Welcome

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

Friday, January 21, 2022

2022 Update Schedule

While most of you just click the link I put on social media when you see that something I have written interests you, there actually IS an update schedule here, and as we enter a new phase of Covid, we are implementing perhaps the biggest, most significant update schedule change in the history of this blog. 

Note: In addition to everything below, which will set up the schedule I am trying to achieve, I am currently recovering from having cancer, the lengthy and often difficult process to get a diagnosis, the surgery to remove the tumor, heading into the next phase of treatment (which might involve chemotherapy), and working about 10+ extra hours beyond my usual 10-12 hours because Covid/Omicron means that the two year old's preschool doesn't have the staff support to be open right now. There may be a post missing from my regular update schedule or something fluffy where a crunchy post ought to be until some of this stuff stabilizes just a little bit more. 


I made a major change at the end of 2021. For my ongoing mental health and for my other long-term writing projects (fiction and some compilation e-books of our best articles). I am putting the days of seven posts a week and 70-hour weeks in the rear-view for good, and moving into a more quality > quantity phase of the blog. 

Yippee ki yay!

Writing About Writing consists primarily of one guy who takes care of a couple of kids, tries to keep up with some domestic stuff, is writing a novel, posts on another blog, posts a LOT on his Facebook wall, and sometimes does really wacky shit like try to play a D&D game with friends or get laid or something.

He's also a working writer, though, so he better stop making a bunch of excuses and make with the clackity clack. But that has generally not been the problem. 

This is the schedule we will generally make an effort to keep. I say "make an effort," but I have to be honest about three things. #1- I have written posts from my bed with 102°-fever or from coffee shops out of state while on vacation or during hospital visits to people with cancer, so it is very likely that no matter what happens, you will still get more than a couple of posts a week, and I really really really do mean MAKE AN EFFORT.  #2 I am absolutely balls at keeping on top of WHAT gets updated on WHICH days, and I am likely to start Tetris-ing the posts for the week if I SNEEZE too hard. #3 I am still working through the full effects of the global pandemic, including the massive, unrelenting, fully permeated burnout that comes from 18 months of 70-hour weeks. (At least one more vacation in the next month or two is badly needed, and after that I'm going to take them on a more reasonable schedule than I did for the first decade of this blog.)

Thanks to my patrons, I have been able to quit part-time teaching, pet sitting*, and cut back on the amount of nannying I do as a side gig to focus more and more on writing. If you would like to help us write more and better updates, even a dollar a month helps me budget.

*I still have a couple of close, super-easy clients, so you might see me post about this stuff, but I don't run all over the Bay Area anymore.

Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard

Most of my major writing ends up on this blog, but some of my more throwaway thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, I still have many bees in my bonnet.

I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea). I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]

I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I periodically update (once or more a week pre-covid, but now it's a couple of times a month in wild fits and starts), write personal updates, and post political thoughts that don't really tie into writing but that also aren't really short enough for Facebook.

Everything I ever write for any medium (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross-posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to see everything I write.

Facebook Page Maintenance

Running my Facebook Page of over a 1.1 million followers as well as maintaining all the OTHER various social media (which is essential to the fact that I get to be a working writer) is basically a part-time job in and of itself. It just happens to be spread out so that the work happens in five-minute increments throughout the day, pretty much hourly, almost any time I'm not asleep. 

Mostly I've just done this AND my writing and not really acknowledged the ways in which the aggregate of all these five minutes here and there impact a weekly writing schedule. 

Prepare for More of the W.A.W Meta Plot

Just a quick note: if you've been around for a while (or have dug through a lot of the first-year articles), you may have noticed that we have sort of a running plot and bizarre cast of characters here at Writing About Writing. We're going to be getting back into these kinds of posts.

There is a shame spiral that I get into when I feel like I'm not updating enough, or significantly enough, and I feel like the meta plot posts are "too fluffy" and too fun. So I am more likely to try to push myself to post something significant. (Which is ironic because I'm then more likely to not make it and have to push back the post altogether.)

However my readers have CONSISTENTLY and UNSWERVINGLY said that they like these types of posts and that they make the experience of me writing an ongoing blog more cohesive instead of just being the occasional article they want to see. So I'm really really really going to try to shut off that part of my brain that is insisting that my meta plot posts are phoning it in, and post them more often.



THE UPDATE SCHEDULE

Monday

OFF!

While technically no "off" day is truly off (even the weekends) as I take my own advice and write every day, having Mondays off from the responsibility of posting an official blog represents all the hours I work on other jobs. I have spent far too long beating myself up because they don't "count." Not only will taking time off to acknowledge these things be better for my mental health and "overworked" meter, but they will allow me to attend to both them and my writing without feeling like I'm neglecting the other and getting overwhelmed because I'm not spinning all the plates perfectly.

So after much garment rending and self-reflection, and some deep thoughts about how much I will take on if I let myself, I have decided to take a three-day weekend free and clear. (Although, as I mentioned, I'm always writing—this is more about the obligation of getting a post up than whether or not I actually "write every day" like the advice I give.) 

