Category Archives: Time management and goals

Enter the furniture, exit the work week

So we got new bookshelves this week. Like the pantry and hutch we bought a while ago, this is something TYG has talked about for awhile and with the added time from not commuting to work, she went ahead and did it. Three bookshelves, two tall one short. Unfortunately the company was nowhere near as good as the first furniture supplier: they were in poorer condition (staples and a nail or two sticking out), we kept getting contradictory delivery notices and the second tall case didn’t come with the first order. Bad!

So we spent part of Monday evening getting the two bookcases we received out of their packing. Wednesday we got the word that #3 would arrive Thursday so we began making ready. Clearing the furniture it would replace. Putting stuff on shelves. Moving one old bookcase up to my room to replace one that doesn’t have much shelf space (it’s designed primarily for CDs so the shelves are oddly sized for most other uses). Moving the old bookcase out. Putting all the books off one bookcase, then onto another one. This a)took time and b)got physically very draining. Thursday morning I felt quite wiped, and then we spent time getting the new one set up Thursday.

On the plus side, the changeover is done and the books are in place (I still need to get my issues of Vegetarian Times back in order). That’s a good thing. I’d be much more likely to dawdle but TYG’s efficient. I’d show you photos but I haven’t taken any yet.

Leaf articles were my priority this week because that’s paying work, but there were only a few in the pipeline. I did finish another chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches which is good, and one chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer which is less than I’d wanted. I read Chapter Two to the writing group and incorporated several changes based on their suggestions. That was pretty much it. Well, that and finishing our taxes: sales tax (none, I had no sales in the past quarter), estimated tax (have to pay in), federal 1040 (ditto) and state tax (they pay us). That’s a lot of paperwork that needed doing so it’s not surprising I got less actually writing done.

Next week we have nothing arriving, no appointments, no tax paperwork and hopefully no emergencies so I anticipate doing better. Certainly an easier week than these guys are having.#SFWApro. Art by Jerry Grandenetti, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Time management and goals

I think things fell apart when I went to the library …

But I’m still glad I went.

The Durham Library recently reopened, though only for picking up books placed on hold (maximum of five). Which is disappointing — they just completed a massive remodel of the main library and I’d love to visit — but obviously the right thing to do. As my pile of new books is vastly shrinking (no used bookstores or library sales to visit) I reserved some books and picked them up Thursday afternoon, as they don’t open Saturdays. It went smoothly, with no major risk and everyone masked, though to my disappointment Ghosts of Manhattan turned out not to be the superhero novel of that name but a mainstream book about a stockbroker’s personal crises. I may read it anyway.

However, after I got back from the library I had to engage in some extra dog care and wound up getting very little done Thursday. Then this morning I took Plushie for his walk and for a change he was ready to go on a long one. We spent probably an hour, which is good — he really needs to get some weight off — but quite exhausting for me. I not only lost a chunk of writing time but it took me a while to get over the stiffness and focus on writing (I exercise plenty but walking wipes me out way more than most workouts. I’ve no idea why). This may happen again, as we’re now taking one dog each in the morning, which makes it easier to get them walked before the heat is unendurable.

I also made the mistake of dropping Thursday morning’s planned focus on Questionable Minds to do a little extra work on Undead Sexist Cliches and Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I think there are two ways to juggle multiple projects: allot each of them some time in your schedule and give them the time or make one project the priority and do whatever it takes to get that work done, even if it cuts into the time spent on others. I set my priorities based on option A — get something done on each of them per week — but then I wind up shifting them around. I still got work done in that time, but I’d be happier, I think, if I’d gotten some on all three big projects instead of skimping on my Minds final draft.

Oh, and I took Monday off, which was the right call. I’d let a lot of life stuff build up unfinished (paperwork, bills, checks to deposit, things to clean) plus my brain was slowing down from cabin fever some. That didn’t help with productivity either, but I’m glad I did it. Unfortunately the library doesn’t do appointments on Mondays or I’d have taken care of it then.

On Impossible I got through Chapter Three on the new draft which brought me up to a scene I had no idea how to fix, where Lahatiel (evil fake angel) attempts to kill KC (alias the Florida Panhandle’s superhero, the Champion). The old version didn’t work — it plays on fears and worries KC no longer has — but I think I figured out where to go with my current concept of her character. I’ll try it next week. And I posted Ch.2 to my writers’ group, as I’ll be reading it next week. Undead Sexist Cliches has the first two chapters done on the final draft. Questionable Minds … well, nothing, obviously. Plus I got some Leaf articles done (most interesting: “Do Physician Assistants Wear White Coats?” There’s more to the answer than I’d have thought.

