#Weeknotes S01 E07

Another short one, since I haven’t been feeling great this weekend.

IRONS IN THE FIRE. I’m not really trying to be coy by not explicitly naming online the things I’m waiting on. Just superstitious. And while the needle moved on one of these irons a couple of weeks ago, last week it was the other iron’s turn. And now I’m in that “hurry up and wait” phase of things. Frustrating but at least the odds are (the way I see them, anyway) at least one out of these two things will go my way.

WORKFLOW EXPERIMENTATION. This is the time of year when I usually field test some kind of personal workflow change so I can start the new year off with new systems in place. Last year, it was Weeknotes (which didn’t work out so well, but that was for reasons) and keeping everything in the Google ecosystem (which worked too well). This year, I know I don’t have all the necessary information to know what changes I might need to make — it kind of depends on how the two irons I have in the fire turn out.

IN THE WILD. I guess there’s no point complaining about holiday merch in stores anymore this year.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E06

Sad news and not-so-bad news this week. I had to say goodbye to one of the best cats in existence last Wednesday.

Two days after though, I went to a Visit Day event run by the graduate program I applied to. It was a little weird for me, because the visit was geared toward the resident students; however I applied for the Executive program (i.e. mostly online classes geared for people who are already professionals in my field). But I figured if there was ever a time to shove my natural shyness aside, it was Friday, and it paid off. Made some cool connections with current students, alums, prospective students for the residency program and, like me, another “Executive” prospect who’s also looking to take advantage of this as a university employee.

The event did what it was supposed to do–make the program appealing to prospective students. I’m still waiting to hear whether I got in, but I have to admit, I want it more than ever now. Which isn’t a feeling I revel in particularly but hey, it’s not the worst thing.

Of course, this is going to be murder on the fiction writing. Maybe. I’m just not going to stress about that now. Only thing I’m worried about–even over the other iron I currently have in the fire that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet–is getting into this program! And besides, I’m not ready to give up on the writing just yet, as you might be able to tell from what I’ve started reading last week.

FEEDING MY EYES. With two books to add to the creativity section of my library along with Lynda Barry’s SYLLABUS and WHAT IT IS…

  • EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD by Felicia Day
  • IMPROV FOR WRITERS by Jorjeanna Marie

These books brought Barry’s books to mind because Day’s and Marie’s books have similar themes around why and how to get out of your own creative way. The root of all my creative problems is staying stuck in my head. Okay, creative problems and maybe more than a few life problems, if I was being perfectly honest.

FEEDING MY EARS. As if I don’t have enough of a podcast backlog…

  • In SCENE BY SCENE WITH JOSH & DEAN, cartoonists Josh Neufeld and Dean Haspiel break down, scene by scene, the 2003 film AMERICAN SPLENDOR. And we all know how I loves me some Harvey Pekar, right kids? That was reason enough to check this out but what’s even better is that Neufeld and Haspiel have several pieces each in the AMERICAN SPLENDOR comic. I didn’t even know this podcast existed until it’s second to last episode. Actually, I don’t know if Episode 30 is the last one, but it’s the one about the End Credits. Either way, I’ve started at Episode 1 and it’s just awesome.
  • The HEALTH CONSCIOUS podcast is run by a group of students in the field of Health Administration, discussing the state of the U.S. healthcare industry, how it works, some key challenges, and what can we do about them.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

IN THE WILD. Big mood this week…

#Weeknotes S01 E05

Short and sweet, because I’m not in the mood to get bogged down sticking to a structure right now.

IRONS IN THE FIRE. One of the irons in the fire I mentioned last week was this: I was offered an interview for the graduate program I applied to. Yes, I’m finally taking advantage of a dayjob benefit. Look, I even wore a jacket and commandeered a conference room for it!

It’s been a long time coming–maybe too long–but I decided to shoot my shot anyway. Truthfully, I don’t know what I’m more scared of: not getting in or actually getting in.

I’m still waiting on the other iron in the fire I mentioned; I don’t want to mention it yet for fear of jinxing it.

NEW HOTNESS. I couldn’t really afford to upgrade my old Google Pixel, but with the deals going on right now for the Pixel 4, I couldn’t really afford not to. So I went for it!

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Fal-tor-pan is in progress!

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My old man critique centers mostly around a lack of headphone jack and the removal of a fingerprint scanner. In the end, though, so what? I’ve got Bluetooth headphones and all things considered, it still does everything I need my smartphone to do in 2019. I even went back to the XL size phone because of my nostalgia for my old Nexus 6. That might’ve been a mistake, but I’ll deal.

