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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Down to the Wire

Our last of six Thursday "pledge drive" posts. 

Hope has appeared for our protagonist in the eleventh hour, but time is running out. Will we reach our goals by August 1st?

Welcome to our final pledge drive post. Thank you all for your patience. I'm not yet sure WE made it, but you made it to the end at least! We picked this six weeks because I'm too busy teaching to do a full writing schedule, and because my budget for the next "year" (think school year, not calendar year) needs to be solidified to cover food and rent (and I think I might be getting a cavity).



In just a few minutes, I'm going to walk out the door, teach my last day of summer school, stop to get something halfway decent to eat on the way home to celebrate, take a weekend off from this blog (after posting the first quarterfinal of our poll tomorrow [still a chance for nominations and seconds!]), and on Monday begin a schedule of full time writing.

What I will also do on Monday is figure out my budget for the coming year. Everything I made this summer goes into a savings account that I will use to draw things out as long as possible.  And every pet sitting gig or nanny hour I accrue will push out that final moment of truth when I'll have to hang up my pen, shift down to writing part time, and go get some kind of steady gig.

Of course the question on the table for all of you is not whether or not some two bit blogger has to get a job, but whether I am going to start hosting hosting ads here on Writing About Writing (and do a lot of begging of readers to whitelist my site from their ad blockers). It would help, and I now have the kind of readership that it would help more than a little.  But it's still not a move I want to make if I can help it.

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 72% to my third goal. My third goal is based on the Kickstarter I ran last year. That money is still ready to supplement my regular income and 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.

72%--up from 65% last week

There is only 28% to go. Last week was an amazing show of support from several small donors. They really do add up. As much as I completely adore my big ticket patrons, I would really love to have a lot of smaller donors. 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.

I like the idea that they're not doing all the heavy lifting.

There are lots more goals than this one I'm 72% towards. 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.

But Chris.... If this pledge drive is not to get you to the income to write full time, what is it for?

I'm so glad you asked.  I'm treating this goal 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.

I want YOU...to get lots more selfies like this one.

Future goals involve more stable living situations and even my retirement needs, but I can deal with them in the future. For now I just want to know that it might be plausible to 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 "meaty" posts) 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 in the next four days [especially if I don't even come "frustratingly close"], I may have to return to hosting ads on Writing About Writing and possibly considering 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.

That doesn't have to happen though.  For the mere cost of twelve dollars a year–just ONE DOLLAR a month–you can get 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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Social Justice Bard and the Tale of The Not Machiavellian Distraction


CN: Transphobia

I have complicated feelings about the U.S. military. I don't doubt that life would be very different if our military were purely defensive, and I'm sure not all of those differences would be good. Our military interventions are far from perfect, but many of those who would fill in the gaps were the U.S. absent from the theater have worse humanitarian records. And while colonialist capitalism is fifty kinds of bullshit, it is impossible to have conscientious value judgements that ignore our current geopolitical realities. It's complicated.

However, in our 239 year history, the United States has only not been at war for 17 of them, and many of those wars have been to secure the interests, particularly the economic interests, of a powerful few and at the expense of an oppressed many. Imperialism and colonialism (and the neo versions of each) have terrorized much of the world for the sake of exploitation.

And we also revere our troops. We elevate a single tour in the military to a higher pinnacle of social honor and acclaim than even a lifetime spent in civil service, beyond even those who also risk their lives.

Two things have always been true about the U.S. military. One is that it offers a means of social elevation, employment, and a ubiquitous perception of national virtue for many who join. It is seen as a great thing to serve. Along with this (and arguably because of this) the military always been a regressive body when it comes to social progress, clinging to phobias and isms until forced not to by an executive order.

