Satire

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It is time to turn some of my creative energy to satire. I’ve dabbled in it here and there, but never for long and never seriously. There’s nothing wrong with the bit of slacktivism I’ve been doing, sharing memes sizes trying to stir people up here and there and starting or participating in online conversations as I see the need. But I need more, and I feel like, at this point, I have developed a bit of a talent for writing. If the satire only amuses me, that’s fine. If it only preaches to a small choir, that’s fine too. In either of those cases, it’s probably not worth a tremendous amount of time. But if just one person, or more than one person, or whole bunch of people gets irritated at something I satirize, maybe we can actually get some new discussion started about the things that are wrong with our society. At the moment, by our society, I primarily mean Ontario and the bigoted premier we seem to have elected and who seems to want to run the province if it were his own sandbox and with 19th century policies.

Not acceptable.

So, satire.

I feel like I want to start by taking my cue from Piet Hein, one of my favorite poets, famous for short, stabby verses in at least two languages, and starting during World War II. I’m not suggesting Ontario is currently like Nazi occupied Denmark in the early 1940s, but, to my eyes, much as south of the border, there are flavors of it in the wind.

Not in my Ontario.

However, I also have to recognize that live in the Internet age, and probably there are no underground newspapers are going to be willing to publish said satirical poetry. At least nothing with significant distribution. There is, however, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. And I can certainly find unflattering pictures of my targets in the huge public archives and attach my short, stabbing versus to them.

And so I will.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for September 2018

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Time for the monthly writing update. This one is likely to be a bit longer as I have a bit more to talk about than just raw word count on things. There’s still a lot of that, though.

Accomplishments:

  1. Short Fiction is a bit more limited this month than last. Only one piece got all of my short fiction attention, and also all of the words for it. I spent more time focused on the novel-length drafting, but I hit the 10k target here even if I didn’t finish Lake of Stars, which may wind up squeaking into novella length when I’m finished the editing process. Right now, it’s coming in at a total of 12,291 words (it started the month at 1254 and I still have four scenes left to write) and making my short fiction drafting total for the month 11,037.
  2. I finished Shrine on September 8th and it came it at 94,124 words. Unless I excise significant parts of the book, the editing process is likely to take it well over 100k. A good split point might be better as these are intended to be YA books and quick, fun reads. Two books at 50-55 k would be better. Tentatively, the piece I split off will be called Forest, sticking with the one-word title theme.
  3. And I got 27,548 words into Palace, which was the third (probably now fourth) book in the Troll World Quartet (Quintet).
  4. The final book in the set, Battlefield, is outlined at the summary level and I’m working on the scene level detail at this point, at chapter 12 and adding a couple of chapters per day. The initial projection is for 45 chapters, but that’s the initial outline for Palace called for only 40. I’m not even halfway through the plot and have adjusted that to 43 already, and that’s without a couple of things that might be better split into a couple of chapters. I’ll mostly worry about those when I get to the Revision Notes phase.
  5. Switching over to editing, I’m 24 out of 40 chapters through the 3rd draft pass of Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc, with a bit less than 22k words to reach the end. Surprisingly, I wasn’t making a lot of big adjustments here until I hit Chapter 20 where I discovered that I’d left off fixing all of the transcription errors while working on the second draft. That second draft appears to have fixed all of the major problems story issues, at least, but the transcriptions aren’t horribly and I’m probably only expecting to gain about 3k or so words between the 2nd and 3rd drafts, not much more than a 4% expansion. I’m actually really pleased with this story.
  6. Fractured Unity conversion continues, mostly as a secondary project, but with a little extra time devoted on weekends. I’ve just finished the last scene of Chapter 17 (of 20), which is two-thirds through what would have been the 7th (of 8) audio drama episode. Conversion is a bit of a messy business and involves a lot of bare bones action to hang the dialogue on and make the story make more sense in a written form. The second draft will probably see some big expansions in word count. I know the plan was to do this completely and then move onto Palace, but I’m feeling the Troll World And I am only 7 scenes from the end of the first draft.
  7. 11 blog posts, and that’s with a couple of big blank spots, particularly in the first week of the month. Not all of these have dropped yet.
  8. 13 book reviews. Still catching up here. Honestly, I’ve just hit the end of my rough notes for reviewing books I read in 2017, and I just need some commentary in some spots of the overall document. My reading speed was pretty blinding for the first half of this year, too, until I got back into my writing in a big way, and I’ll still have all of those to take care of eventually.
  9. 7 journal entries
  10. 1 essay. This was martial arts related and a requirement for an event I’m participating in on October 12th.

