Leaning on the Small Things

Have you ever started writing something without knowing at all where it was going? That’s what this post is.

Today (Tuesday) was my first day back at work after a 5-day vacation to a family lakehouse. Five days doesn’t seem that long, especially over an extended weekend, but it was a strange return anyway.

I’ve found it more and more difficult to let go of work. Difficult is not the right word. I look forward to letting go of work things at the end of the day. But I feel more and more guilty about it. I don’t think anyone is placing that guilt upon me, except myself.

Our lakehouse vacation was supposed to be an escape from work, from our recent spate of home improvement projects, and from the occasional monotony of semi-quarantined life.

It was all of those things, for the most part. I just had one afternoon where I selfishly decided not to spend a lot of time with my son, and it’s been bugging me. I don’t think anyone else felt I was ignoring my family, but that’s how it felt to me.

All this is adding up to the notion that I am often too hard on myself, and I have trouble letting go of little things that have more to do with my perception of myself than with my interactions with other real people.

So I spent much of today (again, Tuesday) trying not to stress over things that are either done and in the past, or completely out of my control.

Fortunately, a few things made me feel better over the course of the day:

  • a solid yoga session, which is really the only reason I can be productive for 8-10 hours a day
  • reading and chatting with my son before his bedtime
  • This song, by an incredible singer/songwriter from somewhere near DC:

I’m going to listen to this for the third or fourth time tonight and then go to bed.

Steve D

Not today

I’m not writing a real post today. I was honestly on the fence about whether to go through with my regular June Write Day post as recently as 15 minutes before actually writing this sentence.

My brain is frazzled for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the astonishing wave of police brutality on display across the US, from George Floyd’s murder through the protests over the weekend where police departments in numerous cities were actively instigating protesters to violence just so they could whip out the tear gas and batons… and rubber bullets.

Here’s something more positive:

And a quick overview of policing policies that actually decrease police violence: https://twitter.com/samswey/status/1180655701271732224?s=21

Stay safe, everyone.

Steve D

No words, no art

I had planned to post the next exercise in Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, but it doesn’t feel right today.  The death of George Floyd and outpouring of grief and pain and rage in the last week makes writing exercises seem, well…something that can wait. I will just refer you to my post today on Illustrated Poetry, my main blog.  No other words, no art.

Please please stay safe and healthy.

When the Doubt Creeps in

I had totally planned to write about marketing strategies this week, but I am mentally drained. Next week.

For now, I’m just going to unload a bit. A few things coalesced over the last several days that had me in serious doubt about my writing endeavors. As in, I honestly questioned whether I should be in the self-publishing arena, whether I even wanted my stories published at all. That was a first.

Here’s what happened, in the order that I remember it:

  • Writing my short story was extremely slow for me last week, and felt more tedious than anything.
  • I applied to a convention for this autumn, then realized that if I don’t make the cut, it might be difficult for me to get to any conventions this year, which is one of my big goals.
  • In not looking into conventions sooner, not thinking about Awesome Con over the winter, and making unrelated plans that made it too difficult to commit to Awesome Con at this point, I felt like I was already losing out on a big opportunity this year.
  • KDP emailed me saying they found parts of my book published elsewhere online, which is against their terms of service, and they took my book down from their market

That last one still irks me. They claimed to have found places where content in my novel were published online and asked me to provide explanations as to why.

…I have not published a single word of my novel anywhere in any online forum. They asked me to send them links of where they found my book’s content published, as if they were protecting my copyright by not telling me if anyone else was infringing on my copyright.

I sent them four links, two of which were on this site, one on YouTube, and one on Wattpad, and told them that I used my cover image in marketing materials, which is… kind of… what you do when you publish a book.

I then emphatically asked that they identify any other places they had allegedly found my book published online, because I was terrified that someone had stolen my story.

They replied thanking me for my cooperation, confirmed that my book would be made live on their platform again, and gave me no other information!

What the hell?

Am I supposed to assume that the four places I use my cover image online were what flagged their team to potential copyright infringement of my own book?

Maybe. I haven’t even bothered asking for clarification, because I’m 90% certain I won’t get any.

This episode took place over the course of about 18 hours, but that day-and-a-half had me questioning every decision I had made about writing and publishing stories over the previous six years.

The good news is that I’m mostly over it, I think. The first draft for my short story was bothering me, because I know it’s terrible at this point, and I wasn’t sure how to make not terrible.

