Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writing is Like Football

On my gaming blog, I've often drawn parallels between pixels and pigskin. Considering one activity is populated by "jocks" and the other by "nerds," you'd think wouldn't have much in common. Yet, when you participate in multiplayer gaming, a lot of the team principles I've learned over the years through sports come in handy. On the flip side, sports could probably learn a lot about preparation by analyzing gamers. When was the last time you heard of a footballer pulling a 36 hour workout session, straight, with only hot pockets and mountain dew?

The Indiana High School football season started yesterday. Teams across the state are holding their first practices this week. For the team I volunteer for (Go Shamrocks!), we've begun a tradition of the first day obstacle course. It's basically a torturous romp through the woods with activities dreamed up by psychotic coaches. Probably sounds awful, but I swear we make it as fun as it is grueling. By the end, we're just as tired as the kids, and everybody feels like they deserve one of those "I survived" T-shirts.

It's great for team building.

Apart from that, we try to address the mental component of football along with the physical. In between activities, we have classroom sessions, not where we go over the x's and o's (plenty of time for that as the season goes on), but where we talk about leadership, perseverance, and goal setting.

It was during the goal setting session that I wanted to stand up and talk about writing. The head coach was talking about how important goal setting is, and how studies have show that successful people set goals. More importantly, the goals they set are logical and obtainable, but not easy. They are adaptive to reality, yet still absolute. They are fundamental to how winners operate.

For instance, perhaps a kid wants to be an all-state player by the time he graduates. That kid will have a whole lot better shot at succeeding if he also has a stable of smaller goals, stepping stones to help him get there. As a sophomore he should set goals for improvement in the weight room, and compete for a varsity spot anywhere he can. He probably won't be a starter on offense or defense, but there are a whole lot of spots on Special Teams that often get overlooked. He would commit to excelling in the classroom. The very best players are both athletic and smart (I know sometimes it doesn't seem like it with football... but there's really a lot to process on any given play.)

The point is that the player needs to set smaller goals to help him achieve the larger ones. That's the best way to succeed. Plenty of schools have spent oodles of money (at the collegiate and professional level) figuring this out. There are whole programs devoted to sports science.

I sort of wanted to stand up and say, "That's what authors do with writing."

A lot of people, when you tell them you've written a novel, look at you with awe. Putting down 50k+ coherent words is as unthinkable to them as running 40 meters in under 5 seconds. It's something they hear about others doing, but don't chase after themselves.

One of my goals was to publish a novel. I didn't do it by just saying "I'm going to publish a novel." I did by setting smaller, stepping-stone goals. Writing a page a day. Editing a chapter a day. Researching self-publication for a few hours. Learning formatting and cover design. Those were all little goals.

This sort of approach came naturally to me, and I think have my long history with sports to thank. I've learned how to accomplish things that, at the beginning you think, "Yeah right." I'm no stranger to grueling obstacle courses. And, really, isn't "obstacle course" just another way to say "writing?"
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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Curtain

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It's a favorite saying of mine, originating in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. I think it can be applied to so many different situations. There are plenty of things in life that, I'll admit, I really don't want to think too hard about where it came from. Perhaps that makes me a bad person.

For instance, when I'm having a nice steak at a local restaurant, I don't want to think about the cow that was killed to create the meal. I know it's a controversial issue, and I don't really want to get into all that. Let's just say there's a certain amount of guilt that goes with being human. You either come to terms with it, alter your behavior, or it eats you.

I'm Catholic. Guilt is nothing new for me. That, and everyone experiences guilt differently. What works for me probably won't work for everyone else. But I digress.

What I wanted to do was relate this idea to stories. The more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I recognize certain techniques in my reading. I'm starting to wonder if chefs have the same phenomenon at restaurants. Do they sit down, look at a plate, and immediately dissect the ingredients? Do they take a bite and say, "Ah yes, nutmeg. I should use that more in my own dishes?"

There's a certain amount of innocence that one can never regain. The more you learn, the more the magic of the world fades. Generally, we call this "maturing." Maturing as a writer, chef, or human being. It's all just a nice way of saying "loss of wonder."

Maybe this sort of musing explains why I gravitate toward fantasy novels. I want to believe there is something more. College trained me as a scientist, that doesn't mean I stopped wishing for magic. It just gets harder and harder to find in the real world. There's nothing better, then, than losing yourself in a novel where magic really happens.

