jon_chaisson: (Default)
After a frustrating week on the Day Job -- no stressful situations, just a ridiculous volume to slog through -- my best laid plans for having a writing session on Friday evening fell by the wayside.  Instead we watched the insanity that is Nichijou (a good example of the inherent absurdity of this anime can be seen here).  Ten out of the thirty some-odd episodes.  It's quite ridiculous and fun.  And the opening and ending themes are very catchy!

That said...having a nice relaxing weekend so far, recharging and planning ahead.  We'll be heading to London for a few weeks at the end of the month so we're both going through our projects to see what to bring along and what to put behind.  I will most likely be working on Secret Next Project during this time, as I won't be bringing my laptop but will be bringing along my tablet and/or Nook.  Sure, I'm a little nervous about being away from the Lidwells project for a couple of weeks, but I'll at least have access to it via Dropbox so I can give it a read-through and make notes on things I need to fix/revise 

In other news, recently I did a bit of cleaning up and rearranging in Spare Oom, straightened up a few book shelves (and pulled off some titles I can donate), broke down a lot of boxes, and put away things that needed putting away.  The access to the closet is a bit wider now, and the guitar stands have been angled to take up less room.    Now I just need to get myself back into the habit of playing that keyboard more often instead of using it as a temporary table to put things on!  [Come to think of it, I should probably change the batteries in it as well, as I'm sure they're old and on the verge of getting sketchy.  Also: do we have a power cord for that thing?  I should see if I can find it, or order one from somewhere...]

This ties in with my plan to get back into my other two creative loves: art and music.  I still fiddle around a lot on my guitars, but I haven't written many new songs in years.  I'd like to try my hand at laying down some new tracks with some cheap mixing software, just for the fun ot it.  And for the art, I'm hoping to get back into that as well.  It's been far too long since I've done any art of substance other than maybe a few maps and whatnot.  I have the supplies and the art pads...I just need to do something with them.

That's in store for the latter half of 2017: time to come back to my love of writing, art, and music, and dedicate more time to them.

jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Just a thought that popped into my head recently. I've been doing some serious thinking about my writing career, not to mention my drawing and my music. I've always wanted to do all three ever since I was a kid, though it seems I was always distracted from professionally doing so for one reason or another. [I'm not placing blame in this post; I'm just as to blame here.] Now that I'm in my early 40s and I'm in a much saner and more stable place to do such things, I've been seriously thinking of how to make these things professional, especially now in this digital age where publishing, producing and selling have been made easier.

On the one hand, I've been thinking (again) how to release the Mendaihu Universe stories. Like I said a few weeks back, it's a tough sell to the kids in Manhattan. From those that have read ADoS, I've had many positive comments, even when the prose is a bit lumpy and in need of revision, so it's not exactly as if I feel I've wasted my time with this universe. [Okay, that's not exactly true...I, like any other writer, have the fear that I'll release it to the sound of crickets. I am also well aware that I can't release it to a void, and need to upsell myself when and where necessary.] I'm perfectly willing to release these as Indies. In fact, I'm kind of thinking of it like the way DIY punk sold in the 80s: word of mouth, friends of friends, a shameless plug somewhere, and the drive to nudge it at the right audience. I'm not expecting to be rolling in the cash going this route. This is the same for the artwork, and especially the music: I know I have the drive and (sort of) have the ability to pull it off. Again, I don't expect to be rolling in the dough.*

On the other hand, I would not mind being thought of a professional writer. I mean yeah, to some extent I am one, as I've been featured on a few music blogs, and I'm about to have a short piece published in a book about my hometown, printed by a tiny local publisher. And I try to keep a decent schedule on my two WP blogs, talking seriously about music and writing, two of my biggest loves. And I do consider myself more of a careerist than a hobbyist, considering I'm working on some writing project on any given day.

Maybe I'm thinking too seriously about this. I do have a habit of overplanning such things, and Making Best Laid Plans that disintegrate as soon as I announce them. But let's be serious for a moment, bypassing what it means to be professional. I think the question I'm trying to ask here is, am I willing to sink a certain amount of money into my three favorite things I love to do in order to maybe, just maybe, make a living off it sometime down the line? I'd like to think that yes, it's worth it.

Which is why I'm not just focusing on the writing end of things, but at least the music part of it as well. I'm your typical lo-fi musician right now, but I'm totally fine with futzing around with whatever recording software and the few guitars I have and making a decent racket out of it all. In fact, I kind of dig the science and the math behind it--what sounds can do, how to build a song, how the disparate parts become the whole, and so on--so I'm totally on board with the producing end of it.

I'm thinking the question I posited in the subject line is faulty to begin with, because I'm already thinking of it as "you're not a pro until you've hit the big time", which is not only unrealistic, it's a very narrow way of looking at it. I see more and more positive press about indie publishing, and I've bought at least a dozen or so albums via Kickstarter or Bandcamp this year alone, so it's not as if the Unattainable Pinnacle of Success as we knew it in the past really exists anymore.

So yeah. I still think of these things as career points, even if I'm still tripping up along the way.

* - TBH, though, have you seen some of the stuff they put on at the local Museums of Modern Art? I'm convinced I could draw one of my epic maps on a giant sheet of newsprint and get it to sell at the local MoMA when it reopens here. :p
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Oh hey there! Been busy the last few days with writing and other errands, so I'd temporarily forgotten to update here! Oops. Some updates:

ITEM: The daily 750 Words are working out quite nicely. There are days I'll just spit out random ideas that may or may not go anywhere, and then I'll come up with an idea that I'll riff on for a good number of days. The latest one concerns a family that used to be a band--sort of like the Osmonds in size and following, where their heyday was in the 80s--and what their lives are like now. This was another one of my ideas inspired by a snippet of a dream, and I've been playing around with it all week. I may or may not continue working on it, but we'll see.