Total word count for the month of 81,012, averaging 2.7k per day, which is awesome. I’m very happy with word production this month. While I don’t intend for every month to be this productive as I push into the publishing side of things more, knowing I can hit totals like this is a good reminder that maybe I can do this thing.

And speaking of the publishing side of things:

  1. 0 short story submissions. I never quite found the research time to start picking markets, so i’ll try again next month.
  2. I’ve started, but only just, really, making a list of Small Press houses and potential agents I’d like to send Ancient Runes Of the “completed” novels I want to do something with, it’s one of only two I don’t plan to work actively in the same universe in the next 18 months. I know that shouldn’t be a consideration on its own, but I want to have things worked out in my head. There is one other I’d consider, Skip to My Luu, which is an older book and, though I think it reads well, the prose isn’t as mature. Everything else I’m either working in the world currently, or have a sequel plotted and on the list for drafting next year.
  3. I’ve started brief experiments with cover design, mucking about with the fan fiction work first. I consider it more likely that I’ll wind up going with an independent professional for novel covers, but intend to slowly hone my own layout and design skills on short fiction and fan fiction projects. I’d like to do a number of these next year.

Which brings us to the revised plan for October. Based on small adjustments I made this month to the order of things in progress, the October targets are pretty clear. I’ll use the same zero-to-completion order for long fiction, followed by other work, and finally publishing as I did last month.

  1. Finishing the scene level plotting for Battlefield, the final book in the Troll World set, however long it ends up being. This is the last thing I intend to plot this year (no promises), and it should be done well before the end of the month.
  2. I think the plot for Palace is just a little too long for me to get through in October, but I don’t see it stretching that far into November, at which point I’ll get Battlefield
  3. Star Trek: Fractured Unity. With my revised schedule, I’m looking to complete the transition from script to first draft prose by the end of October. With a little luck and the appropriate amount of spare time, I may make it by the middle of the month.
  4. I may just squeak in finishing the third draft of Hero’s Life before Halloween. Not too much before, though.
  5. Short Fiction: in spite of my sporadic production here in September, I think the 10k goal here is a good one and I’m going to leave it at that level for the time being.
  6. I’ll reiterate that I still want to work in a little short fiction editing, recognizing that I didn’t get there last month.
  7. Similarly, I’m going to leave the non-fiction at 10k for the month again. Killed it this month, but let’s not get overconfident. Some of this effort might be better spent on fiction, but it’s mostly dictation time, and the amount of that isn’t going to change.
  8. 5 short story submissions.
  9. Small Press/Agent hunt continues, broadening the list of possibilities.

And I think it’s becoming a mantra, but I need to type faster. Not that I’m in any way displeased with how the last couple of months have gone, but there are a lot of things I want to craft, and, like most of us, I’m not getting any younger.

Be well, everyone.

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October 1st

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It’s the first of October in the year 2018.

First of a new month. Writing month, business month, calendar month.

It’s breast cancer month. Pink belts at the dojo.

The tenth month of the year, the tenth month of my 48th year, although that really started a couple of days ago. My birthday doesn’t exactly match up with the calendar, but with a birthday on the third last day of the year it gets close.

I am more and more reflective lately.

I’m also more and more exhausted lately.

And I’m more and more angry lately.