Still, I have to be careful. The more I learn, the thinner that curtain gets. I see shadows of the man behind. His loafers peek out from underneath the obstruction. I know I'm catching glimpses, and part of me wants to know. If I want to reproduce the magic, it is probably a good idea to consult and learn from the magician. But knowing a trick ruins its mystique.

UNLESS -- and this is the cool thing about writing -- you consult the magician and learn that there is no trick. It's real magic.

The fact that there are basically no hard guidelines to succeeding with writing fiction is something that can be infinitely frustrating. It can be infinitely comforting at the same time. Crazy, huh?

Whaddya mean I had a brain this whole time?! Can someone check this guy's Wizarding License? Bah!
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#ROW80 - Day Jobs Suck

Busy, busy. That's me. Usually I try to squeeze in writing at work during a break or lunch or whatever. Recently, that's been nigh impossible. The Day Job has really ratcheted up, and I hate every second of it. Soul sucking. Like a Dementor.

I think I did all right with the goals, though. Let's look:
  • Lesson Learned - I wrote a bit about the metaphysics of shapeshifters in my world. Also, a patronus charm does not work at work, much to my dismay. I don't think I had a happy enough thought.
  • WIP Progress - Exactly 5 pages this week. That puts me on page 56 of chapter three, and 18k words into the novel. Not a bad place to be. I'd been writing fast in previous weeks, but that doesn't mean I can slack off.
  • Blogging - I made a conscious effort to improve on this goal. I hit 3/3 here and 3/3 on the gaming blog. One post here consisted pretty much of a picture and nothing else... but it was worth it. I need to remember that every post doesn't have to be 1000 words. What can I say? I'm a writer. Pictures feel like cheating. Need to hit my personal post this upcoming week. Not much July left.
  • Reading - I've started the next of the Rothfuss series I'm listening to on Audible. I also started reading the next Jim Butcher book as I catch up on the Dresden Files (I'm on Blood Rites). So yeah, I'm good on this goal as I've got two stories going, both 1st person POV. Good stuff. Although part of me is jealous because they are both excellent writers. But I've written about that one before...
Day Job is calling me back, so I'll keep this short. We'll go straight to the word counts:
  • Since last round: 3,273
  • New Fiction: 1,643
  • Round 3 Total: 22,446
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Metaphysics of Shapeshifters

I'm working on the second book of my Spirit Binder's series right now. Shapeshifters feature prominently in the story. For those who may not be readers, my brand of shapeshifters involve a smattering of animals.  As the series name might suggest, the basis of my shifters is more spiritual.

Shapeshifter theory in my world centers around the existence of a Spirit Binder. That is, someone with the supernatural ability to bind spirits together. Typically, this results in the pairing of human and animal. One of my main characters, Kiara, is a prime example of this. She is paired with the spirit of a wild cat. This pairing grants her a few supernatural abilities, as well as allowing her to alter her form into that of, you guessed it, a cat.

Now, I didn't need to be super specific in my first book, but just because something didn't make an appearance in a novel doesn't mean it wasn't given a whole lot of thought. In fact, my experience with fantasy writing so far has turned out something like 100 words of research/theorizing for 10 words used in the story. This isn't to say I'm actually over-writing by 90%, just that I get a bit into my mythos (as I imagine most fantasy authors do) and don't end up using a whole lot of the brainstorming debris. A good analogy might be a tornado of ideas, a whole bunch of boards and nails and whirling around that somehow accidentally build a house. The construction process is hardly efficient, and there's a whole bunch left over when I'm done.

Does that analogy work at all? Maybe not. Oh well.

Anyway, in the first book I asked a question that I never really answered. Matthias, one of the vampires, asks shapeshifter Kiara what happens to an item if she's holding it in her hand when she changes. It's a great question, and for anyone who's spent time playing a Druid in World of Warcraft... not an original one. It's a bit of a on-going joke about Druids (who are shapeshifters in WoW)... where do they put their weapons when in bear or cat form? Not to mention nightmare seal form...

I wanted to answer the question in the second book. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to work it in yet, but I'm going to try. I have plans.

It actually took me a bit to answer the question in my own head. A lot of the shapeshifting I've seen of late ends up leaving the characters in the nude. Clothing does not survive the change. If any of you are True Blood fans, you know what I'm talking about.

I am not writing an HBO-level novel. That is, I didn't want a whole lot of nudity. Not that I'm particularly averse to it, or anything, just that it causes a lot of uncomfortable issues at a character level. You get the cliched scene where characters end up naked and embarrassed and someone needs to bring them clothes or gawks. I just didn't really want to go there.

