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Weekend Update Extended Remix

Mooch writing
So it's the end of August...the end of summer vacation, the time to head off to college, the end of Q3 and the start of Q4, or just the end of another month, depending on who you are and what you do. It's a long weekend with Labor Day letting us get away with one last day of slacking off.

Our apartment is near a few schools, both high and elementary, so we've been seeing a lot of neighborhood kids getting ready for the new semester (or already disappearing off the streets and into the schools--I never know when the first day of school is around here). It got me thinking about the various things I used to do over the course of my school years.

Each year I'd start off with a weak but well-intentioned goal of "doing better this time out". I'd end up doing my usual slightly-above-average grades, but I could never quite push myself to ace the courses. There's many and varied reasons for that--inattention, distraction, emotional issues, frustration, boredom, what have you--but I managed to pass each semester and move on to the next grade. I graduated in the top quarter of my high school class and somewhere in the middle of my college class. As long as I didn't stay behind.

I recently thought about some of my personal tics and habits when it came to school. By fourth grade I was one of those people who wanted to have their desktop clean. A little compulsively so, to be honest, but I would get twitchy if I'd accidentally marked the desk with a pen or something. And in a fit of irony, the inside of my desk was embarrassingly cluttered. I mean cluttered, stuffed with homework and papers and what have you dating back to the beginning of the semester, so much so that at one point when the teacher wasn't looking, I moved some of it to an empty desk across the room. It was wacky mixture of obsessive cleanliness and compulsive hoarding, come to think of it. My bedroom was always a mix of clean and clutter, depending on where you looked. It pretty much explains my music collection--always in alphabetical and chronological order (and cassettes almost always rewound back to the beginning), and always growing. [Thanks to my collection being nearly all digital, I have no reason to obsess over the order, as my music software does it for me. I have had a years-long project going on where I've been cataloging my entire collection, though, but I'm taking my time on it. I'm two-thirds through "R" at the time of this writing, and it will probably be completely caught up by early next year. It's both an exercise in obsession and tempering the same.]

During the HMV Years I had the schedule of Wednesday comic runs across the state and the daily longhand writing before my shift. During the Yankee Candle years I had the schedule of the same comic run and the Newbury Comics cd purchasing, and writing the trilogy on a daily basis (usually 7-9pm). I kind of lost direction for a few years when we moved out to California, but I'd say once we moved again to the Richmond District in 2009 I got my groove back. My job has been 7:30 to 4pm without change. We hit the gym by 4:15. We have dinner upon return. By 6:30 or so I'm in Spare Oom, ready to write until about 8pm.

I still get a bit OCD about things, but I've managed to balance everything out. I'm okay with letting some things sit for a while. My writing time fluctuates but I always manage to get around 600 or 700 words a night, more if I'm in the zone. I let things pile up and then do a mass cleaning. My desk is relatively clean, but I do have the need to tidy up now and again. I miss some writing sessions, and I get lazy and distracted during some as well. But I'm okay with that.

It's also why I have the calendar whiteboard for my writing--if I didn't set myself a schedule, well...I'd get stuff done, but at a much slower rate, and I'd forget to do things for weeks at a time. I don't follow it to the letter, but use it as guidance. And it being September tomorrow, I've decided I shall start fresh again with a new schedule.

I'm returning to the Busy Creative Schedule of Many Things, because I want to work on a lot of output again. Adding music, drawing and poetry one or two days a week, journaling every day (or at least every weekday), timely posts at my two WordPress blogs, working on Two Thousand as my primary project during the week and Walk in Silence on the weekends. Posting pictures, especially now that I have my shiny new camera. We will (hopefully) be getting back to the gym schedule again, after a month of rarely going due to one thing or another (read: two weeks in the UK, me dealing with a slight cold, and just plain laziness). September is San Francisco's summertime, and the weather is gorgeous. Not to mention football is back in season!

All things to look forward to.

