So, I haven’t talked much about this yet, but I think it’s time, so here goes. I was informed two weeks ago yesterday (Friday, April 29) that my job is being eliminated, as of the end of June. The school district that I work for is losing some of its Title II funding, which they use to pay for student services. They went around and around to figure out how to cut, and finally decided somebody had to go.
As for why they chose me, I was told, “Last in, first out”. I had been under the impression that my position was actually fairly important. But whatever. They have what sounds like a reasonable plan for divvying up my duties among other people, so it couldn’t have been that crucial.
I’ve been offered my previous job back, as a library assistant at one of the junior high schools, and I can even take over at the other junior high and double my hours. It’s only part-time, and at lower pay, so overall I’ll be getting about a third what I am now. And, oh yeah, it won’t start until school starts again at the end of August, so I’ll be unemployed over the summer. I’m taking it anyway, of course; if nothing else, it’s at least somewhat related to my library degree.
I have serious mixed feelings about this. I haven’t been all that happy in the job, because it’s been so far removed from my experience and interests. But the money has helped. Now I get to go back to the seemingly endless begging of various agencies and companies for even the slightest notice. It was frustrating and depressing before, and I’m not expecting anything different this go-round.
On the gripping hand, however, I have a bit more experience than before, both in libraries and in databases. And the economy is doing marginally better. So I may have somewhat better chances this time. We will see.
(Please note that I’m trying really hard not to give in to despair and pessimism. How long this will last is yet to be determined.)
So, the bloom is definitely off the rose as far as my new Windows 8 laptop is concerned.
I overestimated my ability to tolerate the changes in the interface. I thought that I would be fine as long as I simply treated the Start Screen as an overpowered Start Menu (which is what it is, internally). But it turns out that everything the user-interface experts have said was correct: Switching between the Desktop, where I spend most of my time, and the Start Screen, where so much of the navigation is, is just too jarring a transition.
It annoyed me. If you’re a piece of technology, you do not want to annoy me.
And it didn’t help that there was no reason for me to go to the Start Screen at all, really, except for a few casual games. All the other Windows 8 not-Metro apps – at least all the ones I’ve seen – suck.
And there’s far, far too much emphasis on touch, without any valid reason for it. Sorry, Microsoft, but like everyone is telling you, nobody wants touch on a desktop or laptop. When I’m at my computer, trying to get actual work done, I don’t want to take my hands off the keyboard for even a second.
Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft isn’t getting the hint. Everything about the recently leaked update, Windows Blue, shows them not retreating, but doubling down. Microsoft apparently is convinced that touch is the future, on every possible piece of technology, and nothing will convince them otherwise.
Maybe the recent IDC report showing a 14% drop in PC sales this year, and squarely blaming Windows 8 for the decline, will have some impact. If nothing else, the computer manufacturers are probably screaming at Ballmer right now to change course. Who knows if that’ll actually change anything about his strategy.
But meanwhile, here in the real world, I need to get work done.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few days looking, yet again, at Linux, and, yet again, backing away. For now. I realize that there’s really not a lot that I do that I couldn’t do in Linux, but those few (games, making music) are keeping me from making the switch. I’m also not quite ready to deal with the added complexity. After 25 years of using Microsoft, and 20 years of Windows, a lot of my old skills have atrophied, and I’m not ready to relearn it all at a moment’s notice.
So, instead of a full-on shift, I’m opting for a far more gradual transition. On this laptop, I now have StartIsBack, one of several utilities that aim to restore the Start Button and Start Menu to Windows 8. It’s working quite nicely. Now it looks and feels exactly like it did in Win7 – with the added bonus that I can now control when and how the Start Screen appears (I’m opting for never, unless I’m specifically running a Win8 app), as well as what goes on in the screen’s edges and corners.
Now my laptop behaves almost exactly like Win7, while keeping the various performance enhancements (which are many, don’t get me wrong; Win8 is significantly faster and more efficient on many levels). My laptop is now useful and enjoyable.
But I’m also beginning to plot a long-term transition to wean myself off of Microsoft – probably to Linux, though Mac is a remote possibility. Partly this is to give me time to learn what I need to to be productive on Linux. But I’m also expecting that, with Microsoft apparently intent on imploding, there will be an opportunity for Linux to finally become established as a widespread desktop alternative. There’s really nowhere else for Microsoft users to go. And that means the various Linux distros will be stepping up their game on usability, and more software will become available.
