My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mapping Out the Last Week of Summer School (Personal Update/Meta)

This post is as much for me, my planning lobe, and my easily shamed sense of accountability as for my readers, but for the eight of you who might care about my update schedule and the three of you who wondered what happened on Friday and why even my "weekend heavy" schedule has fallen apart, it has entirely to do with the impact of "week six" of summer school. As we round wrap up the final week of teaching middle schoolers how to care about Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes, our "pledge drive," and begin to scrape the bottom of the bandwidth barrel for even our jazz-hands-heavy not-hiatus, let me tell you what you can expect from Writing About Writing for the next few days:

  1. Teaching is tough and teaching this summer has been extra tough because I've been writing curriculum and lesson plans for not one, but two classes as I go. 
  2. I sort of thought things would be easier once the curriculum and lesson plans were written for the first class. (The second three weeks is just me teaching the same class again to a new batch of kids.) And they WERE, but I was also starting to slide into the grind. (See #3)
  3. The grind: When a schedule is young new and everything is exciting and interesting and life is new and fresh and a sunset still causes a noble moment of pause, you can easily cram too much in. It's why the first week of Nanowrimo goes so well for so many people.  All this writing that kind fits on paper is doable and the spirit hasn't broken yet. But eventually, if there's not some R&R in there, all that productivity starts to fall apart. My grind has always been about 4-5 weeks: just enough to get through college final season (which for an English major starts early as the essays roll in). Front loading the grind can cause seemingly FAR easier schedules to still be overwhelming later on--as there has not been a full recovery yet.
  4. So, in my case, as the weeks of summer school grind on, I need longer and longer to recover, and by the sixth week, I'm usually pretty cooked. There are some thousand yard stares and at least one moment of questioning my life choices. Fortunately no casualties. 
  5. As long as I've been blogging, I've been doing summer school. (They both started the same year). And pretty much, by the end of the six weeks like clockwork, I kind of blow off an entire weekend, everything sort of falls into shambles, and I'm lucky if I can get a post up about my favorite color. (Not a thoughtfully written piece about my favorite color; just an announcement with a picture of said color somewhere in the post.) So that's where we are. The last week. And even though you could set your watch to the sound of the collapse, I'm sitting here trying to wiggle my big toe.
  6. This next week is going to be pretty light. My main goal is just to get through it. That's going to involve a lot of Fallout 4, Final Fantasy IX, and tying myself to the mast so that I can't kill myself when I hear the sweet siren song of guilt that I'm being unproductive.
  7. I'll see if I can find a guest blog for tomorrow. 
  8. Wednesday we're off. That might change after next week–the new schedule could be pretty regular–but for now it's still in effect.
  9. Thursday we're going to post the last of the "pledge drive" posts, and hope that we squeak out just enough to keep Writing About Writing from having to start hosting ads.
  10. Friday I'm going to make last call for our current poll nominations. If you haven't been over there yet, it's shaping up to be our biggest poll ever, so drop a nomination and/or a second.
  11. Saturday I'll put that poll up. Or rather, I will put up the first quarterfinal because......DAMN.
  12. Mostly, though, it's going to be a weekend off for me. Not an admin weekend. (I'll do that on the weekend of the 5th and 6th.) I actually need a weekend OFF. If I try to work, I will freeze me in liquid nitrogen and then shoot myself after saying a terrible pun in an Austrian accent like: "This is not self care, my friend. Chill out."
  13. Monday I'm going to come out swinging. (And I mean SWINGING!  I have some *GREAT* ideas.)  Not only back to full posting fervor, but you might even see some things you haven't seen yet.
  14. Thank you all!  You've all been very patient with jazz hands through my summer school. One of these days I might make enough that I don't need to teach at all, but it is not today. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

We Regret To Inform You.....

Will Writing About Writing need to start hosting ads and running constant pleas to whitelist us from your ad blockers?  

Welcome to our fifth of six "fund raiser" posts. In just a week (and four days) I'm going to know whether Writing About Writing is going to have to start hosting ads to try and make a little bit more money. And more importantly whether it is feasible to keep writing.

We held steady at 65% of the way to the major "You-can-make-it!" milestone.

If this were a story, we'd be in the final section where all hope is lost. Unfortunately, I'm pretty worried because life doesn't often work like stories, and I'm kind of thinking all hope might actually be lost. I have one more week to try.

On the upside, that means our pledge drive is almost over. For better or for worse.

Hang on. I haven't told you the down side yet.
The downside is that we're pretty far from even our modest goal.

A six week "pledge drive" is a new thing here at Writing About Writing. (Though we're only reminding you every week instead of every ten minutes.) However, budgets for the coming 12 months or so need to be finalized by early August, and summer school is currently cannibalizing about half of my regular writing time. I thought I'd take these six weeks to try and hit a goal that isn't "making it" but is "enough progress to think making it might be possible."

Below is a screenshot from MY PATREON.

This is the best and easiest way to support me as an artist. Set up a payment for as little as a single dollar a month and forget about it.

I'm currently 65% to my third goal. My third goal is based on the Kickstarter I ran last year. That money is still ready to fund a few months of full time writing. The goal I'm trying to reach now will keep me from having to drive for Lyft or something once I run through those Kickstarter funds allotted for the novel and keep me writing instead.