ITEM: Related, it occurred to me last night that if I keep hitting the daily words in the form of this ongoing story idea, by six months I'll have a full novel. A roundabout NaNo project, if you will. I'm not going to call it a real thing, but the idea is out there. We'll see.

ITEM: Also related, I'm finding sneaking in the 750 in increments during the day works out nicely as well. I can log on multiple times, and in the process I've not only been hiting 750 a day, but more like 900 or 1000 words. This bodes well.

ITEM: Yes, this is including my regular writing work at night. [Noted: also good that I moved the 750 to earlier in the day, this gives me more flexibility for the main projects.] Blogging the Beatles and Walk in Silence are slow going, but they're going.

ITEM: Daily journaling is working out well too! Some days I'll write six short paragraphs, other days, like yesterday, I'll write a good two pages. Sometimes it'll be random bloviating, sometimes it'll be trying to figure stuff out. And art? Art still needs more love, but it's getting at least weekly dedication, so there's that. And music is still offline, but near-daily guitar noodling is at least counting as practice. Heh.

Not too much else to report here...doing a book store run later today, and we have the symphony tomorrow, so more busy weekend fun! Whee!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Still a bit behind on writing here, but it's moving forward, so that's a good thing. I admit to being lazy this weekend, partly due to a lack of sufficient sleep (I keep waking up every 2 hours or so for some reason, even if I take melatonin). I also seem to be having a lot of weird dreams lately with OCD themes to them, in which I get frustrated because things aren't 'just right' or other people are not quite doing things to spec. I figured it might be work-influenced, due to the fact that I do tend to be a bit OCD with that job because I kind of HAVE to, but that rarely influences my dreams. I'm thinking that it might actually be due to my recent attempts to kick my thought processes to a faster speed again--that is, making a determined effort to ramp up the creative output, which is in effect causing my brain to not want to slow down at night. I have also been reading a lot on my Nook just before bed, so perhaps doing a bit of analog reading from my TBR pile might calm it down some.

Anyhoo, aside from missing a few days recently, I've been doing pretty good staying with my writing/art/music schedule. This month is pretty much a practice run for what's coming up next year, so it's something to get used to. I'm making a few adjustments here and there, thinking of ways I can utilize time and creativity to my best advantage...when to sneak in morning words during the work day, prompts for mini-projects and exercises, reading more for inspiration and learning, things like that.

Of course, December is also the time for my usual end-of-year posts, in which I wax nostalgic about what went on over the year, what I might have learned...and of course my music posts as well. I'll be posting the music posts over at the Walk in Silence blog as usual, but will link them here and elsewhere as needed. I should probably post the end-of-year writing posts over at Welcome to B-Town as well, shouldn't I? Those two blogs are in need of some love and updating again. Either way...expect an uptick of year-end review posts from me within the next few weeks!

Okay! Time to get back to my usual Sunday afternoon of listening to A Prairie Home Companion, sorting through my emails, and sneaking in some writing stuff at the end of the day!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
It took awhile, but my writing habits are becoming solid again. It's obvious that my best course of action when this needs to be done is to use a schedule, and to stick to it. Nearly every weekday morning at my 9:30 break, I step away from my work PC and my home PC, grab the moleskine notebook under the monitor stand, and write a journal entry. I write about pretty much everything there...whatever's on my mind, unedited. This space in particular, I try not to let the internal editor interrupt, so my sentences might be wonky, there's a lot of scribbled-out words, and questionable word choice. But that's one of the reasons I started doing it--to write something and not edit myself in the process. No one's going to be reading it except myself, so why hold back?

There's also the weeknight sessions writing Walk in Silence. The funny thing is that I'd completely forgotten what it felt like to jumpstart the creative juices when the session starts--I've been revising and rewriting the trilogy for so long that it feels like a new process again. Given that I'm currently writing about my teen years, every night has started with the same exact feeling that homework is due tomorrow, and I haven't started it yet. But about fifteen minutes in, once I push myself to keep going, I feel the pistons catch and I'm off to the races. I've been doing just shy of a thousand words a night, and I'm already about halfway through chapter two.

This is by far the fastest book I've ever written, even more so than The Persistence of Memories, for a few reasons. First, it's not going to be nearly as long as the trilogy books. I'm thinking the first run-through will be close to about 50-60k, give or take? And I'm at 7k now. Much editing and revising later, but at this rate, I could possibly be done before summer's out, which surprises the hell out of me. I guess that's what happens when you're not writing epics!

I've also scheduled myself to start blogging at the WordPress sites again. As said last week, my schedule has cleared somewhat, so I'm able to resume work on them again. I've already posted a few, so it's a matter of keeping it up at this point.

There's still a few other things I need to start picking up again--the drawing and the poetry, in particular. I know, I've been slacking and/or putting it off. But these are like the journaling and the blogging--for me, it's just a matter of shutting the hell up and doing it already. And given that our weekends will be relatively quiet for the next month, I should have more time to devote to it as well.

There's another action I need to take as well, to get these things in motion: making it obvious that I need to work on them. I have a terrible time with distraction, the "out of sight, out of mind" issue where if I don't have a to-do list or a schedule or have it written on a calendar, I don't always remember to follow through. I have the moleskine sitting on top of a new composition book just waiting to have entries put into it. And both of them are sitting on top of the Wacom tablet. And next to the monitor is another moleskine--this one unlined and just waiting to be drawn in.

Again--the only thing that's missing for those is the schedule. I like schedules. They keep me from slacking off and guilt me if I don't follow them. So what does this mean? Perhaps adding these things to the whiteboard again?

