Bookmarks

Remember when Magic: The Gathering (MTG, a Collectable Card Game (CCG)) first ventured on-line? It was gods-awful. They were told that no one, NO ONE, would pay to own a virtual representation of a physical item without owning that item. (I might have dabbled)

The common wisdom of the day seemed right… but as we now see, MTG was just ahead of their time. Now we have Hearthstone, and it’s highly successful. We pay real world money for colorized versions of mounts to ride in virtual worlds that we already have the base model of.

So I need something from the e-book industry: Bookmarks in all their colorful glory and diversity.

I know it’s not time yet. Color is still not an easy thing, and the price is too high yet to ring in an era of ubiquity. But coding is a process. So I’m asking now. In the future, I want to go to a bookmark store on the web, buy a virtual bookmark, and when I stop reading my e-ink, I want to see that bookmark slide in over where the binding would be. I want to assign a bookmark to a book. I want to assign a group of bookmarks to a book, then check “random” and scry my inner thoughts upon viewing it.

So jump on that now, IDPF; and remember – you heard it here first. ~.^

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Setting goals

So, a month has passed since I started my project: “Leaves and Steel” (working title). I set aside that month to work up an outline and do some background research. I promptly underestimated the work needed, while still managing to slide under the wire with a rough outline.

During that time, I carefully took a good hard look at my schedule, and did a lot of inner work. Would it have been nice to have layered more detail into my outline? Sure. Did I waste the time? No. Because what I was working harder on was setting my page goal.

Everyone should have these goals in place. Here is me without a goal: “Oh, I really want to look into clothing for the setting. I need the proper names of things. And I also want to daydream about great scenes that will be in the book, so that I have something to look forward to. Where is that book on politics? There was this article that I read.. was it Utne reader, or Community magazine…. ” Three months later: “Oh, the novel, yeah, it’s going to be great! I should be starting soon.” Don’t do this.

Look at the difference a simple goal makes – I don’t have a great outline. I don’t have the sort of outline that you show to others and they lean over and bask in it’s perfection. It’s more of a guideline, really. Yet I moved on and am writing the novel.

It’s a testament to the power of goal setting when you start your novel and when it is time to use one of the primary character’s names you type this: <lastname>. Yeah, freakish, isn’t it? Scary. Still, I wrote my first damn page on time. (don’t fret, I named him the next day, he’ll be alright)

So what goal did I set for completing my first draft by July 2018? Five pages a week.

I hear you: “Just Five?!?” with mouths aghast and eyelids wide.

Yes. Just five. Because I know I can do that. I know I can slip and recover from that. Because I know, that over the course of a year, there are going to be weeks that I produce more that five – but never less; and that is the point.

I am thinking of the space around the words also. Space to stay fit, to eat healthy, to communicate this journey to those who stop by the fire. Most of all I am thinking that this time I will not set myself up for failure, because that is what you do when you insist that you write as if you are a published professional right out of the gate.

So set goals. Do inner work. Look at where you are with compassion and set your schedule accordingly. Much <3 to you.

 

all of y’all it’s a sabotage

So let’s take a look here. Most of the focus rests on self-sabotage; but what if there are other things in motion?

That special person in your life that says one thing, but their actions say another. That’s painful. What are you going to do about that? The solutions are never simple, especially when there is a lack of awareness on the side of the other party.

So you have a choice: your project, or them.

This is a great test of focus. Not a fun test, but certainly challenging. Would you settle for someone who would deny the expression of who you are? You might be tempted, especially if you came to you path late, and now you are many miles down the road on the other’s path.

There is a tendency to allow an external act of unconscious sabotage push you into doubt, and from doubt into self-sabotage. The litany of: “Well, I am the one who’s changed”, “I probably wouldn’t succeed.”, “It’s okay, next year, when things are better.”, and the dreaded – “I guess I’m not really ready yet.”, followed closely by – “I have too much invested in the status quo.”

My experience is that it shows you need to do more inner work. You need to see the fork in the road ahead, and figure out how to embrace it. You need to stand, not run. You are not ready.

I’ve been there. I’m currently there right now. I can tell you that my reaction this time is so different, that I feel rather like an idiot for not having seen it before. My reaction now: “Fine. Now how do I work this horrible situation so I can stabilize quickly and stay on track with my project.”

It’s okay. If you are where I was years ago, making excuses and turning the lack of support inward and placing it on you, remember that you are walking your path. Sometimes we take the long road, and all that means is that we are stronger for it. Life isn’t a race, it’s an experience.

Chin up, chest out – greet the day and express yourself!

Nourish the physical

I feel that, on the third week of my journey to write a novel, I should share how much caring for my physical self augments my ability to stay on task. We know that our bodies were designed to move frequently, that movement keeps us well, and yet I am a writer. So movement is very important. This year is like an extended marathon for me, and when viewed as such, that means I need to get in shape, and stay in shape.

