Regeneration

doctor who regeneration
If it were only that easy, Doctor…

My original plan to take the week off from blogging was simple: I had a lot on my plate, my energy was tapped, and I’d run out of things to blog about.  I’d earned it, considering I’ve had a solid updating schedule over the last five months.  Just a week off to focus on Day Job and personal deadlines, and not feel guilty about it.

It seems I chose to get all philosophical instead.

The week before, I’d been using my daily 750 Words to type up a sort of 90s version of my Walk in Silence riff — just writing about the various things that had gone on in a rollercoaster of a decade for me personally.  As with the 80s riff I’d posted over at the WiS blog, this was partly about the music but mostly about me purging things out of my system once and for all.  By purging, I mean this:  writing it out for the final time, coming to peace with it, learning from it.  And then moving forward.

I finished up that riff on Monday and briefly thought: what am I going to write about for my daily 750 Words now?  I thought about it some and realized that the overall lesson I had to learn from my life in the 90s was this: stop trying to fit in where you so obviously can’t and don’t want to belong.

It’s a general statement to be sure, but the reasoning behind it makes sense.  It started way back in my senior year in high school, actually; there’s a reason I half-joked to one of my friends with the following:  “It’s hard to be a nonconformist when there’s no one else to be nonconformist with.”

I said that knowing full well how oxymoronic (and moronic) that sounded.  The reason I’d said it was because my closest friends at the time, who were all a year ahead of me, had all left for college.  They’d all been on my wavelength, something I hadn’t been able to find with anyone else, to such a degree.

I started riffing on that with my Daily Words.  It reminded me of something one of that group had written sometime in 1989 along the same lines.  He’d talked about being a nonconformist — not so much in a political sense but as a personal decision — and what it took for that kind of mindset to thrive.  Like me, he grew up in a somewhat conservative small town where rebelling against the mainstream didn’t take all that much effort: listening to college radio, liking weird things, wearing odd clothes, and giving up all intentions at trying to fit in with everyone else.  No mohawk, piercing or tattoo necessary, unless you wanted to go that far.  [To my knowledge, none of us did at the time.]

One of his points kind of resonated with me after all these years: it’s kind of hard to be a nonconformist in a vacuum, because the energy behind that mindset tends to dissipate.  Why rebel against the mainstream when the mainstream doesn’t care about you either way?  And on the other end of the spectrum: if the only reason you’re rebelling is to be among your own kind — other nonconformists — you’re kind of missing the point.

My mistake in the 90s was that I was trying so hard to achieve the latter.  I was looking for a surrogate crowd to take place of my old circle of friends.  [Remember, this is well before the Age of Social Media, so the only way we could remain in contact was by phone (too expensive), by weekends off (too iffy due to different schedules), or by letter writing (too much of a pain in the arse and a super slow turnaround).]  That itself was a dismal failure, and while I did end up finding a great group of friends a short time later, it wasn’t exactly the same.  I always felt a bit out of place.  And would continue to feel this way throughout the rest of the 90s.

So.  What’s the point of this current riff?  What’s with the sudden resurgence in fascination with nonconformity?  Well, I would be lying if I didn’t say it might have a little to do with the current presidential administration.  In an odd way, too me, he and his cronies are a shocking parallel to the jocks and the popular kids at school.  They weren’t always causing harm, but they certainly knew how to fuck with people’s heads, and they could not deal with the square peg.  Or they’re the eager followers, willingly ignoring reality and/or other people while desperately trying to claim their role as part of The Gang.

Part of it is also me revisiting my fascination with nonconformity, but on a more stable, creative and positive level.  It’s no longer about rebellion just for the sake of it (“What are you rebelling against?” “Whadda ya got?”); nor is it about achieving a reactive response.  As I’ve said before, I’m trying to avoid falling into the reactionary trap; I’ve wasted far too much time and energy playing that game.

The nonconformity I started riffing on, and what I’ve been contemplating lately, is really about relearning how to ignore outside influence that I don’t need or want. This is more about shedding all the extraneous bullshit in my life, the distractions and the irritations that derail me from what and who I am, and who I want and need to be.  I’ve already figured out who I am at this point; I just need to make a more concerted effort to be that person.

This is why I’m the kind of writer that I am, writing stories in the way that makes sense to me creatively, publishing them in the way that makes sense to me creatively.  I’m the kind of writer who will hear certain ‘don’t do this’ writing advice and immediately think, well, why not?  And then follow up with an attempt at proving it wrong.  I go with what my soul sings to me.

