Category Archives: Daily grind

The next big thing

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The gardens. They are in terrible shape, thanks to the way 2017 was a total bitch.

The biggest project: weeding. We did get a good number of frames set up with weedblock, but the areas along the edges and in the holes punched for the transplants need to be weeded in the worst way. Fortunately, I decided on no fall crops this year, just allowing the frames to go fallow and break down more of the composted manure they have in them. Unfortunately, I decided on no fall crops this year, and could not/did not keep up with the weeding. Luckily, we do have a winter, such as it is, and the next few months will be devoted to weeding, replacing the plastic-covered frames with weedblock and positioning the irrigation lines, and getting the sides of the frames that have bowed out back to full vertical and braced.

Now I know, in my head, that this very big project just means starting with a small corner of it and working through to get it done. But there are also those fleeting moments when I’m looking out on the mess and thinking that it’s just far too big a job – it’s the same feeling I get from looking at the narrative outline here for this book and thinking about how much crazy is in me that I presume this is something I can do.

But in those moments, I just step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that the elephant is eaten in pieces, not in one big gulp.

Unlike the novel, which I feel like I could write in two weeks with the story so fully developed in my head, the gardens are going to take a tad longer. It’s good exercise, though, and I’ll be able to visualize the plans for spring before the seed catalogs start arriving and it’s time to place my order(s).

Get outside, people. Even if  you’re not pulling weeds or thinking of corrupt cops and drug-distributing biker gangs like I am. There’s a big, wide world out there, and you should sometimes remind yourself that your small piece of it has something – at least one thing – you are grateful for when you look out over it.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Step by step

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I decided to work on one of the novels for NaNoWriMo this month, while working on one of the other novels in the spaces between that writing and “real” work. This is mainly because the entire plot and story for this NaNoWriMo novel came to me last night rather suddenly and completely. I know exactly how it begins, how exactly it ends, and I know the larger chunks of the material filling in the gulf between those two bookends. I am not quite up to the word count total I should be after two days of working on this novel, but that is only because I had not actually planned to do NaNoWriMo, and had written a narrative outline for it to have the gist of the story in place while I worked on something else. This is a spur of the moment decision. As an even bigger challenge to myself, I’m setting my goal at over the 50K words that deems anyone a “winner” for NaNoWriMo, and I am also committing myself, here in public, to writing the entire novel, doing all the things that need to be done to get it into publishable form, and publishing it.

Lesson for the day? Make your goal a big one, but make sure your path to that goal is broken into manageable chunks. It’s too easy to have fear invade your mind because you are focusing too much on the giant goal you’ve set, thinking you must do it all at once. You don’t.  There is very little in life that can be accomplished in one fell swoop, but there are a large number of things in life that can be done with consistent, persistent effort, and a map that ultimately leads to the larger goal.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

The art in us

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Here we are. November has arrived after an October that seems to have gone far too quickly.

So what are we doing this month? Writing. Every day. On something real – the blogs don’t count, the facebook page update does not count, twitter does not count (although I will be trying to update this and those every day this month as well, even if my author twitter account tweet of the day is just a quote. This is not to say these things do not count in the overall scheme of things, because they do, but these things are not items I’m looking to publish. But novels? Yes. Poetry? Yes. These are the things that are roadmaps to some kind of audience at the other end. These are the things that someone will want to read, I’ve no doubt. There was a quote I discovered back in high school while researching something or another:

“In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.” (Andre Maurois)

This is true, of course. One need only peruse some reviews at Amazon or GoodReads and see that people love books we ourselves can’t stand, and for every one person who thinks the writing by an author is puerile and careless, there is another for whom the author’s prose sings in their heart. For every one person who thinks a particular book is a poorly done rehash of some other author’s story, there is another who has encountered the underlying story for the very first time and feels the story resonating in their bones. For every one person decrying a book as tedious because it seems to have been stitched together from many pieces of fight scenes just so the author could tag the book a thriller, there is another person who sees that same book as a page-turner of nonstop action that they read in just a few hours because they could not put it down.

