Reading Stuff

Creative Goals: 27 January – 2 February 2020

It’s only taken a month, but I finally grabbed the Easy Content Template plugin for WordPress.  Previously I was opening up old posts and copying the stuff across… then I remembered it’d be much, much easier to just, y’know… set up a template.

Hey, sometimes I can be efficient.

Just… not often.


Writing

  • Finish chapter 3 of Singer/Songwriter.
  • Start chapter 4 of Singer/Songwriter.
  • Try to come up with a couple more potential names for Singer/Songwriter…  I struggle with naming things, can you tell?

Reading

  • Actually finish this damn book!

Misc

  • Day job: working 40.5 hours a week.  Check for the total on Sunday!
  • Maybe get the PC booted up this week?  Fingers crossed.
  • Finish setting up my bullet journal for February. Yes I know I missed the entirety of January, shhh.  It’s planned in pencil, it just needs inking in.
  • Tidy desk.  It’s looked like a bomb’s hit it for weeks now and it’s irritating me… but I only really sit here to work, so I’m usually distracted.
  • Try to manage a couple more sketches.  I miss drawing.

Again, it’s not a list of goals that’ll set the world alight, and I’m already starting to get stressed by the Singer/Songwriter story – not because I don’t know what to write but because, thanks to my home life and variable working hours, I don’t have the time to sit and write.

I got a finger-wagging month or so ago because I wasn’t Writing Every Day and Publishing Every Month and did I really Want To Be A Writer?  And I’m really happy for them that they aren’t a full-time carer in full-time employment with all the fun of their own full-time disabilities as well, but some of us need nice, quiet alone time to be able to think and write.  I already know from NaNo that if I try to write in 5-10 minute bursts, I end up having no fucking idea what I wrote previously.  Yeah, I can edit it later… but then it’s twice as much work as actually writing it properly in the first place.

So… y’know, should anyone get the random urge to go dictating ‘advice’ to people, have a little think.  And if someone’s trying to work, care for someone and also has days when they can’t stand upright for longer than ten minutes without crippling hip/back pain (but still has to do all the cooking, cleaning, recycling/bins etc.), sneering at them and telling them it’s not an excuse is, possibly, not the best argument you can make.

If something works for you, great!  Fantastic!  I hope you keep on at it!  But writing is not a one-size-fits-all gig.  Don’t try to demand that it should be.

Accountability: 20 – 26 January 2020

It’s been a week that feels a little like swimming through treacle.  Time has gone quickly and at the same time had much the same feeling of pace to it as the average garden snail on a particularly aimless day.  I’d say I need a holiday, but aside from the fact it’s only January, I think we all know what I won’t get to have at any point in the foreseeable future…


Writing

  • I did indeed finish the second chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story.
  • And I have indeed started the third chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story, although progress is slow because Life.
  • I came up with… well, all of one name so far, but it’s one name more than I had at the start of the week.

Reading

  • I haven’t finished the book yet.  In part I haven’t had time because of work, everything I have to do at home and trying to write, and in part because it feels like a very long book…

Misc

  • Bad cellphone photo of a drawing of a blond-haired Caucasian elf in a pink T-shirt and a fur-collared denim jacket.There’s been a little progress on the playlist, but not by much.  I’ve enjoyed listening to lots of different music though, and adding things I particularly enjoyed to my likes to re-listen for suitability later.
  • I did actually manage the picture of Marcus!  It came out not as hideously as I’d expected it to be when I started.  (I also discovered at a very inopportune time I only have one white-fleshtone Kurecolor marker, so I should have probably done it with Copics instead…)
  • 47 hours of day job this week.  The reason I’m tracking this is that we had an Edict at the end of last year about how everyone should only be working 40 hours in order to maintain a Good Work-Life Balance, and thus no one would be allowed to pick up any shifts beyond this without manager approval.  …But I don’t pick up shifts. A Good Work-Life Balance is only if they’re not desperate to fill out shifts, apparently.
  • I finally managed to boot up my desktop!  …And the day after, there was another fucking Windows Update and I’ve not been able to start it again since.  Thanks, Windows.

 

Creative Goals: 20 – 26 January 2020

I’m actually enjoying having goals set out.  It gives me that odd feeling of accomplishment when I achieve them.  That’s why I tend to work towards smaller goals: if I announced big ones, I’d end up panicking and fail on everything.

I love my brain chemistry so much.


