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The First Quarter (b. 1/2014 – d. 3/2014)

Writing 150I’m sure today there are going to be a lot of blog posts from alternate universes where people say the exact opposite of the things they normally stand for, and that’s fine. Major internet companies have actually gotten really clever with their April Fool’s Day pranks, and I’m looking forward to seeing and sharing the best ones. I have a bit of a tin ear for pranks myself, though — I either come across as too pointed and/or mean or too strange to evoke anything other than confusion. I’ll leave the actual pranking to the experts until I come up with something awesome enough to pull off. You’ll simply have to put up with earnest navel-gazing from me today instead.

The first three months of 2014 are in the record books, and I haven’t really done a whole hell of a lot with them to be honest. I’ve been struggling in the quicksand of more ambition and less willpower for some time now, and my scattershot approach to my goals has been my undoing. At the time of this writing, I haven’t finished any short stories so far this year; I’ve run two or three Pathfinder games; and I haven’t been updating the blog as often as I should (three times a week). I’m saying this not to rub my face in my failure or anything — I just want to take stock of how far away my productivity has been from my goals.

So what gives? Pretty sure it’s the same problem as always — making plans to do something is not the same thing as actually doing something. When the appointed time comes to work on my game, or a short story, or a blog entry, or exercise, or eat well, there’s the crushing weight of Resistance aiming to stop me from doing the things I know I should be doing. Work has been too exhausting, and our TiVo has piled up, so it’d be easier to nuke a dinner and catch up on a TV show or two. Or I’ll actually write something and hate what I’ve done, scrapping it as soon as I’ve taken a look at it. Or the fear of the blank page consumes me to the point that I simply give and read what someone else has written instead.

On a high level, I’ve come up with a number of solutions for this. The difficulty arises when I’m trying to tie that mindset to individual, small moments. My toolbox for combating fatigue or fear or apathy in the moment is astonishingly bare, and that’s something I’ll need to deal with.

I need to turn my home into a place where productivity and creativity is welcome and expected. I’ve been trying to change my personal space so that it’s more comfortable and I’ll actually want to sit down there and bang something out; that means clearing clutter, making sure there’s a system in place so that clutter doesn’t appear again, making sure that my computer desk has the peripheries needed to make sure I have as few excuses as possible to write.

Progress is there, but it’s slow. I realize that in a very big way I’m going around in circles, identifying the problem, putting a solution in place, failing again and again. And perhaps I’m simply too close to the situation to see what’s really going on. Either way, it’s very frustrating to feel that need to write so strongly that I can’t turn it off, but not strongly enough to push through all the obstacles in my way.

At any rate, I’ve fallen off the wagon for the month of March, and now it’s time to get back on again. Hopefully I can stick to the plan a bit more closely and develop more discipline so that it’ll be a while before I have to set things down again. I’d like to write two short stories this month, make sure there’s a lot on the Writing Desk for you nice folks to read, have my Pathfinder game sketched out well in advance and work on clearing away distractions and obstacles to writing regularly, eating healthy and exercising. This month, it’s back to basics. I’m rededicating myself to the things I find important. Again.

 
 

The Writing Desk Mission Statement

I fell in love with stories as soon as I learned how to read them. As I was growing up, most of time after school was spent in the library looking for books that would catch my interest. There were a lot of authors I fell in love with immediately: Kenneth Grahame, Anne McCaffrey, C.S. Lewis, Robert C. O’Brien. Like most kids my age television was a really big influence too, and I remember Nickelodeon back during its salad days of Special Delivery, David the Gnome and its anime versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I lived and breathed fantasy, and it didn’t matter what flavor it came in. If there was a comic book lying around, I read that. If there was a novel that caught my eye, I read that. If there was a TV show that I really loved, I tuned in every week. I grew up with a brain choked in a haze of stories.

The next step from being a voracious reader is becoming an aspiring writer, and I jumped into it with an electric typewriter and a desire to write a sequel to The Wind in the Willows. It never did take off, but I kept at it. I developed all kinds of games and stories, spin-offs of cartoons I loved and imagined tales of bit characters that I had been fascinated with. I told my sister really vulgar bedtime stories every night. I played pretend with the neighbor’s kids for far longer than I probably should have. And as I grew older, that desire to tell stories branched out into other areas. I discovered tabletop role-playing games in high school, as well as MUCKs, MUDs and MUSHes. I fell in love with theatre and poetry in college, and learned to play around with what those could do. Formalized vocal storytelling became a brief passion after I dropped out of college, and over time I’ve come to incorporate all of it. To me there’s no wrong way to tell a story — you can play Dungeons and Dragons, write short stories, act in a play, speak around the campfire, or write screenplays. It’s all fascinating in its own way. I love them all.

Stories are so much more than mere entertainment. By paying attention to the kinds of stories we tell and love, or the character types that come into fashion, or the genres that suddenly permeate the public’s consciousness, we discover things about ourselves that it would be difficult to find out any other way. Stories give us an outlet to talk about things we would find too painful otherwise, allow us to express truths we’d find hokey or shallow if spoken outright. They’re a mechanism we use for revealing and reaffirming who we are. It’s difficult to point at the direct influence they have, but it’s impossible to deny otherwise.

I’d like to use this blog to deconstruct and examine stories and the effect they have on us, from a variety of angles. I’ll talk about the stories I attempt to tell, the difficulties I have putting them together, and my thoughts on stories that affect me and seem to be affecting the society I live in. I want to take a look at our modern myths, the fictions we weave about our history, our present and our being. Stories can be a means to understanding our world, but they can also be our means of hiding from it too. Like any tool, we can use them for good or for ill.

This blog won’t be quite so lofty much of the time, I suspect — I just wanted to write up something that sounds impressive so I can talk about the stories I love and/or create. Role-playing games, TV shows, movies, books and comics are all fair game here, and I’ll be talking about it all. I’d love for you guys to join in the discussion as well; I’d love some help in solidifying and refining my theories or having my opinions refuted and debated. With respect, of course. While most people think of pop/geek culture as little more than a confection, I think that there are many deeper things that could be explored. I’d like to look at those together!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in meta