On the Importance of New Experiences

There's a trojan on your computer

As I mentioned last week, I’m going to talk about the process of writing a bit more in the coming months. Specifically, though, this is about my process and how I view writing as a lifestyle or vocation–which does make me a little uncomfortable. Soap boxes are supposed to be used for soap and, per the whole reason why I started 365 Days of Squee, my ranting is best channeled into more productive activities like attacking the treadmill, baking cookies for other people, and drinking whiskey on occasion.

As anyone who’s talked to me knows, I’m not a huge fan of one-true-wayisms in life, the universe, love, or anything. I may be a force of nature, but I believe this with every ounce of my icy, black heart: do what works for you. Because of that, I tend to shy away from sharing what I do or think because my goal is not to be a self-help guru for writers. (I’m a helluva lot more Poe than Emerson, to be sure.) However, I think that some amount of prodding on this has done me some good, in the sense that I feel like I’m finding some balance between “what I know” and “how to share” this stuff. Or, in other words, there’s a few of you (e.g. the reader) out there who give a flying piece of bacon about my work.

Thus, I commence the first post!

So what is today’s creed? This might sound totally stupid, but there’s something I feel that’s crucial to being a writer: new and/or random experiences. Having a routine is useful for discipline, but too often this can lead to being comfortable, which can turn into laziness. When it (being lazy) happens to me, it’s because I’m apathetic or desensitized to who (or what) is around me. The days melt into one another, Saturday is no different from Wednesday, and I peer at the ground instead of at the sky. (Now mind you, winter exacerbates this issue because of SAD, and I feel that solutions to developing good habits originate out of being able to identify what’s wrong. So far, so good. Mostly.)

However, having a routine isn’t everything to me as a writer. It’s important, sure, but it can lead to a lot of disillusionment as well, because routines can be a part of unreasonable expectations. I’ve done “x” amount of projects or words like a good, little writer. Why hasn’t “y” happened? Why are there no ticker tape parades? I’ve done 100 sit-ups. Where are my washboard abs that I was promised? To me, being a writer isn’t about levels or tiers on a pyramid; nobody knows what the future holds when you’re a writer.

It’s partly for this reason, the: “Oh crap, do I need to read tarot cards to predict my career path?” that I feel it’s crucial to seek out the random and the new, to fold in new experiences and try different things. That little bit of chaos helps me survive, deal with my big question mark future and–BONUS–gives me more fuel to draw from when I am writing. It could be little things like picking up a book in a genre I normally don’t read, learning a new language, or a bigger thing like planning a trip or scheduling a writer’s retreat. Either way, some amount of new and random is healthy, overall, and can be quite addicting–especially if I’ve fallen into routine for too many days/weeks/months at a time.

Mind you, dealing with the new isn’t the same as conversing with my fellow humans (and possibly some cyborg/alien types), but it can help with social anxiety/shyness, too. As much as I’d like my own private sushi chef, for example, I still need to interact with people to get such culinary fish-ness as I am a lowly writer.

In summary, I feel that new experiences are necessary to maintain my writer’s brain. Not only do they fuel my creativity, they also help make me more resilient as well.

    Mood: Sage writer is sage
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Surprisingly too many
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: 30 on the elliptical
    In My Ears: “Shrunken Heads” by Wolfgang Gartner (Joey Youngman)
    Game Last Played: Brain Age 2
    Book Last Read: The Drunken Botanist
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hogfather
    Latest Artistic Project: B-B-B-Beading
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


Last Squees for the Year

Mario Christmas Avatar

Been a busy past couple of days, and I’m just now starting to get caught up on year-end chores and holiday-making activities. Yep, I’m behind. Which means half my cards haven’t been sent out yet and there’s cookie dough still sitting in the fridge–three kinds! Thankfully, my cards say: “Happy whichever holiday you celebrate.” So technically if I get them done before New Year’s… Yes, I’m terrible I know.

I’m glad we went to California and very grateful for the time I spent there. It was a whirlwind of a trip, what with deadlines packed on top of travel, but totally needed. I have pictures (of course) but they’ll take a while to sort through and upload. Joy of joys!

With that last, here are the fifteen remaining squees for the year. This’ll take me up through December 31st!

1.) The Hogfather: It’s an annual tradition for the holidays!

2.) The Muppets’ Christmas Carol: On Netflix! WOO!

3.) Finding out that baking recipes are supposed to be conducted with unsalted butter. Thanks to my friend Suzanne for helping me figure out my cookie fu!

4.) Seeing the redwoods. How beautiful!

5.) Figuring out what was wrong with my netbook. So, HILARIOUSLY, my memory was borked because I had synced all of my cloud storage to that device instead of just the one folder. Nice, eh?

6.) The suggestion that I revisit talking about the process of writing as opposed to the YOU MUST DO THIS NOW kind of writing advice. Hard to find a niche when so many others are already blogging about the how to’s of writing. This is definitely a jumpstart to my brainpan.

7.) A really kick-ass draft of [redacted], which will be shared in 2015!

8.) A Kickstarter for [redacted], which will likely launch in January!