In the end, with this bit of recent insight and clarity, my long-game plan is to regenerate a bit (to borrow a Whovian term) and return to that True Self I’d had in my head for years but hadn’t been able to achieve.

 

“When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” – Doctor Who (11th Doctor, Matt Smith)

Sometimes you just have to call it.

anime-tired

Taking a week off from blogging, folks, starting yesterday.  I’ve pulled myself quite thin lately between Day Jobbery and Writing Projects that I forgot I only have so much energy to spare.

I’m going to take some time to reorganize my schedule and activities so I’m not running myself ragged.  I may have been able to do this in the past, but age and stress does do a number on a person after awhile.

I’ll be back on the horse on the 22nd.  See you then.

Not always on schedule, but at least consistent

fma running
credit where it’s due: Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Oh hey!  I’d completely forgotten to write up a WtBt entry yesterday!  Sorry about that, folks.  Here you go.  Sometimes the weekend gets the best of me.

Or in this case, A. and I binged on the Star Wars movies this weekend, watching the original three and following it up with The Force Awakens (which we still hadn’t gotten around to watching).  We also bought Rogue One at the mall this weekend so we’re all good to go with that series for the moment.  [Not including the prequels — that’ll be for another time.]

I’ll be honest, I’m not used to taking days off from writing.  I get a nagging in the back of my brain that I shouldn’t be wasting time doing frivolous things when I should be working on a project.  It usually goes away with a good movie or television series (British TV is really good at that for me).  But it’s worth it, especially as I have to remind myself to watch and read new things that could give me insights on my own work.

In other news, I’ve been keeping busy with Meet the Lidwells, and I’m glad to report that the word count has been consistent.  I’ve been hitting between 500 and 1000 words a night, which is alright by me.  That’s my normal average on first drafts, so I’m happy with that.   And as first drafts go, this one’s going fine so far.  Room for improvement, but I’ll let myself worry about that on the first once-over later on.  To tie in with the music metaphors here, I’m laying down Take 1, where I’ll hit a few bum notes and flub a few of the verses, but at least I’ll know what to fix when it’s time for overdubs and mixing. 🙂

Meanwhile, it’s finally dawned on me that BayCon will be in a few weeks!!  It’s probably time for me to prepare myself for that considering.

Here’s my schedule for the con…if you happen to be there, stop by and say hi!

World building techniques and approaches
Saturday 11:30 – 13:00, Synergy 4 (San Mateo Marriott)
Specifically focused on pointers for attendees to attempt rather than history of what panelists did with X.
Panelists: Margaret McGaffey Fisk (M), Kevin Andrew Murphy, Ms. Jennifer L. Carson, Jon Chaisson, Katharine Kerr

Cover Me
Monday 10:00 – 11:30, Convene 1 (San Mateo Marriott)
How to put a good cover on your book.
Panelists: Ms. Jennifer L. Carson (M), Mr. Ezra Barany, Jon Chaisson, Daniel Dociu

You Want to Build Your Own Language?
Monday 13:00 – 14:30, Inspire 1 (San Mateo Marriott)
An intro course on how to build a language.
Panelists: Jon Chaisson, Kai MacTane (M), Juliette Wade

 

In the meantime, back to the mundy Day Job with the hopes that I can sneak in some Daily Words later on when things quiet down!

Fly-By: All’s Well So Far

normal_kakashi_read
Kakashi from Naruto, @Masashi Kishimoto

Hi all!

Just a fly-by today…nothing much to report other than that all is well.  I’ve been hitting an average of 500 to 1000 words a day for Meet the Lidwells (woohoo!), and it’s been running quite smoothly.  Funny how that happens when you outline beforehand, no?

Also: started the daily 750 Words back up again.  A lot of it is just riffing right now, but that’s just fine.  It’s practice words, and that’s what counts.

Other than that, going to have a much-needed relaxing weekend!

Repost Because It’s Needed: Brothers and Sisters

This was written and posted on 11 November of last year.  Given today’s appalling actions of the Republican party today regarding the healthcare repeal, I felt it necessary to repost. 

As it stands, I have absolutely no more fucks to give on that party, obviously. 

Thus, I find it imperative that if they’re so bent on the Federal government not being in charge, that they’d rather put lives at risk just to save someone else money, then we must find a way to help ourselves.  Especially where healthcare and insurance are concerned.

Never thought I’d sound like one of those telethons of yore, but please — do what you can.  If this keeps up, we’re really gonna fucking need it.

* * * *

Well.

Obviously you know how I feel about the Fuckwit winning.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about.

