Archive for category General

2012 The Year in Review (Part 1: Resolutions)

So, to remind everyone of where we started from, here’s the original list I posted last January, with color commentary on the outcomes below each point.

What I can do:
1) (a) Write. The daily routine (250-500 words per day – on a project).
I’ve had higher goals in the past, but then when things got down to it, there were days that wouldn’t hit mark, and days that would sail clear over. Writing by hand (as I’ve been deciding to do for longer, more creative pieces), this means writing about one to two pages a day. Not necessarily a lot, but considering books are measured in pages, it’s not too bad of an idea. Besides. I will likely write a lot more, depending on how many projects I’m looking at, and that doesn’t even take into account any blog posts, or “non-project productive” things (emails) I might write.

1) (b) Write multiple things.
This isn’t to say “have a dozen projects going at once” (although I might, to some degree), but to write different types of things. To paraphrase the Book of Scalzi: Non-fiction/technical/editorial pieces may not be romantic, but they can pay pretty well, and there’s a lot more places for them. And those types of pieces are more likely to help pay bills while the fiction is still making the rounds.

1) (c) Marketing and sending submissions out.
A writer cannot be published if they do not send anything out.

A general response to all of the above: A mixed bag. I was inconsistent when looking at daily word counts, and sunk a lot of time (early in the year) to finalizing and submitting Graduate School applications, as well as some scholarship applications back in September. WIth those applications came some essays, and with the first semester of the MFA program came “reader response” sorts of things – brief essays that are more like mini-blog posts of a sort. In the same breath, I can say I’ve logged over 20k words for what is intended to be my MFA thesis novel (mostly revised existing work I had done years ago, but I DID retype everything – as well as added close to 8k words that were original to this effort). I did also write an original short story (closer to Flash Fiction) out of what has been labeled “The Horror of Thursday” from my Viable Paradise experience.

2) Get weight down… The ultimate goal will be to get to between 175-185 (target), but for now the idea is to get into (and stick with) a fitness routine, using some of the things that I’ve learned over the past year. For future reference, I’m starting the year between 215-220.

Meh… still about the same, which, considering the day job is 99.9% sedentary I think that maintaining is only slightly on the “victory” side… not a good thing for long term considerations, but at least it’s better than the opposite.

3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got a slew of holdovers from my stack that I assembled in 2011, including both new purchases and gifts from throughout the year. While I would really like to clear this one by at least double, volume of other activities may continue to keep the numbers modest.

Close, but not quite. The official count was 29 for the year, but there were two that I cleared the halfway point in December, and a third that was underway, but didn’t quite finish. But that falls into the “average” range for my past few years.

What I am hoping for:
1) (a) Writing output: Projects can be unruly, and what may start out as a good idea for a short grows longer with each synapse that fires. Novel ideas may only work as a sub-plot. In the past, I have listed specific content generation goals which, for someone still starting out and figuring out my own balance, has proven the axiom that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I hope to complete at least two stories (short, novella or novel – however they grow), with at least six stories “thought through” (brainstormed, outlined, etc). Depending on how the school applications go, the specific working stories may already be determined.

1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I am planning on applying for two writer’s workshops this year, in addition to the pending applications for graduate school. I will also consider submitting for other presentations and conferences, but those are lower on my priority list until at least after June (which means, any proposals will likely be for 2013 events).

See the above response regarding 1a… As for B… As I mentioned above, I applied and was accepted to Viable Paradise. The other workshop I was considering applying to would have been Clarion West, but dates conflicted with the Residency schedule for the MFA program I was accepted to. Since the MFA program is a low-residency one, that means no change in employment. However, that also means having to be frugal with any days out of work (to cover the time I am away at the residencies), so any plans for conference presentations any great distance from the home turf is out of the question (shame… I was considering some topics for the IAFA conference in March, which features Neil Gaiman as a GOH).

