Write who you are. Crack open your breastbone, grab your heart from its visceral mooring, and smash it into the page. Give it a few bloody twists just to make sure your heart print is firmly and forever smashed onto the page.
Your stories are you, and you are your stories.
– Chuck Wendig, Damn Fine Story
This week, mostly wrote some prelude stuff and little vignettes to get a better sense of the characters. Also spent a good amount of time just thinking about the story for my fairy tale project and re-outlining. Still have some more re-outlining to go, but I feel better about the project. My goal will be to have a full first draft done by the end of January.
Had lunch with my friend David, which was excellent. He helps to reorient me and also points out blindingly simple little things that don’t occur to me. Everyone needs a friend slash professional mentor who can do that. We’re going to do a little short fiction (stories from Inktober) exchange, so I have to make sure some of those are readable and more or less coherent in the next couple of days.
With all the stuff on the calendar, I kind of think that things will get accomplished in drips and drabs this month, with the furious writing in earnest mostly happening in January. I’m signed up for MRK’s Short Story Intensive in January (I think it’s sold out now, but you can wait list if you’re interested), and I am already nervicited about that.
My brief blurb about digital age privacy reminded me of something that I discovered recently.
Anyone who has gone through medical training to obtain an MD or a DO has had the experience of receiving an absurd amount of spam related to the medical field. You’ve probably received, something like once a month, a mailer from the AMA (American Medical Association) asking you to renew your AMA membership, even if you aren’t a member of the AMA.
I get these, and they annoy the fuck out of me. It’s bad enough that it’s real life spam delivered to my door and shoved into my house, but don’t try to trick me into “renewing” a membership I never had in the first place. They mostly just fill my recycling bin, and I have to go through the trouble of shredding stuff with sensitive info on it. Fucking mailers.
Finally, I decided to look into how to stop getting these things.
It turns out, if you go through an accredited medical training institution, i.e. to get your MD or DO, your information is placed into a file with the AMA, into a database called the Physician Masterfile. This record includes lots of demographic and biographical information, like oh, training institutions, licensing stuff, etc. It also includes stuff like your home address.
The best bit is that this information is shared with third parties as a default — you have to contact the AMA (in a somewhat difficult to find and convoluted way) in order to opt out and protect your private information.
From the AMA website:
“The types of licensing organizations that use the AMA Physician Masterfile database include hospitals, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment and supply companies, consultants, market researchers, insurance companies, commercial organizations, medical publishers, CME providers, physician recruiters and investment firms and other entities.”
These companies aren’t necessarily vetted, as far as I can tell. That’s also why you can get mailings for scammy medical school loan forgiveness bullshit. I imagine that’s part of what’s covered by “other entities.”
So, if as a medical trainee (or ex-medical trainee), you’ve ever been confused as to why you’re suddenly getting random pharmaceutical companies contacting you, or various institutions trying to sell you CME credits, well. Now you know how they are finding you.
Here’s some more info, if this is relevant to you or if you’re curious, with some links to the “no contact” form and some instructions on how to restrict access to your data. I had them put a “no contact” restriction on my file by contacting them through a “contact us” form on the site, so that’s also an option apparently.
I got a new phone! It’s a Pixel 3. I’m finally retiring my good old Nexus 5x to the fields of factory reset and minimal trade in value.
So far, it’s pretty nice. Very slick interface, highly responsive gesture navigation, amazing camera. It also really, really, really, really, really wants me to use Google assistant and let it “learn my voice” and whatnot. Which… no? Thanks?
Not that I really have any illusions about the digital age whatsoever — I know all my info has been sold to the a bidder, probably not even the highest one. And likely both Google and Amazon already have plenty of voice recordings of me, even though they both say they aren’t storing them. But lots of people say lots of things.
