Unintended Vacation

Image Source: https://me.me/i/when-youre-overworked-broke-with-no-social-life-and-someone-3cb5624d1d1b41ef8a97ec1e8d5378c7

Sorry for the last two weeks. I haven’t actually been on vacation–far from it. I’ve actually been simply overworked in the last two weeks of the Summer semester. I’m great (no false modesty here folks), but I’m slow. I’ve discovered that when I blog, I essentially must do one of two things: 1) set aside an hour every day in which to blog (not ideal, but the way the blog mostly gets written) or 2) write the blog entries over the weekend and set them to “pop up” on a daily basis (ideal, but at an hour an entry that usually means 5 hours out of my weekend–which after a rough week like last week, is hard to do).

Why So Slow

In a word: QUALITY. That’s the one thing that my friends (those who know me) can’t understand about me. I like to take my time with things in order to make sure that I get them right. Yes, I’m an American, but you wouldn’t know it. This is going to seem like a slam on my nation, but it’s true: Americans prefer speed over quality. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s true. If Americans can get both, then they will, obviously, but as someone who’s dealt with the public for 17 years, I can say that many (obviously not all) prefer the quick answer to the right answer. Americans hate wasting time and are always rushing hither and thither and they hate to be slowed down by anything, even (in some cases, by the truth/correct answer). Sure, if the quick answer is wrong and costs them money, then most of my countrymen and women will be angry, but just as likely, if there’s no money involved, then they’ll take the wrong answer just because its quick.

That’s just not me.

Advantages and Disadvantages

So, in American society, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to being slow (or preferring quality over quickness). The advantages is that I tend, over time, to be as good, if not better than others in whatever I put my time into. Doesn’t mean that I’m automatically (automagically) going to be better, but because I take my time, start from the ground up, learn deeply, take the “hits”/”mistakes”/disappointments, and then keep going, I usually have a better average than others. Of my circle, I’m the only one who is technically a “professional” writer. Sure, others have publications or who have written full novels, but none have actually faced rejection upon rejection, revised their stories, or dealt with the realities of the publishing world, over and over again until their work sells. They dismiss the level of difficulty of what I do because, since I’m so slow, they never actually see all of the hard work and the stages that it takes to get things done. For instance, I have to teach an English class in about 2 weeks; first day of class is the 26th. However, my final paper is also due on the 26th as the professor wanted a paper that would be great and one that we could use to present at a conference. So, instead of doing 1 thing like my contemporaries, I have to do 2 things. There are some who have already finished their one thing (prepping for school or finished their paper). I, on the other hand, am in the middle of working on both of them. They will be ready on time and will be at a high level, but I’m sure there are others who would look at me and think that I’m not capable of doing the work–everyone else is already finished, they would argue, why aren’t you? Nevermind that I have a blog, a short story, reading (personal and school), yard work, housework, a weekly 4 hour commute, church, errands, and any number of other commitments in addition to trying to rest and recover from the work week–and that doesn’t even cover the work I’ve done to get set up in my school’s brand new class Doctoral Readings (which could be its own blog entry).

The Price of Quality

There is a price to be paid for quality, though. It means that there is never enough time to do everything that you want to do, in the manner that you want to do it.

The editor of Storyhack sent a link to the proofs in a dropbox file about 2 weeks ago–just before my inadvertent vacation from blogging. I glanced over them and told myself I’d get back to them as soon as I could, but wasn’t able to do so. I’ll look and see if they’re still available to edit (I doubt it mightily, but I just didn’t have the time to do it properly until now), so if it gets published, it probably won’t be the way I wanted it. Again, this is a source of frustration–why couldn’t it have been sent earlier in the summer when time wasn’t at so much of a premium? I don’t know, but I do know that it came in at exactly the wrong time for me to give it my full attention, so I’ll just have to shrug and have it printed not like I wanted.

Still, there’s not a whole lot that could be done. If I’d done the edits on time, then I wouldn’t have completed my Annotated Bibliography (which earned an A, btw) or the Final Exam (haven’t gotten the grade back yet), so I have to prioritize. And if that ticks people off, well, then I’m sorry, but that’s simply the way my life works. I’m still working on the Work, School, Life Balance and maybe one day, I’ll get it figured out.

Well, I’d better wrap this up. I’ve been writing now for almost an hour and a half (this one is as long as 2 normal blog entries), but I thought I should explain my absence. To be honest, it will probably happen again sometime around Aug. 26th or so, but hopefully it won’t be as long this time.

Have a good day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19
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I’ll Let You in on a Little Secret . . . About the Blog

A table set with several dishes of food on a blue and white tablecloth.
Image Source: https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/

So, just like the title implies, I’m going to let you in on a little secret in regards to this blog. You know how last week I was able to release 5 blog entries without fail and all of them released at about 8:00 am EST? Yeah well, I did them all on that Sat./Sun. before the week. That’s right, all 5 entries last week were written mostly on those two days (actually, the vast majority of them were written in a single day). I found the process to be actually be kind of enjoyable, especially when I finished the 4th one and I knew that I was going to finish the 5th one in fairly short order.