But most of all, I hope I can help to fulfill Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
So the most important hope for this coming year, is that I make a lot of mistakes – ones that I can learn from, grow through, and will ultimately improve me in ways both expected and not.  And I hope the same for you.
Yes, I would say I made several mistakes… things that I could have (and probably should have) done better… some of which I will address another time.
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Resolutions for 2012

I will start again with the skeleton of years past, flesh it out with a few new thoughts, and complete with the hopes for the coming year.

What I can do:
1) (a) Write. The daily routine (250-500 words per day – on a project).
I’ve had higher goals in the past, but then when things got down to it, there were days that wouldn’t hit mark, and days that would sail clear over. Writing by hand (as I’ve been deciding to do for longer, more creative pieces), this means writing about one to two pages a day. Not necessarily a lot, but considering books are measured in pages, it’s not too bad of an idea. Besides. I will likely write a lot more, depending on how many projects I’m looking at, and that doesn’t even take into account any blog posts, or “non-project productive” things (emails) I might write.

1) (b) Write multiple things.
This isn’t to say “have a dozen projects going at once” (although I might, to some degree), but to write different types of things. To paraphrase the Book of Scalzi: Non-fiction/technical/editorial pieces may not be romantic, but they can pay pretty well, and there’s a lot more places for them. And those types of pieces are more likely to help pay bills while the fiction is still making the rounds.

1) (c) Marketing and sending submissions out.
A writer cannot be published if they do not send anything out.

2) Get weight down… The ultimate goal will be to get to between 175-185 (target), but for now the idea is to get into (and stick with) a fitness routine, using some of the things that I’ve learned over the past year. For future reference, I’m starting the year between 215-220.

3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got a slew of holdovers from my stack that I assembled in 2011, including both new purchases and gifts from throughout the year. While I would really like to clear this one by at least double, volume of other activities may continue to keep the numbers modest.

What I am hoping for:
1) (a) Writing output: Projects can be unruly, and what may start out as a good idea for a short grows longer with each synapse that fires. Novel ideas may only work as a sub-plot. In the past, I have listed specific content generation goals which, for someone still starting out and figuring out my own balance, has proven the axiom that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I hope to complete at least two stories (short, novella or novel – however they grow), with at least six stories “thought through” (brainstormed, outlined, etc). Depending on how the school applications go, the specific working stories may already be determined.

1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I am planning on applying for two writer’s workshops this year, in addition to the pending applications for graduate school. I will also consider submitting for other presentations and conferences, but those are lower on my priority list until at least after June (which means, any proposals will likely be for 2013 events).

But most of all, I hope I can help to fulfill Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
So the most important hope for this coming year, is that I make a lot of mistakes – ones that I can learn from, grow through, and will ultimately improve me in ways both expected and not.  And I hope the same for you.

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2011 Resolutions in Review

I started with the skeleton of years past, fleshed it out with new thoughts, and completed with the regular mixed results that come from inconsistancy. However, there were also areas of growth that may not have furthered fulfilling the resolutions directly, but did help towards my finding my own awareness and focus… an important first step, eh?

What I can do:
1) (a) Write. The daily routine (250-500 words per day – on a project).
I’ve had higher goals in the past, but then when things got down to it, there were days that wouldn’t hit mark, and days that would sail clear over. Writing by hand (as I’ve been deciding to do for longer, more creative pieces), this means writing about one to two pages a day. Not necessarily a lot, but considering books are measured in pages, it’s not too bad of an idea. Besides. I will likely write a lot more, depending on how many projects I’m looking at, and that doesn’t even take into account any blog posts, or “non-project productive” things (emails) I might write.
Not quite as well as I had hoped… I slipped into a mental “decompression” after lots of focused writing as an undergraduate, and had a similar slide during the summer of 2010, right before the push to compile my graduate thesis. And hit hard this year (but again, awareness!) – I felt myself sliding, and wrote a few scenes and brain stormed some ideas, but most of the production was not until late in the year… more below.

