Going Online

Don’t forget to add *70 to your dial-up settings!

Sometimes it blows my mind that I’ve been connected online for roughly a quarter century. I believe my first AOL account was in the autumn of 1994, using my roommate’s computer, which I used sparingly because I was too damn broke to pay for the subscription or the phone bill half the time. And even then, I mostly stuck to AOL’s chat rooms.

When I moved back home in late ’95 I talked my family into signing up for it. While the subscription and phone bill weren’t as hard to pay, it was reminding my family not to use the phone when I was online. Most of the time they remembered, but every now and again someone would forget, pick up the phone, and start dialing, severing my connection. (Surprisingly, it wouldn’t be until around 2001 or so when we finally got DSL. It just wasn’t available to us out in the sticks of central MA until then.)

I’d had various emails over the years and started the joncwriter one around 2001 (I think?), but it probably wasn’t until 2004 when I finally took the plunge into full-time social media with LiveJournal. And things have grown exponentially since then. So many platforms, websites, browsers, apps, and everything in between. I’m amazed I can remember half my passwords.

Mind you, I’m not complaining about how Kids These Days Are Always Online, or How The Internet Was More Fun In My Day. I’ve got other things to think about most of the time. It’s more about how I’ve eased off using the internet over the years.

Sure, I still use it a ton, more than I really should. I go through spells of overindulgence followed by bouts of internet detox. As a writer, though, I can’t completely disconnect. I rely on a lot of internetty things to keep me going. I stream radio stations during the day for entertainment and background noise. I have multiple links to online dictionaries and thesauruses (that’s a legit plural, I just looked it up on Merriam-Webster’s site). I almost exclusively download all my music now. It’s a vital part of my writing career. [Yes, even the music. Heh.] And most importantly, I save all my writing on Dropbox so I can access them at any time, even on my phone.

The trick is to catch myself when I know I’m just wasting time that could be better used elsewhere. Catch myself when I feel I’m getting worked up and caught up in the latest drama. Catch myself when I’m faffing about on YouTube watching viral videos. Easy enough to do, but sometimes it’s embarrassing when I realize how often I catch myself. I’ve had to figure out ways to keep myself from goofing off.

Lately, though, I’ve been doing a lot of logging off, closing the browsers. Not out of desperation or frustration, but just because I want to. Part of it is inspired by some of my pre-internet high school and college friends out there who are surprisingly impossible to find on social media — it’s like they decided that they’d rather have a real life than a digital one.

It’s also been a mental and physical choice. The longer and later I’m online, the harder it is for me to fall asleep at night. And sometimes I just don’t have all that much to say that I haven’t already written or blogged about already. Sometimes I just need to take a break and just use my PC or my laptop for its intended use: my writing and music.

I just recently bought a new laptop to replace an old one (which was dated 2013!!) and I’m once again out in the living room in the evenings, sitting next to A while we stream whatever movie or show we’re currently into, and I can focus on the revision for Diwa and Kaffi. I might pop online and check my email or the latest webcomic update or Twitter, but I’m doing that much less nowadays. And I kind of like that.

I’m not nearly as addicted to the internet as I used to be, which is always a good thing. Life goes on both digitally and IRL, and it’s up to me to find that balance that works best for me.

Something I should probably do more often with my desk PC…

[PS: This entry was partly inspired by a panel I’ll be running at BayCon this year: Strange Days: Hollywood’s Take on the Internet, Hacking, and the Digital World in the 90s. I’m looking forward to this particular one!]

The Magic of Tidying Up Spare Oom

KonMari would be proud.

It’s not as if Spare Oom is a disorganized mess, far from it. I pride myself for trying to keep as much floor space open as I can in here. But there are little nooks and crannies here and there that have accumulated years of forgotten collectibles, documents past usefulness, and all sorts of other things collecting dust.

I made some headway last week by thinning out a massive amount of those old documents (including the 2003 online receipt for my first all-new, not-a-hand-me-down PC through Dell!!) and readying them for shredding. [Note: our local restaurant supply store up the way, Kamei, came in very handy for buying shopping bags in bulk to use for shredding disposal.]

Last night I also ordered a new chair to replace the very old love seat here. We’re getting it from Home Reserve, the same place where we ordered our living room couch. They’re sort of similar to Ikea in that your furniture is delivered in pieces and you put it together yourself, but instead of fiddling with screws and allen wrenches and whatnot, it’s all put together like a giant three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The end result is surprisingly durable, nice to look at, and very comfortable. Plus storage areas under the seat cushions! Always a win.

