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)
It's been a busy couple of weeks here as I finalized the work for The Balance of Light. I took a few weeks off from blogging and doing other writing-related work so I could focus all my attention on it, and I'm glad to confirm that THIS PROJECT IS *DONE*. Well, okay, there's the reformatting for the print edition, building up advertising and promotion for the trilogy, plus creating and ordering freebie stuff like bookmarks and postcards for future use at cons, but that's all post-production. I can finally say with conviction that I can sign off on the Bridgetown Trilogy. No more pre-publishing work, no more rewriting or revising*.

Most importantly: the ebook edition of The Balance of Light drops on 10 February! You can order it here at Smashwords. :)

My feelings about this right now are kind of interesting. The sense of relief isn't all that strong, as it's overshadowed by pride that I got it done, and completely on my own. There's a stronger urge to keep my current energy and say 'OK! What's next?' This is what kept me working strong during the original writing. I'm tempering it by reminding myself that I don't need to do All the Writing at Once...I'm already working on the outline for Meet the Lidwells! but I'm also relaxing and taking time to enjoy other things. Picking up my guitars more. Working on art. Stuff like that.

I've been thinking about changing up some habits and activities, now that I have the the time and the inclination. I know I've talked about this many times before, but I think I can truly say I have time for them now, now that this major long-term project is complete. More on this at a later time.

In other personal news, I admit I stalled out on the politics on Twitter and FB. I haven't given up or become complacent, far from it...I just felt like I wasn't getting anywhere with it. In other words, adding to the noise but feeling like the only result was annoying people who read my feed. [I could be wrong about this. But I think on a personal level my words there just didn't have enough strength, or at least not at the level I was aiming for.] And on an emotional level, I was starting to exhaust myself, and that's never a good sign. I'm taking time off from that to figure out what I could do that would make a difference. More on that at a later time as well.

So now what?

Well, for this afternoon, I'm going to watch my beloved Pats beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. And that's pretty much it. :)

*Okay, there may be some editing work done on future editions, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Well, here we are, last week of the year.

I'll admit, I like watching those end of year retrospectives. Highlights, lowlights, passings, life-changing events. I like how it helps put time in perspective for me. In the past three hundred sixty-five days, points in history changed. That's a surprisingly short amount of time. I try to learn from these events, think about how they affected me in some way -- the small events and the big ones. Think about how I and my actions fit in with the grander scheme of things.

This past year was been an extremely productive one for me. There were some tetchy moments there earlier in the year, when some of my original writing plans fell through, and when I was missing a lot of (non-editing) writing days, but managed to work through them or around them. I learned a hell of a lot about book production and publication in a short amount of time. I took a long hard look at my own writing and how to I can make it better. And even on the lighter side: I managed to keep my personal journal going for another full year with very few missed days. I wrote more poems, more consistently. I may have failed finishing up Inktober, but on the other hand I've also been more consistent with my drawing as well. And even with the music, I've finally gotten around to toying with new song ideas, something I haven't done in a number of years.

I think part of it was due to me forcing myself (or being forced) to alter my creative habits in one way or another. Learning how to self-publish -- and not do it half-assed -- made me take a hard editorial look at my writing. Learning how to sell my writing, even when I suck at sales and hate the idea of having to do it. Writing the personal journal, even when I had little to say, and leaving a lot of the more personal things off social media. And recently, with my cellphone going all wonky, that's given me impetus to cut back on the social media (let's face it, I still have a bad Twitter addiction), which in turn has given me more time to dedicate to something else.

Overall, I think 2015 was probably one of the best I've had in quite some time. Somehow I managed to reach more goals than I ever expected, and I think that's actually the first time I can honestly say that and mean it. There were ups and downs, but I managed to persevere, and that's a good thing.

So what's on tap for 2016? A lot. So much so that I'll be posting it in a separate entry here later on. Lots of things I want to do and make the time for. Stay tuned! :)
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)
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)
So ends another year.

Okay, there's one more day to go, but that last week after Christmas always seems to be more of a denouement rather than a big finish. It's when everyone takes stock in what they've done over the past year, what they've achieved, what they've missed out on, and what's still on their bucket list. Some people only think about it in passing, making vague plans or thinking about general aims rather than concrete ones. Others go into minute detail, mapping out exactly what they're going to do and when. I do a bit of both, come to think of it--I plan on going to the gym more, but I also plan on finishing the revision of A Division of Souls and getting it out in 2013. I plan on doing a bit more cooking, but I also plan on taking an evening class or two. This coming year promises to be full of interesting things.

Short retrospective bit about cleaning out the attic in 2012 )

That said...

I have resolutions for 2013!

