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: (Default)
I've been listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins and other bands from the 80s-era 4AD label lately.  I blogged about the band over at WiS but it occurred to me afterwards that their music always evokes a certain time of day for me.  Specifically, right around 4:30-5pm during the fall semester.  I'm quite sure it's because that's about the time I'd be wrapping up most of my homework after I got home from school.  My radio would be on from the moment I got home until I went to bed that night, and it would always be stuck on WAMH.  Blue Bell Knoll, their 1988 album, was getting some serious airplay then, having been released mid-September.

I'd be wrapping up my homework - or at least finishing up part of it - and my mom would be getting dinner ready.  Dad would be coming home from work.  The sun was setting behind the treeline behind my house.  Sometimes I'd look out there, listening to the echoes of traffic of the highway about a mile south of us, everyone heading home.  It was the end of the work day and everyone was coming home. This was ages ago, when the far edge of Massachusetts seemed so far away, and the rest of the country was a vast unknown to me.  I had images, but I could only imagine. 

It was that stretch between the end of the day and the start of the evening, two separate lengths of time.  The intermission before prime time television, or in my case, the evening radio shows.  The afternoon shows were brighter, more exciting, but the evening shows were stranger, more experimental.  Those later shows were where I'd hear the industrial, the punk, the weirder side of college rock.  I'd listen to these throughout most of the evening while finishing up my homework and working on whatever story, poem or lyric I was writing at the time.

I think about this now, looking at my present daily schedule.  It's more of a blur now, given that I have music streaming from the moment I log onto my home PC, and my Day Job is a work-at-home situation.  That afternoon entr'acte sneaks up on me, where I log off the Day Job at 4pm.  Sometimes we'll head to the gym or walk around the neighborhood, sometimes we'll just sit around and watch something on Acorn or PBS until dinnertime.  Come 6:30 or 7, I'll head back into Spare Oom for an hour or so of writing.  More tunage playing, often my own collection.

I suppose that mystical reverie I once felt with the time and the music hasn't really left me, but it's certainly been muted by maturity and distraction.  There were many years between then and now when Real Life took precedence.  I've also become a bit more worldly in my years and the Earth isn't as beyond my mental grasp as it once was. 

The reverie will come back now and again in odd places and times, and most unexpectedly, and I always embrace it, each and every time.

jon_chaisson: (Default)
This past week worked out pretty well, I think.  My original intent was to take the week off from blogging at my WordPress sites just as a mini-break, but in the process I ended up doing a lot more head-clearing than I'd expected.  A new way of approaching various things in my life (or as I'd been hinting, a return to an old way of approaching said things that makes a lot more sense to me).  This past week was a trial run to see if I could actively make it a real thing instead of yet another Best Laid Plan.

All in all, it went pretty well except for Wednesday night, in which A and I are woken up at almost exactly midnight by two young local policemen (about whom A commented that they looked young enough to be our kids).  Allegedly there had been a hit-and-run in the neighborhood in which a few local cars had been sideswiped by a possible DUI and the offending person may have entered our building.  Aside from not recognizing the car (which they'd shown A via their phone), life went on, and neither of us were able to get back to sleep until about 1am.  The both of us spent most of Thursday in a sleep-deprived loopy haze and multiple cups of coffee.  Thankfully we were back on the ball on Friday!

So what *did* I do creatively this past week?  Well, I'm glad to say that I've been consistent with getting some good solid words down for Meet the Lidwells, still averaging about 500-700 a day.  This is all first draft, pre-revision and pre-editing work, of course.  I'm a little nervous that I won't hit my hopeful deadline of mid-autumn for a release, but I think if I keep this up and not overwrite (an issue with the trilogy) I should be okay.  I'm already at 13k words and probably about 1/5 of the way done...this is going to be a short novel compared to my last three!

Also, I took the time to retune all my guitars -- the weather changes have detuned them all at least a half-step -- with the intention that I will pick up and play at least one of them once a day.   This is a change from my usual default, which is to pick up my electric and play it unplugged, which is all fine except that everything else is gathering dust.  I should also probably start using my little Danelectro HoneyTone mini-amp I bought recently at Tall Toad Music.

I may have even returned to the poetry, after deciding to drop it some six or seven months ago.  That may or may not have to do with the current administration, but it's also part of the creativity reboot I've been working on this week.

One last creative thing I must kickstart again:  the art.  I really need to start doodling and sketching again.  Finishing up the Trilogy Project really took a lot of time and energy out of me and it fell by the wayside for far too long.  I even got a nice case for all my art pens and pencils so they're not all hiding in forgotten nooks of my desk.  Really must make room for that again.

Thankfully, the weather has decided to turn gorgeous here in SF, with most of the morning fog burning off rather quickly and revealing lovely blue sky and warm temperatures.  We did our grocery shopping and went for a walk earlier (filling ourselves at the Korean/Japanese fusion restaurant for lunch).  We'll be going to the Symphony tonight to listen to some Mendelssohn and Schumann, and tomorrow I believe we'll be going to see a movie at the Vogue down the street.