Weekend Update Returns Home

Mooch writing
Two weeks in London is clearly not enough time to take it all in. SO MANY NEAT THINGS! We went there partly due to it being Worldcon, but also because, y'know, LONDON. A city I've wanted to visit for years, especially with me being an utter music nerd who followed Britpop over Grunge back in the early 90s. [If you go on Twitter and look up the hashtag #joncsbritpopmeme, you'll see pictures tied in with various songs from the UK.] And yes, I was able to make my way over to Abbey Road and see the crosswalk (it's a narrower street than the album cover lets on) as well as cross it and leave a note at the Abbey Road Studios wall. In the next day or so I shall post many of my pictures. Some will end up on the Tumblr, but I'll also be posting the music-related pix at my Walk in Silence blog. It was quite the awesome vacation, and we are already planning on going back at some point.

So you're probably wondering...did I even get any writing done over the last few weeks? Why yes I did! I chose to do some work on a possible Mendaihu Universe book (or trilogy--we'll see about that) by way of writing a few pages' worth of notes. Nothing too chunky just yet, just a lot of questioning, throwing ideas around, and seeing what resonates. It may take a bit more time before I get anything solid, but I at least have some ideas. A lot of these notes had been written during a few convention panels, which I find to be one of the best places to do so. It's partly inspiration, partly keeping my mind in focus.

I also worked just a tiny bit on Two Thousand on the flight over (a few paragraphs, which I'm going to toss because it's not at all what I wanted), but also worked on a few pages' worth of character building for that as well before the trip. This one will be my first non-genre fiction in quite some time--in fact, since the original version back in 1994. I have some neat ideas on this one, so I'm hoping it'll be fun.

Which also brings up the question: What about Walk in Silence? Well, that one seems to have stopped dead for a little bit, and there's a reason for that: it's about 20k of crap so far. Okay, maybe not that bad, but I've come to the conclusion that it's not the direction I want. There's a lot of work there that I could use in a much smaller form, but I need to refocus and restart. I'm going to put that one aside for a little bit and come back to it at a later time. On the plus side, I just finished reading Bob Stanley's Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé, and it's inspired a new direction for WiS in the process.

Which also begs the next point: I really should stop announcing what I'm currently working on, because as soon as I announce plans, they disintegrate! Sheesh.

Weekend Update's Lonely Hearts Club Band

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.

Weekend Update Knows It's Monday, Thanks

Mooch writing
This past weekend was one of shopping and erranding. We drove down to Palo Alto (why yes, as a matter of fact I do get the Radiohead song stuck in my head whenever we're down that way, why do you ask?) to Fry's Electronics so I could suss out cameras. While I do have a nice compact Samsung 15 megapixel point-and-click camera, I've been wanting to step up my photography game and try something a little more high end. I ended up with this Sony A58, and I'm loving it so far. There's a bit of a learning curve with all the bells and whistles that come with it, but it's gotten big reviews as a perfect starter camera if you're looking to level up.

[You can see one of my first experiments here at my Tumblr.]

In other news...Spare Oom is finally clean and back to normal, many things shredded, and all the cleaning done. I even managed to squeeze in two WordPress blog entries in yesterday! Woo! Not much else to report...the local YMCA should open back up today (it was closed for its annual powerclean and fix-broken-stuff time) so we'll be back on the treadmills again...also need to start getting some SF Symphony tickets as they finally go on sale today.

Also--HOKEY SMOKES WE'RE GOING TO LONDON IN A FEW WEEKS. Worldcon is gonna be fun and we'll get to meet up with a lot of our friends again, and I'm also really looking forward to exploring the city too! I do of course have a list of places to hit that are Beatle related. Many musical photo-ops have been planned. :)

Hope everyone has a nice week!

Weekend Update Does a Bit of Tidying Up

Mooch writing
I'd been meaning to do a bit of spring cleaning in regards to my collection of writing--mainly because I was looking for a few Mendaihu Universe outtakes some time ago and had no idea where they were--and realized it was high time I got things in order again.

For starters, I have a crapload of empty notebooks (some never used, but many where I only used maybe less than a quarter of the pages), and figured it was high time to start culling. Some of them I'll keep as I can still use them, but the older ones that I've had for over a decade and are looking a bit tatty are going to head to the recycling bin. Yes, I know it's wasteful, but I'd rather make a clean sweep of it rather than hang onto notebooks I know I'll never use again.

