One Word After the Other

“I don’t know what to write today.”

This is a thing that I sometimes say to myself – especially when it’s true. It’s certainly something that I said to myself when I sat down to put this post together.

The thing is that, for me anyway, that’s only ever partially true. If I were to phrase it more accurately, it would be something like, “I have a very vague idea of what I want to write, but I don’t know all of it, and I’m not sure how to articulate it, or even where to begin.”

Course that’s more of a mouthful – even when you’re only talking in your own head.

So, if you’re like me, you’ll start looking for other stuff to do. You’ll look out the window and wonder if the wall of clouds approaching is only going to be overcast, or if it’s going to drop something on you. You’ll notice that the metadata for the audio track that you’re listening to is wrong, and change it*.

Then you’ll realize that you’re not doing anything but wasting time when you should be writing, so you shake yourself, mentally, turn to the keyboard, and you take that step. You write that first word down.

This is more difficult that that sentence makes it seem. What word do you start with? Is that really the right word? Does it take you in the direction, or convey the meaning that you want?

Maybe you turn around and delete that first word, but you’ve gone and done it. You’ve marked that page – even if said page is, in reality, nothing more than a collection of pixels. But it’s more than that. Mentally, that page has been changed, altered. Mentally, you’re altered too. You’ve started something. Might as well keep going.

It’s not about writing an entire book in one sitting. Or even writing an entire blog post in one sitting – which is certainly easier to do, but that’s not the point.

The point is about sitting down and doing what it takes to get that very first word down. Even if you delete it and try another. That first word is the key the unlocks the door. Every other word after that is you going through the door. They’re a little easier because you’ve got something to work off of. You’ve got the previous words.

That’s how things get done. You don’t eat the elephant in one bite. You start small. A journey of a hundred thousand words begins with a single word, then another, and another.

One word after the other.

 

Here is a quick reminder that next weekend, I’ll be at ConFusion in Novi, Michigan. My panel schedule is on my Events page.

Now all I have to do is figure out how I’m going to get a Sunday blog post up while I’m at the con**

 

Time: 11:40 am – ish

Music: Bon Jovi – It’s my Life

 

*Practically a play-by-play description of what’s going on here folks.

**I already know, thanks. It’s more about figuring out where I’m going to find the time to write and schedule a post.

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Friday Fess-Up: January 12th

Welcome to Friday, Y’All. It’s finally here.

I gotta tell you: I’m pretty sure that this week had the usual number of days in it, but it sure seemed like there were a couple of optional extras installed this week.

So here we are: The end of the first full week after moving the writing room downstairs and consolidating my computing platform in the wake of a dying power supply.

It turned out pretty well with a single exception, which I’ll get to later. There were some growing pains, and I’m still consolidating the writing area – which will require a little bit of reorganizing the home office area.

There have also been some unexpected benefits as well. With the single laptop, I’ve got my writing platform right there, and there were a few days this week where I had a bit of time – you know those chunks of time: The ones that are just big enough to feel significant, but are too small to do something *Really* involved, like start playing a game – where I got a bit of extra writing done.

The part of the consolidation that failed utterly was consolidating all my music. Those of you that have been following for a while know that I write exclusively* to Blind Guardian. Outside of writing, I listen to other bands, and I’m always looking for new music. But, after a few days of the consolidated playlist, I realized that just wasn’t working.

So I rebuilt the Blind Guardian playlist and it was back to business as usual.

Speaking of business, the serious business of ConFusion is going down on the weekend of the 19th. I’ve got my panel schedule up on the Events page. You should come on down to Novi and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Be safe Y’All.

 

*ok, in the past, I used a qualifier like “Almost” exclusively, or “Damn near” exclusively but, let’s get real here.

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ConFusion Panel Schedule

Hi there Everybody!

Here is a quick post to let you know about my ConFusion panel schedule.

For those of you that don’t know, ConFusion is a Fan-run Science Fiction/Fantasy convention held in Novi, Michigan on the weekend of January 18th through the 21st.

This year, the Con will be at the Novi Sheraton.

If you’re going to be in the Novi Area that weekend, stop on by. I’d love to see you!

Here’s what I’ll be up to – and when:

10am Saturday – Isle Royale Room

Reading: Lucy A. Snyder, Ken Schrader, Sunny Moraine

 

1pm Saturday – Saugatuck Room

SF and Philosophy: Exploring the Connections

SF has been called the literature of ideas, and the ideas explored in SF have become increasingly philosophical throughout the history of the genre. What are the most illuminating thought experiments in recent and classic SF?  Which philosophical questions do they raise?  And how are philosophers in today’s universities employing SF in their teaching and research?

