#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!!

#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…

#Weeknotes S02 E37

Last Weeknote of the year! I remember a year ago now I was dubious about getting 52 of these done in 2020–not to mention feeling unsure if I really even wanted to. Hey, 37 out of 52 is absolutely nothing to scoff at though, is it?

But since it is the holidays, let’s keep it short and sweet.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 7 days for 25 days in December total!

I shifted things during the last few days due to the holiday, from the current WIP to developing an idea I’ve had on my mind for about a year now. Yes, it’s still outlining and brainstorming, but I’ve been a lot better lately about not dismissing that work as not being Real Writing(TM).

This week, I managed to find my way back to two old resources I keep coming back to. The first is THE SCENE BOOK by Sandra Scofield. It’s not just good for the subject matter, but also for the structure it offers for scene analysis in your own work.

The second, and more meaningful, is this question from Rod Serling. It’s something that stuck with me since the first time I ever heard it, maybe 10 or more years ago…

Suffice it to say that’s absolutely the question I’ll be focusing on in 2021.

IN THE WILD
I hope you enjoyed your holidays at least as much as our Asher Mir has!

And that’s all she wrote for 2020. Good riddance to another bad year. Say what you will about it, but this may be the first year in awhile (at least 4 years, if you’re USian) where there might be a glimmer of hope for the next. So, be like Asher, who almost always has that hopeful face.

Always be hopeful!

#Weeknotes S02 E36

I think it’s safe to say I’ve shaken the rust of my Weeknotes habit. It’s finally starting to come off of my writing as well!

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 7 days for 18 days for December total!

18 out of 19 days in a month! I could stop now, and still mark this as more progress as I’ve made in a couple of years. I won’t, though. But as I look ahead, maybe I can see my way to letting my self take some days off around the holidays. Maybe.

You know, now that I finally have something like a writing process again, maybe I can actually use weeknotes the way they’re supposed to be used, i.e. “to share one’s work processes, thoughts and reflections to everyone….” At least where writing is concerned. So, what happened this past week…?

  • My goal was to rebuild the streak I broke two Saturdays ago. I’m already halfway there!
  • There were a couple of days where I didn’t have a lot of energy after the dayjob. But at least I can say I legit used every ounce I had left doing the absolute bare minimum!
  • I had the joy of discovering a line that I wrote in the first draft working out better than I thought it would when I first wrote it.
  • But the weirdest experience this week…

Which is basically my way of noting how I’m writing enough to make it feel each session feel like an honest day’s work, where you’re in a groove regardless of whether things are going well or not. It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt that.

FEEDING MY HEAD
I stumbled across a Twitter thread from a writer with his nominations for what he considered the #BestClevelandWriting for 2020. I’ve had a couple of these books in my “currently reading” pile already (RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Anne Jolie and RUST: A MEMOIR OF STEEL AND GRIT by Eliese Colette Goldbach).

I figured if the books being recommended were of that caliber, then it must be worth giving THE STORYTELLING CODE by Dana Norris a try. I know the last thing I need is “another craft book,” but it’s not as much about technique as it is the wide applicability of the art of storytelling. I’ll let you all know how it is.

ROTTING MY BRAIN
It was weird how I almost immediately got hit with spoilers for the season 2 finale of THE MANDALORIAN (which I haven’t kept up with), while managing to dodge the spoiler for S02E10 of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. But it just leads me to conclude that the aging fan in me just doesn’t have the time and energy to spend fighting off the spoilers these days…?

IN THE WILD
When Mazikeen sings it, she sings, “Motherfucker, It’s Cold Outside.”

#Weeknotes S02 E35

Still shaking the rust off on these.

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 6 days for 11 days for December total!

Yes, I skipped yesterday. But I was exhausted and wanted to do other things. The last time I got remotely close to 16 consecutive days (counting November and December) was January 2017. I had more stretches of fewer days. Which wouldn’t be bad either, but I’m really looking to break the chain as little as possible. The real process breakthroughs though are the things I’m learning while I’m building that chain…

FEEDING MY EYES
Finally getting around to Season 3 of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. I’m intrigued, even though it feels like I rode this ride before 20 years ago with GENE RODDENBERRY’S ANDROMEDA. (Wait… 20 years ago???) DISCO is a better show though (big surprise) but I really did like the first season of ANDROMEDA and the first season of Gene Roddenberry’s other show at that time from beyond the grave, EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT.

I’ve finally gotten to the David Cronenberg episodes. What, was CBS jealous that Disney has Werner Herzog on their franchise?

I’ve also been indulging the guilty pleasure of THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND. And by indulging, I mean snarking on it on social media.

THERE’S A STORY IN HERE SOMEWHERE
I can’t decide if this is Filipino surrealism or just some ad people who hit the shabu pipe a little too hard…

IN THE WILD
In which Asher Mir depicts how I was feeling yesterday…

#Weeknotes S02 E34

Aaaand, we’re back! It’s been awhile but I finally feel like I have the brainspace to bring this back now and in the fast approaching new year. I’m choosing not to be too hard on myself about taking a break and instead to (a) be happy with the 33 straight weeks of entries that I did manage and (b) to approach the prospect of 52 straight weeks in 2021 with curiosity — i.e. How will I pull this off? — rather than a goal that I’ll either meet or fail (usually fail) to meet.

So, what’s been going on the past seven days?

WRITING PROGRESS
Longest Writing Chain This Week: 7 days for 10 days total!

So far, so good building off of my November writing progress! It’s strange having found my way back into this groove, but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. The key this week (actually, over the last month) has been trusting my instincts, and it’s allowed me to take a story I’ve worked on for a couple of years and (I believe) come up with all the elements it needs. Now, I just need to fill in the words…

FEEDING MY HEAD
I picked Kit Reed’s STORY FIRST: THE WRITER AS INSIDER back up. I’d started reading this in January, so I went back a few pages from where I left off and finished it off between writing sessions. It definitely helped me through a couple of tough spots.

FEEDING MY EARS
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head for a week. Now, the more cynical of us might think, “Oh great, a Journey cover band made of of current and ex-Journey members… like how some ex-members of Chicago did?”

No, I’m here to celebrate Journey Through Time – two original members of Journey (Neal Schon and Greg Rolie), one not-original member who was with the band almost 20 years (drummer Deen Castronovo), and three other guys. Not to diss the three other guys, but they’re not the point of my obsession.

I saw Journey live around maybe 1999 or 2000ish after Steve Augeri replaced the apparently not irreplacable Steve Perry on lead vocals. Supposedly, Castronovo would do the occasional lead but I can’t remember if he sang anything when I saw them. Because you would think I would’ve remembered the drummer sounding at least as good as the Steves. Hey, don’t take my word for it…

I know, right??

Don’t worry, Arnel — you’re still my boy!

IN THE WILD
Really, there’s only been one barrier to my writing in the past few weeks. A lovely, sweet baby girl of a barrier but still…