… why I stopped writing and reading. Work. It was Work. Or more accurately my prioritization of money and career over everything else. A decision I made a long time ago, when I was afraid and hungry and vowed never to be hungry or afraid again. In many ways it worked. In other ways it simply transferred the weight into the future. Do we ever know what we truly give up when we have nothing, to pursue something, anything, for stability?
This is a difficult condition to steer out of once taken and while this path has afforded numerous opportunities—as my dad said to me, “Money is opportunity.”—it comes with baggage and its own obligations.
“You can do anything you want, you simply must accept the consequences.” – a college professor from my youth. Still not sure if this was inspiring or crippling?
And so the last two weeks of March was a complete bust. I basically treaded water while Work consumed all my time. No reading, no writing. I squeezed out scribbles in a notebook on the Project at lunch, and cloistered in my room late Saturday night after the family was asleep, but other than that, nada.
This will be a short post. A new month is dawning. Work has abated.
Close my eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Eyes open.
March 2023 Summary. “March? March? We don’t need no stinking March.”
There was something in the air the last few weeks of February. Not just me, but many people around me, where nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to get done. I’m gonna hop on those coattails for a bit and chalk it up to mysterious forces.
As you will see the month of February 2023 was terrible. I’m working on a big project and it’s taken a lot of my time. So much in fact this blog post will probably be shorter than my regular summaries.
Now that the raw data is in front of us, I’ve been able to work out a bit of the problem; split focus. Distractions from The Project with the 1000 Days are creating anxiety inducing competition between what I want and what I need to be doing.
Last night while driving home I had an epiphany on how to smooth out these rough conflicts of interest into a coherent synergy of thought, form, and purpose.
Similar to what I did with the reading component of this 1000 Days project, I’m merging the writing aspects as well. All future writing will be in service to The Project I’m working on. What project is that? It’s a secret. How big of a secret? “It’s so secret, even I don’t know what I’m doing.” kind of a secret.
My writing group, and the Misses, are in the loop but otherwise there are wraps. Layers of wraps bundling the ideas into a whole wheat creamy filled burrito of creativity and design. Ornish approved varieties only, I have my health to consider in my advanced years.
The plan is for a fall announcement. Hold me to it. Because the window is closing and if there isn’t a fall announcement, well all the improvisation, adaptation, and effort will not overcome the opportunity window when it closes.
But if I can still write daily, read daily, and work toward the 1000 Days to an MFA, but in service to the Project it will not be wasted time. Every day you write and read is worth something.
Back to it. -Malcolm
Short stories: Rocket Ship to Hell (https://www.tor.com/2013/07/20/rocket-ship-to-hell/) Digital Rights by Brent Knowles Coward’s Steel by K. C. Ball Written in Light by Jeff Young (This was an interesting story. Great alien concepts.) The House of Nameless by Jason Fischer Time and Time Again (1947) by Henry Beam Piper He Walked Around the Horses (1947) by Henry Beam Piper The Lorax (x3), Cat in the Hat(x3), Sneechers and Other Stories (x3) by Dr. Seuss Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see? (x5) The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty “Empty Green Pants” by Dr. Seuss
Monthly Total Reading – – Short Stories – 21 of 22 (Yeah!) – Novel – Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – 1 of 1 (Sweet!) – Crafting Novel – Zen in the Art of Creative Writing by Ray Bradbury – 1 of 1 (Kill’a Sweet!)
Writing – – Free Writing – 8 of 22 (Oh no!) – Drafting – 15 of 22 (Getting better!)
But wait, there’s more. . .
In the aggregate this isn’t so bad for the first month of a thirty-three month (1000 days) project. It’s gonna take some time to get the rhythm and scheduling down.
I completely tripped on some of the weekly and monthly goals, and was only able to focus on the daily tasks. This kept me busy enough so I’m not sure how realistic separate weekly and monthly goals are going to be for writing. But let’s continue with it for a bit longer before making any drastic changes. I just got my boots on.
The positive takeaway from this project, if nothing else, is that I have read more in the last month, than I have in years! I’m almost in tears thinking about this. What wasted time. Why did I ever stop reading for fun?
The free writing I did was an exploration of first person POV. I’m working on a short story with that POV and I need some practice. A lot of sci-fi, fantasy, is close third person, and that’s what my stories have been, well are, so getting some first person exposure and exercise is warranted. It’s neat to see how POV flavors have changed over time. Several of the short stories for this month were specifically chosen because of their first person POV usage.
Many of the free writing sessions I used as exercises in personal journaling. (Note to self, delete all free writing from January 2023.)
There were a few free writing sessions that sparked short story ideas and took place in books that are still in the drafting stages. I was excited about those and they are now in the pile of drafts for fleshing out into short stories before tackling the books in those universes.
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Overall a good book, but as the decades progressed the essays started repeating. I’ll do a posting about my thoughts on this book as well as Huckleberry Finn. Not sure if I’ll do this for every novel I read, but in the spirit of “1000 Days to an MFA”, I should at least do one for the crafting books.
Yeah, this was a pretty decent month. There are things I will considering adjusting—track time, not just sessions—but how much do I want to be a slave to the metrics? “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” said my Administration course professor in college. So there is that. But they also said, “You manage processes, you lead people.” For a computer science degree program this was a statement not said enough. There was a lot of emphasis on the technology. Often it’s lost that technology only exists because of people making decisions about that very technology and how it’s used.
But before I start to soapbox a rant about technology and how its promise of making things better for us all appears to have gone askew, I’ll close with the short stories I read. Recommended ones are marked with an asterisk(*).
2nd – My Father’s Mask – Joe Hill 3rd – Raphael – Stephen Graham Jones 4th – Paperclips and Memories and Things That Won’t Be Missed – Caroline M. Yoachim 5th – Falling Leaves – Liz Argall 6th – Not Smart, Not Clever – E. Saxey 8th – Microbe – Joan Slonczewski (*)
9th – The October Game – Ray Bradbury (This one upset me a bit. I was not expecting it. It made me sad.) 11th – The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell 11th – Likeness – Judith Chalmer; Crashdown – Emma Osborne; Graveyard Rose – Seanan McGuire 12th – Afterparty – Daryl Gregory 15th – The Turing Machines of Babel by Eric Schwitzgebel (***) (apex-magazine.com or Amazon link)
16th – L’APPEL DU VIDE by Rich Larson 18th – Living Rooms by Laurie Tom (*) 19th – The Black Side of Memory by Lael Salaets 20th – Legendaire by Kai Ashanti Wilson
23rd – Lisa With Child by Alex Black 24th – Not in the Flesh by Adam Colston 25th – Seeing Double by Tom Crosshill 26th – Exanastasis by Brad R. Torgersen (*) 27th – Poison Inside the Walls by Scott W. Baker
31 Jan – Confliction by Simon Cooper
One can measure success through actionable intentions, even if the goals are not fully met, or even met at all. I tend to mix a bit of both. Intentions are great but if you only intend and never actually do anything, what are your intentions worth? (“Thoughts and Prayers”)
The smallest, poorly executed action upon an intention is infinitely better than the intention itself. Or as someone more versed than myself put it, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.” — G. K. Chesterton
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