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

Monday, September 26, 2016

Novel Update Word Count- 4612 (Personal Update)

Image description: Writer typing with expression that is a little.....TOO happy.
Really Rough Draft

Raw unfettered shit- 4232
Slightly polished turd- 380  

Does that seem a little light to you? It does to me. There were several grinding lurching sessions that took literally hours before I was writing at a clip. It's been a long time since I sat down to do something so big and I had to relearn to silence the critic and remember that written is better than good when it comes to drafts. No matter how long you've been at it, that imposter syndrome is one fucking badass brain demon, and is immune to both lightning, fire, and holy spells.  Plus just starting this project involved a lot of scowling at a blank screen. The first few puffs of the old steam engine didn't even turn the wheel.

But even with the slow start, I found three things stood out.

Thing the first- I got sick. I'm actually still sick, but I try to write something unless I'm bed-ridden. But I've actually been nursing a creeping crud of Blerg for about four days now. Not only did I spend last weekend around thousands of people in our nation's capital, I also hopped on my third flight in the span of 9 days. So no doubt I was exposed to all kinds of slimy disease vectors. I'm sure some assholes out there love nothing more than smearing their rhinovirus covered fingers all over the glass case that houses The Constitution. Or maybe someone on the plane decided that other people's health was no reason not to be in a metal tube with recycled air and two hundred people for five hours. Yolo, amirite?

I was also in a vulnerable place. Remember how all that shit and stress was finally ending just last week? I also got some great news this week. And I mean some really great news. If you've been following this blog for a while you know that Sonic Gal had cancer.

Well Sonic Gal doesn't have cancer anymore. She stopped having cancer and was awesome instead.

Her natural superhero resistance to damage allowed her to take the maximum dose of radiation and at the end of it, they found her scans to be all clear.

A few years ago when I was in school, I would get sick at the end of every semester. Every. Single. One. You could have set your watch to it. I'd wrap up the last final. Make some Facebook post about being happy to have a few days off, and be sick within 24 hours. Basically stress and health do a cellblock tango in my body and after I've trashed my body on caffeine and stress for a solid month, my six remaining white blood cells start dancing around and singing "HE HAD IT COMING! HE ONLY HAD HIMSELF TO BLAME!"

So you can imagine the kind of stress relief I had feeling eight months of out-of-my-mind worry start to unspool. I know my situation with my family has experienced great upheaval (hence my move) but I gotta tell you that this was better news than, "Hey Chris I hooked up a threesome and some pharmaceutical MDMA for your birthday." By miles.

Thing the second- I'm still working a lot at my other two jobs: nanny and teacher. As you know, I didn't fund my Kickstarter to get a year "off." I did so to get a year with a lighter schedule. I wasn't able to get one of my nights off from teaching because I found out too late that my Kickstarter funded–we have to commit to our next semester schedule really early, and I couldn't find anyone who wanted to take either night. I'm currently working between the two jobs about 15 hours a week more than I intended to–a non trivial bite out of the time left.

Even though I will almost never say no to more time with The Contrarian (cause he's HELLA cute), next Spring I will be able to drop to one night a week (and maybe teach no classes if they'll let me hold my spot and seniority when I return the following Fall). Whatever pace I start to average for the next two and a half months, it's going to go up.

I'll have to keep my eye on it. It'll be important to schedule writing time in an evening and not just flop over if I've spent six hours nannying or something. However, in the end, the simple fact is that I'm not wasting that time, I'm working. Working means money.  So the worst case scenario is that the book release might get postponed, but it won't be a situation where I've blown through the Kickstarter and have nothing to show for it. I'll just be behind where I want to be.

Now, I don't really want to start talking about getting behind eleven months out, but as I navigate 30-35 hour weeks across two jobs, it occurs to me that those 10-15 hours over what I'd planned might have a thing or two to do with why the word count is flagging a little. So if that is where my productivity bleeds to, I'll work hard to catch up as soon as fall classes are over, and make sure that The Hall of Rectitude isn't contracting out my nanny services for any "fluff" time.