We’ll see what happens. It’s exciting times, and I can’t say that I’m not pleased to see Microsoft finally start to fall apart. I just wish it didn’t impact me as much as it does.
I’ve been fairly devastated today by news of the death of Roger Ebert. He was a film critic, yes, but also so much more.
I started watching him and Gene Siskel on At the Movies, something like 25 years ago. At first, it was just to get previews of what was coming to the theaters. But as I kept watching, I was pulled in by these guys and their obvious love of this art form–their encyclopedic knowledge, their openness to even the most low-budget, amateurish productions, their ability to move effortlessly from highbrow to lowbrow. And, above all, their eagerness to find something, anything positive to say about even the most godawful film.
It’s not too much to say that Siskel and Ebert opened up my mind not just to film criticism, but to the larger world of art appreciation. They showed me that there was more to the world of movies than simple entertainment; there was history, and technology, and a million different types of artistic expresssion. I’ve said for years that movies are the ultimate art form, because they combine all the others into one. That realization began with Siskel and Ebert.
And then, there was the writing–so many glorious words, about film and everything else in life.
I was saddened when Gene Siskel died. But it didn’t affect me nearly as much as Ebert’s passing, because Ebert, I think, was by far a better writer. He seemed so much more open, more accessible. If Siskel had lived longer, I doubt that he would have made as much of a splash with blogging as Ebert eventually did. He was every bit as smart and knowledgeable, I have no doubt. But Ebert had more passion, and was better able to convey it to all of his readers.
Like so many of us, I’ve followed the course of Roger’s illness over the last decade. It would have been a great tragedy–this great critic silenced by cancer. Except that he refused to be silenced. He may have lost his physical voice, but that only spurred him to write more–and he became one of the greatest writers on the Internet, sharing his life and his many loves with anyone who cared to click on the link.
Movies, books, politics, cooking (even after he was unable to eat), history, all these things he wrote about, with love and respect. He was a man who lived, above all else, and who freely shared his love of life and everything in it.
After I learned of his death, I went straight to the bookstore and bought his memoir, Life Itself. I had been meaning to read it for some time but had been putting it off. Now I have it, and I’m looking forward to one last visit with him.
I never met him, nor communicated with him beyond a few tweets and blog comments. (I seem to remember him responding directly to something, but I can’t find it.) But he was a major influence, and I’m terribly sorry to see him go. He may not have been concerned with death, but I and many others will be mourning him for a long time.
And now, in his honor, I think I’m going to go watch Citizen Kane, with his commentary. I’ve heard it before, but I can’t think of a better tribute.
Thank you, sir.
What do you know. The other day I changed my mind about serializing Labyrinths, my 2009 NaNoWriMo book. At the time, I wrote about my reasons why, which were mostly about my continued faith in the traditional publishing model.
Now, just this morning, author Charles Stross has weighed in about his reasons not to self-publish, and he mostly goes into the economic aspects–specifically, that he wants to spend his time writing, not editing or marketing or accounting. All of which is relevant and influenced me in my choice, but weren’t the main reasons.
So. With that, we have artistic, ideological and business reasons for me not to self-publish. And, on my own, I continue to feel that this was the right decision.
So, when I wrote the other day that I had decided to serialize my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel Labyrinths, I didn’t go into all the thought that influenced the decision. As it turned out, though, things weren’t as settled as I had believed, and I’ve now changed my mind. Some explanation might be in order.
First, I’ve been intimidated and frustrated by the traditional publishing process for some time–this despite not having nearly enough experience dealing with it to make a fair assessment of its value. Like most people who seriously think they might someday be published, I’ve done enough of my homework to know what the odds are. I know how difficult it is to get the attention of a publisher–how much work and how much time it takes to get out of the slush pile and into the hands of an editor who can fairly judge the work. And, like so many, I’ve found myself wishing and hoping for some way around this.
And so, despite my own bias against self-publication, I began to look at it seriously–both online and via ebooks–as a way of simply attracting attention. True, some people have done quite well financially, and I’ll admit that I was craving some of that action. But the real reason was because I wanted people to be reading me, dammit, and if it took an end-run around the traditional hurdles of editor and publisher, well, that was how it was going to have to be.
But. There’s still that internal bias. When I started writing reviews, I learned right away that I really didn’t want to read self-published books, because unfortunately, the majority of them are abysmal. The stereotype–that people self-publish because they couldn’t get their book past an editor–is there for a reason. (This does not apply to all self-published writers, of course.)