FEEDING MY EARS. I’ve listened to this episode of the Ezra Klein Show podcast, “Neoliberalism and its discontents.” It’s so dense (or, I’m so dense?), that I couldn’t absorb it after one listen.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Catch you all next week!

#Weeknotes S01 E04

I know this should be entry number 40something by now. What can I tell ya, it’s got a “4” in it at least.

You know how it is when you’re away from your blog for a while. You spend too much time thinking about how to make your next post something with a bang in it. But I have to give myself permission to just ramble if I feel like it. It is my fucking space after all.

It’s been a trying couple of months for me emotionally and as usual, I didn’t notice just how hard I get hit until the fog started to lift. You know, the fog of, “Wow, not only have you not made much writing progress for the past few weeks, you really haven’t felt much like making progress at all at… life in general.”

I could rehash it all but if you skip the #GhostHunters tweets on my feed, you can pretty much figure it out: sick feline family members, absent friends, new medication, etc. On top of that, I’ve got a couple of non-writing career-related irons in the fire–I feel like I’ve already jinxed them by saying even that much.

DAYJOB. As I write this, 2019’s Viable Paradise is happening right now. Also I have friends talking about World Fantasy Con next week. It’s a little bittersweet because if the irons I have in the fire right now pan out, I don’t know when I’ll be at an SFFH event or con again in the near future. So, I’ll either make some potentially career-altering moves in a positive direction at the (further) expense of my writing and involvement in the writing community or… well, maybe see you at Boskone or 4th Street Fantasy next year!

Yeah, as worst case scenarios go, I’m doing pretty well, I’d say.

WRITING PROGRESS. The longest Writing Chain I’ve had for the past couple of months hasn’t gone past 3 days at the best of times. I’m cutting myself some slack, though.

FEEDING MY EYES. I haven’t been doing much of that either until the past couple of weeks. Since then, I’ve added to my overlong reading queue:

  • ECHOES: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF GHOST STORIES by Ellen Datlow (ed.) because as we all know, I’ll buy anything sight unseen with new M. Rickert in it.
  • FLY ALREADY by Etgar Keret, because what applies to Rickert applies to him, too.
  • THE ANTIDOTE: HAPPINESS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T STAND POSITIVE THINKING by Oliver Burkeman
  • Tim Alberta’s, AMERICAN CARNAGE
  • Judith Hannan’s THE WRITE PRESCRIPTION, which I got after taking an impromptu writing workshop that referenced it.
  • Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART — can’t remember where I got it in my head that I needed to read this. From the workshop maybe? It’s not in my notes, though. Oh well.

FEEDING MY EARS. Aside from the audiobook for John Waters’ MR. KNOW-IT-ALL: THE TARNISHED WISDOM OF A FILTH ELDER, I’m burning through the usual spate of podcasts on my commute to and from the dayjob. The thing that’s stuck out lately is Marc Maron’s WTF podcast interview with Rachel Maddow (which I think will expire after a bit if you’re not a subscriber). At about 1:09:10, they start talking about their experiences with depression and I’ll be damned if a lot of my internal self-talk sounds like what they say goes through their minds sometimes. Things like…

Anytime I’ve ever felt joy, I’ve been misled.

or,

Remember that nice thing I once said to you? I didn’t mean that. I was trying to be apologetic.

I swear, from now on I’m going to hear all my negative self talk in Maron’s and Maddow’s voices.

IN THE WILD. Happy Halloween, folks!

#Weeknotes S01 E03

I wondered if I’d be able to keep this up for 52 straight weeks–or whether I even should. I’ve been in personal recovery mode this past week, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to report. If there’s one thing I’ve been trying to do, at least in the writing area of my life, is to shoot for no Zero Days. That much I accomplished at least. So it’s going to be short this week. Welcome to season 1, episode 3!

WRITING PROGRESS. No zero days, at least…

  • Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day.
  • Short Story 01. A couple of scenes that may not make it into the final draft.
  • Comic Script 01. No progress.

FEEDING MY HEAD. Just a random sampling of podcasts and Netflix offerings. At long last I got to see that AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS was everything (good and bad) that everyone said it was. I’ve paused the LONG DISTANCE and SERIAL podcasts but only for a bit, but I did scan through some of the other ones I listen to. Maybe I’ll list those one of these days.

IN THE WILD. Perfect metaphor of recent life events, thanks to the current snowpocalypse. The mailbox second from the right is mine.

#Weeknotes S01 E02

I haven’t been well this week. You could say I’ve had quite the workout. So, there hasn’t been a lot of progress. That’s the other side of the accountability coin, isn’t it? Not just to list successes, but to talk about when things didn’t get done. Welcome to season 1, episode 2!