And so with this in mind, it makes no sense to listen to that tinny, false voice criticizing every word that makes it to paper, that says no one will want to read any of the pap that’s been written, that says giving up on the writing is the best and honorable thing to do, to save others from having to experience its badness. No: that voice is lying. The words we have matter,  to someone. Making and finishing the art is far better and certainly more honorable than giving in to a voice that does not have our best interests in mind.

Until next time, peeps: Be well. And make your art, whatever that art may be.


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A lot of the “luck” you get in this life is the luck you make. If you get some megadeal for a book you wrote, that isn’t something that just happens. You have to do the writing. Win the lottery? Gotta buy a ticket. Make a spectacular catch? Gotta practice. Find a buried treasure? Gotta dig. There is very little luck in life that involves you doing absolutely nothing.


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Quite an interesting article on productivity. I had read about the Pomodoro technique many months ago, and have played with it a bit in various arenas – those of you who know me personally and all the things I do will understand that a bit better, I expect. For writing, though, it has really helped, as has another item mentioned in that article: setting a distinct goal for something in small chunks instead of being dwarfed by the enormity of the entire project (such as “write 500 words” instead of “work on the book”). The techniques in this article about how to be more productive intersect and at times overlaps techniques to combat procrastination and/or plain old laziness.



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“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

With all due respect to old Ben, this is not entirely true at face value, if we are to face reality. Still….

We’re tooling along well in the current work in progress, although we – me and voices in my head! – were struck by some kind of bug this past week that has been a malaise more annoying than completely debilitating. The writing suffers when it’s difficult to look at words on a page or screen without queasiness setting in after a very short period. It put a damper on things, and has resulted in even less sleep than the usual little, but we’re back on track, I think.

The gardens are suffering from a severe lack of attention between the above, terribly out of sync hot and humid temperatures far above the norm, and bugs – lots and lots of bugs. I’m restarting some flats, however, as here we have the opportunity to have two seasons if we like, and I would like that. The harvest totals have been good but not great, thanks to lack of proper management and the incessant ability of weeds to thrive when nothing else wants to do so. That has a potential solution that I’ll be working on that requires a delicate balance of keeping weeds down in the frames without setting the roots of the plants on fire. That same delicate balance has to be done for life in general, too: all work and no play does in fact make Jack a dull boy, after all.

By the way, I am still off facebook except to update the requisite author page, since “all authors must have a platform!” is now the mantra and requirement. I’ve been tempted here and there to pop on after monstrous, horrific events, but it would simply suck me back down into its depths only to surface for air who knows when, with all that time wasted. It’s good to know your own weaknesses and fight them accordingly.


Retaking the pen, day six

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It’s coming on a week now with the writing goals, and is now a full week since cutting off the whirlpool of suck that is facebook. How are things going?

Terrifically well! Far better than I expected, as it happens. I have resurrected previous snippets of the novel in progress, gone back over them to edit a few things, and used them to jump off into new material to add to that work. The work is now just shy of 13K words, with another writing session later to make up for time interrupted earlier this morning by work-related issues. I know that I tend to “write light” and that I’ll need to go back and flesh out some things, especially for descriptive reasons. Over half a lifetime in the tech world will do that to you, since the object of any communication with clients is to understand the problem, repair it as quickly as possible, and explain it to them as simply as possible, with as little jargon and few words as possible. This can be a slight handicap in breaking back into a world where lengthier strolls into prose are welcome and necessary. That mindset, like the novel itself, is a work in progress, and perhaps always will be.

The story itself is coming along nicely. Last night, I had one of those flashes other artists will understand perfectly, where a problem in the plot I didn’t fully understand I had worked itself out and the solution came to me with a side dish of “duh”. I’ve had these moments throughout the years, so it’s hardly surprising in and of itself, but it’s always surprising when such a moment bubbles to the top of the braincap to explode like fireworks.

