IN THE WILD
…and neither can Mazikeen.

#Weeknotes S03 E03

Still recovering from the week after the coup. Still getting shit done, though. So, here’s another short one.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 4 days, but 6 days this week for 10 days in January.

I got back on the writing wagon. That’s a good thing. I’m not so sure it’s good that I did it by keeping the story I’ve been working on for the past couple of months on the back burner, and letting my mind wander developing a couple of different ideas that came to me. I felt that way because last Monday, I lost a bit of that “craftsman” like feeling I’ve had for awhile. And I hate it when I lose that feeling and can’t get it back quickly, because it always fees like “the beginning of the end.” Momentum fails, life gets in the way, and have to start from square one all over again.

But there’s no getting around the fact that as I rebuild my process in 2021, the well is just going to run dry a lot faster than I want it to. That’s just a fact. So I need to pause and do “maintenance.” And since I don’t have a deadline for the story I’m working on, I figured maybe I can do it in a way that keeps my fingers moving. I feel like I’m ready to get back to my story this week. And when I’m ready to get back to these two ideas, I just need to pull the files back up and I’ll be off and running.

Still, there’s a day missing. The dayjob was pretty hectic last week. But the important thing is being back on the wagon!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
This pisses me off even more than Walis Man. And believe me, Walis Man pissed me the fuck off!


IN THE WILD
Asher was also exhausted and in need of rest this week…

#Weeknotes S03 E02

So, the people I should’ve been reaching out to after the election, the people I need to be afraid would be further(???) provoked by impeachment or the evocation of the 25th Amendment–these are the people I need to forgive and be understanding toward so the country “heals”?? Fuck all that. In the meantime, fair’s fair–you know, when Filipinos did the same thing, America made up a song about it.

So, Damn, Damn, Damn the Insurrectos right back at you!

And that goes for all the 90s syndicated F&SF TV stars I used to watch who turned batshit insane–I’m looking at you, Hercules! Thankfully, they’re not all bad.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 3 days for… um… 5 days in January.

…fuck you want? There was a coup on.

But I’m back on the wagon today. Day 1. With 31 days being the record to beat.

WATCHED
I only today managed to get just far enough past the depression and doomscrolling from the week to feed my soul with a binge viewing of PRETEND IT’S A CITY featuring my literary and personal idol, Fran Lebowitz. Watching Fran speak, on any topic at all, has enthralled me since I was a ‘tween who stayed up too late watching her on the old LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN show.

Here’s a random Fran sampling, not from PRETEND. It’s ASMR for me, as far as I’m concerned…

IN THE WILD
But before I dive back into the wordsmithing, maybe a get myself little bit more personal comfort. I say this because, apparently, Mazikeen gets a vote. Possibly a veto, if I can’t get her off the ThinkPad.

#Weeknotes S03E01

New year, new season of Weeknotes! I didn’t really do the “2020 year in review” or the “2021 resolutions” thing.

WRITING
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 7 days for 2 days in January total– but 21 consecutive days overall!

I’m not even going to bother researching the last time I had a run like that. In the immortal words of Lou Gramm from Foreigner, “It feels like the first time…” Still, keeping in mind what I said the other day, momentum really can’t be the only writing dragon I chase. I’ve been down that road and it never got me anywhere.

So, what have I learned over the last week as I try to reconstruct a sustainable writing practice? Two things.

  • For a couple of months, I’ve started from a premise that I need to end a day’s writing session feeling the range of things I feel at the end of a day at the dayjob. Most days, I kill it. Some days, everything goes utterly wrong. Once in awhile, I don’t feel it but I still show up even to just phone it in. And on a rare occasion, I call in sick. So far, it’s working.
  • For the past couple of weekends, I decided to differentiate between “project writing” (stories, essays, etc. that I aim to submit) and “writing for its own sake.” Brain dumps, writing exercises, thinking about old writing projects, dreaming about new ones–if it further’s my craft development, it counts as a writing day! So far, so good.

For now, the process will take however long it takes; so fucking slow though, but it is what it is for now.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
I haven’t yet gotten around to Season 5 of THE EXPANSE just yet, but I’m all caught up on GENE RODDENBERRY’S ANDROMEDA 2021–er, I mean STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Season 3. But what I’m shivering with anticipation for is the Martin Scorsese/Fran Lewobitz follow-up collaboration PRETEND IT’S A CITY

FEEDING MY HEAD (Coming soon…)
Because I really need to sort out my reading list. I’ve opened up a few books and articles here and there, but tracking it all has gone off the rails a little bit since I’ve been more focused on getting my writing process back on track. I need to pick it back up, though. You know how you feel when you’re working while hungry? That’s exactly how I’m feeling about now.

IN THE WILD
This blog’s 2021 energy, as depicted by Mazikeen…