Moving Forward

Well, this is the second week in a row I rolled into the weekend without an idea of what to write about. Hopefully this is not a trend.

Again, I’m facing a bit of inertia, as I once wrote about. The situation is that I am, in a sense, in between projects. There has been more than a bit of uncertainty for me for at least the past two years. Unfortunately, the work I did to get my first novel out stalled over the past two years due to both the COVID situation and my moving away to a new location. I’ve been trying to find my footing ever since.

Also, the uncertainty over what I was going to be doing this fall (teaching or not teaching) was sort of weighing on me. I’ll be honest, I sort of bugged out between June 4 and July 4 of this year after I finished up the school year. I was looking forward to actually getting things done… but, as I detailed, I have to admit that I didn’t use that time wisely. i think last year in the classroom, for many reasons, was very tough for me. I was prepared not to teach full-time and instead to tread water as a substitute (and substitute teachers are in big demand throughout the state, especially due to COVID absences). However, I managed to find a job at a small school district near my home… and I’m enjoying the classroom this year. I think it is a good environment and that is good, although once again I am back in the teaching bubble where I end up noticing little but the classroom and everything supporting that work. Working as a teacher and commuting to work can quickly dominate your life, but things are still much better for me now.

Now, I have to consider what is next for me. There are a few things I am facing.

  • You may remember that I have a project that longer readers of my blog, or readers willing to go back and read my older work, might remember as Project A. This has been written, revised, and professionally proofread. With the lone exception of one last small revision and some slight editing on one issue, this is ready to go.
    • I like the project very much. I have at least two other ideas to make this into a trilogy. But, as I’m considering whether to submit it to any publishers – I’m just dreading the long, drawn-out process. And, I’m seriously wondering whether I shouldn’t just try and go the self-publishing route, which I have long considered but I have never tried.
    • Right now, I’m sick of my inertia on this. I just need to get moving on seeing what it would take to get this published on my own because I’m really tired of calling myself a writer and I’ve only done one book that has been published.
  • For the past couple of years, I have been concentrating on fan fiction projects. This has been something that has revived my interest in writing and has been an irreplaceable experience. I’ve connected with so many readers and fellow writers, and discovered so much great fiction that isn’t in traditional publishing. I’ve really been amazed with the response that readers have given my work, and I will always treasure the opportunity I have taken.
    • However, I do think I need to give some more priority to my original content (OC). I am hoping that after I finish up some parts of the series I am working on, I will reduce the amount of time I am working on those projects. I am planning on continuing to write some stuff on AO3 (the main fanfiction site I use), but it will not be my main creative focus. I do think that the particular fanfiction I have been working on (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones) has given me a strong interest in producing some of my own fantasy writing.
    • I also need to finish reading Lord of the Rings. I started that early during the pandemic and I let that fall through the cracks. Maybe I need to add it/adapt it to my podcast that I just started.
  • Also, I need to release some more episodes of that podcast on a regular basis, similar to what I am (trying) to do with the blog. I need to sort that out, but at least I have plenty of old blogs that would be great to build up some material.
  • I need to do some research into building some email lists and how that can help with promoting my writing. That I need to do more work on.

There’s plenty of stuff I can be doing… but I’ve learned the hard way that trying to get too many things done in too short of time is a recipe for a disaster. So, I think I will concentrate on getting the writing journal done, writing one article about my experience with the legendary Alphasmart, and another about what I might be thinking of regarding a mailing list.

That would be a great start, I think.

Writing Journal 9.15.2021: Not too much to show for it… but I’m not just surrendering

If you couldn’t tell from my more recent post, I’ve had a time trying to write stuff this week.

There’s not too much of an explanation for it… but I’m proud that I’ve been at least tinkering around with trying to do something writing-wise. I don’t like to just write for the sake of it – I want to produce good material.

However, you inevitably face the idea that, if you want to write regularly, not all of your production is going to be first class, or even something you prefer that other people read. I’ve not gotten to that level recently, but I think I’m more understanding about those writers who prefer to keep some of their writings hidden permanently from public view (only to have well-meaning family or fans unearth them for good or for bad. I think Sir Terry Pratchett had the best idea when he had someone drive one of those asphalt rollers over a hard drive containing some unfinished/rough draft works after his death.

Anyway, here’s the stats. If I do the conversion of 500 words = 30 minutes of planning/revising, I’d add 2,000 more words to my total last week.

Of course, the numbers would still be unimpressive. At least, they would be less so. See you around and keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 9.11.2021:
+1,088 words written.
Days writing: 2 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 3 of 7 days.

Writing When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

I call myself a writer. I am a writer, in the past, now, and in the future. But there are days when I really don’t feel like writing.

There were years in times past where I never wrote anything except news articles and the odd lesson plan. Those memories of the old days make me always a bit guilty when I go a day without writing.

