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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Even of the New Year

            According to the Chinese Zodiac, certain years are better than others for certain people, and while I have had my good years and bad years, I think I need to stop viewing time in that fashion. People do compartmentalize by year very easily. Anniversaries, birthdays, and taxes help reinforce these ideas, but I think I want to reevaluate and take it on a smaller scale, and make sure I try to make my days, weeks, and months better, and perform more self-evaluation to figure out how to improve them.
            So, here’s to day one of 2015. I’m going to make it a good one.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Teaching Future

            I go back and forth on this. I have a deep core in me that really loves to teach, especially mythology, but I’m not sure it’s really for me anymore. I have to adopt a wait and see attitude. I keep pondering a question: If I had the chance to be financially well-off without teaching, would I continue to do it? And I don’t’ know the answer. If I’m not financially bound, then there’s an aspect of leisure to teaching, so I can approach it differently. I can get an increased sense of satisfaction from the endeavor when it’s leisure.
            But that’s largely speculation. I think I’ll have to try it out empirically.

Friday, December 26, 2014

F3 Coupon Book

            As a kid I had gotten, and given, coupon books as gifts during Christmas. I never really cared for them, but sometimes there was no way to actually come up with any kind of gift, or funds were limited. Ma especially loved them because I put such things as “room cleaning without complaint” or other chores. My brother Paul would give me ones that said “no beating for a day,” which I hated, or “borrow my car for a night,” which I really needed when my car died or I wanted to take a girl out. Paul as the older brother was able to afford a better car quicker.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mellow Holiday

            Back when I worked for Target (many, many moons ago, now) I worked in the toy department. During Christmas. That was the year I hated Christmas. I was bitter towards everyone. I hated seeing toys on TV. I nearly developed a twitch on seeing commercials. I promised myself I would never let myself hate Christmas again.
And I don’t hate it. I still really like it, but I don’t’ need it to be a big production. I like the idea that it’s a low stress day. So, I will have a mellow Christmas filled with some good music, pleasant films, good food, and a little family.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Short Vacation

            I’m giving myself a short, stay-at-home vacation (I refuse to use the new compound form of the words stay and vacation). Now usually I have a few weeks between semesters, but I almost always end up filling the entire time with various projects. There’s nothing wrong with that. And the projects are worthwhile, but I feel an increasing need to draw definite lines in my life where I can say I’m not working.
            So, I’ll rejoin the working world next week. 


Friday, December 19, 2014

F3 Empire Builder

            “You are a man of small vision, Mr. Allen,” Balam shouted down to me from upslope. Flashes of lightning lit him up, framed against the red, angry clouds in the sky.
            I was still hundreds of yards away in the trees, but still he saw me. I pulled out my nine mil, but quickly put it down. There was no way I could make that shot on a clear, wind-free day, much less in the middle of a storm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The. End.

            Another semester over. Yes, there’s a little bit of grading to do, yet, but it’s inconsequential. The pressure has fully lifted. Time for a brief respite, and then a longer one from all things school related.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Season of Illness

            This is when it starts. Actually, it probably started a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t get around to writing this until now. The flus and colds are flying hot and heavy, and I work in an environment prone to exposure.
            Last year I felt fine, then woke up on Christmas day sick as the proverbial dog. I could barely focus, barely eat, and don’t remember much of the day. There was a lot of sleeping involved. Actually, I don’t remember much until a week into January.
            This year I’m making sure to up my vitamin intake and limit exposure to students as much as possible. Oh, and to avoid stress. A compromised immune system from stress can be devastating.

Friday, December 12, 2014

F3 Hide and Seek

            Ann pulled the ship around sharply as the planet occluded them.
            “The B ring is thickest. Aim for it,” Flynn ordered.
            “Right,” Ann said, giving the helm her full attention. Despite their pursuers being at least an hour away, they didn’t have much time if they wanted to disappear. “I’m going to come up underneath into the B ring, then we’ll push our way gently into a better position.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More Plotting

            I’ve heard this among writers before, but I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m a Pantser who is gradually becoming more of a Plotter. I think the seeds began with a failed NaNo manuscript. I finished out the 50k, sure, but I realized that the plot really hadn’t gone anywhere, and in fact the concept was more or less doomed.
            It moved on to a prohibition-era story I started and got stalled in. I eventually tossed that one in the drawer. It continued on to my science fiction book, where I got very far along, but couldn’t completely figure out how to end it. It got tossed in a drawer. Even the ending to the second Storm Rider book got a touch of it towards the end.
            I could lay all of this at the feet of stress and writer’s block, but I think it was because I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a brainstorm to fall back on to take me forward. I’ve always kept a little Moleskine with notes in it, the bare outline of a story that takes me along, but I’m beginning to think I need to do a little bit more. Make sure that I have at least a few chapters worked out ahead of time, and maybe I don’t need the specifics of the ending, but I need to have a rough idea of how it will all turn out.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nervous Energy

            This close to the end of the semester, and I start getting a nervous energy. I want it to end. And with all of the major grading out of the way, I don’t have a lot to concern myself with, just run out the clock. Of course, I start considering what went well, what didn’t, what to improve, etc. Sometimes I can get a jump on the next semester by carrying out little tweaks in advance.
            Despite telling myself I don’t need to worry about it right now, I’ll probably do it, anyway. It’s something to do, after all.

Friday, December 5, 2014

F3 The Spy

            Flynn studied the man in the closet, who had metal bindings on his wrists. Eltie had also taken advantage of the servos in her armor to hang him from a hook in the closet. The binders cut into the man's wrists with his entire weight on them. Despite the injury, the man looked nonplused. He had a few years on Flynn, looking to be in his early fifties with iron grey hair and eyes that matched. He had a shaggy beard peppered with the black of his original hair color. In the small hole in his beard, he had on a casual, easy smile. As if we were old friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

NaNo Lifespan

            I think it’s because NaNo is over after the thirty days. A large number of people finish out their time at NaNo and never look back, never move forward. Those of us serious about writing know that manuscript not only has to be drafted (which is never done in 50,000 words), but then revised, proofed, revised again, etc.
            It’s a much bigger commitment than 30 days, and those of us who spend time writing all year long don’t’ have time for the games and artifice of NaNo’s structure.
            I remember reading on NaNo forums people who spent months in preparation, creating profiles of their characters, of detailing their settings and plot points, all so that they could begin writing on the stroke of midnight, and all I can think of now is that instead of doing nothing but preparing to write, you should write.

Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNo Over

            Another NaNo is over. Every year I think to myself that I’m not going to do it, and every year I end up making at least the attempt. The last couple of years have been less formal, and I haven’t interacted with anyone in my local rea with the event. I simply quietly plug along with my own progress, unconcerned about anyone else.
            I guess this is because, at least in my mind, it’s changed. It’s no longer a community event to see if I can do it. I already know I can do it. It’s a question of whether or not I will do it. And I don’t need the cheerleading aspect of NaNo in order to write. I don’t need word drills and hanging out in coffee shops with a crowd of people that are, at best, only semi-serious about writing.
            In a highly informal poll of writer friends, most of them end up moving away from Nano as well. Oh, they still write. In fact they outpace NaNo writers. The last four years I’ve done NaNo I’ve haven’t felt any real pressure that I was behind and couldn’t get it done. Even with attending Crime Bake, which eats up a good three days of writing I could still get it done without difficulty. Yes, some of it was down to the wire, but it still got done.
            But it is interesting to see the more serious, and especially the professionally paid, writers move away from NaNo.

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