Other than that, it's been a nice weekend so far.  Can't complain!

jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
ITEM: Roadtrip down to the mall and Trader Joe's yesterday netted the usual groceries, some needed replacement kitchen and personal items, some scary-looking candy corn (which I'm told is "that's all you" so I'll probably be eating it until next June), and a bottle of milk stout that apparently also includes sugary breakfast cereal bits.

ITEM: I'd completely forgotten there's a London football game today, Jags versus Colts. And the Colts seem to be phoning it in, sadly.

ITEM: Inktober started yesterday! I'm going to do my best and try to do something every day, even as we'll be on vacation at the end of the month. This is one month-long meme I can get behind. It's a lot of fun, and always rekindles my love of drawing, even if it's one of my many maps or Murph doodles.

ITEM: Six more weeks of this clown show masquerading as the Republican ticket. Will be so happy when it's done with and HRC wins.

ITEM: Noted last night when editing The Balance of Light that I'd gotten to the start of the next chapter and reacted with "Oh, this chapter! I really enjoyed this one..." Sometimes being a writer is a lot of fun. :)

ITEM: Bro-in-law stopped by yesterday to work on a film class exercise with A, and I found myself transported back to 1991 where I was doing my own film homework and slowly coming to the conclusion that I really wasn't the director type, nor a visual creator that I wished I could be. I'm okay with telling others what to do in a project to get it done, but I knew I'd always be let down by the end result because it wasn't exactly what I saw in my head. That's also right about the same time when I realized that writing might not be a bad idea after all.

ITEM (Related): He filmed the entire thing on his cell phone and edited it on his PC back at home. I'm insanely jealous. I had to do all that crap by hand back in my day #yellsatcloud

ITEM (Related): While they did their filming in the living room, I skipped up back and noodled around on my guitar. Figured out a chord from George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness" that had been dogging me for a few days.

ITEM (Related Sort of): I really need to make good on my plan to start recording music in Spare Oom. I even bought a new microphone for it!

And that's my weekend so far. Hope everyone's having fun!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I think I may be putting a few things aside pretty soon.

As much as I enjoy the daily 750 Words exercise, I don't think it's completely helping. There's been more days than not where I feel forced to think of something to write about, and it ends up either sounding forced, or I'm blathering on about something I've written about countless times before. [More to the point: I've always been horrible at spontaneous writing. I need at least a shred of an idea that interests me to write about, or else I'll write maybe two sentences that go nowhere.]

Also, even though I have it written up on my whiteboard schedule, I'm rarely writing poetry anymore. I think with this, I'm too stuck in old habits and I'm writing the same damn thing over and over again. Perhaps it's a good sign that I'm no longer a young, lost Gen-Xer trying to figure out who he is and what the hell he wants to do with his life? Heh. Seriously, though...for a good couple of years it's felt like I've been forcing myself to write poems and the end result has felt kind of lifeless.

That's not to say I won't do daily words anymore, or write poetry. I'm just thinking I should stop forcing myself to write things when they're not serving any real purpose, however small.

There's also the fact that I've been on a big analog kick lately. That is to say, wanting to do more things offline and more in the Real World. This manifested itself a year or two ago when I chose to start handwriting a daily journal. This was partly to bring more of my personal life offline, but it was also a way to free up my writing from restrictions and expectations. And I should probably save my eyes from staring at screens all day long.

And lastly, I've been really jonesing to do more artwork and music. I've let them slide for far too long.

So, I'm positing this: what about, instead of forcing myself to work within the constraints of whatever platform I'm writing in/on, to get myself a companion notebook like the moleskine I use for journaling, and use it as a catch-all for things I'd like to work on? Something I can use at any time of day offline. Daily practice words, idea crunching, drawing, poetry, songwriting...a Notebook of Infinite Knowledge, as one of my friends used to call it back in college. Perhaps this weekend I'll check out some of the nicer hardcover notebooks out there and pick one up. And release the rules: no censoring myself, no forcing myself to make word count.

Something to think about.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I've never been much of a crowd-based fan of things. Even with music, of which I can be a rabid fan about a song or an album or a band, you'll rarely if ever see me hanging out with thousands of other like minds going "OMG AMIRITE?" all over the place. I just feel a bit too self-conscious about it, I think. I like the idea of community, but I've never exactly felt completely connected to it, nor have I been compelled to be. I prefer to enjoy things at my own level and speed.

I think one of the reasons I've never quite been Part of the Crowd is that fandom can end up being somewhat of a cross between a hive-mind and a Purity Test. I've never understood the Secret Handshake School of Fandom. Every time I see evidence of that, I start remembering those days in high school when I hopelessly tried to fit in with the popular crowd, yet was judged by my dorkiness and acne instead. The Secret Handshake World came to me thirty years ago this month, when I discovered College Radio. It was precisely the same situation as that kid who discovered a hidden but proud gaming culture: a world he (invariably a male, let's face it) could claim as his own, to hell with those stupid popular kids who wouldn't let him into their world. I Hereby Claim This Alternate Universe In the Name of Geekdom and You Can't Come Because You're Ignorant Jerks. Unless You're One of Us. My own version: I'll wear that Smiths tee shirt and that tatty green trenchcoat forever and let my hair grow long and flaunt my creativity everywhere ("You don't like it? TOO BAD."), much to everyone's indifference and/or annoyance. Those who GET IT will be my allies.