Let’s talk about other writers, other artists, other musicians.  The creative people out there who inspire us, entertain us, move our spirits.

I’m looking pretty far ahead at the moment.  I dearly hope that I am 100% wrong in feeling this way, but I would not be the least bit surprised if over the next four years, life for creative people starts getting harder.  And that life for people who want to be creative — the students and the kids who dream about being writers, artists, knitters, sculptors, musicians and so on — gets harder as well.

You already know how I feel about this; it’s always aggravated and annoyed me that the arts field is always the last on the budget list and the first to get axed when the economy starts tanking.  You can get financial help if you’re a football or basketball player, but you’re not worth much if you sit around trying to create something (that is, of course, unless you create something that’ll make tons of cash for everyone).  Too many people I know are held back from doing what they do and love best because of the Real Life of having to get a secondary job to supplement their income.

I should know. I’m one of them.  Sure, my wife and I are reasonably okay financially, but if I could contribute as much to our combined income using just my writing, I’d drop my Day Job in a heartbeat.

This is precisely why I love this recent vibrant era of DIY creativity.  Self-publishing, pop-up galleries, personal online stores, webcomics, boutique startups, Bandcamp.  It’s more, a LOT more than saying to hell with the establishment, more than saying ‘wouldn’t it be fun to put on a show in the barn’.  It’s saying “I know exactly what I want to do with my life, and I’m going to make that a reality.”

It’s not saying ‘fuck the rules’, it’s completely rewriting them.

So.

I ask all of you now, do me a solid:

Look at your social media timelines.  Look at those webcomics you read every day.  Look at those bands whose music you download from Bandcamp.  Look at that necklace or pair of earrings you bought off Etsy.  Look at those artists whose painting you picked up from their tiny booth at the local pop-up gallery down the street.  Look at those creative people, and realize that this, their creative work is what they do best.  This is what makes them happy.  This is what lifts their spirits.  Your purchases and downloads and reviews are there to say “I love what you created.”

Do me a favor:  in the next four years, if any of them have a Patreon, are running a Kickstarter, or are doing some kind of of fundraising so they can stay in business doing what they do and love the most in their lives, please donate.  Even if it’s five dollars a month.

What you’re giving them is more than money.  You’re giving them a chance to live the life they’ve always wanted to live.  And that is one of the best things you can do for someone.

Old habits die hard, but…

python anfscd

…new habits are even harder to keep, especially when you’re trying to reorganize your life.  It’s terribly easy to slip back into the old ones when you’re trying your damnedest to get rid of them because they don’t work for you anymore.

Still, I can’t expect them to change overnight.

I’ve been doing my best to reorganize my life so I’m not wasting so much time passively surfing the internets.  There are a few goals here, of course: I can still get easily caught up in the latest imbroglio on social media, fall down the rabbit hole of You Tube (I wasted a good ten minutes right now looking for other Monty Python gifs and then finding the Spectrum skit, one of my favorites), or staring at the screen trying to think of what the hell I’m going to blog about for tomorrow’s entry.

On the other hand, I have great days when I fall into a groove and I get all sorts of things done.  I’ll close down the browsers and only have my mp3 software running (or a single browser playing a radio station or one of the Sirius XM channels).

So what to do about it?

I’ve tried all kinds of things.  Closing down the browsers.  Knowing the difference between enjoying an unencumbered weekend afternoon and just wasting time.  Obsessive cleaning and reorganizing.  Facing down the Don’t Wannas by doing the damn thing regardless.  Putting my current writing project front and center on my screen (or in this case, on my desk) so I can’t avoid it.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Regardless, it’s a matter of actively working on changing those habits.

It’s a slow evolution, but it’s getting there.

my neighbor seki
SEKI YOU’RE NOT HELPING

A little something I drew in 1991

Murph War 1991
(c)1991 Jon Chaisson

This was in response to Gulf War I, which kicked off during the Christmas break of my sophomore year at Emerson College.  Everyone my age had grown up during the Cold War, and even though that seemed to be in the past tense now (the Berlin Wall having come down months earlier), we were all nervous.  Was this going to be a big war?  Was this going to be our Vietnam?  What was going to happen?

What if they reinstated a draft?

In retrospect, it was a small enough war that that wasn’t going to happen, but we really had no idea if that was true at the time.

I remember I was with my dad and my sisters at McDonald’s in Gardner when we got to talking about the Gulf War, and it was at that time that I’d made my decision to follow the principle of ahimsa:  no harm.  I absolutely refuse to take another person’s life.

