Denouement

calvin-writing
I MUST WRITE ALL THE THINGS

Okay, so I’ve done my End of Year reviews, my Coming Year Expectations, and my mixtape listing.  I think I’ve covered all the typical year end benchmark posts.  Now what?

It’s been quite the busy year for me.  Most of my writing time was spent carving up The Balance of Light for publication.  And right now, I still don’t think it’s fully hit me that, once that book has been released, that this long project of the trilogy will finally be DONE, and that for the first time in ages, I will have absolutely nothing on my project list.

I mean, yeah, I’m looking forward to not having the trilogy hanging over my head.  But it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to start a new project without thinking, how can I juggle this with the trilogy?  Not just that, I’m also really looking forward to writing NEW stories in that universe that are not directly related to it.

Other than the two or three possible projects (and the possible Secret Long Term Project) I have to think of, what else can I add here?

Well, for starters I’d like to shake things up a little bit.  Perhaps try a new genre.  Write shorter fiction.  Hone my nonfic writing skills.  Expand my reading habits.  Focus a little less on social media (heh, yeah right) and more on self-promotion in multiple avenues.  Believe my gut instincts more instead of flailing in Reactive Mode.  Follow up on bursts of inspiration as soon as possible.  Staying positive despite the odds.  Get creative not just on the writing end of things, but artistically as well as commercially.

And most importantly, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

I’m a hell of a better guitarist than I was a few years ago, and that’s mainly because I’ve made it a point to practice more often, even if it’s just to pick up one of my axes and noodle around on it for ten minutes when I really should be focusing on my Day Job.  [Well, that, and making a concerted effort to expand my knowledge of chords past the plain major-minor ones.  Playing along with the Beatles has helped that considerably.]  If I make it a point to exercise my creative muscles every day and expand my knowledge at the same time, I can only get better at them.

That’s my plan, anyway.

See you in 2017, kids.  Stay safe, stay strong.

*

“Talk hard…I like that. It’s like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind.”
— Mark Hunter, Pump Up the Volume

Wait, it’s the 23rd already?

doctor-who-hold-on

This is what happens when I’m trying to balance a superbusy Day Job (woohoo yay Q4…), editing a mammoth book, bingewatching the Great British Bake Off with A., and other life stuff.  The last thing on my mind is usually what day it actually is.

My week has been filled with numerous small Day Job queries that definitely pile up and get really irritating after a short time, as well as a computer refresh, which for the most part only took about an hour, but I spent the rest of the day fending of more small queries while trying to get said new computer’s software correctly set up.  [Noted, a lot of these queries are what you would expect at the end of Q4…lots of “I need this yesterday btw on vacation until 1/4 kthxbye”, lots of “OMGWTFBBQ I need this delivered on Monday but the file isn’t here yet what do I do O NOES” and so on.  Your bad planning is not necessarily my problem, folks.]  The good thing is that the last week of the year is often the slowest for us, so that’ll give me time to finish things up and maybe have some time to breathe and more things sorted out.

ANYWAY.

What about the writing stuff, you ask?  Well, yes, I am still plugging along with the edit of Book 3.  I’m closing in on the halfway point, so despite my feeling that THIS IS TAKING FOREVER, I’m actually making good time.  I’m still on schedule for a January release.  Yay!  Then we’ll have a few other Mendaihu Universe-related surprises coming in the spring of 2017, and then we’ll see where we go from there.

So now what?  What am I going to do on this upcoming last week of the year?   That’s a good question.  I’ve already written my wistful Year End/Year to Come post earlier this week, so I don’t need to do one of those.  We shall see!

Until then, hope everyone has a lovely Christmas weekend!

Year in Review, Year to Come

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Two down, one to go.  What next?

It’s been quite a busy year here in Spare Oom.

Most of the time was spent focusing on releasing the first edition of The Persistence of Memories as well as cleaning up and releasing the next edition of A Division of Souls.  And once those were taken care of, I focused solely on the Big Galley Edit of The Balance of Light.  As of today I am about one third of the way through transcribing my manual edits to the digital document, which will then be formatted to both e-book and trade paperback.

[Side note: I’m worried that TBoL is still going to be quite a long book, so while it’s going to remain a single e-book, I may have to split it up into two trades just to keep the price and size down.  More on that when I get closer to finishing this portion of the project.]

The Persistence of Memories had an official drop date of 15 April of this year, about six months after the first book.  I haven’t nailed down a specific release date for The Balance of Light yet, but again, the closer we get to the end of this edit, quicker I’ll be able to do so.