I've also divvied up the various projects so everything is in its right place--all the Mendaihu Universe books and their predecessors (including True Faith and The Phoenix Effect) are now in one pile. The Walk in Silence pile includes all its outtakes, the Belief in Fate and Decline and Fall stories, and so on. The music-related stuff is together, all the artwork and the poetry and the maps I've created over the years. There's a slightly smaller pile I need to go through that's a mixed bag of various dead-end projects, and a pile of to-be-sorted, much of which will probably get shredded or recycled. I believe there's also a few things elsewhere that need to be dug through and divvied up as well, and I really need to do that before I can get any serious culling done.

This is probably a much bigger undertaking than I expected, but I'm willing to go through with it because it needs it. We've been at this address longer than we've been at our old one in North Beach, and much of this stuff has only been sorted maybe once or twice since then, even when I attempted to scan some of this stuff. And to be honest, this is a hell of a lot less stuff than when I moved out of my parents' house...I spent a good couple of weeks there just digging through all the notebooks and whatnot and doing some serious shredding and recycling. I did so again after we moved to San Francisco, when I shredded a lot of my superfluous manuscripts (stuff I still had digitally, so it seemed silly to have old and useless inkjet copies taking up space).

[Update: I just dug out everything that's in that bookcase partially hidden by the loveseat--there's a lot of crap I can get rid of there, which will give me even more room to put stuff I know I won't need to look at any time soon! I'm also tempted to dig through the four Ikea file boxes I have next to the window bookcase, as I know there's a lot of crap in there as well that can go. I also have a few boxes lying around that I can use as temporary filing until the stuff gets shredded. Anything that can be recycled will of course head straight downstairs to the big blue bin.]

I'd say I could probably use a filing cabinet, but I really don't have any room for one in Spare Oom, as every available spot is taken up by something else. As it stands, most of this is stuff has been on the tall black bookshelf next to the desk. That's getting a major rearrangement as well...all the reference books are together now, and I'm planning on rearranging the bottom two shelves so every project has its own specific spot.

Lastly, and somewhat related, I'm tempted to buy a new printer, maybe a three-in-one this time out, and while doing some shopping at Best Buy today and I saw this printer/scanner there that I'm tempted to buy. My current printer works but the power button is starting to get wonky (I've had it for probably five years already--I got it while still at our old place), and I fear my scanner isn't working properly. It's somewhat bigger than my current printer, so I'm thinking it may end up going elsewhere--which isn't a bad thing, because that would free up more bookshelf space. I'm probably going to hold off until after our London trip, though, as it's not desperately needed at present. Just something I'd like to get, really.

*whew* Okay, back to the cleaning I go!
Mooch writing
I spent most of yesterday needing to remind myself that it was Friday and not Saturday, even though we did many weekend things such as having lunch in Japantown (and of course doing some manga tankobon shopping while there), walking, and a bit of laundry. Today is actually Saturday, last I checked. Plans for today include driving up to Petaluma to have lunch with the in-laws, and perhaps a bit of shopping at the newish Target up there as well. Other than that, not much else.

I was originally going to post something yesterday, but chose against it...I realize I'm at that point where I'll sometimes type out some kind of rant, or maybe just some longwinded blathering, and I'll just lose interest before I hit the Send button. I'm thinking a lot of it is due to my coming to terms that everyone else is going on about the same thing, so who am I to add to the noise? Either way...we all have our own thoughts and opinions, and I'm just choosing not to broadcast them anymore unless there's a good reason. That would most likely explain my low online profile as of late.

Anyhoo. What's going on in JoncWorld, anyway?

Walk in Silence is moving ahead very quickly. Not only am I already on Chapter 5 already, but I've finally broken the 10k wordcount, and I finally did more than 1k in a single sitting. Woo, go me! Heh. I've already come to the conclusion that I'll be done with the first draft a hell of a lot quicker than I expected, and that I'll be doing some serious rewriting and revision afterwards. There are a lot of points that I've merely skimmed over, and a number of points that I should make endnotes for, and will do so during the second go-round.