WRITING PROGRESS

  • Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day.
  • Short Story 01. A few line edits, and a little re-plotting of the third act. Nothing to speak of. Yes, it is better than nothing; I’m better at acknowledging that than I used to be. A little.
  • Comic Script 01. No progress.

FEEDING MY HEAD. I listened to the next couple of episodes of Season three of the SERIAL podcast. The third episode in particular, “Misdemeanor, Meet Mr. Lawsuit”, hit close to home. My old home that is, where I grew up. On a related note, I do have some parallel reading queued up.

I’ve been migrating my podcasts from one app to Google Podcasts because I’m becoming rapidly spoiled by the relatively seamless syncing between devices. I stumbled onto the LONG DISTANCE podcast, and now this is #2 on my queue right after SERIAL. The trailer alone should tell you why this is up my alley.

I haven’t checked this out yet, but did you know there’s a digital archive of HEAVY METAL?

THERE’S A STORY IN HERE SOMEWHERE. Appropos of William Gibson being named by SFWA as the 35th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master

It’s almost like decades of cypberpunk literature, film, and role-playing games should’ve prepared us for all this!

IN THE WILD. As baggage has been on my mind lately, literally and figuratively…

#Weeknotes S01 E01

Here it is: 2019 and my first official season of Weeknotes. I’m mixing up the usual format with thoughts about the whys and the wherefores of what I’m trying to accomplish with these. This is as much for me as it is for anyone. Welcome to season 1, episode 1!

WRITING PROGRESS. I’ve got a backlog of stories to finish writing, and got’dammit I’m going to finish them. This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution, i.e. not some big thing that just sets me up for failure. No, this is about going back to the grindstone, or back to the woodshed. It’s project management, really. So I’m going to be a little more public with my process, maybe throw in a stat or two now and then.

  • Longest Writing Chain This Week: 2 days
  • Short Story 01. I’ve been working on this since I rediscovered it in my backlog late last year, which technically makes it the first story I’m working on in 2019. Hence, “Short Story 01.” It suffers from the way my first drafts usually go: an interesting start, a few plot points along the way, but really unsure of where it needs to go.
  • Comic Script 01. Another thing I’ve been picking away at for the past few months. I’ve got a long-range outline, but it’s still just something I’m just getting down into a puke draft.

READING. I read a lot. Mostly, in a haphazard manner. It was a relatively light reading week. I pulled M. Rickert’s YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE back out. I’ve read each of these stories before, except for “The Shipbuilder” which I just finished. Also, I’m picking through a flash fiction anthology, NEW MICRO which I happened to buy at a bookstore in Saratoga Springs where I once saw Mary read!

THERE’S A STORY IN HERE SOMEWHERE. Lots of people post a link roundup, but this link roundup will be of things that I feel might have a story in them (i.e. for me to eventually write) even if I have no idea what it might be, regardless of whether anything comes of it.

Not much of a roundup from the past week, but here’s something: I listened to the first episode of season three of the SERIAL podcast. I’m way late to this party, but this is one season taking a look at “A year inside a typical American courthouse” in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Or, as I know it, “The land of my birth.” According to what I’ve read, it’s not set in Cleveland because of the DOJ’s Consent Decree or anything like that. But “…because they let us record everywhere — courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, prosecutors’ offices.” They mean it, they recorded everywhere that wouldn’t be a violation of attorney/client privilege.

HOW I’M WORKING. I do tweak how I work. The thing is, I can be stubborn about clinging to old ways, but I’m trying to be better. So, whenever I have a thought or idea about my process and how it’s working or not working, I’m going to talk about it.

I talked about how I worked to move my writing workflow wholly into the Google ecosystem from Dropbox. Basically, using Keep and Docs allows me to use almost any device I own or have access to with internet access. It took a bit of thought to mimic my old workflow which was just about as software/OS agnostic as it could be. Using Google takes me a step away from that, but with a little bit of thought and some setting up, I’m probably as close to “ultraportable” as I can get. If I don’t feel like carting around my ThinkPad X1C, my 8.4″ tablet with a foldable Bluetooth keyboard will serve just fine. Either way, I generate content exactly as I always have–brainstorms, ideas, lists are spat out into Keep and get copied and pasted into something. It’s how I wrote the first couple of drafts of this entry.

Docs has its formatting limitations (it’s not MS Word or my tool of choice, LibreOffice Writer). For short stories or comic scripts, a little creativity is needed but I can produce almost the same MS-formatted output as I could with LibreOffice. There’s a rule of thumb about switching off Widow/Orphan protection, which I can’t seem to do with Docs. But given how a lot of venues accept submissions these days–some of whom don’t like MS format or want you submit as plain text, or whatever–it might not matter much. And when it does, I’ve still got LibreOffice.