The reflective is probably due to being comfortably ensconced in middle-age, and I have to think about all of my choices, all of their effects, and the best path forward to leave things better for my children and grandchildren.

The exhausted is almost entirely due to my job, and I still want to say new job. I’m trying hard to be all things everyone, but there’s so much to catch up on, so much to do, so much that’s been ignored in the past. My wife is being very understanding, and we have had worse working situations during our marriage, but there are limits. If we’re not approaching one, we should be. I need to have a life too and this job is interfering with it too much so far. I think that will change eventually. I just need a few more months to catch up and get even.

And the angry? The angry has a lot of sources, and some of those will tie back into the reflection. What can I do? What can I recently hope to accomplish? How can I make a difference?

There are too many problems, there is too much wrong, and there are too many people with their heads in the sand.

I’m angry because I believe in a Star Trek future, positive, growing, maturing, inclusive. I’m angry because not enough other people seem to believe in that future at the moment. Our society seems to breed selfishness and self-centeredness and a complete lack of respect for other people, other creatures, and the world around us. Fuck them all, only I matter.

How do you fight that? How do you fight the selfishness, self-centeredness, the refusal to see the real world, the bread and circuses?

The problem is, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I don’t know if I will ever have an answer. But we really, really need one.

Actually, we really, really need a whole lot of answers.

I have a lot of things I think will help, but there’s so much momentum to work against. It’s frustrating that the most I seem to be able to do is set a positive example, because I don’t think it’s nearly enough.

Be well, everyone.

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Being Right

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right and wrong checkbox on a blackboard

Everyone likes being right, right

Usually, that’s the case. This morning, I’m less happy about it, at least in one specific instance.

This week, on apparently a variety of news media, our still-new provincial government followed through on a campaign promise that almost no one thought it would keep. In spite of everything, in spite of all the evidence that it was good for people, good for the economy, and good for the job market, the Ontario Progressive Conservative party appears to still disagree with the idea that raising the minimum wage was a good thing. And they disagree to the point where the minimum wage increase that was scheduled for January 1 of next year, just a little more than three months away, will not be happening. It is canceled.

Oh, there’s no legislation yet, but they’ve specifically announced the intent to “fix” the Liberal law that was making it happen.

I’ve had this argument gently with a number of people at work, but no one thought this government would shoot themselves in the foot. I have, mostly, being careful, particularly in business-related settings, to couch this in potential terms. What if? Still, they did make the promise to do it. I wonder if they’ll follow through.

Well, guess what? Our premier is an arrogant little sheet stain who refuses to let reality interfere with his beliefs.

I don’t know why this should surprise anyone, since he was clearly planning to ignore the rule of law by invoking the notwithstanding clause so he could have his way with Toronto City Council and screw over the people who hadn’t cooperated with him and his brother back in his councilman days.

But seriously, someone needs to remind Mr. Ford that the P in PC stands for Progressive.

Although, I suppose you could argue things mathematically. The PC party of Ontario has made tremendous amounts of progress since it took office. Really, it has.

It’s just all negative progress.

To switch back to English, I suppose that makes them the Regressive Conservatives, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, whether they voted for them or not.

Welcome to the new Ontario, where if you’re a rich white guy, you’ll do okay. Everyone else is fucked.

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Middle Age Is Not for the Weak

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To be middle aged is to be caught between worlds sometimes. You still remember your youth very well, and frequently the dreams and aspirations you had. But you’re caught up in the day-to-day, the survival, making the right decisions, the best ones for your family, younger and older. Not easy place to be.

But you can also look ahead and see larger digits, recognize that at this point in your life, there are fewer days ahead than there are behind. And still, you’re caught in the day-to-day, a survival in life and getting by in providing support you need to for your family, younger and older.

The thing is, you often have no idea what that support needs to be.

You look at your children, if you have them, and other younger relatives, and understand they’ve grown up in a vastly different world than you did. But when you look at those younger family members, you can see in them the dreams and aspirations little different than yours in a fundamental level, you can see that they want to learn and grow and change the world. You see all the energy and vitality of youth that you are, probably, fighting to hold onto.