Of course, I would give any human being on earth the same advice and would tell them they were being too hard on themselves if they didn't take it, so this is absolutely a case of thinking basic self care doesn't count for me. However I have two work factors that impact my writing schedule:
  • Childcare side gig (10-12 hours a week)
  • Facebook Maintenance (10-12 hours a week)
I mean that should probably be two or three days off by the number of hours, but obviously, I'm not going to take THAT much time each week. I'll stick to one day (Mondays) and try not to feel too guilty about it.

Tuesday

BEHIND THE SCENES (and an accountability post)

While I would love to get a blog up on every day that I'm clacking away in front of a computer, I also have a significant "behind the scenes" obligation to the folks who keep the lights on around here that takes time and energy. Ironically, if I give these kinds of rewards some dedicated time, I'm not only going to be better about doing them, but also about the blogging itself—they both have a way of distracting me from the other as I get overwhelmed and sit in front of my computer, unable to move in either direction because I feel like I'm letting down the other.

However, I consistently have parts of this job that don't involve dropping a forward-facing blog.
  • Once a month I cannibalize a day of blogging to write my Patrons a newsletter, and now that the pandemic is over, four times a year, I'm going to need to write TWO newsletters. (During the pandemic, I would forgo the monthly newsletter to do the quarterly one, but my goal was always to have both on those months.)
  • I absolutely need to spend a day or two every month just doing admin stuff for Writing About Writing (like catching up on emails, cleaning up menus, and the like), or it gets SO far behind, SO quickly. As it is, I sort of imagine we're going to take a year to "dig out" of the stuff I just put up.
  • My Patreon tiers are perpetually in need of their rewards. Whether it's an early-access post or just a selfie from one of my hikes, I need to attend more consistently to the folks who are devoting their financial resources to my ability to be a working writer.
  • Also, I have a couple of other writing projects that require my time and attention.
From time to time when we are having a VERY busy week and need a second day to clear out the admin issues so that they don't back up, you might see the easier of the two admin posts go up on a Tuesday, but mostly I'll be working hard in the background.

You WILL see an accountability post on most Tuesdays. I'm going to restart posting progress on other projects, and I will let everyone know what I'm working on behind the scenes. But it will be more of a bullet point memo than a post.

Wednesday

We need (at least) one dedicated day a week to kind of take care of what I call "jazz hands," although it might be better described as "admin-ish stuff that HAS to get done at some point." It's not necessarily Total Fluff™, but it usually isn't exactly a new article either.

We are constantly running some kind of "Best Book" discussion, and the calls for nominations and posting of results take up a day of post. The review of the best posts we did in the month prior takes up a post. Often we have some kind of announcement or meta news about what's going on or coming up. You might also see a single entry for the long-forgotten character lists or an update to one of the menus (along the top of the page).


Thursday
We have a number of "types" of posts that are just a little lighter fare. Everything from SHORT Mailbox questions to our aforementioned meta plot posts to personal updates. Not necessarily admin or "jazz hands" but probably a little less "chewy/crunchy" than Friday posts.

Friday

Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in. Longer Mailboxes, full craft, process, and sometimes even style articles.

NWAW

I used to write posts for NOT Writing About Writing and either drop them on my usual days off or post on both WAW and NWAW on the same day. I'm no longer going to be doing this. If I drop something on NWAW, I'll put a notice up on WAW that that is the writing for the day.

The Two-Post Commitment

Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork, and they might be front- or back-loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventionsspeaking engagementsinterviews, or podcasts. On the advice of my doctor, I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 60–70-hour weeks I was working, and I'm working to whittle that number down a lot closer to 40. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they don't feel like they're getting enough of the content they want. I can't promise every week will go down as smoothly as three posts like end-of-the-week clockwork, but I will try really hard to get three posts up each week, and I can just about promise that I will at least do two. They might just be posted off schedule––landing on a Saturday or Sunday, for example—but barring illness, injury, or fabulously unforeseen circumstances, I will try hard to hit three and at least do two.

The Return of the Monthly Dedicated Novel Writing Time Increase

You may have noticed that any effort to take blogging time to give to my novel was COMPLETELY on pause during the pandemic. But now it is back. The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. It's SO easy to just write a blog and call it a day. And that's what I'm getting paid for, so it's even easier.

But...as much as I've surprised even myself by discovering how much I fucking love blogging, I do want to write fiction too. Finding time as much time for both is impossible, so I have to borrow from Peter to pay Cliché. While I am getting traction out of writing an hour or so of fiction first (so that then I still have to do the blogging in order to do "a day's work"), there may still be times where the needs of fiction completely take priority over blogging.

I'm firmly in the "Write Every Day" camp. But how much I write, what I write, and what I'm impassioned to write can sometimes still be a creative ebb and flow of being at my Muse's whim.

