Dec 10, 2013 @ 5:38 pm
This little scriptwriter meme has been floating around the net today, and I think it’s definitely interesting from a writer’s perspective. So check it out for that alone. But then I saw someone note that they were depressed that female heroes appeared in only 77 of the 277 scripts that were analyzed. This was considered depressing by that writer–who was female. And, it is depressing in so many ways. I do get it.
But I like this chart because it’s actual data, and as with all things data-related, there are several other things here that make me go “huh.” I love numbers.
For example, 77 of 277 is 28%. If this is a reasonable facsimile of the number of female protagonists being written in all manuscripts today, some follow on questions might be: “How many were written before?” and “Are we going up the curve?” and, if so, “how fast?” Of course, there’s no way to know from this data. And I would also love to know ‘How did the female/male protag breakdown by genre?” too, which this data apparently could get but doesn’t provide. And the male/female protag breakdown of the scripts “recommended” would be interesting, too. There are a lot of additional cuts (not just gender-related, of course) that seem to scream out for study here.
Finally, the one “positive” (is it a positive?) is that while the 28% of manuscripts have a female protagonists, only 30 female writers were involved (10.8%). So there exist nearly three times the number of female “heroes” as there are female writers. At least in this sample.
Let’s play a little game, and assume EVERY female writer was involved with a female protagonist, then 47 (19%) of the 247 manuscripts written by men have female protagonists. If EVERY female author wrote a male character, that means 77 (31%) of 247 manuscripts written by male authors had a female protagonist.
So the upshot of this data is that:
in this particular situation, males wrote female protagonists at a rate of something between 19-31%.
Another way of looking at it is (assuming a linear relationship):
if females write male heroes 50% of the time, males write female heroes 25% of the time.
It would be interesting to know if this, too, has changed over the course of time.
What does it mean? I’ll be the first to say “I dunno.” But I admit I thought is was interesting.
Dec 9, 2013 @ 3:35 pm
Little Jack Horner sat in a corner …”
You think you know the story, right? But it goes deeper–way, way deeper–than that little rhyme could ever explain. For example, did you know the story happens in space? Probably not. And, did you know … wait … perhaps I’m going too far. If you want to know the rest of the story …
Go Get “A Corner of the Mind”
Yes, friends, you can find my short story, “A Corner of the Mind,” up now in e-form on Amazon (and soon to be up on Smashwords for those of the non-Kindle collective–I’ll let you know when that’s ready, too).
And, there will be a special bonus available for subscribers to my newsletter in just a few short days. So sign up now, while the signing up is hot!
And here’s a special shout-out to Emese Pócsik, a Hungarian web designer and artist who granted me authorization to use her uber-cool wormhole graphic on the cover of my story. You can find her at lots of places:
Her Hungarian Website
Her digital art gallery
Her traditional art gallery
Her painting videos
Her youtube channel
I get the idea she’s kinda busy. [grin]
Dec 8, 2013 @ 5:06 pm
Just a quick note to announce that Three Days in May … The Greatest Spectacle in Science Fiction, is available now on a holiday discount. This is a collection of stories set in and around the past and future of the Indianapolis 500, and includes “The Day the Track Stood Still,” which was first published in Analog. The print version (now $6.99) makes a great stocking stuffer for those SF-loving race fans in your family, while the e-version ($.99) makes a great … er … eReader-stuffer!
Note: Buy the print version at Amazon, and you can add the kindle e-version for free!
Here are the obligatory links:
Three Days in May: Print Version @ CreateSpace
Three Days in May: Print Version @ Amazon
Three Days in May: for the Kindle
Three Days in May: All other e-Versions
Now, back to your normal Net channel …
Dec 8, 2013 @ 10:10 am
A conversation, held as Lisa and I were preparing to go to her work team’s outing last night:
Lisa: It should be informal.
Ron: Sounds good.
Lisa: I think I’m going to wear jeans.
Ron: < does not reply for too long >
Lisa: Or not. I don’t know what I’ll wear.
Ron: Don’t worry about me. I’ll be the good trophy husband.
Lisa: That’s right. And you’d better look < darn > good, too.
Ron: < holds hands out in the universal sign for "hey, this is me we're talkin' about here!" >
Lisa: < remains silent for a moment, then > Ahhhhhh!!! Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!
Sure, when I ran over there, she really was getting a toe cramp, but on further review I have to wonder if she’s, like, this toe magician–a sorceress of “this little piggy went to market,” a weaver of such podiatal wizardry she can call these things up on a moment’s notice. What other answer is there for the fact that the first time she gets a toe cramp in months is when she’s faced with this kind of moment, eh?
Dec 7, 2013 @ 1:27 pm
Today I give you the Spree challenge.
