Writing Practice and Reflections, April 2 2020

Another day, another bunch of quick-writes. Standard five by five minute writing sessions, but this time they’re divided into three stories, one stand-alone and two sections of two writes each. The final two quick-writes are extensions, nominally, of the Renee story from some of the previous quick-writes.

Really feeling like this was some good practice, even if the output is a little weird. I’ve been trying to get through Carl Jung’s Liber Novus, even though it’s a tremendously difficult text for me to engage with and try to understand in any meaningful way, and that definitely rubbed off a little on these.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, April 1 2020

Another day, another bit more writing. My raw output was better today, but I’m not necessarily any happier with the results than I usually am. Certainly I think the quality’s a little better than yesterday’s, but I was pretty exhausted by the time I got around to writing so that’s not exactly a giant surprise.

Five parts, per usual, between three pieces. Two are contemporary fic, one is a weird sci-fi piece that I just felt like doing. No connections to previous stories.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 31 2020

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I am incredibly tired and I caught myself making several typos and other errors during these pieces. I’m not going to go back and edit since I’m a little past my bed time, so please forgive any errors.

Five prompts, four pieces. One is a continuation of the Renee story from the 29th and 30th, the other three are new.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 30 2020

I’ve been doing a thing for a while where I go through and do timed writes to random images from Lorem Picsum, which is a tool intended to provide random placeholder images but which also works decently well for doing just a writing prompt thing.

My method here is to go through five sequences of writing based on different random pictures, taking five minutes for each.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 29 2020

I’ve been doing a thing for a while where I go through and do timed writes to random images from Lorem Picsum, which is a tool intended to provide random placeholder images but which also works decently well for doing just a writing prompt thing.

My method here is to go through five sequences of writing based on different random pictures, taking five minutes for each.

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The Chinese Flu

An existential threat to our way of life has arisen in China. This threat to the free world is something that we have known about for a long time, though the current response is not what it needs to be to protect us and the average person seems to remain ignorant of it.

I wish that I were referring to the virus that the World Health Organization has cowardly designated as COVID-19 (as opposed to the regionally-derived names given to diseases originating in countries without the willingness or ability to exert political influence), which originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan. COVID-19 likely spread from bats to humans, either through an exotic food market or a Chinese disease control laboratory studying the animals.

This virus, though it may threaten our lives and those of our loved ones, pales in comparison to the true threat that China poses to our way of life.

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Music of the Day: Norma Jean’s “If [Loss] then [Leader]”

Norma Jean is a band with perennial appeal. Although hardcore has changed quite a bit over the last decade, Norma Jean has always managed to strike a careful balance between trendiness and their characteristic blend of raw aggressive and tender emotional works.

That may sound oxymoronic, but 2019’s All Hail shows off the band’s trademark style better than any of their other albums.

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Thoughts on the Altered Carbon Quick-Start

The Altered Carbon Kickstarter launched recently, and with it a “Quick-Start” that’s 65 pages and attempts to introduce potential players to the game.

I’m a fan of Altered Carbon (both the books and the show), and I’ve looking pretty seriously at Cyberpunk Red and Eclipse Phase, which have both had major releases recently and are planning to do more stuff in about the same timeframe as the Altered Carbon game. They’re also the most immediately obvious competitors, with Cyberpunk Red taking a more traditional cyberpunk approach and Eclipse Phase doing more weird and horror-themed transhuman elements.

So, does it look good?

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Infinite Inadequacy

One of the things that I was thinking about recently was my motivation for writing.

For a while I’ve been somewhat uncertain about that, not because I didn’t feel driven but because I wasn’t really sure how to communicate it, so I’d often give an answer that wasn’t necessarily untrue, but didn’t encapsulate the whole truth.

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2020 is Here

I haven’t written a whole lot recently, but I’m going to just drop a quick line.

I’m not dead, I’m just working on a master’s degree and that’s taking a lot of effort out of me.

I’ve been to GenCon and PAX Unplugged, and I’m feeling like last year was the year that I stepped out of my old self and into a new self.

That’s bittersweet. I hope to return to teaching once I’m done with my degree, but for the time being I decided that I didn’t want to risk sacrificing my performance with the students by working on a degree that is ostensibly a full-time endeavor while also trying to teach.

However, let’s get some order here, and I’ll talk about the good, bad, and ugly bits of 2019 and my plans for 2020.

The Good (2019)

I’m not sure where to start this list, but it’s incredibly long and I’m going to have to cut some things out.

Let’s start with the first bits. I got hired as a freelance writer back at the start of the year on some projects that I absolutely love. They’re not out yet, but should be in 2020. My parts are done, at least. That was sort of a happy surprise at the start of the year, even though it’s continued to pay off for the rest of the year.

