Category Archives: Checking In

In my defense, I barely knew what time was in the Before

I spent last night journaling about what I did during September, and I still don’t know where it went.

Hello. What’s up. Here are some unorganized thoughts.

  • Changed the blog category “proof of life” to “checking in”, because for me it crossed the line between “ironic overstatement” and “hmm, no thanks”.
  • Got all of those great notes back from the beta readers, identified some large elements that Book 3 was missing (more motivation for the “antagonists[ish]”, some logistical changes to the second half, commitment on the shipping question), ignored them for the rest of the summer.
  • Vowed in October to write something every day, whether that’s a bit of the story, some journaling, or this here procrastinatory blog post. I want to make it a habit again.
  • I want to not be scared of finishing Book 3, of doing a bad job, of writing something that some undefined someone doesn’t like. I want to write something that I like. I want to bring this storyline to a close and switch gears. I can do it. I just have to keep moving and keep my motivation in mind.

And what’s my motivation?

I read this tweet recently by the truly original Chuck Tingle, and it really struck me. I’ve tried to force sincerity out of my work and become more of what I feel like I’m supposed to be: better plotted, more marketable. It doesn’t work for me. It’s great if you can; I’m not talking about you. It doesn’t work for me, though.

I felt really bad for a really long time because Some Undefined Person Didn’t Approve of Something I Did, and many things in my personality make that just unthinkable. But it’s at the point where to keep doing something I love, I have to put up with that feeling.

I choose the story. I choose to keep going. Not out of spite; I have nothing to prove to anyone. Just because, well, I want to do this thing, and only I can stop me.

So I want to bring Agna and Keifon’s story to some kind of conclusion. I think after this point, if I come back to write about them, it will probably either be a short story or as side characters in a book narrated by another character. But hell, who knows what the future holds.

At the start, I assumed that I’d follow up Agna’s first book with one about Rone, her mentor, because he’s A Guy with a Sword and everybody loves those, don’t they, that’s important, isn’t it. After a while, I assumed I’d follow up Agna’s third book with one about Lina, her sister, because Lina is closer to the political upheaval in their home country, and political upheaval is Exciting and everyone loves Exciting Stories and Plot and that’s important, isn’t it.

I had a story framework on the back burner for a lot of this. A scenario, a setting, two narrators: more Academy graduates, former classmates who can’t stand one another and get assigned to a posting in the same small town. It takes place before Agna’s story, it has nothing to do with the political upheaval (I think), and I’m still not fully sure what Happens in it. The psychological themes are chewy, there’s the kind of drama I love, absolutely nobody was asking for this story and nobody gives one solitary crap about it. Except me.

And I’m writing for me.

So maybe it’s next. Maybe I’ll jump ship from fantasy and write that sociological science fiction idea ricocheting around in my head, about what happens down the road if nightmare capitalists actually do start a space colony where the poor colonists’ descendants are indentured servants. But by the time I do, nineteen other people will have already written theirs, so I can just read theirs.

I hope to write with love, even if I’m writing about unlikeable assholes or nightmare capitalists. Because that’s what motivates me. Not money, which is fine if that’s your motivation. Not approval, even though I feel like I’ll die if I don’t get it (which is fully asinine, I acknowledge that). I like writing. That’s why I do it. That’s all.

Things you’re supposed to do

For once, my natural procrastination and laziness dovetailed with something you’re actually supposed to do: to put down a draft when it’s done and let it drain out of your brain for a while before you edit. A couple of days ago I realized I had a batch of songs stuck in my head that I often listened to while working on the draft, and I decided to take that as a sign from my subconscious that it was time to start again. Was it? Probably not. But why not.

Besides, I’d developed a habit of practicing ukulele and then writing, and when I finished the latter I stopped doing the former. Which isn’t great. Kind of lost the calluses, mostly. But I can still play, so that’s nice.