Thing the third- You want to find a "lesson" in today's post? Here it is: You have to be willing to itemize your time expenditures, log them (like you would a food journal or a cigarette journal if you were starting a diet or trying to quit smoking) and see if they match up with your priorities in life. You're going to surprise yourself with what you say is important and what you actually spend most of your time doing.

How many writers who express florid love for writing play video games 40+ hours a week and claim they've no time to write? How many people who are frustrated that writing isn't their day job are actually sitting down to write less than 5-10 hours a week. How many writers with a sincere sense that they would like to write more and an internal narrative that they "don't really watch TV" are binge watching Jessica Jones and Stranger Things for hours longer than they actually spend writing.

Well...I'm one of them. I may get my axe to the grindstone more than some writers, but my priorities and my actual time spent don't match.

Around Thursday I realized I wasn't making the progress I wanted and I started to watch my time and where it was going and came to one overwhelming, inescapable conclusion:

I am absolutely HEMORRHAGING time on Facebook. 

Yep. It's true. It's not just an "hour or so." (Or "An hour or two" when I'm feeling properly introspective.) It's three, four, sometimes five hours a day trading comments on friends' walls or crafting pithy quips. This one is hard to I use FB for promoting my writing, so I can't just "take a month off," deactivate my account, and learn what it means to live again or some inspirational bullshit that ignores how actually real online friends can be. I will have to monitor closely and limit my time spent going down the hole. I know for sure my patrons didn't back my Kickstarter for a year of extra pithy quips.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Best Modern Sci-Fi Book or Series (Final Round)

What is the best modern science fiction book or series?  

Our final round is live!   

Note: I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, so this will be the only post. I think it's just the release of all the stress–I used to get sick after finals every semester in college.

We have a very long final poll this time because in each of the semifinal rounds there were some ties right at the cut off point. So in total, thirteen names have been pulled from the twenty-two semifinalists composed of reader nominations. That means everyone will get SIX (6) votes.

Please remember that there is no way to "rank" your votes. So every choice beyond your first will "dilute" the remaining votes a little. I know there are some amazing books and series on this poll, and it's going to be a tough choice, but the fewer choices you make, the stronger the votes will be.

This poll will only run a couple of weeks, so don't delay. In August I will start collecting nominations for our August poll while this one is still wrapping up, but this one won't run much after the first week in September.

The poll itself is on the lower left of the side menus–just below the "About the Author."

Since I can't really stop shenanigans, I welcome all the shenanigans. The main one is of course that Polldaddy tracks your IP for a week so you could vote from multiple computers or vote again after a week, but people have also enlisted friends, family, and even author forums or Facebook communities to join in the fun.

Vote early. Vote often.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Best Modern Sci Fi (Results Semifinal 2)

Results in text form below.

Just a quick "brunch" post this morning to announce the results of our second semifinal round for Best Modern Science fiction book or series. (I'm hoping to get a mailbox up later today, but it might be next week before our current Update Schedule comes completely online.)

Well, our poll will be a little bigger (again) since the Atwood/Leckie tie was never resolved. I was sorry to see several of the titles that won't be going on fare so poorly, but honestly I don't think there were a lot of bad choices on this poll.

The final round will go up tomorrow!

Ready Player One - Cline 25 16.89% 16.89%
Honor Harrington Series - Webber 21 14.19% 14.19%
Snow Crash - Stephenson 20 13.51% 13.51%
Old Man's War - Scalzi 13 8.78% 8.78%
The MaddAddam Trilogy -Atwood 12 8.11% 8.11%
Ancillary Series - Leckie 12 8.11% 8.11%
Use Of Weapons - Banks 11 7.43% 7.43%
Consider Phlebas - Banks 10 6.76% 6.76%
This Alien Shore -Friedman 10 6.76% 6.76%
Never Let Me Go- Ishiguro 9 6.08% 6.08%
Commonwealth Saga -Hamilton 5 3.38% 3.38%

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Best Modern Science Fiction (Vote Reminder)

What is the best modern science fiction book or series?   

Things are pretty tight and currently also pretty close right around the cut off point for the final round.

Just a super quickie to remind you not to forget to vote on our semifinal for best modern science fiction. Results will be posted for "brunch" TOMORROW (and the final poll will go up for "brunch" on Friday), so this is your last chance to decide which title will go on to the final round.