It may not be what you’re thinking of as we move into the big December period of shopping sprees and other such holiday events. Instead it has to do with a book, titled, well … uh, Spree, and written by Kris Rusch. It is a detective/crime story set in the western desert surrounding Las Vegas–a study in various psychologies and chock full of the twists and turns you would expect from such a story. In other words, it’s pretty danged good if you’re into these kinds of things.
The book, you see, is available online for a perfectly reasonable $7.99 price tag (15 bucks in trade paperback). But it’s also being made available online for free at a rate of a chapter a week. That’s right. You can read it online for free as long as you can wait week-to-week for each chapter. Or you can quick-buy at any time. So the challenge is this:
1) Read the thing online for free, chapter to chapter.
2) When you finally decide “ah, to heck with it … this is good. I’ll just buy the danged thing” … come back here and let me know at what point you caved, pulled out your credit card, and did the deed.
3) Kick back and enjoy yourself.
Simple, eh? And fun, too. Win-win is always best.
Dec 6, 2013 @ 12:33 pm
I love when this happens.
So for Quite Some Time, I’ve been calling Episode 6, well, um, Episode Six. Not like Episode Seven: Lord of the Freeborn. Just Episode Six.
This was no good.
Then John Bodin, who is a first reader of mine, said he was nearly ready for it, and I decided I needed a title. Yet, I couldn’t come up with one. Still. In addition, I realized I needed to make an adjustment to Episode Six to make it work with Episode Seven (one of the reasons I’m writing the whole series before releasing it, I suppose). So the last three days has been spent in a last read-out(*), and in knitting (#) the new pieces into the work.
* A read-out is where I read the entire piece out loud as a prose check. Does it sound good? Do the words actually work as they are spoken rather than just sound good in my head?
# Special “knit” call-out to HM
Now all that is done. I need to smooth one exit chapter, but the real work is done.
Then, just a moment ago, I went to the top of the file and put down the new title to Episode Six: Changing of the Guard.
It’s simple. It fits.
Seriously, how do things work? And why do they take so danged long sometimes?
Note to John: Watch out for incoming.
Dec 5, 2013 @ 6:20 pm
Book recommendation: I’m only a quarter of the way through it, but Jim Hines’ Libriomancer is a lot of fun.
I can tell it’s going to take a few weeks for me to settle into whatever my daily cycle is going to be–maybe a few months, really, since December is a weird month. Part of my problem, to be honest, is that I’m dealing with a weird, but possibly happy side-project right now, one that popped up out of the blue and is taking considerable time out of random portions of the day. The other problem is that I have too many project I want to spend time on.
I know. Poor Ron.
That said, it seems that I’m getting the bulk of my creative work done in the morning, splitting it into two chunks of 60-90 minute focused stages. Then I break for lunch and do something entertaining, but relevant … thinks like watching an episode of Orphan Black on Monday, or watching Stephen King talk about writing on YouTube yesterday, or Malcom Gladwell today. The afternoon is a mix of business, creation, and home stuff.
So far, so good.
A couple quick reviews of “Primes”:
Sam Tomaino of SFReview likes it.
And I posted this through twitter last night, but I’ll include it here for completeness sake, and because … well … Colleen Chen of Tangent Online likes it a lot. [grin]
Dec 4, 2013 @ 5:09 pm
So today I wrote for a bunch of the day, and I worked on a different project. And I also took a 20 minute break to vacuum the family room area–which, admittedly has needed it for some time. My brain wandered as I was vacuuming, I realized that something I had written earlier in the day needed to be changed, and I realized exactly how it needed to change.
When I was done vacuuming, I went to the manuscript and made that change. It’s better. Without that break, and without the meandering of the work I was doing, I may never have caught the wave I did, and the manuscript would not have been as good as it could have been.
Before I left my cushy corporate job, several people asked how many hours I would be working. I said that it depends on what you count as work. So, I ask: how do I categorize that 30 minutes?
Dec 2, 2013 @ 9:47 pm
Lisa’s role as a guinea pig is now officially complete, and the vote is in. Her commentary on my Guinness Beef Stew (compliments of Matt Horgan) was:
“Well, I’m not really a meat & potatoes kind of girl, but this was very yummy! The house smelled wonderful when I got home from work. This stew is tasty, but the broth is especially good. My only suggestion for next time – and there should definitely be a next time for this meal – is to remember what bite-size means! Hero’s Award conferred!”
This means I will owe Mr. Horgan a special extra in the FIUITP gift bag.
Dec 2, 2013 @ 7:11 pm
I’m sure everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the winner of the “Fry it Up in a Pan” Sweepstakes.
First, let me say that I was happy to receive every recipe you all sent–and there were several. I suspect I will make all of them at one time or another. But there were two in particular I thought were the most noteworthy. As such I will arbitrarily decide to make two awards (though I created only one masterpiece today, hence only one is eligible for the “Hero” portion of the award package).