I'm also going to try something new and interesting. Each month I'm going to take an ADDITIONAL, cumulative day off to sequester myself and work on my book (as well as possibly other fiction). This isn't the only time I'll be working on my book, but I'll be diverting my blogging time towards it as well. I'll start with one day in February, and then two in March, and three in April and four in May. I'll reevaluate how things feel to my patrons at four extra days off each month—at that point I would either be updating only twice a week (if I spread the days out) or taking a full week off every month (if I took them all at once). It might depend on how close I am to finishing or a draft or something.

Hopefully, I'll have something to show for these days off by the time Patrons might begin complaining that I'm not updating enough, but I hope that the transparency and gradualness both help in that regard.

Yule

You know that two weeks that starts a few days before Christmas and kind of goes until the third or the fourth of January? Yeah, I don't work that. It's busy enough. I can barely figure out what day it is most of the time. I'm rubbish. Don't ask me to get posts up. 

Election Week

I'm adding something that I basically realized today (I first wrote this on 3/5/2020). I'm going to take a break in our "regularly scheduled program" during election weeks. Midterms, primaries, obviously the presidential ones. I just need to acknowledge that the writing that happens will be on other blogs (like NWAW) and in other places (like my Facebook page) and that unless I am backing someone polling at 90 points, it's very, very, VERY likely I'm going to have at LEAST one day where I need to go back to bed into a pillow fort with ice cream.

We're probably done with elections for a while, but I'm leaving this here for future updates.


More posts?

There MIGHT occasionally be a fourth or even fifth (?) post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like when I revise an old article so much that it deserves a fresh post, update a menu, write a new answer for our F.A.Q., or otherwise do something that needs to get done, but doesn't fit into our usual posting schedule). In this case, you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independently of our regular schedule. It's less likely during the pandemic, but it used to happen a lot.

Reminders:
  • I'm writing this blog in real time, so there will be problems with updates in real time. I still watch kids for several hours a week. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to these pesky Earth illnesses and requires dental and medical maintenance to serve me well. And every once in a couple of blue moons I even just take a damn day off. So those three posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays ALL the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
  • I maintain a Facebook page for this blog that has over a million followers. From time to time a post I put up may intersect with a social issue, or just tick some people off, and then all the dillholes come out to play, and I have to spend a day basically babysitting the comments. I don't love it, but it has to be done or the bigots will chase off the people who I actually WANT to be there.
  • This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. (MMMMM tacos.) I know that some people are annoyed by how often I apologize, and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
  • I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. In ordinary times, I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but during the pandemic, I chew through them as fast as I tuck them away. So any bump in the road hits the blog update schedule in real time. 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. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined. 
  • Admin Long-weekends at least once a month will still be a thing, but instead of "we might have one this month," I'm going to assume they're on and maybe we might have a POST instead. Since I'm not working Mondays and this would normally fall under the purview of a Tuesday "Behind the Scenes" post, I will take the first Wednesday of each month as an extra day if needed. 




Also......folks, if you like what I do, support your "local" artist. (In this case "local" means more independent, amateur, and two-bit than literally down the street.) The pandemic is not yet over, there's still a long phase of transition to work through, and I'm not in a financial position to completely give up my childcare side gig or pay someone to take over the admin of my Facebook page (both major time sinks that pull from my writing hours, but cannot be avoided without losing income that I don't yet have to spare). 

If you want to help me focus on writing (without all the side gigs), yeet a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon. (You'll also get in on the back-channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects.) I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and though my schedule is a lot better than it was three years ago, even a dollar a month (just $12 a year) will go a long way.

Note: Hi there, Mr. Elephant. I guess we should address you.

So....yeah. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that there is a pretty loud contingent of "Who Cares!" from the other side of the Internet, and I'll give you all a nod if this isn't your cup of tea. It's cool. You do you. Posts such as this one are not my least popular kinds of posts (that honor is reserved for meta posts about why there's no regular post…for some reason), but on the other hand, not every post can't be the barnburners of me replying to social justice hate mail.  

However, I'm not going to stop posting them.

Let me say that again: I'm NOT going to stop posting them.

One of our mission statements is to keep "The Process" transparent and give you updates in real time, so there will always be an occasional hat tip to the meta. I want people to understand that writers struggle with their own productivity, schedules, and discipline. We are constantly dissatisfied with how much we're writing (or not) and trying to redefine ourselves. I want folks to see that someone who is making a paycheck doesn't have all the answers. I want them to see how their work/life balance matters, and how easy it is to fall into working TOO much or not enough, and either one causes problems. I want them to see that a successful blog doesn't require nine updates a week (and, in fact, that's too many). And I want them to see how artists are constantly struggling to fiddle with the knobs and get it just right because we are at once human with our ambition and drive, but also human with our INCESSANT need to eat and have shelter. We don't just eat rainbows and shit brilliant prose. Even if a follower or fan never uses my own update schedule or productivity demands on myself as a formula for their own success, let it be a comfort realizing how flawed and human working writers can be.

