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)

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Gone Dark

Image Source: https://www.rhinohub.com/silence-is-golden/

So this is the first post that I’ve made in approximately two weeks (maybe 2 1 /2 – 3 weeks). I’ve attempted several posts (my “Drafts” folder in WordPress is up to 9 drafts–this one is actually up to 10–but after it gets published it will be back down to 9 again). It seems like I’m always apologizing for stepping away from the blog, but that’s just the way that my mind works. I have to have enough time to work on my projects, personal or school related. That’s what I discovered trying to write “piecemeal”; I can do it, but it isn’t very good–it also isn’t (for me) a very rewarding way to write. I also discovered that I need enough time to make the drafts come out the way that I want them. Without both of these elements–time enough to get through a complete section (as I define it), then the work isn’t as good or as fun. That’s why my “drafts” box is filled with partially completed drafts–it isn’t that the ideas behind them weren’t good, but rather, I didn’t have enough time when I started them to get them where I thought they needed to be to publish them to the blog. Now, I look at them, and the idea is still there, but I’ve lost the desire/impetus to actually work on them.

Coming Back to Life

This blog post represents a resurgence in my writing life. Primarily, this summer is a “reading” summer. I have quite a few things I need to do this summer and nearly everything has reading involved. I have a book that I’ve been trying to read for nearly a year and a half (Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte) beside me right now and my goal is to read at least a chapter before I go home for lunch today. This is going to be much of my summer–read, read, read. Of course, writing go back to being a thing. I should be back to my daily blogging routine and I should put time on my writing projects daily. As long as I have enough time to complete some “section” (like the goal of reading one chapter today), I should hopefully find that by the end of summer, I’ve managed to be a successful reader and writer.

Seeing is Believing

I’ve seen quite a bit of media, but one of the most affecting things that I’ve seen is a YouTube video (TedTalk) that I really found powerful and helpful. I will link to it at a later date and create a blog topic about it, but I really thought that the message was one that I could follow as it talked about making marginal improvements in order to make life-altering improvements. This is something that I don’t mind doing–if something is broken, I want to fix it, but making changes for the sake of changes doesn’t really help me (and usually makes things worse in the long run). However, it I “tweak” things, so that the changes are small and meaningful, then things seem to work out better for me, for example, working on characters before I start to seriously draft the story which was a small change that I feel has paid dividends to my writing. This is something I will be working on all summer.

Well, I’ve nattered on for long enough–this chapter isn’t going to read itself. Hope to talk to you all much more this summer and hope not to “go dark” again any time soon.

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)


Return of the Blog

Lord_of_the_Rings_-_The_Return_of_the_King

Many apologies for not posting over the past two months/posting sporadically.  This semester has been the “perfect storm” for me in terms of trying to find a work-life balance.  With two classes back-to-back early in the morning, I really don’t have time to prepare for anything else.  After teaching those classes, I either have classes myself to take (Modern British Literature) or I have office hours where I’m trying to grade or prepare for the next day’s class.  After that, I generally go to my second job or to my other class 6pm-9pm (luckily that class is only 1 day a week, but my second job is the other 4 days.

Behind in the Seat

All that to say, time has been a real struggle this semester.  I’ve been fairly consistent with writing creatively after coming home after my second job because I have a routine where I reward myself with a snack of some sort and I write as I’m eating the snack.  250 words can go pretty quickly, but with a blog, I generally write double that 250 words, sometimes more.  Then add tagging, finding and downloading an image, sourcing that image, and scheduling the entry, all take a considerable amount of time.

I’m going to try to be more determined to get blogs up even if it is later in the day.  I like scheduling them so that they pop up in the mornings, but I just need to get them done and out, no matter when that happens.  That’s what is going to happen with this entry, btw.

Well, that’s all I have for now–nothing world changing.  Just trying to get back on schedule with a super hard/super intense schedule that leaves me with little-to-no time for work-life balance.  Hopefully, I’ll get better over time.

