Category Archives: Self Absorbed Whining

Where I moan and groan about how awful my life is.

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?

On Project Abandonment

This is the album I’m currently listening to:

Cosmosalbumcover

It’s The Music of Cosmos, the soundtrack for Carl Sagan’s masterful PBS series from the early 80s. It’s got music by Vangelis, J. S. Bach, Leopold Stokowski, and so on. It’s tremendously meditative, and back when I was in high school I listened to this album obsessively, over and over again, frequently while sitting in the dark or out walking at night.

Back then, inspired by Sagan, I was going to be a scientist of some sort. I wasn’t quite sure what sort, though, because Cosmos covered just about everything there was to cover, from the evolution of humanity to the distant reaches of the Universe, and the idea of focusing on just one field felt a little confining. I decided, when it was time to go to college, that I would stick with the field I was good at, which was biology.

All this time I was writing, as well. I wrote some science fiction, some fantasy, and some stories about a detective named Fizziwinker (no, I have no idea where that name came from, what it means, or whether or not Fizziwinker had any other name besides Fizziwinker). But I was a big fan of Cosmos, and of science in general, and I had this idea round about my senior year of high school that I would write a book about science. Not just about science, you see, but Science (with a capital S). It was going to be all about the history and philosophy of science, and more: an exploration not just of those topics, but also of what it means to be human, and our place in the Universe. It was going to be called The Neverending Symphony, which I thought at the time was a grand title (it is now the title of a series of video games, I believe).

In college, I put away this idea, figuring (a) I was too busy studying biology and then philosophy to get anything like this written, or (b) I was too busy playing Dungeons and Dragons to get anything like this written. But in the 90s, after I graduated college, I resurrected the idea. Briefly. I couldn’t be a scientist — as a guy who graduated from college with a Philosophy degree and a GPA just below 3.0, that road seemed closed to me. But I could still write about science, and I could still inject that book about science with all the philosophy I had just learned. I could still write my Neverending Symphony.

But I didn’t. In fact, I never really got anywhere with that project beyond putting together a mix tape of music that sort of put me in the same mood as the Cosmos soundtrack. I also had no idea how to go about writing such a grand project.

There’s still a part of me, though, that thinks that perhaps I could pull this off. After all, if linguist/funny writer Bill Bryson could write A Short History of Nearly Everything, then perhaps I can write The Neverending Symphony. It would take a LOT of research, basically a second liberal arts education, in the arts, humanities, and sciences, to make it happen.

How would I even start? I have no idea.

Should I even try?

Today's Writing Whine

Another day, another rejection. It looks like my goal of making my first professional sale this year isn’t going to happen.

I currently have three active submissions at three professional markets. I need to come up with two more. Hm.

Writing Angst

I’m a crappy writer.

Every story I’ve ever written is crap. Even the ones that have been published. The editors who bought my stories were blind on the days they read my stories, or they were simply charitable. That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

My novel, The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster, is a pile of dung. It stinks. It smells. Surely my friend Terrie can smell its stench even in her home in Tokyo. Keri can smell it in Northern Ireland. It is truly foul. It’s going nowhere. The plot is limp, the characters lifeless. My use of language is abhorrent and completely uninspired.

Bleah. Barf. Yuck.

Who told me I could be a writer? Why on earth did I believe them?

I should do something more productive, with a higher chance of success. Like, maybe, collecting dust mites. I’m sure that there are plenty of different species of dust mites from all over the world. I could have the largest collection of dust mites that the world has ever seen, big enough to rival the dust mite collection at the Royal Natural History Museum in London, should they have one. I could label them with tiny little labels, and provide a microscope for the dozens of people from all over the world who would want to see them, for surely more people would be interested in viewing my dust mite collection than would ever be interested in reading the stories and novels that I inflict upon the world.

I could be a firefighter, I suppose, except my asthma would not be able to handle the smoke. Maybe a police officer, though I think I’m too old to qualify. I don’t know; I know that police departments aren’t allowed to have minimum height restrictions anymore; are they allowed to have age restrictions these days?

Truly, as a writer I sucketh.

* * *

Okay, that’s out of my system. Time to get back to writing.