If you want to know the details of this poll, the original post is here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Writing About Writing's New Update Schedule

Writing About Writing will post something every weekday. We will also try to put something up most weekends and occasionally a second post on weekdays.

However, Writing About Writing also consists chiefly of one guy with lots of fake people running around behind his eyeballs (he takes care of a 2 1/2 year old, teaches two nights a week, is writing a novel, and sometimes even does really wacky shit like try to go on a date or something). and will periodically fail–perhaps even spectacularly– at this goal.

Sometimes the post in question might be little more a few inspirational quotes or a great Youtube video about writing, or just a picture of me screaming from the stress. I will even attempt to schedule a little something during vacations. It's not that I think my regular readers are twisted into coils of stress and hydrochloric acid, waiting for any possible update. It's just that in the world of blogging, content is king.

I can't promise that nothing will ever go wrong, what with all the intergalactic invasions and evil mystery hackers and such that W.A.W. fields in a typical week.

I also invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. I have moved out from the family I stayed with, but a lot of the situations are still in progress. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more.

There is a monthly schedule I follow where I try to rotate in and out through the various running segments here on Writing About Writing. Even in a given month, you aren't likely to see something from each category, but it keeps me from doing fifteen listicles in a row and not writing a prompt for months on. I was going to post that schedule here but it'll be better to keep it in my head since I tend to go off schedule about ten seconds before the ink even dries on writing it.

Though we are ramping back up to the full fury of this schedule over the next couple of weeks, this is what you can expect once we get going.

Mon- Novel word count progress report and personal update.

Tues- Our guest posts will be moving to Tuesday!  We have a small handful of regular guest bloggers (who unfortunately have their own life circumstances), but are always on the lookout for one shot guest bloggers or a new regular. Let me know if you'd like to join their ranks! If we have no guest post lined up, we'll still post a little something, but it'll definitely be filler-ish.

Wed- I have to teach on Wednesday night, and often have a tag in prior to leaving. If I do a podcast for the week, it'll go up on Wednesday, but they actually take more time than just the final recorded take (almost as much as a post of the same length after prep and rehearsal are accounted for), and they won't go up every week. Wednesday is also when a lot of polls, plot posts, and such go up.

Thurs- Mailbox!

Fri- A major article will go up each Friday.

Brunch posts- I can't promise brunch posts these days–not even one or two a week. However, if the planets align and I happen to get a surplus of writing time, you may see a day here and there where more than one post goes up. Poll turn arounds in a single day, plot arc posts, "quickies," and various other things (which in the past would have gone up on the weekend) will sometimes show up in addition to a "main post."

Of course if you really want to hedge your bets for a good run of articles in a given week, a groupie threesome the weekend before will almost certainly motivate me to write for hours on end, and inspire a week of exceptional productivity.


Fair enough. Catch as catch can then.

If there's been a run of extra toddler wrangling shifts or my weekend involved the words,"I'll just play this Fallout game for an hour or two...." the week might involve shorter articles or jazz fingers.

Articles? How about these amazing

Saturdays: I write several other blogs and even try to do some shorter fiction. Since Writing About Writing will always be the place to find all my published work, each Saturday, I will put anything I publish other places, continue my menu tour, or revise old articles.

Sundays: We're going to keep taking Sundays off while we're writing a novel. It's been a long run of daily content–usually with more tears than smiles–but I would rather knock it out of the park once a week, have weekends (not really) off to focus on my work in progress and give you all the best of me on a working schedule. Weekend numbers are depressing (especially on Sunday) so I'm not really going to waste a good article tossing it up when no one is going to look at it.

We may still post occasionally on a Sunday. It is a good time to drop articles that are not chic, sexy, or topical, but which might have a good "slow burn" factor on Google, fiction, or just things that I don't have space for in a given week.

MORE?? If you like what I do, stuff a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left. I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and I'm working three day jobs to make ends meet. I would love to do less of that and write more. I've already cut my hours as donations have stacked up. I'll do it again, but I am over forty and have had a "real job" for exactly two years of my life, so I can't afford to be as Bohemian-carefree as my twenties about saving up for retirement or health care.