Doing some “writing”

I don't always blog...I haven’t used Dragon Naturally Speaking in a while. Like, maybe 2 months. I have no excuse, other than that I’m a swooper at heart. I don’t write for ever, then I write a whole bunch at once.

In this case, I now have 16 blog posts scheduled over at Meta-Manage. There are only 34 blog posts published, so I wrote almost half as many posts in the last couple of days as there currently are available. Craziness.

Next week at work, we’re writing questions and answers for the JIRA Service Desk certification exam. I suspect I’ll write the study materials sometime shortly thereafter, at which point I’ll have written a bunch of notes on three different JIRA cert exams. Maybe I’ll take my Dragon software and dictate a book about JIRA. And maybe not. It’s not super fun to write about work management software.

Maybe I’ll dictate a scifi novel that has been rattling around in my head. NaNoWriMo is coming up, after all.

Anyways, if you’re into agile project management, or just management in general, keep an eye on Meta-Manage every Tuesday and Thursday from now until November. Maybe I’ll write some more stuff between now and then to keep it going. You never know.

National November Blogging Month

This blog has been pretty vacant for a while, so you may not have browsed it much. You may not have visited the About page to learn that I don’t really write much anymore. You may not have read some of the older entries from a year or two ago in which I struggled with college, work, and writing.

Let me sum it up: I used to fancy myself a writer, and starting in high school I took writing kind of seriously. Not serious enough to practice at it, but I certainly wrote a lot even if I didn’t craft it to the extent I should have. I had a few things published in very low-end anthologies, I blogged a lot, and I finally began learning to not make basic, amateurish mistakes once my college professors started tearing apart the things I called sentences.

Writing was something I had to do. I wasn’t happy, and writing didn’t make me happy, but it made me happier than I would have otherwise been. It was a creative outlet in an uncreative life. It was something I could control and own.

And then I became truly happy. I met April and stopped writing poetry. I got a good job and stopped writing altogether, at least during my personal time. I lack the interest and passion to craft fiction. I just don’t care enough to write poetry. I think that I have some thoughts and feelings I could share, but I prefer just talking with friends and with April about those rather than blogging about them.

Thus ends the summary. This blog post is to communicate that I think this may be changing. I have to include words like “think” because I’m not entirely positive, but I’ve had this simmering feeling inside for a little over a year now that started around the time the current election cycle began. I can’t call that feeling “discontent,” because it’s less passive and more angry. I can’t call it fury or rage because… well, let me unpack this a bit.

Continue reading

I Need to NaNo

I should just commit myself to not writing anymore blog posts for the next week or so. Not just because it’d be great to make some progress on this project (for which I haven’t even published the first chapter yet), but because I’m swamped at work, and the time sensitivity of these projects in collusion with an increase of class work, reading assignments, and being all-around fairly busy translates itself into needing some time off. Time to relax my mind and put it into subjects other than computers, portals, technical writing, religion, or philosophy.

April is quick to point out that I spent most of last weekend playing World of Warcraft rather than writing, which is entirely true. Now that this week is upon me, I recognize in retrospect that life would be an order of magnitude more sucky if I had not taken that time to relax and recharge. I didn’t know that at the time–I was just procrastinating–so it’s not like, “Kudos to me for foresight!” But it has worked out well, and I’m glad I got some time to chill and play games.

I’ve got a ton of writing and documentation to do at work, a server to build for software license tracking, some training to attend next week (for which I’m writing the documentation), a few projects (consultations, scripting, increasing wiki security and stability, etc.) that really need my attention, and these are all things that need to be done ASAP but cannot be. On top of that, I have a book to read for Buddhism, a creative project to do for the same class (I’m thinking 10-15 poems based on the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā), philosophy lectures to keep up with, and a college ministry that I feel some sort of obligation to attend despite the fact that late evenings in the middle of the week are a really poor time for me to be out socializing and whatnot.

Can we add, I don’t know, maybe 1-3 days to the week? I don’t know if moving to a ten day week (7 days of work, 3 days off) would actually help anything, but I know that when I got home last night (after about 9 hours of work and 3 hours of class), I still had a solid 8 hours worth of work I could have done.

A Genesis

I had a startling and yet pleasing realization yesterday as I began working on my NaNoWriMo project. Though I didn’t make near the progress I had intended or hoped, once I began writing, I felt ebullient. I was joyful and excited, and I realized something very important about both myself and my work.

I finally enjoy writing. Now, obviously I have not detested it before, or I would not have done it, but there was always a part of me that fell into the trap so many other amateur or wannabe writers do–that is, they do not want to write, they want to have written, as Terry Pratchett told me all those years ago. Since that conversation with him, I have striven to make myself want to write, rather than wanting to have written some novel or piece of literature.

And as I began yesterday, I realized that I didn’t care about reaching the goal of 50,000 words, or of completing the novel, or even about publishing it and moving on to the next one. I just want to write, to explore the world and character, to describe what I see in my imagination and learn to describe that better than I am capable of now. I thought, for the last few months, I was anxious to get this novel written and out into the world. Now I find that I’m just excited to write it.

This means two things, practically speaking. First, I’m going more slowly, and may not meet the goal of 50,000 words this month. It’d be cool if I did, and there’s a decent chance, but I’m really thinking about what I write and editing a bit as I go, which is very anti-nanowrimo. Second, I’ve discovered that the chapters will be very long, and I want to post things a chapter at a time, so it might be a while before the first chapter is up. I’ll let you all know when it is.