I’m embarrassed about taking up an instrument when I did, i.e. late April 2020. It seems like a facile, grind-culture / productivity-hack thing to do, and that is absolutely not why I did it. But I can’t prove that, and it still looks bad from the outside. Which is unfortunate. It was interesting to learn a stringed instrument, and I really enjoy it. If, someday, I can actually play and sing “(Nothing But) Flowers” at the same time, I’ll feel like it was an endeavor worth not being embarrassed about. Not there yet. Someday.

Meanwhile, I spent most of my leisure hours on a new version of an old-school time-suck, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on the Switch. Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons is an old favorite, and I’ve enjoyed this installment so far. It’s cute. The script is well translated. There’s enough to do, and no plot railroading the player along. Not perfect, of course; it’s Inventory Management: The Game, and the whole maker-machine thing is goofy. (Did I not just get tired of that mechanic in the first two-thirds of My Time at Portia? I believe I did.) And whyyyyy can I not clip through my farm animals COME ON. But it still has that advancement loop that sucks my brain in and wraps it up like a Thundershirt, much like all the other games of its ilk that I’ve played for coming up on 20 years. It works on me. It just does.

(Someday I might write myself a big long rant about farming sim games and the kind of pastoral fantasy they often end up espousing — “city bad country good”, etc. — and how it feels like my work can slip into that mode even though I don’t intend for it to, and my many issues with that kind of polarized thinking and why I Love Cities Actually… but not today.)

And now it’s time to scale back the games and get on with editing the draft of book 3, now that book 3 is no longer playing in a loop in the back of my head. The beta readers have it, and Godspeed to them; it’s at least shorter than the second one. We’ll see what they say, and in the meantime I’ll work on line edits, my favorite (zero sarcasm).

We’re still here. I’m glad of that. Back to it.

New year! Check-in time.

A chain of circumstances led to the realization that I haven’t checked my “author” email in several months, maybe even a year or more. Oh hell, that’s bad. I’m very sorry to anyone who tried to contact me. I don’t expect anyone to contact me, so I don’t look, and sometimes people do. Oops.

So hey, why don’t we take stock at this artificial dividing line between 2020 and 2021? (The new year is on April 1 in my books, let me be salty)

Last time I did this I scored it with a Canadian song that I love, so how about…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXwGX5Es9vM

(“Whiteout Conditions”, the New Pornographers)

(Last time it was this one; I still love it, and I learned how to play it on ukulele this year, which tickles me to no end)

(I’m from the US, not Canada; y’all just have some musicians that I like. Plus socialized medicine)

Continue reading New year! Check-in time.

Time for a new tag

…I have a dark sense of humor, so… no offense meant.

Still writing. Still here, along with my loved ones; we’ve been very lucky and as careful as we can be. Mostly lucky, and fortunate enough to be able to work from home at our day jobs and isolate fairly well.

Yet Another Draft of Book 3 seems to be creeping ever closer to completion, so I’m trying not to lose hope. Do I remember anything about formatting ebooks? No sirree. Those are skills I learned just long enough to do the task, much like how I learned calculus in college. Short-term memory only. That’s okay. Maybe it’ll come back to me. If not, relearning it is my next “fun” “new” “project”.

Also turned off comments, so hey bots, find somewhere else to spam. I’m too lazy to keep on top of your flood of nonsense. Humans, on the off chance you want to contact me for something that is not trying to sell me snake oil: I can be found at u/ofthecageandaquarium on the gayer, less reactionary areas of Reddit or technically, by the email listed on the About page, though to be honest, I don’t check that either.

This is what separates the hobbyists from the pros, I think. I’m so bad at social media. If I could think of something interesting to post on Twitter that isn’t burning trash, maybe I’d do that, but uh, not so much! I do use it to read other people’s stuff, so if you want to contact me for something that isn’t a trash fire, I’m technically at @sadsackgetdown.

(two unrelated handles, both They Might Be Giants references. Yes.)

Either way, if you’re trying to sell me something, you are trying to get blood out of a stone, friend. If I had money, I’d be hiring an editor for these beasts or supporting my many causes.

Anyway, still writing, hope all is well, stay inside if you can, wear a mask until further notice, don’t be an asshole, goodnight and good luck.