Changes: How They Come Flowing Down

2013 was a year of change, of pain, of growth, of recovery. It was a year my wife’s family faced the death of their patriarch, that she underwent major surgery and dealt with the consequences, that I lost a corporate position still dreamed about fondly, that depression reared it’s head and sent shockwaves through every corner of my life, and that somehow through all this we made it through. I’m not in the camp to believe I did my best; frankly don’t think I did, but I was able to see my failings during these challenges and succeeded in the one part that matters when you failed. I learned from my mistakes. Still dealing with the consequences of what I went through and how I handled it and I don’t expect to bounce back from these issues, but I do expect to improve on how 2014 is handled. It won’t be perfect, it won’t be pretty, but it will be a year of growth.

Before we go any further we need to take a look back if for nothing more than to see the mistakes that we made trying to get 2014 rolling. In February I started working on a project titled Goals and Objectives, an ambitious project to put me into production mode for every single day from March 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. It would generate ten short stories, an anthology collection, and two novels. It would see me podcasting daily, blogging nearly as much, and meeting goals that I think I might have a hard time grasping even if I was working full time as a professional writer. I say I made it because I wanted to see what I could accomplish, but I think I did it as a way to try to reach an impossible dream given my current circumstances. I’m not a full time writer yet, just an office worker starting a new position with varying responsibility, mixed productivity times, and a habit of spending too much time in the virtual company of friends and not enough time focused on being a professional in the hobby I claim to love. I failed in those Goals and Objectives, and now I approach them again not to beat myself against the rocks but to learn from the failure and adapt to new possibilities.

My main axis of desire lies in a few fields: I want to be a full time writer, I want to be a successful consistent podcaster and blogger, I want to develop and run RPG’s and eventually sell them, I want to be able to be a producer of video content featuring actual play game play, and I’d like to be able to fulfill these dreams from a healthy nominally weighing body. None of these are mutually exclusive, but they all require consistent effort over time; you know, like making a diamond. Not a bad metaphor since creating something beautiful and precious is a way I feel comfortable referring to these goals. Each of these is going to take some manipulation of my current behavior over time. One by one, here are the current plans:

I Write Therefore… 

Writing is my dream job. Sharing my novel ideas, short stories, articles, screen plays, and role playing modules are all parts of giving away the parts of me that ring with the most truth. The goals and objectives project was focused on this path and I still cling to this being the goal I want to focus heaviest on. Part of the change I’m making is a revision of this site, of when I write, and how I write. The site revision helps as a quick booster to help encourage me to fill a fresh fancy place with new words. It’s a pattern I recognize in previous attempts of rejuvenating these pages and it’s something I think is worth using. Previous versions have been focused on adding extra links, features, and images to the site to make it look like a “professional site.” I spent a great deal of time studying the pages of authors I loved, seeing what worked on their site and what didn’t, and trying to incorporate them into the design I settled on. I think that’s halted my love of the page though as I started to see it as a cookie cutter display that matched other “modern” designs. It didn’t feel like me, and it distracted from the words. Moving to a plainer simple design and making the focus on the words I think is going to aid me in sparking my personal interest again. In time I’ll move back a display matching works for a functional author page, but that won’t matter until I fulfill the rest of this post.

I do believe short stories are a writing mechanic I need to embrace. I’ve written scores of flash fiction but that length of fiction doesn’t offer what I need in terms of learning editing chops. My lack of comfort with editing is what halted my progress on my completed novel, and is the biggest reason I’m hesitant to go back to that story until I’m ready to either tell a new story in that setting or revisit Rebin’s Legacy. Shorts offer the chance to develop stronger narratives in a limited space; thus providing more chances to edit while not having to tackle the mountain that is a novel. The one story a week goal was ambitious and would have been a feat for a novice such as myself, which is why it failed in the first place. I’m moving from such a demanding schedule but not with the intention of taking it easier on myself. A story a month over the next eight months would sit better with my skill level, and it’s a reasonable goal. While these be published? Not sure, but that’s a crossroad for another day. The ideas behind my skill level give me additional reason to wait before attempting another novel. I’m reading more, and I’m learning just how much I have to go before I’m ready to start releasing work I’m proud of. Short stories for 2014 then we’ll revisit a novel either late this year or in 2015.