For illustration, here’s a photo I took of someone’s broken lawn ornament recently. I’d like to claim it as an allegorical artistic statement on the ongoing statue controversies, but it’s just a photo.#SFWApro. Image is mine.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

It’s the weekend, let’s hit the beach!

Okay, probably a bad idea right now with Florida cases skyrocketing … but it does give me an excuse to post this whimsical Sheldon Mayer cover.This was a productive week. Not productive enough, but when do I ever say it was enough? But I did feel at times like cabin fever was interfering with my creative process; I may take Monday off just to clear my head, even though it’s not like I can go anywhere.

I got a few Leafs done, but we were on the wrap-up end of the current spurt. It’ll start up again next month, one reason I want to take Monday off when it won’t interfere with money-making. I made good use of the added no-Leaf time, finishing the introduction and first chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. It was slow going because I rewrote more than I expected. Part of that was making the logic flow smoother, part of it just to tighten the material. I knocked 1,000 words or more out of Chapter One so I guess I succeeded.

I continued replotting Impossible Takes a Little Longer, including rearranging some of the sections for overall pacing and introducing some characters earlier. I’m still not sure whether it’s long enough and there’s one key scene, Champion’s first battle with Lahatiel, that I don’t have figured out. The original attack, which I’d thought would last into this version, doesn’t work; I have a vague idea what might work in its place but I’m not sure. I also wrote out the second chapter, as I thought I might be reading at Tuesday’s writer’s group. However that won’t happen until July 7 (a few years ago, TYG and I would have been at the Mensa national gathering but like so much else, that didn’t happen this year). I’ll give it another glance next week but I think I may have outlined as much as I can — I’ll continue with the next draft and wing it where I have to.

I finished a rough outline for the next draft of Oh the Places You’ll Go! and started on the next draft. It’s way stronger, but still needs some work. Right now I’m squeezing a ton of exposition in up front, just to make sure I get it in, but next draft I can spread it out. I have a feeling this will stretch out to substantially longer before I’m done.

I did not get anything done on the final draft of Questionable Minds. Bad me! Part of Monday will be figuring out just what I can get done and how fast, and which projects are top priority, etc. I hate to say it but I can’t do it all, at least not at once.

Oh, and a magazine called Overdraft accepted my reprint story Dark Satanic Mills so whoot! After getting so many rejections earlier this month, it feels good.

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Have you ever thought about becoming an intracranial bleeder for fun and profit?

So about a year ago I did a video for Medscape as The Man With Low Testosterone (they’re training videos for doctors to learn how to handle various situations with patients). Today I did another one, as Herman, a man with horrible headaches (caused, I believe by intracranial bleeding, though Herman doesn’t know that) who doesn’t want to go to the E/R. We did this by Zoom so I spent a lot of time yesterday finding a spot in the house where I could film myself against a white wall. Eventually I settled on putting a step ladder in the downstairs bathroom doorway and putting my computer on top of it.

The taping went quite quickly (they were very pleased) and their direction was good; the biggest problem was that I woke up this morning with a slight headache and couldn’t get the idea I had intracranial bleeding out of my mind. That aside I feel as pleased as — well, a young comic book intern!Going over the script before the filming took up more time than expected but the pay is good, so I’m not complaining. Besides that, let’s see …

I got some more Leaf articles done. Last time I was working on them it was early in the pandemic and I found it a real slog. Apparently I’ve adjusted because this batch went down smooth.

I worked on rethinking both The Impossible Takes a Little Longer and Oh The Places You’ll Go! rather than just rewriting and pantsing yet another draft. Don’t get me wrong, the only way I can do early drafts is by winging it, but these have reached the point I need a thorough plot first. Both went well, though not as far along as I wanted.

I continued editing my hard copy of Questionable Minds and I finished the latest draft of Undead Sexist Cliches. Next week I start correcting in hard copy. Reading marketing material I learned I should have started on marketing about three months ago — but if I’d done that in advance I’d have finished the pre-book marketing and wouldn’t have the work ready. So hopefully this’ll work out.

And I posted on Atomic Junkshop about the Justice League’s first story and their use of snail mail as a way to find cases to work on.

I sent out two stories, one of which came back almost immediately. It will, of course, go out again, but it would be nice to get a sale from something besides Leaf. Leaf pays better than most fiction markets I submit to, and I’m pleased with the quality of my work, but getting fiction published is a lot more personal.