Maybe so.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
What is it with me and Best Laid Plans, anyway? I think it's partly due to distraction, and also due to finally giving myself some mental time off for a while. Well, that's not entirely true. I've been doing some serious longhand journaling and sorting some personal things out in the process. This is what happens when I choose to diarize something (is that a word?) and not share it with the world on one of my blogs...the voice changes from being "on" to being true to myself, unedited and uncensored. It's weirdly refreshing and eye-opening. It's been a relaxing couple of weeks, not having my creative brain in constant overdrive.

Still...I'm not exactly behind any schedule, because I currently don't have a schedule, other than working on my Walk in Silence outline. It's coming along...shockingly long at around 35 pages in the current iteration, though I'd say roughly 1/3 or so is filed with lists of songs and albums I'll possibly be referencing. The framework is coming along nicely, as I can better see how I'm going to tackle the actual writing--it'll definitely be in the form of a memoir, but there's going to be a lot of geeking out about music, radio, and collecting. I will admit that in the back of my mind, I already have an idea of a few publishers I'd like to send this to, but I'm not going to focus to seriously on that until I'm closer to the end of the writing part of it. I know of a few agents who might be interested too (I floated this book idea by them a few years ago at the SF Writer's Conference, and they all thought it was a cool idea), so I may go in that direction as well.

Nonetheless...after a few weeks of finishing off the Great Revision, it truly feels weird not to be focusing on anything trilogy-related. I've got a few possible story ideas in the back of my head that take place in that universe, but I'm not going to focus on them just yet. I did, however, write a few of them down on scraps of paper and add them to my Glass Jar of Ideas that I have on my desk. This is another idea I'd had, to create a "job jar" where I would write down various snippets of ideas, fold them up and toss them in the jar for further use. The jar is woefully scant at the moment, as I haven't given myself time to freeform anything new, but I'm hoping to change that in June.

So what is on tap for June '14, anyway? Well! Glad you asked.

--The End of the Mental Vacation. Sad to see it go, but it's time for me to get back on the creative highway and get going.
--Blog Entries. I'm over a month behind on them and, as said, haven't given myself time to work on any. I'll most likely be writing them during the week in between the WiS work (or during slow moments during the day, if there are any), and posting them on the weekend.
--Poetry. I'm ready to start longhand poetry again, for varying reasons that I may or may not go into at a later time. Not sure if these will ever be posted, but the main idea is, like the journaling, to do it on my own time, for myself.
--Art. Geez, I haven't been able to do this in a while, either! Hopefully I can plug in the Wacom and get some doodling done again. It's been WAY too long.

So yes...June promises to be the start of another wave of creativity. Here's to hoping it works out! :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Really, there's not much to report here in terms of creativity...I've done little except revision work for The Process of Belief, which has been taking most of my focus. Chapter 4 was good plotwise, but extremely clunky when it came to the prose, so it need a lot of tough love. The 'Townies' experiment I was working on with 750Words (I'm calling it that for lack of a better reference for now) hasn't been touched but it's still in my mind, popping up now and again.

Admittedly, part of the sparse creative output has been due to spending most of my problem-solving time pulling double duty last week. One of my coworkers that works in tandem with me on specific things was originally supposed to be out only on Thursday and Friday, but ended up calling out sick on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. And of course we had the few fires to put out. As much as I did want to dedicate some time for things other than revision, I just didn't have the mental energy to do so. I'm hoping I can turn that around in the next few days.

I've also been thinking a lot about the output on my two WordPress sites. As you can obviously tell, I haven't been updating properly. If at all. I could just chalk it up to "oh well, I've been busy with other things", but to me that always feels like a cop-out. I know I can bang out a writing article or a music article in a day...I've done it countless times before. Even if I'm truly exhausted, mentally or physically, I can't help but think I'm just letting it slide, and that's not professional. And I'm not going to get any new readers if the blogs are stagnant.


Here's the plan.

It's time to make a schedule. Not the whiteboard guide, though I will continue to use that. An honest-to-goddess schedule, with deadlines. I will make a list of articles that I want to write. I will make a list of deadlines of when these need to be written, and when they should be posted. I will put this list on a clipboard that I will hang in front of me in Spare OOm so I don't f**king IGNORE IT. In fact, I have just nailed the damn thing to the wall, eye level, right next to this monitor. And I will adhere to this schedule to the best of my abilities.

And as for non-revision creative endeavors: It's time to create a backlog of prompts. I will buy some sort of container, some sort of Tupperware type jar. Any time I actually have a random scrap of an idea--even if it's just a phrase or an image--I will throw it in that jar. I will place this jar in a place where I will not forget about it. And I will make it a point to use at least one prompt a day, either for the 750 Words, or a poem, or something else.

And as for non-writing creative endeavors: I will make it a point to do some sort of drawing, even if it's a doodle. Do something at least once a day, even if it's a five-minute sketch to get rid of my work frustration. And I will use the Wacom tablet every weekend. And by year's end, I would like to at least start with some sort of small-scale painting. [I already noodle around on my guitars on a daily basis, even for a few minutes a day, so I'm good there. Later this year I will expand on that and maybe do a bit of recording--that's not a priority.]

Yes, I know. I know I said something in my previous LJ post about not forcing it if it doesn't want to come. I know. I have a disgusting habit of giving myself easy outs. Well--let's not be too hard on myself; that was more in reference to not forcing the story when it's not there, and not about forcing creativity. For some, creativity needs to be forced. Like me. I need to nudge myself out of complacency to get things done, or else I'm futzing around with my mp3 collection and watching YouTube videos. I'm always itching to write or draw or play music, but I make excuses not to, and that's not a good thing.

More on this as it unfolds.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I'm not going to post a picture of the whiteboard this time out, because for the most part it remains the same:

Mon-Fri: Revision of Bridgetown Trilogy
Wed: Photo post
Sat: Art, Music
Sun: Walk in Silence, Music

The whiteboard will most likely change as necessary, depending on what major project I'll be working on and anything new that comes up.