Stuck at 65%

There is only 35% to go. But also, we seem sort of stuck here. We've lost some donors, gained some donors, but it mostly evened out in the end.

As much as I completely adore my big ticket patrons, I would really love to have a lot of smaller donor. You know it's too easy to imagine that folks who light their cigars with hundred dollar bills will just throw money they don't really need at Writing About Writing, but what's really happening is that real people who aren't rich by any means are reaching deep into their generosity and when life happens that's no longer money they can afford not to have.

What I would love is if more people made small donations they could afford and kept the dozen or so folks from having to do all the heavy lifting. Yes, I have bills to pay, but there's no need for anyone to handle all of them.

There's a fourth goal and a fifth goal. The goals go all the way up to eleven.

For example one goal coming up in the next year or two has to do with my nannying day job. It is on a long, slow phase out because the kid in question is growing up. Projections for this coming school year are less than half of the hours of last year. And they'll probably go down again next year around this time. If I can't make up the income, I'm eventually going to have to find a clock to punch in order to not starve.

The goal that I'm 65% of the way to hitting is only a fraction of what I would need to write as my full-time day job–even if ate nothing but raman forever. However, I am counting the performance of this "pledge drive" as something of a bellwether. If I can make just this one, smaller goal, then I'll consider myself reasonably safe for what's coming in the next couple of years. (More patrons will trickle in.) Every dollar I make now will mean that much longer before I have to start hitting my Kickstarter money, and the longer it will last.

Besides it only costs $5 a month to get biweekly selfies.

Epic cuteness could be yours!
Image description: Epic cuteness.

Future goals involve more stable living situations and even my retirement need, but I can deal with them in the future. For now I just want to know it's plausible that I could get there.

Since this blog's inception, due to the breathtaking generosity of patrons and donations from readers like you, we have been able to:

  • Quit teaching night classes during the regular year and write instead
  • Bring you more content
  • Remove the annoying ads
  • Up the number of high quality posts each week. 
  • (Not to put too fine a point on it, but we've been able to keep bringing you content through what would otherwise have been some completely devastating life transitions that would have put most bloggers on hiatus.) 
  • Gone from five posts a week to six. 
  • And we've been able to take far fewer random days off. 

Here are some things I'd like to add if we continue to get more support:
  • Even more posts, and more high-quality posts (less jazz hands)
  • But also more and better jazz hands (on top of the less jazz hands) in the way of potpourris, plot arc posts, and guest bloggers.
  • A seventh and even eight post each week (or more?)
  • A greater number of carefully (perhaps even professionally) edited and revised posts
  • More fiction!!
  • Always and ever free longer fiction (books)
  • An always, forever, ad free experience on Writing About Writing
  • If I can't reach the goal of this pledge drive by the end of the six weeks [especially if I don't even come "frustratingly close"], I may have to return to hosting ads on Writing About Writing and possibly other ways to monetize my work.  Ads will actually limit the rage of certain kinds of content I can post, and will probably involve no small amount of cleaning out old posts of the same. [Copyright stuff is a little less strident if you're noncommercial.] And if I really can't hit this goal, I have to think about day jobs–day jobs which would see me pulling back from writing.

*ominus thunder rumble*

That doesn't have to happen though.  For the mere cost of twelve dollars a year–just ONE DOLLAR a month–you you in on backchannel conversations with other patrons, polls, and conversations about future projects including sometimes me trying to get your input about what you'd like to see. But perhaps, most importantly, you'll get that warm and fuzzy feeling that you are supporting an artist to continue making art and entertainment.

So if you like what I do and want to see me do more of it. Or if you don't want to see me have to do less of it. Or if you want to continue to see me do it without ads, please consider a small pledge. We wouldn't have gotten this far without our patrons, and we can't go any further without you.

Again here is that link: https://www.patreon.com/chrisbrecheen

And of course if committing to a monthly amount isn't feasible, you can always make a one-time donation through my Paypal (at the top left of the screen).

Thank you all so much. No matter what is feasible at this time or what you can spare. I couldn't have made it this far without all of you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Writing: How It Actually Works by Pramodh Anand Iyer

Photo Credit:
Writing: How It Actually Works
by Pramodh Anand Iyer 

12 years of actually writing goes into this post and I don’t really need  degree  in creative writing or English literature to learn any of this. All I had to do was...