You look your parents and the rest of their generation, and you are always shocked at how old they are, because when they’re out of your sight, you remember them as the much younger, much stronger people who raised you. And you know that they grew up in a different world than you did, and because they’ve seen all of the change that the world has brought for you and your children, they have an easier time understanding your kids than maybe you do, even if the attitudes and issues they have don’t match up. And you really have no idea what they need, because they’re not living the same world that you are. They have that implicit understanding of aging that’s going to take you a couple more decades of direct experience to gain.

And so you realize that you are in your middle years, caught between youth and old age, and maybe, just maybe, you have enough wisdom and experience to figure out what you’re doing if not necessarily where you’re going.

You wonder what happened to all the years between youth and now, and you’re just a little bit afraid to look ahead to what’s coming in the years between now and the end.

It’s become a tagline here and there that old age is not for the weak. You’re starting to recognize that and when you look at your parents and you think about how strong they must be.

And then you look at your children you think about how strong they must be to live with the society we have in the world they’re inheriting. Youth isn’t for the weak, either.

I’ve seen it suggested, and maybe even backed up by some actual research and behavioral science here and, that midlife crisis, or whatever terminology is currently in fashion, is often a product of fear that we don’t want to admit. Fear of what we’ve lost, and fear of having to recognize what we still have to lose. We’re not thinking about the gains, of course, because somehow they don’t seem significant next to the stunning realization of our own mortality.

I think I might suggest that middle age is also not for the weak.

And I think that leaves us with the realization that the human experience is a tough one, that we are all stronger than we realize. We learn, grow, we strive, we go on.

But only until we don’t.

The human experience, whatever your version of it is, requires strength, so we all have it, manifesting differently for each of us.

A difficult thought.

Recognized or not, you are strong. We all are, and that’s not easy thing to know or believe or understand.

Be well, everyone.

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Eternally Star Trek

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So I’ll be 48 years old soon, which makes Star Trek 52 now. Read here and there on this blog, and you figure out very quickly that that’s important to me.

You’ll probably find somewhere, and more than once, the shared fact that I believe one of my earliest memories to be sitting in my father’s lap watching “The Immunity Syndrome”, you know, the episode with the giant space amoeba. It’s hazy memory: the small TV screen, the spaceships, the splash of color and giant single-celled organism, the old green chair (which I might be filling in without actually remembering).

You probably know that I’m a diehard original series fan. As a kid, as a teen, as an adult. I watched it with dad when I was small. I spent most of high school with it coming on just a few minutes after I got off the bus. I’ve seen every movie first run in the theater beginning with The Search for Spock. The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan came later in theatres for me, long after first run, but still wanting that theatrical experience.

I love The Next Generation, the Star Trek of my teen years.

I tried to love Deep Space Nine, which was hard for some reason at that point in my life, but I came back to it in later seasons and enjoyed it. I’ve rediscovered it recently, watching from the beginning and it’s a lot better than I remember.

Voyager was fun, cranking up the technobabble, but giving me a new cast of characters to watch come together.

I hated the theme song for Enterprise, but the show wasn’t bad, and had moved into some great storytelling just as it got cancelled.

There was a long wait until the reboot movies, which most folks will know I’m not really a fan of. Action movies with a Star Trek overlay and an essential Star Trek-ness removed. The third one was better, but I’d put it no higher in rating than The Final Frontier.

I want to love Discovery. It’s trying to be Star Trek but isn’t satisfying in the same way. It’s a different kind of storytelling, necessarily considering the story it’s trying to tell, and maybe showing one of those bumps along the way to the future we actually want. To my viewing, it’s also not giving sufficient respect to the original concept of Star Trek. I have said that I’ve decided it’s good science fiction, but I haven’t decided it’s good Star Trek. I also haven’t actually finished watching the first season because I’ve been disappointed in a variety of ways during the first ten episodes. There’s still hope.