Binge Writing

Okay, so I’m not really a “binge watcher,” (per se). Unless there’s are run of really good episodes all right in a row, I don’t generally binge watch a show that is on streaming. Rather I “consume” 2-5 (sometimes more, sometimes less) episodes at a time and then I stop for a period of time (which depends on how much time I have that week, how much I’m invested in the show, and how much I like the current storyline). The more I like a particular storyline, the more episodes I watch and vice versa. I am literally 4-5 episodes away from finishing Farscape for the first time (I’ve mentioned previously that this is my 3rd time attempting to complete the series–more on that when I give my review of the series). However, the last episodes in the back half of the 4th Season are really dragging for me–I think I know why, but I want to finish before I give my thoughts.

All this to say that I have a fairly strong will (especially when I can create a “routine” and stick to that routine without a whole lot of variation to knock me off my routine). I found that I really like writing all of the blog entries on 1-2 days and then schedule them to “pop-up” on WordPress every day. When I did it this way, I was able to get my all my posts done and then used the week to do creative writing on The Independent and the edits for HawkeMoon. I was much more productive with just a little tweak to my “system.”

So What Happened?

This week, well I’ve missed two days so far. In my defense, one was a holiday, but had I done the same system, I could have had a shorter post ready for it that simply wished everyone a happy holiday.

No, this week that system didn’t happen because I was a bit sick this past weekend–an all too common refrain for this year. While I was able to get up and do things, whatever I had lead to a general sense of lethargy (in addition to a slight runny nose), so I basically was in bed for quite a bit of the holiday weekend.

The posts that you’re getting this week are ones that I being created on the day they are released–and as you can see, I’m much more erratic when I write this way.

This is the same with my creative writing. When I can carve out a substantial amount of time (regularly), then I’m able to make significant progress on my stories. However, when I only have a small amount of time–even if it is regular–it is much harder for me to get into the “ficitive dream state” and much harder for me to create writing in which I’m personally satisfied. The blog from which I used an image (https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/) mentions an idea that I’ve used before: “The Flow.” If I don’t have enough time to write, then I don’t enter this flow (the ficitive dream I mentioned above) and the writing is very unsatisfying.

So, for me, it is better for both the blog and my own projects, to have a regular, discrete amount of time (45 mins to hour and a half) for me to truly create something that I’m proud of as a writer. If I don’t have that time, then it is much harder for me to write and to write consistently. So now that I’ve defined the problem, my task is to work on the solution: finding ways to binge-write consistently.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Dead Stop

Image Source: https://www.americasmarketingmotivator.com/dead-stop-the-value-of-a-time-out/

It seems like I’m forever apologizing for not working on the blog, but this time I had some very good reasons as to why I haven’t posted in a while (over 3 weeks, I think). Basically, it’s because I haven’t been writing—not creatively, nor for the blog.

Work-Life Balance

So, the thing to understand is that my work-life balance is completely out of whack. I could go into the many reasons as to why this is the case, but to sum most of the reasons up in a short, pithy way: school. The classes that I had to take this semester were intense (one was reading intensive, while the other was watching films, both in and out of class, so it was time-intensive). The two classes that I was teaching were Monday, Wednesday, Friday courses at 8:00 am, so it was hard (and became impossible) to both plan lessons and write blog entries at the same time, and lastly, the Chromebook, while necessary to do my work, isn’t really conducive to “writing” as its keyboard is horrible in terms of feel for touch typing. I find myself making double or triple the amount of keystroke errors than I make on my (now ancient) 2008 Macbook Pro. The Chromebook does not make for a good writing experience—in fact, outside of short one or two paragraph feedback entries for my students, I now actively try to avoid doing any extended writing on the Chromebook as it is such a frustrating and dismal experience.

Solutions

So that this post doesn’t turn into a “gripe” post, I wanted to provide some solutions that I’ve been musing over during the unintentional sabbatical that I’ve had to take and you’re actually reading the first one—changing the time when I write the blog. Every weekday, M-F, I have approximately 30-45 minutes of usable time that I used to try to use for my creative writing. However, I was ultimately frustrated by the lack of progress that I could see myself making in those short sessions. I’m taking that time to write this blog entry. While I can’t actually find and place the images, nor upload it as I’m not on the internet as I’my typing these words, still the time (in my mind’s eye) fits better as I can write these words now and upload them sometime tomorrow—yes, I’ll still have to spend time finding images, linking them, and sourcing them, but at least the majority of the work will be done ahead of time. I still have to find a place to move my creative writing, but I’ll experiment with a couple of times I have in mind on the weekend to see if those times work better and allow me to actually finish drafts. I’m also going to use Scrivener to try to help out. I can see the word count at the bottom of the page (494 words so far), so I’m aiming for the 500 word mark. Some posts may be around 400 words (or even shorter if I’m tired), some may go long (600 words or more), but I’m going to try aim for 500 words, with a hard 1000 word cap. This, too, should help with getting these posts out of my mind and onto the blog in a timely manner. And, as I’m quickly closing in on that 600 word mark, I think that I will close for today with my family’s most adhered to adage (along with my personal addendum); If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (but if it is broke, fix it until it isn’t broke anymore, and then leave it bloody well alone!)

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)


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