Hangin'

For some reason, people often seem surprised when I tell them that I’m essentially a loner.  I mean it.  I guess I’m really good at interacting with people when I’m in social situations, but I don’t seek out such situations very often.  I love my friends dearly and I enjoy the time I have with them, but I often end up seeking out my own solitude rather than friends or family.  I don’t know why.  Sometimes I feel anxious even in front of the people I love the most, the people I know who love me the most; and sometimes my solitude is preferable to that anxiety, even though, as I said, I love my friends and family with all my heart.

I really want to emphasize this: I love my friends.  But I worry that they don’t know that because my own anxiety in front of the people I love makes me prefer my own company.  I rarely get anxious just hanging out by myself.  But why is the anxiety there?  I don’t know, but I’m working on it.  I can tell you it does annoy me, though.

So basically, it’s easy for me to go for weeks without seeing any of the friends I love, interacting only with co-workers or my wife (and sometimes if I’m working at home, only with my wife).  There were times, before I was married, when I could go for an entire weekend without interacting with anyone at all.  Strange times, those were.  Sometimes I felt like a ghost, sort of floating through the world, unable to interact at all.  I’d spend my days sitting in cafes, reading books or writing in my notebooks.

Which makes this past weekend even more great.  Saturday afternoon, Jennifer and I spent time with two close friends, Z- and E-, neither of whom I get to see as often as I’d like.  We talked, naturally, about gaming, though Z-, whose sense of humor is disturbingly similar to my own (pity her — we all do) did end up briefly on a tangent involving elephant ears. 

And this afternoon while I was at Borders in Davis working on Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster, my very good friend K- (we were best man at each other’s weddings) dropped by.  We talked for a long time, sometimes about gaming, sometimes about politics, sometimes about his adventures as an RA at the art college he attends, sometimes about other mutual friends we haven’t seen in forever.  Jennifer showed up, and we went off to Baker’s Square for dinner, then back to my house to watch Battlestar Galactica.  Afterwards, we chatted more; K- is a talented artist and brilliant storyteller, and we talked about comic books and about some of our different projects.  If you ever get a chance to hang out with K-, do so; he can tell you a story about buying socks at Wal*Mart which will have you giggling hysterically.

Gaming is something I used to do pretty regularly.  Heck, there was a five year stretch of time when I was gaming almost constantly, running my own campaigns at least twice a week and sometimes three times a week.  Pretty much always with the same people: good friends that I had grown to know and trust pretty well.  It was always stressful for me whenever a new player would enter the game: that old anxiety would rear up its ugly head, and I would be sure that the game, which had been entertaining my friends for so long, would suddenly suck big time.

I’ve pondered running a one-shot game at DunDraCon or DragonCon or some other big convention somewhere in the world, but sometimes the idea seems downright impossible.  Anxiety would eat me alive, and my own conviction of my incompetence at running such a game would just make things even worse.

On the other hand, when gaming was going well, when sessions were at their peak and the role-playing was intense, those are the times when I would feel the closest to my friends, which in a way is kind of sad.

Now that I’m pushing 40, gaming is far less a part of my life.  Most of the people I used to game with regularly have all moved away, have families, have jobs that keep them busy more than 40 hours a week; so as a result, I spend less time with my friends now than I used to.

I’ve talked before about the similarities between gaming and writing.  When you’re a GM, as I almost always was, you’re creating worlds for people to explore and interact with, much as you do as a writer.  But on the other hand, with writing, you’re not getting the immediate response you would get if you were gaming.  If I sit down to run a game session with five of my closest friends, the creative impulse is certainly fulfilled, as is the social impulse; but when I write a story or a novel, the creative impulse is fulfilled, and hundreds (ideally millions) of people will read the story; but there’s no social interaction.  So I’m forced to find other ways to interact with my friends.  Much as I love them, this can be hard for me to do.

I don’t have much of a point here.  It’s late, I’m still happy from having spent time with good friends over the weekend, and I suppose I ought to head off to bed.

Y’all have a good day now.

Oh, and attached is the song "Big Bad World, One" by Jonathan Coulton.  Pretty much expresses how I’ve too often felt.  Listen, enjoy, then give Jonathan Coulton your money.  He’s a talented and brilliant musician, and deserves it.

[audio:http://www.mossroot.com/worlds/audio/BigBadWorldOne.mp3]

And now on a whiny note

This has been a bad week.