I’m quite happy with my life and the point I have reached. I’m excited to begin.

Going home

We’re leaving the conference in about 10 minutes, maybe to grab an early lunch or some sort of brunch or something. I’m particularly excited about hitting Starbucks at the airport since we got a $5 gift certificate yesterday.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo. You can keep up with my work by reading and/or subscribing to that blog.

Springfield Regional NaNoWriMo Group

The group had a meeting at Border’s last Sunday, and despite my surprisingly busy schedule*, I went to meet everyone. The group functions as a source of support and ideas during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but I wasn’t sure what to expect until I got there.

To be blunt, I was disappointed. It turns out that, at least in Springfield, NaNoWriMo is a source of entertainment more than anything else. The majority of the group (except one other person, I think) participates to write silly and/or outlandish things, and have no aspirations towards actually becoming novelists or anything.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I am trying to write a serious novel, and participating in this group would distract me rather than help me. April suggested trying to form a smaller group of wannabe novelists, but I’ve decided that I’m just not interested. Going and writing with a bunch of people would probably be more distracting than anything else, so I’m not going to bother.

On top of that, I got a pretty fascist vibe from the ML (municipal liasion). I don’t think that’s his fault, though; NaNoWriMo, as an organization, is just fairly controlling of their name, events, and groups. If you’re going to participate, they want you to do it through formal channels. For instance, if I wanted to organize a “write-in,” where a number of NaNoers would meet to write, and we were going to have it in a public place (say, a coffee shop), I would have to contact the ML so he could approve and subsequently set it up. Everything has to be done by-the-books (no pun intended), and that didn’t sit right with me.

I view this event, this month, as a personal goal and means of progress. Participating in the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month is a personal thing, rather than a contest, to me. I’m not doing this just for fun (though I do intend to enjoy it), but as motivation to write and produce a novel.

I’m not here to participate in the National Piece-of-Crap Writing Month. I want to write a novel.

* I had to contact the DM of the Dungeons & Dragons group on Sunday that I’d been playing with and bow out of the game. My schedule caught up to me weeks sooner than I had anticipated, and I simply don’t have time to play until early next year. I’m quite literally booked solid until the middle of December and don’t have time for anything other than school, work, and NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo 2008

In exactly one month, I will embark on a quest of epic proportions. To write a 50,000 word novel in one month or less.

November is the National Novel Writing Month, a quasi-competition that I have wanted to participate in for about four years now. You don’t win a prize or anything for completing the challenge, but it does prove quite aptly that you, no matter who you are, are capable of writing a novel.

Of course, it’s hard work to complete 50,000 words in a month, but it’s a fun exercise and, even if you don’t finish, you at least participated. You got out and tried, sat down and wrote, and maybe met some new people along the way.

Springfield has a NaNoWriMo group that meets and encourages one another, and I want to invite you all to join me this year as we journey towards authorship. If you’ve ever been interested in writing, you should definitely give this a try. Even if you can’t finish, it at least gets you going, and there are certainly eleven more months during which you can work on the piece before next year’s NaNoWriMo.

As for me, I’ll be working on a science fiction novel I dreamed up a few months ago. I’m pretty excited, but the trade-off is that I’ll have absolutely no social life during the month of November. I’ll go to work, I’ll attend class, and I’ll attend church on Sunday mornings from 11-12. Other than that, I’ll be gone, sitting at my desk or various coffee shops working away.

I think we’re going to have a write-in on Saturday, November 1, starting at midnight (so we’ll probably meet late on Friday) if you’d like to join us; check out the forum for details. I’ll have more updates here as we near the beginning of November. Until then, think about what you might want to write on and sharpen those pencils!

The true meaning of apathy

For whatever reason, I have always associated apathy with a certain level of bitterness and cynicism. Obviously, the definition is erroneous, because apathy would imply there are no strong feelings such as the aforementioned bitterness or cynicism, but in my day-to-day life, such emotions have always been there. Apathy was reached via frustration and, eventually, giving up; I felt that I had become apathetic once I had decided to no longer care about a subject (usually because it was annoying me so much).

I have now learned the true way. Apathy is not reached via a decision, for if a decision must be made, one is clearly not apathetic. Rather, it is a state of being. And regarding my finals, I reached this nirvana.

I just didn’t care. I had other things I cared more about, so my finals had no hold on my whatsoever. I wasn’t giving up on the classes and throwing in the towel. Towels are worth keeping, so instead I slung it over my shoulder and sauntered into the sunset. There are better, more interesting things over the horizon, and I have no reason to stay here.

April accurately pointed out how terrible apathy is, for it means that one doesn’t even care enough to dislike or hate something. But with limited application, I think it can be a beneficial state indeed. Like Luke Skywalker who learned that the true power of the force is to balance between Light and Dark, I think we need to learn to let go of the less important things. To be happily apathetic in some circumstances.

My finals are over, and for a couple of days, my schedule is busier than ever with social calls and spending time with people. This is always the case at the beginning of a new chapter, as we attempt to get re-acquainted and learn about the dark holes each other have recently crawled from. But a glorious time is upon us, and we are set free by limited apathy.

I’m already looking forward to next November.