But sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.
I’ve been on the fence about writing for awhile now. Lots of backstory (read: I have issues, some of the same as any writer (Dad says writing “isn’t a career” and was generally unsupportive), some that go a bit deeper into the psyche).
In any case, I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection and work with a therapist over the last several years. Finally, I’m at a point where I can handle all the voices in my head well enough to tell them to take a hike.
I’m lining up some writing projects for myself:
- A couple of articles for WordPress developers (likely applicable to generalists too). One on project management, one on an undecided topic.
- A couple of book reviews (one on the first two books of Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series, another on an ARC of Jon Sprunk’s new book).
- A short story that’s been burbling in my head off and on for four years. Writing and sending it as my application to Viable Paradise.
- General writing goal of doing some writing every day.
The popular thing to do at this time of year is New Year’s Resolution lists. I’ve done them before and never really found them effective. However, 2014 is a little different for me.
Twenty years ago, I lost my mother to cancer. I was eleven years old.
I’ve always told myself that I don’t remember much about her. That I’d forgotten.
Well, that isn’t quite true. I blocked a lot of my childhood away for a lot of different reasons.
So, on to resolutions and my one and only this year:
I’m making a resolution to write more about my mom, here on my blog, and share the memories I have of her. My one and only goal is to help more memories surface in my brain and to create a record that my daughters may some day read.
The magazine I volunteer for, Strange Horizons, is running an annual fund drive right now. Details:
This year’s fund drive is underway! We’re aiming to raise $11,000 to fund the next year of Strange Horizons. You can read more and donate here, see the list of donor prizes here and read bonus content as it is published here. We just published Maureen Kincaid Speller’s review of Ben Aaronovitch’s Moon Over Soho. Help us get to $3,000 to read our next piece of bonus content: “Teffeu: From a Library at Taarona”, a new story by Rose Lemberg, with podcast reading by Anaea Lay!
Please, go donate now and spread the word! You can see our progress below, or on the Strange Horizons site.
I’m working on a new web site and had some inspiration last night (my insomnia kicked in, then my brain filled up the time generating ideas). I’ve got quite a bit done on it; it’s WordPress-based, several custom post types, still needs a few more extras and some theme work to finish.
I’m hoping to have something together by mid to late August.
I also got to thinking about starting a hosted WordPress network for writers. A lot of these things exist in other capacities, so I’m not sure how much interest there would be in it.
In various forms (print or e-book), I’ve read the following in July:
- Parts of Indexing by Seanan McGuire (in progress, serialized novella) 223pp, so far
- Maggie for Hire by Kate Danley 288pp
- Maggie Get Your Gun by Kate Danley 264pp
- Maggie on the Bounty by Kate Danley 214pp
- Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson 416pp
- Skinner by Charlie Huston 400pp
- Hunted by Kevin Hearne 325pp
- Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough 303pp
- Neuromancer by William Gibson 288pp
- Count Zero by William Gibson 256pp
- An issue of Locus magazine
- Clarkesworld magazine
- Strange Horizons fiction
Total pages read (not including magazine/non-novel fiction): 2,977 pages
Total words read (using the standard 250 words/page metric): 744,250
On the writing front, I dusted off a short story, without polish, and posted it here. For new fiction, I wrote around 500 words and generated a few ideas in my Moleskine to pursue at a later date.
I posted a piece of fiction today. I say “new” because it is new to the world, but not to me. I wrote the original piece of this about a decade ago for a creative writing seminar. I continued working on it over the following two years, then left it.
Today I’ve shaken the dust and cobwebs off to share it here.
It isn’t my best; it is the thing I’ve spent the longest on, though.
The piece is set in the near future, when the world has taken extreme measures to control childbirth and protect children. In this setting, the main character is a renegade agent of the agency responsible for protecting children. He has seen the devastation this “protection” causes to families and now fights to save families.
