I #AmEditing Again

YES, it’s true: after many moons of non-editing (most of which was for not-really-very-good reasons), this past weekend saw a burst of writerly action at last.

I think the kick in the pants that started this effort was a direct consequence of the writing workshops I’ve been going to at Old Firehouse Books up in Fort Collins. Those had the effect of getting me thinking about writing again, and I think it just went from there. The most recent workshop was last Tuesday; by Friday evening I’d decided that I was definitely going to do some editing work on The Artemis Device on Saturday morning. But unlike similar decisions in the past, which had been made a bit half-heartedly, this time I meant it. No, more than that — I was itching to get busy, for the first time in months. I was actually looking forward to it.

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You read that right: Looking forward to editing, of all things — the part of writing a book that many writers truly detest.

Well, there were a couple of distractions (for one, I have a regular Google Hangout call with family on Saturdays, and I didn’t want to miss that). But despite that I got past the hurdle in Chapter One.

Let me explain: there was a sentence in Chapter One that my copy editor had marked up requesting a change. But I wasn’t able to fix it. Every time I tried to work on it, I’d stare at it without a clue what to do.

Saturday I solved the problem. Here’s how: I ignored it. Went past it to the next mark-up, and dealt with it. Then the next. And the next. And then on Sunday I moved on to Chapter Two.

Only when I was done with Chapter Two did I go back to that first killer hurdle, the one that had been such a problem. By then I had momentum. I had confidence. My Vorpal Keyboard went snicker-snack, and the Sentence Of Doom fell. Success!

That was enough editing. I’m still rusty at the process and it’ll take a little while to get back to being able to edit for five, six, seven hours at a stretch, like I used to.

But I still had some writing left in me. I updated my WiP page. I wrote a couple of short posts on Google+. And of course, right now I’m writing this.

Today, after work, I did a little more editing. And the plan is that tomorrow I will finish the editing of Chapter Three. But if, like today, the day-job gets hectic and I’m not able to finish it, that’s ok. If I can only spend even ten minutes on it, I’ll be happy — because ten minutes of progress is better than no progress at all.

I might even write some more tonight; I have a couple of other projects in the works that I could spend time on. One needs some outlining work, the other, a read-through and maybe the start of a rough timeline.

But first, dinner. All work and no food makes Pete a hungry boy.

Until next time . . .

Yay Writing…

…AND enough of the politics for a bit. I can only take so much #TrumpRussia and #TrumpCare in a week.

This week the day-job project switched over to qualification testing, so apart from dealing with trouble tickets as the testers find things wrong I actually get some breathing room for a few days until we start the next sprint. Which means YAY I CAN DO SOME WRITING.

Yes, I know, I should be able to find time to write regardless of the six day, fifty-plus-hour weeks. And you’d be right, too. There are no excuses. Most days I start work around 6am and finish around 3pm or so, and then there are usually chores or something that need to get done, and those can take an hour or three, depending. After that I usually feel too buggered to do much other than watch TV or maybe play some game (I’ve been playing Astroneer on Steam recently; check it out). But now I have a solution to that, which I’ll come back to.

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I signed up for a summer writing workshop at my favourite local indie bookstore, Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins. The group meets once a fortnight over the summer, and even though we’ve only had one workshop so far it promises to be educational and fun.

As an example of the educational, here’s a thing: you know when you try to set aside an hour or two for writing but it never seems to work out because something else always comes up, or you’re just too damned tired or not in the right frame of mind?

So here’s that thing I said I’d come back to. One of group (I think he said his name was John) mentioned something he’d read: don’t try to set aside an hour; instead, whenever you have fifteen minutes free, grab your writing stuff and write (or outline, or timeline, or something — anything that moves your project forward).

That’s it. Simple.

And if that fifteen minutes of free time ends up being ten, or five, because something interrupts, that’s ok — because at least you got five minutes’ work done where you’d normally have done zip.

Of course, it can go the other way: you might find that the fifteen minutes you thought you had becomes twenty, then thirty, then an hour or more.

This is quite possibly the best little gem of writing advice I’ve heard in the last couple of years. Now, after the work day and the chores are done with, I can think about grabbing the Chromebook and getting something done, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.

On that note, I need to make a phone call, and after that I have fifteen minutes free.

Until next time, gentle reader…

Trump: Suspend Pending Investigation

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YOU see this all the time in the TV police shows: cop does something suspicious; chief calls cop into office; chief tells cop, “You’re suspended pending the investigation. Hand over your badge and your sidearm.”

And that’s what you’d expect, right? Not just for police, but for just about anyone. If someone in a position of trust is under suspicion, you take them off the job until you’ve looked into it and decide whether to reinstate them, or fire them. Hell, if I was suspected of doing something wrong at work, I’d be suspended until the truth was known. It would happen THE SAME DAMNED DAY.