I’m currently a shape…

Fortunately for me, I do enjoy physical activity; so at least I do not have a resistance to the idea of movement. I also enjoy the outdoors – however it’s frequently in the 90’s here, and it’s fire season – so indoors I go. Yes, I joined a gym. They are a lot less costly than they used to be and they seem to have finally gotten the message and stopped with the contracts. It’s a modest gym, but it has solid equipment that I like, and classes that I’m not ready to take. This is where I will work on my strength and endurance.

Right now I’m entering that stage where I think I’m better than I am, and as a result am always trying to determine if I’m having a heart attack or if, just perhaps, I wasn’t ready to go up in resistance and add that five minutes to my faux rowing session. Still, in just three weeks, sitting is more comfortable, and my hunger is declining while my lust for greens is increasing. But it can’t be all cardio and weights, so this week I’m adding a yoga session. Less twinging in my future.

This is part of being a writer. The mind is connected to the body. Gone is the longing for, or at least it should be, of the mind as an island. The two should work in harness, and a solid physical regimen should accompany work. Perhaps you do not need it to produce; but I would urge you to try the coupling of it, as I think then you might find yourself producing more with less effort.

I do want you to know, when beginning to dig myself out of the mindset that I “just couldn’t create because <insert unfavorable portent excuse here>”, I was in no shape to join a gym. Walking was an effort, and I could not go far. Speaking of chest twinges, going up a mild grade would have me convinced I’d be going down it in an ambulance. So I started small, and there were set-backs. Months that I stopped, then resumed. Perhaps this is you, too. I encourage you to throw it away. It happened. You did not become a chiseled marathoner entering your first decathlon. Neither did I. The difference is that you just keep picking it back up again. And again. Once more into the breech.

So perhaps you feel foolish, starting back where you started long ago, or even further behind than the last time. Screw that noise. Let it go. Walk a block. Then do it again tomorrow. Start parking away from the doors. Through little motions, that we come back to again and again, novels are made.

The Mission Statement

Mission statements seem to start with “I want”. That is imposing right there.

I mean, you could just say “I want 10 million dollars.” That would certainly do you, right? Especially if you didn’t lose your head and blow it all in a rush. Then you could work out the details as you learned to work with all that money. Maybe, in the process, you’d discover what you really wanted. Conversely, you might never take the time to sort it out between measured bouts of consumption.

So your best bet, the honest bet, is to fix in your mind what it is you believe you want right now. You should carry in you the understanding that your mission statement may change, but you should expect that change to be an outgrowth of the original. I feel that, If you find yourself fork-lifting your mission statement before reaching it – then you did not understand yourself as well as you thought you did.

So, I got to work on the Mission Statement, and there were surprises in store.

Turns out, what I really want to do is to continue my work in unifying my exploration into virtual worlds, and the attendant communities therein, with the outer world – creating as many connections as I can. As a part of that unification I want to develop a presence in the virtual social space, naturally bumping up against and befriending those of like-mind, as I bring to fruition my first novel, as it is an outgrowth of my delving.

I like it, and I think it is a good effort, but I worried that it was too broad still. So I threw in some way points:

  • By July 1st, 2018 have complete novel ready for revision/submission
  • In January, 2018 begin to seek agent for work in progress
  • Launch Patreon account for novel in July
  • Continue to develop Twitch stream
  • In Aug, 2017, have calling cards
  • In October, have all masks created for the content you stream.
  • By June 1st, 2017 have working outline in Scrivener.

It will need to be reviewed soon, as I’m generating other way points that will need to be included.

Coming up: Brass tacks scheduling: taming the un-tamable!

 

An odd approach…

I believe I was the last in the universe to learn of FanFiction.net. Now, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, as I came to it already focused on writing, rather than caught up in a particular fandom. Not that I was lacking in that experience, but there is a difference between being swept up in a fandom in isolation, and being swept up in a sea of those like you. FanFiction.net is an ocean of vast proportions.

It was a wonderful discovery. It was very akin to that book on web design that teaches good design by showcasing poor design. No, no. I am not insulting everyone who writes or reads that site. What I mean is that I saw that what is true for physical artists, is true for writers – everyone is good at somethings, but the measure to shoot for is to become well rounded. Here is an example, from memory:

“He walked down the cracked steps, short grasses and moss already working to widen the lines and gaps to reclaim this rise of earth.