Just a final note: I did work on my first screen play project last year. It was an enjoyable experience, and I want to try again. Nothing hard and fast but if I have some spare time later this year we will try to build up that skill.

Catch My Feed…

Podcasting has been in my blood since I was given a second gen iPod Nano back in 2007. NPR, Pesudopod, Farpoint Media, and then beyond. For years I was just a fan but like many listeners I’ve become a host too. I run a number of shows but currently most are on hiatus or are awaiting editing and posting. Hiddengrid, Five Things We Like, Trans-Dimensional Cafe, my audio journal here, and an upcoming project involving a domain I’ve been squatting; each of these are flavors of my creativity and a way to express myself and outreach into the social world. I’ve been a bad steward of these entities, and if things go as planned by the end of April I will have brought new life into a few of them. Not all of them will return though, as like many podcasts some must fade to make room for the new.

The Hiddennode will return, especially as I start trying to express myself and my issues with the projects I’m working on. The show suffers the most when I have nothing to talk about, so a simple fix is to just start doing things.

Five Things We Like and Trans-Dimensional Cafe are dead, likely permanently. The former was a fun shot in the dark but faltered when interest waned from my cohosts. I don’t blame them as much as I blame myself for not diversifying who I had on as a guest. TDC suffered a similar fate. Without diversifying voices, I face the issue of not having anyone on to talk to. People lose interest. Things stop. Like the Hiddennode these both suffered from a lack of personal activity.

The Hiddengrid is going strong in terms of running games, but crumbles when I get to the editing phase. I can link it to a multitude of issues but really it comes down to personal responsibility and keeping productive while avoiding my time sinks.

The new project, well, that’s still a secret isn’t it? Besides, this involves more than one avenue of my life, such as:

Taking Initiative…

Two years ago I took part in the longest campaign I’ve ever participated in, Burning Theorsa, The experience was eye opening and inspired in me a love of treating Role Playing Games as a deeper adventure and hobby. This year, The Sixth World Chronicles became my longest running game, this time as the gamemaster rather than participant. Running and modifying two editions of the Shadowrun system has taught me alot in terms of what mechanics work and don’t work. Now that my gaming life style is going to change, I’m feeling the need to branch out to the opportunity Burning Theorsa offered; trying more hippy indie games, recording them, and putting them out there for folks to consume. Over the next several weeks I’m going to run my players in one shots of such games as Free Market, Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World, Numenera, and others. I’m not putting the weight on these to expect them to become giant campaigns, but I don’t want to encourage a movement in my community to spring up around these types of games.

Health and Wealth…

All of these activities rely on one major factor, my health. Depression stems not just from the activity around me but from my own personal activity and body image. The current body image is somewhere between a sea sponge and a bundt cake, and I’ve failed myself in terms of working on improving my form factor. There’s an extra person stapled to my mid-section and it makes it hard to sleep, to feel good, and to live healthy. It is my requirement to start tasking myself with working out. In fact, I’m going to take a little break from working on this piece and go work out for ten minutes. *Snip* Well that’s better. A few reps with 5 pound weights, and 5 sit ups. Far less than I need to do to lose this weight but a good start for day one. I suppose with the process of starting to work out while this post is under construction means the is far less to talk about here than I thought. Can’t really beat myself up for not exercising when I’ve finally started. Good job me, keep it up.

The Future…

I don’t have a set outline yet, and don’t intend to make one just yet. That’s the last lesson learned from my goals and objectives. I balk at too much structure and so there isn’t a reason to try and enforce one. There just needs to be a witness to my successes and failures and that’s what the Hiddennode was meant to be.  It’s time to restore this blog to that rightful place, as my conscious, as my voice in the wilds of the net.

I’m home again.

The Ramblings of a Distracted Writer