Early 90s, when I'm in college. WFNX was the top Alternative Rock station in the Metro Boston area: a schism is created in the world of punks, nonconformists, alternageeks and loners, between those who are fascinated and excited by the fact that their favorite music is finally sweeping away the utter blandness of Top 40 Radio...and those who are horrified that their once-favorite bands and their beloved alternative scene is SELLING OUT. And that schism remains for years, as alt.rock is watered down and gets all the major airplay; and the "true" alternative goes off in its own several directions (math rock, alt-country, and so on) and championed by the hip indie scenesters like Pitchfork. The scenesters who mock great albums simply because they get commercial airplay and give ten stars to albums no one's ever heard of, merely on principle.

Fast-forward to the present, in which I find myself reading the latest news about the Naruto manga on Tumblr. In which I get to remember what rabid fandom tends to foment: another schism, in which there are those who enjoy the story universe and its storytelling, and there are those who are absolutely certain their version of the story universe is the RIGHT one. [And let me tell you, when Naruto ended, there were was quite the contingent who ragequit the fandom because they felt the ending didn't jive with their theories (translation: Naruto didn't end up with Sakura) and thus sucked ass.] In which I see uncensored namecalling being used because You're Not Doing It Right. In which potential fans are scared away because they don't quite fit the bill. [I mean, after all, girl geeks are really only cute popular chicks wearing black-rimmed glasses and calling themselves nerds, right? If I tried to ask them out, they'd laugh in my face. Might as well keep them out because they're fakers, right?] [What? I'm only trying to keep people from appropriating MY lifestyle! Isn't appropriation what all those feminazis and libtards go on about, anyway?] [HEY Don't tell me to shut up! I have every right to have an opinion! Screw you, asshole! Go fuck off and die!] [LOL, can't you take a fucking joke?]

Granted: not ALL of fandom is like this, and I know and appreciate that. This is only the noisier half. The ones who believe they're doing everyone a favor by being the gatekeepers, Keeping It Pure.

The quieter half, the ones who welcome you with open arms and don't care if you're not as excited as they are about something, they're the real fans, the ones who realize it's Not Just About Them. It's about everyone, and I mean everyone. Even that once-popular kid who gave you wedgies in the locker room in 8th grade who happens to like Star Trek as much as you do. Even that cute girl who agrees that the new Star Wars Rogue One trailer is freakin' AWESOME. Even that black kid who's gonna be camping overnight for tickets with you when it opens.

The downside of fandom is the vociferous, the gatekeepers, the purity testers. The ones who are evidently afraid that you're going to taint their pure fandom with something they don't like. The downside of fandom is that they will gladly ruin it for everyone, for fear that you'll ruin it for them. And some will go to any lengths to claim that right. And I mean ANY lengths, including illegal.

By all means: you have a right and a duty to put a stop to that.

This isn't about them. It's about EVERYONE.

And hey, if you want to like something and keep it to yourself, that's cool too. The rest of us are here for you if you ever want to hang out, no strings attached.


While I don't think this is the ONLY reason why some fans lean towards bigotry, sexism and even violence when dealing with outsiders or those they don't want part of their fandom, I can't help but think this is one of the many possible ones. Being pushed towards anti-social behavior by your unaccepting peers does sometimes foment the 'oh yeah, well I'll show THEM' mentality. Speaking from personal experience here, though I was able to grow out of it.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
The last week of the year always feels like a bit of a denouement, like I've been given time to put this past year's affairs in order, finish up what needs finishing, and wait for the clock to tick over to the next year. It's downtime, where I don't have anything last minute planned, but I should at least clean up and put things away.

As always, I'll be posting my writing and creative resolutions over at Welcome to Bridgetown, and posting my year-end music lists over at Walk in Silence, so that leaves me with the more personal resolutions here on the LJ.

So! What do I have on tap?

--Reading: I'd like to read more independently-published books in the coming year. Considering I'm now a self-published author, I'd like to read more books that were released the same way. This kind of ties in with what I've been doing for years on the music scene: using social media, indie epublishers (like Kindle and Smashwords), and other platforms (such as Kickstarter, Patreon, etc). I find a lot of these by word of mouth; either they follow me on Twitter, or they're suggested by another indie creator I already follow. I've made a pretty good dent in my TBR pile this year, and also culled quite a few titles for varying reasons.