1) (b) Write multiple things.
This isn’t to say “have a dozen projects going at once” (although I might, to some degree), but to write different types of things. To paraphrase the Book of Scalzi: Non-fiction/technical/editorial pieces may not be romantic, but they can pay pretty well, and there’s a lot more places for them. And those types of pieces are more likely to help pay bills while the fiction is still making the rounds.
I wrote an academic paper which was presented at Worldcon, which was, aside from the documents required for graduate school applications, the main extent of my non-fiction work.

1) (c) Marketing and sending submissions out.
A writer cannot be published if they do not send anything out.
A handful of submission through the middle of the year… no sales.

2) Get weight down… The ultimate goal will be to get to between 175-185 (target), but for now the idea is to get into (and stick with) a fitness routine, using some of the things that I’ve learned over the past year. For future reference, I’m starting the year between 215-220.
Starting 2012 at ~224. During the summer, I participated in a research study that measured average daily steps (aka – how many steps taken in a day) over a 12 week period. Didn’t use the information much during the year, but it’s helped me to put a few things into perspective as 2011 wound down. 

3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got about 8-10 holdovers from my stack I started 2010 with. Along the way, between required “class” reading, I’ve added other books that glued themselves to my hand, preempting others from the stack. I’m going to try a list approach this year: 100 books. Pick about 75 titles as my “To Read” list, early on, and leave room for another 25 to be added from ones that may be picked up during the year.
32 books read, with a handful of partials that are rolling over into 2012. 

What I am hoping for:
1) (a) Writing output: Projects can be unruly, and what may start out as a good idea for a short grows longer with each synapse that fires. Novel ideas may only work as a sub-plot. What I would like to produce by the end of the year are some combination of the following: 1-2 novels (50k+ words), 2-3 polished short stories/novellas. 6-10 (academic) articles, nonfiction pieces, or other similar works.
As noted above, not so much…

1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I’m brewing a couple of ideas for some academic papers that I would like to present at conferences. I am also looking at a writing conference/workshop late in the year, as well as trying to get into some “workshop” tracks at conventions (specifically looking at WorldCon, but maybe others).
Mentioned above, I presented at Worldcon… I was also able to get into a workshop session at Worldcon, I went to “Uncle Orson’s” Writing Workshop (the short version of his Bootcamp course). I also applied to Viable Paradise, and while I was not selected (due to some logistical issues), I have spoken a lot with the administrative staff and will be applying again for 2012.

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9/11… Ten Years On…

 

I spent most of the day disconnected and tried to avoid watching anything news related on television. Not out of a willful decision to ignore or forget the events from ten years ago, but much like Charles Stross mentioned… I can remember the events just fine and don’t need the media to shove the reminder down my throat. Of all the homes in my neighborhood, ours was the only one that had a flag up for most of the day. I remembered (and did my part to honor the victims), and still send thoughts and prayers to those that were affected.

I am also “reprinting” something I wrote a few years ago [below, slightly edited], reflecting on the day.

#  #  #

I didn’t make much of a fuss over yesterday, and honestly I had to think about it (albeit, for only a split second) when I first saw flags at half-mast [in 2008]. I was pissed off when everything happened in 2001. While I was not happy with the events (to put it very mildly), I was more frustrated and bent out of shape over the emotional outcry and the outpouring of wagging flags.

I was pissed that it took something of that magnitude for people to actually understand where they lived, and how much we have available to us that we merely take it all for granted.

Cynically, I mentioned then that there would be all of the hoopla made, then gradually (the general) “we” would drift back to complacency. Generally, I think that has proven to be true. I don’t live in New York, so I don’t have the immediate exposure to “Ground Zero”. I try to avoid DC, so I don’t see the Pentagon. I was not immediately affected by the events (no friends or family lost that day).

In checking through “my routine” when I came in today, I found something posted at Neil Gaiman’s blog (via the Web Goblin) [again, in 2008]. I am reposting the video below, as much for me to remember as it is for other to possibly stumble upon in the future.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
September 11, 2001
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:105095
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

[clicking the above should open a new window.]