I want you to see how messy and non-magical it all is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Facebook Compilation (October)

For years, I didn't count all the bite-sized chunks of writing I was doing on Facebook as "writing." But it's a post here and a post there, and sometimes I spend an hour or more a day working on that writing, so it's high time I acknowledge the fact that it "counts." 

By October, I was starting to deal with the all the tests and procedures that would eventually lead to a colon cancer diagnosis. I was still getting adjusted to living in a new place with some kids who were not entirely sure quite what to make of the new person in the house and still having trouble finding my writing time. And yet…a few gems showed up.

Here is a collection of the BEST statuses (and a few of the most popular memes) from my public Facebook page over the period of Oct 1st-31st. (You're welcome to follow me there to see the not-quite-the-best ones, but read up in the Facebook FAQ [last question] if you want to send me a friend request.) 


Just so we're clear.

The ACA is about to save my life for the second time since I signed up for it, so I'm absolutely going to have skin-in-the-game feels when you tell me there's no point to voting or both parties are the same or that you're SO leftist that there's no such thing as harm reduction.

There are some people's views on political non-participation that I grudgingly respect-but-disagree-with particularly among certain demographics, but those who look at the same proletariat they absolutely need (if that revolution they talk about is ever going to happen) and sneer at their lives, livelihood, and health as beneath their concern just make me have complicated feels about BEING a leftist.



As a literature major, a science fiction fan, a staunch feminist, and an anti-colonialist who has actually studied postcolonial literary tropes, my feelings towards Dune are pretty much forever going to be….complicated, no matter how good the soundtrack or acting are.

Yes, this is foundational sci-fi. Yes, I know the source material well enough to see Herbert falling into cultural assumptions even as he challenges others (kinda). Yes, it isn't as simple as bad portrayal/good portrayal. 

But it is literally one of the original "white savior" stories (even if it's not quite as bad as Avatar) with a group that is a barely disguised analogue of "desert people sitting on a precious resource the civilized folks need." One of the major plots of Dune is a group of uber-manipulative women who dedicate generations of their power to creating a more-powerful-than-them messianic dude while all the most powerful and interesting women in the story are in some way subservient to men (their Duke, their chosen one, etc…)

Oh, I'll see it (oh yes), but my problem isn't EVER going to be how faithful the adaptation is or how well done the effects are. We just get this one story over and over again. I  wish we got a version of A Small Place every decade or so.


Back in the very early aughts, I worked as a manager at Old Spaghetti Factory, and for a hot minute I was also moonlighting as a server at Marie Calendars. 

After a couple of months, I was really burnt out from working 75-(or more)-hour-weeks in food service, and I gave my two-week notice at Marie Callender's . I sort of hoped I might be able to come back during busy seasons to make a few extra dollars or have the possibility in the wings of another place I could serve if I went back to serving full time. (I was beginning to suspect at that point that I did not actually like management very much.) The general manager pulled me into the office before my shift to make sure I knew that he would never hire me back.

Me: "Even though I've given you notice and time to replace me and I'm trained and I like it here and all your managers love me and I WANT to come back?"

GM: "I just don't like people leaving. I'm not going to hire you back."

Me: "Well, I guess if that's your position, there's no real reason for me to give you two weeks."

GM: "What?"

Me: "I'm really burnt out. In fact, I think I'll go home now. Good luck with all my shifts. Especially today."

GM: "This is really unprofessional."

Me: "Yeah, it was! I couldn't believe you did it. Normally, I would never do something like this, so that I could stay in good standing. But your lack of professionalism makes me think why bother."

GM: "You might need me for a reference."

Me: "I manage at another restaurant. I'll use them if I need a reference for my employment during this period."

GM: "You should know better than to pull this shit, Brecheen."

Me: "Honestly A_ _ _, YOU should know better. I would never treat an employee like this who gave me the professional courtesy of a full two weeks, and might be able to save me a few hundred bucks in training a new employee when they came back. Good luck."

I like to imagine he was the reason that particular Marie Callender's closed up shop just a couple of years later. But more relevantly, I think about this story a lot lately when I see people taking FAR less shit from their boss as soon as they have an alternative that isn't starvation.


I really need bed reviews to include a category for how well they stand up to a pounding. Like are they going to squeak like all hell? Fall apart the first time you try "The Pile Driver"? Shift around the room? Is some important part going to break off every single time the frame thwacks against the wall? 

These are the real questions.



Chris's Pass/Agg theater of the day

I don't know how to tell you this kindly, but just the fact that we disagree on whether or not spending one Tuesday afternoon a year engaged in the harm reduction of trying to ensure that the people who govern us will either be "disappointing capitalists who know that the political will doesn't exist to do everything leftists want to do" or "literally fascists who write policies designed to harm us" does NOT make me a centrist.

It does NOT make me a centrist.

I don't know how to tell you this, but when you say Democrats are just as bad, you've told me that my life (saved by the ACA) means nothing to you. And to how many others—who you are going to need for your vaunted “revolution”—are you sending the same message?