9.) A skull spoon, for tea. Want!

10.) And on that last… Sugar cube skulls!

11.) Possibly cheesy, but I figured out what to do with the tombstone cookie cutters I have. For sugar cookies, I can decorate them with RIP 2014! HAH!

12.) Party went well and I figured out logistics for next time despite brain space issues. Thinking this’ll turn into a monthly event.

13.) I’m back on the workout train and my chemistry is starting to normalize. It really is disturbing how easy it is to get one’s body out of whack, but inactivity–especially for writers like myself who get sucked into a cycle of caffeine, carbs, and whiskey whilst on deadline–is pretty damn detrimental and hard on the body. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t drink to get drunk, but the triumvirate of sitting for hours at a time plus too much coffee plus an apertif made me crankier than I expected it to. I didn’t realize how much it screwed me up mood-wise, but there it is.

14.) A book I picked up in California is The Drunken Botanist. FIVE STARS!!! This is GREAT for writing research and general knowledge about planets and such. Plus, the cocktail recipes are pretty awesome…which brings me to a moment of serendipity. I had the Aviation at The Alembic, and lo! and behold! the original recipe is in that book.

15.) As the story goes, I’m baking gingerbread for the first time. (Zombies and skeletons, mostly.) However, my paltry attempt is nowhere near as awesome as Martha Stewart’s Downton Abbey made out of gingerbread.

121/365

    Mood: Getting caught up
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: managed
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: 30 on the elliptical
    In My Ears: The Hogfather
    Game Last Played: Brain Age 2
    Book Last Read: Gah! It’s on my nightstand!
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hogfather
    Latest Artistic Project: Beading!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


The Skinny on Downtime

Emily Strange Avatar

Trying to wrap up a few last-minute posts before a glorious weekend of holiday parties and revisions, but I thought I’d drop in to share a touch more on NaNoNetMo by way of this article. I get a lot of funny looks sometimes, about how I need to make it a “thing” to disconnect.

Enter this article from Slate.com. 2014: The Year of Outrage.

This is why. Because even if you log in every other day you’re bound to come across some outrage-inducing kerfuffle at some point or another, and when people are riled up? It’s next to impossible to get past the signal-to-noise ratio unless you are boosting the signal or commenting on it. That emotion isn’t contained; it’s like fire and it spreads quickly. Heck, in some cases this translates to the dissection of happy posts when someone’s trying to be positive to turn it into something else.

For me, the current state of the internet means downtime to renew my resilience to the anger over nothings and avoid getting caught up in faux outrage, so I don’t get desensitized when something truly bad happens and I’m able to think more clearly. That, plus the time sink… Well, a writer needs to be disciplined, and every once in a while I need my offline moments to get back to center.

I’m hoping that one year this same article will be 365 things that made us happy, one for each day. Imagine how powerful that would be!

    Mood: Deadlines will eat me.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Working out equals less caffeine. WHO KNEW?
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: 30 with various
    In My Ears: White noise. Zzzzz…
    Game Last Played: Brain Age II
    Book Last Read: Erm… Can’t remember! And it was just yesterday!
    Movie Last Viewed: Not sure. I’ve been re-watching the Doctor Who Christmas specials, though.
    Latest Artistic Project: Beading! Cookies!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


NaNoNetMo (Yep, I made it up!)

Mushu Avatar

Been a while since I’ve blogged without squeeing, so here you be. This year…Wow. For me, I feel that 2014 belongs to the Trickster–that’s for sure! Insert the word “unexpected” into just about everything possible, and that sums up my rollercoaster ride.

But now that the year’s winding down, I find myself in need of some quiet time to focus on art, cleaning house, and writing so erm…I can do more of that, really. I’m nowhere near finished unpacking yet, and that means I’ve got my work cut out for me. Plus, I’m heading to a writer’s retreat and am doing a few more conventions this year than I have in the past, so yeah…

National No Internet Month! Starting on Friday, December 19th and running through January 19th. WOO!

I can’t go away entirely because that’s the nature of the proverbial work beast right now, but this means no external website visits, no Twitter, Facebook, Google+, forums, or what-have-you…nada…unless there’s an emergency I have to deal with. A few blog posts here and there on this site? The Squee project? New announcements? Yep, absolutely. But other than that, e-mail will be best to get a hold of me.

Of course, this is nothing new mind you. It’s just funny how connectivity works nowadays. If I don’t say something, people think I’ve gone off the face of the planet or something. I wish I had the money to travel around the world! Sheesh!

    Mood: Ready for Spring
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: 30 on the elliptical
    In My Ears: Heater fan. Seriously.
    Game Last Played: Brain Age II
    Book Last Read: Erm… Can’t remember! And it was just yesterday!
    Movie Last Viewed: Not sure. I’ve been re-watching the Doctor Who Christmas specials, though.
    Latest Artistic Project: Beading! Cookies!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


The Big Catch-Up on 25 Squees (and other Musings)

Darth Vader Masked Avatar

I have Avengers on in the background as I’m writing this, and thinking back (for some bizarro reason) to the Ewoks television series, and how much I don’t like Hydra and would like to Monica Smash them into oblivion. See also: lamenting the fact that I let the Squee project lag, but scrambled to take vacation, so there you be. And, to top it all off? I’ve been obsessed with the concept of resilience as of late, and how important that is for writers.