--Music Listening: I've always been a bit iffy about streaming sites such as Pandora and Spotify. Not just because of the pittance the bands get, but that it tends to feel like I'm merely putting my own collection on shuffle. I still listen to a lot of terrestrial radio stations that stream online as well as internet radio such as Sirius XM, but now that I've signed up with Amazon Prime, I'd like to use that service to check out new bands that I otherwise might pass by. When new bands release music, I like to listen to the entire album and not just the singles, and sometimes it's hard to find streaming previews that I'd be interested in. It'll also help me rein in my music purchasing; do I really like the entire album, or should I just go with the few songs? Will I still be listening to this album six months down the road? In short: broadening my musical tastes, but calming my spending habits.

--Health: I've felt pretty good this year, having avoided any major illnesses and retaining my usual weight. The eating habits may have gotten away from me a bit, and our visits to the YMCA fell apart near the end of the year (due to weather, laziness, and Day Job hell), but again, that can be easily rectified. I wouldn't mind losing a bit more weight and getting back to the gym more. I really should cut back on the sweets. It's high time I got another eye exam (it's been 2+ years, I think). I should also continue my visits to the dentist. I'm at that age where I'm starting to feel the aches and pains, especially in my joints, so maybe a few checkups are in order as well. In short: Meets Expectations, with Room for Improvement.

--Life in General: One of my recent thoughts was expanding my horizons a bit. Since I spent most of 2015 giving myself a more stable platform mentally, emotionally and creatively, I'm ready to widen that platform with new possibilities. Try out new things, think about things from different angles, things like that. I'm also ready to let go of some old and tired habits as well. I'm not aiming just to fix my time management, only to clear it up a bit. I've done a lot of that this past year already, so it would mainly be a lot of small fiddly habits and distractions that I no longer need or want.

And that's about it for now on the non-creative end of things. Looks like 2016 will be a year for completely new things, and I'm looking forward to it. :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I really should not feel this exhausted by an afternoon of concertgoing.

Granted, this concertgoing includes quite a lot of walking, eating really bad things (including a cheeseburger with bacon utilizing two full glazed donuts as a bun) (yes I have photo proof) (YES IT WAS TASTY), constantly breathing in secondhand pot smoke and vaping vapors, and walking home afterwards. I'm not old, really I'm not. I'm just...out of shape. Yeah, that's it!

Various pictures were taken yesterday for Day 1 of Outside Lands (which I will be posting to Walk in Silence soon enough). In record time, I was told by OL Staff that my nicer camera was not permitted as I did not have a press pass, even though it's a) a personal camera, and b) has a detachable lens no bigger than 2 inches (okay, I measured it and it's 2 inches plus 1/8 of an inch, but let's not be pedantic asshats, shall we?) and was told to put it away. This kind of put a damper on my mood for the rest of the day, as I was really looking forward to taking good pictures. I don't want to be that photographer who flouts rules until caught. I went for the music first and foremost, so I was happy enough to take pictures with my phone yesterday (and got some really good shots!), and will be taking my older point-and-click today and tomorrow.

And yes, even despite being on my feet all day, eating bad food and grooving to good tunage, I still found time to work on the ADoS edit when I got home. There's a good chance that's the source of my exhaustion, but it's totally worth it.

OH! And speaking of A Division of Souls...I can't tell you how giddy I get looking at this page, making it official:

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)
So how does my newfangled whiteboard schedule look at this time? Definitely a few rough patches remaining, but other than that it's working out just peachy.

I've been hitting my daily words consistently since Day One, but over the last few days I've fallen into the trap of doing those words after dinner, which is cutting into my actual writing session time. This is a problem I've had for some time, especially since I *want* to be hitting those daily words plus my regular work; if it cuts into my session time, that's less work I actually get done. Recommendation: do what I did in the first few days, sneaking those daily words in throughout the day and getting them done well before 4pm. That seemed to work out just fine. I'm well aware there may be work days where that won't be able to happen, but I can adjust when and where necessary.

The WordPress entries have been consistent so far, and I'd like to think that's because I'm actually starting them a few days early, well before the due date. That's part of the whole whiteboard project this time out--I'm trying to wean myself off the old school habit of doing my homework at the last minute and get it all done early. I have a Welcome to Bridgetown post due on Sunday, so I'll most likely be starting up something today so I have it ready for finishing, editing and posting then.

Monday's 'storyboarding' day worked out pretty well--I let my mind wander and come up with some new angles on the Mendaihu Universe that may be worth looking into. This has also leaked into my daily words, so all told I'm happy that the well has not in fact run dry, it was merely dormant.

Everything else has worked out pretty well so far, though of course I am being super hard on myself to get something of worth out of all this. I've been playing my guitars and trying a few different things, but no recording so far. I've drawn a few preliminary visual storyboards for a personal project (more on that sometime down the line) but they're pretty much remaining very basic pencil tests. I've gotten a good amount of word count on the Beatles book revision, but it still seems quite rough. Point being, it does feel like I'm flailing and getting nowhere...but that's just it: it's only nine days in. I'm just starting out here, and I've got to be a bit more patient.

