All posts by Richard S. Crawford

Fear of Distraction

It’s midway through National Novel Writing Month, and things aren’t looking good for me this year. At this point, one should be at about 25,000 words… and I’m at, oh, 7,000 or so. This may be the year that I don’t win this thing. I’m sort of upset about that, because it breaks my winning streak of having won every year that I’ve participated (which is every year since 2001, though I skipped 2002 — or did you know that already?).

So I figure it’s time to dust off the blog and get to pondering things. Like why I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month for fourteen consecutive years, but don’t really have anything that I would consider ready to show off for publication. I’m pretty sure it’s not a fear of failure that’s holding me back, or the complementary fear of success. I can pursue a short story to (near) completion, but novels are another thing.

I’m pretty sure that what holds me back is a fear of distraction.

By which I mean that I have a hard time committing to a novel of mine if I fear that something else better might come along and hey, I can’t work on it because I’m already stuck working on this thing. And therefore I’m afraid of committing to a novel. And the irony is palpable, because if I had been able to commit to, say, The Outer Darkness (in 2004), I may have finished that novel completely, and gotten others completed as well. But no, I had to dither and go through angst and worry that if I focused on that one, then other brilliant ideas would go unwritten.

And what if I finish a novel, get it all the way done, and find it was a waste of time? What if I find, at that point, that I should have written something else?

I suspect these are questions that just about every writer faces. But when does that fear of distraction/wasted time get to the point that it’s pathological, and interferes with your ability to get anything done?

I don’t know.

Suggestions, anyone?

A wee reflection, here on Labor Day

I don’t know much about the history of the labor movement here in the United States, but I can certainly offer reflections on how I got to be Where I Am in my life. And two major factors that got me here are, without a doubt, Opportunity and Luck.

I’ve been laid off from jobs, I’ve been fired from jobs (“Are you firing me or laying me off?” “Well, you’re not good at your job, but we really like you, so it’s a bit of both.”), and I’ve quit jobs with and without notice. The job I have now I got primarily through some luck and some effort. No formal interview or resume/application process was involved because it started as a temp job. I had worked hard to learn Linux and shell scripting and PHP; but I also had a previous job that gave me the opportunity to learn those things while not working on formally-assigned tasks.

I had a good college education, and I was lucky to have that opportunity. I was lucky — though that word is problematic for reasons I won’t go into here — that I could pay for my education without having to take out some serious loans.

In my time, especially in one particular job (that I quit with only two days’ notice), I’ve met with literally hundreds of people who for various degrees of misfortune of birth or just plain bad luck, had no such opportunities.

I’m well aware that I speak from a position of privilege. I’m also well aware that the current administration is pathologically determined to dismantle the structures of opportunity that have been put in place for women and minorities and low income people over the years.

So this Labor Day, in between the barbecues and sleeping in and what-not, remember that there have been and continue to be people who for whatever reason are in a “bad place”, employment-wise, and who are struggling for justice for themselves and for others.

That’s all.

So, the votes are in!

Twenty people voted on what I should write for National Novel Writing Month this year, more than I expected. More than half of you voted for And the Devil Will Drag You Under1, a novel about devils at war with each other in a modern city. Amusingly, this is actually the novel I was planning on writing last year during NaNoWriMo until my friend  Andrea Stewart talked me into writing Padma, a novel I’d been planning on writing for years. I have no regrets there.

If you want to have chapters of And the Devil Will Drag You Underr emailed to you, go click on my contact page and fill out the contact form there. I’ll know what to do.

Speaking of Padma, I’m still revising that one. I had hoped to have the second draft ready for my critique group in October, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve been taking an online class in writing inclusive fiction (by Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford of Writing the Other), and learning that there is a lot of work to do in order to properly flesh out my main character, who is a woman of half-Indian descent. That’s not to say that I’m not going to finish it, just that I have more work to do than I had originally anticipated. I’ve been working on it daily for about a month now.

My kaiju short story “Anamet” is progressing slowly. Again, I need to do some research in order to do the main character justice. This is another story I’d intended to have completed earlier; by mid-August, in fact. I tend to be very optimistic when estimating how long it’s going to write a story.

Other writing-related news: My short story “The B.I.M.” is with my critique group right now; and “A Pine Romance” is with a beta reader. We’ll see how they both go over.

How’s your day going?


 

HELP! What should I write?

Earlier I was firmly committed to my kaiju novel for NaNoWriMo this year. But now I’m wavering. I have three ideas, all of them equally attractive. So I’m throwing the question out to you, faithful readers:

What should Richard write for NaNoWriMo 2017?

  • And the Devil Will Drag You Under: Devils at war with each other in a modern city! (55%, 11 Votes)
  • The X of Doom: Pirates, sorcery, and time travel! (20%, 4 Votes)
  • The Wind Walker: A giant monster from Antarctica wreaks havoc on the Earth! (20%, 4 Votes)
  • Other: Please elucidate in a comment on this blog post. (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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Of course, I won’t be posting my novel online this year for Reasons, but you’ll be able to request that chapters be mailed to you as I write them. I’ll work on a mechanism for that.