Oh, my college friends and I had those conversations when we got back to our dorms.  By then Gulf War I was in full swing and would end within a few weeks.  Some were for it, some were against it, some didn’t know, some didn’t give a shit.

My reaction to all that was to draw the above strip.  Originally I’d posted it up on the door of my dorm room, where it got a huge response from passersby.  A few suggested I submit it to our school paper, The Berkeley Beacon, which I did soon after, to more positive response.  In fact, the one negative response I got was to some conservative-minded student who took offense to it because they’d somehow thought ‘The Ignorant’ person was meant to be Republican.  Hey, you’re the one who assumed that, chief, not me.

I’m quite proud of that strip.  It’s not my best artwork, but it’s one of my best works scriptwise.

*

So yeah.  Writing this post at 7pm PT on 6 April, just as the current administration has launched a missile attack on Syria in response to the terrorist attack there earlier this week.  I don’t know the details, so I’m not going to hem and haw and pontificate and indignate or whatever.  Not right now.

I’ll be brutally honest, I don’t feel too optimistic about this event at the moment.  Not because I’m a pacifist, but because a) I don’t trust this current administration to sharpen a fucking pencil and b) I’m really not looking forward to the Orgasmic Patriotism we may get as a response from the hard right.  I’m afraid that there will be much dick swinging and flagwaving and no responsibility for the aftershock it causes.

But.

I shall carry on.  I still have my work to do on this new project of mine.  Nothing’s going to take that away from me.

Here’s to hoping this ends peacefully.

Extra: All in one place (sort of)

20170305_161536

Sorry it’s a little out of focus, but there you go:  twenty-plus years’ worth of work, all in one place.  Pretty sure I’m missing a few things here and there due to misfiling, but what you see there is the beginning and the end — and the future — of the Mendaihu Universe.

Of note:

–That pile of folders in the top left corner is all pre-TPE work, including a print out of True Faith and all its notes, character notes, and so on.
–That tattered green notebook is the one I used for writing The Phoenix Effect.  The second notebook with the latter half is underneath it, as well as outtakes, notes, and other things.
–Top row, third over, under the ‘more outtakes’ folders:  the three binders holding the print-out of the trilogy, circa 2005.
–Top row, far right: the sketch book that contains my map of Bridgetown.  Underneath it is a very large binder carrying all the work from the Infamous War Novel (whose only relation to all of this is that I’d originally written Vigil as a sci-fi IWN rewrite).
–Bottom row, far left: extraneous notes from the Belfry years, as well as various pocket calendars marking my daily word counts.
–Next to it, the 3″ disks where I backed up my work during the Belfry years, including outtakes, notes, outlines, and other related things.
–Bottom row, middle: two attempts at sequels to The Phoenix Effect, circa 1999-2000, before I decided to start over with A Division of Souls
Bottom row, yellow notebook:  A VERY rough draft of the possible next story in the Mendaihu Universe, set once more in Bridgetown, but 70 years later.
–And finally, the end result:  galley copies of Books 1 and 2!

In comparison, I’d show you the stuff I have for Meet the Lidwells!, but it would be a picture consisting of a printout of the original rough draft and a pile of index cards. 😉

Writing Places Over the Years

I know I’ve shared a few of these over on Live Journal (and a few in earlier WtBt posts) in the past, though I figured it would be fun to create a bit of a visual scrapbook of places related to the Mendaihu Universe over the years.  I made it a point to write whenever and wherever, so I quickly got used to finding a nook in whatever apartment or house I lived in.  All I need is a few plugs, a PC, my music collection, and I’m golden.

Continue reading “Writing Places Over the Years”

Even if it’s been that sort of week…

eeyore

I was originally going to just give you all a fly-by today as I’ve had my ass handed to me all week at the Day Job and I’m just about out of fucks to give running at half-speed right now.  My writing schedule has been all wonky, thanks to having to head into the Day Job office yesterday (which I’d forgotten all about until the night before) and not having time for Daily Words or other fun things.

And you know how I am when my Best Laid Plans get waylaid by annoying unrelated things like Day Job stuff or something not working.  Or just being plain tired.  I get cranky and irritable that time’s been wasted.  It’s a mindset that grew from my Belfry schedule back in the day that I haven’t bothered to get rid of.

SO.  Do I go online and kvetch about it and then waste the rest of the day doing nothing?

Well, no.  I get it out of my system, muster up the extra energy, and soldier on.  Because I want to keep a solid writing schedule, damn it!  Is that too much to ask? 🙂

Anyway.  Don’t mind me, folks.  Just having an off week.  I’ll be back to normal soon enough.

yawning