My submission format of choice, right after Whatever the submissions editor wants, is straight-up MS format in an .rtf. I might need to do a little more tweaking, because exporting a Docs file into .rtf makes the headers look funny. I do not appear to have this problem when exporting to .docx or .odt files. Maybe my preference for .rtf files is something else I need to let go of. (I don’t necessarily have to though–converting a downloaded .odt file and converting to .rtf with LibreOffice seems to work. I told you I was stubborn.)

IN THE WILD. I’m fascinated by the ingenuity of local reuse stores. This reminds me that while I’m trying–again–to do things I’ve tried to do before, life still has to go on and there’s no reason not to make the best use of what you already have.

#Weeknotes S00 E06

Welcome to season 0, episode 6! The series finale, as it were. You know I never dug into why the season/episode title format was so prevalent with the Weeknotes crowd, but it seems right. Either way, we’ll resume with the regular format next week. Today though, we’re on the cusp of a new year. That bears reflecting on.

Around late October/early November, every year for awhile now, I start doing little experiments on better ways to do things. I only recently discovered that there’s a language for what I was doing i.e. PDSA cycling. That’s why I started my Weeknotes experiment when I did, but that’s only the most visible example. I’ve shuffled workflows, I’ve figured out what things I need to sacrifice in order to make my writing work as widely available across every device I own and have access to. I’ve done other things, too, on a more personal level.

But it’s all in aid of getting back to some things that I’ve been missing: geek life, writing life… generally, all the things I’ve (legitimately) had to neglect for one reason or another over the past few years. Because I’m done being miserable.

Thing is, for 2019 there will be no shame, no blame–just the slow, steady work of getting back to what makes my life good. I hope. And, that’s what I’ll be posting about once a week.

IN THE WILD

#Weeknotes S00 E05

I think I’m getting the hang of these now. Only one more after this before Weeknotes becomes a Real Thing I do in 2019. Welcome to season 0, episode 5!

LOGISTICS > FOMO. I’m sad, but for the first time in quite a few years, I have to bow out of Boskone in February. The logistics just aren’t going to work out this year. But I’m looking forward to Boskone in 2020 and, gods willing and the creek don’t rise, 4th Street Fantasy this June!

PROJECTS. I’ve had time to get myself to the next revision of the current story I’m working on. I’ve managed to grind it down to the point where I see every single flaw. Now, this is when the work gets hardest for me. Still, the only way out is through, right?

Other writing I’ve done this week was around the blog. Not just content generation, which you’ll see of course, but also some behind-the-scenes thinking about why I feel the urge to pull this site out of the mud and what, exactly, I intend to use it for.

READING. Another week, another two new books I pick up and start diving into because, what backlog?

The 100th episode of the HOW TO BE AMAZING podcast is an interview with Terry Gross, which prompted me to finally check out her book ALL I HAD TO DO WAS ASK: CONVERSATIONS WITH WRITERS, ACTORS, AND MUSICIANS. Seemed up my alley.

I was going through THE BELIEVER’s online archives and found an interview with writer Bonnie Chau, which led me to her short story collection ALL ROADS LEAD TO BLOOD. I actually wasn’t too thrilled with the start of the first story in it, but was into it before I got to the end. I love it when stories do that!

THERE’S A STORY IN HERE SOMEWHERE

IN THE WILD. Like I said, the only way out is through. Just hope this doesn’t lead to blood…

#Weeknotes S00 E04

If you’re reading this then I’ve managed to write this for a fourth week in a row and nothing stopped me from clicking “Post.” Something always happens to me when I’m building up a habit and meet with some early success. I almost immediately start stressing about the habit is going to eventually implode. Not today, Satan! Welcome to season 0, episode 4!

It’s going to be a short one, though. If I do manage to pull off 52 of these in 2019, I anticipate that some of these will just be “proof of life” posts, and that’s okay. Again, this is only a test.

PROJECTS. Just… just don’t ask.

READING Still catching up on random LOCUS articles. Just downloaded the December issue, though. But at least the backlog–well, the LOCUS backlog–isn’t that long.

My NEW YORKER backlog, however, is a different story.

WATCHING. I’ll say this, now that I’ve had a chance to think about DOCTOR WHO Series 11: This was the 2005 Series 1 we should’ve had. I think some of the flaws, real or perceived, that some episodes had can easily be chalked up to being “series 1” flaws. I do think the decision to avoid revisiting the past took some things away; I get the “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” argument. But it was a good and much needed reset and I’m ticked that it’s not coming back until New Year’s, and that’s it for 2019.

I could go into lists of what I liked and didn’t like, but I think this tweet from a few weeks ago says it all…

IN THE WILD. Out with the old, in with the new…