 

3pm Saturday – Charlevoix Room

Improv Flash Fiction

Fast paced and quick witted, authors create stories in real time, “round robin” style, using prompts from the audience.

 

5pm Saturday – St. Clair Room

Autograph Session

Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and hav them sign things! (Please limit your signing requests to 3 items per person.)

 

11am Sunday – Petoskey Room

Your Cake Is In Another Castle

Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass sends Alice into a chessboard-world where she’s told that if she crosses the entire board, she’ll be crowned queen. It’s not until she reaches this goal that she learns it’s not what she really needs: the goal of chess isn’t to promote a pawn; it’s to put the king in check. When does moving the goalposts on a character feel like a satisfying next step, and when does it break the compact with the reader?

 

 

I hope to see you there!!

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Planning for 2018

I’m finding it hard to believe that we’re only one week into January.

I say that because it’s been a busy week. A big part of that is because reality reasserted itself, and I had to make the switch back to “day-job” mode.

That takes up a HUGE amount of time, and it puts a big squeeze on what time I’ve got left during the day. I’m already finding myself falling back into old habits – habits that I want to break.

What I also want is more of a balance between stuff that I “Have to do” and stuff that “I like to do.”

I’ve let some things slip over the last year, sacrificed on the altar of “I don’t have enough time” and I’d like to change that too.

How am I going to pull that off?

First, I need to accept that I can’t do all the things all the time. I need to find help where I can, and to accept that sometimes, some things just won’t get done.

Second, I need to dedicate some time (yeah, I know) to planning. One of my biggest time sinks is scrambling to handle shit that I’ve forgotten about, that I just remembered at the last minute. Proper planning will ease some of that. The rest will be addressed by developing the capacity to look at this sudden thing and ask myself the hard question: “Does this really need your attention right now? Can it wait?” Sometimes it won’t (or can’t wait), but sometimes it will be something that I can add to the task list to be handled at a later date.

Third, I need to make my health – both physical and mental – a priority. You’d think that would be obvious, but here it is, third on the list. There are so many corners that I’ve been cutting for the sake of time or comfort (no, I really shouldn’t have another bowl of that Mac-n-cheese, but it’s so cold outside, and it’s been a long and stressful week, and you’ve earned it, haven’t you?). Being well rested, exercising, eating right, and making time for me to just be me, is essential to everything else getting done.

That’s the plan, and I’m already behind on it. If you recall, at the beginning of the week, I said I wanted to start getting some of these ideas down, so that I could start working on them. Well, that hasn’t happened yet.

I am going to commit to you all that today, I’ll get that done – or at least started. Some of those ideas will require input from other folks to flesh out fully, but the idea is to have a working plan for the rest of 2018 by the end of January.

We’ll see how it goes.

Be safe, Y’All.

Time: 11:32 am – ish

Music:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Fess-Up: January 5th

Welcome to the very first Friday Fess-Up for 2018! I made it just under the midnight deadline, so it still counts as a Friday post, rather than a Saturday something.

There’s been a lot going on this past week. First, it’s been REALLY FREAKING COLD!!!

Seriously, the air outside hurts my face.

That sparked the biggest change. I uprooted the writing room. Well, it’s been more than just the move. I got a new laptop too. The old one still worked, but it was running windows XP and it had a crack in the case so big that I could stick the end of my thumb into it. So there was backing up data and copying it from one laptop to the other, and all that stuff.

Additionally, because it’s been so cold, I moved from my usual writing place – a room over the attached garage – downstairs into the “office”, so that we could set the writing room to “Unoccupied.”

So there’s been a few adjustments that I’ve had to make. I’ve gotten up every day to write so far this week (Mornings were preserved for writing, NOT making the transition, no matter how badly I wanted to get that done.) and I’ve even introduced other bands into the writing playlist which, before this week, had been exclusively Blind Guardian. I’m not sure how well that’s going to work. It got off to a rocky start, but I’ll give it to the end of the weekend.

And there you have it. Frigid fingers and all, it’s still been a mildly productive week, and I’m looking forward to next week where the temperature is rumored to rise to just below freezing.

Be sure to stop by Sunday.

Be safe Y’All

 

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2018: A Look Forward

Welcome to 2018 Everyone, and welcome to the very first blog post of the year.