First Prize–and the recipe that’s stewing as I type–is a version of Guinness Beef Stew sent to me by Matt Horgan. Matt is a guy I’ve known from work for some time, and a guy who’s been writing in bits and drabs for some time. We shared a table of contents for an anthology released through the now-defunct Fictionwise. There is probably considerable truth to the idea that his recipe won the prize because, in order to make it, I needed to buy a bottle of Guinness Extra Stout. And … well … did you know these things come in six-packs? Beyond that, I scaled the recipe down a bit, so there just happened to be more left in the bottle as I put the recipe together, hence I had a tiny libation to follow my lunch of leftover pizza.
That’s right, one day as a freelance writer and I’m already drinking.
I blame it all on Matt.
Second First Prize goes to Imp Extraordinaire, Sharon Bass. She sent me a recipe for something she calls “Chicken with Pan Sauces” that sounds totally delish, and includes some directions for making a roux. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but just the sound of the word roux alone is enough to draw my interest. I mean, saying “roux” makes me think of Winnie the Pooh and blustery days, and thinking of blustery days and Winnie the Pooh makes me think of Tigger. An thinking of Tigger is a wonderful thing.
So, winners, per the rules, feel free to drop me notes to tell me what you want. I’ll get to sending them your way pronto. And Matt, I’ll let you (and the world, I suppose) know the results of the Hero portion of this thing sometime later tonight!
I’ll leave you with a few photos:
Me, reading the ingredients:
Me, thinking about real cooking:
The crock pot, stewing away:
Nov 29, 2013 @ 5:11 pm
Just to make it all official and stuff, the deadline for the “Fry it up in the pan” sweepstakes is midnight EST in the US this Sunday night. Several tasty sounding ideas have arrived, but I bet yours is better. [grin]
Nov 29, 2013 @ 12:59 pm
I love seeing how “experts” think about things, and I especially enjoy hearing the oddities in how they talk about them. People, you see, say the dumbest things. I know, because I are a people, and I often say things that make others look at me askew. I like to think most of the time I get that reaction, though, it’s because I’ve said something that, while it goes against the grain, is true. I like to think that it’s this truth that catches people’s breath.
Of course, I also like to think that ice cream has no calories, so take that for what it’s worth.
Regardless, it’s been my experience that the very best time to pull out the old BS-o-meter is when words come from the mouths of experts. Experts, it seems, are often not really very expert at all. Oh, you can find them–experts who really are expert. But it’s not as easy as you would like. Most people, often don’t really know what they are doing and can’t describe it very well when you dig down deeply. Don’t believe me? Just ask them to draw a process diagram. Then watch the cartwheels and jousting begin.
My latest enjoyment in this vein came from an article linked in someone’s Facebook or Twitter feed. I can’t remember which. But it’s a piece in Business Insider titled “Dumb things Finance People Say.” It’s full of fun little bits, and I admit I enjoy the commentary the article provides on each of them.
Among my favorite:
1. “They don’t have any debt except for a mortgage and student loans.”
3. “Earnings missed estimates.”
4. “Earnings met expectations, but analysts were looking for a beat.”
8. “More buyers than sellers.”
16. “Our bullish case is conservative.”
24. “Investors are fleeing the market.”
These are just flat-out silly, and represent faulty logic and faulty statements at the most basic level. I enjoy the article’s responses–especially the response to “Earnings Missed Estimates” (no, simple cause and effect thinking allows us to see the it’s the estimate that’s the problem here), and “More Buyers than Sellers” (of which there are, by definition, always an equal amount of each).
Then there are phrases that are maybe more the lingo of the environment than anything else, but are, again entertaining for the way they reveal the thinking behind the comment:
2. “Earnings were positive before one-time charges.”
14. “We’re trying to maximize returns and minimize risks.”
17. “We look where others don’t.”
22. “We’re constructive on the market.”
25. “We expect more volatility.”
28. “This is a cyclical bull market in a secular bear.”
There are times I wonder why people talk like this. What reason do they have for making these kinds of misstatements? But I get it. I do. It’s among the beauties of people and of language. We use language for several reasons, and among them are to sway people to do things we want or to think the way we think. Hence you get these kinds of statement s from experts in certain fields (Finance folks are not the only ones you could write an article like this on). They aren’t all lies, of course. Some have elements of truth. Some highlight a single slice of the truth, essentially giving that slice prioritization over others. Some carry a message inside their obviously erroneous nature (“People are fleeing the market” for example can be right even if all stocks are owned at all times–but the actual event that is happening is that “even though prices are falling, a lot of people are selling their possessions as rapidly as they can.” If an expert were to talk about it in those terms, terms that actually describe what is happening, you might interpret this as “What a great time to buy”–which, assuming you have some disposable cash on hand and are not terribly risk averse, it actually is. I mean, who are these few buyers, and when do they expect to turn a profit buying these properties whose prices are in free fall? Tell me, experts, who are the dunces here? Wouldn’t it be just as proper–and more helpful–to say “savvy investors are picking up great buys?”).
