#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…

#Weeknotes S00 E03

Third week in a row, so I guess it’s a habit now! I’m wrapping up a year that I’d like to be done with now. Maybe not as badly as I wanted 2016 and 2017 done, but pretty close. Changes are afoot–I hope. Welcome to season 0, episode 3!

WORKFLOWS. This has been my third week modifying the way I use my personal devices to write and conduct my text- and tech-related business. Basically, Google Keep and Docs has allowed me to do my non-dayjob related stuff almost exclusively on my tablet while I’m moving on the fly. As light as my ThinkPad X1C is, my dayjob life flies too fast and leaves me so exhausted lately, enough to make it kind of useless to carry it around every second of every day. But for those moments where I, f’rinstance, have a little time while sitting in a cafe to to edit a draft or polish off a blog entry, this setup works just fine.

PROJECTS. Everything writing-related has stalled this week. No excuses but many reasons, including illness and exhaustion.

READING. I finished Cal Newport’s SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU a month and some change ago, and have been reflecting on it in the context of changes I need to make in my writing life and, more urgently, my dayjob life. I’m about find out if I’ve accumulated enough career capital to start making those changes.

I got to M. Rickert’s story “True Crime” in Issue 72 of NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE. I’m too biased at this point to be objective about her work after all the years I’ve been reading it!

This article’s a year old but somehow came across my transom recently: “From Machen to VanderMeer: The Weird Landscape as the Avatar of Evil”. It’s a nice overview that includes Margaret St. Clair, one of those writers I (re-) discovered before it was cool. I became acquainted with her work about 7 or 8 years ago when I sought out and read some of the Weird short stories that were adapted into episodes of ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY, namely St. Clair’s “Brenda.” Of course, this led me to pull out my old copy of her best of anthology and re-read “Child of Void.”

WATCHING. I’ve lost track of the things I’ve been mindlessly watching, but as I play catch-up with Series 11 of DOCTOR WHO, I finally have some thoughts. But I’m deliberately taking my time letting those thoughts fully cook before I share them. Like every series since 2005, it has its strengths and weaknesses. I just want to make sure I’m making my comments are as unfiltered by any of my graying middle-aged cismale biases as much as possible.

Who else is watching Hasan Minhaj’s PATRIOT ACT on Netflix? The title sequence itself is worth the price of admission, just for the look that Minhaj has on his face at the end of it. I can relate, my brown brother. I can relate.

IN THE WILD. Somehow, the idea of trying to dress up some underdeveloped bushes with holiday lights during a dreary upstate New York winter resonates with me…

#Weeknotes S00 E02

Hey, 2nd week in a row! I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I could pull it off. Again, the idea is to see if I can build a habit I can sustain next year. So far, so good. Welcome to season 0, episode 2.

This hasn’t been a good week for getting much done. I’ve been sick for most of it; I had to take 2 days off from the day job. I let myself spend hours at a time in bed, but I just had to keep working on the latest IWP MOOC, Stories of Place. Mostly the readings, though. Lots of stuff just filling my brain and churning away. Anyway, what else have I been up to?

NEW WORKFLOWS. Okay, I get why a lot of people throw caution about privacy to the wind and put all their writing in Google Docs. And with the Keep extension for Chrome, I can have my current projects offline on my laptop. It seems more reliable than I remember from even a couple of years ago. Now, I knew I’ve had this capability on my Android tablet. In fact, it’s come in handy by letting me work even on the bus commute to/from work.

PROJECTS. I added another page to the comic scripts. But I spent most of my writing time pushing through about 8 pages of edits on a short story. I’m reaching that point where I can see all the holes. But I can’t stress out about it until after I’ve finished this pass.

READING

  • The October and November issues of LOCUS. I’m way behind, and I figured I’d have to start catching up somewhere.
  • Still chipping away at DEAR AMERICA by Jose Antonio Vargas
  • On tap: the September 2018 issue of NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE, because I can never let a new story from M. Rickert go by without reading it.

THIS WEEK I LEARNED…

  • Jerry Springer’s old show is done but a new one rises from its ashes: JUDGE JERRY. Hey, at least Jerry’s got real legal experience, not to mention local government experience. Makes me wonder how he’s going to announce child support decisions, though.
  • The Lordstown GM plant is closing. I imagine that anyone with roots in Ohio understands the deeper meanings of that.
  • There was a talk by 2 Cornell emeritus professors on the history of American atheism that I might’ve attended if I’d been in town that particular weekend and known BookTV was going to be there filming it.

IN THE WILD. The perfect illustration of my day job lunchtimes…

Weeknotes – post-Thanksgiving edition

Going to try this weeknotes thing, at least on a trial basis, for the rest of 2018. Let’s just dive in and see how it goes. It’s longer than I wanted it to be, but despite the holiday it was a busy week last week.

NEW WORKFLOWS. Now’s about the time of year when I start playing with changes to various workflows, testing them before I bring them into the New Year. I do it to fight my tendency to cling to ways of working that have started to create more problems than were solved. And so for a month or two, I run short PDSA cycles. This year, it’s about how I sync my stuff.

Since I don’t pay for Dropbox I can’t really kvetch much about how their decision to stop supporting any Linux system not run on a clean ext4 drive (my Ubuntu partition on my ThinkPad is encrypted with ecryptfs, which is a no go now) has really fucked up my work. See, I’ve prided myself on being software and OS agnostic when it comes to my daily computing. Plain text files written with text editors, and synced to Dropbox. And if that text needs to go somewhere–Wordpress, an email, LibreOffice, whatever–copy/paste is my friend. But it offered me more or less the ultimate distraction free writing environment, or a platform where I could take quick notes.

This week, I’ve been running experiments to see how far I manage going all in on teh Googles–Keep and Docs, mostly–for writing and life management. And after that, I’m going to follow up on a recommendation to try the AWS Free Tier. In the meantime, though, it’s been going really well. I’ve been finding how it’s made me leverage my tablet more effectively, with the help of a portable Bluetooth keyboard. Of course, this new workflow slightly intensifies the pain of being without internet, but I’m really at no more risk than I was before.

PROJECTS. I migrated two projects in particular from my Dropbox folder into Google Drive: a comic script I’ve been tinkering with and a short story edit.

READING. Once again, a couple of books have managed to jump their place in my backlog queue.

  • DEAR AMERICA: NOTES FROM AN UNDOCUMENTED CITIZEN by Jose Antonio Vargas. I got about a quarter of the way through it when by chance I happened to notice an interview on BookTV’s AFTER WORDS the other night.
  • THE COLLECTED STORIES OF DIANE WILLIAMS. Yeah, I had no clue this was coming out. So much for my so-called friends who should’ve told me. C’mon now, you all know better!

VIEWING

  • CASTLEVANIA. I binged all of Season 2 on Netflix over a couple of days. I loves me some Warren Ellis.
  • THE ENDLESS (2017). I’m writing up a review. Loved it!
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE. I have thoughts about this I need to write up, too!

IN THE WILD. I’m not sure how a mailbox ends up at a bus stop, but…