Writing

  • Finish the second chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story.
  • Start the third chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story (trying to take it steady).
  • Actually make an effort to try to come up with some names this time.  It might be easier now the characters have started sharing some more of the plot with me.

Reading

Short as ever.


Misc

  • Assemble a playlist for Singer/Songwriter.  It has all of two songs on it right now.  This is my favourite goal for the week, even if it does mean I’ll have to listen to some mainstream pop for Marcus’s song.  For the record, the last time I listened to the radio, Panic! At The Disco’s Mona Lisa was in the charts.  I stopped listening after an hour and a half, because I’d heard all the same songs at least three times by then…
  • Really, truly draw a sketch of Marcus this week.
  • 44 hours of day job this week.  I’m already 4 hours over the limit I’m supposed to be working through no fault of my own, so this time it better not change.
  • Actually manage to boot up my desktop PC.  It hates Windows updates and knows how to hold a grudge.  No featured images until that’s back up and running!

Fingers crossed for continuing small successes.

And by the way… the Spotify playlist for the story is right here.  Here’s hoping it expands / adjusts as I (slowly) add to it and fiddle around.

I’d love to center it but… yeah. WordPress.

Goals 13-19 January

Accountability: 13 – 19 January 2020

An odd week this week.  At one point I wilfully forewent an easy afternoon in favour of a solid five hours of work.  Made me very glad I now finish at 6pm instead of 9pm…

It’s also been a week of random research, mostly into the Cornish language (Kernewek), since Blake’s surname was voted to be Saint-Ives, and dokkalfa usually have the surnames of the city or town they first registered.  Mostly I was trying to find a Cornish word for ‘elf,’ except there doesn’t appear to be one.  There’s ‘ælf’ cropping up a few times in place names, but those are the same across the country.  Of an actual folklore term?  Not a sign of it.  The closest I could find in terms of folklore-closeness was the ‘Small People’ (pobel vean), and then got ranted at by Blake in my head, because it turns out he’s a bit touchy about only being 5’6″…

I recommend a Google Maps stroll around St. Ives though, it’s a beautiful place.


Writing

  • I have indeed finished the first chapter of Singer/Songwriter. Draft zero (a term coined by my awesome friend Anika Daniels, whose website I would link if she had one) is on Patreon.  One day I’ll figure out the WordPress/Patreon link so it can look slightly better than Patreon makes things.  Why can’t you have more formatting options, Patreon?  Why?
  • I have also started the second chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story, so that’s a win too.
  • I have, however, so far failed to come up with any kind of useful name for it.  I’ve not really had the time nor the spoons to think about it, to be honest.  I’m terrible at naming things.  There’s a reason Gabrys is still called Gabrys a few years later…

Reading

  • I finished The Ritual.  I didn’t start until Wednesday or so, but after that I couldn’t put it down.  It has very short chapters, which makes the reading experience slightly peculiar: at 85% of the way through the book, you’re on Chapter Sixty-Five.  I can’t remember reading a book that wasn’t disturbingly massive epic fantasy or sci-fi that has so many chapters before.  Considering I read it in lieu of watching the movie, I’m now very confused about how they managed to make it a movie in the first place.

Misc

  • Bad cellphone photo of a drawing of a brown-haired dark elf in grey T-shirt and black suit jacket.My strawberry Shiba Inu is still only a head, so a fail on that front.
  • Sorry Marcus.  I drew and coloured Blake instead.
  • 38 and a half hours of day job instead.
  • Bonus round: I listened to a lot of indie music on Spotify too.  Technically for research, but I’ll always have a soft spot for it.  I tried listening to indie rock too, but whoever curated the Indie Rock Playlist has funny ideas about what’s indie: it contained, among others, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand and The Kaiser Chiefs.  Apparently to some people, indie means instead not American, which is depressing.
  • Bonus round part 2: figured out and fixed an issue with WordPress and cron jobs.  Basically, if you schedule posts and they keep missing their posting times, it’s because WordPress only runs a cron operation when someone visits your site.  If no one visits your site *cough* then it won’t run.  There are plugins to fix it, or you can get technical and fiddle with its specialised settings in cpanel.  As I’m lazy these days, I went for the plugin.  This post gets to be the guinea pig!
Goals 13-19 January

Creative Goals: 13 – 19 January 2020

The first week of this has been, unexpectedly, a success!  Admittedly I didn’t write enough goals to really stretch myself, but then, writing too many for the sake of it would be a demoralising waste of time, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

It’s hard to achieve a work-life balance sometimes when work is constantly shifting goalposts and life likes to bite me in the arse, so I think I’ll stick with the narrow goals and hope one day I can stretch to expansive, demanding ones that won’t then result in a breakdown. You’d think it wouldn’t take me so long to know my limitations, but there we go.  I’m not a fast learner.