Anyway. This was my fun read of the day, and I thought perhaps you might like it, too.
Nov 28, 2013 @ 9:37 pm
I know … this place is getting thick with an unending stream of “lasts” and publishing news. While I’m going to promise to go light on the “lasts” from here on out, I hope to be unable to promise a slow-down on publishing news. Tonight is no exception.
Sorry, but I’m really not too sorry about that. [grin]
My short story “Midnight at River’s Edge” was published in e-form by Daily Science Fiction a while back. Now you can get it in Not Just Rockets and Robots, an anthology consisting of an entire year’s worth of work that appeared on the site. At $25, it’s less than a dime a story. Who can beat that?
Nov 28, 2013 @ 3:14 pm
I spent this morning unpacking things I brought from the office. There wasn’t much, just a couple bags. Another advantage of working in an open office configuration, I guess. Still, I gathered enough doo-dads and trinkets to make a good mess, and I had with me a listing of a bunch of my old performance reviews and whatnot. Interesting reading. I’m not sure I changed a whole lot through my career.
Now those are all trash, though. Don’t need ‘em.
I’m holding onto things my teams gave me, mostly. Dilbert stuff from the AFT (and my most cherished award … the “Out on a Limb” award given “for consistently pushing the management envelop and daring to be a pain in the …”). The coolest globe in the world given to me by the OnBoarding team. A super-slick and highly motivational plaque from my current team (the cookbook remains upstairs where it will become dog-eared). Then there are a few family things.
Going through this is actually a very hard thing. I know beyond doubt that I’m ready to do this, and that this is exactly what I want to do. But it’s a strange, strange process for me merely because there are so many attractive things about working where I did. I am most definitely running toward something, rather than away from anything.
A few lasts:
My last trip through headquarters: On my way into the office yesterday, I took a small detour and walked slowly through the building where I had spent 10 or so years. I mainly just thought about people, but a little about the great work we accomplished together. It was really a fun time, actually. I assume I may get back to the building, but I took advantage of the moment in as many ways as I could.
My last one-on-one meeting with a team member: Held with a young woman who was born in China. I think if someone had told me that back in the mid-80s when I started my professional career, it would have made me boggle. We spent it talking about careers, where we thought she was relative to peers and relative to the best in her business. It was a discussion that raised my heart. I love those.
My last hug: Received from a business team leader who wished me luck, told me I would be missed, but confirmed I was doing a good thing. I like that about our leaders. At the end of the day, they really do want what’s best for the people who work here. It was interesting that every single business leader who wished me well specifically thanked me for my work in challenging the way they think. That says something for the way the company works at its heart. Speak up, friends. Our voice means something. (Though I suggest perhaps it might serve you best to do it in such a way as you’re not a candidate for the “Out on a Limb” award. I assume that not everyone likes it out on that limb as well as I do. [grin])
My last mail received: From a member of the controls team I managed 15+ years ago. He had remarkably kind things to say. It made me smile. I was/am a people’s manager to a fault, I suppose.
Anyway, it’s been an emotional 24 hours. Time moves on, though. A story awaits.
Nov 27, 2013 @ 7:34 am
I celebrate my last day on the “real job” by noting that my story “The Flying Contraption” will be published in Elementary, an anthology of stories written in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters universe. You never know how these things are going to go, of course, but it was nice to see Publishers Weekly do a nice little write up on it. Uber-cool cover, isn’t it?
This is the second EM anthology, and with any luck there will be several more.
In the meantime, I’m working on a short story for a different anthology now, and then I’ve got Episode 8 to finish. Then the audio project I mentioned. And a novel to pull out … okay, really more like three novels to pull out. And maybe an indie thing or two.
I guess I ought to get cracking on it, eh? It’s what I do now, right? I mean, after today, anyway.
[very wide grin]
Nov 26, 2013 @ 10:21 pm
My team had a nice little event for me, complete with cake and a card and a special wife-approved gift.
No, guys, this doesn’t count for the Fry it Up in the Pan contest.
Nov 26, 2013 @ 8:34 am
Okay, gang. You probably already know that as of (essentially) Wednesday, I’ll be a full time freelancer, but that’s not the relevant milestone today. Today’s milestone is Monday–that day when the baton officially passes to me, that day when I officially become Responsible For Making Dinner. The goal from that point forward will be to have dinner on the table when Lisa gets home from her long day toiling in the salt mines. This is important for you because one of the things on my list of “things to do” now is to … ahem … Learn to Cook.
