Tag: blogging

500 Words On Failure Rate

not a clever man

It might seem to the outside observer, who only keeps track of me through this blog — and I do believe there are a few — that the last couple weeks have seen me sitting around doing nothing but play Star Trek Online (which I do every night, no YOU’RE the one with the problem) and eat vegan bonbons. The thing is, though, I’ve been very busy. I have a new dayjob that includes a hellish daily commute, which is a problem that will solve itself once I can telecommute, and my drastically increased income has brought along with it a greater proportion of my home life’s responsibilities, the combination of which occupies the bulk of my time. While I do carve out time for writing, thinking about writing, and doing research for writing, there’s an unseen factor that some may not take into consideration: many of my projects fail before they even see the end of a first draft.

It’s not just because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and also a bit of a magpie in terms of attention span. There’s also the fact that I can start a project, get well into it, then realize that it’s a bad idea. I set out towards a goal and get lost along the way. I end up in a bad place. I look back upon my work and say to myself “I am not a clever man.”

This is an over-simplification, of course. Having the wherewithal to exercise self-awareness to the point of realizing the flaws in one’s own work indicates a base level of cleverness. But I digress.

This failure rate is due in part to ill-defined scope — I have an idea and can visualize key moments but there’s no connective tissue or narrative flow — and an over-abundance of self-interest — characters and situations that resonate too much with people and events from the real world. While we write what we know, to write based on experiences to the point that direct parallels can be drawn feels, to me, a bit self-indulgent. It’s cathartic, sure, but not everybody is interested in seeing me work out my problems in publicly available prose.

So, into the bin it goes. Either I turn to a new page in my writing notebook, or I leave the draft to sit incomplete and ignored somewhere on the cloud before I eventually mine it for ideas in a better story, or just delete it entirely. This can also happen mid-project: there’s a reason I haven’t recorded a vlog in a while. The format wasn’t great and my delivery needed tons of work. I also wasn’t terribly confident and, as mentioned above, a little self-indulgent. Not my cleverest work.

Still, you can’t get a gem without hacking it out of rock. Alchemy happens with fire, patience, and destruction of imperfections. You have to dice your veggies before you add them to the scramble. So on and so forth.

I’m still here, still working, still being awesome.

Despite my failures.

On Fridays I write 500 words.

Quick Update for Year Thirty-Eight

Yesterday I began my thirty-eighth trip around this planet. I want to get it started right with some changes. I mean, a lot of changes have been happening in my life, and I could go into detail about them, but for various reasons, I’m keeping those details personal. Hell’s bells, even writing that feels like some kind of ersatz sales pitch: “Explore the deepest recesses of guilt complexes and emotional disorders, Ask Me How!” Kind of like the prompts seen during Verhoeven’s brilliant take on Starship Troopers: “Would you like to know more?”

Anyway, one of the things I’m aiming to do is get this blog back on a regular weekday posting schedule. Writing is slowly getting easier, much like healing a broken limb or recovering from a nervous breakdown. As my future-facing ambition and search for a truly personally-fulfilling career slowly bear more fruit, I want to make sure I don’t lose focus as I have in the past. Blogging is a part of that, believe it or don’t. As long as I stay genuine, show up as the best Self I can muster, and make myself spend time away from screens to study and exercise neuroplasticity or mindfulness, or journal, or meditate, or just jog up and down some stairs, there’s nothing frivolous or time-wasting about maintaining this blog. Or getting better at competitive video games. Or building a personal fantasy narrative in Skyrim. Or enjoying esoteric and/or engaging exercises in storytelling like Undertale or The Crown or The Magician’s Land. Or watching Doctor Strange again.

My thirty-eighth year’s primary goal is to embrace and celebrate my ability to be a true polymath, an actual bard, an honest-to-goodness jack-of-quite-a-few-trades.

I hope you’ll come along.

I, for one, can’t wait to see who’ll show up as this particular part of my story unfolds.

Looking Back to Look Forward

Bard by BlueInkAlchemist, on Flickr

I realized last night, putting a few things together, that it’s been over six years since I started blogging. Granted, it began in a very different form. I’m sure that there are some of you out there that remember a little blogging site called LiveJournal. That’s where this – *gestures vaguely at the current blog* – all got started.

Back then, blogging was more about catharsis and reflection. I mostly wrote about day-to-day activities as I would in a pen-and-paper journal. Some of the stuff was pretty deeply personal, and other times was incredibly, eye-rollingly inane. People do change over time, thankfully, and I eventually wised up about what I should spend my time writing to share and what should stay either in my head or on paper for my eyes only.

