Category Archives: Working

New job

Short post today because I started a new job. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail due to NDAs and such, but basically I’m working for a consulting company with a large financial institution on a foreclosure-related project. Cryptic huh? I’m pretty tired at this point since it was my first full day of working in quite a while; my last job was a part-time contract position, and before that as a part-time bookseller. In fact my last full time job ended in May of 2008, so it’s definitely quite an adjustment.

Juggling writing and work  will be a challenge, like today I haven’t written anything. That isn’t exactly ideal given that I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo, but it is what it is. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some writing done. This real life and job stuff getting in the way is kind of annoying.

But I’m thankful for the job because it is going to provide me with a level of financial freedom I’ve never had. If that means I don’t quite complete NaNoWriMo, that’s a small price to pay (as long as I still get my writing done, that is). After all, with my financial house in order I’ll be able to devote more of my free time to writing rather than worrying about my finances.

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Enforcing a schedule

I was talking to my best friend this afternoon, trying to help him work through some self-esteem issues and generally get him back on his feet, when a piece of advice I threw out to him actually resonated quite well with me. Sometimes I surprise myself with such things; I pull things out of seemingly nowhere that actually make sense and are helpful. The collective subconscious? Something I’d heard once, filed away, and forgotten about until I need it? Who knows, I’m just glad that I can impart kernels of wisdom every now and then (at least I think they’re wisdom, could just be a bunch of drivel I suppose).

My advice to him today was that he needs to set a schedule for himself and stick to it. He’s been working on creating daily task lists for himself but hasn’t really been putting himself into a position to complete those task lists. Time management is his biggest issue and mine as well, so it was a subject that hit pretty close to home in our conversation. So I told him that, rather than simply give himself a task like “look for a job on Monster,” he should add a timeframe for that. Either a certain number of hours spent doing that, or a certain SET of hours within the day (i.e., “look for a job on Monster from 2pm to 4pm”). No matter what he does or doesn’t find in that timeframe, at least he spent it doing a task on his list.

Partition off every task like that, and before you know it you’ve got a full day where you’re actually DOING something rather than just sitting around wondering what to do next or how long the next task on your list will take you. Even as I write this blog I think I’m beginning to coalesce in my mind where the advice was pulled from:  I’ve been hearing for years now that in order to write successfully one must actually dedicate time to writing. Some people set specific wordcount goals for a day, other people simply set a specific amount of time aside to write, and yet others do some kind of mixture.

I’ve tried to apply that to my own writing habits with varying degrees of success. I will say that I definitely agree with the sentiment, as I said in my earlier blog on procrastination if I don’t write every day (or nearly every day) I tend to lose touch with the story I’m working on and find myself having trouble maintaining a consistent voice throughout. Having realized this, I’ve gone on to endeavor to write 1,500 words a day or for two hours, whichever comes LAST (i.e., if I hit 1,500 words in an hour I keep going until I get to two hours, or if I’ve  hit two hours and only have 800 words I soldier on until I hit 1,500).

In that same spirit of time management I’ve decided to enforce a schedule for myself on this blog too. A month into it now and, as you can see looking over the calendar to the right, I’ve been admittedly a bit scattered in my blog updates. As I try to move from “writer,” aka guy who likes writing stories, to “author,” aka guy who likes writing stories then makes a business of selling them, I’ve been reading tips on building a social network. One of the things I’ve seen over and over regarding blogging is that a consistent posting schedule, combined with worthwhile content of course, is a major key to having success in this vast and varied blogosphere.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to enforce a posting schedule for myself. With the exception of any spectacular news I just can’t wait to share with you, dear readers, from now on I’ll be posting four times a week.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be my weekday posting schedule. These blogs will be on a fairly wide variety of subjects, though primarily writing, food, or hockey related (go Stars!), or some combination thereof. Starting tomorrow I’ll be using Saturdays to post up Science Saturday: a weekly compiling of links to various science/science fiction articles I’ve read and found interesting during the preceding week. Some Saturdays it will only be one or two things, others it might be a dozen or more; it all depends on what happens in science during that particular week.

An added benefit of this Science Saturday concept is the fact that it will force me to keep up with scientific knowledge. Given that my desire is to write more or less hard sci-fi, I think it will be a good use of my time even though some of it may not be directly related to writing.

I look forward to pushing forward with this blog in a more consistent and interesting fashion, I hope you’ll enjoy the ride as well.

Optimistic Cynicism

Over the years I’ve come to realize that I’m definitely a cynic. I don’t really see it as a personality flaw, after all there is plenty in this world to be cynical about. Politicians lie to us as a matter of course, lawyers are suing like crazy over more and more idiotic stuff, and the whole of America seems to be heading the way of ancient Rome. It’s become a hulking mass of failures propped up by other failures.