Still, avoiding an annoyance is a poor reason to chose to write a certain way. I'm sure worse decisions have been made, but I wanted more behind my choice. I wanted to understand why.

Now, I don't want to ruin the surprise in here. If you're a reader and would rather wait until the novel is out... do not proceed to the comment section. For anyone else, if you'd like to know look there. For those of you seeing this in your RSS reader, I apologize. I'm really not trying to force anyone to click through.

I will offer this somewhat vague explanation: I wanted a solution that somehow melded with the fact that this power descended among ancient Samurai warriors. The spiritual aspect of my power lent me certain leeway that a more scientific approach wouldn't have. I chose not to worry about things like the conservation of mass, for instance. (Though I did attempt to describe the character as somewhat resembling their animal of choice. I didn't want a big dude turning into a mouse, for example.) The key is in what the character believes, deep down in their soul.

I'll leave a comment with more info on my choice, but feel free to chime in/discuss. Doesn't have to be my world....
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Inside Joke

It may be that only those who have read my short story, The Only Sparkle, will get this one, but the comedic value makes it totally worth it. Saw this on Failblog a couple days ago:
I suspect she may be a vampire.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#ROW80 - Crazy Eight

This week finds me continuing to weather the heat. I've surprised myself a bit. My process has turned out to be more adaptive than I would have thought. More on that in the goals....
  • Lesson Learned - Processes can adapt on their own. I wrote earlier this week about my recent strange experiences. It's been a pleasant surprise.
  • WIP Progress - Knocked out 8 pages. Pretty much in two large chunks. It took me about a half chapter to get back into the narrative style (and boy will that half chapter need edits), but since then, the story's been flowing.
  • Blogging - This will only be 2 posts here, and I only posted 2 on the gaming site. I knew this was my stretch goal going into the round. Blogging is sort of the first thing to suffer when I have a time crunch. I'm not unhappy, but I did not make this goal. Hopefully this week will be better.
  • Reading - Finished The Name of the Wind. The only downside right now is that the scope of the story is truly epic. There's not much in the way of tying up in the first book. In fact, I'm not sure any of the story threads were resolved. Definitely a cliffhanger book, but such things are common in epic fantasy. I'm going to wait for my wife to catch up, and in the mean time I may read the next Jim Butcher novel on my list, sticking in 1st person fantasy.
So I was 3/4 on the goals this week. Considering I'm exceeding my WIP goal, I'm not too disappointed in the scarce blogging. I'm not ignoring my blogs, and really it's been a quiet couple of weeks. I've never wanted to blog just to blog. That is, I always try to at least write about interesting things. I have a personal journal for the boring stuff. Also, the amount written is basically the same, so it's not like I've slacked. Just redistributed the scarce goods of "time and energy."

(I suppose I should mention that I also posted 5 times on the high school football blog that I run for the team I help coach. Usually that site is only getting a couple of posts per week, but it was a busy week. There were a lot of pictures, but the articles also took some words and energy. I don't count them for the challenge, as I try to maintain more of an editorial role there, getting content from others, but I actually did some writing this past week. Still, I'll leave it out of the count to be consistent.)

Just going to keep on keeping on for next week. Here's a look at the word counts:
  • Since last round: 5,130
  • New Fiction: 2,655
  • Round 3 Total: 17,530
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Adaptive Writing Process

Gene Lempp wrote a nice article on the ROW80 website Monday. In particular, I appreciated his "adjust, adjust, adjust" sentiment. Flexibility in goals is something I personally struggle with. I'm very much an A-to-B-to-C type of person. That is to say, I enjoy making lists that I then act on in order.

Marriage has taught me many things. One of the toughest early lessons has been that, well, not everyone is like that. Apparently, there's a whole segment of society out there that, um, doesn't make lists. I know. Blew my mind, too. I'm still not sure the notion has sunk in.

(If you're not a list person, you're probably laughing at me. Like, "Well, duh. Of course not everyone is type A." Only fellow list-makers can understand. Even entertaining the thought of living without lists is so foreign and scary to me, that it's practically unthinkable. How do folks like that accomplish anything?! I can't explain it, but it exists. Like the platypus.)

It makes sense, then, that my writing process reflects my generic personality type. For my first two novels, I've basically written them a day at a time. I'm not a huge outliner, but I do make a general timeline to start each book, then I knock off the scenes like items on a list. I start at the beginning, and write straight through to the end. The revise, revise, revise.