No, scratch that.  It’s been a bad month.  Ever since we returned from Ireland, it seems that I’ve spent more time under the influence of my asthma than not.  The perpetual heat wave we’ve been experiencing in my neck of the woods (temps over 100 for almost two weeks continually now, with no lowering in sight) and the accompanying air quality has certainly not helped.  And I’ve heard tell that because of the extremely wet winter, the pollen counts in our area are skyrocketing, making my allergies act up, which causes my asthma to flare up.  My best bet has been to stay at home with the air conditioner on (because the A/C also cleans up the air a bit in addition to cooling it down), and right next to my nebulizer and all my other meds.  I’m able to work from home, fortunately, but I’m going a little stir crazy, not being able to go to the office.  My doctor has said that since all the tests for anything unusual have come back negative, there really isn’t anything to do but grin and bear it and take my medications regularly as long as my peak flows aren’t in the red.  There’s a new drug that we can try, but because it’s incredibly expensive ($15,000 per year), it’s not very likely that my insurance will cover it.

It’s all kind of bringing me down.

So this little ball of blues, encouraged by the persistent asthma, bubbled up from my psyche and started hunting around for something to focus on.  I’m already feeling sorry for myself because of the asthma (I keep reminding myself that at least I have lungs), so the meandering ball of blues had to find something else to glom onto.  Inevitably, it settled on my confidence as a writer and insinuated itself in there, a termite in the wooden structure of an imagination already overworked trying to make this analogy fit.

I feel like a wannabe.  Not as much a wannabe as someone who says that they want to be a writer but has never actually generated any words, but a wannabe nonetheless.  It does me no good to remind myself that I have five publication credits (three of them even for money).  I haven’t sold anything this year (of course, I still have six active submissions at markets I haven’t heard from yet), so the doubt is unavoidable.  And, honestly, it’s more about the quality of what I write; I look at the stories I already have published and go, “What the hell was that editor thinking?!!?”  The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster feels like nonsensical dreck, “Ghouls” feels like a cheap Dashiel Hammet ripoff with Lovecraft pastiche thrown in for pretentiousness’s sake, and none of the other ideas I have feel workable to me.

Of course, I did submit a story to a new market I heard about today anyway.  Objectively I know it’s a good story since it’s been picked up twice before, but the feelings haven’t diminished.  I guess I feel like a fraud and a wannabe more than a real writer.  A poseur.  A fake.  A phoney.  Holden Caufield would sneer at me.
I’m pressing on anyway.  When I’m done working today I’ll churn out a few words in both of my works in progress, because I know these feelings are transient and inaccurate, but still.  You know how it is, don’t you?

Interview: Neil Gaiman and Joss Wedon

My wife pointed me to this:

TIME.com: Interview: Neil Gaiman and Joss Wedon

Two of my favorite creative geniuses together on the same… er, website. I take some comfort from the fact that they’re both in their 40’s and I’m 37; on the other hand, they’ve both been working since their late teens.

What sucks about being me

The MP3 player that Jennifer gave me for my birthday last year has room for forty gigabytes worth of music; I’ve filled up about twenty-seven so far. I don’t have a lot of pop music in my collection, but my MP3 player has music from many different genres. I have about a dozen different playlists, organized thematically. For example, this morning as I drove to work I listened to my “Clooneyverse” mix, which consists of music that I put together because it reminds me of some of the different themes and stories and characters and ideas that are swimming in my head for this particular universe (which I mentioned in an earlier post). The Clooneyverse Mix has music by Emry Arthur, Angelo Badalamente, Tom Waits, Alison Krause, Iron Maiden, Switchblade Symphony, and Nine Inch Nails, among many others. It seems to be generally bluegrass and blues. Still, though, I could be listening to an old, scratching recording of Emry Arthur singing “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” (recorded digitally from an old 78 RPM recording, I think), and then a few seconds later find myself mouthing along to “Sanctified” by Nine Inch Nails. Most of the other playlists on my MP3 player have similar variety, though with different overall themes. I have a significant number of songs from different cultures around the world as well on my MP3 player. Sometimes I play my “All Over the World” mix to hear Irish, Mexican, Cajun, and African music.

I find that this kind of eclecticism is reflected on my bookshelf as well. I have my books on philosophy and theology sitting next to my history books and my science books. And while I enjoy reading horror fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, my fiction bookshelf also has novels and short stories from all kinds of folks from all over the world. One of the best books I’ve read recently was The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad, which I thought did a great job of blurring the lines between different cultural groups. Nowhere else have I seen African mythology, Muslim theology, and Star Trek all so well woven together. Or at all, come to think of it. Right now I’m heavy into a Tolkien/Lewis phase, as my friends and wife can probably attest to with some annoyance.