Joseph Schumpeter talked about the winds of creative destruction; a theory that basically says when something important (say, a major “too big to fail” bank) is destroyed, it opens space for others to step in and provide what that failed entity provided previously. Many of these new entities will be better run with stronger, more creative ideas than the entity they replace. It is a natural course of industry that some companies will fail and be replaced by others. Too big to fail does not exist, because if something is too big to fail then when it fails others will step in immediately to take up the slack and (this is important) the money that people were happily giving to the failing entity.

Where there is a demand, there will be a supply.

I say all of this to explain what feels at first blush, even in my own mind, like an internal contradiction. I expect the worst from man. We are a brutish, hateful, destructive species. We kill our fellow animals (human and otherwise) nigh indiscriminately. We visit evils worse than death on some, torturing members of the animal kingdom in the name of science or (even more disturbingly) in the name of “looking pretty” or “feeling good.”

It’s getting a bit off topic, but Adam Reed is one of my favorite TV writers (even though he totally stole my “acid in the face” bit that I’ve written into every long work … I don’t care if he came up with it first, I’d been writing it into things for years and have only been aware of him for about eight months, but I digress) and he had a great exchange in Sealab 2021 about animal testing:

“You can’t test drugs on humans! There are rules! Procedures! It has to be tested on animals first!”

“Why? Why does all the crap we consume have to be tested on animals first?”

“Because that’s–”

“–A rat doesn’t wear lipstick, okay? A rabbit doesn’t use hairspray! A monkey doesn’t need pills to get ramped up for hot monkey sex! It’s people, man! We’re miserable! So why SHOULDN’T we try it all first?”

“…Well, you’ve got a point there, actually.”

Getting back on topic, despite all that I can’t help but hope for the best even though I anticipate the worst. Despite our massive capacity for evil, there is real good in mankind too. I hope for the best, expect the worst, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised and get something in between.

(I had gone on a bit, but ye ole blog site ate the rest of the post and I don’t feel up to recreating it. Mostly it was reiteration of the above. Also: I got a new job today!)

Come at me bro

Didn’t really get any writing done today thanks to a busy day. Started this morning when a girl my girlfriend had been working for decided she wanted her money back despite the fact that the work was completed as far as she could take it without said girl’s further direction. Since we’re sharing one phone at the moment, that was a fun way to spend the morning arguing with this insane woman.

Things got better though as in the middle of the day I had a wonderful conversation with a potential employer that culminated in an appointment to interview on Monday. Not a job I could see myself loving, really, but the pay is good and I need the income. It will take a lot of stress off if I get it, and that could help my writing I think as I find I have a hard time writing when I’m stressed out.

Then a little bleed over from the morning insanity this evening culminated in the aforementioned girl’s boyfriend calling and threatening to “beat my ass.” That ended in a long chat with a police officer and the knowledge that if he shows his face around here he’ll most likely be arrested for assault by threat and criminal trespass. Why do I know people like this? I’m half hoping he does show up just because I will thoroughly enjoy watching the police drag his ass off to jail. A completely unacceptable escalation of complete stupidity on the part of his girlfriend. Hooray.

So I’m pretty exhausted, but I’ll try to do a little writing tonight. We’ll see if I can manage anything but right now I’m a weird mixture of excited (about the job) and pissed off (about the redneck). Something tells me good writing isn’t going to come out of me in this state of mind. Meh.

Breaking a sweat

I spent most of my day helping my best friend pack up his apartment and load things up for his move. First real manual labor I’ve done in quite a while and I definitely broke a sweat, managed to drench an entire shirt actually. But he helped me move last year, so the man code dictates I assist him with his move. I really don’t mind, a little physical labor every now and then is good for me.

The only downside of helping him all day is that I didn’t get any writing done. However I hardly consider it a lost day writing wise because one of the really great things about physical labor (at least the non-dangerous kind, wouldn’t recommend this if you’re digging a ditch near a gas main or something) is that you can just let your mind wander. So while I was lugging a couch to the parking lot, I was also in the orbital halo checking out one of a few dozen habitats. While I was lugging his coffee table I was thinking about the mechanics of a passenger mass driver. Nerdy for sure, but quite useful when you’re writing scifi.

Favorite quote of the day? “Apparently your vagina is better at this than mine.” Said by one of the two girls we enlisted to help us pack after literally walking around his apartment for half an hour and feeling completely overwhelmed.

Why are women better at packing things? That is a skill I wish I had, I suck at packing.