I'm about 3 chapters into my third novel, and recently I've had to become more adaptive. This summer has been a busy one for me, and writing time has been hard to come by. Previously, I'd been able to reliably squeeze in an hour or so each day. Writing in small daily chunks made sense. It worked for me. And, perhaps more importantly, it worked with me. It was a type-A writing process.

My goals have remained unchanged. I still want to average a page per day of new fiction. Not to mention my blogging goals. The problem with this summer is that I can't rely on squeezing in that hour. Some days, it's simply not there. Instead, my process has adapted of its own accord.

I've never experience this before. I didn't sit down and think, "Gee, I really need to adapt." I had my goals. I didn't allow myself to shrink away from them, despite a busy schedule. That means I had to make hay while the sun shines--or--take advantage of the windows of time that I do have.

Recently, I've been writing in larger chunks. Several pages a day have become the norm. What's more, I don't even really notice it. It's like subconsciously I know I won't get to spend as much time with the story as I'd like, so I need to get it all out now. I'm writing a lot faster. I'm writing complete scenes in one sitting.

I'm also making a lot more mistakes. Previously, I would edit the prior day's page, then write the next one. Now, I spend entire days editing sometimes... but I add enough that I'm still netting a page of new fiction. I find that I'm naturally writing around a scene, and then going back to fill in some of details.

It's all really odd to me. My writing process has adapted to fit my needs. Have any of you writer types experienced this?

Gene's advice on adaptation is solid. I suppose I just wanted to add my own lesson: sometimes it's enlightening to let your Muse have her way. You might be surprised to learn that you can operate in a different paradigm.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#ROW80 - Words A'flowin'

This check-in really represents about two weeks of work. We started two days prior to the first Wednesday check-in, and before that had a week or so off. Thus, my totals may be a bit out of whack. The days tend to run together and without a regular check-in, I find myself a bit fuzzy on some of the details. Couple that with the fact that my schedule has been all over the place, and I've squeezed in some really productive writing sessions... and we have a very atypical post from me.

Usually, I write like clockwork. I log my hour or so each day, polish off a page of new fiction, and keep on keepin' on. Lately, though, my nights are either completely book, or wide open. It seems to be one or the other, nothing in between. Thus, I've striven to capitalize on the off nights, writing beyond my one page goal (sometimes well beyond). I'm taking the good with the bad, and hopefully coming out even. It's very interesting how my process has sort of naturally adapted, but more on that in another post. You're here for the goals:

  • Lesson Learned - I wrote about jealousy on Monday. A bit of a soul searching post. It's easy to get disheartened when chasing a dream. I wanted to remind myself that negative feelings are natural, and it's possible to find the silver lining in there.
  • WIP Progress - The last round ended with me finishing chapter one in The Binder's Husband. Three weeks later, I'm nearly done with chapter two. I've hammered out 17 pages. My goal is 5 pages each week, so 17 beats that. Considering one week was an "official" off week, and there was a lot of holiday stuff in there... I would say I destroyed this goal.
  • Blogging - This is my stretch goal. I told myself I'll be happy with 2 posts, but I'm still shooting for 3. This will make 2/3 here, and I was 3/3 on the gaming blog. I have a personal post to make in July still. So, I'm perhaps a bit short, but I'm happy. Especially since I knocked the other goal out of the park.
  • Reading Goal - Right now I'm listening to The Name of the Wind. I just finished Brandon Sanderson's annotations on Warbreaker. When I finish the audiobook, I'll pick up a new book for this round. When I'm writing, I don't want too many stories going through my head.
All in all, off to a good start. I've been pleasantly surprised with my production, as it's really been in unplanned fits and starts. Despite how hectic this summer has been, I'm trying hard to keep a positive outlook on things. It's good to know that I can knock out the words even amid a tricky schedule. I like to think that, with the help of this challenge, writing has simple become habitual for me. Like showering or brushing my teeth. When I don't do it, I just feel wrong.

Anyway, here's my word count:
  • Since last round: 6,386
  • New Fiction: 6,014
  • Round 3 Total: 12,400
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Monday, July 9, 2012

On Jealousy

There are two things that I'm currently jealous about. The success of Fifty Shades of Gray and the writing ability of one Patrick Rothfuss. Those may appear unconnected, but there is likely a tenuous thread we can weed out.

Is is odd for a writer to admit to bright green, raging jealousy? We all are prone to weakness, right? And I didn't say that I reveled in the jealousy. It's just there. All day. Like a giant, feral, slobbering dog, breathing heavily over my shoulder, tugging at the chain-link leash staked into the ground. Perhaps I'm hoping that lending the beast a few strong barks will exorcise him.

