Posts tagged with "resolution" - Faerye Net 2010-12-31T17:14:56+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Classics January 2010-12-31T17:14:56+00:00 2010-12-31T17:15:59+00:00 <p>So, I&#8217;m thinking of starting a new tradition. As some of you may know, if I froze my <a href="" target="links">to-read</a> list tomorrow and didn&#8217;t deviate from it until I was done, it would probably still take me 5 years to finish. This means that any individual book&#8217;s claims tend to get short shrift, and there&#8217;s a sort of triage at play: oh, I <em>need</em> to read that as research for a project; oh, I <em>need</em> to read that so I can return it to its rightful owner; oh, I <em>need</em> to read that because I know the author. This means that if I have a whole lifetime to read a book and no greater prompting than my own curiosity or its own merits, a book may keep sliding down the list indefinitely, especially if it&#8217;s long.</p> <p>Well, I want to arrest the slide somewhat. I&#8217;ve been meaning to read <em>War and Peace</em> forever, and I have a perfectly lovely <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780393966473'>copy</a> of it to read, and by jiminy, I&#8217;m starting it tomorrow. Do I promise to finish it by the end of January? No. I am not insane. But I think starting off the new year with an old classic will be a good experience, and hopefully, one worth repeating next January.</p> <p>Who&#8217;s with me? Have you been meaning to dive into <em>Moby-Dick</em>? <em>Our Mutual Friend</em>? <em>Persuasion</em>? <em>I, Robot</em>? (I didn&#8217;t say whose definition of classic you had to use!)</p> Wordcount wisdom 2009-11-22T01:21:57+00:00 2009-11-22T01:25:42+00:00 <p>I always feel a bit self-conscious posting about my writing process. Not only do I believe fiction is a bit like law and sausage, but I&#8217;m also keenly aware the internet teems with unpublished novelists. I may be a special snowflake, but it&#8217;s positively blizzing in the intertubes. However, I&#8217;ve been encouraged to post about process, so here it goes again.</p> <p>Some time ago, I made a <a href="" target="links">daily wordcount goal</a>. I stuck with it for three months before I missed a day. The day I missed was the day before my move, and then the day of my move, and the second day on the road, and, well, once you break a habit, it&#8217;s hard to glue it back together. My daily wordcount has been more of an unpredictable hare than a methodical tortoise of late. Over the summer, I started it up once more, and declared that, should I miss a day, I&#8217;d have to make it up <em>plus penalty words</em> the next day. That worked fine for a while, occasional deficits being repaid in massive fits of productivity. I filled a lot more <a href="" target="links">pages</a> in my journals. But eventually a hundred words lost here and there added up, especially with the steep interest applied by &#8220;penalty words.&#8221; The system was joyless and disheartening, and made me feel like a debtor to myself, rather than a creator. So I forgave my debt and scratched the system.</p> <p>This tale I told, in brief, to some fellow writers at World Fantasy. (Specifically, over lunch at the delicious and reasonably priced Tandoori Oven in downtown San Jose.) &#8220;So I need to find a way to keep myself on the wordcount system without sucking the joy out of everything,&#8221; I said.</p> <p>&#8220;What you need is positive reinforcement,&#8221; said <a href="" target="links">Vylar Kaftan</a>. This was one of the many times people have told me things that should have been perfectly obvious, but they break across my thick skull like glorious sunbeams, and I am filled with gratitude. I <em>know</em> I respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative reinforcement. I&#8217;m the kid that would stop putting her oboe together to practice when her mom yelled up the stairs &#8220;Why haven&#8217;t you played your oboe today?&#8221; but practiced &#8217;til her lips lost sensation when her teacher said she was improving markedly. This is how I work. I should know this.</p> <p>The brilliant Vylar suggested rewarding myself with $20 fun money for a week of accomplished daily wordcounts, but my new problem was that I can&#8217;t really make the reward monetary. And apart from money and things that require money, I couldn&#8217;t think of a reward. Making cookies for myself would be a reward (for me and for <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a>) but it would also mean I had to, you know, make a whole batch of cookies. Not so rewardly: another task to do.