But I’ve been a fan of Star Trek as long as I can remember and I don’t see that changing until I’m no longer able to remember. Sometime after I stop breathing, sometime after my heart stops, from a certain strictly physical point of view, brain activity ends and I’ll technically stop being a fan. But that won’t change the decades when I was.

I credited Star Trek for helping me with social attitudes being more progressive in my mind than they may have been in society at the time. I credit it for helping me to learn to use my brain when some many people around me were trying hard to abandon theirs. I credit it in no small part for the person I’ve become.

Star Trek has been summarized by many people over the decades, and I’m no exception. In my eyes Star Trek is about what it means to be human and the path towards a positive, inclusive future where we all strive to be better than we are. It’s a storytelling collective to give us hope that there are better days ahead, that we will mature and get better as a species. There will be, and are, bumps along the road, and we will work together to overcome them.

Star Trek is about hope for a brighter future, inclusion in the diversity of human experience, recognition that we all have a place in that experience, and the drive make that experience better than it is.

Star Trek. Always Star Trek. Gloriously, eternally, through every incarnation and fresh aesthetic, back to the core, Star Trek.

I have been, and always shall be, a fan.

Live long and prosper.

 

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Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

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I have decided that I’m going to reboot the Submission Log, mostly because it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious story submitting. I have a lot of short fiction I would like to get in front of readers and there’s no reason I shouldn’t get paid by someone for some of it, right? Even if it’s only a token payment here and there.

I’ve never written or submitted to “exposure” markets, because I disagree with the concept. If the publisher is expecting to make any money whatsoever, some of that money should go to the author. If you’re not interested in paying your authors, I’m not interested in doing business with you.

I have a couple of times written for royalties. One time, that was okay. The other, the editorial process was so long and involved that the royalties would have needed to total several hundred dollars to bring me up to minimum wage (at the time) for all of time and energy I put into the process. They were not.

Now some out there may be thinking that writers and artists shouldn’t expect to get paid a lot of money. To which, politely, I suggest that you’re misguided. No artist expects to get rich on their work, but if money is changing hands for a product then the people involved in producing that product should be making a living wage from it, and that includes the artist. I think that’s entirely reasonable, without going into Ellison style rant (but it’s well worth watching – here).

If, on the other hand, it’s your thought that artists should be happy getting their work out there and not be concerned about money at all, my slightly less polite response is, fuck you. You don’t expect your favourite movie and TV stars to work for free, your favourite sports players to work for free, or your favourite musicians to work for free, why would you expect artist to?

See how easy it is to go into a commentary on society?

But it is frequently worth commenting on society, and maybe that’s why I do it a lot. Sidesteps in blog posts here and there, entire blog posts sometimes, frequently in conversations by off and online, and, well, pretty much all the time time. Like or not I live in a society with a lot of problems that need talking about and dealing with. Expectation of writers and artists working for starvation or no wages is one of many.

Back to the point.

The submission log is still on file and looks back to even the first couple of stories I submitted way back when. Since I’m trying to make both submissions and short story publishing part of my overall plan, I really do need to track them. Independently published collections are part of the publishing plan in 2019, as is some novel-length work, fanfiction, and poetry. I’m doing a bunch of Star Trek fanfiction individual stories and a collection, although those will only be available for free. Fanfiction by definition has to be free unless sanctioned by the owners of the property. I’d love to, but never expect to, write Star Trek for money. But, if people like my Star Trek work, maybe it’ll lead some of them into my non-Trek work. If not, oh well.

Releasing something for exposure or giving it away for a little while is far different than someone only willing to pay exposure in order to make money themselves, btw. It’s a valid marketing tactic for indie traditional publisher, but the traditional publisher, no matter how small, needs to be aware that their authors deserve to be paid.