All that said, I had to make do without a few other projects in the interim.  I put aside any actual work on future Mendaihu Universe books until this one was finished.  I also put aside any non-MU ideas that have been brewing; I haven’t trunked them, they’re just on hiatus.  In addition to that, I’d also put a temporary stop on my Daily 750 Words exercises.  I wanted to clear my desk and get rid of any extraneous assignments and deadlines so I could focus completely on finishing the Bridgetown Trilogy.

The unprecedented decision, however, was to stop writing poetry.  I’d come to the realization that it had stopped being something useful to me some time ago.  I’d used poetry as a personal experiment for a good few decades: a creative release for my personal dreams, irritations, ponderings, or whatever.  But it hadn’t been that for at least two or three years; it has become less of an outlet and more of a chore, and thus less enjoyable.  So I wrote one last long poem, closed that composition notebook, and filed it away.  I haven’t written one since.  Will I ever pick it up again?  Who knows.  Maybe, but I think I’d need to put some real thought and dedication into that form and do it right this time, instead of the way I used to write it.

*

So.  What’s up for 2017, then?

Aside from releasing The Balance of Light sometime in the early months, who knows.  It’ll be the first time in decades where the Mendaihu Universe (and in particular, these three books) won’t be weighing down on me.  The slate will be fully clean.  For the first time in a LONG time, I’ll be able to fully focus on a completely new project.

I’ll be able to start in on one or more of those Possible Ideas I have on hiatus.  A few more stories in the Mendaihu Universe, for starters.  I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment, where New Projects are concerned, but once I’m ready, I’ll be planning like a fiend.

I would also like to return to the Daily 750 exercise again.  Over the past couple of years it has been a great Word Playground for me, and at least three possible future novel project ideas have come out of it.  And of course, I’d like to return to a stable blogging schedule.  Those things go out the window for everyone at the end of the year, so I’m not beating myself up too much over them not being timely.  Come next year, however, I’m going to make the best effort to stick to it.

I’d also like to practice more on my book cover artwork.  As I keep saying, doing the covers for my Trilogy was an unexpected joy for me, to the point that I could see myself doing cover art as a possible career step.

I do have some Big Plans regarding the business side of my writing career.  In the next year I’ll be making some very big, very important steps towards raising the bar.  [Yes, I know, that’s a business-speak phrase and I can’t stand that kind of talk, but it fits the situation.]  I don’t want to share them just yet, but I’ve been thinking about them and planning them in my head for at least a few years now.  I’d promised myself that 2017 would be the year they will become a reality.  I’ve started giving myself a soft schedule to work with, and will soon be spending some offline time making this business plan work.

And yes, as soon as I’m ready to release these Big Plans upon the world, I’ll let you know!

*

All told, I think 2016 has been a stellar year for me, creatively.  One of the best I’ve ever had.  That’s not to say I wish I’d spent more time and dedication learning how to best sell my creative wares online and make money off it, but I’ve certainly reached goals that have been on my bucket list since I was at least ten years old.  I’ve rarely looked at my sales numbers, but I’m not taking them too seriously for the moment.  I scored a good number of downloads of both books during a month-long sale on Smashwords — a LOT more than I expected to get, to be honest — and while I earned no money, the fact that I did get that many hits meant quite a bit to me.  It meant that I was doing something right.  It meant I was closer to my goals as a professional author than I’d expected.  I now know where I stand, what direction I should head in, and what to expect when I get there.

Which means that 2017 will be the year I step up my game and start making money off of the Dream Job I’ve always wanted since I was a kid.

I’m looking forward to it.

Last minute

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(c) Bill Watterson, of course.

Sure, I’ll gladly admit that I’m a procrastinating writer.  We all are to some extent.  I’m typing this out right now on Sunday evening when I really should be working on Chapter Seven (of forty-four) of the galley edit of The Balance of Light.  I should have typed this out earlier instead of cleaning out my email box (which, to be honest, was backed up due to “I’ll look at it later” procrastination).

I’ve always been horrible at things like that.  I was always handing in homework and term papers late, or being on time but handing in my less-than-stellar attempt.  I was always distracted by music listening or futzing around with my personal creative projects that were always so much more interesting to me.  In retrospect I was definitely one of those kids who probably would have benefited from learning from Real Life rather than school.

So why now?  Why am I still procrastinating?  Well, again — it happens to the best of us.  The latest Twitter news and arguments, the unnatural lure of cat gifs, that new episode of that show everyone talks about.  For me, I have a terrible habit of saying “I’ll get to it momentarily, I just have to finish doing this first.”  Whatever this happens to be, it’s probably not as  important as trying to reach a self-assigned publication deadline or wanting to remain loyal to a self-assigned blogging schedule.  Amanda calls me on it all the time.

