I sat outside today beneath the trees under partly cloudy skies. It’d be nicer if there wasn’t all of the car noise from the road (police going by right now with sirens and lights). Mostly it’s the constant rushing noises. You can almost imagine that it’s the sound of waves or water. I still hear the sounds of birds, see squirrels, and feel the breeze. It’s a perfect temperature today. And I’m close enough to the building to still get the Wi-Fi signal.
I’ve wanted to learn to play the ukulele since listening to Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking. It wasn’t the only thing that I took away from the book. It also influenced my thinking in regards to using the CC license on my work. Plus it’s fascinating. Palmer challenges assumptions and makes me think about what I want to do.
And she has fun with the ukulele! It was the “Ukulele Anthem” that convinced me to give it a shot.
I headed out to one of our libraries today. The sunny hot days of the weekend have given way to gray clouds hanging in a featureless layer overhead. A few raindrops pattered down on my way to work but it has been mostly a dry day.
Lately, I’ve been listening to Mira Grant’s Parasitology series and I’ve started listening to the third book in the series today. I’m enjoying the series. I read the first book quite a while ago and hadn’t had a chance to get back to the series. I didn’t really try that hard, putting it off because the first book annoyed me. I enjoyed the concept of the story more than the story itself on my initial reading. Even so, it stuck with me. Then I decided to give the second book a shot as an audiobook and reengaged with the characters. I think it would have been better if the first and second books were published together. Or if I hadn’t delayed starting the next. Regardless, I’m really enjoying the series!
I’ve had a fun, relaxing day today. I played more Minecraft, continuing my massive island build with the addition of the start of my first rail line and opened the portal to the Nether. My friendly neighborhood Creeper decided to take my boat for a spin before he realized that he didn’t have any hands so he couldn’t row the boat. Or get out again. Now he watches me whenever I’m coming or going.
I also spent time today working outside, watched Walking Dead, Suffragette, and finished reading a book. I did actually get some other productive tasks done. I backed up content from the last semester while watching Walking Dead. I also transferred some domains that needed renewal.
Off work today. It’s been nice. We had some errands to run this morning. I played Minecraft for a while, working on developing a new tower in my island fortress on our Realm.
One of the best parts of the day was getting out into the back to do some garden work! I haven’t had time to really work on projects like this recently. It was hot, sunny, and left me wiped out, but I really enjoyed all of us out there working on it. We had bought an Album Rhododendron and a Johanna Azalea and needed to get those planted. Up behind the house, there’s a clump of hazelnuts that has been overgrown by invasive blackberries. Nice spot, though. We tackled clearing out vines and dead wood. Gained some scratches and created a large pile of material we’ll need to deal with, but made room for the new plants.
After working outside we came in and collapsed. While recovering, we watched The Arrival. I’ve waited since it’s release to watch it.
I really like the movie. I have Ted Chiang’s collection to read (after I finish some of the other books that I have on my list).
Although I’ve been studying data analysis and visualization in my program, there’s still so much more that I haven’t had a chance to learn yet. One of those topics has been R. I see articles talking about R but none of my classes covered it. Today I started a Lynda.com course and installed the language along with RStudio. I plan to learn it along with learning more Python and web-based languages as the mood strikes me.
The relief I felt over making the decision not to continue the challenges surprised me. Just a little. I think I had thought that I might feel disappointed. I don’t, in fact, I’m glad. I still plan to tackle big projects. I’m leaving myself free to follow my interests. If I want to code, I’ll code. Write, draw, whatever it is.
Today I went out to the Westport Timberland Library. I haven’t made it out here recently and it turned out to be a great day for it. I used my new folding tripod stool on my break to sit outside, which was quite nice.
This evening we watched Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
Sometimes things sound like a good idea. And it might not even be a bad idea, just not what you need to do right now. I realized today that the daily challenges I’d been tackling were that sort of thing. Yes, I plan to write. I plan to draw. I have lots of things I want to do.
I just don’t want deadlines right now.
I had a conversation today about the tension that accompanies being back in school. Once it sinks its claws in, it doesn’t want to let go. I’d finished up classes and rather than relaxing, I immediately added on daily challenges.
Not what I need to do right now. I’ll continue to pursue my creative efforts—without deadlines. Or production goals. Right now I want to work on it when I feel like it and be kind to myself.