What's important here is the goals:

Revision of the Bridgetown Trilogy, and Related Projects.
I'm a few chapters short of finishing the first revision run-through of The Persistence of Memories, and will be picking up The Process of Belief soon after. As time permits (and if, by chance, I get a bite from Angry Robot or an agent or someone), I will also be tidying up A Division of Souls. This trilogy remains my main project for the time being.

I will also be updating the Welcome to Bridgetown blog with new related posts as well. I have a bunch of fun ideas for that one.

I have also previously commented on wanting to write further stories in this universe. I have a few vague ideas and a few stronger ones, and plan on working on a few of those as well as time permits.

That said...the related goal here is to get the Mendaihu Universe stories out into the wild this year.

Can't Find My Way Home.
I've decided that this one may end up being my next project unrelated to the above. I recently read through the outline I'd worked on a few years previous, and a lot of it still stands up well. The few chapters I worked on in the past a little less so, but it's nothing a little revision can't help. It's also a story that's not nearly as intensive in worldbuilding as the above, so there's not as much prewriting work to do.

Another idea I'd had for this novel was to post it online in installments. It's supposed to be read that way anyway--its episodic nature was inspired by the various anime series I've watched over the years, with a finite set of chapters (twenty-four), many of them with self-contained minor storylines with the overall plot showing up tangentially. I'm seeing this novel more as an experiment more than as a publishable novel (although I'd be happy with that as the end result), so I'm totally fine with self-publishing this online. As soon as I've come up with a bit of a backlog and a set schedule, I will of course let everyone know of its debut.

The YA Novels (Angela Death and The Children of Dun Corran).
These two may be a little further out on the schedule, maybe third or fourth quarter, but I'd like to at least work on outlines. I recently read through the outtakes and notes on these as well, and found them strong, if lacking in extension at this time. If anything, I believe I'd started these too early--I wasn't ready to write them just yet. I'd like to think I'm at the point where I may be able to try them out now.

Journaling, Poetry, Music, Photography and Art.
After much deliberation, I've reevaluated these five things in my life--many of them pastimes that I've taken part in for decades now, but never expanded on professionally. I've come to the conclusion that these will most likely remain personal endeavors, things for me to work on in spare moments, avenues to let off steam or play around without trying to make them professional. Over the last few years I found that the onus of trying to create everything to publication was actually inhibiting me rather than giving me a personal creative outlet, and that was exactly why I'd had such a dry spell. For 2014, I plan on using these five as a personal and emotional outlet rather than a professional one, as that is precisely what they were back in the day, and should probably remain. Most if not all of what comes out of this will most likely remain offline.

That said, if I do in fact create something I feel is worth sharing, I will of course post it. And I will of course show up from time to time on LJ and elsewhere when time and mood allows!

Walk in Silence, the book and the blog.
As said previously, this one fell by the wayside due to other more important deadlines. I am hoping to pick this up again on the weekends. This project has changed quite a number of times over the last few years, going from a book to a blog and back again, and I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it, but for now I'm going to focus primarily on the blog. The reason for this is that much of what I'm going to be posting will most likely end up in the book anyway, if it comes to fruition. I do not have a set deadline for this book at this time, given my other self-imposed deadlines, so this one will most likely meander here and there until next year.

So yes...I have given myself a shit-ton of homework for the year, all due by December 31. And most of this will be worked on in tandem with everything else in my life. I'll be squeezing these things in between the cracks of my day; a slow day at work, at the gym, on vacation, what have you. Like I said in my previous post, I was able to handle my schedule last year, so I think I should be able to ramp it up a bit this year. I'm not sure if I've given any room for anything else to work on, but I know that I'll be working on all this on a day-to-day basis, and if time frees up for me to do something new, I will by all means embrace it.

Here's to an insanely busy 2014. Despite the workload, I'm looking forward to it.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I think if I learned anything in 2013, it's not to dwell on things.

Or more to the point, to dwell on things only when necessary.

This year I gave up doing a lot of things that were either a waste of time or were distractions.

One was giving up reading the news. I did not do this to become an ignoramus, far from it; it was that I had become keenly aware of the quality (or lack thereof) of the most popular news sites (CNN, Yahoo, etc.). It frustrated me how it was no longer reportage--the profession I know quite well through my father--and had devolved into the quest for site hits. Go to any high-traffic news site, and you'll see it: the headline/link is no longer informative, it's a teaser to get you to click through. The article itself teases you, in its attempt to get a rise out of you. There are blatant and often false assumptions bandied about--the latest being the shock and horror of Obama's selfie during the Mandela memorial the other day being one. It seems these sites no longer aim to inform so as to get site hits and thus more revenue from the ads that pop up on those pages. And when you get the populace in a dither about some perceived peccadillo so that they spend all day yelling at and accusing each other of being stupid poopyheads in the comments section and Twitter, well...their job is done. It's pretty much made a mockery of actual writing and reporting.

That's not to say that I've put an embargo on all news ever--more that I now choose my sources carefully. Call me stuck-up if you want, but good captivating writing is a hell of a lot better than the blustery cheapshot. This is in addition to my resolution over the past few years: I don't need to be plugged in 24/7. I'm still informed...I'm just no longer stuck in the feedback loop.

I also forced myself to ignore that "but you haven't written anything new in years!" voice in my head. The thing is, I have written new things--especially this year, when I heavily revised the trilogy. There are completely new scenes in there, right alongside some of the oldest scenes written from years ago. I realized that it was more important for me to address writing priorities before I went off onto the storyline playground; I've been sitting on this trilogy for over a decade, and I felt it was high time I brought it to the next level.

Which brings me to the next thing: future plans.

As I've mentioned before, I'm frantically getting A Division of Souls and its synopsis ready for submission to Angry Robot Books. I have no idea whether or not it'll be accepted, but I'm super excited about this, as AR publishes some of my favorite books, and I've a feeling the trilogy would be a nice fit with them.