I also found some real meaning and enjoyment from my work with students this year. As much as teachers love complaining (and I love whining!) about the work when they’re doing it, I look back really fondly on last year’s students. I had a class that I was really dreading going into the year, since I’d had them before and they were pretty much driving me up the wall. However, last year I learned to respect all of them and they grew both in my estimation and in their skill and abilities. I’m very proud of them and the effort they gave.

I think I read more in 2019 than any other year in terms of depth, if not in volume (I’m something of a voracious reader). I’m balancing fiction and non-fiction better than usual, in part due to my academic studies, but also just pushing myself toward things that I don’t normally read or engage with. Favorite reads of 2019 include Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. Many of the books that I reviewed are also wonderful, but I’ve talked about them enough (too much?) already. Jung’s Liber Novus and Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness are occupying my attention, but they’re very heavy reads I only manage small bits of at any time. I’m not mentioning dozens of other worthwhile books, but that’s just the cost of having too many good things.

All of the preceding links are Amazon affiliate links that lead to the versions that I read or listened to. I receive a portion of proceeds from all sales from these links.

I also lost some weight in 2020. I don’t want to talk too much about it where the whole world can see, but it’s a significant amount and I’m more or less where I need to be in terms of health. I never really had any serious health issues related to my weight, but I was at the point where the doctor was telling me that I should lose weight.

So I did. I also have gotten a lot more active. I haven’t been posting my fitness tracker stuff like I used to, but I’ve been averaging 10-15k steps a day, and I feel pretty darn good pretty much all the time. I haven’t gotten sick basically since I started getting so much exercise, which is perhaps a testament to the power of exercise and perhaps just the effect of having a teacher’s constitution but not being around kids.

I still want to lose a little more weight, but at this point it’s vanity and wanting to see if I can get even more of the positive results in terms of energy and happiness.

I think it’s fair to say that 2019 was my happiest year yet. That’s partly because I was very fortunate and the worst thing that happened was the loss of my childhood pet (which is the only bad thing I can really think of as far as significant events last year). However, I think that it’s also a product of really spending time deliberately attempting to grow wiser and smarter, and attempting to pursue actions that lead to that, like my daily aphorisms experiment.

Coincidentally, fifteen thousand people read this blog last year according to my analytics. Now, something like 60% of that was dedicated to the character sheet I made for Shadowrun back in college, and 30% of that was dedicated to my review and breakdown of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. I also trust analytics about as far as I can throw them, and I really need to start doing upper body workouts instead of just leg day. Nonetheless, I think that’s something to celebrate.

The Bad (2019)

I still have problems with keeping up projects. I’ve probably started a dozen things last year and finished two or three. That’s not necessarily bad; it represents an ability to sacrifice things that aren’t working out. But it also means that I’ve been over-committing and I should learn to focus better.

My cat had to be put down after a stroke last year, and I still occasionally think of her. It’s not something that necessarily fills me with sorrow; she had a good life and while it’s not like she passed entirely peacefully in her sleep she didn’t suffer like a lot of creatures do at the end.

The Ugly (2019)

I’ll be honest, 2019 was pretty good, and as much as I struggled to find things that were bad I also feel like there’s not a whole lot to be said here.

I guess one thing that I could say here is that I’m officially no longer “young” by anyone’s serious standards. It’s taking a while to adjust to that, especially because I feel better than I ever have, and I might also be sharper in my wit and perceptions.

The Good (2020)

Lots of surprises and opportunities coming up.

I’ve been developing my skills, and I think I’ll hit a point where my writing will be a whole lot better than it has been. I’m fortunate enough to be going back for more education, and I’m getting a lot from it. I don’t see any reason why that should change in 2020.

The Bad (2020)

I’m not going to put anything here yet. I don’t think there’s really anything in my life that’s particularly threatening.

The Ugly (2020)

I think I really need to start getting serious about relationships. I’ve always been kind of scared of relationships because I never really understood how they work, and I’m fairly cerebral and not touchy-feely. From a certain perspective, I think there’s also a notion of sacrifice that goes into every good relationship (listen to Carl Jung or Stephen Covey and you’ll get these same ideas), and I just haven’t been willing to make any sacrifice of myself.

That’s something I hope to commit to, because I was thinking the other day about loneliness and how it no longer really bothers me like it used to. I realized that the reason for that is that loneliness is feeling like you should be offering something to other people that you aren’t currently giving them. It’s not about receiving something. Even though I’m not teaching, I’m writing something of a magnum opus, and I think it’s fulfilled that part of my life in part. However, it’s something for the broader world. It’s not intimate, not personal, even though it naturally flows out of the deepest parts of myself. I want to find that in 2020, or at least get on the road to finding that.

In Conclusion

2019 was a great year. I will do everything I can to make 2020 turn out that way as well. I want to remind myself to stay strong in the faith and to stay focused on the work ahead of me, and to encourage everyone else to do the same.