I didn’t feel good today. I felt sick and left work early. I rested, napped, watched some Walking Dead (I hadn’t been watching while in school). I also watched The Visit. Not the worst (or best). The found footage style felt forced.
Beautiful sunny day, but I’m feeling a bit worn out today. I didn’t have my usual energy.
Despite my energy lagging, I wrote my 21 paragraph story today. Reditus came in at 726 words, so a pretty short short story. Flash fiction. I had fun writing the story to that structure. As I said yesterday, it isn’t the sort of thing that I’d always do but it was fun to give it a shot. I can see going through the process again by studying a story, breaking it down into x paragraphs each, in the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and then writing a new story that follows that same structure. I don’t think it’d work at longer lengths. It really is a short sort of exercise. I could also just choose to write a story at some length, like 13 paragraphs and give it a shot.
That streak didn’t last long! That’s okay. I ran out of time today, but I’ll pick it back up tomorrow. I’m not going to stress about it. I’m tired today and happy that I finished a story, so that’s a win.
My schedule is a bit different today. Tonight is the Timberland Regional Library Board of Trustees meeting in Aberdeen. Tonight has a focus on Grays Harbor, the county including five libraries that I oversee as District Manager. Since I’m working later today I’m not starting as early.
This morning I continued the Schoolism course on gesture drawing with lesson 2 Shape. I switched back to using my notebook and pen for this exercise and just scanned in the pages when I was done. Since I ended up with several pages I decided to animate the image (click thumbnail to see the animated version). The lesson uses video of a model changing her pose every 20 seconds or so. It’s great practice.
I squeezed in writing exercises today, studying the structure of a short story. I plan to start a new story tomorrow that follows the same structure. Writing to a specific structure is a bit like writing a sonnet or other structured piece of writing. There are all sorts of fun things you can do with this sort of thing. Bruce Holland Rogers talked about several different fixed forms in his columns on Flash Fiction Online. I’m planning to write a 21 paragraph story.
Breaking that down a bit more:
Beginning: Paragraphs 1-4
Middle: Paragraphs 5-13
Ending: Paragraphs 14-21
Obviously writing to a fixed form like this pushes a writer more toward a critical mindset. I don’t normally write this way, but it’s fun to try things out and try it in different ways. Fun is the key. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
We’re having really nice weather this week! Warm, sunny days. The sort of day to get outside on my lunch break and sit under a tree. It’d be better without the traffic passing by, but it’s still nice.
My son has John Denver hair.
I used my time outside to finish writing a new short story, Exile by Starlight. It isn’t a long story, under 2,000 words. I’ll leave it a few days at least and then take another look at it before sending it out to a magazine market. I’d like to try at least a few markets. It’s time to get back into the habit of submitting stories to magazines. I also need to start working on new stories for Drive-By Stories. I have a basic site back up. I have much more to do with it!
I continued my gesture drawing practice today, sketching action lines from Spartacus. I plan to move on to the next lesson on shape after this. I’m enjoying the gesture class. Right now I plan to focus on it and then return to the introduction to digital painting class after I finish working on this one. Schoolism offers many courses that I want to work on in the weeks and months ahead.
Today felt like summer. I spent part of the day outside, working on taming the overgrown area behind our house. We’re using a temporary fence to enclose an area and plan to clear it and begin replanting. All things that I haven’t had time to do since going back to school. I put up the fence today and worked a bit on cutting some of the grass. There is still a lot to do!
Sketch Challenge Update
I switched to Mischief today and continued the Schoolism lesson in the gesture drawing class. Control is a bit more difficult. I started out with the ‘pen’ tool and then switched to a blue ‘pencil’ part way through. That seemed to give me a bit more control. Mischief’s infinite canvas makes it easy to simply move around as you need more space.
Writing Challenge Update
I posted Swarm Think earlier. Trying to get back on track with posting my stories. It won’t be all that much longer before I run out of stories to post. I’m writing more, but I’m not going to try to keep writing a story each week. I’m focusing on my easier goal of just writing 500 words per day. I haven’t been writing much fiction for the past two years, so I need to get back into the habit. That’s my focus right now.
Today I continued the story I started yesterday, adding another 538 words.