</p> <p>And then my second wordcount angel flapped in. <a href="">Ruth</a>, Ryan&#8217;s mom, is a psych nurse. I told her I was thinking of just making myself Reward Coupons for successful weeks, and figuring out what they stood for later. &#8220;Honestly, that should work well,&#8221; she said. &#8220;You&#8217;d be surprised by the motivating power of gold star stickers.&#8221; I realized she&#8217;s right. Marking success is its own reward. After all, I <em>want</em> to write. I want to see the pages fill up and the stories finish. Why wouldn&#8217;t I feel richer when I see what I&#8217;ve accomplished?</p> <p>I haven&#8217;t gone out to buy my packet of star stickers yet, but I have started counting again, as of the day Ruth and I talked, the 15th. And today marks the first completed week, each day over my wordcount goal, even when I spent hours revising (which has a tendency to generate something like -30 words per hour). I have more than a hypothetical gold star to show for it: I have a story more than halfway done. Many thanks to the wise women that turned my snoozing hare back into a tortoise.</p> 500 words a day (or so) 2008-08-20T11:33:07+00:00 2008-08-20T11:33:07+00:00 <p>Of late, I&#8217;ve been listening to the <a href=""><em>Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing</em></a> podcast (are podcast names italicized?). This only happens, say, while grocery shopping or folding clothes, so I&#8217;m plugging through them fairly slowly. However, it&#8217;s interesting and often inspiring.</p> <p>This summer, they&#8217;re doing some contest which, in manner of crossover comics plotlines, is supposed to get AiSFP listeners to listen to sister program <em>I Should Be Writing</em> and vice versa. It has writer guests deliver &#8216;Keys to Publishing&#8217; which we&#8217;re supposed to collect from both shows. Anyway, the first one, in <a href="">Podcast 56</a>, was delivered by Tobias Buckell and was, naturally, persistence. Always number one, that one, I thought, as I picked out green taco sauce for enchiladas, but when Buckell expanded, it turned out he was not talking about sending stories out doggedly (hey wait, how many stories do I have out? Maybe I need that pep talk too), but about <em>writing</em> doggedly. &#8220;I think a professional has to write a lot, and be persistent about it. It takes about 300 words a day or a page a day to create a novel in a year, and a novel in a year is quite often, you know, a rate that a lot of people have to hit in order to make a living at it.&#8221;</p> <p>Obviously, this is good advice, as is the unpacking he does about practicing for productivity and practicing our craft in general, so I decided I would start writing 500 words a days towards a project I&#8217;m working on. If I only hit 300, that would be okay (I&#8217;ve discovered that setting goals works better if I don&#8217;t berate myself for falling short), and this is in addition to any other projects I&#8217;m working on. The first obstacle was, of course, that I do my initial drafts longhand. My <a href="" target="links">Clairefontaine notebooks</a> don&#8217;t have a word count function. So I chose a couple of pages and counted the words, estimated how many pages would make 500 words, and did that the first day, then typed it in (revising as I go, which is part of the point) and found it was 562 words. So far, so good &#8211; my goal is four pages longhand, not counting cross-outs.</p> <p>I&#8217;ve been doing it ever since, though yesterday I tried to cram it in before bed and ended up with three pages (hopefully that falls within my 300 word range). With the exception of yesterday&#8217;s hiccup, what I&#8217;ve found is that it&#8217;s easy. I sit down with all the despair and feeling of dorkiness that besets a new project, unsure what scene to write on the heels of the one I finished the day before. But I get an idea, or maybe two before one sticks, and I write. Most days I have written well over four pages, written to the end of a scene or until looking at the clock in alarm. This is the mystical &#8220;butt in seat&#8221; that our faculty member David Long recommends in place of muse. This is doing the work. This is self-conscious and awkward, but it&#8217;s moving me forward <a href="" target="links">to revision</a>, to having made something, to the future.</p> <p>Sometimes when established writers throw numbers around, it&#8217;s in the form of a rate, and it tends to cause panic in me and my fellows. But it doesn&#8217;t have to, if it&#8217;s not a rate, but a small, manageable goal. 500 words. 4 pages longhand. I can do this, every day.</p> Taggers may learn highly instructive things 2008-08-07T11:45:01+00:00 2008-08-07T11:45:01+00:00 <p>I love tags. They&#8217;re intuitive, individual, flexible and informative. They appeal to the part of my mind that <a href="" target="links">color-codes obsessively</a> and also to the slapdash right-now portion (or portions). So one of the chief advantages to <a href="" target="links">upgrading</a> to a newer <a href="" target="links">blog engine</a> was the tags, the glorious tags.