More to the point, 2013 was a year where I learned a hell of a lot about what makes a good manuscript. A few years ago I opined about being stuck in that "OK Plateau", where I had a decent story but lacked the "oomph" to make it to a professional level. In the comments I'd said that one of the problems was that I had too vague of a goal--I wanted to be a pro writer, and...yeah. So I spent the time between then and now working on a more concrete goal: not to just be a pro, but to consciously write on a pro level, to consciously revise the trilogy into something publishable, and most importantly, to keep my writing up at that level.

And thus the last year and a half focusing solely on the revision of the trilogy, the Welcome to Bridgetown website, and all the constant reading, rereading, learning, and relearning the craft.

So! What does 2014 have in store for me?

Well, regardless as to whether or not the trilogy gets accepted by Angry Robot or some other publisher or agency, next year is the year of Moving Forward. I'll be expanding on the Mendaihu Universe (my new name for the trilogy's setting) with new novels and perhaps short stories, maybe even applying some of what I've learned to newer projects as well. I'll be updating Welcome to Bridgetown with more insights and commentary over the year. And once I finally finish the 'Blogging the Beatles' series, I'll also be posting music insights and commentary over at Walk in Silence. And on a more personal level, I'll be working more on my morning words, poetry, art, and music. The finished, posted output for those last three may not be as high as the previous, but I do hope to keep more of a schedule.

Yes, there is a theme here: consistency.

That will be the main goal for 2014: to maintain this higher standard across the board.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Eep! Been awhile since I last updated here. Let's do a recap:

--Been a crazy busy year for me, personally and otherwise. I have wanted to work on side projects, but many of them have stalled for no other reason than I've been focusing mostly on the Trilogy revision during the week and the Blogging the Beatles posts on the weekends. I haven't really been able to work on anything during downtime at work (such as the 750 Words or uploading pictures/poetry), simply because there hasn't been any downtime lately. Things are finally quieting down, however, so perhaps it's time for me to jump back in.

--Speaking of pictures...I've been having a hell of a time trying to upload pictures to not just Tumblr but my WordPress blog, but I'm beginning to think it's an IE quirk. The uploads work just fine on some days, but stall others. I was able to upload just fine on Chrome, so perhaps I should utilize that browser for visuals from now on. For the record, I'm not an IE has its issues, but 98% of the time it works just fine for me, so I see no reason to abandon it. The only issue that remains is figuring out how to tweak the pictures I've taken with my phone--about half the pictures I take are showing up as upside-down or sideways when I try to upload them to Tumblr or elsewhere, and it's a pain in the butt to tweak them. Lastly...I may have been looking at low-end cameras that are a step up from my current one. I'm not actively looking to buy one at the moment, but I am window shopping. I do get some neat shots from my current camera, but I'd really like to take some more professional-looking pictures as well.

--With other side-projects, I'm hoping to get into the music thing again right soon. I finally broke down and bought the newest version of the NCH software at Fry's [the famous computer/appliance store down in Palo Alto where all the original Silicon Valley computer nerds have always gone to--it's a lovely ride and takes you past the Stanford campus too]. I plan on installing the software in the next day or so and working on that project on the weekends. As mentioned much earlier, the current iteration of my solo music work is going under the name of Drunken Owl...I just need to start working on the songs in my head now!

--As you might have noticed, I'm in the home stretch on the Blogging the Beatles posts. I've got two albums and a small handful of singles left to go before I'm done with the series. So what will I do from there? Well, since I had such a fun time working on it, I'm thinking I'd like to go over a few albums and discographies of other bands in a similar fashion. I did a few previously (like the Love and Rockets 5 Albums review), and would like to cover the some other classic alternative albums. I think the next non-Beatles post may be about the reissues of We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It!!'s two albums that came out earlier this year--they're an interesting duo of albums worth checking out.

--The Great Trilogy Revision Project is moving ever forward. I'm a little over halfway through Book II, which means I'm right about at the halfway point for the trilogy itself. That's saying something, considering I started this major revision late last year. I'll go into detail on that in another post later on, but for now I'll just say that I'm quite happy with the outcome. I'm also looking forward to finishing it up so I can truly start working on a new main project--something I haven't done in a few years, come to think of it! Not sure what it'll be, but I have a few contenders. As for the trilogy...I have sent out a few queries to agents and may send to a few publishing houses as well, and have yet to hear anything back as of yet, but I'm fine with that. I'm also keeping the avenue of self-publishing open as well (and yes, I've done my homework in that direction)--more on that in a later post too.

--Art! Geez, I've been so busy on the weekends that I've let that one slide again. I need to jump back onto the schedule of working on that as well. Plug in the ol' Wacom and work on the drawing. I would like to try a bit of blue-penciling when I have the chance, but that might be a little further down the road, maybe in the new year. For now it's working out the drawing kinks and relearning how to draw.

So's been a busy year, but it's also been quite the creative and productive one, and I'm happy about that. We're on the last quarter of the year, often the most productive time for me, as well as the time of year when all the great new music releases come out (coincidence? I think not!). It's the home stretch, and I'm not going to let it slide.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Ah, Friday...thanks for coming! It's been a mercifully short week due to a holiday and taking my birthday off, but it's been a BUSY short week here in BankLand. One coworker's laptop has decided to commit harakiri and another coworker sounds like she has the plague, so we've been a bit shortstaffed. Added to the fact that I'm reverting to work I haven't done in at least six months so I'm a bit rusty.