Onward and upward!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
It's been a busy three days of 2015 so far, in a very good way. Keeping up with the daily words, prepared work for the Blogging the Beatles ebook project, posted at my WordPress blogs like a madman, and I even managed to get some guitar practice in there. Not a bad start, all told.

I already have my "this is due" whiteboard list--for instance, I have a Welcome to Bridgetown post due today--so I already have it hanging over my head. My instinctual response is "but I don't wanna". The trick for me for overcoming that? Doing it anyway, even if it's purely out of being a stubborn contrarian. Because I know for a fact that if I don't work on it and spend my evening goofing off on YouTube or something, I'll climb into bed feeling guilty and annoyed with myself for wasting time. In short: 'just STFU and do it already' seems to be my way of working on projects. Mind you, it's not the only way I'm getting myself to get things done, but I know enough to utilize it when necessary.

Been a relaxing and lazy weekend here...we did a bit of shopping yesterday, including heading over to the Haight to spend mumbletymumble dollars at Amoeba. Amanda found many sweet deals in the dvd section, and I made a significant dent in the dollar bins looking for (and finding!) exactly what I was looking for! Yay! Oh--and in the dvd section I found a used copy of the Space Above and Beyond box set--I've been meaning to pick that up for ages, so I'm quite happy that I finally own it! It's been ages since I've watched it, so I'll need to set aside time to rewatch.

Not too much on tap for today, other than my daily words, a WtBT post, and football games. Sushi down the street may be involved at some point, we'll see. Going to take it easy and enjoy the weekend while it's still here!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
So. What was 2014 all about, anyway?

Personally I'd say it was a banner year, with room for future improvement. I hit a hell of a lot of goals I wanted to hit this year. I've missed a few, some failing spectacularly, but for the most part I'm truly happy with how the year turned out. I have new goals for the next year, many that are quite different from the past few years. It's not so much a continued 'ramping up the output' like the last few years, but more along the lines of taking different paths. I'll explain this more in my New Year's Day entry a few days from now...this entry is all about what I've done this past year.

Writing. Despite not having a complete product to release to the world (yet!), I'm actually quite happy with the output I had this year. I also put a number of stagnant and stalled projects to bed and labeled them Trunked. The main focus for most of the year was on finishing the revision of the trilogy, and I nailed that one halfway through the year. It still needs a bit of work, but it's a hell of a lot further along than it was previously. I managed to keep a near-daily personal journal the entire year, only skipping the weekends and the occasional weekday--itself a surprise, given that past journals rarely lasted for that long. I was much more active with my daily words, utilizing the 750 Words website. I had dry spells with no words, but I also had a very long and fruitful month and a half of daily words as well. I also came up with a number of interesting ideas and passages via the 750 Words site, and they've given me inspiration for future projects. The poetry was touch and go, but it was never forgotten. As for the Trunked items, this was a very personal decision--I felt that many of these ideas had been sitting around gathering dust, and I could not find adequate reason to continue them. The half-ideas (demos if you will) were never expanded, one of the well-intentioned projects came to a halt, and others were simply so old that if I still hadn't touched them after all this time, they probably weren't worth revisiting. This also gave me a bit of a tabula rasa for newer and fresher ideas to come in. All in all, I'd say I managed to hit the most important goal of getting better at my craft, and that was my main focus all along. I'll be starting fresh and ready to go come the new year.

Music. I did not get any recording done this year as I'd hoped, but I did get a lot of practice in, and that's the most important part. I've got a few snippets of songs in my head that I'd like to expand on in the new year. Earlier this month I found, much to my annoyance and frustration, that the audio software I use stopped working due to shady business practices on behalf of NCH Software. I really liked their software, but I will no longer work with a company who forces older versions to stop working so users must repurchase the new versions. I've since gone with Audacity and hope it works to my advantage.

Artwork. Being a part of the Inktober meme this year was quite possibly the most fun thing I've done this year. I'd stopped doodling some time ago for various reasons (mainly because my writing work is almost completely on PC), and even though I have the Wacom tablet, I don't nearly use it as often as I should. Doing Inktober was a great push, forced me to draw something almost every day of that month, and in the process reawakened my love for drawing. I also started following a handful of artists on Tumblr to inspire me to draw more as well. I still have a long way to go on this, but the impetus is now there.

Photography. This one's a relatively new goal...I've been more excited about photography for a few years now, but 2014 was the year I stepped up my game with a new and slightly more professional camera. I've taken quite a few pictures this year, and even though I may not have posted them all online, I'm visibly getting better at it. In a roundabout way I'm revisiting my college years and relearning how to capture something visual--this time with still photography rather than moving film. I'd love to see where this leads.

Personal. Yeah, I admit it. I'm getting a little bit older and a little bit slower. I've been keeping an eye on my physical and mental health, going to the YMCA with Emm (although our Q4 attendance has been embarrassingly poor due to work and other issues), eating better, snacking less, and so on. I made a lot of personal moves to avoid or bypass emotional stress, which in the process has brought down my blood pressure and lifted my peace of mind. I'll continue this in the new year.