There are many things that we “should never forget”, and I firmly believe that they are generational. For my parents, it was the day Kennedy was shot. When I was younger, it was the Challenger. Then there was this… For those still significanlty impacted by the events, a portion of my thoughts and prayers do still go out to you…

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The Hardest Thing…

About writing, is the act of writing.  The physical act of scratching at paper with a pointy object, or pecking out things on a keyboard, can be a daunting task, something a lot harder than I envisioned it when I was twelve-ish and started thinking about a writing future.  At the time (and even through my Undergraduate experience) I thought it would be something I would do “one day” in the future, but couldn’t really articulate how.  There was always some mystery to the experience, and even now there is still some.

Ideas come, like someone drunk at a New Year’s Eve party, and kiss you passionately for the brief few seconds you’re together before they disappear from the party (or worse, you run home remembering that the car you arrived in will turn back to a lemon).  Ideas can come from channel or internet surfing, or from snippets of conversations and relived experiences.

Ideas are also like matches – hot and bright in a flash, but quickly burning themselves out.  But finding the right idea – the right match – will last long enough to be used with some kindling, then some tinder, and later some logs to build a solid fire.

That’s what I have come to see as the hardest thing, right now, is finding the right match for me, and seeing the fire it might become.

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About Soundtracks…

Now that we are a few months on with the MVM feature, here’s a little bit of an explanation for those that may be new to the audience.  I’m a firm believer that songs and music are a staple of life.  There’s either a turn of phrase that might stick with you, or becomes such a force on the radio that there are memories that latch on and ride shotgun whenever you hear the melody – even if it’s decades later. (“Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing popped into my head for that one, and it conjures a plethora of disconnected images of my middle school years – from band to track, lunch baskets and planting the seeds for stories, a pseudo-girlfriend [it was 6th grade, in the late 80’s, the most we did was hold hands and pass notes], and a lot of other early teenage-y things…)  If we were to create a playlist of the songs that mean something to us (as individuals) then we’re creating our own life soundtracks, which in a way is part of what MVM is all about… a video representation about some of the items on my (life) soundtrack,

And the fact that “Time of My Life” song popped up is rather fitting, since it’s on another kind of soundtrack.  A movie one (‘natch).  Which is the other side of my “Soundtrack” conversation tonight. I admit that I am a soundtrack nut.  There was a time (when I was getting regular CDs) that I could easily say a solid quarter (or more) of the collection was soundtracks (true story: the whole reason I got into CDs in the first place was so I could get the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack.  Instrumental soundtracks just play/flow so much better when you can run it all the way through without having to eject, flip and restart the tape.  Same reason I got into DVDs was for Braveheart, since it was released as a two-tape [VHS] set, but that another post…).

The problem with a lot of my music library are the words – not a bad thing for the sake of the songs themselves, but when it comes time to put something on, some mood music, say, or some background noise when trying to write some things are better left off the playlist.  Over the last couple of years (mainly the last 6 months, but it’s been a progression), I’ve been taking advantage of the iTunes “Wish List” feature and added a lot of movie and video game scores so I can still have them accessible at some distant time in the future without having to buy them now.  And there may be some more videos in the future that come from soundtracks, if not from a movie, it will definitely be from me.

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Book Stack 6-20-2011

Book Stack 6-20-2011 by Theril
Book Stack 6-20-2011, a photo by Theril on Flickr.

The picture above is the current crop of the “Books for the Nightstand,” or “Things I want to read next” (Dead Tree Edition). If you zoom in you’ll see a few of the books mentioned here, and quite a few others that weren’t.  An eclectic mix from pulpy titles that are easily older that I am (by at least half), omnibus & compilation editions (the Lovecraft volume & Cleric Quintet especially), to books on technique and contemporary fiction titles.  Add a few scripts for good measure, and it’ll be a fun time…


And since I’m sure I won’t be finishing the entire stack before the end of 2011, guess what I’ll be pulling from in 2012?  Yeap… and that stack doesn’t even include electronic titles that I will be working on.

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