I'd say this week's been a bit of a wash schedule wise, but not entirely. I happened to get some serious editing/revision done on A Division of Souls and finished up Chapter 17, in which the opposing forces begin putting themselves into position for a Big Showdown later on. Now to work on Chapter 18, in which one of our heroes finds out where she stands in all of this. After that I'll have to do a bit more shuffling, pasting and editing...I've been grabbing about three or four chapters at a time, reordering and combining, and then working through the new files one at a time. This seems to work quite well, as many scenes end up getting fleshed out, and the slow, clunky and/or extraneous bits get cut out. This is similar to the way I wrote the second and third book--mapping out a few chapters ahead of time with some skeletal notes, and working on them. Not only does this make me focus more sharply on the prose and what needs work, but it also makes the process that much faster. Considering I started this revision late last year, I think I've made some serious progress in a relatively short time. It's also reminded me of what process works best for me.

I've been squeezing in poetry and photos where I can, so it's not as if I'm ignoring it. Plus I don't have too much to share photo-wise that I haven't shared already. I can of course post some of my older pictures, but I'd also like to take and post new ones too. As for the weekends--art and Walk in Silence in particular--it's been a bit of a busy month with other weekend events outside the house, so I get to it when I can. Music has been going well, as I've been gravitating to my guitar collection quite a bit lately. Just need to make sure I play with the Wacom and get some WiS work done too. I also need to update my WordPress site again. I'm a bit behind in my 'Blogging the Beatles' series, and there are a few other posts I have burbling in the back of my brain that I'd like to post as well.

Also, now that I have a replacement laptop, I can sit out in the living room with Emm again. I haven't been the last few days, mainly due to a few writing-related things that I wanted to take care of in Spare Oom, but I do plan on getting back out into the real world again. And as I'd mentioned somewhere else, I actually do like the setup of Windows 8, as it gives me that little bit of a roadblock to keep me from drifting off into internetland--by the time I get to the main screen, my brain is saying "what are you--GET BACK TO WORK, SLACKER!" and I return dutifully. :)

So! What's on tap for the next few weeks?

--Dutch paintings at the de Young Museum this Sunday (including this famous one!)
--Peter Hook (former(?) bassist of Joy Division/New Order) talking about his new book next Thursday
--Elgar's Enigma Variations at the Symphony next Friday

...and not much else, as far as I know. I chose not to go to the SF Writer's Conference this year (I may go next year though), so February is open for the most part. I'm hoping to get a good chunk of writing work done that month as well.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)

The whiteboard calendar makes a return after a half-year hiatus with a spankin' new writing schedule for 2013. I played around with this one this morning with the aim of the year being both fun and creative, as well as productive.

The first thing you probably noticed in the picture is how frequent the acronym ADOS pops up--it's there on every weekday. The main focus and goal this year is to finish this revision of A Division of Souls and prep it for submission sometime in Q3, thus most of my writing time will be dedicated to that. Once that goal is achieved, that acronym will change to TPOM (The Persistence of Memories, aka Book 2). I purposely didn't put it on the weekends in order to keep time available for other things. That's not to say I won't use the occasional weekend to work on it, just that it's not scheduled.

We also have the return of poetry and photography to the schedule. These were placed in the middle of the week, as they don't take up too much time and are a good distraction to the regular work schedule. The photography will show up on the Tumblr site, but the poetry will most likely stay offline, at least for now.

We also have Walk in Silence popping up on Sundays--this is the same as previous, as that worked out really well for me. This way I can spend a good long afternoon/evening working on it while listening to music. I may of course work on it during the week if time permits.

You may also notice that Saturday has "Art", and both weekend days say "Music." I'm really looking forward to this, actually. Saturdays I'll dedicate a bit of time to learning how to master my new Wacom tablet, not to mention getting back into the groove of drawing. I also want to spend a bit of time practicing my music. It's high time to pick up the guitars again, not to mention learn how to play with my new synth. I put these both on the weekend because I want to have fun! These two activities are things I've always loved doing, yet I never seem to give myself any time for them.

I also mapped out some of my goals and intentions this year, which aren't on the whiteboard but are on my mind nonetheless. There's a lot of personal and creative things going on in 2013 that I'm looking forward to. This year's mantra is "positivity"--time to focus on the things in my life that bring me peace rather than things that set my blood boiling and/or waste my time. This means creativity, community, learning, and forward motion. It might be a bit busy this year, but as said, the main aim is to have fun, be creative, and be productive.

I'm definitely looking forward to all of it.
jon_chaisson: (Default)

I drew this in college in early 1991 as a response to everything that was going on in the Middle East at the time. If I remember, it took me all of 20 minutes to do. I'd originally taped it up on my dorm room door, but after quite a few positive comments, it got printed in the college paper. I had exactly one person dismissing it, who thought the "ignorant" segment was a dig at conservatives. As Orwell might have said...hey, you're reading into it, I just wrote it that way.
jon_chaisson: (Default)

Object, by J. Chaisson 8 September 1988

It's a bit tetchy in scan quality, but I thought I'd scan and post part of a pen drawing I did in art class back in high school that is very much me--we were supposed to bring in or find an object and draw it for a sketching project, and of course I went straight for what was in my tatty green trench coat on that day: my walkman and three tapes. In particular, you can see that the tapes are The Mighty Lemon Drops' World Without End, The Smithereens' Green Thoughts and The Alarm's Eye of the Hurricane. This would have been the start of senior year for me, so I was pretty much embracing the art/music nerd in me at that point. Art was probably my favorite class that year...I still have a number of my drawings from that time.
jon_chaisson: (Default)

So a handful of webcomic artists were posting their 24-hour(ish) comics on Twitter and elsewhere the other day, so for the hell of it, I decided to join in the fun. My drawing isn't nearly up to snuff as it used to be (not that it's ever been great), but I had a hell of a lot of fun doing this. Also? First time I ever attempted to draw [ profile] emmalyon, much to her chagrin. ;)

You may need to click on the picture and zoom in to read some of the words, as my lettering tends to be a bit on the small side.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
More on Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein...

