Warding Off Entropy

Entropy, in simple terms, is the eventual dissolution of organization into chaos.  Entropy, in creative terms, is the month of March.

This is going to be a long one, so take a minute to grab a beverage.

Historically speaking, January through February tend to be my most creative months.  In the last ten years or so the time period immediately following the end of the year has been a period of mental relaxation.  My previous place of employment experienced its busiest season in the latter portions of the year due to various tax related rules which I’ll not get into here, and considering the aforementioned weight which I carried there, the last quarter of the year was cognitively taxing.

Each new year, though, actualized with a lifting of said weight; again, for tax related reasons I’ll not get into here.  Simultaneously, my compatriots in amateur authorship would often hold a competition in the early months of the year.  These two things together would act as a lens, keeping my creative energies focused on a task.  These competitions typically last through January, into the middle of February but as February draws to a close that lens becomes unfocused.  Throughout the month of March my creative energies wander on to other tasks.  They become scattered and diffused into various prospective endeavors; few, if any, of which coalesce into tangible results.

This year I was hoping would be different.  This year I have the Warning Signs blog to keep me focused.  A simple, casual, creative task which allows me to clear the clutter on a semi-regular basis and, hopefully, make way for more artistic endeavors to shine through.  Or at the very least, keep my brain in a creative place.  To this end there has been some degree of success, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped.

I said before that I’d have liked for March to be “In like a lion, and out like a moderately sedated lion.”  That is, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and I was hoping to finish out the month with an ongoing project which I could continue into April.  In no particular order those things were:

 

  1. Write 10,000 (non-Blog) Words, creatively.
  2. Revise Old Stories, post to Blog. (Done)
  3. Revise New Story, “Try Your Luck” and post to Blog. (Done)
  4. Revise New Story, “A Newer Model” and post to Blog
  5. Write the Fish Tale
  6. Write the Time Travel Story
  7. Remain Active on Blog and expand Social Media Presence (Done)
  8. Continue work on Mauwale (Novel)

 

I didn’t accomplish all of those things.  In theory, this blog post should take me over the 10,000-word threshold but you’ll notice my goal for the month was to see if I could breach that mark without resorting to brain dumping to pad my word count.  I had enough creative goals that it didn’t look like it would be a problem, honestly.  The Fish Tale and the Time Travel Story alone should have gotten me there. I even sat down to write them multiple times, but I never actually got anything done.  They will remain on the list, though, as I’ve been kicking the two of them down the road for going on a year now.  Both stories are ideas I absolutely love and, once competed, I suspect they would be worthy of publishing… I wonder if it’s that potential which keeps me from pushing through them; the fear of disappointing myself or the concern that once it’s on paper it won’t be as good as it is in my head.

I also got zero work done on Mauwale.  Mauwale is a rough novella which I constructed around this time last year during the A Writer’s Recluse world building competition.  There is a lot of potential in the idea and the world I constructed, and I do have about 30,000 words of notes and rough drafts of chapters and related short fiction already written.  What I need to do is expand on those notes, and revise these loosely related stories into a cohesive narrative.

I did some verbal outlining on this project with a friend of mine once and the more I talked about it the larger it grew, to the point where it appeared pretty daunting.  I find myself having trouble scaling it back now and as a result I spend a lot of my mental efforts on this dealing with distracting bits of semi-relevancy.  For instance, in my head I have plotted a timeline for the geologic history of the archipelago in which much of the story would take place.  That will never be part of the narrative.  Why did I waste time with that? There’s a lot of work to be done, and the scope of the project is intimidating; that’s the honest answer.

On the issue of successes, though, we have the revised short fiction.  During the month of March, I found time to revise and post four pieces of existing short fiction.  Tree Rings, Snares, Coyote and Rorschach are all short stories which I’ve written in the past, each of which I’m proud of for different reasons.  So I’m glad I was able to do that and get those posted.

Try Your Luck is a newer short story written earlier this year, and posted only yesterday, which I really enjoyed writing.  I learned some interesting stuff in what little research I did for it, I really liked the characters, and I learned to trust my gut a little more.  There’s been a bit of concern in my head that my newer work isn’t stacking up against some of my older work; quality wise if not conceptually.  I’m really pleased that I was able to make this one happen because I feel like it meets or exceeds bars I’ve set in the past on both accounts.

As to expanding my social media presence… That’ something of a mixed bag.  I’ve been more active on Facebook than in the past and made efforts to connect with folks whom I probably should have a long time ago.  I’ve also created a “Goodreads” account to help me keep up with other aspiring authors and hopefully create some networking opportunities; as well as getting some book recommendations.  I haven’t spent a ton of time with that, but I intend to.  Perhaps my greatest “success” would be with Twitter.

I have a really hard time with the fire-and-forget nature of the Tweetersphere.  So very much of what gets said on Twitter is utterly ignored and I’m a guy who thrives on interaction.  However, say the right thing to the right person at the right time and it can blow up in a big way.  Earlier this month, in a moment of whimsy, I did some light trolling of Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  To be honest, I some light trolling of all the Presidential candidates; but for whatever reason the thing I said to Bernie exploded (in the least nefarious way possible).  My phone was buzzing with notifications for weeks following the comment and it even went so far as to get mentioned on CNN.  To date it has 680 Likes and 67 Retweets. Success?

More recently, I was duped into having a conversation with what I’ve concluded was a parody account of Microsoft’s racist chat bot, Tay.ai.  What I can’t wrap my head around is why someone would create a parody of a chat bot which was trained to say the most terrible things, only to use said parody account to be really friendly.  It’s a very strange kind of irony, I think.  Anyway, in the course of my conversation with Tay2 I mentioned that what I thought was a bot should share a link to this blog.  He/she/it did an in the course of the next three days, over 200 people visited this blog.  Sadly, I don’t think more than about 1% of them did anything more than glance at it and click away. That’s still paying off(?).

Point is, I can see where Twitter could be useful; I’ve just yet to determine how to harness these powers for Good.

March also produced some unexpected results.  On a whim I reached out to an old friend who happens to be a very talented illustrator.  We spoke at some length rehashing old times and discussing future collaborative work.  While we’ve no agreements in stone at this time, it’s my sincere hope that we’ll be able to work together moving forward and one might see a new aesthetic surface here at Warning Signs.

I also did some lengthy brainstorming on a potential collaboration with my good friend James over at In Exile.  I’m really excited about what’s brewing there as well.

So, going into April I’ve got some residual projects and lessons learned left over from March, but also some cool new possibilities on the horizon.  I’m considering spending some cash on a Duotrope account and will continue my efforts to keep updating this blog in hopes that being given an objective could help refocus my efforts and fend off the encroaching creative chaos which typically takes hold about this time.

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