writing recap 2018: w51

Not a particularly productive week. Tooled around with outlining more. Worked on polishing a few short stories. Felt mostly bleh all week. That feeling where you know you should do more, where you even want to do more, but then you just… don’t.

It’s a stupid feeling really. Because it’s not like I don’t know what I need to be doing and it’s not like I don’t know exactly what’s happening. But even still, I let some of the structures crumble and I milled about listlessly. Drifting.

And I can rail at myself mentally, and I can scold and exhort. But the fact remains that I already made the decision at the beginning of the week (semi-consciously probably) that I wasn’t going to be super productive, and then I followed through on that decision.

I need to make better decisions.

But also, I suppose I need to have a little forgiveness for myself, a little grace. Because it’s okay to have a few off days here and there. It’s not the end of the world. And part of the whole not self-flagellating (as much) thing is also focusing on what I did manage to accomplish.

So, here goes:

  • I figured out a couple major places where the plot of my novel breaks down, and I figured out a good fix for one of them. Unfortunately, this means some MAJOR rewriting, but I’m okay with that actually. Still excited about this story and these characters, and I want to make it work.
  • I did a few readability passes and light editing on a few short pieces, and FINALLY sent them off to DVA to look at. I’d been putting it off for almost two weeks at this point under the guise of editing, but mostly it was because I still feel nervous about letting other people read my work. Definitely need to get over that.
  • I got some good feedback and some great insights, and now I have a list of things that I want to add and play with to try to make those short works as good as possible. I’m pretty excited about them too actually. (This being proud of my own work thing is a little new for me. I’m literally realizing this as I’m typing it out because typing out that I’m excited about the stuff I’m working on feels… weird.)

Then, some not writing things:

  • Play tested some Levelhead, which is the new upcoming Butterscotch Shenanigans title.
  • Made six types of Xmas cookies and put together a few care packages.
  • Restarted The Artist’s Way.
  • Worked on the next episode of a podcast my friend and I are putting together.

That’s not a lot of things, but it’s not nothing.

I didn’t get that many new words written, lost to the fog of bad habit loops and dopamine fixes. But it’ll be okay. I will.

Next week is all holiday/family shenanigans, so I’m not planning to do anything too heavy. I’ll work on a few short story edits, do some feedback for DVA, and otherwise take most of the week off, I think.

spider-man

Last night, I saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and it might be the best movie I’ve seen in… I don’t even know how long. Ages. It is now one of my favorite superhero movies, and might be the best Spider-man movie (as much as I love Tom Holland’s Peter Parker — sorry, Tom). It was non-stop entertaining all the way through but also substantive. Seriously, it’s just so, so good. And it’s also GORGEOUS.

There are many more things that I could say about how amazing it is, but really, you should just go see it.

Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t checked it out yet:

writing recap 2018: w50

Continued outlining this week. Although about halfway through the week, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m outlining in part to put off writing new words on the project, so that actually needs to stop. There are no rules that say that I can’t do these things concurrently. I succumbed to the deceptive idea that I needed to finish outlining first, which I don’t think is a true thing for me.

So generally not as productive this week, which led to slightly less self-flagellation than what would have occurred previously. That’s progress, in a way.

I’m coming to slowly understand that holding yourself accountable (even if it’s just to yourself) is different than mentally tearing yourself down. That may seem like an obvious distinction to you, but I’ve struggled with it for a long time. The self-flagellation isn’t actually helpful for productivity. It was just a habit that I had been raised with and have had trouble shaking off. I imagine I never will entirely, but I can at least try to minimize it somewhat.

I did manage to set up my bullet journal a bit for the new year. I’m going a little more minimalist, I think, and trying not to spend as much time putting together monthly spreads with their lettering and flowers and whatnot. But who knows, that may fall apart immediately, and I might want to do the detail work again. We’ll see.

This next week, the focus will be on words again.

write who you are

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

writing recap 2018: w49

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.

There’s a lot of social stuff happening this upcoming week, including my SIL Diana’s upcoming group gallery show! The dads-in-law are coming down to attend and to hang out, so that’ll be fun.

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.

hey docs, the ama is selling your info

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.

WTF, AMA.

new phone, who dis

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…