One of the things he talks about is the 'OK Plateau', in which, after we've learned a task such as typing, we go from the beginner level (slow two-fingered tapping) to a somewhat higher one (the Qwerty or Dvorak system), until our brain goes to autopilot. Once we're reasonably comfortable with doing the task without having to think about it, we don't focus on the actual performance, we just do it.

Sometime ago I had this niggling feeling that I'd hit that plateau with my writing, that I was afraid I'd hit my limit, and I was just going to have to make do with being a reasonably adequate writer and not a great one. Not great as in Pulitzer prize-winning--I mean this in terms of writing something I'm especially proud of that I think is my best work, and something that would be professional and publishable. This is on a personal level too--I consider myself "reasonably good" at a number of things, but not really "exceptional" at any of them. There's nothing wrong with that at all, of course, as that's pretty much normal for a lot of people...

...except if it's in your field of expertise. Mike Holmes is exceptional in his work because he's an expert in home building and inspection, and who wouldn't want to have him on your side if you're having house problems? And would you trust someone who's "merely adequate"?

Of course, that's an extreme example, but it kind of states my point here, in regards to writing. I've been working on my Eden Cycle trilogy for close to ten years, and though I've made significant strides, I still have that niggling feeling that it's just not a great piece of work. It's a damn sight better than the original stories, but it could be so much better, and I'm vividly aware that it could be. At this point I'm at that OK Plateau, where I know I can do better, yet I'm not exactly sure what needs to be done to break that barrier.

This is often where beta-readers and critiquers usually come in handy, and this is why it's terribly important to have the right beta-readers and critiquers on hand. This of course can be tricky when all you have is close friends and family who will enjoy the story, but may not have the ability to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and find plotholes and weak language. This is why I'm thankful that writers like [ profile] dancinghorse have offered their services as readers...I've learned quite a few things from her, and while I'm still not quite there yet, I can see where more work is needed, thanks to people like her.

But how do I overcome the OK Plateau on my own? What is it that I need to do to write the best damn novels that I can, instead of writing half-assed and calling it good enough? Do I need to start challenging my own vocabulary? Do I need to be less emotionally involved with my stories and become more clinical? Do I need to force myself to write not just a little every day but a lot every day? Do I need to find a job that doesn't demand nearly as much clinical thinking, but perhaps more creative thinking? In all honesty, it's a little of everything here. It's not just one thing, that's for sure.

This is partly why I've given myself such a full plate this new year. I'm trying to force myself out of passive mode by getting out of my comfort zone. I suppose for some, that would be doing something crazy like mountain climbing or bungee jumping or something silly like that, but for me, it would need to be something that's more than a one-time event. I'm 'reasonably good' at music, art, and writing--things I've loved to do since I was a kid--and I'm in a good position where I can actually do such things in my spare time. If I can turn it into a paying gig, all the better.

As long as I'll be doing something I love doing, and getting better at it as I go along, I'll be happy. And I'll have finally gotten past the OK Plateau.
jon_chaisson: (Default)


Main Goals
--Finish and prepare front burner projects
      --A Division of Souls (revision, submission)
      --Love Like Blood (revision, submission)
      --Walk in Silence (writing, interviews, research)
--Prepare secondary projects for shift to front burner
      --The Persistence of Memories (revision)
      --Can’t Find My Way Home (revision of outline, writing)
      --Angela Death (revamp of story/outline, writing)
--Utilize time available for new projects
      --Longhand writing when away from PC/laptop
      --Weekends for non-writing projects

By Time

--As time allows, time spent between arriving at work and actual work time (7am-ish to 7:30am) should be utilized by longhand work. This can include poetry, new work, notes, revision, or brainstorming.

--As time allows, time spent after arriving home (minus any errands/dinner/workout, etc.) should follow the "By Week" schedule below. Minimum productive writing time: 1.5 hours, more if time allows.

By Day

--Outlining current and future projects
--Post poem on Dreamwidth account (worked on over the week or at that moment)
--Walk in Silence project
      --Research or writing
      --Update WordPress WiS website
--2x a month: Artwork--work on a project or scan and post

--New Words


--New Words

--Update WordPress WiS website (optional)

--Any transcription/revision of longhand into PC
--Catch-up on any work of current week

--Outlining current and future projects
--New Words and/or Revision
--Tumblr picture post

--New words or revision as time allows
--Any additional work/posting is of course acceptable, if time allows.

By Project

Current projects/works in progress to be worked on:

--Update reference files and character sheets

--Brainstorming new ideas
--Character sheets
--Outlining and plot-mapping
--Outtakes and notes
--Longhand writing


--Outline revision
--Character sheets
--Longhand writing

--Revamp of characters and story
--Character sheets
--Longhand writing


Non-Writing Projects (Long-Term)

--Guitar practice
--Record demos on PC software
--Dub/Remix older songs from cassette

--Murph strips/storyline
--scanning of older work
--posting online

--Learn more about what I can do with new camera
--Utilize Photoshop for editing, etc.
jon_chaisson: (Stan Brakhage)
More stuff found on YouTube: an interesting sort-of-documentary of the Dada art movement. I saw this once in a film class at Emerson. I quite like how the documentary itself is formed in sort of a dada way, with odd and unexpected edits and sounds (including a voiceover breakdown midway through Part II).

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

In a way you can kind of see where Terry Gilliam got his ideas...and speaking of things Python, I swear one of the voiceovers sounds like a silly-yet-restrained Terry Jones. :p
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Lately I've been thinking about the various things I've created over the years. That is, creative things like music, writing...arty things.

For the last ten or so years I've been focusing mostly on my writing, from the years I spent in the food court at Solomon Pond Mall in Marlborough MA to write what became the trilogy, to the years spent down in my parents' cellar, writing that trilogy as well as the makings of Love Like Blood and other projects, to my current spot in front of a bank of windows looking out over the corner of Bay and Stockton. Those years taught me a lot of things both creatively and professionally. While I always feel there's room for improvement (I admit, there are still days I read my own stuff and think I'm just a hack), I can say the writer I was then pales in comparison to the writer I am now.