All in all, I think I did pretty damn good this year. I met my personal goals, with the aim of improving them and continuing in that direction. I'm definitely looking forward to a busy yet extremely fruitful 2015.
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)
Sunday is here once again. These weekends go by way too quick! Ah least I'll be on another vacaction in another few weeks, in which we're going to Portland OR for a few days. [I promise I won't come back home wearing a trilby, a beard, tight chinos and singing Lumineers songs.] That'll be our last vacation week for the year (well, for me, anyway), so I'll consider that my own official start of Q4...slogging through the remainder of the year with nary a day off and too many ridiculous requests coming my way at work.

Yesterday was quite productive, actually. A road trip to Half Moon Bay for picture-taking (part of a writing project I've taken part in), we also got some shopping done at HMB's farmer's market as well as a few other stores. I zipped out again for more shopping at TJ's, with a side trip to the bank for funds and quarters, and finally forced myself to stop at Jiffy Lube on the way home to buy new wiper blades for the car. Heh--man, when the guy at the garage took the old ones off, the look on his face was priceless, they were so bad!!

Also, yesterday was the day Jonc gets CDs in the mail! I'd found a sweet deal on the new George Harrison box set (The Apple Years 1968-75) on Amazon and ordered it for the collection. [Will I need to get 2004's Dark Horse Years box set now...? Maybe...] It's a nice package and the cd packages look pretty sharp, with some interesting recent commentary on it. Best one is George's son Dhani talking about the cover of Electronic Sound, with George explaining exactly who the people in the painting are!

Today? Not too much planned. Going to try to sneak in some artwork and other things that I didn't get to last weekend. I've also been doing pretty good with the 750 Words lately, so I'll be able to sneak that in as well, in amongst the football games and other things going on.

Writingwise, Two Thousand is coming along quite nicely. I like the characters I've created, and I'm having a hell of a lot of fun with the dialogue. After the (admittedly startling) realization that Chapter 1 could sit alone as a short story (more on that in a sec), I came to the conclusion that this book would grow in the same way, each chapter a standalone that ultimately ties in with all the others going on. The Dickens way of writing a novel, I suppose! I know it's been done before, but this is a new way of writing for me, and I'm looking forward to trying it out. Related, I did my first read-through of what I have so far, and while I have the bones of an interesting story, it definitely needs some revision and expansion. Not too much, but enough to tighten it up.

I'm also revisiting my old writing habit of minor future outlining, which I used for the trilogy--coming up with ideas just a few scenes or chapters ahead, and using that as a guidepost for what I need to write. That was always the best process for me, so coming back to it felt good and right.

OK, time to get ready for the day and get things done. Even if it is only 9:30!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Okay, summer technically ends tomorrow, but Q4 is already here. School has already started, retail has started to ramp up their sales, and soon enough we'll start seeing holiday-themed things in the stores. And of course, it's time for the big-name bands to release their albums.

So what's in store for me this autumn? I mean, aside from me getting all wistful and thinking about 1988 (more than usual, I mean), and writing bad poetry and yet more nostalgic blog posts?

Well, Q4 pretty much kicked in at the start of September for me, and that's when I restarted the whiteboard schedule, and I'm happy to say I've been sticking to it pretty tightly. I've had a few days where I don't get to a poem, or I missed a day of writing my 750 Words, or some such...but I'm okay with that. In most cases (aside from the 750), I can make up for it a day or so later, and I'm okay with that. In fact, I may not get to the schedule today due to the fact that we have plans with the in-laws later today. But the point of the schedule is not to assign myself strict deadlines--it's to ensure I get off my duff and do these things.

So for the long-term goals? That's a good question. There are a few book-related things I have in mind that I won't go into here just yet. I'm still near the beginning of Two Thousand so I can't quite tell when that one's going to be finished. Walk in Silence will also take much longer than anticipated, but on the other hand that one's a lot further along than I expected it to be. And do I have any projects that I'll start after that? Well, good question. I'm not focusing on that too much just yet. I have a few vague ideas, but that's about it. I'm not looking at them for the moment because I want to devote as much time as I can on my present projects.

Other than that? Having a pretty relaxing weekend! Hope everyone's doing well!
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Me, sixth grade, reading the sheet music for ELO's Face the Music during inside recess:
Teacher: That's a great album!
Me: Yes, I like their stuff.
Teacher: Do you know what 'face the music' means?
Me: ...standing in front of a stereo?
Teacher: ...

Actually, I knew what the phrase meant by that time. I just couldn't pass up a good, painful joke. :)

So yes, music. There was a LOT of it this past week. Lots of new albums released that I couldn't wait to download. Interpol's El Pintor, Robert Plant's Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar, Sloan's Commonwealth, and my friend Dae's Digital Scars (under her new band AnaDaenia--seriously, go check it out), for starters. And of course the surprise release of U2's Songs of Innocence, which I think is probably my favorite of the lot so far. [And amusingly enough, I recreated two further new releases--the Icon collections of John Lennon and Ringo Starr--via the mp3s I already have!] I also grabbed a earlier releases via eMusic, such as the Scruffy the Cat anthology.