Anyway! This is part of the Spare Oom Tidy-Up, sort of influenced by KonMari, so I can better utilize the space back here. My writing shelves are so disorganized they’re partly the inspiration for Samuel’s messy office in Diwa & Kaffi. I’d like to be more on top of the documents I no longer need. I’d even like to clean up the rear closet so there’s more room back there for long-term storage.

Why the cleaning? Because frankly, I’m kind of sick of finding corners with a year’s worth of dust, or having to move twenty different things and spend an hour routing through papers and boxes to find something for reference that I might be working on. And a VERY big reason: I have an extremely bad habit of being an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of person, putting things aside “for later” and never getting to them. And also, why the hell not? You know how it is…we all have that resolution to stay on top of these sorts of things but never follow through.

Now if I can manage to get the old love seat out of the room with minimal struggle…

What’s Going On?

That’s a very good question indeed, because I’d like to know myself. I’m kind of hovering at the moment, providing nearly all of my writing focus on the editing and revision of Diwa and Kaffi and doing very little in terms of anything new. I mean, I always want to have a new project going, but I’m purposely not doing that for the reason I just stated.

I’m not going to complain, I’m kind of enjoying this break from Writing All the Things. I’m forcing myself to try new creative avenues, which was part of my plan. I’m picking up my guitar more, thinking about songs to write…hell, I’ve even started noodling around on our keyboard after ages of ignoring it or using it as a temporary storage table! I’ve churned out so many words over the last five years that it’s time for me to give that a break and have some fun.

I don’t plan on making my music a professional thing, as I don’t see myself at that level. Maybe putting stuff out on Bandcamp if I ever get a full song down? Sure, why not? I’d essentially be self-publishing my music and I already have a background on that, so I think that would be groovy.

What about the other avenue, you ask? My art? Good question. I’m winding down a few small projects at the moment and will be finding more time to doodle. I’m not sure what — it could be my usual map drawing, perhaps my Murph comics, maybe trying out new styles. I have the sketchbook and the pens and pencils, I just need to start doing it. I’ve always found drawing to be quite calming, so I’m looking forward to doing that again.

But yeah, the writing, after D&K is out and away? Good question. I have plans there, but they’re not set in stone, and they’re not on any kind of schedule. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m just going to not think about it for a while…

Fly-by: brb, getting my act together

Oof. Completely forgot to write up a post for today! Sorry about that. I had to go into the office twice this week (necessitating me waking up an hour earlier than normal), for a few quarterly meetings with upper management. Those are now in the past tense. I also have nothing planned for the next few weeks, so hopefully next week I can kickstart my writing schedule again for April.

Anyway! I’ll be back again next week. See you then!

We’ve arrived (and to prove it, we’re here)

Hi there! Remember me? That writer guy who used to blog all the time?

I’ve come back to the blogosphere after a hiatus of two and a half months, and from here on in I’ll be posting once a week on Thursdays. Why once a week? So I don’t repeat myself and so I can spend more time working on long-delayed projects! Yay!

So — what’s new? What’s been going on? What have we missed?

  1. I dropped In My Blue World a few weeks ago as a Smashwords e-book on March 2nd, and though sales have been slow, I’ll still get one or two unexpectedly every now and again. Still learning how to self-promote here, kids!
  2. I made an appearance at FogCon in Concord this year. I fear I dropped the ball multiple times here, as I screwed up filling out the panelist forms and also had a reading that was too late for me (I duffed the whole thing, being overtired, and I’m still mad at myself for it). On the plus side, I did notice a number of people picked up my freebie cards over the weekend, so there’s that!
  3. I’ve started revising Diwa and Kaffi — YES I FINALLY HAVE A TITLE FOR IT — and I plan on taking this slow and steady, as I’m planning on submitting this one to a pro publisher.
  4. I’ve started doing my daily words again, which means I should *hopefully* have a new fresh project to work on down the line.

Do I have anything planned for the immediate future? Yes! All sorts of fun things. I’m hoping to be a lot more multimedia this time, actually. More Drunken Owl music experiments. More story ideas. More visual arts. The road is clear and I can’t wait. (Wish I could be more clear about this, but right now it’s all in demo and planning stages. You’ll know when I know, heh!)

Glad to be back!

In My Blue World book release March 2nd!!

Zuzannah is not your typical magical girl.

Diana Meeks had planned to spend a few relaxing weeks camping in the hills above town with her sisters Katie and Allie, and Katie’s boyfriend Greg. But this will be no ordinary vacation.