[A friend worded this too perfectly for me to not quote. (Seriously, I would just be like a middle schooler, plagiarizing with some changed words if I tried to rewrite this now that this wording is in my head. It's just too perfectly expressed.):]

"Because of that fact [the "virtue" of serving], the United States military has been a battleground for the people who want to oppress and discriminate. One of the ways you marginalize a group of people is to say that [they] are incapable, unfit, or unwilling to fulfill their part of our social contract. Because military service, especially in combat, is treated as a loyal and laudable part of that social contract there has been a history of excluding people of color, women, and queer people from military service–especially in combat roles. They forbid those people from service and then use their (apparent, always only apparent and not actual) absence from service as a reason that they are lesser. They are blocked from doing what our culture says is a great act of community participation and then they are slandered as being unwilling or unfit to do it."      -Sasha Pixlee

Today Trump tweeted a message about meeting with (unnamed) generals and "military experts"–a meeting the Pentagon has no idea about–and decided that the government's policy towards military service by trans folks will immediately be changed to one of total non acceptance.

While it may be a hot moment before Trump can turn his morning Twitter ramblings into a thrust for official policy, he has telegraphed his intentions to harm vulnerable communities in similar ways and has carried such plans out–with fervor if not always effectively. In fact, his unswerving zeal in enacting overtly bigoted policies like his ban and his wall have eclipsed his interest in substantive policy issues like coming up with healthcare that 80% of the country doesn't hate or tackling the tax codes that he promised to do.

As was unerringly telegraphed over and over by Trump the Candidate in the primaries and even the general election (and despite what many chin-stroking, anti-establishment mostly white folks said they had "grave concerns about" but were willing to make a Faustian deal for because they just knew he was blustering and would actually focus on this other stuff), Trump has shown that he will be easily distracted from the day to day burdens of actually being a president by anything that advances the social hegemony of cis het white men via hurting another group.

The problem is, folks are still falling into the trap of this narrative of the guy who is a statesman and not just a bigot.

They think that somewhere Trump really cares about policy minutiae. That behind his tweets and appearance of nothing more than self-absorbed paranoia and naked bigotry there beats the heart of a sinister Machiavellian political animal whose guile distracted everyone while the "real" show (the healthcare debates) goes on. That he's really good at slight of hand distractions and his timing is all well considered.

Because, you know, it's impossible for a human to give a shit about more than one thing at a time.

Depending on the sources you use, somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 people were just told they were about to lose their job. They were told that not only is their path to a commendable fulfillment of the U.S. social contract about to be eliminated, but their very existence within the military is a threat to national security and that with them, they couldn't win. That they are a disruption. Their life saving surgery is not worth performing by the nation they have offered their lives to protect.

This is not some minor slight of hand that doesn't really matter.

This can't even be rightly called a dog whistle. Even if such a policy were considered vital by the Pentagon (Narrator's voice: "It isn't."), to announce it in such a callous and injurious way belies the depth of vindictive malice. He is tossing bones and meat and blood out to the forces that dehumanize trans folk, and forcing the latter to argue for their own humanity and their own right to the path of civic virtue. Denying many not just their path to civic virtue, but for many their only outs from abuse or homelessness and access to an education. And of course reigniting within the country the sentiment that they are less than human. With three tweets–fewer than 420 characters–he stoked the stigma that trans folks face, and almost certainly placed some in danger. Like many things Trump does, this one was nasty and cruel.

Trump did this on the anniversary of Truman signing Executive Order 9981– an E.O. that banned racial discrimination within the military and allowed POC to advance on this path of civic virtue that had been blocked to them. If any quirk of timing could be said to have been on his mind, it was this one.

Fucking of COURSE he says some epic bullshit every time there's a major vote or policy issue. That's because he says some epic bullshit like every other day. Think of how often Trump hasn't been quagmired in a news cycle of his own titanic fuckery. This is like saying the sun knows when you are have an Algebra test because it rises in the east every single time you have one.

That is not a diversion. It's not a minor thing said with the intention of throwing us off our game.

There are lots of balls in the air because that's what life and politics are like, and some people have to triage what they can do. And of course you should keep hectoring your representatives about health care if you don't want to lose it. But if Trump announces a MAJOR policy decision which literally harms (and will encourage further marginalization of) trans folks, that's not a "distraction," and folks who are suggesting it IS nothing but a distraction should think really hard about who they're throwing under the bus to demand the focus stay on what they consider "important."

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

2465577583_743ff61ef8_o.jpg
Photo Credit:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/92329419@N00/2465577583
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.

33152254404_2b837efe59_o.jpg
Photo Credit:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/7146974@N02/33152254404

“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