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 #1, Currently on Script Page 28)

 

 

Writing To Learn

blogging
Image Source: https://www.potentash.com/2018/04/02/global-blogging-industry-business-technology/

So, I’m still learning how to be a good writer AND a good blogger.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  And part of this is admitting that I still make mistakes.  The blog is a great example of that.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write it, but rather that the time it takes has overwhelmed the time I had to give it and I did not make allowances for it.  What do I mean by this?  Simple.  I used to get up early and write and blog entry.  However, I found that untenable because it routinely takes an hour to 1 1/2 hours to write an entry because I’m so meticulous.  To me, a blog isn’t a way of expressing your thoughts, but rather it is more of a mini-essay that I craft.  Sometimes these mini-essays go quick, but more often than not, I’m at 500, 750, and 1000 words before I realize it and then I have to cut it short because I’ve run out of time.  When I’m already pressed for time in the mornings, this created some real stress.

Solutions

So, I came up with a way around this by trying to do them all on the weekends.  This way, I get all my entries done for the week and I wouldn’t be so stressed about having to rush to get them done.  That worked, except it ate up the time that I needed for other things such as reading, gaming, and “life” outside of school and work. So, it became harder and harder to get it done during the weekends.  Now, however, I’m trying to simply work in the spare time that I have (which during August was pretty much nil).  I should be reading for class, but I’m going to finish this post and “bank” it so that it shows up on Monday and pretty much do this everyday (or at least 6 days out of the week) so that I can pretty much have content going up daily without all the stress of trying to get it done on the same day.

Short and Sweet

I’m also going to work on shortening the posts and try to keep them in the 250-500 word range by having (like a story) a beginning, middle, and end (or for you non-fiction buffs out there), an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion (which is what you’re reading right now).  While I may not be able to go into as much depth and detail as I (personally) would like, it will still help me to get back into writing consistently and ordering my thoughts in a way that will be helpful to get me back to writing creatively which is something I’ve also struggled with during the past month.  Mistakes happen–it’s how you deal with those mistakes and how you get back on the horse after the mistake has been made that helps to define you. I’m hopeful that readers who have stuck with me during this past month will find new and varied content in the coming months to end out the year.

Have a great day!

Word Count: 226 Words (Graphic Novel – Ship of Shadows) — added 1 comic book page to the story for a current total of 24 pages of script.

Sidney


Still Life with Stop Signs

speedbumps

On the Road Again

So August 2018 has been a complete wash for me in terms of pretty much everything that I do: writing the blog, writing creatively, reading, video games, etc.  The Work-Life Balance needle swung waaaaaaayyyyyyy to the work side of the meter and I pretty much got nothing done in terms of my own personal projects.  Sometimes its just like that–there’s just nothing that I can do about that except work, work, work.

However (partly due to the holiday and partly due the fact that I bought a Chromebook and I’m now “untethered” from my Ethernet cable of my aging Macbook Pro), I should be back on track for my more creative endeavors–as evidenced by this blog post.  At some point, I’d like to get one of the new Macbook Pros, but right now, the outlay of money for the technology just isn’t worth it.  When I start selling stories, graphic novels, novels, and scripts to make the investment worthwhile, I will, but right now, all I really need is 1) a basic laptop with wifi access, 2) basic word processing, and 3) basic internet surfing.  For this reason, this Chromebook should give me what I need for just the basics and then I can use the Macbook Pro to fill out the more important computing functions that I have.

OtherWorlds

So, during this time, like a lot of YouTubers that I watch, I found myself wondering if what I am/was doing had any merit.  You see, earlier this summer, YouTube changed the payment “scale” for content creators so that basically on those with mega-channels or those with a LOT of followers (millions) were seeing real revenue.  There are YouTubers who used to be able to it as a day job or a hobby job and see real results for their efforts–not anymore, however.  More and more channels are disappearing or changing format and I, like them, wondered if I should change as well.  The answer is, no, Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the genres that I love.  Writing is something that I want to do and documenting my highs and lows (mostly in the writing arena), but also in life in general, and Science Fiction & Fantasy in particular is something that I really need and want to do.  So, I’m keeping OtherWorlds mostly the same.  There will be some slightly changes, but nothing major.  I’ll probably focus on Popular Culture and little more than I have been and I (may) do something with the scholarly blogs that I’ve set up for class (which means that I may try to keep up this as a general genre blog and set-up a more “professional” site and not mix the two as I sometimes do, but I’m still formulating this idea.

Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)

Over the holiday weekend, I got a chance to watch several sci-fi movies.  Some (most), I’ve seen before, but one in particular that I got to see was the latest Avengers movie, Avengers Infinity War.  I will write a review and put it on the list of Marvel movies (the ranking list) later, but I just wanted to let you all know that it was coming.  I still have to process this movie as it does not follow the traditional Marvel movie “form.”  More on this one in the upcoming week.

Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular schedule.  I’m going to cut it short now so that I can save some time for “writing.”  See you on tomorrow’s post (hopefully)

Sidney


 

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Blog Posts_Peppercorn Creative
Blog Calendar.  Image Source: Peppercorn Creative (Click for more info)

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @3700 words (+253)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 168 words (5000 words by July 1), added approximately 253 words.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 800s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy atMTSU’slibrary and I’m reading it now.   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

A Short Blog Post (and the Reason Why it’s Short)

So today’s blog post will be a shorter one because of school.  The reason I’ve been so regular lately in terms of posting is that I’ve learned to do these posts earlier.  I now write 4-5 of these over the weekend and schedule them earlier in the week.  While I like working on these in the morning (a great way to wake up and get my brain working in the morning).  However, because of school, I just don’t have the time.  I’m usually reading for my 9:45am class and/or writing up a 200-300 word summary of the readings for that morning’s class.  Most of my time in the mornings for the past 2 weeks have been eaten up by getting ready for class and getting ready in general.  Doing these posts ahead of time (all on Sundays, or split over Sat./Sun.) allows me to get a complete week’s worth of posts done.

Scheduling These Things Ahead of Time

After these posts are written, I then hit the “schedule” button on WordPress and set a day and time for these posts to “pop-up” for readers to see.  This has been a life-saver over these past two weeks.  Last week, I was only able to get 1 ½  posts written and I’ve been struggling every since.  I’m writing this post at 10pm Wed. night and I’m dog-tired, having put in an 15 hour day in class, working on a “literary magazine” (more on this in another post), and reading for tomorrow’s class.  I almost decided not to write a post today, but decided that a short, “behind the scenes” post wouldn’t take too long.

4 or 5 Posts this Weekend

So, I’m going to strive to do my best this next week to do 4-5 posts over the weekend.  This seems to be the only way that I can keep this blog going on a regular and consistent manner (which is fun) as well as keeping up with my schoolwork (which is also fun, but in a different way, but which eats up a ton of time).  This is why this blog entry is so short–I didn’t get all my posts written over the weekend and that is really a drag.  Anyway, I still have more reading to do, so I’ll cut this entry short.

Have a great day!

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Joined Amazon Associates Program–Supporting My Writing Endeavors

AmazonAssociatesAppleMacbookpro_theBalance
Person at a Macbook Pro Laptop, Image Source: The Balance

Sorry this post is so late, but I had a meeting with a professor at my school this morning and I wasn’t able to write the blog at my normal time.  Should be back on schedule now.

So, when I was a teacher of 6th Grade Language Arts, one of the teachers who taught 8th Grade discovered that I was into creative writing and a published author and she wanted to show her support by buying my work on Amazon as it was the end of the school year and both she and I were leaving (she was going to a new school and I was leaving the teaching profession to come to graduate school).  I was so grateful and happy that she wanted to read/purchase my writing.  And then she asked if the purchase would benefit me in any way because she really wanted to help support me as a writer.  I was so grateful, but I had to admit that no, there aren’t royalties to publishing short fiction like there was for books and novels–the purchase would only help me tangentially by the fact that supporting the publishers would allow them to stay in business and perhaps publish more of my stories later, but no, the actual purchase that she made wouldn’t help me directly.  She still made the purchase (Thanks, Ms. L!) and enjoyed the work, but I felt kinda’ bad that I had no way to have her purchase of my works help me out directly as this was part of her purpose in buying them.