So, why, you may ask, is this important to you?
On Monday, you see, I’m going to actually cook dinner–and by cook I mean to undertake something more complicated than make up a salad and do a frozen dinner, or a Bertolli, or a soup, or whatever other substandard thing I’ve been foisting off on my better half under the auspices of being too rushed or too tired to make something real. Monday, I’m going to cook. That’s right. Lisa’s bringing home the bacon, I’m frying it up in the pan. What I need, though, is a recipe.
This is where you come in.
So here’s the deal–the Fry it Up in the Pan Sweepstakes, as it were:
You send me a recipe (email it to me at ron_at_typosphere.com) in enough time for me to get the stuff, and if I like it best, I’ll make it on Monday. And if I make it on Monday, I’ll send you a free copy of one of my works of your choice. It can be either an e-copy or hard copy of anything available on my site, or, if you want two, I’ll send you hard copies of both editions of Writers of the Future I’ve appeared in. If you want something else (copy of a magazine or whatever I’ve appeared in), we can probably work it out off line. And if your recipe makes me into a hero with my beloved, well, then I may just throw in something more. Remember, though, I am not yet at the Chef Ramsey level, so you’ll want to take this into consideration when you submit your gems.
So, have at it. My spices are ready, my oven is set on marvelous.
The next step is up to you.
Nov 25, 2013 @ 9:53 pm
A few days back I wrote about the five things that I would most definitely not be missing about Corporate America. Tonight I’m staring at two more days, and I figure it’s time to turn the tables. So, what, you ask, are the Five Things I Will Be Missing about Working in Corporate America?
I’m glad you asked:
1. Working with some of the very coolest people ever: In all seriousness, my company is filled with a remarkable collection of diverse, intelligent, driven, and passionate people. Proof? We are a big, messy organization with processes that, well, rely totally on extraordinarily great people who do remarkably great things. Given that this company has been a consistently high performer, and that it’s been consistently ranked among the best employers in the nation … it’s been a true privilege to work with so many excellent people.
2. Remarkable work: Throughout my professional career I’ve done actual rocket science. I’ve been involved with embedded controls software development. I’ve done IT work. But honestly, nothing has been more complex, more intriguing, or more educational than the last 13 years in various broad-scoped roles centered in the Human Resources department. People are amazing, and very little actually beats the feeling you get when you see an entire organization of 40,000 people change in positive directions because of what you’ve done.
3. Global scope: I used to say that one of the greatest things about my job was going to bed at night knowing that your work is making people’s lives better in China or India or Australia or … With this company, I’ve had a chance to see a lot of the world. It’s a small place.
4. The money didn’t suck: Given corporate America’s compensation scheme, and given that I was a fast-riser relative to my age peers, I was probably considerably underpaid for the first fifteen years of my professional career. But, it all evens out in the end, I suppose. And let’s face it, a steady paycheck made it easy for the rest of my life to just kind of happen.
5. Flexibility: My company is actually pretty cool for a big company. I mean. It tries. My work schedule, for example, is completely my own, and has been since the day I started. It took me a few years to really get comfortable with that fact (no one actually told me about it, you see, I just figured it out–this practice pretty much continues today, really, which is actually a problem, I suppose), and it took our IT systems several more to catch up well enough that I could really take advantage of it.
Nov 25, 2013 @ 8:20 am
“Ron?” Lisa’s voice came from upstairs. It was 6:30 AM, and I was on my last dash toward actually finishing this beast of a manuscript I’ve been calling Episode Seven.
She proceeded to let me know that the Gods of Interruption had once again struck, threatening to delay the completion of this story for the ten gazillionth moment–this time using a barrage of cat puke. That’s right. Cat puke. It is my job, you see, to clean up all feline regurgitation that occurs in the household, and Keiko the Wonder Sleeper had chosen this moment to create a new masterpiece.
Seriously? I thought to the powers that be. You’re seriously throwing the old cat puke ploy? Talk about desperation. The world seems to have aligned against me on this episode, finding ways to divert my attention at every stage along the way. And now I was so close I could taste it. As the morning started, I had seven pages to make work, and I actually thought I was there–now it was just a matter of the read-out.
That’s what I thought, anyway.
But I stopped, and went up to clean the cat puke. I paused in the gathering of my disgruntlement for long enough to pet the cat and tell her I hoped she was okay, but let her know I would appreciate if she would refrain from making such offerings until more convenient times. She appeared to agree.
Go with me there–or at least give me that little insanity.
Yet, even this could not sway me this hallowed morning, for upon completion of this cleaning, I marched directly back to the keyboard and put the final touches on the story. It is done. There. I said it. Episode seven, Lord of the Freeborn is done.