My politics are what makes me a leftist, not my opinion on the praxis of voting. Your assumptions of my leanings are just wrong. I'm usually further left than the very same people up in my face telling me that my vote somehow makes me a centrist. And frankly, you're fucking insulting in your purity dogma…..in a way that a political ideology that CAN'T win an election doesn't have the political clout to be. This is why no one in this country takes leftists seriously.

I’m right next to you 364 days a year building parallel infrastructures, protesting, and writing about what total fucking tools mainstream Democrats can be. 

But I'd like people alive and not putting every resource they have into panicking about their health, livelihood, and safety while we try to win their hearts and minds. You may not agree about the way to get there, but that doesn't make me a centrist.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Ramping Back Up (Brief Cancer Update)

A SUPER quickie today just for folks following close enough to catch every update and Patrons eager to know when I'm going to be fully back into the swing of things. Two weeks ago, I was able to do my first post back after surgery to remove colon cancer. Last week I was able to do two posts. I'm hoping this week I can get out THREE (not including this one since it's really short).  

Physically, I'm doing really well. I recently ran 5 miles, and Saturday I had no problem being on roller coasters. Mentally things are a little more jagged. My concentration was already a little wobbly from Covid, and it's only coming back slowly. There was a LOT of feeling like a pin cushion, getting yanked around, and pain and medical trauma (even though I obviously needed to have that care) and there's a lot more coming in the way of genetic testing, blood testing, anemia recovery, a bone marrow biopsy, and possibly needing chemo. So I am still processing through a lot and trying not to take too much on my plate at once just because nothing is on fire right this second.

I've already written a post about Martin Luther King (and this day) that I think says everything I usually want to say around this time of year.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Follow Writing About Writing

I'm still using most of my spoons on recovery (see earlier posts if you're not sure what's going on), and in the last couple of days I've been on the "support staff" for someone who just got Lasik done, but I did want to make sure to get up at least one of the "admin" posts each week. These are the posts I try to update once or twice a year that contain important information about update schedules, people who are important to the blog, and in this case, where you can follow us on social media, and which social media has which kind of updates.



Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or Chris Brecheen as a writer?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing (or if you are trying to follow ME as a writer), it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways I am online and what goes where.

Writing About Writing is on several social media, but each medium is updated a little bit differently. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where most days I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see old posts they may have missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

Some social media have different signal-to-noise. Some I update in other capacities. Some are fire and forget. In some, I post my writing that is not "about writing," like the blog NOT Writing About Writing. Other places, more strictly ABOUT writing, pretty much keep it to this blog and it's updates along with macros, puns, and "You should be writing" memes.

Here are a few questions I get a lot:

What should you follow if you want to see everything I write? 

You want My Public Facebook Page. Follow it (or friend it if you check out the guidelines below). Though be warned that it can sometimes be like drinking from a fire hose. I will post everything I write, including reruns, but I ALSO post navel gazing, proto-posts, Jack-Handy-caliber deep thoughts, amateur political punditry, social justice thoughts, macros, silliness, and geekery. 


What should you follow if you basically want all the official posts I write, but not a bunch of crap about politics, video games, my day, or social justice?

You want My Twitter. Every post from every blog plus the reruns, and really only a few of the best writing memes A) I cross post everything I write to Twitter, but B) I don't post a LOT more there. So it is perfect noise-to-signal if you only want to see my finalized writing.

What should you follow if you basically want the Writing About Writing blog, but almost nothing else. 

You want the Writing About Writing Group. TWO posts most days (one new and one rerun). There is one meme (but only one) that is the prior day's best from the page. I almost never post from my other writing, and I almost never post more than one meme.

What should you follow if you basically want memes, puns, articles, and "you should be writing" reminders and don't really care about reading my blog?

Okay, that's cool. No no. It's fine. Really. While I put some aloe on this burn, you want the Writing About Writing page. Lots of memes, macros, puns, and comics and it's easy to scroll past the occasional post from my blog.

What should I do if I want all of these things? All of it! Give me more!!

Follow the Writing About Writing Facebook PageThe Writing About Writing Facebook Group, and my Public Facebook Page. Then go to the following button on the page and set your preferences to "See First." I will warn you that you may see some repeat posts, but this if you want to miss the fewest things I post, this is the way.

All nearby Mandalorians in unison:
"This is the way"


The "Join this site" button on the left, toward the bottom of this (and every) page. 

Following Writing About Writing through Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through Gmail.) You will be notified when I write a new post.

Pros- Shows all updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from any other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up.


R.S.S. Feed 

Note: Google has recently discontinued FEEDBURNER), but if you still want an RSS and/or email feed, here is a page of alternatives

If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button AT THE BOTTOM of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, NewsFire, RSSOwl and more. 

One of many Feedburner alternatives at the link above.


Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.

Cons- RSS feed does not include reruns (even the Greatest Hits I like to cycle through). No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the images that are part of the posts. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, catching up feels Sisyphean and knowing the next update is coming feels like the sword of Damocles. (Gotta get my Greek metaphors on.)