On a Monday, no less.

If your various social media feeds are anything like mine, you’re seeing a bunch of posts about goals and resolutions for the new year.

I don’t know about resolutions, but I’ve got plenty of goals for this year. Many of them are personal, many of them are professional.

A good part of today is going to consist of getting these goals down on paper – currently they’re still swirling up there in the brain stew – and then putting them in some kind of order.

One thing that is a definite is to keep up on the blog here. I missed a couple of weeks last year but, if you look at the numbers, I averaged better than a post a week. A good part of that was the introduction of the Friday Fess-Up post, which I’m going to continue. It keeps me honest.

I tend to get introspective at this time of the year and, while I’m not going to shy away from my thoughts here, I do want to keep this post focused. I’ve already got a draft of this Sunday’s blog post started where some of that introspection started to bleed into this post.

I will let this in though:

If you’re anywhere near where I am – either geographically or mentally – the world looks something like this:

The first thing that might come to your mind is the snow, the cold, that hill in the distance.

Those are there, yes.

But I invite you to look at that blue sky. The sun is shining. We’re past the time of year where the days are growing shorter. And that hill? Why, anything could be over that rise.

That’s where we are – where I am. On the cusp of a new year. On the edge of potential. Sure, it’ll take a bit of effort to get to the top of that distant hill, but the effort is the cost of admission.

The whole world is over the top of that hill.

And it’s waiting.

Go get it.

Time: 1;30 Pm – ish

Music: Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames

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2017: A Look Back

Welcome to the very end of 2017.

I slept in this morning. No alarms, nothing to wake me up. It was pretty good. I snuggled with the dog, made an awesome breakfast, and I’m about to get up and grab another cup of coffee – hold on a second…

Not a bad way to end the year, if you ask me.

I thought I’d spend this last post taking a look back on the past year.

Suffice it to say that 2017 was taxing on several levels. I could go into detail, but I choose not to soil what started out as a pretty good day. Instead, let me go over some of the good parts of 2017.

I survived cancer – again. Here, at the end of 2017, I’ve got a new scar to show for it, but I’m feeling pretty good.

I celebrated my second wedding anniversary this year.

I signed with my agent this year.

I finished* my book this year.

Said book went out on Submission this year.

Looking purely at the numbers of posts this year, I’ve exceeded the commitment that I made to put something up on the blog every week this year. I did miss a couple of weeks, during a dark time, but production-wise, I did pretty well.

I was a panelist at ConFusion in 2017.

I was a panelist at Balticon in 2017.

I wrote more days this year than I didn’t. Which, when you look at it a certain way, doesn’t sound like much, but it is.

I’ve done more with my writers group this year.

I’ve seen friends have success.

And here, at the end of the year, I’m warm, and comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.

I call that a win.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow, where I’ll kick off 2018.

Be safe Y’All.

 

Time: 1:49 Pm – ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Another Stranger Me

 

*There are various levels of “Finished” when you’re talking about a book.

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Friday Fess-Up: December 29th.

Welcome to the final Friday Fess-Up of 2017!

Damn I did a lot of work this week.

Practically none of it was writing.

Overall, I’d been doing pretty well, but then it got cold. Really cold. And I spent a few days covering windows, and looking for cold air leaks. I’m fortunate enough to have an entire room in the house to dedicate to writing. This works pretty well in the summer, but my house takes a little bit of advance planning to heat – planning which I failed to do.

In an attempt to raise the temps in the other parts of the house, I set that area to “Unoccupied.” I’ve still been writing. I brought the laptop downstairs and worked off the “Bar” in the kitchen – which got me thinking about whether or not I’d find any value in a standing desk. After a few days of that – coupled with chores in the snow – and my knees started letting me know after shorter and shorter times that they were not amused with all the extra standing. So that would probably be a “No” for the standing desk, unless I could get one that wouldn’t be a major production to convert to a sitting desk and back.

So I’ve been looking for places to write instead of writing. And covering more windows. Getting stuff done.

None of the sleeping in, taking a day or three to unplug and play games or watch rugby, that I envisioned really happened. I took an entire day off last week Wednesday (if I’m remembering right), and Christmas day was restful. Outside of that, I’ve been hustling to get things done before reality reasserts itself.

I even failed to send out the weekly check-in email to my writing partner last Sunday. Ok, granted, it was Christmas eve, and neither of us had expected to be getting much done, but it was also a simple check-in email. Wasn’t like I’d planned on writing War and Peace or anything.