I’ve also got plans to do one themed collection a year for about the next five years, and that doesn’t stop me from just pulling together some of what I feel is my best work to do a non-themed collection. And I will be doing novels, and a poetry collection so self-publishing will be strong, but it’s not the only path. As I’ve mentioned, I will be looking for an agent or small press for some work.

I track word count and goals and I’m certainly going to track who I investigate for agents or publishers, so if I’m targeting five short story submissions per month for the rest of the year, including September (and 8-10 per month in 2019), I need that submission log. I need to know where I send things, who liked my work and should get more of it, who doesn’t bother to respond on rejections, who gives feedback.

Tracking is important. So, beginning any moment now with the first submission of 2018.

Be well, everyone.

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Apparently, I’m Too Political

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So, online and offline, and more than once each, I’ve been told that I’m getting too political. I also, apparently, though no specific examples have been given to me, occasionally offend someone.

I find the statement more interesting, but they both should be addressed in some way.

As to the ‘too political’, With the government we currently have in the province I live in, the attempted rising of the alt-right in my country, the cover ups, the social issues facing our society and the steadfast refusal of some people to accept some other people as human beings in their own right, I am probably only going to get worse from that of point you, and louder at the same time.

For the second point. if something I post or say offends you, I am, honestly, unlikely to be terribly concerned about that. The act of being offended on its own has very little weight in my eyes and it shouldn’t in yours, either. If you’re offended by something I say or post and want to have a discussion about it, that’s awesome. At least, it’s awesome so long as your intent is to actually have a discussion. I’m happy to engage with opinions backed up by logic and real information. If the extent of your argument is personal attacks and whining, I’m unlikely to take you seriously.

If you’re not interested in discussion, and the extent of the engagement you want to have is you offended me and demand apology, you should probably not bother because you’re not going to get one. You may get a response clarifying the intent of what I said earlier, but you are very, very unlikely to get that apology. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you won’t.

If your interest in social media is primarily funny memes, cat pictures, and so on, then enjoy it. I like those things to, and I share a few here and there, particularly Star Trek related ones, but, believe it or not, there is more to life than pictures and funny memes, even if they are Star Trek related. Enjoy your distractions. I like them too. But recognize they’re a distraction and that our society has pretty serious issues, and those issues are worth discussing or standing against.

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” (Juvenal, approx. 100 CE)

It probably sounds much better in the original Latin poetic form, but it still strikes true and 1900 years later.

Bread and circuses. Keep the people fed and entertained and you can do whatever you want. We even have leaders who don’t think the bread is necessary and who are circuses, who think that because they’ve gathered to themselves some small amount of support or power that they can do what they want and force us to follow along.

There are people who agree with them, or who let themselves be convinced by the bread and circuses, but sadly for them, fortunately for the rest of us, we still live in a free and open society. As individuals, as people, we have the ability, and even the obligation, to speak out against those distractions and against what we see as wrong.

I have plenty of strong opinions:

People matter more than money.

Might dos not make right.

Fact and opinion are not equal.

Your preconceived biases don’t count as facts.

The science matters.

The world would be a better place without most of the religions currently in it.

Feel free to argue any or all of those, but you’ll need to back up with something more than just, “I don’t like what you said; it offends me.” You are free to not like anything I say or do, and I’m free to not worry over much about it. If I’m getting too political for you, you should probably snooze me, unfollow me, or even so far as to unfriend me.

I don’t post things with the intent to offend, I post with the intent to have share awareness and conversations. That I get surprisingly little conversation is unfortunate, but another symptom of our society, which is is flawed and broken in many ways.

But I firmly believe the overall trend is upward and that things will get better, but only if we are willing to talk to each other rather than yell at each other, and actually work to make things better. There are a lot of things I’m angry at in our society, and I don’t believe I’m the only one. Stay angry, but channel it into something productive. Talk to people.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for August 2018

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Switching these to monthly. As we move along, and I have things to talk about other than raw word count, they’ll probably get a bit longer, but for this month, it’s all about getting the words out and moving some of them around.