Let me rewind that last statement, because it’s something I want to reinforce. Writing is a hard job, because when the words don’t flow? Yeah, we only have ourselves to blame. No amount of [insert real life b.s. here] can excuse a lack of writing, because we can do that anytime, anywhere–even if it’s for half an hour. Fifteen minutes. Something. Resilience, though, isn’t about writing. It’s about the lifestyle and all the other peripherals that come with it. The contracts that fall through. The projects that we don’t get credited for or we’re forced to take to pay the bills. The good reviews, the bad, and the ugly. The pressure we receive from friends, family, fans. Etc. Etc. Etc. And then depression starting with isolation, then an over-reliance on the Internet, then a loss of perspective…until? The things we say online don’t seem to have an impact in real life, because we’re not grounded in real life enough to know that words can hurt other people.

Anyway, deep thoughts ahead of squees. There was a point where I got discouraged, since there’s so much going on right now, so many real world issues…but now that I’m back from a wonderful vacation? I feel like these squees really are another way to hold back to the darkness, another method to be resilient in addition to be grounded in real life.

On to the 25 squees! This’ll bring me up-to-date through Tuesday, December 16th.

1.) The Star Wars trailer was released! No, I haven’t seen it. I’m very excited for the new films, but want to enjoy the movies when they debut in theatres. I’m a little old school that way I suppose, and don’t want to let the dissection of every nuance ruin the experience. Star Wars is, and has been, a huge part of my life and I couldn’t be happier that the property is in great hands.

2.) This design. Because it’s true and awesome. Don’t Read the Comments by miski

3.) I’m done with holiday shopping. WOO. Not done with cards or shipping, but soon. SOON!

4.) Throwing a party. Excited!

5.) My trip out to the Bay Area could easily take up the rest of these squees. Plus, we took a trip out to the Redwoods and up the coast to Eureka.

6.) Science is awesome. Congrats to the space team that landed on an asteroid, then got this data! Rosetta Instrument Reignites Debate on Earth’s Oceans

7.) I’m a guest at Mo*Con X. Pretty cool!

8.) A time capsule in Boston has been found, buried by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. SO FREAKING COOL!

9.) Finished another Firefly RPG supplement. Announcement to come VERY soon!

10.) Christmas cookies. Mixing, baking, eating. Need I say more?

11.) Blue Man Group is coming to a theatre near me in February. WOO!

12.) Time for the annual MDK (Murder Death Kill) holiday photo. Let the shenanigans commence!

Christmas Rimmon and Zak

13.) I don’t put up loads of decorations, but this 8-Bit Wreath is one of my favorites!

14.) I never get sick of watching The Avengers. So impressed with the connected plots that weave in and out of the movies and the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show.

15.) Put in an order from JetPens.com for this calligraphy pen. Here’s the awesome part about this pen: the colors BLEND.

16.) Managed to clean our place before we left for California, so came back to a fresh pad. After one load of laundry, I’m totally caught up on maintenance-type crap. Woo!

17.) Starting to get some reviews for my latest project. Geist: Ready Made Characters. Glad fans are digging them!

18.) Two unannounced projects are moving forward, I’m getting caught up on other projects, and I’m making progress on my own stuff, too.

19.) Combat boots have been acquired. I’ve been looking for over a year, ever since my old ones got irreparably damaged on a trip. Opted to go with a convertible pair of Doc Marten’s and I’m really anxious to break them in.

20.) I mentioned earlier that I was starting to Couch to 5K program. Due to the pressure on my joints, I wasn’t ready for the speeds I was aiming for. I’ve since modified the program, but I’m keeping up with it. Really anxious to build some endurance and continue on the health train. It feels great to get my heart pumping again!

21.) A squee for Phil Reed and Sam Mitschke from Steve Jackson Games. They’ve been promoted!!! YAY!!! Well-deserved.

22.) Another squee for discovering Joseph Bruchac, a Native American author. Really powerful stuff.

23.) Happy that Constantine is getting some rave reviews. It’s a GREAT show and I’m thrilled for the cast and the team that put this together.

24.) Heading to a holiday party tonight to see some friends I haven’t seen for a while. Pretty excited about that!

25.) Last but not least, I’ve already made my New Year’s Resolutions and am diving into the pile. So grateful for my co-writers and editors to be able to do what I do. Thanks for seeing 2014 through and cheers for a BIG 2015!

106/365

    Mood: Go, Go Gadget
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Managed. (Sort of). I had 3.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: 30 on the elliptical
    In My Ears: Computer fan. (It’s loud!)
    Game Last Played: Mah Jong
    Book Last Read: An encyclopedia about demons and fairies pulling from global folklore.
    Movie Last Viewed: The Avengers
    Latest Artistic Project: Beading!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Things Don’t Go Smooth
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


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