I’ll close with a shot of Wisp sleeping on the carpet from the previous week. I had to work so when I got up I hoped she’d join me on the couch but this is good too. If we do bring her inside on a regular basis we won’t be able to pet her all the time so having her relax on her own is good.#SFWApro. Photo is mine; covers are by Dick Giordano (top) and Murphy Anderson and all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Normally I feel the other way around

I’ve noticed that in a lot of these week-in-review posts I say that while it felt like I didn’t get anything much done, when I actually write it all down, I did quite a bit. Looking over my writing goals for May, I feel the opposite: I wasn’t quite as productive as I felt I was. Not as productive on non-writing goals, either, but that’s partly still adjusting to the new status quo.

As to this specific week, it went pretty well. As TYG took part of Monday off for Memorial Day, I took it off too, something I haven’t done in a while. That felt really good; I must remember to take more holidays. However I slept wretchedly and woke up early Monday morning, which made me feel rather dazed the rest of the day.

Tuesday morning I had to visit the doctor (all well!) which consumed much of that morning. So only 3.5 days of work this week, but I managed to put in slightly more hours than that.

I redrafted Oh the Places You’ll Go! and while it still doesn’t work, I can see what it needs. This past draft I tried adding a little more adventure and danger, but I think it really needs to be a character-arc story. And it doesn’t really have a character arc as much as relationship arcs between the four core cast members, and even those arcs are a little too low-key. So that’s where I need to look at fixing it before next draft.

I got part of the way through a redraft of Laughter of the Dark. Here I really like the character development this draft, but the plot is a little weak.

And I finished Glory That Was, all ready to submit next month

I got through most of a pre-hard copy review of Undead Sexist Cliches but not all of it, which is what I wanted. This was where I got the most productivity, probably because it doesn’t require as much creative thought. And I finished a book, Before Roe v. Wade which I’ll review next week.

And I posted at Atomic Junkshop about my love of movies and the saga of writing my first one.

For the month as a whole, I know I put in plenty of time, it’s just that nothing got as finished as I wanted. Almost no work on Questionable Minds (even though my cover artist is not currently up for delivering anything, I’d like to get my edits done). No short stories finished. And Undead Sexist Cliches, as noted, remains unfinished. I suspect it’s less the distraction from the pandemic and possibly pushing to get more finished than I could.  And some of the stuff — marketing plans and related activities — are outside my usual skill set.

On the plus side, Trixie is doing so much better. Her leg occasionally gets weak, but mostly she’s bouncing around with all her old energy. It’s wonderful to see, and to know we handled everything right.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

Lo, there shall come furniture

I didn’t get anywhere as much done this week as I’d expected, probably about 3.5 days of actual work. Part of that was that the dilation drops from my opthalmologist Tuesday seemed to hit me harder than usual: I’d expected my eyes would be normal by afternoon but I wasn’t comfortable looking at the computer the rest of the day.

Then on Wednesday we got furniture. A few months ago, TYG had talked about replacing some of the old shelving she’s had since college with something new and pretty. I assumed she’d just given up with all the pandemic distraction but no, she hadn’t. Last weekend, a pantry arrived and we spent much of Saturday putting it together and rearranging the dining room around it.It was a lot of work, but I can’t deny it was worth it. The storage frees up a lot more space and our food stores are no longer taking up the table.

Wednesday, the second piece arrived. The good news was that it was only two pieces so we didn’t have much assembly; the bad news was that the upper half weighed more than 150 lbs so we sure as heck couldn’t put it up there ourselves. Fortunately our neighbor Eric, who’s bigger and stronger than either of us, came by (we all wore masks) and both directed us and did most of the heaving. With most of our pet treats, meds and food in the hutch (along with our small supply of booze) I was able to take some of the shelves that held that stuff and use them for my cookbooks and food-history books.I moved the plants that took up some of the shelving but I’m not satisfied with the arrangement below. I looked at ordering some shelving, but the creeping charlie is in a big, heavy pot and none of them are stable according to the reviews. As it’s hard to judge based on Internet reviews, I may just put them on a table until such time as I’m comfortable going to Home Depot or Target and checking them out physically (my ophthalmologist visit left me quite panicked so I don’t think I’m ready yet).So anyway, getting the boxes for the hutch in and putting it together consumed a lot of time, so I only had a half day of work Wednesday.

I got some more done on Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Apparently my mind has decided I should think this draft through carefully rather than just dashing it off as I usually do. I’ll trust I know what I’m doing. I also finished the redraft of Glory That Was so I’ll look for a market next week.