On the trail to their cabin, the air is suddenly split in two by a blinding light and the blade of a katana, and a young woman spills through the tear, fainting from exhaustion.

Zuzannah is a girl from a future world where the powers of magic are an everyday occurrence…and where her pursuer has amassed most of it for his own nefarious ends. Zuze is committed to stopping him at any cost, and has crossed the weave of time in a desperate bid to regain her own strength and search for help…

…and she’s found it in Diana and her sisters. But are they up to the task?

In My Blue World will be released as an e-book via Smashwords on March 2nd!

Returning to the Blogosphere…sort of

[Posted originally at Dreamwidth, my personal blog. Reposting it here (with slight editing) as an update.]

Keeping busy….

Yes, folks! I’m still here among the living. I’ve been spending all this time focusing on finishing off In My Blue World (which I’m FINALLY going to drop in March! Wooohoo!) and preparing myself for the revision work for Diwa & Kaffi (yes, I’ve decided that’s going to be the title until further notice). I’ve also been enjoying the extended semi-hiatus from the internets, focusing more on offline projects and personal things. It’s been long delayed and much needed.

I’ve been tempted more than a few times to return to the blogging schedule that I’ve held over the last couple of years, but I’m holding off. As much as I truly enjoyed it, it would often drain me. I ended up repeating myself on more than a few occasions, often without realizing. Some days I’d have all kinds of things to talk about, but other days (especially near the end there) I was really straining to come up with semi-original content. 

But I also wanted to move on. I’ve been blogging about writing and music for years now, some years more consistently than others, and after a great personal banner year of music collecting and novel writing, I felt it was time for me to shift my focus. It’s like when I talk about the YC years: I absolutely loved the schedule that afforded me the time to relax and improve my writing, but that could only last for so long. I may be a creature of habit and want to stick with that sort of thing for years at a time, I’m also a creature of wanting to shake things up. I also love the idea of starting a completely new lifestyle, whatever it may be. I get to a point where I realize I’ve gone as far as I can with what I’m doing, and I need to move on. There’s varying reasons for that — I’ve exhausted my interest, I’ve moved on, my tastes have changed/shifted, and so on. Sometimes it’s a deeply personal thing, sometimes it’s just an ephemeral thing.

(Speaking of which, I could go on about how hard it is to shift to that new lifestyle while attempting to shed old habits, ideas and so on, but I’ll save that for another entry.)

I’m still a music-collecting geek and a writer, and I highly doubt those two things will be changing any time soon. But what I’ve realized over the past month and a half is that I still have a long way to go if I want to make the changes I do want to make. Sliding back into old habits and schedules will not help me, as again — I can be quite the creature of habit.  I’m going out of my way NOT to return to things like that, as it’s the only way I’ll be able to get to where I DO need to be.

That said, I’m making a brief re-entry into the blogosphere with Welcome to Bridgetown, as I have some books coming out this year as well as a few appearances at local conventions. These new entries will most likely be unscheduled but I’ll make them timely. Otherwise this blog will remain on semi-hiatus until I decide what I will do with it.
In the meantime, I’ll be making more steady (and more personal) appearances at my Dreamwidth account. Thanks again for hanging around for so long!

Fly-by Updatery

Keeping all sorts of busy on my hiatus here. The Day Job has its ups and downs (I won’t bore you with the details on that), I’m on the hopefully final revision go-round for In My Blue World, I’ve been doing some cursory reading of the Apartment Complex story in preparation for its revision, and on top of that, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. Oh! And I finally bought a second electric guitar; a Gretsch Electromatic for those playing along. What that particular toy, I’ve been recording some lo-fi Drunken Owl demo ideas using my phone. So yeah, I’ve been busy, but not overly so.

As much as I miss blogging, I’m kind of glad I’ve taken this time off, especially now that I’ve got some important projects I’m working on.

So what’s coming up? Good question. I’ll be at FOGcon from March 8 – 10 over in Walnut Creek. I’m looking to be on a few panels and maybe even a reading (I’ll be reading either something from In My Blue World or the AC story). If you’re going, stop by and say hi!

I’ll also be at BayCon from May 24 – 27 down in San Mateo. No plans for readings/panels for that yet, but I’m hoping to make that a thing.

Other than that…? I’m floating around on Twitter every now and again, but I’ve been kind of quiet online otherwise. I’ve been sticking with the music streaming, sticking with personal conversations with friends, and essentially keeping a low profile. And that’s how I’d like it at the moment.