There’s also the issue of editing, formatting, cover art, promotion, advertising. (Okay, five issues.) All of these are things that you get with a traditional publisher, because it’s in their interest to have an attractive product and to make sure people are aware of it. If I did the ebook myself, I’d be on my own for all of that–and, in the end, I’m just not entrepreneurial enough to do that sort of thing competently.
And last, but definitely not least, when I started rereading and reworking Labyrinths in preparation for serializing it, I realized something amazing–it’s actually pretty good. Not great, and not terribly original, but it’s better than several first novels I’ve read by people who later became major names.
And it’s too good, I think, for me to waste it on this site, or in a self-published ebook that may get read but probably won’t.
So, yes, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to serialize Labyrinths. Instead, I’m going to expand it. Get it up to around 60-70K words, more in line with what publishers traditionally want for a short novel. And then I’m going to start submitting it.
Because, in the end, I still believe in the traditional publishing model. Yes, it’s a huge pain in the ass for everyone involved (including the publishers themselves, who have to wade through the literal tons of junk they get sent). But that process is necessary, at least if you’re going after a wide audience. It’s worked for centuries, and the majority of books still get published that way, so it must have some value.
Of course, this means it’ll be quite awhile before you get to read it. Sorry about that. But there’ll be more of it. Hopefully that makes up for the delay.
In the meantime, I have more stories to get cracking on.
I’m got a bit of a special event coming up here at the site. I’ve decided to serialize Labyrinths, the novel I wrote in 2009 for National Novel Writing Month.
In case you didn’t know: NaNoWriMo (as its devotees affectionately call it) is an annual event, held in November, wherein people pledge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It’s not a contest; there are no prizes other than the satisfaction of having done the job. And nobody in the organization is interested in actually reading your book. All they do is provide advice, forums where people encourage and help each other, and an online tool to verify the word count.
And, yes, people actually do this–tens of thousands every year, in fact.
Why? Because it’s good to challenge yourself to do something that you’ve always wanted to do but never thought you would. And novel-writing in particular has a reputation for being fiendishly difficult. In reality, it’s rather easy to write; all you really need is motivation. For some reason, the completely arbitrary 50K-word minimum and 30-day deadline work really well for motivating people to bang out that book they’ve always wanted to write.
Some quick math will tell you that 50,000 words in 30 days averages out to 1,667 words per day. This is a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not at all impossible, even if you’re working full-time–which I was the first time I did it, in 2005. My second time, in 2009, I was in graduate school, working on my library degree. Both times included big Thanksgiving vacations. And I still pulled them off without any real trouble. So, believe it or not, it can be done.
And it can be done well. My first NaNoWriMo book, Best Intentions, really wasn’t very good; about the best thing that can be said about it is that there might be an okay novella in it somewhere. Among other sins, I spend far too much time describing the characters’ meals. (And in once place, I padded my word count with a detailed explanation of fMRI.)
But the second, Labyrinths, may be the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s a space opera, in which a survey ship answers another ship’s distress call to find a strangely abandoned ship and an uninhabited planet with an ancient tower–a tower that conceals an artifact of immense power.
I’ve been rereading it lately, for the first time since I wrote it, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that. Yes, there are times when it reads like the Star Trek ripoff it started as. But there are other times when it reads like a classic space opera from the Fifties or Sixties–but with some very modern scientific and spiritual insights. I like it.
And I’m also just as impressed as I was before with one of my main characters, Captain Hayashi Mariko. Authors sometimes say that a character can “come to life” and surprise its creator by speaking or acting differently than expected. Captain Hayashi was the first, and so far only, character I’ve written who did that, in a long talk halfway through the book. I was pleasantly surprised then, and I’m rather proud now.
So, I decided recently, why not share this thing and see if anyone likes it?
I’m now doing some minor editing in preparation, mostly fixing typos–though I’m also trying to make it just a little less Trek-y. I’ve also broken it up into fifteen parts of varying lengths. Sometime in the next few days I’ll start posting them here, one installment every couple of days. I may also offer an ebook; we’ll see if there’s enough interest to justify it.
So watch this space. Quite soon, we’ll be embarking on an adventure, you and I. Who knows where it will lead?
I bought a new computer a couple of weeks ago, an ASUS x202e laptop.
