Writing notes and getting motivated

I am wasting so much time. For months now, I’ve been wasting time: because I’ve been tired, because I’ve been overworked, because I’ve been stressed. I’ve complained about it on here and elsewhere, but I haven’t really done much about it.

No more excuses, no more delays. Today is the day I start writing and don’t stop. Gotta get back into it one way or another, and discipline is my way.

On Friday I had some players in our D&D group relate the story up to that point. There were a couple of new characters, and since Cody just started playing with us a few weeks ago, he wasn’t aware of what had come before. Ryan was giving the narrative of what had happened at at one point said, “So I started off investigating why my people were killed and what happened, but it turned out there was this entire bigger picture I didn’t know about, like in a good story.”

Our D&D campaign is a story I’ve been working on for a long time, but I’ve not written it down. Everything’s in my head, which is a blessing and a curse: I like writing for the exploration, to figure out what’s going to happen next, and I have difficulty writing when I already know what’s going to happen. But in this campaign, I’ve got a pretty decent story, and I ought to write it down. In writing, it’ll have to be a fair bit different than what has gone on in the game, but the idea is there.

So I’m beginning notes on that. I laid awake Friday night working through two books centered around this world, though I’m still missing a plot for one of them (the one I want to publish first, unfortunately). Once I get the notes done this week, I’m going to sit down and make a massive timeline. Like, pseudo-ridiculous, which will tie everything together and make the storytelling so much easier. I’m having trouble with it right now because I’ve got two stories I want to tell, but I can’t figure out where they fit together. They overlap time-wise, and I know one starts before the other, but they don’t quite match up yet. That’ll be a good project this week.

I’m continuing to work on a book of theological ramblings, which I feel is coming along well. It’s only April, so this year’s looking pretty good. Should be at least one thing to publish next year, and hopefully two or three (depending on how the fantasy fiction goes).

But there won’t be if I don’t get my butt in gear. I need to stop watching The Daily Show and anime during lunch and start writing, even if it’s just a few pages with lots of staring out the window in between. I need to start doing more of an evening and on the weekends. I’ve got to figure out how to balance it so I don’t burn out (again), but this lack of productivity isn’t helping.

And I’ve also got to stop putting so much pressure on myself. This post isn’t the pressure to which I’m referring; this is needed pressure. But I want to do so many things in so many different ways: podcasts and videos and writing about half a dozen different subjects and updating the blog multiple times a week… I can’t do it all. I haven’t been doing it all, which is good, but I need to be OK with that (which I haven’t been).

So, that’s what’s up with me. So far, feeling good. I’ve also come up with a neat (I think) superhero story, and I’d like to tell it through a comic. Going to work on that script on and off for the next year or two, because I’ve got the conflict and a decent plot forming up, but I don’t have characters yet.

This is all a slow process. I’m finally coming to terms with that, which is really healthy. But I’ve got to keep working at it too. I will continue to seek balance.

So long, Heartbreak. Hello Dreams!

My frustration about school and the attendance thereof has only become more pointed as this year has progressed. We’re barely a month into the semester and my two classes have been infuriating. One is Children’s Literature and is essentially, “How to teach literature to children between the ages of two and five,” which is definitely not how it was described in the course catalog. The other is The Life and Thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and we have yet to discuss the good doctor, let alone his life and/or thoughts. We have instead been treated to many rambling and often racist stories by our professor, unclear expectations and assignments, and a litany of “extra credit” opportunities that often manage to involve attending his church.

The real issue is that these classes, and most any classes for that matter, prevent me from pursuing my dreams in the here and now. I can’t write when I’m taking two classes a semester. There are two reasons for this:

  1. My work requires a lot of time dealing with people, particularly in management situations. For someone as introverted as me, this is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I already have a regularly scheduled game night on Fridays that takes some of my energy, and when you add in two classes for a total of three days a week, each requiring twelve to fifteen hours of extroversion, I’m wiped out. Deeper thought and the writing that would come out of it aren’t reasonable in those circumstances.
  2. Because of the previous issue, I use class as an excuse to not do work. Part of me recognizes that I’d completely burn out and have a nervous breakdown if I pushed myself much harder than I do and forced myself to do a lot of work and writing during my limited downtime, but I can’t ignore that this an excuse, not a reason. Ideally, I would be able to do everything, but that’s not feasible in real life. If I try to do everything, I’ll fail at everything. Being in class keeps me focused on the problem, not the solution. The solution is simple, but I’ve been too wrapped up in the problem to admit it.

It’s not the classes themselves, or even the six hours a week they take. It’s the poor state the entire schedule leaves me in. Six hours isn’t much, but the long days they lead to makes achieving my dreams impossible.

So I’m done. As of this semester, I was only enrolled for one reason: to be able to attend PAX ’10. I won’t be able to afford to go if I have to start paying on student loans, and if I’m not enrolled in six hours of classes a semester I’ll have to start paying. As much as it sucks to not go, though, I’d rather be happy and fulfilled 362 days of the year than have 3 days of revelry and good times with friends. My year and my life isn’t worth that.

I’ve already got the line item in and our budget balanced to accept this.

I’m not saying I’m dropping out entirely. When I see a night class that’s 300-level or above that looks interesting, I’ll take it. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the 2-3 classes I have left to finish my major and minor. I’ll probably take some graduate-level courses too (since they satisfy the Upper-Division Credit Hour requirement), though never more than one a semester, if they look fascinating and challenging. But I’m done with playing the game, staying enrolled for no good reason.

I realized last night what I want to do with my life in regards to work. It’s going to take a few years to get that set up, but I’m good with long-term plans. I’m tired of not starting, though. I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with college for four years now, and it’s time to do something about it.

How Many Missouri State University Workers Does It Take To Build a Set Of Stairs?

Apparently the answer is Ten.

MSU Workers

I was bemused, if a bit appalled, yesterday at how many of them were “working” on this project, but the older gentleman walking in front of me was affected even more. He stopped and stared, his face betraying his inability to decide whether he was aghast or angry, and I wondered who he was. A professor at the University, or was he perhaps a member of the Board of Governors?

At any rate, for an institution that is making drastic cuts to its budget in light of the current economic situation (our University President just presented at the Faculty Senate a plan to cut $5.5 million), it’s disturbing to see scenes like this. It put me in mind of the president’s comments at the recent State of the University address when he raised questions about committee sizes at the University, citing examples of ten and twenty member committees.

Perhaps the Stair Building Committee needs to be reevaluated. I just can’t imagine that its current structure is as efficient as it could be.

Update:: Got a text message from April a bit ago

Walked through the parking lot to use the new stairs but they aren’t finished yet. The ten men standing around look confused about this.

So ten people are now working on this for a second day. At this point we’ve spent, what, 30 man-hours worth of pay on building these stairs? Probably more.