Storm’s a-brewin’….

…and National Novel Writing Month 2017 is just around the corner. Lurking. Waiting. Ready to pounce on any unsuspecting writer who ventures too near its deathly maw.

So the answer is yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo once more. And yep, I, along with Kat, will be one of the Municipal Liaisons for the Sacramento region. You may applaud.

This year, I think I’ll be writing The Wind Walker, a kaiju story. I mentioned it a blog post or two ago, and the more I think about it, the more excited I am about it. I’ll be plotting it and outlining it and so on. My short story “Anamet”, which I’m working on, is going to be a prequel for The Wind Walker, though it will have a very different tone.

And just for funsies, I created this potential cover art:

I made this with the “Pulp-O-Mizer Cover Maker“, which is way too much fun. Obviously if I ever get around to publishing The Wind Walker, I’ll need a whole new cover, but this one is inspiring enough for now. Go and make one of your own!


Still on my social media hiatus. I admit dipping into Twitter a couple of times here and there, but I can only last a few minutes at most without encountering something that upsets me. Ugh.

I did go to reactivate my account on Absolute Write. So find me there, if ye care to.

Anyway… uh… Comment here on my blog if you care.

Overworrying about a work in progress

A number of years ago I wrote a short story, “Coyote Goes to College”. It was about a generic version of the Coyote trickster who populates the lore of some Native American tribes. I think it’s a good story and pretty funny, but should I publish it? I don’t know. Coyote isn’t a character that I invented, and comes from a culture that I don’t identify with. Input would be appreciated.

Another worry I have is about my novel-in-progress, Padma. The main character differs from me in many ways, but mostly she comes from a racial/cultural background — specifically, she is biracial (half white and half Indian) from India, though she was born in the US and came back at the age of 11, and has little knowledge or experience with her native culture; little enough so that when supernatural entities from Indian mythology show up, she doesn’t recognize them.

I would appreciate as many thoughts and comments as possible. If you could, please comment on this blog entry directly. I’m still on my social media hiatus, and may not see what you have to say if you say it on Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks!

Edited: It was pointed out to me that I misused the Twitter hashtag that I had included earlier. It’s been removed.

What My Lungs Have Been Up To (Etc.)

They told me I would probably grow out of my asthma.

They were wrong.

It’s true that my asthma is much better now than it was when I was an adolescent. Far gone are the days when I was swinging by the emergency room once or twice or three times a year to get a shot of epinephrine or a nebulizer treatment, but I’m still under the care of a pulmonologist, and my asthma is still a thing.

Almost a year ago, my asthma was acting up so severely and frequently that my pulmonologist and I decided to try a treatment called “bronchial thermoplasty“. I’ll go into the details of bronchial thermoplasty (BT) in another post; suffice to say, heat is applied directly to the lung tissues in order to reduce the bronchial inflammation that causes asthma.

I count the BT as a success. Although my peak flow rate hasn’t really changed that much, nor have my spirometry results, I’ve had a lot fewer flare-ups, and I haven’t had to go on Prednisone since the treatment concluded back in November.

Recently, though, I have been experiencing a flare-up. I’m chalking it up to the heat and the air quality (the air in Sacramento has been pretty chunky of late). I’ve increased the dosage of my Advair, and that has helped. But if this doesn’t clear up significantly by next week, I’ll start taking the Prednisone.

To be clear, the BT is not a “cure” for asthma, and was never advertised as such. In cases like mine, the asthma is basically a permanent state of affairs, although it can be well-managed. And what with improvements in drugs and so on (including the advent of treatments like BT), that management is getting much better. All that’s left to do are to make the lifestyle changes that my pulmonologist has been pushing on me for years now. Turns out I’m lousy at that.


In other news…

I’m still on my social media hiatus. I poked into Twitter today just to see what was going on, and I couldn’t make it past a few posts without getting anxious. Turns out Trump is still awful, and Twitter is still a tool for amplifying and echoing his awfulness, even among his opponents. Trump Tweets something foul, and gets retweeted, with pugnacious commentary, by everyone. Trump makes me anxious, and Twitter, therefore, makes me anxious as well. So I think I’m going to stay off Twitter for awhile longer.

Facebook is less problematic. I have logged in there a couple of times to check out what’s happening with my family and a few close friends, all while avoiding the politics. I don’t mind pictures of food or baby stories; on the contrary, I like those posts. Life is full of mundanities. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged, if not celebrated? Still, Facebook can be a time sink, and right now I need that time to work on my writing.

I did start up an Instagram account, but that is almost exclusively to keep up with my wife’s cat pictures. So far I haven’t posted anything myself.

Also, I’ve switched my blog back to its former theme. At some point I will sit down and customize my site and WordPress installation entirely. But, again, that will take time. So for now, enjoy the default theme from 2014.