But I also know that the first draft is always terrible, and that I just need to get the thing written so I can go back, scribble some notes, and rewrite it. I wrote up a small outline to help me figure out how to get from the middle of the story to the end, so that should make the writing process a little smoother.

Except tonight (Tuesday) because I can barely look straight ahead without my eyes drifting.

The moral of the story is this: You will always find a reason to doubt yourself as a writer. Sometimes, the universe gives you several reasons all at once! Take a moment to breathe, and then find a way around it.

I can still publish this short story this year. I can still attend a convention or two. And I can do some quick Google searches to make sure no one has stolen my book, even if it’s just for momentary peace of mind.

Steve D

10 Stories to Experience with My Kid

My son is eighteen months old now, and he loves listening to stories, turning the pages of books, listening to music, and watching cartoons. I’m not sure how much of any of it he understands, but it’s exciting to watch him experience those things.

A colleague recently told me how he was watching through all of the Star Wars movies with his eight-year-old daughters, hoping to bring them to the theater to see The Rise of Skywalker. He managed to catch it with them just last week, and he said their reactions and excitement in the theater was well worth it.

That got me thinking about the types of stories — movies, books, TV — I’m looking forward to sharing with my son. So here’s my top 10. Continue reading “10 Stories to Experience with My Kid”

Burnout Story #1: The Post-College Glow

Back in December I posted a review for one an Audible Original, a short interview-style listen called “The Burnout Generation”. Aside from being an interesting listen, this short had me reflecting on the various points in my life I’ve hit burnout, particularly post-college and as an adult.

So I’d like to follow up on some of those ideas and tell my first burnout story: the year or so after I finished undergrad.

Continue reading “Burnout Story #1: The Post-College Glow”

Numberbrag 2019! And 2020 Plans

2019 was a weird year. I helped raise an infant into a toddler. I lost my job, was unemployed for four months, and found a new job in a totally unexpected place. And, oh yeah, I transferred five years’ worth of website content to a new domain!

I legitimately forgot that we switched from Red String PaperCuts to Evening Satellite as our main site in 2019, until I read over my numberbrag post from this time last year.

In that post, I focused on the types of content featured most heavily on this site in 2018, and some loose ideas about where I thought we were going in 2019. I’ll do something similar for 2019 and 2020.

Continue reading “Numberbrag 2019! And 2020 Plans”

2020 Programming Note

2019 brought a ton of changes for me personally, professionally, and authorly over the last year-plus, and a lot of that has seeped into this site, whether I intended it to or not.

I hinted at some plans to freshen up my blogging a bit in my Write Day post. It’s taken me six months to realize this, but I need to change up my blogging habits.

For the foreseeable future, I’m only going to post twice per week:

  • My weekly Haiku Sunday
  • One longer-form post on Wednesdays

Keep reading if you want some details.

Continue reading “2020 Programming Note”

Aaaand it’s the holidays

I had intended to finalize the 12th and last chapter of “The Grand Mythos” on Monday and post it to Wattpad, but I had some online shopping to do.

I generally avoid the consumerist craze known as The Holidays, but we’re doing a fun gift exchange with my in-laws this year, and I wanted to get something on a deal.

The short version is there are too many options, I’m indecisive, and I’m probably overthinking what my intended giftee will think of their main gift. Buuuut… it’s 10:30pm as I write this and I really don’t want to stay up all night writing a real post.

So you all will get chapter 12 and the attendant announcement post this week. For now, have an impressive Evanescence cover.

Oops

I sat down in front of my computer intending to write a post about the talk I’m giving on Thursday.

My English-teacher friend / amazing book editor invited me to give a guest… lecture, I suppose, to her high school creative writing class. I’m really excited, but instead of posting about my talking points, I added fancy animations to my Powerpoint slides.

And now it’s 11:30 and I need to go to bed.

But real quick!

My slides include:

  • My writing journey, especially with my first book
  • What a logline is and how to write one
  • The self-publishing process
  • How I like to outline my stories
  • Honest tips for successful writing
  • My authorly profiles where the students can connect with me if they so choose

I’m going to work on the presentation a bit more tomorrow and then send it to the teacher to make sure it fits with her lesson plans and such. Hopefully the kids don’t throw bananas at me. Is that a thing teenagers do? Hopefully they don’t tweet mean things about me.

Steve D