Going Commercial?
I tell that story to sort of explain why I chose to set-up an Amazon Associate program in that it allows me to (finally) come up with a way for those who want to purchase my things to benefit both the publishers who publish my work (they get money to stay in business and hopefully publish me or other writers in the future) and myself (I get a small percentage of the sale for those who click on the Amazon links and buy it directly through the links.)

Oh, so you’re commercializing the blog?

Nope.  I’ve been a Bookseller at Waldenbooks and I am convinced that it was management’s decision to focus on the selling of the loyalty card rather than focusing on their core business, i.e., selling books, as the key that kept them from seeing and responding to the challenge of larger retailers like Barnes & Noble and the online presence and power, of well, Amazon and this help speed their demise.

I’m a professional writer and that’s what I do.  That is where my love is and that’s where I will continue to put my focus.  I only want to 1) give those who want to support me as a writer a way of doing so, 2) a way to help both small presses who don’t get exposure of larger publishers, and myself as well as small presses can’t offer royalties like the large presses do.

What does it mean for the Blog?

  • Not much, if I’m honest.  I’ll add links under my signature that, if you click on them, will take you to the relevant page.  If you purchase the item (i.,e., Oneclick or place it in your shopping cart and complete the purchase), I’ll get a very small percentage back.  The links that are currently for places where you can find my work for “free” will continue just as they are (one of the two remaining stories under consideration is actually at a “free” publication, so if it gets accepted, I’ll add it as normal).  Links for free and paid content will show up under my signature–once it gets to unwieldy, I’ll probably drop the “Archives” Section and move the links to the sidebar).
  • A new page that is a curated list of things that I have on my bookshelf that I really like (books, games, movies, and other media).  If any look interesting, please feel free to click on it, if not, then no worries.
  • A Saturday update of the “Favorite Media” page (okay, now this is going to be hard–I try to use the weekends to brainstorm for blog ideas for the upcoming week, so I can’t promise that this is always going to happen, but I will try my best).
  • And a small sentence at the bottom of posts to let readers know that I’m a part of the Associates program.  Now, to be clear, I don’t work at Amazon.  I’m a writer and a graduate student (for now, at least, but more on that later).  But Amazon (and I) want to be clear that the links that I promote are “commercial” in nature.

And that’s it!  I’m going to test out the link below for my story, “Faerie Knight” which was on the Tangent Online 2014 Recommended Reading List.

Feel free to click on the Amazon link if you choose, or not, as the case may be.  Hope you have a great day!  And it is back to writing for me–revising All Tomorrow’s Children so that I start submitting it over the weekend.

Sidney


Not Enough Time

notenoughtime_lifehackdotorg
Image Source: Lifehack.org

So this will be a (much) shorter than usual blog post, but readers may realize that I missed a blog post yesterday.  Simple answer: too much work for class.  I did all my readings, but I needed to post a response to the readings on the class discussion board.  That response (written at breakfast time) took up all my time and I had no time left for writing a blog entry.  Sorry about that.

Time just seems to get away much quicker than I realize on days that I have class.  I’ve tried alarms, notifications, even SIRI to help me be more productive, but sometimes the readings take longer than I anticipate or sometimes it takes longer to write the responses.

Perhaps if I dictate my blog entries as I’m preparing breakfast, then I won’t have to lose that “creation” time if I still have something else to work on in the morning (I try to only have the blog to work on in the morning, if possible) as I can only seem to complete one or two writing tasks while doing my morning routine.  Perhaps as I struggle through this summer course, I’ll find a process that works for me creatively and consistently.

 

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