Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Tuesday sucks

I was just archiving a bunch of things, and generally puttering about my office/gaming room, and I found some old records from the last company I worked for, ICD.  (Great company, by the way.  The Magna auto parts group is generally well run and a good place to work.)

One of the things I remember is laughing with the then health and safety coordinator, Glen, about how Tuesday is the worst day of the week.  Why it was so funny then, I don't know, but it's good for a chuckle.

Here's why (tongue firmly in cheek):

Wednesday: your're halfway there, can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday: this was payday for us, and we got paid weekly at the time.  Now, I guess it's further along than Wednesday, but it may be giving Tuesday some competition now.

Friday: TGIF!  Plus, you're always working like mad to get stuff done and put out all the fires that erupt right before the weekend (double if it's a long weekend).

Saturday & Sunday: if I have to explain these two...

Monday: usually spent catching up from Friday's madness, as well as sorting out the week-that-will-be, and new crises occur.  Despite being the first working day of the week, it usually went by really, really fast.

Tuesday: not enough craziness to make the day go by fast, and ideally most of your fires are contained by now.  You're not yet halfway through the week, and time just seems to dilate as the day goes on.  It's slow, boring and serves up only wretched paperwork and those reports you've been 'getting to' for the last two weeks.

There you have it.  Incontrovertible evidence that, many motivational posters notwhithstanding (and many lolcats too), Tuesday, not Monday, is the worst day of the week.

That's all I've got for today.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The last week has been really busy, so I'm not going to say much today.  Missed my Thursday deadline, but like I said, some days (or weeks) are going to be like a kick in the junk.

On the bright side, I'm now over 60k words into Queen's Legacy.  On the dark side, it's taken what I think is an inordinate time to do so.  However, that's astern of me, so no point in worrying about it.  Today I beat a mildly vexing scene into submission and made over 700 words.  I'm going to take that to the bank tonight.

Also: Mount Washington already has 1.3m of snow!  Early opening, and my skis are waxed and ready.

That's all for now, watch this space tomorrow for something pithy and more interesting.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Goal setting

Today I pulled out my goals list for 2012.  Now that the ship is staying alongside, I can actually think about it.  It’s pretty similar to 2011, with some things scratched out and some added.  Actually, it’s the exact same piece of paper.  Every now and again I’ll look at the goals I have and make adjustments or revisions.  I’ve blogged before about how I generally don’t make ‘New Year’s resolutions’ per se.  However, I like to have a few, overarching goals that I’m steadily working towards.

This year’s goals are:
1. Finish Queen's Legacy (1st draught)
2. Finish organizing the house (this one will make other military households laugh)
3. Have more finished models than I started with this year (even one will do)
4. Assemble all the models waiting in the pile

I’ve already readjusted for this year.  Why?  Well, I looked at the goals I had, and realized that I have a pile of models in boxes that I have yet to put together.  I’m also short on space at home.  Thus, I changed the painting goal to one of assembly, so I can get everything built and on the shelf.  The exception is those models that need to be painted during assembly, like troop transports.  Those, though, can be made into sub-assemblies.

The point of that is to show that goals can and should be flexible.  Adjust and adapt to what you think you can do.  Right now, I may not get the ‘sort out the house’ goal accomplished as the sailing schedule for my ship was pretty busy this year.  We’ll see.  At least I have a target.

This brings me to the nature of goals.  Make them things you can actually do.  Not just within the realm of possibility, but within your ability and means at the time.  Also, don’t lie to yourself about them.  If you get them done, great.  If not, then adapt your plan.  Just keep working towards them and don’t make excuses to yourself.  I’ve been working on Queen’s Legacy for a helluva long time.  Changing jobs to the Navy, not enough ass-in-chair time and other reasons have caused that.  Mostly insufficient ass-in-chair time, and really, that’s all on me.  Same as with changing modelling from painting to assembly.  I won’t be able to do both, so I picked the one I need to do before the other.

Don’t confuse goals with a mission or vision.  It was a key distinction when I worked in industry, and remains so in the military.  Your vision or mission may be the ultimate end state.  For example, if I had to put my vision of my (future) career as an author into words, it would be something like: “To continue to gain readership and make a living by producing quality stories that people want to read.”  That says nothing about how to get there.  It’s a nice vision, but it’s something to keep on a plaque somewhere in the office.  Goals are the nuts and bolts steps of how to get there (or stay there).