And, you know what?
It may well be the best episode of the lot.
Nov 23, 2013 @ 12:57 pm
This morning comes news that Analog wants to publish my short story “Unfolding the Multi-cloud.” I think I shall say yes. Counting my collaboration with John Bodin (which is included in our collection “Three Days in May”), and assuming no oddities in publishing schedules and whatnot, this should represent my eleventh appearance in that magazine.
Eleven is Lisa’s favorite number.
Yes, it’s an odd, irrelevant fact, but still seemed cool, so sue me.
Spent the morning catching up on some SFWA stuff. It’s been awhile. And I managed to update the first 60 pages of Episode Seven, Lord of the Freeborn with all my edits from yesterday’s read-out.
Time for lunch.
And a work out.
And whatever comes next.
Nov 22, 2013 @ 9:52 pm
Today was my last day of paid vacation. Next week will see me finish my last Monday, last Tuesday, and last Wednesday. By that time, you’ll all be totally sick of me talking about “lasts.” But until then you’ll either need to deal with it, or just go read Whatever or some other more entertaining blog.
So, what did I do? After all, so many people have been asking me what I will do when I’m a full-time writer. So, like, maybe today was a way to find out, eh? So, here’s what I did.
I got up at about quarter till eight. Not bad.
- Two hours: Fiddled with putting a short story into audio format. I’m thinking of releasing it in a special way here soon, and I just wanted to play with it. I think it’s interesting so far, but the trials I ran are very far short of the quality I’m interested in. It was, however, pretty fun. Strange how your voice sounds, eh?
- 30 minutes: wrote a short news-release-style story for a fake baseball team I run. Worthless overall, except that it was pure fun. So, not so worthless after all, eh?
- 15 minutes: played with Twitpic. I am my father’s son, hence technology things always take me twice as long to deal with than they should.
Add a shower in there, and a bit of Twitter/Facebooking, and there you have the first part of my last vacation. By the way, if I get the audio thing going, I’ll probably do something special with members of my mailing list first, so in a craven way of growing that list … feel free to use the link above if’n you’re interested.
- Hour+: Took a co-worker to lunch. WAAAY too small of a thanks for everything I’ve received from her efforts, but you have to try, eh?
- 45 mins: Recycled newspapers, stopped to buy bottled water (somehow a couple bottles of wine slipped into the cart when I wasn’t looking) … and, uh, a quick side-trip to DQ for a celebratory blizzard. Enjoy life, I say. No value any other way.
This was a great full break away from the writing stuff. I spent the shopping time listening to a TedTalk podcast, and got back home in a great frame of mind to work.
- Three hours: Read two-thirds of episode seven out loud (about 70 pages). 30 pages to go. Walked on treadmill. Played with cat during a 15 minute break, noted that cat seems surprised to see a human being in the house at this time of day, but is happy to have an on-demand feeder.. (Opinion: The first 70 pages of Episode seven rock now…hoping I feel the same way about the last 30).
- 20 minutes: Trip to grocery store for lettuce
Wish I would have thought about the lettuce last night when I was there picking up Lisa’s breakfast raspberries. Such is life, though. And it was a good break. As an aside, I’ve been doing a lot of productivity work at … uh … work. 90 minute spurts of focus are remarkably consistent for me.
Texted Lisa a “honey, this is your reminder to come home note.”
- 30 minutes: made big dinner salads, and put them in the refrigerator to wait for Lisa. Plan to add Bertolli Wedding soup later.
- 30 minutes: Read Analog galleys of my short story “Survivors.” Found one copy edit change, so it was pretty clean (credit to my beloved). Looks like it will be published in the June issue, which comes out in about April, I would guess.
- Two hours: Got dinner around, listened to wife, ate dinner, cleaned up, wrote this.
So, there you have it. What I did on my last vacation. Is this what I’ll do on a “normal” work day? Ya got me.
And, oh, yeah … current step count (as of 8:50: 23.5K)
Nov 20, 2013 @ 9:12 pm
So, I’m down to four more days left in Corporate America. I’ve been writing about things I’m going through, the good stuff and the bad–and, yes, there are some good things about working in a corporate environment. That said, there are many things that I.SO.WILL.NOT.MISS about working freelance.
Among these are:
1) Feeding the cat in the morning: Let’s face it, just about anything is bearable if you’ve had enough sleep. And I, being a writer/Corporate guy, have been working on a 25-year sleep deficit because I get up at 4:00-4:30 on the average morning. This means one of my jobs is to feed the cat in the morning. I shall be passing this role to Lisa … I think. [grin] Either way, I will be fine if I never have to get up at 4AM again.