This coming year looks good for me. I'm about a third of the way through the revision of A Division of Souls, and I seem to be getting more done at a quicker pace now. I figure by Q3 I should have it done and ready to go. So this means that in Q1 and Q2 I'll start doing a bit of agent and publisher research and shopping around and prepare myself for the big sendout. And when that happens, I'll start in on the revision of Book 2.

I'm going to try and squeeze in another project this time, something that won't be a main focus but something I can work on "on the interim" during afternoons or something similar. I'm not sure if it'll be a new project or if it'll be one of my backburner projects, but I want to have something going, even if it ends up being more of an exercise than a full-blown project. I need to dust off the ol' noggin and get new words flowing again. It's been too long.

I've lapsed a bit on the poetry, since I ended the Dreamwidth project earlier this year, but I'm going to start picking that up again. When I assigned myself to write a poem on certain days of the week like I did a few years back, it was a fun exercise and I think I got some decent work out of it, so I'm thinking it's time to do so again.

Also, I will continue on the Walk in Silence project. I've let it lapse a bit lately so I can play catch-up with ADoS, but I have some 2013 plans for this one. My aim is to reserve weekends for this project, so I can spend a good chunk of time focusing on it, while the weekdays stay reserved for the Eden Cycle revisions and the possible new stuff.

Lastly, chances are good I may need to buy a new laptop, as I'm not feeling good about getting my current one fixed (I'm not complaining about the place I brought it to, he's actually quite a nice guy and does good work--it's more that it died only after a year and he's having problems finding replacement parts already). Not sure what I'm going to get, but I'm open to Windows 8 and long as it has MS Word, a few USB ports and a cd drive, it's all good. [Note: I don't plan on getting Apple products for personal tastes and reasons, so no need to try to sell me on it. Just sayin'. ;) ] I'd like to be able to sit out in the living room with Emm while working instead of holing myself up in Spare Oom all day and night.

More on all of this come January 1, when I update my whiteboard.

So I received a Wacom Splash tablet and a Korg Monotribe mini synth for Christmas (thanks to my sister and Emm, respectively). Looks like 2013 is going to be ridiculously productive! I've been meaning to pick up the drawing and the music playing again in a more substantive way, and now I have two toys that will help me reach that goal. The drawing will most likely yield more results sooner, since the tablet is ridiculously easy to use and I've had a ton of fun with it already. The synth might take a bit longer as is a bit confusing to use, but I should be able to figure it out after a bit of playing around with it (that's how I learn most instruments anyway). I'm planning on getting some multitrack audio software at some point as well, so you might see me posting some homemade tunage some time down the road.

Despite our recent lapse in going to the YMCA (holidays and a business trip will do that), the both of us plan on getting back on that bandwagon as soon as we can. Basically we'll just be continuing our ongoing exercising, so this is more of a reminder than a resolution. Walking around the neighborhood on weekends continues as weather permits, of course.

On a more personal note, I think it's high time I had a physical checkup, as it's been way too long since the last one. I feel fine other than the usual aches and pains of getting older--in fact, I'm in much better shape than I was five years ago, so this would be more about seeing where I stand healthwise and seeing if there's anything I should do or at least be aware of. I'd also like to make a trip or two to a local dentist/orthodontist to get some work done as well. I'm not in pain, but I do need the cleaning and perhaps a new crown or two.

Work and Education.
Short version is that I'm about to start actively looking for a new job again, after taking some time off from doing so (partly due to no bites, but partly due to a work-related project that I ended up having quite a big hand in--who knew that I'd actually become an SME about OFAC regulations and check printing?). Still debating on what exactly I should look for. However, part of that debate will also lean on a few things: I'd like to find one of those professional job placement places in town, just to see where I should be jobwise. There's also the fact that I'm thinking of looking into some adult education courses for things that might help this future trajectory. Not sure where I'm going here, but I'm glad I'm in a position where I'll be able to do this.

I've been sitting on my rollover IRA from Yankee Candle for too long and not putting any money into it or moving it around, so it hasn't really been making any money over the last few years. I think it's high time I started putting more money into it and reorganizing it, or maybe even moving it into another institution. I actually have some background on this from my old position at the bank, so it's not as if I'd be going in blind.

Over the course of the last few months, I've been doing a bit of sorting and cleaning here and there, digitally and otherwise. Getting some things in order, finishing other things I've put aside. It's slow going, but I try to get some of it done on a daily if not weekly basis. I still have some papers and items to sort through, scan, shred, and whatnot, and I still need to bring quite a few items to Goodwill and books to bring to the Fort Mason bookstore. But other than that, I'm finally getting a lot of it in order to the point that any other cleaning is at the point of upkeep rather than getting things in order.

So that's my 2013 plans in a nutshell. A lot of stuff planned or scheduled to unfold, and I'm definitely looking forward to it.


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