Monday, February 20, 2012

Everybody's blogging, blogging

A number of my friends with blogs seem to be emerging from their own quiescent blog-hiatuses of late, which is a wonderful thing to see, especially when one's friends are as entertaining and incisive as mine tend to be.

My dear friend Gilgamesh -- terror to gods and man alike -- has begun blogging again at Gilgamesh In The Land Of The Dead after several years of down time. (To be fair, he really did have several years worth of stuff to get through).

My dear friend Psyche -- terror to gods, man, and several other categories of being -- never really stopped blogging at Psyche's Acorn, but her blogging certainly seems to be more frequent of late. (She had several years worth of stuff to get through, too, but managed to blog anyway. I've long since gotten used to being an underachiever in comparison; I simply accept her awesomesauciness and encourage you to do the same).

They are exceptionally good writers, thoughtful and reflective, with interesting and valuable things to say. As such, I recommend them both to your attention.

But that isn't why I'm thinking about them. No, on the contrary, the real reason I mention them is, as usual, all about me, me, me.

When I started Back From Erstwhile, I thought of it as a process blog. Over time, as my updates became less frequent, I fell away from that; it's hard to focus on a process you only check in with people about a handful of times a year.

(Six posts apiece in 2009 and 2010. Two in 2011.)

But seeing how Gilgamesh and Psyche -- and what it is with my friends and mythologically-derived online pseudonyms? -- use their blogs has me thinking about what I've been doing with this thing, and what I want to do with it.

I'd really like to talk more about my process, about my efforts to professionalize (or re-professionalize) myself as a writer. About what's happening with my various projects, and when things are going well versus when they aren't. Gilgamesh and Psyche are both remarkably direct and honest about what goes on in their lives, which is something that I with my tendencies towards a narrow focus on my writing, and towards understating and deprecating my own feelings, greatly admire.

The problem for me comes when things aren't going well. I'm very much a "good news" person. If I can't report a success, I don't like to say much of anything. I like being thought well of. I don't much like conflict or confrontation.

This has gotten me in trouble at different times in my life, in different roles, because when things go wrong, I've been known to flounder trying to fix them on my own -- or worse, ignore them and hope they'll go away -- when telling people that there was a problem would have been the simplest and best way forward.

In the case of blogging, it means that my desire to post the positive and my reticence about either baseless hype or going off-topic with random bloviating* leads to reluctance, even a sense of shame, about posting my not-good-news here. That was evident in the way the "haven't been able to write this week" posts in the first couple of years trailed off into my later extended blog silences.

I'm tired of extended blog silences.

Now, anyone who follows more than one blog knows that the resolution to post more frequently is the inevitable precursor to a blog that is never updated again, so I'm not going to resolve to post more frequently.

What I am going to try to do, is to post more of a variety of things again. And I'm going to try to get more personal, more open, in at least some of what I post. This goes against the grain, and it's a bit scary for me. I've described my approach to blogging in the past as Business Casual, and it's taken a lot of thinking to shift what I think is appropriate for me to share online.

What I seem to have landed on, is that I can't both always and only be the bearer of good tidings, and also tell you the truth about myself, and what I do, and what I care about. Because there is too much that 's important to me that isn't good news, and that does involve me taking a stand and risk causing a conflict or confrontation.

As for what all this means in terms of content here... I don't really know yet, to be honest. I have a great many ideas, but most of them are pretty nebulous at the moment, and it all boils down to "post more and different stuff". If you have thoughts on what sort of topics you'd like to see me touching on, by all means drop me a comment and share them. (I checked out the Blogger analytics today, and it turns out I have readers; I had no idea).

Until then, thank you to my friends, Alias Gilgamesh and The One They Call Psyche, for sharing so much of yourselves, and for inspiring me to more that's better, and truer.


* Not that I've never bloviated here; far from it. But I never feel entirely good about it, afterwards.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Is What I'm Doing: February 2012 Edition

So, as it turns out, this February isn’t going to see a big push on a side project. There are a couple of reasons for that, one negative, and one positive. I’m a give-me-the-bad-news-first person, so we’re going to start with that.

Reason #1: January Kind of Kicked my Butt

Things were busier than ever at home, work went crazy at the same time, which for some reason made it harder for me to sleep, and I had a low-grade cold for a while. I managed to keep writing, but not to the degree I was hoping for. So I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be. I had planned to finish the short story I’ve been working on, then see what the status was with the alpha readers critiquing my novel, and determine if I had the time to do that side project. As it turns out, I’m still working on the short story. I really want to finish it before I turn my attention to the next, bigger thing. Because if I set this aside for something even more involved, FSM only knows when I’m going to get back to it. Heinlein’s Second Rule of Writing is “You Must Finish What You Start”, and I’m in complete agreement. So, work on the short story continues, albeit slowly.

But after that…? Well, that takes us to the good reason.

Reason #2: The Alphas Have Spoken

I’ve now heard from and, when it was possible, met with my alpha readers. The feedback I received was in every case really detailed and thoughtful, and it’s already been incredibly valuable to me. What that means, though, is that I’m now burning to get back to the novel. I have plot holes to fix, characters to buff, and a world to embroider in more detail. I know where the problems are, and – importantly – I know they’re fixable.

So, when I finish this short story, and that should be soon, I plan to turn my attention back to the novel and do the second draft. Ironically, with the insight my readers have provided, it will probably go a lot more quickly than what was supposed to be the polish did. Be that as it may, the upshot is that I don’t have a hole in the middle of February to fit in a new project. I am rich in projects. I’m projected-up. Burgeoning with projects, that’s me.

Indeed, since Patrick, the artist on Cold Iron Badge, has suggested that it’s time to start getting a script down for Book 2 of our comic, I might be a little too rich in projects. But that’s just a time-management problem. And a getting-my-butt-in-the-chair-and-actually-writing problem.

It may not be My Own Private NaNoWriMo, what with it not being something new or taking place over a month, but it’ll involve lots of Wri, that’s for certain. There’ll be more updates as I move forward with this crazy process and its inevitable frustrations, I’m sure. Talk to you then, probably while pulling my hair out.