2) Listening to managers/leaders who obviously don’t get it: I absolutely love leadership. I think it’s afascinating thing to watch and study, and I think when you find a great leader it’s a startlingly cool thing to see. I have been lucky to work with and for many of those great leaders. Unfortunately, the distribution of leaders who actually connect effect to cause very well is highly skewed–not in the right way. In the 20+ years at this company I’ve reported to nearly thirty people in four different business units and three functions. You can do your own math all the way up those chains. Doing this freelance thing means that I’m 100% certain that I’ll be working for an idiot, but at least I figure his heart’s always in the right place, and at least he’ll always see cause and effect the same way I do.
3) Compromising as a way of life: When you work for a culture of collaboration and inclusion, and one led by some of the leaders in #2 above, you have to be okay with your company not doing things in ways that are optimal. As I told a co-worker recently, peering through the organization and finding a path that’s as close to optimal as possible is actually a form of art in itself. I can do this. But it’s not my preferred way to work, and–at the end of almost every major project I’ve been part of in my professional life–while everyone else is busy talking about how great the result was, I’ve had this voice whispering in the darker corners of my mind that keeps pointing out where we really should have, and could have, done a lot better. I enjoy the positives, but I won’t miss thinking about the money my company’s left on the table at times.
4) Looking for conference rooms: Enough said, really. Especially in the open office configuration.
5) IT Help Desk Agents asking if they can close my ticket because they can’t duplicate my problem (or insert anything else they do that includes not actually fixing the problem). Again, enough said.
Nov 19, 2013 @ 10:59 pm
Amid the sea of “lasts” that I’ve been wading through these past few days/weeks, I completed what my be the coolest “last” tonight, that being my last team dinner. My co-workers and my team took me out to dinner tonight. If a team group like this can be cozy, that’s what it was. These are all pretty remarkable folks, really hard workers, smart, and fun.
We talked about work, of course, and they asked me about my writing (“What will you do on your first day?” “Will you ever set an alarm clock again?” Do you write under other names?”), we talked about our kids and family traditions. It was a good time.
My work has been fascinating, and exciting, and challenging and all that. But, as I’ve said before, the people are the thing I’ll really miss. Tonight reminded me of that.
Nov 18, 2013 @ 8:01 am
“Do you enjoy getting dinner together?” Lisa said.
I looked at her like this might be a trick question, a set-up or something. But the mantle has already shifted in our household–I’ve already been doing the bulk of meal prep since the time of Lisa’s foot surgery (weak though that prep might be!). I couldn’t see any angle where this might be anything than it actually was, a simple check into whether I enjoyed the act of getting dinner together.
For most of the years of our lives together, we’ve had a fairly traditional set-up. Lisa was at home, I was working. Lisa did the stuff to keep the home cycles running, I did the grilling, the mowing, and the occasional botched repair. It all worked. Now that’s changing, and I suppose it’s the farthest thing from unusual for Lisa to be curious.
Last week I talked to a younger, female co-worker whose husband has been staying home with her two young children. The kids are getting a bit older now, and he’s ready to embark on starting his own company. She talked about the stigma he faced, what are you going to do? he would be asked. Who’s going to make the money?
What I’m going through is not quite like that, of course. But in some ways it is. Now that most everyone at work knows that I’m leaving soon, I get a lot of comments and questions and whatnot, and in some of those conversations there lies embedded an undertone of discomfort and uncertainty. I talk about writing full-time, but also being free to do things like grocery shop in the day, or keep the laundry cycles running, or having dinner at home, or … and the conversation sometimes goes in these oddly discomforting directions. It’s never outwardly condescending or aggressive, but there’s this tone that comes along … a “oh, so you’re not going to work full time” kind of feel, and a sense that I’m taking step back. I don’t think they mean it this way. Most of the time I think it’s unintentional and maybe even unconscious.
Interestingly, but I suppose not too surprisingly, the discussions that get uncomfortable are pretty much always when I’m speaking with a male. Ok. Not “pretty much.” They are always when I’m speaking with a male.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing unto itself. It’s a measure, a yardstick of where our culture is. You can’t expect people as a whole to change on a dime. But among all the things I’m sensing as I get to this transition point, this is one of the most interesting.
I’ll leave it to you to decide why, or to decide if I’m just being too sensitive, or whatever.
FWIW, my answer to Lisa was that I didn’t mind getting dinner together at all as long as I had time. It’s like cutting the grass–something I can focus on a bit, but still let my mind wander–and in that way I suppose it’s actually helpful to a writer at those times when you need to let your brain disassociate and run free to find those places where creativity hides things.
And, um, yeah … started on Episode 8 this morning. Hope to finish in by the end of November. I think I shall consider this the beginning of my NaNoWriHaMo (National Novella Writing Half Month).