I’d been growing increasingly dissatisfied with my cherry-red netbook. Despite its portability, it’s always been just a little too underpowered to do everything I need to do; and putting Linux on it didn’t help much, because it reduced its compatibility with a lot of tools that I need. It still works okay as a straight writing machine, but not for much of anything else. This was finally brought home when I tried to take it to a training in Sacramento for my work, and found it to be impossible to run our Web-based analytics software on it–because it’s written in Silverlight, for which there is currently no Linux equivalent. Damn you, Microsoft.
Of course, I could rant and rave about the idiocy of writing anything at all in Silverlight rather than HTML5 (a conversion is in the works, but at least a couple of years off). Or I could wallow in despair at having a job that exposes me to such monstrosities. But it is what it is, and it must be dealt with. And so, this was the final straw pushing me to find a replacement.
One small problem, though: I had vowed never to let Windows 8 touch any system of mine. (Yes, I know, I said the same thing about XP and Vista. Shut up.) And yet, I had waited too long; it was almost impossible to find a new laptop without Windows 8. Especially since I really wanted an ultrabook; I was sick of heavy, clunky laptops that always felt like I was carrying around an anvil.
I spent some time looking at the rapidly dwindling options for getting a laptop with Win7 preinstalled, and found them wanting. I spent more time looking at possibilities for getting a newer machine and then downgrading to 7, and decided against it, mainly because of driver issues. And finally, I considered various Linux possibilities–but that just led to the same problem as before.
(Before you ask: no, I never seriously considered Macs. The Macbook Air is a lovely piece of technology. But, as always with the works of Apple, a comparable product can usually be had for significantly less. Not to mention the whole massive pain in the ass of moving to an entirely new software ecosystem, while still keeping Windows on the desktop.)
So, most reluctantly, I wandered into Best Buy to take a look at what was out there, knowing that I’d probably be repelled by Win8.
…astonishingly, it didn’t suck. Not at all.
Oh, the Start Screen was bizarre at first, until I realized that it’s really just the Start Menu on steroids. Search and the various settings are in strange new places, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to it. And some of the decisions, like the Charms Bar, actually made some sense, particularly on machines with touchscreens.
And it’s fast. Not a small consideration. And some of the machines on offer were actually quite nice as well.
So, embarrassingly, I ended up doing a complete 180, right there in Best Buy. I went from refusing to even touch a Win8 device to wanting to buy one right away.
And so I did. Though not at Best Buy. I selected a few machines there to look at more closely, then went looking for them on Amazon. And I ended up buying a slightly higher-powered cousin of one of those.
I’m writing this on it right now. It has a touchscreen, which I use in conjunction with the keyboard and touchpad. It’s comfortable. It’s fast. It’s pretty–the case is brushed aluminum, which is unusual at this price point, and has a faint purplish tone to it.
Win8 is highly customizable, so I can set it up just how I like to work. And, while Microsoft’s stuff is clearly favored, it’s given me no trouble with any of the many third-party tools I use.
And, I have to admit, a lot of the Windows 8 apps that I’ve looked at are quite nice, particularly casual games. (I’ve quickly become addicted to TapTiles.) More elaborate programs don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense; for instance, the Evernote app, while pretty, is slow and not all that intuitive. No reason to use it when I spend most of my time in the desktop anyway and can use the traditional application there. The Live Tiles are annoying to me, but can be easily turned off.
The contrast between the Start Screen and the desktop is a little jarring, and I can see how many users would find it confusing and alien. Like I said, the key, IMHO, is to treat it as you would the Start Menu in Win7–with the added ability to run lightweight apps right there inside it. All the other capabilities, at least the ones that are most important, are just a swipe away in the Charms Bar. Anything else can be either pinned to the desktop taskbar or turned into a Start Screen tile.
So, yeah, I’m okay with this. It’s working for me–and I haven’t even installed any of the Start Menu replacements like Start8. I do wonder how easy Win8 would be to use without a touchscreen, but I’m not planning to find out. I’m keeping Win7 on my desktop machine for the foreseeable future.
And as for Saffron, she’s been largely decommissioned. I think she’ll end up being a travel computer. Whenever I get to go out of the country, she’ll be the machine I take to get to my stuff in the cloud–and avoid risking my data with the Neandertals in U.S. Customs.