I'll be any writer could explain, in great detail, how fruitless that ideas is. Jealousy is simply a natural part of the human condition, and writers are no exception. Especially in such a competitive environment.

But let me 'splain.

First, with Fifty Shades. I visited my mom over the 4th. She happily informed me that she'd started reading a new book (after my latest, of course). If you guessed that it turned out to be Fifty Shades, you'd be correct.

There's a weird confluence of emotions when you find out that your mother is reading Fifty Shades. Mind you, my prejudice is purely based on hearsay. I've not read the books m'self. I don't plan to. It's not really my genre. And I've never been one to read something just because it's "popular." (Though, with the Harry Potter series, I wish I would have caved soon. I think book seven was out before I finally caved to peer pressure. I don't believe I'm in danger of that sort of staying power with Fifty Shades. Still, it wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong.)

So my mother informed me of her latest choice in literature, and I of course asked the automatic: "How is it?"  It was already out before I realized that I might not want the answer. Like most children, I generally prefer to keep any sexual tendencies related to my mother properly sanitized. I am not a prude, but neither do I wish any potential mental imagery to involve leather. Not where my mother is concerned, anyway.

Mercifully, she answers: "It's good" with a non-committal shrug. And this is where the writer began to war with the child. I wanted to know details. How does this book work? How did it rise so high, so quickly? What is the appeal? How could someone like my mother have been sucked into the hype? (Because surely she's just reading because of the hype... those dozens of romance paperbacks in her room weren't indicate of taste.)

On the other hand, I'm good. Don't need to know more. In fact, I'll probably be pouring myself a drink in the kitchen if you need me.

Somewhere in there, I realized that I was perturbed by my mother's reading choice, outside of the usual child/parent discomforts. Here's an author that gets to live the dream... sell a whole bunch of books and write full time. Not have to put up with the dread Day Job. I'm totally, completely, jealous.

I'd love to pass judgement on the books. To be grossed out. To dismiss them as "smut" or some other label. But the fact is... they sell. And that's ultimately the goal for all of us. Furthermore, just because she's selling doesn't mean I'm not selling. Fifty Shades has no bearing on my sales. If anything, it could help them as folks are encourage to try new things. She succeeded in the same arena I want to succeed, namely writing what you enjoy and then selling it.

So yeah, I'm jealous. I have to take care that I don't express it in a mean way, because that's always the danger. And I've seen plenty of that recently.

On the other hand, I've been listening to (via Audible) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The story is fantastic. The writing is unique and vibrant. Rothfuss is one of the current acknowledged Big Names in the fantasy genre, so I can't really begrudge him any success. It's not really a surprise like Fifty Shades. They come from completely different publishing paths.

Still, the same cloud of jealousy plagues me while listening to the story. Only here, instead of manifesting as morbid curiosity, it takes the black form of despair. Despair that I could never write that well. Despair that my lines aren't as witty, my world not as alive, my characters not as deep. Despair that I will never make it in a genre that houses such greatness.

But it's the same thing. Jealousy. Plain and simple. I want what they have. I want success, and I want mastery of the craft. It's the literary equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. But what good is cake without eating?

Dream big, they say. Well this is my dream: To influence readers as I've been influenced. To be awed by both story and success. To "make it," but make it by doing things the "right" way.

A big part of this dream is using jealousy properly. It would be easy to let it cripple me or become bitter. Instead, I need to turn it into fuel. I'd not be the first writer to ask, "Why them and not me? Why are they so lucky?" But that's just the jealousy speaking. And there is only one way to make jealousy work for you: Learn From It.

The lesson I've been able to distill is this: The writers I love, and the writers I love to hate, they both have one thing in common. They stayed true to themselves. They wrote what they loved, loved what they wrote, and the rest follows. There are a plethora of "Writing Truths" out there, but the strongest, most absolute has to be this: Love Sells. In fact, the same could probably be said of any line of work. We love love. And when a person captures their love in their work... they can move mountains.

Or pocketbooks. Those are good, too.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

#ROW80 - Burn Ban

I'll be brief today since I'm celebrating the fourth with family. We're at my parent's lake house with a day of festivities planned. A wonderful way to spend a holiday. I just did some writing while gazing out at the water. It's hardly placid, though, as there are boats everywhere. I'm going out in a few minutes myself (another reason to keep this short).