Email Notification 

At the bottom of the right side of the page, there is an option to put your email into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through email notifications. Every time I post an update, you will be sent an email notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Easy peasy lemon squeezy




Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You probably already get ten billion emails a day.

(That heading is the link to my twitter--just click on it) 

I was off Twitter for a while when they were making excuses for not banning Nazis. They seem to have pulled back from that position and are now basically as horrible as most other social media, and sometimes outdistance even FB in not sucking ass, so I opened a new account. It's tweet of my blog posts (and reruns). But I also include images of memes that are getting a lot of attention or the occasional joke that fits in the 280 character format.

Pros- Gets all written posts by Chris (reruns, new, other blogs, everything).

Cons- Gets only a little of anything else.


(That heading is a link)

W.A.W.'s Facebook page is its whole own thing.

In order to build an audience on Facebook, I spend a lot of time posting memes, macros, "you should be writing" reminders, inspirational messages, videos, and whatever thing about writing I find interesting and want to share.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I actually try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. The audience I've spent years carefully cultivating will not stick around if things get spammy. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross-posting.

You can increase your chances of seeing posts by setting the page to "see first," but you'll never see everything……because Zucc. FB does something horrible frequently enough that if I could som

Click "See first" to see more. 
But because FB wants page admins paying money
nothing you do will ever get you everything I post.
(You have to visit the page periodically and go through our history for that.)


Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. 

Cons- Lots of other stuff going on which. Also the FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Not a good place to get all the blog updates if you want them. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the Antichrist.


(The heading is a link)

I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling. Then Tumblr started doing it too and THEN they axed LGBTQIA+ content because of overkill compliance with Fosta/Sesta. These days I'll post all my blog stuff (reruns too) including from the non-writing blog, and a few of my well received memes very similar to my FB group except more memes and I sometimes I share other Tumblrs or something a little social justice-y. 

Pros- Blog posts from all locations. Best meme of the day. 

Cons- Somewhat limited presence on Tumblr. And I share other Tumblr posts about social issues from time to time.


(The heading is a link)

Different from the FB page, the Facebook GROUP will only have the blog posts (usually two a day) and a single macro/meme/infographic that is kind of like "The prior day's best."

Pros- Mostly just blog cross posts. (Reruns and current.) Once-a-day "best of" macro/meme.

Cons- Nothing else.

(The heading is a link) 

My Public FB profile is a melange of personal updates, posts about politics and social issues, geekery, things I find about non-monogamy, introversion, and pop culture. But it will also include some "behind-the-scene" thoughts about writing, running a page, and the creative process. (And sometimes complaining about some of the people I run into on the page itself.) If you wish there were more "Social Justice Bard" posts, this is a place where you can read the proto-versions of some of them as well as the ones that never make it to the blog.

You might want to follow for a while and decide IF you want to send me a friend request. I'm definitely not everyone's cup of tea with the geekery and the social justice stuff. 99.9% of my posts are public, so you really wouldn't be missing anything except the ability to comment.

If you don't care for my (very) occasional social issues post on other social media, you will like my profile even less. I write about that stuff almost daily. I can be a bit much for people. I post a lot. 

I have a Commenting Policy for this profile. You should read it before charging in. ESPECIALLY before charging into a contentious post. 

If you do want to "FRIEND" me, send me a PM with your request. (Don't worry, I check my "Message Requests" inbox at least once a day.) That account gets around 100-200 friend requests a week. I reject most of them because I don't know if they're there to try and rent my page or just pick a fight in the comments. So send me a message along with the request.

Pros- See more of "me." Get "behind the scene" updates. See "alpha" versions of posts and thoughts that never quite make it.

Cons- I post a LOT. I am not shy about my liberalism/leftism. 

(The heading is a link)

Yes, I even have an Instagram. It gets a couple of memes each day and a very occasional link to my blog on some super relevant picture, as well as the the occasional selfie (although self-promotion demands that I point out my Patreon selfie tier is still the best way to get those and nature pictures I take with my snazzy camera). 

(The heading is a link)

Though Patreon is less of a social medium, my patrons do get pictures and content through various tiers that are not available to anyone else. Newsletters, early access to posts, and the occasional post about what's going on that my regular readers aren't privy to. 

Others? 

I would love if something could replace Facebook. Anything. Right now, though, I am fettered there. For all its throttling and trying to squeeze blood from my stones, and even restricting my account for no reason and not telling me why, Facebook is what has made it possible for me to be a working writer.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Cancer Update (Meta/Personal)

I had originally intended this for Thursday's post, but recovery is a non-linear process and some days sap my energy more than others. I'm definitely getting better, but (especially last week) I would do one thing and be kind of wiped out.