Still, it can be difficult to self-edit. One can’t always read over the words that have just spilled out and know for a fact that some sentences don’t work and some others just need a little tweaking to really shine. That’s why I’ve asked for test readers for my works to be published; that’s why I trust the editors with whom I’ve worked and to whom I’ve spoken; that’s why I never take the first draft of anything significant I write straight to a venue for publication. That’s knowledge that’s only come with time and experience. You can teach a lot of things, but you can’t always teach someone that their shit does, in fact, stink.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about failure lately. How I’ve failed, why I’ve failed, what I’m failing in now and when I’ll fail next. Failure is inevitable; I’m not always going to get everything right the first time. But, in my mind, it’s pretty difficult to fail at blogging. I think that involves having nothing to say but making tons of noise anyway (see: filibustering), terrible grammar or formatting, and an obnoxious site or personality. I still have posts that could arguably be called inane, and possibly fall into the “nothing to say” category, but I do try to at least make what I’m writing interesting to the anonymous reader.

Taking all of that into consideration, I consider the blog to be relatively successful. It doesn’t always get a ton of hits, and I struggle at times with maintaining the schedule, but it’s still going. People do still come and read it. And all of it – from comments to contributions, from failed experiments with ads to the eventual end of IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! – has been and continues to be good experience.

Thank you for being a part of this so far. I sincerely hope you’ll stick around to see what happens next.

Writer Report: One Thousand

This marks the one thousandth post on my blog. I really don’t know if this should be a big deal, or not.

On the one hand, a thousand is a LOT. It means that, for almost three years off and on, I’ve been blathering my thoughts out into the nothingness of the Internet. Occasionally, this drivel gets into the faces of people who appreciate it, and I don’t know if I’d still be doing this if it weren’t for you. Yes, YOU, even the person who stumbled across the blog with a Google Image search (which, according to my dash, is how I get roughly half of my traffic). It also helps that I flat-out enjoy writing, even when the writing feels somewhat arduous. More on that in a bit.

On the other hand, all I’ve done is blather for a thousand posts. I mean, it’s my hope that someone somewhere found something of value in a couple of my posts, but from my perspective, half of the time I’m just brain-dumping into a text window. As much as I’d like to think that the right words in the right order perceived by the right person can save the world, my opinion of myself is not so high to think that I have those words, that order, or such a person that reads this. I could be wrong, though. There’s also the fact that, after a thousand posts, I still only have one actual publication of my own out there and it’s sort of stagnant at the moment. Which is probably due to a lack of promotion. Time to schedule some tweets!

I certainly can’t make a career out of blogging, at least not with just this thing unless I do something like sign up with Project Wonderful for ads and find a way to explode all over Tumblr, so let’s move on.

The dayjob has been stressful as hell lately, but I’m making time this weekend to feng shui the living crap out of the apartment, or at the very least arrange the bedroom in such a way that, regardless of where my other half is, I can isolate myself and write. I have OpenOffice, DropBox, and little else on what I’m calling the Craptop (it’s an ancient Dell Latitude I got from the dayjob office when they were giving away old crap), and it’s portable to the degree I can sit at either the ‘kitchen’ table next to my desk or the writing desk that will be in the bedroom and be free of my major distractions. No Steam, no other games, no chat clients, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no Skype. There will eventually be a nearby shelf with board games, Magic, and other such things, but cracking those things open requires more physical effort than clicking on a link. They won’t interfere with the focus I’ll have when I get that writing groove back.

I’m going to keep the desire to write foremost in my mind, and am mostly looking towards the new year as kind of a fresh start. If I can nail down more of a routine for writing, and meet word goals I set every day, I can be much more prolific, and will finally get around to the rewriting and new writing I’m craving. Pushing forward with Cold Streets by comparison feels a bit sluggish. Maybe it’s a general lack of energy due to how much I’m pushing myself at the dayjob, and I just need a readjustment, which is why stuff is getting moved around.

The most important thing is not to quit. The second most important thing is to fucking write. Third is, I don’t know, generally being awesome? Basically you just have to keep yourself going and making sure people know you’re still at it, and eventually things will click. Or so I’ve gathered.

Anyway, thanks for hanging around, especially if you’ve been here a while. If you want to how far I’ve come, I recommend the Wayback Machine. I’m sure Mister Peabody will happily take you to any number of embarrassing anecdotes in the growth of my blog. And if you get that reference, we should totally hang out.

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