And I find that I’m still looking for new sounds, new ideas, new ways of thinking. I wander into a Borders bookstore and spend time darting about from section to section, looking at books in just about every section, browsing here and there, listening to different songs at all the different music stations (that’s how I found Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys as well as Kassav and Buckwheat Zydeco). At work I’m almost always logged on to Live365, thanks to the suggestion of a couple of friends, and I love finding new genres. I’ve even found a hip hop station that I enjoy, after years of insisting that I could never learn to enjoy modern hip hop.

This has been a pattern all through my life. In college, as I’ve mentioned in plenty of places, I took a major which required relatively few units for completion, so that I could take as many classes outside of that major as possible. Even so, I never managed to accrue enough units in any other field to actually get any sort of minor in anything else. And even in my high school years, with my rather limited exposure to world literature and news in my small Catholic high school, I still managed to find quite a bit.

Is all this a sign of a well-rounded, broad, expansive personality and intellect? Or an inability to focus and give serious attention to any one field for a significant period of time? Over the past few years, I’ve found my own opinion on the matter shifting from the first point of view to the second. I enjoy conversations about all kinds of topics and can hold my own pretty well and speak intelligently about world history, philosophy, technology, cosmology, mythology, religion, philosophy, and so on (I don’t mean to brag; at times, I only really know enough to ask intelligent questions). And that’s neat, but where do I go with it?

Since I graduated from college fourteen years ago, I haven’t been able to find a focus or a direction that was a suitable match with my eclectic nature. I wasn’t able to take seriously the idea of doing graduate level work in philosophy (though sometimes I wish I had), or in English (though sometimes I wish I had), or in folklore (though sometimes… well, you get the picture). I’ve had a lot of different jobs, and considered a lot of different fields. For awhile there, I was gung-ho about going into ecological engineering or conservation biology until my lack of skill in calculus was thrown painfully into my face. Even so, I decided to stick with it, take those remedial math classes, even got a job working with a hydrology professor at UC Davis doing library research and field research (I actually miss the field research; it was a lot of fun getting all muddy and collecting water samples). But then I kind of just… lost interest.

An intellectual moving on? Or an inability to focus and commit?

My work history since college has been spotty. Instead of picking a career and being able to focus on it, I’ve jumped among part-time jobs like video store clerk and barista, and doing temp work. I’ve stumbled into web development and programming, discovering to my amazement that I’m actually pretty good at it, but it’s not necessarily where I want to be for the rest of my life.

About two years ago, Jennifer showed me an article which showed that California was in danger of facing a shortage of librarians. After researching the field online, talking to as many librarians as I could track down, both online and off, and visiting a few libraries, I decided to take the plunge and start going to library school. And so far I’ve enjoyed it.

Very annoyingly, though, I’m finding my enthusiasm waning yet again. Part of it has to do with a professor I’m having some difficulties with right now, but part of it has been watching our local district librarian doing his job and seeing what he has to put up with: the issues, the politics, the management issues, and so on. I had nurtured this dream that, as a librarian, I would be surrounded by the ideas and thoughts and literature and poetry of people from around the world, and have the opportunity to peruse those ideas and meet people from cultures and countries from everywhere as well. It looks like that was more dream than reality. In addition, I’ve discovered that the job market for librarians in California is not as rosy as it once was (due to massive budget cuts), and at some point in my schooling I will have to take a practicum of some sort, which usually involves working in a library facility. Unfortunately, I like my current job a little too much to want to dump it for a practicum somewhere. I know that there are practicum opportunities that don’t involve working physically somewhere for a few months, but such opportunities are few and far between and hotly contested for.

Add to all that the fact that I’m really starting to focus on my writing, which I think is a really good thing. With the Writing Plan that I outlined in a previous entry, I feel like I can focus more on my writing than I have been able to in years. The one class I’m taking this semester — with its subject matter that I can’t really get into and the professor that I’m having trouble with — seems a lot more like a chore than a pleasure to me.

And yet, I know that if I drop out of library school, I will kick myself, hard, in years to come for having failed yet again to follow through.