Not much else going on in the creative world at the moment, but I'm hoping to squeeze in a blog post or two this weekend, and maybe even a few other personal creative thigns as well. I believe we are planless tomorrow, so that should give me some time to work with.
Mooch writing
Conversation on Friday:

Me: Ok, so we're going to the opera tonight (Madame Butterfly), and we're going out for dinner on Saturday for our anniversary. Any plans for Sunday?
Emm: Not that I know of.
My email: *ding* Oh hey, here's a reminder from SF Opera that you have plans to see La Traviata on Sunday.
Me: ...?
Me: *checks Yahoo calendar and email* *finds that I bought tickets for it back in November*
Me: Oh. Well. I guess that answers that question.
Emm: More opera? Yay! And also? You doofus. *laughs at me*

So yes...our weekend has primarily been about Going Everywhere. Tonight's anniversary dinner is at Café de la Presse downtown, where we're finally using the gift certificate my sister got us last Christmas. Should be fun! The only downside being downtown parking is laughable, so we're just going to hop on the 1 California bus a few blocks from there. I'm hoping the bus back isn't too bad, considering it's Pride weekend and everyone's going to be bus-hopping tonight and tomorrow, but I'm sure we can make do. And we'll be bussing it tomorrow for the second opera as well (Pride festivities take place at City Hall, which is right across the street from the Opera House). Thankfully that one's an afternoon show, so travel shouldn't be too bad.

This puts a damper on any writing plans I may have possibly had, but I'm not too bothered by it. It's fun times together (which somehow always includes getting coffee and/or going to a bookstore as well), and July is nearly empty for us until end of month. There's a possibility we may met up with A's parents, but that's still up in the air.

In the meantime...hope everyone's having a good weekend! :)
Mooch writing
It took awhile, but my writing habits are becoming solid again. It's obvious that my best course of action when this needs to be done is to use a schedule, and to stick to it. Nearly every weekday morning at my 9:30 break, I step away from my work PC and my home PC, grab the moleskine notebook under the monitor stand, and write a journal entry. I write about pretty much everything there...whatever's on my mind, unedited. This space in particular, I try not to let the internal editor interrupt, so my sentences might be wonky, there's a lot of scribbled-out words, and questionable word choice. But that's one of the reasons I started doing it--to write something and not edit myself in the process. No one's going to be reading it except myself, so why hold back?

There's also the weeknight sessions writing Walk in Silence. The funny thing is that I'd completely forgotten what it felt like to jumpstart the creative juices when the session starts--I've been revising and rewriting the trilogy for so long that it feels like a new process again. Given that I'm currently writing about my teen years, every night has started with the same exact feeling that homework is due tomorrow, and I haven't started it yet. But about fifteen minutes in, once I push myself to keep going, I feel the pistons catch and I'm off to the races. I've been doing just shy of a thousand words a night, and I'm already about halfway through chapter two.

This is by far the fastest book I've ever written, even more so than The Persistence of Memories, for a few reasons. First, it's not going to be nearly as long as the trilogy books. I'm thinking the first run-through will be close to about 50-60k, give or take? And I'm at 7k now. Much editing and revising later, but at this rate, I could possibly be done before summer's out, which surprises the hell out of me. I guess that's what happens when you're not writing epics!

I've also scheduled myself to start blogging at the WordPress sites again. As said last week, my schedule has cleared somewhat, so I'm able to resume work on them again. I've already posted a few, so it's a matter of keeping it up at this point.

There's still a few other things I need to start picking up again--the drawing and the poetry, in particular. I know, I've been slacking and/or putting it off. But these are like the journaling and the blogging--for me, it's just a matter of shutting the hell up and doing it already. And given that our weekends will be relatively quiet for the next month, I should have more time to devote to it as well.

There's another action I need to take as well, to get these things in motion: making it obvious that I need to work on them. I have a terrible time with distraction, the "out of sight, out of mind" issue where if I don't have a to-do list or a schedule or have it written on a calendar, I don't always remember to follow through. I have the moleskine sitting on top of a new composition book just waiting to have entries put into it. And both of them are sitting on top of the Wacom tablet. And next to the monitor is another moleskine--this one unlined and just waiting to be drawn in.