So . . . we have a “president” who’s under investigation for collusion with Russia. Among other things. And yet he’s still in the White House. Still signing Executive Orders. Still in charge of a bunch of idiots and corrupt officials determined to tear down anything that gets in the way of them making more money and paying less taxes — healthcare is under threat, as are education, civil rights, clean air and water and food . . .  the list goes on, and every day that passes is another day of erosion of everything that helps and protects the people of this country.

This has to stop.

It’s way past time for Trump to be suspended pending the results of the investigations. House arrest at Trump Tower, or Mar a Lago, or Rikers goddamn Island. In the meantime, he and his corrupt hangers-on shouldn’t be allowed to sign anything — no laws, no Executive Orders, not so much as a cheque.

Hand over your badge, Trump.

Got Me A Chromebook

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I have to take a step back from the political things for a bit. The worries of having a mentally defective criminal in the White House get to prey on your mind after a bit. Not healthy to dwell too much on it. So, in a break from that nightmare . . .

I’d been wondering for a while whether it would be a good idea to get a Chromebook. After all, probably ninety percent of the things I do on my laptop are done with the browser; that includes using Google Docs, Hangouts, and the other Google tools, as well as Twitter, checking email, blogging, reading the news, and so on. Very few things rely on installed software, and probably the most important thing I have for that is MS Word — and even then, I only really need that for editing, since it’s what my publisher uses. I can write new stuff in Google Docs and save it in Word format anyway, so that’s not a problem.

A few days ago I saw that my local Wal-Mart had Acer 15″ Chromebooks for $179 ($20 off the regular price) and I decided to treat myself.

I love it already. It’s thinner and lighter than my laptop. It boots in seconds (ready to use in ten seconds or less — unlike Windows, ChromeOS is built on a Linux kernel and so isn’t bogged down with a metric buttload of background crap I don’t need); the battery lasts something like twelve hours, even when I’m binge-watching Netflix; I can sign into all my Google accounts (I have four, for various purposes) and switch between them instantly. All my installed Chrome apps and extensions are there, and they all work great (faster than on my Windows laptop, in fact, but then the laptop is showing its age these days). And thanks to Chrome Remote Desktop, I can, if I want, control my laptop from the Chromebook — so if I need to edit using MS Word I can do that. (Well, at least in theory — I set it up, and it works, but I didn’t try firing Word up yet.)

Downsides? Well, all your stuff is in the cloud, so you need an internet connection. Having said that, it keeps local copies of Google Docs, Sheets, and so on — so you can still work on them if you don’t have wi-fi, and it’ll sync up when it can connect. Is not having a big hard drive a downside? The machine has a 16Gb flash memory that it uses instead — that’s part of the reason the battery lasts as long as it does — but so far I haven’t really used any of it, and I don’t know that I’d need more. So one possible downside is that I could eventually use all that up, and I don’t think there’s a way to add more memory. I’ll see how that goes.

All in all, I’m very pleased with it. I can do just about anything I’d use the laptop for, but thanks to the (slightly) smaller size, lighter weight, and significantly longer battery life, it’s a hell of a lot more convenient. In fact, I’m writing this on the Chromebook, in the bedroom — which is waaay more comfortable than dragging the laptop through.

Time for (late) breakfast. Until next time . . .

Thanks to Trump…

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…I’VE learned a few things over the last couple of months:

  • I now know more about the electoral process than ever before. In particular, why we have the Electoral College and how it works (or at least, how it’s supposed to work).
  • I now know more about the US Constitution than ever before. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the Bill of Rights, but thanks to recent events I can now say I have a much deeper, almost emotional, understanding of it, and why it’s so important. Especially that bit in the first amendment that talks about freedom of the press. Trump’s attacks on the press, apparently intended to cow journalists, is having the opposite effect in many cases. The last thing we need is journalism — fronted by the likes of Fox, Breitbart, InfoWars, etc. — that only prints Trump-approved crap. If there was ever a time when a free press was essential to protecting democracy, now is that time. If you’re a journalist, gentle reader, please continue what you’re doing — report the truth and don’t let the bastards stop you. We need you.
  • Leading on from that, I understand the 25th amendment well enough to teach it to kids. Although I have to say, I don’t think there’s going to be any impeachment action going on any time soon, if ever. No, if Trump is kicked out of office I think it’ll be as a result of a trial — for treason, or corruption, or possibly even sexual offences. And when Trump goes down, I can see questions being asked about who in his cabinet of defectives knew, and what they knew and when they knew it, and some of those buggers will go down with him.

So all in all, I have to thank President Pussygrabber for (indirectly) giving me an education about some things that turned out to be far more important than I would have believed a year ago.