I’m a little irritated that I haven’t done a new podcast recently. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, since it’s not like I’m trying to monetize it (yet) or that I’m that experienced at it. But if I consider myself a creative person, I need to create and hustle, right?

It’s sort of like some aspects of teaching for me. There are times when I have fun in the classroom, especially teaching writing. (That likely will be worthy of at least a few later posts). However, I can take or leave having to sit down and grade stuff.

The point is that there always are things that you can take or leave about any job or any passion. Sometimes you get in the groove and can write for hours and hours. And there’s other times that I can stare at that screen and want to do anything else.

There’s times when I just need to get distracted, to be honest. Today I wanted to just relax before getting back into the groove of the teaching week. (Last year in the classroom was massively stressful for me. I’m feeling much more comfortable in my new district.)

So, I sat down for the day. I checked out the Italian Grand Prix, as I’ve started to get into Formula One this year. I watched Liverpool beat Leeds today 3-0 and saw poor Harry Wilson get his ankle done in. I saw Aaron Rodgers and the Packers get whipped, and now I’ve got Football Night In America on.

For the later part of the day, I’ve had my son back home for the day after he moved to Des Moines for a new job. I enjoyed watching the games with him and dinner, even if he snoozed through a good part of it.

And, all this time I thought I didn’t really have anything to write about. Maybe this wasn’t the perfect post, but at least I wrote something.

Sometimes that is good enough.

Writing Journal 9.8.2021: Want to make more positive movement

I just think that I’m spinning my wheels a bit.

I don’t think that I took enough advantage of my time this summer. It seems so much easier not to do things rather than do them. This poem seems particularly apt at the moment.

I just need to get to work on the items that matter to me. That includes trying to build not only this blog but the new podcasts I’m doing.

Even though I just did nothing writing-wise Labor Day weekend, I was keeping busy helping my son move to Des Moines. Him and my daughter are beginning their own adventures and I envy them.

Here’s the stats for last week. Not garbage, but not the best either. That’s about all for now – I’ll work on another blog post or two this week.

Writing statistics for the week ending 9.4.2021:
+2,639 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Writing Gear: Notebooks

OK, finally getting to this. If there was someone actually waiting me to write this throughout all Labor Day today you have my deepest sympathies. (Joke.)

I might have mentioned previously that I was probably a member of the last generation of Americans not to have access to a computer or the Internet growing up. When I first started to get ideas for writing, I put them down into what I had – notebooks. Basically, collections of paper with a waxed cardboard or maybe a leather cover if someone is lucky that you can use to write down ideas with.

The ones I had access to and made use of were the same spiral-bound, 8.5 by 11-inch notebooks kids buy every year for school and which I still see in my own classroom. Most of the abortive tries I made at fiction now reside in several such notebooks tucked away in plastic totes for safe-keeping.

For me, it was just what I had available. If I was able to get my hands on a typewriter for my room, I would have been all over that. I remember reading about L. Ron Hubbard using two electric typewriters at once to write a book and he would be using one while the other went to the typewriter shop for maintenance. (That was years before I knew anything about Scientology. And no, this is not going to turn into a Writer’s Biography piece.)

Anyways, that was just what I had, so I used it. It would be many years before I started getting desktop computers and laptops to finally start putting my writing together. I eventually strayed away from the pen world, except for when I used to take notes during my journalism days. Occasionally, I would use a small spiral-bound notebook similar in construction to those old school notebooks, although unlike them, they could fit into a hand. With that and two pens or mechanical pencils, I was set.

Occasionally I would work for an organization that would provide their own journalist notebooks that were double the size of the regular ones. They were steady, but a bit unwieldy to carry around with you. Of course there were tape recordings or digital recordings, but you never wanted to rely only on technology to carry you through in the field. If you could get it down on the page, you were safe and not have to worry about missing information.

Years after those journalism days I started wandering through a Barnes and Noble when I found Moleskine notebooks and fell in love with them. Shoot, if they were Earnest Hemmingway’s favorite notebooks, I didn’t see why they couldn’t be mine. I loved the construction of their leather covers, those nice little ribbons you could use for page-holders, and the elastic that kept them closed. Just good enough for a minor writing snob like me (a Moleskine devotee but one who is more into genre writing and sci-fi/fantasy than “mainstream” literature).

I guess I like the classic design best, but I’m also a fan of the really small ones they make as well. Those I can tuck into my pants pockets or even the breast pocket of my shirts or t-shirts. That makes it really convenient to use.

Of course, I don’t write novels with those notebooks, but I often write down ideas for those stories, or on the rare occasions that poems come to mind. Despite my love for new technology (I like the idea of making multiple copies of my works and words) it is nice to have something not reliant on electricity to make it work. So, I have those options always available for me.

That is, when I don’t get on my phone. I’ve got an iPhone 11 mini right now. That one fits in my pockets well, too.

Writing Journal 9.1.2021: The start of teaching… and no difference in production? Really?