Productive, but not

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A productive day – if you don’t include writing, of which there was no production. Working with the crops, the bees, and the canning eats away at the total number of available minutes in any given day, and today was one of those days (in fact, there is another load of jars waiting their turn in the canner right now). We are heading into the heavy season, and today was the first canning day of the year. I’ll have to do some rearranging slash figure out some efficiency items in order to get everything I need to do in any given day completed. It’s a bit like the preseason of any sport: it’s the time to make adjustments to make sure the team is running as smoothly and as well as possible.

Writing slowly and the myth of relative goodness

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If you listen to some authors – a ton of very famous authors, writing literary fiction in particular – you would think writing, the act itself, is a torturous process, eliciting words by yanking them out of one’s very soul, and chiseling them onto paper, only to wind up discarding hundreds or thousands of words to net a paragraph at best or merely one word in the end.

While it may be a painful activity for some people, I’m not a big believer of the tortured artist thing, in any sense. That includes both the physical side (drugs, alcohol) and the mental side (“I wrote a whole book that took three years and scrapped everything but the first sentence!”).

I get that it may be difficult to write in the sense of actually getting the words on paper due to some issues, like a huge load of self-doubt, brought on by whatever factor helped build that wall. But these things do not have to result in a grand output of ten words a week that are deemed good enough to keep.

On the other side, there is, for some reason, this idea that writers can only write one book a year and have the book be good. While this may be true for some writers, I have a suspicion that a lot of writers think they can only write well if they only write one book per year, because there is a persistent theory that any more than that would automatically poor writing. I don’t agree with this. After all, I’ve read a number of books that were written in the course of a year (or more) and have found them to be terrible. This is because it is not the amount of writing a writer does that makes it good or bad, but the amount of editing and review a manuscript goes through that does (assuming that the writer is at least halfway competent at the craft and can tell a decent story). Just as it’s difficult to tell from a manuscript when a writer had a bad day, or was sick, or was dealing with some kind of issue, it’s just as difficult to determine from that manuscript when a writer was writing very quickly, or rather slowly on any given day.

Does this mean I think every writer could pump out multiple novels per year? No, of course not. Some people simply write more slowly than others, because every writer is different. My nitpicking here is related only to the myth that writing quickly automatically means the writing is bad. It isn’t.

Now, I may have a slight advantage here because I’ve had stories kicking around in my head for quite some time – decades, in a couple of cases – and by brain has been whirling them around for all this time, honing them, discarding things that are not interesting, and in general, keeping the hopper full. I also tend to write very quickly most of the time, which is part having those things in my head all this time, part dealing in the tech support world, where the tickets never seem to end and need to be worked through as quickly as possible, and because, thanks to my aha moment, the floodgates are now open, allowing everything to flow downriver.

There are some ideas I’ve had, though, that are very recent. Just today, in fact, I had an idea for a humorous series of books, that came into being from the mere fact that someone had two cell phones in their purse (no further details, sorry). The character who will wind up as the main character is already being fleshed out in my head, along with a job, and a couple of potentials for what would be the first book of the series. When it comes time to write on that, I’ll likely have much more, and I think it will be no different than what I am working on now, with the words flowing onto the screen as I work my way from Point A to Point B. Do I think the writing I’m doing any worse on this project than it would be if I wrote more slowly? No. In fact, I am quite pleased with how it’s going, and I expect to continue both in this routine and in the feeling pleased arena now that I am able, once again, to put words to paper.

Speed does not always kill – not in writing, unless someone speeds through so quickly that they do not bother with editing at all before putting a work out to the world.


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I am at the point in the current WIP (that’s “work in progress” for those of you unfamiliar when the particular jargon of the crazy people who make up stories and write them) where the whole show needs to transition from what I’m dubbing the intro phase and into the “give that snowball a nudge to start it rolling down the hill” phase. This is where the action will start to ramp up now that we know the principal players, we know the issues that exist and that they need to overcome, and we get to see the things they do that will ultimately lead to some kind of conclusion – in my case, with this WIP, it’s the question of catching the bad guys. Or not. Are these scenes the absolutely most exciting things in the book? No, of course not. But, like a solid dwelling, it does help to have the foundation poured so the rest of the structure can be built atop it.

On we go….