Again--the only thing that's missing for those is the schedule. I like schedules. They keep me from slacking off and guilt me if I don't follow them. So what does this mean? Perhaps adding these things to the whiteboard again?

Maybe so.
Mooch writing
*checks calendar* The Ides of June, I see. Coming close to the halfway point of 2014. And what have I been doing all this time?

Quite a bit, it seems. If I can't for the life of me remember what the date is unless I look at a calendar or my watch, that's a good sign that I've been keeping myself way too busy. Two weeks of double-duty at work (not in hours, but in responsibility--one of my coworkers was on vacation), writing nightly, including a 1300-word article for someone that was due today, and having consecutive weekends packed with events, plus meeting up with the in-laws midweek, and I tend to lose track of time, in a good way.

Our ninth wedding anniversary is arriving fast, and yes, I have in fact ordered my present for her. It states that it should get here with much time to spare, but in typical Jonc fashion, I would not be the least bit surprised if it's delayed for one reason or another. At least I know it won't be a repeat of the typewriter debacle! What other events...let's see...we'll have the symphony next Saturday and the opera the Friday after that (both via discounted tickets!). Past that, July is quiet, with only a show at the end of it. August is the big one, with our trip to London for WorldCon.

Speaking of which, I need to make a personal list of song lyrics that I can take pictures of. For example, taking a picture of a subway entrance on an overcast day ("I emerged in London rain" from Berlin's "The Metro"). Because I'm a dork, that's why.

Walk in Silence is picking up, slowly but surely. The opening of Chapter 1 definitely drags, but I'll edit that later. The point here is to move ever forward. The word count has been surprisingly high, closer to 700 or so words a night, as I'm just letting it bleed out rather than trying to be a word economist. Like I said--I'll edit and revise later. Do I have a deadline for this one? Not entirely, but I'd like to get through it as quickly as I can. I'm also itching to get some fiction work done as well, letting my brain percolate a few ideas here and there. We'll see.

It's also been nearly six months since I sent A Division of Souls out to Angry Robot's submission opening, and I'm curious as to where it stands. I definitely understand they were hit with a giant amount of submissions (around 500 per their website) and they're still slogging through them all. With this being one of the smaller but still significant publishers, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and let them be. I've got patience.

I still haven't jumped on the WordPress blogs...but I'm hoping to sneak in some time this week to have them updated by next weekend. Goddess willing and hoping that nothing explodes at work (*knock on wood*), I should be able to sneak in some time for a bit of creative blogging.

Other than that, it's been quite the lovely and restive weekend, and I'm sad to see it go by so quickly. Hope everyone else's weekend has been spiffy!

Weekend Update Brings It All Back Home

Mooch writing
Got SiriusXM First Wave playing--if my PC isn't completely stuck on KSCU's online feed, it's playing 80s alt.rock goodness--and preparing myself for some serious writing in the next few days. On tap:

--A 900-1500 word essay about my hometown. One of my former high school teachers (and current antique seller and small indie publisher) reached out to me a few weeks previous and asked if I wanted to write something for a book she's putting together, and I thought it would be fun! Considering I'm now in the writing phase of Walk in Silence, I felt this request was quite serendipitous as well, so I'm going for it. It's due next Sunday, and after mulling over various ideas, I've come up with a few that I'll be working on tonight. I should have it done and polished by then.

--Yes, it's true! I am now in the writing phase of WiS! It's been kind of slow going, as I'm still attempting to get myself back in the groove of writing new stuff, but 1600 words with just a few hours' work isn't a bad start. Once I find said groove, it should be smooth sailing again. Yay!

--As you may have seen on my Twitter/Tumblr/WordPress feeds, I've been woefully neglecting my two blogs, but I'm hoping to get them updated by week's end, Sunday the latest, and give both of them a regular schedule. Various impediments and obstacles have finally cleared, so things should be back to normal this week. Woo!

--Poetry. Yes, I've been threatening to write new poems for at least a few months now, and I'm ready to start that up again as well. As schedule should be clearing, so I should have time for this again.

More soon! :)

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