Oh. Saffron? That’s the cherry-red netbook. We name our computers after Firefly characters. My homebuilt desktop machine is River, because it’s small, dark, and powerful. The netbook was Saffron because it was a cute redhead that I never quite trusted. My sweetie’s machine is Kaylee, because, well, Kaylee is awesome.
And the new ultrabook? Inara.
Because it’s beautiful.
Two days ago, my sweetie and I went to the City (in the Haight, in fact), to see SF writer Cory Doctorow at the Booksmith. He was near the beginning of a book tour for his new book Homeland. This was my third time meeting him, and her second; and, as usual, he did not disappoint.
Doctorow is an interesting writer, not because he has a firm grasp of the essentials of science fiction storytelling (although he does), nor because he’s outrageously talented (although he is), but because he’s the only example I can come up with offhand of a writer using science fiction as a tool for political activism. Doctorow is a major voice in online civil liberties–copyright reform, Internet censorship, user privacy, and the like–and for years now, he’s been using his fiction to educate the public about these issues.
Example: Little Brother, probably his most famous book, tells the story of a teenage hacker and his friends who, after a terrorist attack in San Francisco, are mistakenly detained and accused of being involved, and after their release, use new and emerging technologies to counter the government’s increasing attacks on civil liberties. The book contains a variety of details about the workings of darknets, cryptography, countersurveillance, and other Things The Government Doesn’t Want You To Do–all set against a well-crafted coming-of-age story. And the kicker is, it’s a Young-Adult book, explicitly aimed at those who most need to see how our society works, and how they can preserve their rights as they enter it.
Needless to say, Little Brother is highly subversive–possibly the most provocative YA book I’ve ever encountered. I’m honestly surprised that there hasn’t been more of an outcry against it. My best guess is that the powers-that-be just don’t pay much attention to SF or YA literature, and so they haven’t noticed. (Hell, there’s a sex scene in it, and even that hasn’t sparked a backlash. It’s not particularly explicit, but still.)
Doctorow has written other books along these lines, of course. For example, Pirate Cinema deals with the media, particularly the increasingly frantic efforts of big media companies to lock down their “content” from those who might want to share it with family and friends. Makers looks at the Maker movement and its possible impact on the economy, as DIY tools–3D printing in particular–do for traditional industries what file-sharing has done for music. And For the Win is about economics and labor organizing within online multiplayer games.
Doctorow has written a number of nonpolitical works, and those are mostly excellent. But his activist science fiction has the potential to be literally revolutionary.
Which brings us to his new book, Homeland. This is the sequel to Little Brother, in which the protagonist finds himself trying to navigate the explosive world of 21st-century American politics–and, in particular, trying to balance his underground values with a newly acquired mainstream respectability. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Interestingly, the appearance turned out to be rather different than we had expected it to be. We were expecting your basic author reading. What we didn’t consider was Doctorow’s importance in these various civil-liberties subcultures. Quite a few prominent figures from these groups were there, and there even appeared to be some unofficial sponsorship from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. So, instead of a reading, we ended up getting a talk and discussion of these issues. Doctorow recounted the history of these struggles; talked about current legislation and litigation in these areas, and the impact they may have; and gave a moving tribute to his friend, the recently deceased activist Aaron Swartz. The Q&A afterward was lively and stimulating, with excellent questions from even the youngest people in the crowd.
So, all in all, it was an excellent gathering, and much more than just a reading. (My sweetie and I had actually voted for a reading at the start, but we appeared to be the only ones. That was okay, though; what we got was far more important.) It was a pleasure to see Cory again, and to be involved in a public discussion of these kinds of issues.
Not to mention visiting the Booksmith for the first time–wonderful store–and getting to visit the Haight again for the first time in years. So, a splendid time was had by all. Now, all I need to do is find time to read the books I got.
Thanks, Cory. See you next time.
So, it’s become painfully clear to me recently that I need a new laptop. My current portable computing solution, a Gateway netbook running Bodhi Linux, works decently as a writing machine, but not for doing anything more complex than websurfing.
The tension has been building over the last year or so, but the situations was brought home to me recently when I took it to Sacramento for a workshop on the software we use at my work. I was able to take notes, no problem. But when it came time to actually try to use the software, I couldn’t do it. Why? Because the system runs on Silverlight, and there is no open-source clone of Silverlight that I could get running on the netbook. Dang Microsoft. (Yes, I know about Moonlight. I couldn’t get it working. So shut up.)