What works:

  1. Writing: Cliche, but touche! If you don’t write, you can’t aspire or claim to be a writer. Write something every day other than what you do for social media. And remember that Mark Zuckerberg and the rest don’t pay or applaud you for ‘sharing’.
  2. Ignore your critics when they say that writing doesn’t work or pay you: It does and you’ll at least feel better than a slave of the 9-5 IT department, even if you don’t get paid as much initially.
  3. Read a fellow aspirant: A lot of fellow aspirants would want a beta reader and they may not be very sincere with their quality of work. It’s actually an opportunity to know how far you’ve come, what could go wrong if you don’t pay enough attention, and to encourage them to be a part of a writer’s cult (if you really aren’t judging their consistent abuse of slang and typos).
  1. Read a book: Our generation, especially in my country, India, find reading books repulsive, especially because we’re used to being forced to read atrocious academic textbooks which never really mattered or made sense to us. Reading a book, especially if it’s light and brief, could help break the inertia of not reading as well as the developed allergies. They have good samples for ideas you could steal… I mean, improvise on or S.C.A.M.P.E.R. [Ed note: SCAMPER]
  2. Blog: Blogging doesn’t always fetch you sufficient readership unless you write well AND get a hang of SEO technicalities. But, it’s a free platform to regularly express yourself. Wattpad and Wordpress are ways to find readers who you never thought would actually do even if your friends are busy being a bunch of dicks.
  3. Don’t stick to linearity: Go Christopher Nolan and mess around with the timeline. Start from the middle of the article/story/novel/poem and resume from any other point in the same if you don’t know how else to keep going. But KEEP GOING, FOR TOLKIEN’S SAKE!!!

What doesn’t seem to work (for me):

  1. Excessive swearing/political biases/gender biases/nihilism: I don’t get it but I don’t get much from any of this kind of writing. It’s probably a cultural issue with my geography, but it hasn’t fetched me much reaction.
  2. Expecting a considerable number of readership to motivate you into writing: If you’re going to write for cookies, please don’t. Write because it’s fun to express yourself and not because you want to impress your favorite dickheads. (The cookies have been stolen by the girl-scouts and eaten by your professors.)
  3. Writing for free: Are you nuts? I must ask myself this every time I offer to assist a pretty girl for content and deny that I require payment. Writers write and if they don’t pay us, they can go write for their-pretty-selves!
  4. Planning: If you were to be so organized and routine with your work, you’d be an effing Engineer or Doctor doing the boring but well-paid work.

Photo Credit:

“Just write like your life depends on it, for someday it will!” - I probably stole this from the Doctor Strange Movie, or probably not.

“Write like nobody is reading. Because they’re actually busy commenting on your crush’s last few Facebook updates.” - I stole a part of this too from some Facebook post about dancing.

Yeah, well sue me. But at least I’ll write about that too.

Freelance Writer at Mentoria
Editorial Intern at Indians 4 Social Change Forum
A Chief Editor of The Symphony of Insanity Magazine
Poet at The Equilibrium of Life
The Panda Publishing House

Monday, July 17, 2017

Falling Out of Warp (Personal Update)

Captain's Log Supplemental: Stardate Zero-seven-one-seven-one-seven-two-point-zero-three.

The Hyperbolize is currently travelling impulse speed in the Sel F'carian expanse while Chief Engineer Fordy LaGeorge takes the warp core offline to make badly needed maintenance repairs, including stress warping along the bulkheads and microfractures in the dilithium crystals which, were we to ignore, could leave us on little but thrusters and fusion power uncomfortably close to Driian space.

My own misgivings about this mission notwithstanding, The Federation's need for the assistance offered to us by the Ferengi is dire. Overextended along every front, we will be in trouble in less than a year without an infusion of fresh resources, and who knows how long we would last if one of our enemies took advantage of the situation. Fortunately the D'Kora-class Marauders are capable of high warp in battle circumstances, but not for extended periods. We are entering the fifth week of our six week trek across the Alpha quadrant at speed, delivering children to Nowligi.

While the crew being unaccustomed a heightened level of urgency for such an extended period, their general complaints about holodeck shutdowns and stellar cartography being useless at high velocities are easily assuaged, maintaining speeds over warp seven for such extended periods has caused stress to The Hyperbolize itself that cannot go unaddressed for two more weeks. I've ordered the Hyperbolize out of warp to make badly needed repairs.

Given the distances involved. my second officer, Deets, has calculated a sweet spot warp factor (8.7) that will allow us to bring the warp engines offline each day for long enough for Mr. LaGeorge to do the required maintenance while making up the time in transit without causing undue additional stresses. We will lose some routine productivity, and we will definitely need a loving refit and level one maintenance upon delivery, as well as some badly needed shore leave for the crew, when we are done. However we should be able to deliver on schedule.

I have allotted emergency power to the engineering teams that will be forced to do repairs through our impulse downtimes, that they might enjoy the holodeck themselves while the Hyperbolize is at warp as well as any other recreational activities they may wish to enjoy while off duty. However, for the rest of the crew, these periods of impulse "downtime" provide a splendid moment for a little bit of rest and relaxation. Or, a trip over to stellar cartography if that's more one's cup of tea....

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Best Modern Fantasy (Nominations and Seconds Needed)

I've still got two weeks left of summer school, so it's still jazz hands and "pledge drive" here at Writing About Writing. Therefore, tonight let me just take a moment to say that if the nominations are any indication, our latest poll of best fantasy written in the last 25 years is going to be a grudge match of titanic proportions.

While I will get the first of what will no doubt go into quarter finals up on Thursday of next week, for now we need you to bounce back and get up any last nominations as well as second anything you'd like to see going on to the poll itself.

Please go back to the original entry for both the rules and to drop a comment or second. If you place them here, they will not get counted (and probably not given the needed second).