And speaking of 80s-90s Boston bands, I made the mistake of ordering a few used cds from a third party vendor through Amazon. I grabbed two Raindogs cds from 1990-91 I've been looking for, and two Cavedogs cds (more on that in a second), plus a few non-Boston early 90s releases. The mistake lies in the fact that Round3 has to be the worst third-party vendor I've ever used...cracked jewel cases, a wrong cd in the case (one Cavedogs album had a Bobby Fuller greatest hits in it instead), lack of tracking, and missing another cd I'd ordered, which they said "oh, it got lost in the mail", which I'm pretty sure is bullshit. Ah well...lesson learned.

In other music news, yay, I finally figured out (sort of) how to play the "Dear Prudence" riff! Okay, I'm nowhere near playing it exactly like John does, but still...I've at least figured out a variation of the chord fingering! The trick now is to teach myself the fingerpicking style. It's gonna be hard because it's definitely not the style I'm used to. Some fingers are plucking the low notes while the others are plucking the highs as a counterpoint. This will take a bit of time, I fear.

In writing news...currently working on the second chapter of Two Thousand. It's a bit of a chore because I'm still not entirely sure where this particular scene is going. That's not to say I'm making it up as I go along...more that I have a very vague idea of what I want the chapter to do, but I currently have no roadmap on how I'm going to get there. I'm pretty sure this is going to cause problems down the road, so I think what I'll do is what I did with the trilogy, and map ahead a few scenes and/or chapters, just so I know where I'm going. Yeah, I know, this is Novel Writing 101 and why didn't I do this already, yada yada. But this is often how I start novels: the first chapter or so spills out and is completed, just to set the mood and get the plot rolling, and only then do I sit down and preplan the rest of it.

So! Busy weekend awaits! Hope everyone has a relaxing time! :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)

As mentioned earlier, I felt a need to return to the whiteboard writing schedule. Not because I was getting lazy, but because I'm once again feeling the need to kick it up a notch. Since I'm no longer balancing a major revision with other projects, I have quite a bit of time on my hands and I'd like to get more productive. This will give me more practice and experience in the process, which is always a good thing.

I'm okay with Two Thousand hitting on average around 500-600 words a day--that's actually pretty good for a project that just started last you can see in the picture, I'm reserving work on that (abbreviated as 2K) for the weekdays, the primary writing sessions at the end of the day.

Most of this schedule is actually copied from my early 2013 schedule, with a few tweaks here and there. It worked quite well in the past, so I figure I'd try it again. This time I'm playing it a bit differently:

--Two days of writing poetry, which will be offline for the most part but may be posted here or elsewhere if I feel like it. I still have my Dreamwidth account, but I've chosen not to post there anymore (the main reasons being that I just don't use it all that much, and it rarely gets traffic).

--Taking and/or posting a picture midweek, most likely to my Tumblr. I can of course do this any time I like, but I'm choosing to use Wednesdays as a deadline for posting.

--Art! This I'm keeping up in the air...this could mean me playing around with my Wacom, or it could be drawing something in the art moleskine notebook I have. As long as it's something drawn, that's all that matters. Again, this will probably stay offline unless I feel like posting.

--Music: I left this one deliberately vague, as it means two things:
1) Guitar practice. I do this almost on a daily basis anyway, noodling around on one of my guitars for a few minutes a day, but this will be a dedicated time where I'll play one of my instruments here, be it the guitar, the bass, the ukulele, or the keyboard. As long as it's something.
2) The Walk in Silence WordPress blog. I find that I really enjoy writing the music-themed entries on the weekends, as I can take my own time to work on them, give them a quick edit and revision, and then post them at the end of the day. Sundays seem to be the best time for those.

The only things I did not add were:
--750 Words. I want to start this up again, it's been awhile. I still get the daily email reminder as I never turned it off, and it's a lot of fun using it as an infodump or a playground for ideas.
--Journaling. I still do this every weekday during my 9:30am break, so no reason to add it here.
--The Welcome to Bridgetown WordPress blog. At the moment I'm lumping that in with the "Music" header, as I tend to write those on the weekend anyway, but I may add those on Saturday.

This schedule is of course subject to change, but at this point in time, I'm happy with it.  It'll definitely keep me busy!

Looking forward to a creative Q4! :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Woo, vacation coming in less than a week!! We'll be flying out of SFO on Saturday and across the briny blue to the UK for Worldcon and much sightseeing, and I'm totally looking forward to it. A and I both have a list of places to visit--the many museums, the usual tourist traps, and of course a few Beatles-related points of interest. And I'd be kicking myself if I didn't spend two weeks in London and not visit the famed Abbey Road, right? We even picked up a few tickets to see a play at one of their many theaters there. I'm really looking forward to this trip, gonna be a lot of fun!