This year I’m also going to try to remember to start adding content to Patreon again. It’s a bit difficult because I don’t think there’s really anything I can imagine anyone wanting to pay for, so I guess I’ll have to try to figure that out somehow.  I’d say it’ll be a challenge, but it’s not one I’m willing to add to the to-do list yet!


Writing

  • Finish the first chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story.
  • Start the second chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story (see what I’m doing there?).
  • Try to brainstorm some potential names rather than keep calling it ‘the Singer/Songwriter story’.

Reading

Short list again for the week.

  • Start The Ritual by Adam Nevill.  I’d wanted to see the film, since I like the actors in it, but apparently the book’s better (when isn’t it?) so I’ll read that first.

Misc

  • Finish felting the little strawberry Shiba Inu I started last week.  I’m not good at felting, but I really enjoy stabbing things repeatedly.
  • Actually draw a sketch of Marcus this week.
  • 26.5 hours of day job this week.  We’ll see what that looks like by next Sunday.

See?  Straightforward.

Hopefully.

Accountability 6-12 January 2020

Accountability: 6 – 12 January 2020

Sketch by Pax Asteriae of dark elf Blake

One of the joys of writing modern fantasy is the things my characters complain about. Milos occasionally rails against R. A. Salvatore books (though not by name); Blake has just informed me he doesn’t think ljusalfa really count as a minority because, thanks to Tolkien, everyone fawns over them. He says Tolkien clearly was hanging around places he shouldn’t in an unsavoury manner.

As you may be able to guess, my Singer/Songwriter characters have named themselves. Blake (pictured right) is the songwriter dokkalfa; Marcus is the singer ljusalfa. I disagree with both names, but then, I disagreed with Milos’s too and look where that got me. At least I got my way over his surname, but who even knows what his original surname would’ve been if his parents hadn’t moved to London?

It’s my first week of accountability, so let’s see how things went…


Writing

  • I finished and posted the short story I wrote for Story-Bat’s Secret Scribble Santa.  It’s called Wintertide Gifts and, thankfully, the recipient seemed happy with it.  (It’s also straight, which was very odd to write; kept writing ‘him’ instead of ‘her’ and luckily only failed to catch it once, so thanks to site owner Ashielf for the read-through!)
  • I’ve not finished the beat sheet for the Singer/Songwriter story, but I transcribed my notes into Scrivener and arranged them into where they should be for the beat sheet, which has given me a road map to around 1/3 of the story as well as helped me figure out what the overreaching arc needs to be.
  • Bonus round!  I’ve started on the first chapter!  Life being what it is, actually being able to write it has proven difficult — I think I used up my supply of luck getting the gift story finished to be honest — but at least I’ve started.  I’m currently 1,341 words into it (and Marcus has upset Blake already).

Reading

  • Finished Into The Deep and very much enjoyed it. I’m not often a pirate fiction fan for some reason, but the relationship between hapless Lamark and Yuvie the merman was adorable. I haven’t settled on what to read next.  Probably one of the ones I started and then put down last year.

Misc

  • Xmas decorations down!  It took, as expected, quite a long time… and then they had to be packed and stacked into the garage.  Seem to have accumulated two extra boxes of them somehow…!
  • Sketch a picture of Marcus.  Nope.  But I do keep looking at my sketch of Blake and being amused.  I may enjoy drawing grumpy dokkalfa more than I ought.
  • I’ve done very little gaming.  I started playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch, but again it’s not something I got uninterrupted time for.  But I started, which is more than I expected.
  • Finished up with 43 hours of work.

Goals for next week coming tomorrow!

Goals 6-12 January - image by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash

Creative Goals: 6 – 12 January 2020

I’m going to try something different this year: accountability posts for projects I’m working on.  I’ll post a new one for the week each Monday, and each Sunday I’ll compare what I’ve done with what I’d hoped to achieve.

Now, this should be a fascinating experience, not just because executive dysfunction is a bitch to work with, but also because my work schedule will wander off at any given point with either no warning or next-to-no warning, which makes planning things difficult.