There are the folks who say that every now and then we come to a crossroads in life where we have opportunities to make great changes. I think that the truth is more likely that every step we take is on a crossroads. Every moment we have the opportunity to make big changes in our lives.

Which, of course, makes it even harder to know what the right decision is.

Two Errors

Robert Bly, in his poem "Four Ways of Knowing", writes, "I usually ignore the other three / and learn by falling." Some force — God, your higher self, whatever — is out there, says Bly, and there are times when you desperately need to learn something. It starts with subtle hints: a shape in a tree, or a scent, or a snatch of overheard conversation. Then if that doesn’t work, it moves to more direct hints: "two strangers speak the same phrase in the same day." Then, dreams. Then, direct intervention. Then, if you still don’t learn, you just fall.

Some silly kid at work — because I work in a University office, there are plenty of college kids working there too — who is freshly graduated came up to me for advice today. I have no idea what possessed her to do this. She told me that she was having trouble choosing a direction for her life and asked what I thought she should do about that.

In my opinion, this is sort of on par with asking Quasimodo for cosmetic tips, or President Bush for tips on integrity. It’s kind of an exercise in futility. I didn’t say so to her face, of course, but I am not at all qualified to answer that question, so I told her that it would probably be best for her to talk to a career counselor at the University, something like that.

But upon further reflection, I think that there are definitely some pointers I’d give to people. Specifically, I’d like to go back in time and pound them into my younger self’s head. Maybe I would have gotten my act in gear and gotten something accomplished.

I don’t believe anyone when they say that they’ve always known what they want to do. I think it’s a lie, and that they are, at best, deluding themselves. I do think that each person has a purpose, though, and the means to achieve that purpose, provided that they act appropriately and take the opportunities that are given to them. That being said, here are the pointers for my younger self:

  1. First of all, if you don’t know what you want now, then do something. Even if you don’t like it. Find something to do, do it honestly and with integrity and honor and to the best of your ability. The first mistake is to not do something, and let things slip by while you just kind of wait for something to happen. If you do something — anything — then when you do find your purpose, or that spark that kindles the fire in your soul, then you can make that leap and have something to take with you. That’s the trick: you need to have something to take with you.
  2. The second point is, when you find something that you do want to do, then you have to go for it. If you’re doing something that you don’t like, and fail to go for your purpose when you discover what it is, then you’re stuck.

The first mistake is the one that I made. If you make that mistake, you run the risk of becoming a middle-aged, directionless fool without anything to take with you when you finally figure out what it is that you are meant to do, just kind of marking time. I’m not entirely sure what my purpose is, though I have a pretty good idea. It doesn’t really matter, though, because following up on it now would be an exercise in futility.

Anyway, if I could go back in time and beat some sense into my younger self, that’s the sense I’d beat into him. Me. Whatever. I never know what pronoun to use in this case.

On a more interesting note, I’ve decided to go along with Evilpheemy and send a campaign setting outline to Wizards of the Coast’s fantasy setting contest. Coming up with strange and interesting new worlds is something that I’ve always been pretty good at, even off the cuff. Putting stories in them is a bit of a challenge at times, but creating the worlds isn’t. Top prize is $120,000. There are folks, I know, who think that they could go ahead and publish their own game worlds on their own and somehow make millions, sort of like George Lucas did. I really want to know what fantasy world these people are living in. There are millions of incredibly talented and gifted visionaries out there, but while they can all inspire and stimulate, they can’t all be millionaires. $120,000 is pretty good for one solid idea. Let’s see if it pans out.

That Loop. The One Over There. The One I'm Out Of.

So the other night I had Evilpheemy, Cearalaith, and Craymore over for Session Two of "Incident at Mount Joyce", the Outer Darkness adventure that’s supposed to test the integrity of the system setting, just as much as it’s supposed to test the rules set that Evilpheemy’s come up with for the game, which we determined last night we’ve been working on for about five years at this point.

I have to admit that I was kind of discouraged that night. We didn’t really even finish making up characters, let alone actually play the game. This is frustrating to me, because I’ve been plotting out this game for months; years, actually. The campaign setting has been in development for a very long time and I’m pretty pleased with it… if only we could get the game running. I’m not entirely sure what happened… we chatted and tried to get going, but it didn’t really happen. While Evilpheemy and Cearalaith tried to work out the details of her character in the dining room, Craymore and I wandered into the living room to develop some background for his character. Then the others followed us, and the conversation just drifted into other areas. I suppose that these things happen… just the same, though, this is going to be a very difficult campaign for me to run if the pattern which has been holding so far continues: one session every eight weeks or so, and that session being an incomplete character development sesion.