So in lieu of writing ABOUT WRITING, today I'm just going to tell you about my cancer journey up to this point. But I do have an insight towards the end for those who are hoping to make writing pay the bills and who want nothing more than to "make it" by some value of that that might include losing the day job. Maybe not a didactic insight. Certainly not for everybody. Might make a few of you flip some tables. Still…something I noticed nonetheless.

If you're just tuning in, a routine blood test found anemia, and the further they went, looking for the cause, the more obvious it became that something was very wrong. A colonoscopy turned up a mass and pathology said, "cancer." Colon cancer.

The next step was surgery. 

Okay the NEXT step was to set up a group on Facebook for butt-themed memes called Chris's Butt Stuff, but, you know….THEN surgery. 

It's difficult to describe just how unpleasant the ramp up to something like this is. Imagine having to rewatch Lost for the third time but you only have a bootleg recording where the audio cuts in and out, and the picture is grainy—except somehow the smoke monster makes even less sense and the time travel plot is even MORE convoluted. Every week was two or three major appointments, and tests just kept getting added. I got poked and prodded and had to fast beforehand, and drink this awful stuff that is a powerful laxative. It was invasive and violating and even though I knew I needed it, it was one of the worst stresses I'd ever been through. 

December 16th, they cut out a softball-sized mass along with a little over a third of my colon*. There were no complications that would have caused the surgery to be abdominal (rather than laparoscopic). Other than being bigger than anyone expected—it was hidden in a corner and even fooled a CT scan—it was a textbook procedure. The tumor had perforated the colon wall but there was no lymph node involvement. I don't know much about classifying the stage of cancer, but this is technically 2B according to the oncologist.

(*Now I have a semi-colon. ~rimshot~)

[Ed. Note: "No, Chris. You have a 2/3 colon.]

I mean…..I GUESS!

Right now I'm waiting for a genetic test to find out if I have something called Lynch syndrome. I have two markers for it (and the tumor kind of behaved like I have it as well—a local super-asshole tumor but without much spread), but a genetic test is required to confirm. If I've got it, there is no benefit to be gained from chemotherapy, and recent studies show it would actually make for poorer outcomes. If I don't have Lynch syndrome, a type of chemotherapy called 5FU is up next. 5FU is kind of well tolerated as far as chemo goes (I might not lose my hair), but it's still pretty rough. Going on the easiest chemo is kind of like facing off against the LOWEST ranked heavyweight boxer in the tristate area. You're still going to get your ass kicked.

Beyond that there's the original anemia and low platelets. My CT found some scarring on my liver, which is weird since I can count the number of drinks I've had ever without taking off both socks, and I've never had hepatitis. And we have to figure out if surgery solved all the original problems of anemia. It's possible that even if that was the underlying cause of everything, I might need another iron infusion to bring my numbers up to where they belong.

So there's a lot more to come. 

But the main thing is the genetic test. That's going to determine what's next. 


Moving on to the not-for-everyone-so-don't-flip-your-perfectly-good-table point.

ONE interesting thing that I kept hearing from people as it became clear that I was going to have to take some kind of break from blogging is that there were more important things than writing. 

Yes.

YES!

Yes.

But….also….

Obviously, there are more important things than writing (I swear), but for me, writing is way way way up there. I wrote the day of my surgery. I wrote the day after. I've written every single day of my recovery. (It hasn't been blogging under deadline, and it would be maybe an hour instead of five or six, but I wrote every day.) I can't imagine a life without writing. Sometimes things that are urgent crop up and I have to give priority to them over writing, but urgency and importance are different. A pot boiling over is urgent, but cooking your world-famous bolognese might not be more important than the argument you're having with your partner about your future together. You get the pot off the burner because you don't want the house to burn down (URGENT), but then, hopefully, you make a choice to let the meal go and focus on the more IMPORTANT conversation. 

And if you turn back to your bolognese and tell your partner to just calm down for a damn minute while you finish cooking the entire meal, you're making a decision.

And I'm struck again by how often I run into people who burn to "BE" writers, but do not make writing a priority in their lives. You don't necessarily have to give up a well-paying career or a social life or having kids or all your personal time, but you probably have to give up SOMETHING if your goal goes beyond being a contented hobbyist. You maybe don't have to reach for the computer the day after major surgery like some (AHEM), but if you take a couple of months off, waiting until you are absolutely fully recovered before you sit down to type a word, there's some information there about how much writing means to you and how much you want it in your life.

There are more important things than writing. Overall health is more important, and if the doctor walked in and said, "Chris, I'm sorry. If you write, the creative power of magical rainbows will melt your sutures, you will go septic,…and DIE," I certainly would have taken a break. And there are definitely things (like doctors appointments) that will be more urgent on a day-to-day timeline. 

However, it is also true that we create lives that reflect our priorities one decision at a time. And if there are too many more things in a life that are constantly more important than writing, our lives will not fail to reflect that. There will always be something. It'll be an endless cavalcade of "I have to do this one more thing, and then I'll get back to writing." This isn't a value judgement (you should probably prioritize a family if you don't want to be a shitty partner/parent, and surviving capitalism is pretty important), but it is simply a fact. I am no different than anyone else—if I prioritized writing my novel over other parts of my life, it would be done by now. I am constantly waiting for one more thing to get better, and I have placed priority on other things. I wanted a social life. I wanted a love life. My novel remains unfinished. My life reflects my priorities. 