Along the way, for a few years there, I also played a bit of music. Those who have been following the entertainment over at [ profile] flyingbohemians know how painful those early songs were, but somewhere along the way in the early 90s [ profile] head58 and I found our sound and recorded some good stuff. Then in the early 00s I recorded with my friends Bruce and Eric under the name jeb!. I admit I'm nowhere near the best musician I could be, but in all honesty, I wasn't aiming for fame at all--it was for the music and the fun. Getting my music out there would have been cool, but I was happy enough to have written some good songs and jammed with good friends.

Then there was the art. This is something I've sorely neglected for years. Again, I'm nowhere near the best artist around, but it's the creativity behind it that's the fun part. Those who know me, know that I've been drawing maps--of made-up places, mind you--since I was a little kid. And for awhile in the early 90s I would draw my Murph characters, thinly-veiled caricatures of friends of mine (as well as completely fabricated people) making snarky comments and non sequiturs. I would bring him back from time to time, but never actually built upon it. Again, drawing for fun over drawing for a career.

And then there was what I'd originally gone to college for--film. Gods, when I was a freshman at Emerson College, I had aspirations to do two things only: host an uber-hip college radio show, and make a cool indie film. The radio bit was obvious because of my obsession with the music, but the film thing was my then newfound realization that I actually could shoot a film, as I had the creativity for it. Or so I thought. Let's be honest: most of the kids I went to school with either already had the background or had the money to fund it--I had neither. Let's be more honest: I didn't have enough self-confidence to follow through and make it on my own, either, and gave up when my advisor wasn't exactly the most helpful person. Things turned out well in the end, but that's another post. The point was that my budding film career faded out rather quickly.


The point is, over the past few weeks, especially with this new writing project of min, I've started thinking about all those things I've done over the years. The writing, the music, the art, and film...and it occurs to me that at 37, I surprise myself by refusing to believe that these arts have fallen by the wayside, never to be picked up again because I've "grown out of them" or "lost interest" or what have you. To this day, I'm still doing these things, in one form or another. And I still have moments where I look at what I've created, look at the technology of today versus my youth and college years, and realize that I have a lot more avenues to show my creativity than I did then. And I really like that thought.

I think for me it's become the point where I should no longer use the excuses of "if I only had time" and "if I had the money" and work more at what I can do and do it. I'm not struggling. I'm not frustrated or depressed. I'm not stressed out. I have surprised myself many times realizing just how good I have it right now. This is the perfect time for me to create, and I have gotten to the point where it's no longer a make-or-break situation.

It's the point of having an idea, running with it, and seeing it to completion.

It's the time to enjoy what I do and love best.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
(Translation using AltaVista's Babel Fish Translation, so hopefully the grammar is correct--it's been awhile since I translated French.)

Yet another handful of dreams over the past month in which I am either in a place that, in the dream, I worked at or lived in or frequented, but in reality does not exist...and this ongoing theme in my dreams has once again come up with a variation: creations I've made but never followed through with.

This morning's version was me going through a number of my old files from over the years, like I did when I first moved here. These were files that I hadn't looked at for some years, for one reason or another, but had now just found the time to do so. It had been a good length of time from the creation of the files to now, enough that I'd almost completely forgotten about them. Some of these files were printed and bound versions of some of my current WIPs (one was a version of the first book in the trilogy, complete with random written rewrite notes in the margins), some were infinished story ideas. But the most interesting of the finds was the artwork.

Those who have seen some of my actual real-life artwork know that I'm known for map drawing and thumbnail sketches, as well as random Murph sketches. I'm by no means the best artist (if anything, I'd say I'm a decent 'sketcher'), but I'm kind of happy with most of the drawings I've done.

In this dream, apparently I'd come up with a small handful of indie comic book ideas, most of which never got past a few pages. Apparently I'd never followed through with a lot of this artowrk, either because of loss of interest, lack of ideas, or other personal issues. There were about a half-dozen ideas in there, either test covers, character sheets, or first pages of stories. The artwork, interestingly enough, had extremely varying styles. Two of them in the dream stood out for me, though. There was one that was very Archie Comics-like, and another that was almost a complete rip-off of Terry Moore. And almost all of them were based on female characters. The Archie one was about a woman named Clare who was a college stuedent (and, come to think of it, most likely a contemporary of Murph) with a penchant for getting herself in Archie-like comedic situations. The Moore-like one was about a group of women friends (I'm sensing a theme here), this one with multiple interwoven storylines going on. This one was rather amusing because [ profile] emmalyon's knitting habits seemed to have snuck in--the storyline I was working on dealt with knitting as some sort of friendship analogy and had the title of "Itchy Felting". Not quite sure where that title came from, but that was it.

The reaction to seeing the artwork in my dreams was interesting, in that I wasn't so much wondering why I didn't follow through (although it was there), as much as wondering if I was still that good, after not doing that sort of work for a number of years. I suppose I've had this same reaction upon reading some of the outtakes of writings I've done in real life, especially the stuff I was writing in the late nineties and onward. A lot of those writings were done during a time when I was either trying to find my own writing style, or just coming up with random ideas when I had no main project going. Some aren't that great, but some are actually worth expanding at some point.

Of course, now I'm thinking that this ongoing 'dream reality' theme in my sleep is great fodder for even more writing ideas. Some of these realities can definitely be used somewhere as a backdrop for some of my stories--in fact, I've definitely done so in the past. My Dreamweaver project was almost entirely set in places I saw in dreams. Of course, the idea of 'dream reality' itself lends to another storyline itself (the ever-famous 'which one is real?' theme) that I could use at some future point.


jon_chaisson: (Default)

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