The idea for this piece springs from many of the laws that have cropped up around what parents can and can’t do around or with their children. Some of these laws are common sense, and thus shouldn’t be necessary as laws. Others are far-reaching and do too much. I am to explore what happens when we go too far with our desire to protect our children.
Read the story here.
What’s the trick behind maintaining an active blog?
I have a hard time with this for a number of reasons. Rather than going into that, here’s my plan for getting this blog off the ground and giving it fresh content daily.
- Book reviews – I’m volunteering with Strange Horizons as a web master and US contact manager. I get to see a number of the upcoming releases, and potentially read/review some of them. I also read a lot on my own (eight to ten books a month, usually). Rather than just reading and shelving the books, I’m going to start writing my thoughts of them down here to share.
- WordPress goodies – I’m a WordPress developer by trade and have a lot of nuggets packed away in my head. I’m an autodidact, so I have a lot to share with how I got from being a run-of-the-mill English major to a software developer at a leading start-up company, Automattic.
- Personal writing – I’m college-trained as a writer and editor, and have rarely used the skills, despite it being a large part of my self-identity. I’m going to start going through my writing archives, pulling and re-writing pieces, and posting them here. I’d also like to get involved more with editing, so if anyone reading this has opportunities (doesn’t have to be paid), please contact me via the Contact link.
Three steps. The last key ingredient for this to work is to write every day. No matter what it is or how long it is, I must publish something here every day.
One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more is cooking at home. I used to use my pain disorder as an excuse to not cook, and since I’m the primary cook in the house, that would mean we would end up ordering or eating out often.
As you may imagine, this can be expensive, in both financial and health ways.
Over the last few months, we’ve been eating in, at home, and experimenting with different recipes to find a variety of things that we like. And, not only are we finding awesome, cheap things, that we like to eat, but we are all healthier. Both Caroline and I are losing weight and we get to spend more time as a family around the dinner table.
Long story short, I want to share one of our favorite recipes with you. This is my slow cooker chili recipe:
2 cups tomato juice
15 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
27 ounce can dark red kidney beans
26.5 ounce can black beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
Sauté onion and green pepper in skillet for 2 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and cook until browned.
Mix all ingredients in 4 or 6 quart crock pot.
Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.
I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it!
Do you believe in karma?
One year ago, I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. I did and while I was there, Caroline and the girls came down with severe cases of the stomach flu.
Caroline is right now in Hawaii, likely sleeping off the timezone changes. I had the pleasure of waking up to my eldest daughter having had a bad case of diarrhea in her sleep (mess doesn’t even begin to describe the result).
Fingers are crossed and I’m knocking on wood that this is as far as the karmic wheel turns for me. I GET IT!
As I look back over the last year or so, there are a lot of things that stand out to me.
My oldest daughter turned 4 in December; my youngest turned 1 in September. This is unbelievable to me because I don’t know where all the time went and I don’t want them to grow up so fast. Every moment (aside from the tantrums/screaming (okay, even those moments, as painful as they are)) is a precious moment to me. I don’t want to miss anything with my girls and I feel like I’ve already missed a collective 5 years.
I’ve traveled close to or sightly more than 50,000 miles in the last year, which, when compared to how much of a homebody I was before joining Automattic, is a major achievement unto itself. Even with this many miles under my belt, every time I think about and start planning a trip away from home I get butterflies in my stomach. I don’t like leaving the girls behind; I’d like nothing more than to bring them with me, though I know I wouldn’t see them because I’d be working with my team.
I also realize this marks three years or so of being disconnected from my family. Through the therapy I’ve been in and the disconnection, I’ve solved a lot of emotional blocks I’ve had for years and grown a lot as a person. There was a lot of fear and personal stigma that was holding me back before that, now, with a lot of help from a lot of people around me, I’m finally overcoming. It feels great to be coming into my own, so to speak, and finding my footing in the world.
There’s a lot going on at work that has me excited for the future, and I’m getting started on my writing again, which makes me very happy!
Random Tidbit: New music: Mumford and Sons, Flogging Molly