I went over more of Undead Sexist Cliches, prepping it before I print a hard copy for final proofing; finished a couple of Leaf articles as that source of income is back (yay!); wrote an article on Silver Age comics covers for Atomic Junkshop; and ordered the first of several reference books I’ll be buying as research for the Alien Visitors film-reference book.

Overall, pretty good. Plus I “sold” two more of the free copies of Philosophy and Fairytales (free until the end of the month, unless Smashwords extends the sale). Whoever you are out there, thanks for reading me.

#SFWApro.

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Puppy problems pummel productivity!

Along with my doctor’s appointment this week, Trixie at the vet also sucked up a lot of time. Recovery from her knee surgery was progressing great last month, but the past couple of weeks she’s been backsliding.It started about a week and a half ago, when she started limping and kept it up for about half an hour. The doctor said not to worry unless it happened again; last weekend it did, briefly. I drove her in to the vet Monday morning and they said everything looked fine and it was normal to expect some bad days. TYG and I were still unsettled that it happened after so many weeks doing perfectly well, but still that seemed reasonable.

Then this morning she didn’t want to come out of her cage (we keep her in there so she can’t jump off the bed in the night or anything that would set her back). Her leg drags when she walks and she flinched when we touched her. I took her in to the vet and picked her up a couple of hours later. Everything seems fine but clearly she isn’t. We gave her some anti-inflammatory drugs which helped, but she’s almost as miserable as when her leg first went out. The vet said she’d lost a lot of muscle in that leg — not really a surprise, she’s been on restriction since January — but I still find it hard to believe it would just suddenly affect her. We have her eight-week checkup Wednesday, combined with her knee surgeon giving her another look. Hopefully that’ll get us some answers (and treatment).

So that sucked up quite a bit of time this week. I still got a fair amount done but I was hoping to finish at least one short story draft as well.

The biggest accomplishment was that I finished going over Undead Sexist Cliches to clean it up before ordering a print copy. It was very productive — though there’ll be more cleaning in hard copy no doubt — though I think Chapter Nine, on the metaphor of the sexual marketplace (women control the sex supply and dictate the terms — cash, fancy dinners, marriage — under which men get it) still needs work. Next week I’ll look at that chapter again, and see if some bits I edited out of various chapters can be fit in anywhere else. Then I go over the footnotes to smooth them out and start indexing (won’t be finishing that next week but the sooner I start, the easier it’ll be). I’m also looking at other options for printing than Amazon’s Kindle print-on-demand service.

I put a little work in on Laughter of the Dark and Oh the Places You’ll Go! but it’s going slowly. Partly that’s because I’m putting in more planning time than I usually do on a second or third draft, to see if I can cut down the number of drafts. We’ll see how that works.

And that was pretty much it. Leaf work is starting up again, but it’s not going to be much this month, so I’m hopeful I can squeeze in plenty more work. And that Trixie isn’t too badly hurt.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

Second month of writing while quarantined; how’d I do?

Decently. I met 58 percent of my goals which is better than the last two months (particularly March). Part of that’s because my goal list has dwindled — nothing that involves hanging out with people besides TYG, no plans to catch plays or go to museums, etc. Not even visiting the nearby coffee/tea shop, though I did order some tea from them (I’d like them to be there when this mess ends).

I do not see this changing any time soon. Durham’s stay-in-place order ends the 15th of this month, but TYG and I were social distancing before it became official and we’re still going to stick with it. This shit is scary; much as I’d like to see my friends other than on Zoom, it won’t be happening soon. When? I wish I knew.

The improvement in goal-meeting also reflects that I’m adapting. I’m getting exercise done, cooking regularly and managing to get work done despite a lot of extra dog care. And my Leaf work hasn’t started up again which meant I had a lot more time to work on my own stuff. Much as I enjoy that, I’d prefer to have steady income; next month I’ll be working on drumming up new clients, as a good freelancer should.

As I mentioned last week, I finished the latest drafts of Undead Sexist Cliches and Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I submitted four short stories, finished an untitled first draft, rewrote Laughter of the Dark and Glory That Was and finished Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates. I resumed work on proofing and correcting Questionable Minds, though I’m far from where I wanted to be (the extra work on the other two books had to come out of something).

The biggest obstacle to getting even more done is that Trixie’s injury requires a lot more time. A lot more watching to ensure she isn’t doing anything to hurt her leg. Walking her separately from Plushie — if I’m doing both morning walks or both lunch walks (or both of both) that adds up to quite a bit more time (same if TYG’s doing the work). So this month I’m assuming I’ll start work 8:30 AM, work for two hours, get four hours in the afternoon and make up the last hour of my day after dinner. Planning for that will make me less frustrated in the morning, I think, which should help me focus better.