This, plus a bunch of other recent frustrations, have convinced me that the time has come to enter the laptop market. But there was a problem: Windows 8.
See, I had vowed that Windows 8 would never touch any machine of mine. Since this was the same vow that I had taken with XP, Vista, and Windows 7, I should have hedged. But I honestly thought that I was ready to make the jump to Linux that I’ve been talking about for over a decade. After all, the tech press has been inundated with articles critical of Windows 8 ever since the first developer previews appeared almost a year ago.
The problem is, as always, that there’s just too much software that I rely on that only runs on Windows. And I couldn’t find suitable Linux replacements for most of it. So, of course, I spent a hell of a lot of time looking at what few Windows 7 laptops are still available–which is to say, not a lot.
Therefore, after much tortured hemming and hawing, I found myself this evening at Best Buy, looking at Windows 8 laptops and wondering if I could really tolerate Windows 8. If nothing else, I reasoned, I could get third-party application to restore the Start Menu and to boot into the Desktop.
I found a decent-looking machine and started playing with Windows 8. And…
…it didn’t suck.
It was actually usable. Many of the design decisions actually made sense. It was fast, noticeably faster than Windows 7. And the Metro (sorry, Modern) interface was not nearly as annoying as I expected–although I would want to carefully arrange it so that my most-used programs are easily accessible.
And I would probably still want a desktop/laptop machine to boot directly to the Desktop. Because I remain unconvinced that the Metro (whoops, Modern) interface makes any sense at all for a traditional keyboard/mouse setup. (Oh, and while the hot corners make some sense for a single screen, I have no idea how it would work with dual- or triple-monitor setups, which I expect to have in the near future.)
So, overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I think I could live with it. Except for the lack of a Start Menu, the Desktop seems to work more or less identically with Windows 7. I’m still not sure if the Start Screen is going to be a useful replacement for the Start Menu, long-term. But from what I can see, it’s not completely braindead.
And, as I expected, Windows 8 is a lovely tablet OS. If I were looking only for a tablet, I might have to give it a careful look. I did check out a couple of Surface models, and they seemed to work well. (I have to admit, it was very cool to see a full-blown Windows system running on a tablet.)
But what I’m looking for is a laptop. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, I still believe that desktops and laptops are a fundamentally different beast from tablets, and it doesn’t make sense to have one system for both. There’s a good reason that Apple hasn’t combined OS X with iOS.
Overall, though, the Windows 8 systems I saw were surprisingly usable–even pleasant. Nobody is more surprised by this than I.
I didn’t buy a laptop tonight. But the range of systems I’m looking at just got a lot broader.
So, things are already beginning to develop in interesting directions in the New Year. I promised myself that 2013 would be a year of positive changes, and so far it’s looking like that might actually pan out.
There have been three major threads to this. The first is that I’m finally starting to get serious about writing, but in an unexpected direction–reviewing. I’ve revived last year’s brief relationship with The Future Fire, and in the last couple of weeks I’ve had two reviews published–one of an Indian SF magazine called, logically enough, Indian SF, and the other of a marvelous short zombie movie called 2 Hours.
I’m not getting paid for these. But I am learning to get stuff past an editor and in front of eyeballs. With any luck, I’ll eventually be able to take these to somebody who will pay me.
And, in addition to this, I’m still working on my fiction writing. My current story–an alternate history set in a California where the American Revolution never happened–is chugging along, and I have several other ideas in the pipeline. I’m still resolved to get something published by the end of the year.
The second thing I’m doing–also rather unexpected–is, after many years, I’m finally getting back into making music–on actual instruments, as opposed to putting notes together on a computer screen. My cheap-but-nice Squier acoustic guitar is getting some attention at last, and I also bought a ukulele on impulse while in Gualala a few months ago. I’m learning to play both, and enjoying it immensely–I’ve even made a couple of feeble tries at writing actual songs.
It would be safe to assume that I’ll have some music online in the not-too-distant future. In case you care.
Third, as a result of the two items above, I’m very deliberately setting aside some of my other hobbies. Learning Chinese, for instance. It’s fascinating, but I can’t devote the time that it would take to become proficient–particularly when there’s not the potential for immediate reward that writing and music are presenting. Same goes for painting, which I had been looking at restarting but never found the space for.
So, all of this is positive, and I’m excited about where it might go. Now, all I need to do is kick myself in the ass to keep doing it.