My enthusiasm for the project waxes and wanes. Evipheemy’s going to be putting his part of development on hold for awhile while he gets some of his other projets up and running for Chaosium This is good. I approve. I want Evilpheemy to make this stage of his career a priority, over Outer Darkness. On the other hand, I have to admit that because I’ve always felt like I’m part of a team for this thing, it’s hard for me to put my heart into it when I’m going solo. The milieu is an interesting one, and the limits we’ve placed on it make for some interesting challenges for my creative self, but it is rather tough for me to develop fully within its constraints. To be perfectly honest, I think I’d much rather ran another Dungeons and Dragons game right now than "Incident at Mount Joyce". I’ve got an intruiging world and storyline that I developed over the summer but which I haven’t gotten to run because I was focusing on Outer Darkness.

But, then, that’s just the way I feel at the moment. It could change at any time.

Gaming used to be a very central part of my life: from my college days when I was running two simultaneous campaigns in different settings, two or three sessions a week, five or six hours at a shot (time I probably should have more productively spent planning out for some sort of career), to the days when I ran Underground Puppeteers, a Live Action Role-Playing game in Davis, elements of which are still going on (and which is as much a creation of Craymore now as it is mine — perhaps more so, since he’s actually put more work into its overall development than I have at this point). Now, though, I feel very isolated from the gaming community that used to be so central to my life. New LARPs spring up which take place in the Underground Puppeteers universe, which is kind of weird — the universe I put so much of my creative energy into evolves without me, and I sometimes get the sense that the new maintainers almost resent any input I might give into how some elements of it might develop (although I believe this universe is in very good hands, as the people who are maintaining it are brilliant and creative).

It’s not just the games, of course… I also am starting to feel cut off from the people in the gaming community, some of whom I used to be very, very close to. One in particular I used to chat with on a daily basis; that same person is graduating from college now, and I only found out about this second-hand.

I suppose these things happen, but it’s still somewhat depressing. I still love all of my friends… I just wish I had more time to spend with them.

Bah. I must just be feeling grumpy.

The job hunt is as glacial as it ever was. I’ve applied for over 150 jobs at this point without a single interview, a statistic which I find does absolute wonders for my self-esteem, the way that an iceberg did wonders for the Titanic. I’m having difficulty figuring out how to launch a freelance writing career, because of the old catch-22: people who would pay you for writing for them want to see samples of professional writing, which you won’t really get under your belt until somene pays you for writing for them. I’ll be meeting next month with a career counselor in the hopes of making my resume a bit less pathetic.

The temp job I’m in is fine. I like my co-workers, and it’s close enough to home so that I can ride my bike in, which is good. I enjoy riding my bike a lot (though there was that time, two weeks ago, when I messed up my legs badly trying to ride hard against the wind, to the point where I could barely walk without liberal dosages of ibuprofin and ice packs), but the best part is that I can park my bike without having to worry about moving it every two hours to avoid getting a parking ticket.

On another note, I did finally get to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones this past weekend. I enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed it more for its place in the overall development of the Star Wars storyline, rather than for itself as a movie. It was a decent film, much better than Episode I; the special effects were spectacular, of course, and I was thoroughly impressed with the design of the scenery in the Coruscant scenes. And I was pleased that Jar Jar Binks was mostly absent from the film, and that there were no poop jokes. But I do wish George Lucas would admit that he’s a bad scriptwriter and an uninspiring director, and let someone else handle those elements. I’d have to join the legion of nerds and fanboys who say things like, "Yeah, if I had to choose between Attack of the Clones and Spiderman, I’d go see Attack of the Clones… but I really liked Spiderman better."

That muse of mine is being recalcitrant. "Homeworld" is a difficult story for me to write, because it requires a different approach than I’m used to writing. "Mother Tsan Chan" is difficult because I have no idea what story to build around the basic plot elements. And The Troll King’s Daughter doesn’t feel ready to start yet. I set myself a goal a couple of weeks ago of writing 1,000 words per day, but I have yet to meet that goal on any of my projects.

Ah, well.

Here’s hoping that the next time I write one of these journal entries, I’ll be in a better mood.