Still, we won’t know if we don’t try, right?


Writing

  • Finish a short story I’m doing for the xmas story exchange at Story-Bat.  Seems a bit late, you say?  I didn’t sign up to the exchange myself, but someone else hasn’t received a story so I’m trying to step in.
  • Finish the beat sheet for The Singer & The Songwriter, the currently lacklustre title of a Radialverse story about a ljusalfa pop-rock singer whose label introduces him to a grumpy dokkalfa songwriter — and then springs on them both that they’ve now got to pretend to be engaged, to boost both their profiles.  I’m using the excellent Romancing The Beat by Gwen Hayes.
  • Bonus round! Write the first chapter of The Singer & The Songwriter.  This one is a distinct MAYBE.

As an aside, lacklustre titles are dangerous.  Any title is dangerous, because familiarity can make it hard to shift…


Reading

Short list, this one.

  • Finish reading Into The Deep by Amara Lynn, which I’m 21% of the way through right now.

Misc

  • Take down xmas decorations. This has to be done today, and it took me several hours to put them up without any help at all. Taking them down, which I’ve already started (and been doing for a couple of hours; still not completed) is proving painful.
  • If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll find the time to sketch a picture of Ljusalfa Singer that I don’t absolutely loathe.
  • If I’m really lucky, I’ll get undisturbed time to play a video game! Like Death Stranding I’ve had since launch, or Anthem, or Borderlands 3.  Or pretty much any of my Switch games, only one of which I’ve played, or…  *sigh*
  • 41 hours of day job this week.  Possibly more later in the week, there’s no way of knowing: last night the 7th was a 1-and-a-half hour working day.  This morning it’s an 8-and-a-half hour working day.  See?  No way of knowing.  *wiggles fingers*  As an aside, that could have very easily completely fucked up my food delivery also coming on the 7th — which I have to have delivered, because these regular short-notice changes to my schedule stopped me from having the time to go and do it in person.

So we will see how this week goes, and how this accountability thing goes, and how the short-notice-day-job thing goes.  Even if I am a little miffed that my nice writing day tomorrow is now a less-nice but better-paid incessant-working day, here’s keeping my fingers crossed for a productive week.

And at least I’ll no longer finish work at 9pm!

Occult Detective Quarterly #5

Occult Detective Quarterly #5 – because I’ve got a soft spot for both the occult and detectives

Finished the excellent Occult Detective Quarterly #5 today, which was kindly sent by one of the editors as a bonus for backing the ODQ #4 Kickstarter. Honestly, I’d have happily backed a Kickstarter for this one too. Both issues have a great range of stories from various authors, and some of them lodge pretty firmly in your thoughts. There’s a couple here I’ll still be turning over in my head in a couple of weeks’ time. Particular highlights are teenage lovers sneaking into an old church, a twist on the ‘girl on a highway in the rain’ and a rock band with a distinctly unnerving studio.

You can pick up either an ebook version (Amazon US or Amazon UK) or the paperbacks (Amazon US, Amazon UK).

Lost In Translation

I own a copy of the Oxford Latin Mini Dictionary — because why not.  Flippancy aside, it’s handy in many ways, not least because I’m finally writing the story about the Roman soldier that’s been in my head for ages and it’s handy for finding quick cognomen for side characters.

But one thing’s always confused me about it: in the pronunciation guide, there’s this weird little section.

Latin has five different simple vowel sounds, each of which could be long or short:


a short, as in English cup (not as in cap).

Does that leave anyone else a little bit confused?  Not just me?

It’s taken me over a year to realise why this is so weird.

You see, the thing is, in the UK southerners speak with a different accent to northerners.  Well, all regions speak with different accents to one another, but there’s something southerners do in particular: they elongate certain vowels (barth instead of bath, for example) and they do something particularly weird with their Us.  It’s most noticeable in words like butter, which seems to come out from southern mouths like “batter,” only not quite as harshly as if they’re talking about a cricketer.

And clearly the only people who would ever be interested in speaking Latin (according to Oxford University Press) … are southerners.

I’m half-tempted to send them an email about it where all short ‘a’s in the email are replaced by ‘u’s and we’ll see how they​ like it.


* If I sound like I’m implying southerners are a totally different breed to northerners…  I guess I pretty much am.
Don’t worry, it works both ways; they treat anyone north of Watford Gap like they’re an alien species too.  As a reminder: the Midlands is not the North, it’s the middle.