Granted, I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be.  Back in my Belfry days, even when I had all the time in the afternoon to goof off (and often did), my writing session schedule would start promptly at 7pm and roll until 9pm.  Unfortunately, a good half hour would be wasted doing two things:  deciding which music I wanted to listen to that evening, and playing a few games of FreeCell.  “Just to get in the mood,” I’d say to myself.  Thankfully I grew out of that.  Now I’m just goofing off on Twitter!   Heh.

Thing is, though:  I know that I’m procrastinating.  And I’m aware of what I’m doing to add to it.  Which means that the only thing I really need to do to combat it?  STOP DOING IT ALREADY, JEEZ.   Sure, easier said than done sometimes, but it can be done.

And now I’ve got Monday’s blog entry good to go.

GOOD FOR YOU, SELF.  NOW GO SCHEDULE IT, CLOSE THE DAMN BROWSERS AND GET TO EDITING ALREADY, YOU GOOBER.

Sheesh.

Paying attention to the moving parts

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This number’s going out to American Telephone & Telegraph.

So for most of Friday, I was without the internet due to incompetence and aggressive sales bullshit via AT&T.  [I’m just gonna come out and say that I’ve had little to no problems with them since 2005, but this past week I’ve gotten what has to be the worst customer service I’ve ever had in my life.  We are planning to leave them as soon as it is technically possible.]

I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that I know exactly what went wrong.  Several things, actually, including:

–Lack of smooth transition.  One would think that going from DSL to fiber optic lines would consist of making sure the wiring was correct, and that your customer has the needed hardware (in this case, the router) before the transition takes place, yes?  In this case, the internet was turned off on Monday morning at 7:30am PT sharp, and the router was not to arrive until late Tuesday afternoon via UPS 2nd Day.

–Call centers with the minimal amount of training possible. I feel for you, call center people.  I do.  I worked in the same position for a year when I moved out here to San Francisco, and it SUCKED.  Not only are you trained minimally, you’re trained to stick to a script (I have no idea how many times I’ve heard the same confirmation questions asked of me verbatim over the course of all those hours).  And when you get a situation like mine, where the script is not going to work, you end up stuttering, trying to steer the conversation back to said script, and the customer will only get more pissed off.

–Interdepartmental conversation consisted of calls cold-transferred and work tickets not cancelled.  After finally fixing the problem after six hours (and talking to far too many people and explaining my issue from the beginning at least twenty times), I got my DSL internet back.

Until Thursday night, when it was turned off again.

The original work ticket to turn off the DSL, which I’d asked them numerous times to be cancelled, was not, and I was without internet for sixteen hours this time.

–And instead of turning it back on this time, they aggressively stated that they could not do so because DSL was going away and I’d need to go to Uverse whether I wanted to or not.  No emergency fix, no admittance of fucking up.  The only reason we gave in is because by that time, we’d signed up for a new carrier (which should hopefully become a reality within the month), and that the both of us needed the internet so we could do our Day Jobs.

*

So.  Why is this on a writing blog?

Because, dear reader, this is what happens when you force yourself to write passages that are doomed to failure and refuse to admit that the story is Just. Not. Working.  The more you try to force a story to conform to flawed logic, the more it’s going to fail.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the best prose you’ve ever written…if it sticks out like a flaming tire fire, the reader is sure to see it the same way.  And you really don’t want that.

I’m guilty of doing this, I’m sure you are too.

But remember: that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed the entire project.  You’ve just failed in one segment of a much larger plot you may be able to save.  Sometimes you have to fail that one really incredibly frustrating, aggravating time…but that also means that you can now restart from a much safer, much stronger and stabler foundation, and that means that if you’ve learned your lesson and move in the right direction this time, you’re bound to come up with something that will make your story a hell of a lot better than it already is.  Sometimes you need to take that one step back to make the two steps forward.

Lesson learned:  Don’t give up completely.  You did not fail.  And if you can see all the places where you went wrong (just as I can see all the places where AT&T went wrong), then you’ll know exactly what to avoid when you start moving forward again.

Go ahead and get pissed off.  Get it out of your system.  But get back up on your feet, dust yourself off, and be that damned thorn in the story’s side until it works for you again.

Fly-by: the internets is broken

Hi folks,

Due to complete and utter incompetence of AT&T in failing to upgrade our internet to Uverse and then failing to reverse the request correctly, and THEN turning off our DSL connection TWICE in one week (because this is what happens when you go purely by work tickets and little to no contact between departments), there will be no post today.

At present I am hoping they get their shit together and make the needed fixes, at least until our new service with a different carrier kicks in later this month.

Hopefully we will be back to normal on Monday.