</p> <p>I haven&#8217;t finished tagging the archives yet, but after Ryan wrote the Top Tags plugin, I was surprised to see certain trends emerging. For one, I hadn&#8217;t thought I blogged about &#8216;real life&#8217; <em>all</em> that much. For another, I was disturbed to see &#8216;grouse&#8217;, my chosen tag for negativity and ranting, in the top 5. Am I really that negative? I wondered, and considered how many fewer items could be tagged with &#8216;huzzah&#8217;, grouse&#8217;s opposite number.</p> <p>So I&#8217;ve been trying to be more positive. Oh yes, if something is a grouse (like yesterday&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Zyrtec-D</a> rant) I dutifully and truthfully tag it that way. But I&#8217;m trying not to write as many, to think of more blog items that celebrate or interest rather than excoriate. Tagging is self-revelatory. C&#8217;mon, be honest, you&#8217;ve looked at your tag cloud on some site or other. It&#8217;s interesting to see in aggregate the choices and distinctions we make in individual places, and to compare them to the aggregate choices of other users and the site as a whole. And the thing about any sort of self-revelation is that sometimes it shows you things you didn&#8217;t really want to see. It gives you a chance to change.</p> <p>So I&#8217;ve already managed to push grouse down to number five on the Top Five Tags list&#8230;let&#8217;s see if I can&#8217;t push it off altogether!</p> Must...learn...German! 2005-10-14T10:42:16+00:00 2009-12-16T12:30:33+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve figured for a while that German would be approximately six barrels of monkeys to learn and speak. It first came upon me whilst singing a Bach hymn that sounded like a drinking song, back in high school. And today, the resolution to learn this language came upon me with renewed force. For I am researching logistics for the World Cup in Germany. I am not sure what kind of flight or flying machine <b>flugzeug</b> might be (pronounced something like <em>floog-tsoig</em>, I would guess), but by all the Muses, a language that can produce a word like that is one that I should know.</P> <p>Other gems:<br /> <ul><li><b>flughafen</b>. I&#8217;ve heard this before, but it never gets old. (means &#8216;airport&#8217;.)</li> <li>Judging from the English site, <b>unsere zimmer</b> means &#8216;our rooms&#8217;, but I seriously assumed it meant &#8216;the height of luxury&#8217; at first (the photos assisted me in forming that impression.) How much more fun is &#8216;zimmer&#8217; than borin&#8217; old &#8216;room&#8217;? I ask you.</li> <li><b>Freizeit</b> sounds a bit more excitable than &#8216;leisure&#8217;, but I&#8217;m sure I could get used to it.</li> <li><b>lichtdurchflutete</b>. I infer this means &#8216;furnished&#8217;. I am speechless.</li></p> Pie, or, why I want to stay home from 'school' 2004-08-05T16:07:19+00:00 2009-01-14T11:38:09+00:00 <p>I like to make things. I really do. There is nothing like the exhilaration, pride, and power, of looking at something I&#8217;ve made. Clothing, short stories, drawings, dinners, analytical essays, pillows, footstools, cookies, whatever&#8230; I love to make things. To make something that is greater than the sum of its parts is a kind of primal magic, a way of working your will upon the world.</p><p>My only problem is, I don&#8217;t have time to do it all. Lately, I&#8217;ve made a <a href="" target="links">baby dress</a>, and I&#8217;ve been working on embroidering initials onto some pre-made hats for a pair of twins that is coming. Meanwhile, I haven&#8217;t made cookies in months, and I think I&#8217;ve made two pies, maximum, since we moved in November. I haven&#8217;t drawn very much for a while, and my correspondence is far below its stellar ideal. I haven&#8217;t practiced my oboe in ages, or played our piano, and I haven&#8217;t added much to my ongoing attempts at novels and short stories. I seem to be juggling, always (which is something I&#8217;m not particularly good at), and I&#8217;m always noticing something shinier on the floor than what I&#8217;m throwing about at the moment.</p><p>Is it a problem? I really don&#8217;t know. I enjoy myself, and things get made. But I&#8217;m trying, every once in a while, to step back from the new thing, and do something I haven&#8217;t done in a while. Therefore, this weekend, I am making pie. And, well, someday, I hope, I won&#8217;t have this pesky &#8216;wage-earning&#8217; thing to do &#8212; and then I&#8217;ll be free to make and do with reckless abandon, and maybe, just maybe, <em>finish</em> a few more things.</p>