It’s mostly that I just don’t really see myself actually using the voice assistant whatever thing. Like, I’m not usually trying to text or look things up while I’m also doing something that I literally can’t put down for two seconds. So it just seems unnecessary to me. Maybe it won’t be and I’ll change my tune a few weeks down the line, but until then…
Here’s the other kind of funny thing. I’ve been trying to stay off my phone for most of the day, trying to be less tethered to it. I’m working on recognizing that when it notifies me of something, it’s usually not urgent and doesn’t require me to drop what I’m doing to respond. I still have a tendency to carry it around though and just look at it sometimes when I’m at a loss for what to do. Which is a habit I’m still in the process of breaking.
But since I got the new phone and I haven’t gotten my case for it yet, I’ve been leaving it safely in my office for fear of dropping this expensive, shiny piece of hardware. I always get a case and a screen protector because I drop my phone at least once a week, probably more (my Nexus 5X + case tolerated this with great aplomb) so I don’t want to risk it. Which means that I’m not carrying it around.
Which makes me wonder if I should cancel my order for a phone case…
This tree smells magnificent. Also, we have two Jack Skellington ornaments now. That may or may not have been an accident.
What will be your end? Will they put on your gravestone: Wanted To Art, But Didn’t? Dicked Around A Lot, Instead.
Or will your gravestone read: Worded Like A Bonafide Bad-Ass Every Day Until Death Pried Her From This Earth?
Make these days count. All of them that remain.
– Chuck Wendig, 30 Days in the Word Mines
Short little update today, lovelies.
Won NaNo on Thursday, so took the weekend off. When it’s not November, I’m mostly taking the weekends off anyway, so this is more a return to routine than a new routine.
I feel more satisfied about winning NaNo this year than I did last year, but it still doesn’t feel like as big of a deal since I’ve been trying to put in daily writing anyway. Although I did accomplish a substantial amount on one large project instead of a bunch of little ones. I’m not done with the first draft yet — the story isn’t finished — so I’m going to continue on, doing roughly 2000 words daily, until it’s done.
I haven’t done the requisite re-outlining yet, so that’s a Monday thing.
Something about doing writing adjacent things instead of just putting the words down on the page feels at odds with the ethos of NaNo. It feels like losing momentum, like that work (as critical as it might be) doesn’t count somehow. Which is a terrible mindset to have about it, I know. I’ve been trying to tease this out in morning pages, and haven’t quite gotten to the core of it yet. There’s something there — about external motivation and incorrect goals — but I haven’t figured it out.
Because ultimately, I don’t need NaNo to build a writing routine. I’ve already done that. And I don’t need it to give myself permission to write or to let myself tackle a project. So when I’m doing NaNo, it’s almost like I’m disrupting my established workflow to have a bit of external structure. Because it’s still easier (and will probably always be easier) to have some external source tell me what I should be doing instead of having to figure it out for myself.
I don’t know. I have some more thinking to do about it yet.
Word count total: 56,731
This happened today! I’ll still be writing tomorrow to finish out the month, and I’ve still got a good amount of story left to go. But still. (There are no emoji, but imagine three confetti ones here.)
After Thanksgiving, we were traveling home with an excess of gifts, as we are after every trip to Houston. It’s become routine enough that I’ve started taking a slightly larger bag than necessary, purely because I’m sure it’ll be stuffed with various things for me to bring home. This time, we were carting back multiple kinds of tea, bottles of wine, and some snacks. We distributed the things into our bags and also ended up checking a box because of the wine.
One of the teas that my mom sent us home with was pu’er, which is a special fermented black tea. This tea is sold in compressed cakes of tea leaves, shaped like flat discs, wrapped in cotton paper. It comes with text on the top and a little insert within the wrapper that attests to the authenticity — pu’er can be expensive, and counterfeiting is sometimes an issue. The pu’er we had was also nestled in a little box and the box went into a bag.
But we didn’t have room in our luggage for extraneous packaging, so Adam took the wrapped disc out and put that in his backpack, neatly cushioned by some sweaters. (At least traveling in winter means you have copious packing material to cushion breakables with.)
It looks like this:
We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style… but as we move along, you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.
– Stephen King, On Writing