Nov 17, 2013 @ 5:06 pm
My company started a walking challenge back in April. Now, after seven months and well over 4 and a half million steps, I find myself in a neck-and-neck race with “Bob.” As of yesterday, less than 1,000 steps separated us.
The next player is 600K steps behind.
Pretty cool, eh?
Hope I can keep my account when I “step” away from work. [grin]
Nov 16, 2013 @ 4:58 pm
If you are an Analog reader, you should take a run over to their site and make selections for their annual AnLab Readers award. The poll is open until the end of January, but don’t let that slow you down.
Of course, my story “Bugs” is eligible in the short story category, and “Following Jules” is eligible in the novelette category. Very exciting two have two works eligible in the same year. We’ll see if we can make that more of a habit from here on out. [grin]
Nov 16, 2013 @ 1:57 pm
“You will never find a character use foul language in any of my stories.”
This something I’ve heard a couple times from writers recently, and it’s something that’s stuck in my craw enough that I’m still thinking about it this weekend. I rarely say anything when I hear someone say this–or at least I haven’t said anything so far–because why argue about trivial things like this? But my initial reaction is always pretty visceral inside. I find the idea … annoying. It grates on what I will ambitiously call my artistic sensibilities.
Why would you purposely limit the characters you can write by taking that approach?” I think when I hear these words.
I respect these writers’ opinions, and I see that approach in one’s life as a noble and profoundly important thing if you can pull it off. I do my best to control my language as I go about my daily living. So, I get it in that fashion.
When it comes to writing stories, though, it’s a different thing all together. I agree there’s no reason to be gratuitous, of course, but a person’s relationship to, and use of, profanity is a major element that speaks to their view of life. To write a character who should swear without allowing them to swear removes their power. It’s like taking out one of their lungs. They still show up and still do their thing, but they can’t run at full bore when you need them to because they’re down on oxygen.
So, why would any writer purposefully remove tools from their toolbox?
Just venting, I suppose.
While not technically finished, Lord of the Freeborn is now at such a state as I can say the story itself is finished. Everything is in place, and while I think the last 5 pages need a serious tightening, the work that’s ahead is pretty clear-cut. I’ll probably leave it sit for a week, now, and then either Friday or Saturday do a full read of it out loud to clear up any odd sentence stuff, and hopefully then this will be completely behind me.
Nov 15, 2013 @ 10:33 pm
Today was my last Friday in Corporate America. It was busy, and it was good because I spent so much of it working with my team. They are what I’m going to miss the most, of course.
The past two weeks have been interesting in so many ways, but perhaps the most interesting is the large number of people who have stopped me and told me how much they admire my choice. “It’s rare to find someone who will follow a dream like that,” one of them said. “I’m proud of you,” said another. Some of them seem wistful, others just excited. “I’ve never known anyone who left to become a writer,” said one of my HR cohorts (a person who has helped a lot of folks leave over her career).
I’ve had people stop me and tell me that they are writing, or they want to write, or they wish they were a writer.
It’s an interesting collection of people and comments, interesting because at the same time they are clearly so sensitive to my new gig, and clearly excited for me, they don’t see that I’m having the opposite thing going on inside me. I leave different sessions thinking “Wow. I’ll never do
again.” In some ways I’ve been so privileged. I’ve been doing
for nearly thirty years in various forms, and to realize it’s not happening again is a little tough.
I’m not changing my mind of course. It’s not that moving. If I ever doubt that this is the right choice for me, all I have to do is think about how I’m feeling each morning as I leave a manuscript unfinished that I would dearly love to keep working on.
It’s nice to see this dichotomy playing out these days. It’s nice to see so clearly that the grass is green everywhere you look.
Nov 15, 2013 @ 7:59 am
Episode Seven, Lord of the Freeborn is officially mine. Finally. Oh, sure, I still have ten pages or so to straighten up. Not a problem. The flow is right. The story is where it needs to be, and the micro writing is at least workable. So, yes, I say unto Episode Seven that you are mine. I’ve got you. Yay, me!
Sometimes the work comes so easy. Or at least relatively so. Sometimes you bring your lunch pail to the work and you show up every day and the words just kind of arrange themselves in ways you like. At those times you begin to feel like you really get this game, and to be honest those times have come along more often than not lately (meaning the last few years). But those times lull you to sleep, too.
Those times gloss over the years of work it took to get to that stage, and they gloss over the fact that if you’re not looking at a story properly it will reach up and bite you with a case of the freezies, that pre-block state that every new writer naturally gets when they realize things aren’t working and you’ve got no way to go to make it so.
I’m further along though.
I know better. Stale moments of stagnation are just a story’s way of telling you to look at things differently. Step back. Find the thing that is cattywampus. Breathe.
Just breathe. [grin]