Looking forward to Worldcon as's going to be one where I know quite a few people who are also going to be there, so it'll be a lot of fun to stop and say hi to everyone! Interestingly enough I haven't yet read through the entire con schedule yet (partly due to the fact that I completely forgot to do so until a few days ago), but I've come to the conclusion that cons work even better for me if I don't overplan it. There are always a few definites as far as panels are concerned, but keeping my plans relatively fluid means I'm less concerned about possibly missing things and more open-minded about panels I stumble in on at the last minute. I've discovered new books and writers that way too!

So yes...this weekend has basically been all about the planning. Getting a shuttle to the airport, getting London transit cards, buying travel books, mapping out a schedule, working out a to-do list, stopping mail delivery for a bit, and so on. All the usual steps one takes pre-vacation. And now I'm at the point where I'm making a mental list of what I'll be bringing on board the plane. This is one of those rare moments where we can bring a carry-on with us but not an additional bag to be put overhead. Not complaining about that too much...I'm sure I can figure out a way to arrange the necessities in my satchel--you know, the tablet, the mp3 player, book to read, notebook for writing, possible change of clothes (you know how it is), camera, and all within the confines of the space they're giving us. It'll be tricky, but I think I can pull it off.

In other news...what have I been up to the last few weeks? Aside from a three-day cold that annoyed the hell out of me, I've been keeping busy. I'm not as far along with Walk in Silence as I'd like to be, and I think it's because I've hit a slow muddy segment that will most likely need to be heavily rewritten. I'm at the point of why the hell am I writing this anyway, and is it really worth the work? second-guessing, which is annoying. The words don't exactly suck, but I'm perhaps at a point where I'm getting bored with the project. Or that I'm at a point I don't want to write for some reason and would rather not deal with it. In other words, I've got the writer's typical mid-project don't wanna's.

If anything, I'm going to utilize this vacation for two things: a brief break from the writing to get my thoughts back on track, and a distraction to plan what fiction project I'm going to work on next.

So yes...going to be a busy week of last minute plans, packing, and everything else under the sun. I may even post something here or at WordPress before I leave, if time permits. We'll see.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Okay, yes. What day is it? Tuesday? New album release day? Got it. Perhaps I shall do some mp3 shopping after I post this.

This past weekend I finally treated myself to having an actual weekend! That is, where I didn't head back into Spare Oom to work on stuff. Sure, I did a wee bit of TPoB revision, but other than that, it was a matter of just enjoying the day. Saturday we headed over to the de Young to check out the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit (Emm: "Come on, Georgia. You're not fooling anyone, you know."), as well as a neat mini-exhibit of photography and artwork based on the building of the Bay Bridge. They just opened another exhibit of abstract expressionism, but that'll be around for a bit longer so we'll check that out at a later time.

After the museum we headed over to Green Apple Books on Clement (who got a sweet write-up in Publisher's Weekly this past issue due to them winning PW's Best Indie Bookstore), where we spent mumbletymumble dollars on books for California Bookstore Day, including a really cool signed lithograph from Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret--a book, I should add, that I discovered in that very store. [Seriously, go buy the book. It's absolutely lovely, and well worthy of its Caldecott.] I'm so grateful we have such an excellent bookstore in our neighborhood...if any of you decide to come to San Francisco, let us know and we'll bring you there--you won't be let down, but you may leave with significantly less money in your pocket!

Also, Emm and I have started watching The Story of Film: An Odyssey on Netflix streaming the last few days. It's a phenomenal 15-part documentary by Irish film writer Mark Cousins, well worth checking out. In a way it feels like a sped-up overview of my years at Emerson as a film student, only better--it doesn't just hit on American or even UK cinema, but touches upon film in other countries--China, India, Brazil, Japan, and so on. Each episode is right about an hour long, so if you're into this sort of thing and like geeking out over creative filmmaking, it's well worth the time.

[Start Old Man Complaint Segment] In other news, my sciatica seems to have disappeared for the most part. A few muscles are a little sore for some reason, but other than that I'm no longer hobbling around like an ancient old man. Still taking it slower than usual, though, because I know it sneaks back at the most inopportune moments, especially when I think it's healed. [/End Old Man Complaint Segment]

And WRITING! Yay, I am full-blown WRITING again! Yes, I'm still working on the last couple dozen chapters of the TPoB revision on my tablet, but this past Tuesday I put my foot down and put Walk in Silence on the front burner. Over the past week I've been fashioning out a detailed outline of twenty or so chapters with all the points I want to hit. This is especially working out well, as a lot of this part of the book has been sort-of written already in the form of various LJ blog entries over the years. I'm doing it this way because in reading those blog entries, I keep finding moments I'd wanted to add to the entry after it's been posted, and building up this outline will assist to that. The music side of the book will come next, in which I'll add specific songs/albums/bands that I want to talk about and insert them almost-chronologically. [I say "almost" because the book actually starts in 1986, jumps back in time, and then moves forward again in a linear fashion.] I've hit a few thousand words over the course of the last week, which is small beans so far, but once I actually get the text going, the word count should rise accordingly.

Can you tell I'm really looking forward to writing this book? :D


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