Monday, 31 March 2014

A Month

God. Wow. It’s been a month since I last posted. Where does the time go?

When you’re unemployed, time gets…I don’t know…Funny. You’re pulled in a lot of different directions at once by all of these should-be-dones. All of these things that you never had time for before. Personal obligations that were put off. Socializing, exercise, writing, trying to find that job that’s actually meaningful to you. It becomes chaotic and unfocused. You get less done than you did when you were working.

So you pull back. You compress. Simplify. Dedicate yourself to lists and structure and, in the process, overcompensate. Getting your appointed tasks done in a given day becomes so important. The stuff that you’re doing becomes work. It becomes your job. And everything else starts to slip. You’ve gone too far in the other direction.

Thankfully, I’ve never been one of those people who stops showering or getting up in the morning when I feel bad or don’t have anywhere to be. The furthest I get down that road is going a few days between shaves. Or maybe I don’t floss every once in a while.

That’s neither here nor there, though, because the point is that in the past month I’ve kind of let this novel go. I brush it off and fiddle with it every once in a while, but for the most part I focus on trying to land job interviews or coming up with short stories that I can shop around. I neglect the job that I have—the job that I have given myself—because I need something more immediate and paycheck-inclusive in my life right now, and because I get to a point in my day where I can choose between writing and decompressing and I always go with decompressing because everything else in my life is all about stress and uncertainty right now.

Which sucks. It’s a shitty thing to deal with because it comes down to doing more work or doing something that I like and makes me feel good for a little while. And I do like writing, and it does make me feel good, but it also feels like work right now and I just want to avoid an ulcer.

Maybe that’s on me, though. Maybe it’s because of the attitude that I’ve developed towards writing. When the semester ended last December I joked that I was becoming a full time writer again for a month, and that felt good. And when it became clear that the college wasn’t going to call me in for contract renewal back in January I told myself more or less the same thing. The joke was gone, though.

After that, I stopped writing and started working. When asked what I was going to do on a given day, I would say, “Oh, I’m going to work on the book.” When I cleaned up the lunch dishes, I would look at the dog and say, “Okay. Back to work.” Troubleshooting plot and character problems used to be “playing,” but now it’s “fixing” or “cleaning.” Everything about my attitude towards my craft has become more clinical and formal, and, ultimately, less rewarding.

So. I don’t know. I guess I’ve got to make this less of a chore again. I’m not going to write about my commitment to getting this damn thing done again. I’ve spilled way to many words on that subject as it is. It’s getting done and that’s final. I’ve got to find a way to make it work, though.

I’ve got to fall in love with what I do again.

I don’t know.

I’ll get back to you.



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Reading List: February, 2014


Compiling now, for your reading pleasure, uh, well, my reading pleasure for the past month?

  • METAtropolis – edited by John Scalzi – This one is really interesting. A group of authors got together to create a short-fiction anthology centered on a shared original setting that was all about letting them explore new urban social systems. The individual pieces are all pretty great, but the depth and quality of the collaboration is what makes this one really worthwhile.
  • A Darkling Sea – James L. Cambias – Some really fascinating world-building in this one. It’s kind of an old-school first contact story that deals with the morality of making face-to-face contact with less advanced species versus policies of isolation and observation. All told, it’s the same basic territory that Star Trek covered with the Prime Directive, but way more interesting and in-depth.
  • The Martian – Andy Weir – I’ve still got about fifty pages of Andy Weir’s debut novel left, but it pretty well blew me away. The story of a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars when an accident forces his crew to evacuate the planet and leave him for dead. It’s got the intensity of Gravity, great pacing, and a great sense of humor. And the science, oh god, the science…Accurate, extensive, and cleanly expressed…It’s fantastic.
  • Doctor Sleep – Stephen King – Just finishing this one up this month. You can find my thoughts on it in last month’s Reading List.
  • Nowhere Men, Volume 1 – Eric Stephenson – A really fascinating opening to what could be a great weird-science series. The writing is tight, the art is top-notch, and there’s just enough experimentation in its story-telling and page layouts to keep it your mind on it completely.
  • The Unwritten, Volume 7: The Wound – Mike Carey – This book continues to be excellent, and my favorite ongoing series. You should all read it immediately.
  • The Unwritten, Volume 8: Orpheus in the Underworld – Mike Carey – Message Repeats: This book continues to be excellent, and my favorite ongoing series. You should all read it immediately.