“Heyo. Let’s jam.” He called out to his brother-in-arms. ”

The setting was in the time of King Arthur, and clearly, dialog was what this writer needed to work on, while equally clearly they knew how to immerse the reader in the setting. (the original had more wonderful setting info, but I just wanted to show the steep contrast)

There were many, and varied examples of this, and I devoured them. It also showed me the value of curation. If you were interested in a niche fandom, this site was perfect. If you were caught up in a thriving community – well, there was a lot of underwhelming content to slog through in the search of something passably put together. Occasionally there were jewels. It kept you plugged into the hunt, those jewels.

I look upon that time that I fell down the rabbit-hole of FanFiction.net as time well spent.

But while I feel it made me a wiser reader, at least in understanding the parts, and how they fit together, and discernment, my time spent there did not enhance my production. I never posted. I remained unable to complete anything. I would get what they called a “plot bunny”, and write it up, jump from that “cool scene” to the next and then peter out just as the real work of writing was to begin. Of course, that is how I see it now; then it was that it just wasn’t the right time for me. I didn’t have the right office, the right job, the right time, the… exactly: excuses. Or if you are being kind, I was blinded still, by my first writing experience.

I truly believe that nothing will ever compare to it. If for no other reason than I have enshrined in my memory. Words flowed. Pages were ripped out of my notebook and passed away for my friends to read as they were completed. I wrote. Oh, how I wrote. I wrote in class, I wrote at home, I wrote whenever I could write. In fairness, I never finished it. I had to end it, artificially, because it had to be handed in. The tale burned in me and I worked feverishly to get it out.

I’ve been chasing that ever since, and when I couldn’t chase it, I buried it.

There is something there, if you can see it, hovering around the edges. I’ll never know which came first, the feeling that if the words are not burning to get out it’s not worth doing, or that the moment was the culmination of little praise for steady forward movement and hearts and flowers for that last minute save? What I do know is that time has passed and it no longer matters. That it can’t matter anymore. That battle is over, and if it continues to be the focus, I’ll lose the war.

The positive news is that words still pour and burn. The even more positive news is that when they don’t, I can still produce. From here, we move forward (again), but much more seasoned than ever before!

 

Not that now things are simple…

It’s funny to watch movies through my eyes now. With more experiences comes a sort of “seeing through things”. Things I never thought to question. This leads me to think of what others will “see through” in my writing.

Some of them are obvious: “how are they affording dinner?”

You know how it goes, you are so wrapped up in the tale, regardless of the medium being used, and you don’t think of things like – bathrooms, utility bills, time needed for cleaning, laundry supplies, and of course – food. Homes are just immaculate, it’s just the way they are. Belongings are on point, there’s no excess unless the story calls for an attic or a basement. Food? Food is always on time and it is either a comedy relief device or delightful. (apologies in advance to the legion of published media that covers this – I’m not referring to those tales just now)

Yet… when does the level of detail get in the way? Does the reader/viewer come to be transported, or come to feel validated? How do you know, and should you care? It is not like you will ever stand over each of your stories, greeting some, warning off others.

I’ve read a number of books upon the craft of writing, and there is an aspect to them all that makes me feel tragically lacking. The same way I felt in college level drama. When I write (for remember, my issue is coming to the page, as Ms. Sellers would have it said) I just… well… write. It just moves forward. I honestly have found that the only struggle for me is when I’m trying to incorporate another person’s actions/words. In that, I found my work in Deep Forest very fruitful.

Which moves me to where I envy those who have writing partners. So far, I have had a writing muse, and a writing coach – in the sense that he gave me the support to come to the page, and was always cheering in my corner. I miss them both, but time passes on, and, like death, ultimately writing is done alone.

It’s been an exciting week. Things have been launched, other things are in the final stages of preparation. I feel as if I’m in the last stages of training before the big run.

I also realize that I need to catch any visitors up. I am not adverse to being dumped into the middle of a tale, but I realize some are, so I will try and focus the next posts on setting the stage. So we can all begin at the beginning.

Once more into the breach!

Fitting title for Memorial day. And so what was abandoned, is now revived.

I’ve been steadily plugging on, and many paths have opened up to me upon the way. From that, I begin to see the similarities in what sparks my passion. I also begin to see the faint outlines of the self-imposed blinders that keep me from walking more than small ways upon these paths. Still, I find myself very lucky. Along the way I have made friendships that have furthered my journey. Some fall by the wayside, some remain; all are valued for the time spent.

I feel that I have been standing on the edge of the diving board for some time. Eyeing the water, occasionally blinded by the reflections upon it. The perfectionist in me, nodding tightly as the shroud of fear keeps it ever ready, doesn’t want me to leap. It rattles off disastrous things that haven’t happened in my ear, wishing only for things to stay the same. Nothing good, but oh so familiar.

Yet I’ve found a way to be alone, but not alone. All those that I hold dear are in the water, beckoning for me to join them. The water can be uncomfortable, they admit, and yet, it is summer now and all that is left for me to do is swim.