Accomplishments:

  1. Short Fiction totals two complete stories and one more in progress, plus a flash piece, gaining a total of 11,153 words for the month.
  2. Shrine increased by a total of 35,050 words, bringing it to 83,432 and still not done when it was supposed to come in at 60k. There are about 9k words left in the projection based on the plotting I’ve done, so I’m probably looking at finding a split point for this book. It’s too long for the way the rest of the series works.
  3. Plotting completed for Seven Days a King. Although I don’t expect to actually draft this until sometime next year.
  4. Editing, I’ve finished the 3rd draft pass on Arena to the end of Chapter 21, leaving me 4 chapters and a little less than 8k words to go on this stage. Current word count is 66,105 Expected completion of the 5th of September.
  5. Fractured Unity scene expansions as a secondary project added 3,274 to the total word count.
  6. 12 blog posts
  7. 7 book reviews
  8. 4 journal entries
  9. 1 essay.

Total word count for the month of 69,470, averaging more than 2k per day, which makes me very happy, even though the spread of outliers is pretty wide, from a couple of editing only days where I added a few dozen to several hundred words, to several days well over 3k and one when I actually broke 4k. I’ve also started scribbling 50-150 words at a time of the first scene of Bad Teenage Poetry to scratch the itch it’s making in my brain, and I think I have around 1000 words on paper so far, though I’m not actually counting. I’ll save that for when I transfer it into the keyboard and add it to the total then. With the revised plan, that’s likely to be a while.

Right, revised plan. I made some 2018 and 2019 plan adjustments last week, but the short term remains essentially the same, and that’s what I’m going to look at here in terms of goals for September. Taking those in sort of a zero-to-completion order for long fiction, followed by other work, and finally the publishing side:

  1. Next up on pre-first draft work is plotting for Battlefield, the final book in the Troll World Quartet (Quintet?). I had some good success trying the Snowflake method for Palace, so I think I’m going to work that way again for Battlefield and see how it goes.
  2. With the expansion of Shrine, and possible splitting of the book if I can find the right point to do it and justify it as two distinct stories, I don’t expect to finish the first draft until somewhere around the 10th of September.
  3. Star Trek: Fractured Unity. Looking to complete this transition from script to first draft prose by the end of September, which will actually be a challenge. It’s easier to draft out of whole cloth than it is to start with existing dialogue and build around it. That’s more like editing on steroids.
  4. But if I get there, we’ll start on Palace, the third book in the Troll World Quartet/Quintet, which is fully plotted and I think more tightly than Shrine.
  5. Editing: once Arena has gone through the third draft, which looks like will be by the end of the first week of September, I’m going to spend a few days editing the non-poetry bits of the haiku collection I’m planning.
  6. Once that’s done, I’m moving to the third draft of Hero’s Life, the sequel to Heroes Inc.
  7. Short Fiction: the goal here is to hit 10k per month in short stories. August went well enough in this length that I took 8 days off near the end of the month to get more words into Shrine, so with the number of things I want to finish, I have reasonable confidence here.
  8. Hoping to add a little steam on the short fiction editing side, too, but I’m already feeling like I might be spread a bit too thin in number of things in progress.
  9. Non-fiction, target of 10k for the month here, too. This is a broad-catch bucket taking in blog posts, book reviews, the odd journal entry, and other work that isn’t strictly fiction.
  10. 5 short story submissions.
  11. Small Press/Agent hunt begins by making a list of possibilities.

And while there are other creative pursuits I have on my life list, like I said last week about my writing goals: I need to type faster.

Be well, everyone.

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Lost Hobbies

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Image result for penny blackWhen I was a kid, for a bunch of years, I collected stamps. Lately, I think it’s called. I still have most of the box, having tried twice in adulthood to go back to it, but not since my oldest child was very, very small, and he’s almost 20 now. I used to love it, the detail put into many of them, the old printing processes, the tiny variations that could happen just from some little flick of the machine, things being printed backwards or upside down, stamps from all over the world. I have a couple of boxes full of albums and envelopes. Thousands of stamps. Tens of thousands.