I won't run through the goals today, since we're really only two days in. I'll tack those two days onto next Wednesday's check in (I suppose I forgot to mention that I tend to check in once a week, on Wednesdays. Sundays are my day of rest). I am squeezing in some writing time, though. So that's something.

We won't be able to see as many fireworks out here as we have in past years. I live in Indiana, and that majority of the state is under burn bans. Everything is super dry due to a lack of rain, so they obviously don't want to tempt things with unrestrained fireworks. Sad, though, because 4th of July fireworks are one of my favorite things. I'm sure the night sky won't be completely devoid of pretty lights tonight...

Hope you all have a great (and productive?) holiday. If you're somewhere that doesn't have to worry about fires... light an extra sparkler for me. Even if you're from the UK. You can celebrate this as the day you got rid of us loonies. :-)

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Monday, July 2, 2012

#ROW80 - Round Number Next Goals Post

What round are we on now? 2012, Round 3? That sounds about right. This'll be my fourth round as a ROWer. Ah, how words fly...

I've been pretty consistent as far as my goals go from round to round. They work for me. Here's a quick recap of what I usually do:
  • Lesson Learned - I want to learn something every week. Could be craft. Could be marketing. Could be about myself. My theory is that when you're learning, you're progressing... even if you're failing a smaller goal. If you learn from it, it's not time wasted.
  • WIP Progress - When I have a WIP, I want to progress it. Generally, I set a "page count" per day. Word counts bug me, personally. I want dialog (sparser words) to be equally weighted with prose (more words). Why? I like dialog better in my books than large chucks of narration. A page limit encourages me to use the much faster-moving dialog. It's a personal thing. I still track words, but my goal is pages. Similarly if I hit editing (though I usually phrase it as a number of chapters there).
  • Blogging - To me, blogging is both a community building activity as well as writing practice. I have three active blogs. This one, a gaming blog, and a personal blog. Generally, I try to do three posts a week on both this and the gaming blog, checking in monthly on the personal blog. I may cut back on my gaming posts since I've not been playing a lot lately, but for now I think I'm going to leave this up as a stretch goal. It's tough to come up with topics when you're not playing as much, but challenges are good.
  • Reading - I added a fourth goal last time. It started out as a goal to "not" read. I was reading rather than finishing my last project, and I needed to focus. After I finished the project, I joined a group read and had a blast. I'm going to try to look for something like that again. It's a great way for an introvert like me to meet new people. If nothing else, I'll knock out 2-3 books per round. That's at least two, but no more than three. I could read all day, every day... but I need to apply the lessons in those books to my own projects.
That's the gist for me. You'll probably notice one big, fat absent goal that a lot of others put in there. I'm partially ashamed to mention it. A lot of folks have the "I will visit x people" goal. I suppose I could make such a goal, but I have very strict commenting rules for myself. I identify very strongly with functional introverts. That is to say, I'm the type of person that loves 1-on-1 deep conversation about a topic, but flails at a party when people are just making chit-chat. I'm awful at chit-chat. 

Chit-chat is probably a good thing, as people like to feel acknowledged, even if you're not solving world hunger. A lot of times (not always), the "visit x people" goal turns into chit chat. The thought of it makes me squirm. Not if you do it. No. But of the incredible pressure I feel to have to come up with something sufficiently interesting. Don't ask me why. I consider it a bit of a dysfunction. This is an extrovert's world.

So I don't force myself to "rack up" the visits. Instead, I just make an effort to lurk. That is, I often read a bunch of the entries but say nothing. The traffic looks nice, and I'm no good at forcing myself to say something. I think fellow ROWers could agree, though, that when I do say something... I try my best to make it memorable, thoughtful, or constructive. It's great to have people to cheer you on, and for that, chit chat works well. I'm just a terrible cheerleader, so instead... I want to connect. But you can't force connections. They're organic, they just happen.

That's a rather long side-musing on visits, eh? I'm not sure if I'm explaining how I feel clearly enough. I don't want someone to read this and think... wow, what a jerk. I like stopping by and saying nice things. Who doesn't like that? Please don't think I'm down on chit chat... I just feel awkward at it. And instead of letting awkwardness rule me and hiding forever in my corner... I allow myself to only comment when inspiration strikes. It's a compromise of sorts.

Is that completely bonkers?

Rock on to you "visit x" folks! If you read this, add one more each to pick up my lazy-slack. :-) I'll be over here, lurking as usual.

That's all for now, see you in the Round!
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