Yeah, just easing into September… and restarting teaching again, in a new district, and… it’s going well. The staff have been great to work with, and I’m starting to get to know the kids and getting into the routines of another school year.

It’s been a bizarre week to be honest. After having my young adult daughter and son living with us in our comfy home for the past half year, we are suddenly going to find ourselves empty nesters once again. Daughter Madeline has returned to her studies on campus at the University of Iowa, while my son happened upon a new job in Des Moines doing maintenance for a hotel. I’ve never been a maintenance kind of guy, but I do envy him living in the heart of a bit city with just a five-minute walk to work. I’m hoping those are just the start of their adventures.

As for myself, I am surprised that my production for this past week was statistically unchanged from the previous week – essentially, not a star turn but not total rubbish, either. I was hoping to have better production over the weekend, but that was not to be and my Labor Day weekend looks to be busy. So, we will see. I have had some hard words this week to get out, but I powered through it and glad with what I have gotten.

On another note, remember when, among other things, I bemoaned not having an Alphasmart anymore? Well, I managed to get myself an Alphasmart Neo 2 in very good condition. Once I get a proper USB cord for it, I just might start putting it to use. Wish me luck.

And, as always, here’s the stats. Stay safe out there – things are getting a bit more virusy as we get into fall.

Writing statistics for the week ending 8.28.2021:
+2,676 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

I’m Kicking Off My Podcast… Slowly

Remember when I talked about starting up my own podcast for this blog? Well, it’s already started.

Indicative of the kind of recording gear I don’t have on hand.
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

Well, I have now taken leave of my senses and decided to actually have a companion podcast to this blog. Here it is – however, you can also find it over on Spotify thanks to Anchor. Both of these links are now in the blog sidebar, as well as an RSS feed.

For now, I am keeping this pretty simple – it will be just me reading my posts more or less word for word. I have no idea about audio production or sound effects, etc., even though I did manage to work in radio for a couple of hot seconds back in my journalism days. I’m not going to do audio versions of my writing journals – I think that would get pretty dry and repetitive listening to over time. However, I do plan to redo the more content heavy blogs I’ve done recently and in the past, such as the A Writer’s Biography series and some of the other ones I’ve done over the past four years.

I’ll record a podcast about this blog now, but I will be busy attempting to record and upload some more content from years past onto the podcast. It will take me a while to do that, but at least I’ll have plenty of content to upload for a time. I hesitate to think that I might actually turn this into something that not only people could listen to, but could actually make money at… but that will be a bit in the future. For right now, I’ve just got my feet in the ocean and getting a feel for what the possibilities might be like.

Photo by Kellie Churchman on Pexels.com

Writing Journal 8.25.2021: Slight slowdown as classes begin

Again, as most of these journals are becoming, this will be relatively short.

(I think I mentioned a couple days ago about setting up a podcast tied to this blog. There is an option to convert blog posts into podcasts. I think I might use this option on some of my blogs, but I don’t think I will try it with the journal posts. Those can get pretty repetitive.)

I am hoping that the start of the new teaching year will not lead to a slowdown of my productivity. I need to try and analyze that a bit, looking back as some of my past yearly journals, but sometime my productivity has actually increased when I have less time to write than before. Maybe it is the old journalist in me.

Anyway, the stats are below. Not totally disgraceful, and relatively consistent, but not exactly up to par At least I wrote more total words this week than the previous one. Hoping for better next week.

Writing statistics for the week ending 8.21.2021:
+2,770 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Do You Want To Hear Me?

I’ve heard the phrase “A face for radio.” It’s a subtle insult, for sure. Whether my face fits it, now or back then years ago, I’m not one to say.

It’s a face. Whatever.

There are some times where I have experimented with video posts on my Facebook writing page. That included my (for now) stalled reaction series to the Lord of the Rings books. Unfortunately, I’m not able to host video clips directly on this WordPress site, and I’m wanting as little to do with Facebook as humanly possible due to the things that company is either promoting or otherwise letting happen.

As much as I love writing and plan to communicate that way, I’m thinking that there might be at least one third option. I keep hearing about a refurbished and souped-up version of the radio broadcasts my parents and grandparents used to listen to back in the early to mid-20th Century. You guessed it, it’s a podcast.

Although they’re not massive moneymakers like some forms of media, they are quite popular with listeners, and it might be another way for people to get into my blog. In addition, it would be a relatively easy thing to produce.

Spotify apparently is one of the leaders of podcast distribution. They have this program called Anchor that allows you to set up your own podcast and tie it to your WordPress blog. Well, after staring at the site for a month or two, I’ve decided that I’m going to get an Anchor site set up for this blog. It might take me a week or two to shake out all the bugs, but I plan to make it work and get it operational. It apparently allows me to turn old blogs into a podcast, so I want to try it out and see what happens.

Once I get things operational, I’ll post a story and link here. Wish me luck.