Again, not sure when this hiatus will end, but I’m hoping it’ll be sometime later this year!

1: On Saying Goodbye…?

When I was ten or so, I was just starting to develop my tastes in music by listening to all sorts of things: my sisters’ records, the local radio stations, albums taken from the library, and so on. During one particular family party at my uncle’s house, I asked if I could listen to his eight-track tape collection. He sensed that I was already a big fan of music, handed me a pair of super heavy aviator headphones, and let me have at it.

I remember hearing Alan Parsons Project’s “Time” (from their 1980 album The Turn of a Friendly Card) during that little listening session, because the song stuck with me. I remember hearing the words, and thinking to myself: what if that happens to me? I’d gone past the song’s intended maudlin idea of leaving and unknown future; instead I went even further and imagined what it would feel like to truly say goodbye for a final time, fully knowing I’d never see them again, whether it was someone moving on or passing away. How would I handle that? Pretty heavy shit for a ten year old…

Decades later and here I am, writing this in the last days of 2018, and thinking: I think it’s time for me to say goodbye to a few things. I’ve been vague-posting about this for a few months now, and though I’m really not going to go into much detail here (because, y’know, it’s personal), I can say that it will be a positive leave-taking. It’s me finally letting go of the Old Me. I’ve done a lot of life-cleaning over the years, and I’ve finally come to the point where there are just a few final barriers that I’ve left for last. Personal and emotional barriers I put up a long time ago that I no longer need. It’s time to pull them down once and for all and become the New Me in the process.

Some of this is related to my creative outlets; some of it is related to personal things. It’s not going to be a simple Magical Transformation come January 1, of course, and that’s not what I’m expecting anyway. This is more about getting rid of the defaults I’ve kept myself in for ages. It’s about saying goodbye to old habits and distractions. It’s about taking the next step into something much bigger and more important.

It’s kind of weird and I feel a bit vulnerable about it, but that’s what happens when you decide to take major steps in your life. Especially if they’re ones you’d been avoiding for most of it.

SO! That said, I’ll be making good on my idea of taking a blogging hiatus for a little while in 2019. I’d like to spend some time offline working through all of this. I’ll be working on the post-production of In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex story, but I have no major projects after that, giving me some long-delayed time to focus on other creative avenues for a while.

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. But despite all its ups and downs, I’m ending it on a positive note, knowing that I’m going into the new year with the same positivity.

Thank you all for following over the past few years! I’ll still post here now and again, but I won’t be on any strict schedule for a while. I wish all of you a happy and creative 2019!!

2: On Flailing

Two more entries to go in 2018, so I thought I’d do a bit of an overview of things I’ve been doing or thinking about over the course of the year, building up to my new writing plans for 2019. 

Ed provides a sterling example. Source: Cowboy Bebop.

I did a hell of a lot of flailing this year. A TON of flailing. So much flailing that it was kind of embarrassing to watch. And I’d rather not go through that process any more than I have to, ever again. It’s a huge waste of time, productivity, and energy.

What the hell am I going on about, you say? A fine question. I am of course talking about the numerous attempts at writing the AC story…about the grand idea of writing longhand as a change of pace…about yet another attempt at writing Can’t Find My Way Home and failing once again…about trying to come up with blog post ideas here without repeating myself…and so on and so forth.

It’s also on a personal level as well. I’ve frequently stated how frustrated I get when I approach something in a reactive manner. I spend far too much time, energy and emotion reacting to statements and situations rather than processing them. Instead of finding a way to fix or contribute to them (or even ignore them if applicable), I focus on how I feel about the situation. It only serves to make me yet another responding echo and totally failing to do anything about it.

And let’s go one further: when I get to this particular level where I see my problem and want to do something about it, chances are I come up with Best Laid Plans to change myself in one way or another. I feel proud of myself for coming up with a kludge that I think (maybe…?) will make things work again. Sort of. Sometimes they work, but more often than not, that’s all they remain: plans. I get distracted. Or worse, I get disillusioned. I fall back into the same feedback loop and I’m back where I started.

And that has been so goddamned tiring and I’m sick of it.

Which is why I’m choosing to spend a considerable amount of time in 2019 on a hiatus. It’s not exactly an internet detox, though. I’ll still be around in one form or another. I’ll still blog here, though on a less hectic schedule. I’ll still be available and contactable.

I just want to stop reacting, stop flailing, stop planning, and start doing more. Figure out who I am at this point in my life, and do something about it. It’s far past time.