For today’s visual entertainment here’s something Wisp (I assume) puked up on our front stoop. You can make out the eye of whatever she ate.#SFWApro.

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Cats, distractions and undead sexist cliches: My week at work

This was a somewhat frustrating week. Despite working in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and getting up early generally, I actually fell short of my desired 35 hours. Extra dog walking and multiple food and item deliveries sucked up a surprising amount of time. Worse, in the time that was left, I sometimes wound up too frazzed to focus and working in too-small bursts of time to build up any steam. Can’t be helped though: TYG’s job is less flexible than mine so I can adjust my schedule more easily (my boss is very understanding). I really must find ways to keep my focus despite distractions, though. Particularly when Leaf work gets started again — for some reason that suffers in the current environment more than anything else.

On the plus side, it seems I can work with Wisp snuggling in my lap.

So what did I get done? Well, I finally got the abortion/birth control chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches worked out and footnoted. I had to rearrange it a lot to work logically and clear up a lot of repeated information, plus adding some scientific detail (no, abortions do not cause breast cancer or depression). I also made a rough outline of Chapter Nine, on the concept of a sexual marketplace (the assumption women are supposed to trade sex for marriage). That should make it easier when I start on it next week.

I finished a couple of chapters of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Now I’m up to the climax, but the changes I’ve made already will mandate more changes; one character who played a major role is dead, for instance, so not so major. I want this draft done this month.

I read my revised version of The Glory That Was to the writers’ group Tuesday night and got generally favorable responses. The big change from the previous draft was shifting from third person to multiple first-persons, and it seems to have worked. However there was a general consensus the opening was too rushed for anyone to find their feet, so that’ll be my primary concern on the next draft.

Oh, and over at Atomic Junkshop we’re suffering some puzzling tech problems. One post I made this week vanished, came back and now it’s vanished again. Very annoying.

Have a great weekend. Here’s another photo of Wisp, scrunching her eyes shut in response to getting petted.#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Did I mention I sold a story this week?

I did? Well here’s another link to it anyway. And to my currently free e-book, Philosophy and Fairytales. That sales lasts through April 20. And I have an article on bystanders in Golden Age Batman stories up on Atomic Junkshop (the cover to the right is actually from the late 1950s, by Sheldon Moldoff).

Now, as to new work: this was a fairly good week. A lot of extra dog care in the mornings, but I still managed to be productive (though as usual not as productive as I think I should be). I’m doing my best to squeeze out as much of my own work as possible before my Leaf articles start up again.

I rewrote one of my older stories The Glory That Was, for reading to the writer’s group next week (one of our Zoom meetings). I’d thought I’d just touch it up to fix a few flaws, but I wound up writing it in rotating first-person POV (Elizabeth, Molly and Dianne) which took a lot more time than planned. I think it’s vastly improved, but we’ll see what the group thinks. That used up most of my short-story writing time, so a couple of other stories I’d planned to work on, I didn’t get to.

I finished another chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I’m approaching the climax now, and once again it’s going to take a lot of changes; characters who were alive are now dead, KC knows much more about how things work than she did and I have no idea how to explain the rest without massive info-dumping. But my gut’s steered me well so far, so hopefully it’ll keep guiding me right.

I got a massive amount of the abortion/birth control chapter in Undead Sexist Cliches done and footnoted. There’s still quite a bit left as the forced-birth movement spews out so much bullshit. For example, Human Life International argues that having consensual sex while using birth control is rape. That’s one of many.

I also read aloud several chapters of Questionable Minds and noted down the points where it needs editing, either for typos or because my phrasing is poor.

Trixie is doing much better. She’s able to take short walks of up to five minutes at a time, which is much more fun for her. Easier for us too, as I can wait longer for her to make a poop before hauling her inside. And she’s so happy walking and enjoying the outdoors (the photo below shows her doing it a couple of years back, when she was at her shaggiest).

 

Unfortunately, she’s increasingly determined and eager to jump up and down and run wherever she wants, so it’s essential to watch her constantly. We now have a cage upstairs and one down so wherever she is, we can lock her up if we have to do something (use the restroom, cook, whatever).

We’ve decided to try bringing Wisp into the house once Trixie’s back to full health. That gives us about six weeks to work out the details. This week she came up and sat with me on the couch again a couple of times; one time was during a Zoom “Shut Up and Write” meeting and as soon as the voices came over the computer, she ran.

Have a great weekend everyone. Stay safe.

#SFWApro. All rights to photos remain with current holders.

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