The point of my ramblings:
  1. Set goals, but be flexible
  2. Make sure your goals fit your vision, but also that they are doable.
  3. Don’t confuse your goals with your vision (and vice versa)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creative regeneration

I’ve been bad the past week. 

Okay, those with gutter minds (like mine) can just stop the giggles.  I’ll wait.

Okay, now, what I really mean by that is I’ve given myself a week off of writing.  That sounds counterproductive, you’re thinking.  And you’d be almost right.

Instead of having my daily writing goal, I took that out of my agenda and replaced it with painting time.  That is, painting wargaming miniatures.  Why?  Well, to be honest, I found that the constant push to get writing done coupled with our sailing time, I was a little burned out.  So, to regenerate my creative juices, I figured I’d do something different and fun for which I had little pressure to produce.  I’m not saying my ‘ass in chair’ time is all that awesome (that’s another post entirely), but sometimes it’s nice to have the pressure off for a bit.

I also find it relaxing to sit and paint models.  Throw on some music, and I’ve got a happy evening going on.  It’s something creative, something I’m good at, and at the end of an evening or several nights, I usually have something completed.  Very different from the book, which is a longer term endeavour.  That sense of creative completion is very important to me.  It gives a feeling of success that just makes you feel better.

What has this done?  Well, I found this weekend, by the time I was done everything I was doing, I felt like I had gotten some creative bugs out of my system, and was starting to think about the book in the off hours (meaning the times I wasn’t actually writing it).  This is a good thing, because now I’m looking forward to writing more rather than feeling like I’m just heading back to the computer to slog through a scene that won’t end.  No doubt about it, I love putting a story together, and playing in my world and with my characters.  However, it is work, and sometimes I just have to push through to the other side and get it done, knowing I’ll fix it in revision.  

That said, I get the same feeling of success from making a scene work in the book, or finishing a particularly vexing one that I had to wrangle into existence.  It may not be that ‘finish factor’ but it’s something.

Now I’m starting to ramble, which will lead to digressions, which will completely shatter the original topic.  Thus, on that note, I’m done for today.

Monday, November 12, 2012


A few days ago, I sat down to write.  It was a pretty cool scene, at least the way I outlined it. However, as I sat down and began to put words onto the screen, it started to wind it’s way into a straggly thread and I started to lose the flow of events.

The solution?  Storyboarding.

Now, this wasn’t the kind of storyboarding like they do for movies and TV.  Believe me, I only wish I had the artistic ability to draw anything even close to that.  Instead, I used a flowchart.  I just charted the direction I wanted the action to go, and filled in details around each piece of action.

This gave me the basic flow, and where the action would happen.  The paper itself becomes the time axis, and that way I can make sure not only of the flow of action, but also that everything happens in the appropriate time.

Did it help?  Yes.  Granted, I deviated from the plan a bit, but frankly, that’s become an expected thing.  As much as I plot the whole book out scene-by-scene, each scene evolves and grows (or shrinks) as I write it.  Nevertheless, I found graphically plotting out the sequence of events worked wonders in enhancing my scene descriptions.  I have a feeling I’ll use this technique more and more, especially for complicated battle scenes. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up using action figures or RPG miniatures to help block out a scene.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Return

Aaaaaaand … we’re back!

After a long time away, I’ve decided to refresh the blog a bit.  You may have noticed the new look, and eventually I’ll figure out the adding links business.  Probably add in some other details and generally freshen up the place.

Also, post more frequently.

Now that the ship is alongside pre-refit, that should happen.  Of course, I could always get posted to another one, so we’ll see.  If I’m lucky I’ll get a backlog put up to carry through.  If not, then there may be a few dry spells.

Be that as it may, I know both my vaguely loyal readers (hey, my wife and mom count as readers!) will be happy to have any updates.

So, for now, expect a few updates a week.  More if I find something interesting, less if I’m super busy.

I’m also going to diversify the content.  While writing and creating is the primary purpose of this blog, I’m going to add more geeky hobby stuff and probably more rants and thoughts too.  Why?  Well, first because I can.  Second, if I only post word counts or similar things, I can’t imagine you find it any more thrilling than I would to read.  Also, being yet-unpublished, my advice amounts to a diary of the methods I’m using.  At the end, we can decide if it actually worked.

So sit back, open a BEvERage of your choice, and maybe you’ll find something interesting (or at least hang out for some laughs).  Chime in on the topics that interest you (or grind your gears), and let’s have some fun.