And thus I will jump!

Babble

I’m reading a thoughtful article in the January issue of Shambhala Sun, titled “What Makes Us Free”. In it Joseph Goldstein was speaking about “wise speech” and remarking on how few of us take the time to slow down before we speak. Then he went on to say how he enjoyed watching his mind about to engage in “useless talk”. (a very stark rendering of two delightful paragraphs)

Now, I suppose, from a mindfulness viewpoint, I failed reading this article, because at that point my mind wandered off to the video by Shimi Cohen (See here) that used quite a bit of Sherry Turkle’s TED talk (See here) and the art of writing, two very separate things, but suddenly related in my mind, because of this article.

You didn’t used to think of writing as something as “useless talk”. When someone bothered to take the time and write it down, there was, almost by default, more weight added to the words. But when you dig down into the craft of writing, there is the constant exhortation to just get it down; and that means that quite a bit of it is going to be “useless”, which may key into why there is so much resistance to the practice. When I think of images of writers, I don’t see frivolous images. I see respectable, slow, thoughtful images. Images that speak of knowledge or wisdom. With that in mind, why ever would you want to burst that bubble and write down whatever garbage just filled your mind when you saw that rose get half its petals knocked off by the careless delivery man? No, most of us see writing as the communication of “wise speech”, grocery list notwithstanding.

How does Ms. Turkle fit into this? Well, she has a different take on “useless speech”. Those things you say and get called on, or later think of at 3 a.m. and wince; the speech that happens in real time, those words. She feels that having these conversations, even the parts filled with “useless speech”, are critically important in developing the skill to have conversations with ourselves, and that is something intrinsically valuable to our stability.  So we could say, in this different context, that she is pro “useless speech” if the alternative is only “crafted speech”. Interesting, because writing is, was, crafted speech. Censored speech. Edited speech.

But that is diving into absolutes. Mr. Goldstein was not advocating not speaking, he was advocating more mindful speech. Ms. Turkle is not advocating the shunning of communications technology, merely to be more mindful on how we use it, lest we loose an important part of ourselves. So, when you are faced with a jumble of words and images that you know, know, you should get down on paper – it’s alright. It will be messy and ugly and if there was a Pulitzer for shallowness, put you firmly in the running, but put it down anyway. Because it’s so much better than the alternative: a blank page for the day.

That is the stuff that we work with. Once it’s out of our head and lying on the page in front of us, we can begin to craft with it. Until then, there’s no material to work with. Artists in more physical mediums go out and purchase that stuff. Then, depending on the craft, build up or remove to expose what their intention is. Isn’t it great? We don’t have to stand in line in the checkout! There’s that.

What if it’s really, truly, bad and we can’t work with it, no matter how hard we try? Then we could go back to the words of Mr. Goldstein and Ms. Turkle and cultivate the mindfulness that they are recommending. Mindfulness to our speech, to our actions and the impact of them, will raise the quality of them. The inner dialog matters. Mindfulness of that dialog will help you sit, alone at your page, without fear as to what will happen.

And as you settle, the genuine will peek through and you’ll have a conversation, not just a connection.

Still here, better equiped

I think I’m ready to share once more.

Still tap, tap, tapping on keys. Finally have all those books, the ones that I listed at the launch of this journey, actually resonate and make sense. I know, they were written in my native tongue, and I felt I understood the words at the time; but now I’m deeper into the practice and I feel the words now, in my bones. Chapters that I had read before, I read again and have that “Ah!!hhh!” moment, the perfect exhalation.

I write now, everyday, something. Sometimes small jots. Usually forum posts, mine and theirs. I have projects, all that revolve around writing. I do not travel without my Evernote notebook, and it is actually filling bit, by bit.

I’m realizing that my process is a very internal process. When I feel that something isn’t right, I may not see why. I go dark on it, and won’t touch it for a time. Then, when I come back around to it, I have a fresh idea, and the problem, previously unrecognized, is understood and dealt with. So now, instead of feeling despair when I cannot apply myself to a section, I do not worry and instead trust that I will come back to it. I do make a point to writing somewhere else. Something made easier now that I understand that failure is not the issue.

I’ve also learned to stop resisting my interests, and so am capitalizing on my passion for the emergent social groups that can form in the popular MMORPG: World of Warcraft. There are many ways to get good use of my skills there. It gives back, too, as I am free to find like-minded others at unconventional hours, perfect for my way of life now.

So, I believe I will move to the next phase, and use this as a day-to-day snapshot of bringing writing skills to bear. How a project actually needs a tool such as Scrivener. The frustrations of Word. Juggling the right mix of output and input. Life, of course, happening through it all.

So from me to you: Greetings! Back into the fray!