When an urgent issue clears, a high priority will float back to the top almost immediately. A lower priority will remain low—perhaps only to be given attention when EVERYTHING else somehow requires no attention at all. And how often does that really happen?

If it doesn't float to the top, there were other priorities there. 

So I can't tell you where you land, and there's no right answer when it comes to your own relationship with creativity and expression, but FOR ME, it is perhaps more accurate to say that there are more URGENT things than writing, right NOW. But the importance of writing never faded, and as soon as the urgency wanes, the importance of writing will reassert itself in my priorities. 

A lot of people ask me how they can make it. (Actually, that's the most common question working writers get—how their success can be emulated.) And a lot of people asking the question are looking for something more complicated (yet easier to do) than, "Write every day." But perhaps "Write every day" is just the praxis for a broader idea that is better expressed by, "Make writing one of your very highest priorities or your life will reflect that it isn't."

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Writing About Writing Returns (We're BACK!!)

Please Stand By
System Rebooting… …

Sleep Display Gauge- Bright Green

Pain Display Gauge- Amber Green

Mental Acuity Display Gauge- Bright Green

Energy Display Gauge- Amber With Slight Orange Tint

Artistic Expression Gauge- Red (DANGEROUSLY LOW—Recommend Writing Immediately)


Hello!

It seems I'm now a cancer survivor. 

Well, there's a little more to it, and I'll include an update with some medical details on Thursday—and, believe me, a couple of them are pretty gnarly. 

I just wanted to make sure folks know that I'm through surgery, through the make-you-loopy pain meds, through the can-barely-feed-myself phase, through the holiday season, and ready to bring Writing About Writing (and Not Writing About Writing) back online. Thank you all so much for your patience these last three weeks. It was literally the worst thing I have ever gone through, and I'm so excited to get back to writing.

Unfortunately, this isn't a switch to flip, and suddenly I'm 100% back to normal. It's a non-linear process, and I have been wrong so far about almost every prediction (both what I could do and couldn't do). Neither is my treatment exactly "over" in the strictest sense. (More deets on Thursday.) So an update schedule might be too ambitious for a while and things might be a little hit-and-miss as I transition back in. 

  • I'm not going to do that thing (that I've done so often in the past) where I don't "count" writing as work because it can be done from a relaxed position. 
  • I'll be working up to full speed instead of jumping into the deep end, so expect a slow ramp up. It might be a couple of months before I'm running at full steam (longer if I need chemo, but more on that Thursday).
  • This slow ramp up will affect my ability to post on my Facebook Page as well. I'm back (and thank you so much to a wonderful assistant who kept some content going while I couldn't so y'all didn't forget about me), but it's going to be a while before I'm churning out the memes quite as fast and furious as before.
  • I'm probably going to be running several guest blogs in the next few weeks to try and keep some content going but take the pressure off of me. It'll be a bit more than my usual "maybe-once-every-couple-of-months" pace.
  • It might be a while before I can hit my pre-surgery posting speed (and even longer before I get back to where I was before all the health stuff started that I eventually learned was cancer). I still have lots of follow-up appointments, ongoing therapies, and some further diagnostics, and every one of those is a half a day's productivity lost.
  • I usually do some end of one year/start of another updates before I jump back into my regular blog stuff, but that takes a couple of weeks even when I'm posting four or five times a week. So this year I'm going to trickle them in or I would still be at it by mid-March.
  • I'm going to lean a bit more on posts that I always worry are "fluff." Most readers seem to like them, but I always feel a little guilty if they go up at any time other than when I've been slamming out high quality content for days (so like…not since the pandemic started), but now I'm going to need some lower impact days on the regular.
  • I will need to make more appeals posts than I usually do. I really try not to be a content creator that passes the hat every post, but my medical bills are REALLY adding up. (I'm already in the mid-four figures at this point, and that's A) not counting the surgery itself or the hospital stay and B) JUST the medical bills, and not the incidental stuff around the surgery like lost work or hotel rooms for grandparents who came into town to do childcare.) And folks are still asking me how they can help. [I promise the answer is going to be a couple of bucks if you have it or becoming a Patron if you can.] I'll go back to my old appeals post rate of once every month or two soon enough. It has never been my intention to spam people or guilt them beyond what they are able to give freely and joyfully in support of my work. However, in while I'm looking at bills that are twice my monthly income with a twitch in my eye, and while I'm facing down algorithms on social media that can, for months, keep even an active reader from even KNOWING that I crowdfund, it might be closer to every couple of weeks.
What I'm saying is that things might be erratic and a little different than our update schedule for a while. And they might take a little while to get back to the pace we're all used to. 

But I am back. I survived. And I have so much more to say….er….write.