It’s all about balance and, this week, I’ve been kinda out of balance.

So there you have it. I don’t regret the time I spent. Everything I did, needed to be done. I am a little disappointed with myself in that I struggle to pace myself and not try and do ALL THE THINGS in a single day.

Having said that, I am going to take a couple of the remaining days of the year to dedicate solely to me. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it.

Be sure to stop by Sunday for the final post of the year!

 

Be Safe Y’All

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Simplification?

For those of you that don’t know (and that would be most of you), the night before last, the power supply on my desktop PC went “Plooey.”

 

 

 

 

(Kinda like this, but with a lot less fire and smoke and a lot more “Plooey” and that electrical, ozone smell)

Yup, one moment, I’m playing a game, and the next, nothing. My computer, is now a boat anchor.

That almost prevented me from posting this week – better late than never, right?

Several things happened because of that technological kerfluffle.

The first is that I ended the day yesterday with a spiffy new laptop and I’m training my brain to type with an extended keyboard on the laptop.

The second reinforced something I said a long time ago: I need music like I need to breathe.

I powered on this spiffy new laptop and I ran through all the updates that were waiting for me, then I installed and updated anti-virus software. It was getting on towards noon, by that time and I wanted to get the blog post done. I logged into WordPress, got set to start typing and fired up the media player…

and it was empty.

I shit you not when I say that my brain shut off. Right after that, my next priority – even before installing games or any other damned thing – was figuring out how to connect my backup drive to this laptop so I could copy my music here. The satisfaction that I felt when I successfully transferred my music library to the new laptop, bordered on relief.

The third thing that I noticed while I was rebuilding my non-writing computing platform* was that I had become cluttered as hell.

This desktop PC was bloated with stuff that I set up and then never really used. At the time of the failure, I had *FOUR* web browsers installed, and had *Zero* intention to uninstall any of them.

That isn’t even the worst of it.

What I came to realize, was that maybe this failure was for the best. Maybe I needed to look at what I had been doing here and get rid of the dross. Might be that I was holding onto stuff that I wasn’t using, and didn’t need, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of until circumstances forced me to take a harder look at things.

I think that’s going to be a thing for me in 2018. There’s a lot of stuff that I can do without, that I’ve been tolerating in my life, and I think the time is coming when I start excising shit that doesn’t bring me happiness.

More on that later.

In the mean time, I hope that whatever you’re celebrating over the next couple of weeks, however you’re celebrating it, you and yours have a hell of a grand time and are all safe.

Time: 7:30 pm – ish

Music (so good to have it here on the new platform): Sabaton – Ghost Division

*I’ve got two computers. One that I write on and one that I do, practically everything else on. I don’t see combining the two into one machine as a huge technological hurdle. I am, however, self-aware enough to realize that if I had my games on the same laptop that I wrote on, my writing productivity would take a serious hit. I’ve got to keep the two separate for that reason.

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Friday Fess-Up: December 22nd

Welcome to December 22nd. You’ve made it through the long dark of the year. From this point on, the days will be getting longer. Soon yes, so very soon, the time will be upon us once more:

Barbecue Season.

I’ve been burning vacation time since the 18th, and I’ve gotta say that I needed the break. I won’t call it rest, because I’ve been pretty busy.

I did take one entire day off this week. From everything, damn near. I won’t say I was an epic lump for the entire day, but there was some definite lumpiness going on.

And a little bit of guilt – which is kinda ridiculous, but there it is. You spend so much time trying to do all the things, every day, and when you stop, you’ve still got that mental muscle memory and you don’t know what to do with yourself. So you feel like you ~Should~ be doing something.

I’ve been writing pretty solidly all week – with that single day exception. I suppose that I should be sticking to my schedule, but I’m just not getting up at 5:30 on a day that I don’t have to day-job.

You think that with the time I’ve got, I’d jump into full-time writer mode and knock out 2000 words a day or something. But that’s not how it works. 2k a day is something that you’ve got to work up to. I mentioned mental muscle earlier and I think the analogy holds. There is a kind of mental stamina that you’ve got to exercise to get up to that point. I know I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

So that’s been the week. I’m going to finish this post off and then head outside to do chores (Like I said, busy) before it starts raining, or snowing, or both, or neither – that’s Michigan weather for ya.

Be sure to stop by Sunday.

Be Safe Y’All.

Time: 9:51 am-ish

Music: Dragonforce – Through the Fire and Flames

 

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