I have a stamp collection, but I don’t collect stamps anymore. I don’t know why, it still seems like it should be interesting to me, but there’s only so much time.

Image result for telescope bausch lombIn my mid-20s until my early 30s, I was seriously into backyard astronomy. I had a decent, if not particularly high-end telescope, and I still haven’t actually, and most clear nights would find me in the backyard, even living in downtown Toronto, trying to see everything I could see. There was a surprising amount in the washed out urban sky. They’re probably still is. When, at the end of 2002, we moved to the small town that we currently still live in, I was very much looking forward to darker skies, but the box that contained all of my telescope lenses somehow went missing during the move. I think it was the only thing we lost during the move, although even at the time I couldn’t remember what else it was packed with. Clearly nothing else I missed.

I wanted to replace the lenses, spent the whole first winter shoveling off the cement pad behind the house that was going to be my personal observatory, but money was tight, and I never quite found the couple of hundred bucks to do it. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me to try to scrape together enough for one good lens and go from there.

I still read things about astronomy, online and in books. I still have that telescope. A few years ago, during a super sale, I bought another telescope, this one with some tracking and a battery-operated motor, hoping to maybe interest my children and it, but I never got any of them in the backyard more than twice, and guessed that that ship had sailed. If I’d started trying with them sooner, it might’ve worked. And, at this point in my life, I can only justify so many activities that don’t involve my kids. The ones left home, that is, and those two are in their mid-teens. That’s starting change as they don’t need me right there as much as they did when they were little, but I still haven’t gotten back to the backyard astronomy in any significant way.

Unlike stamp collecting, however, I still have the desire to. That desire just needs the right focus. It needs to ramp up high enough in me to actually pull one of those telescopes out into the backyard and point it at the sky.

There have been other things over the years, but hobbies come and go, and don’t always sticking in your life. Circumstances and conditions change, and your life changes with them.

At one point I might have considered writing a hobby, even if I aspired to become a published author. I’ve long since stopped thinking that way. Even though I’ve had times in the last few years, stretching weeks or even months at a time, when my primary focus has been on other things—always family, but often career to support that family—writing is still there, and I always come back to it. It’s not a hobby, it’s part of who I am.

I could say something similar about karate. With apologies to Funakoshi-sensei, it may not be my way of life, but it’s an integrated part of my life, and does color how I see many other things, affect how I deal of the things. Having put it that way, maybe shouldn’t apologize. Maybe, in a way, it is my way of life. However I might squint at it, karate is certainly not a hobby. It may have started as one, something fun with my oldest child, for a while, and for a longer while my wife, and for a while my oldest daughter. But they’ve all moved on of the things. For them, karate was a hobby. Me, I might be less than a year away from testing for my third degree black belt. Not that I think I know nearly enough yet, but that will be true as I walk into that grading, whenever it happens to be.

But karate and writing are not hobbies anymore.

Image result for geocachingI think the only actual hobby I have left that I can call a hobby is geocaching, which is done sporadically and at varying frequencies with my youngest daughter. Her interest in it seems to be waning this year, but not all at once and she enjoys it when we go out. My wife enjoys sometimes do, and it’s still a very fun activity for me. Not something that’s going away anytime soon.

Actually, geocaching is certainly my only hobby. My only hobby in a life that has been full of hobbies and interesting pursuits, and maybe it’s the third one that will somehow integrate itself in my life, become part of who I am. Feels that way right now. I can manage to not do it for a while, but I miss it.

Somehow though, I feel like everybody should have at least one hobby, one leisure activity that lets them put aside the stresses of regular life for a little while. I don’t think our society has evolved to the level where that’s possible for everyone yet, but perhaps that’s still coming.

If you have a hobby, enjoy it as much as you can. If you don’t, I hope you find one that suits.

In the meantime, be well, everyone.

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