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Posts Tagged ‘Regular Job’

Unexpected Role Models

Posted by Dirck on 21 August, 2017

Today, I wasted my lunch period; rather than return the flayed flap of skin on the front of my face to the proverbial grindstone, I raced home to share the Great Eclipse(!!!) with my son.

That is pretty much the peak of totality where I was standing.

Wait a minute… by “wasted” I mean “utilized in the best possible manner,” because while eclipses happen regularly enough, they don’t happen here a great deal; the last one like this was in 1979.  But this is all digression, really, because it is writing I will eventually touch upon.

Today at The Regular Job has been very quite, so much so that I have tacit dispensation to do whatever I liked so long as I was handy to the telephone; thus, I have done a little tidying of the back room of my site, soon (I hope) to appear with a shiny HTTPS in its address and prevent Google from blacklisting me.  In the course of this, I found some backtracks from this very blog hiding among the apprehended spam, and entertained myself with a bit of reading– because, once upon a time, I actually produced content on this thing, some of which was vaguely amusing.

One of the items of past glory I examined was a slightly meta examination of my own writing style, which I’ll synopsize here so you don’t actually have to click that link.  I had found a place which claimed to analyse the style of any text pasted into it, and discovered that the writing of this screed as it existed then was like David Foster Wallace, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Cory Docotorow, and (shudder) Dan Brown.

All of which was somewhat interesting to the current version of me.  Then-Me was about a year away from getting nearly serious about fiction writing, and somewhat further away from getting as serious about it as I am now (which some might say is still “insufficiently so” but I work with what I’ve got).  What, Current-Me wondered, would be the effect of feeding some of my fiction into that purported analysis engine.  Indeed, did it still exist?

Why, yes, it did!  And here’s me with idle hands!

The results are… interesting to me.  Certainly satisfactory, although in a head-scratching way which I’ll explain presently.  As with the last attempt, I gave thing ten samples in an effort to see if there was any consistency in it.  Whole stories, too, not just snippets.  I was told with one of them that it was stylistically like the work of Arthur C. Clarke.  That story, the only one of the bunch that has yet been shown publicly, was aiming for more of an M.R. James flavour, but I will never decline to be likened to Clarke.  Two others came up with Anne Rice as the style-mirror for me, and seven of them produced Agatha Christie.

And here I became bemused.  I understand the presence of Clarke in these estimates.  Rice and Christie confuse me.  This is not a fragile male ego baulking at being compared to women, because really, honestly, that’s not the way I roll.  The source of the confusion lies in what I know about my own reading.  I have read loads of Clarke.  His influence creeping into my own work?  Sure.  However, my reading of Anne Rice is limited to Interview with The Vampire, once, in… I think 1990.  I have read Christie more recently, but rather less of her; a single story, about two years ago.  I have watched the entire run of Poirot Mysteries, but that’s hardly like reading the books upon which they are based.  The similarity of style is unlikely to be a result of emulation, however unconscious.

Bemused, then, but not exactly put out.  No reference to Dan Brown, which pleases me greatly, however commercial his work might be.  “Commercial” is a word one might apply to any of the three this recent sampling produced; not only are they all considered good writers in the literary art sense of the word (none without debate, of course– that’s art critics for you) but they have been widely published.  I am very content to be compared to people who got publication galore.

…of course, one also say “widely published” of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, for a particular period.  Ulp.

Today’s pen: Parker Senior Duofold
Today’s ink: Waterman blue (vintage)

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Posted by Dirck on 29 June, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 18 manuscript pages (thin air up here.  Thin indeed).

The annual summer silence is about to descend on this enterprise, as my two weeks away† from The Regular Job begin on Monday.  Of course, the way things have been running lately, the interruption will be almost imperceptible.  As it ever the case, I’ll hope to get some writing done around the expectations of family and fabric of the house without expecting to.  This will make for a good deal more physical work than last year, carting the giant heap of paper home and then shifting it out of the way while doing whatever it is that gets in the way of writing is; we remember that another translation of codex is “lump of wood.”

We will try to overlook a more colloquial use of the word by native Latin speakers; blockhead.  I’m sure I shall feel like one in a fortnight when I’ve failed to advance the work beyond its current state, however much I hope to.

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Posted by Dirck on 26 November, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 23 November
  • 24 November
  • 25 November
  • 26 November
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic.”
  • Still second draft.
  • Metaphorical landslide at Regular Job.
  • Back to the second draft work, with both hands.
  • 923 words typed
  • 824 words.
  • 0 words.
  • 1,063 words.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • All of it.
  • 50 min.

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Little and Often

Posted by Dirck on 13 November, 2015

Say, look what I forgot yesterday. The short-staffing at The Regular Job persists.

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 9 November
  • 10 November
  • 11 November
  • 12 November
  • Last week’s woes extend.
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic,” plus this.
  • Contemplating past events
  • Contemplating past works
  • Zipperoo, writing-wise.
  • 379 and 315 words, respectively.
  • Never quite enough.
  • Inconclusive (see below).
  • Unendurable, really.
  • 45 min.
  • All day, but peaking at 11:00.
  • Enough to prevent fresh writing.

In part, today’s film is a mere public service; if you find yourself suddenly called upon to fill this role, it is good to know what you should be at.

Yesterday’s distraction was not shovelling coal, whether actual or metaphoric, but did involve a quantity of smoldering.  I’ve had news that a publication which I would like to submit to has reopened their submissions desk after a long hiatus, and I was trying to decide which of the things I’ve got in my shot-locker is most apt to the forum.  I’ve got a couple of candidates in the tumbler getting final polish now, and should have something away by Monday.

On a side note; I think “little and often” is probably a good policy in most things.  I lament that, while I’ve got the “little” side of writing locked down brilliantly, “often” is becoming elusive.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign
Today’s ink: Montblanc Racing Green

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Posted by Dirck on 5 November, 2015

But first, important stuff: tomorrow is Fountain Pen Day. Celebrate responsibly!

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 2 November
  • 3 November
  • 28 October
  • 22 October
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic”.
  • Second draft persists
  • The Regular Job (see below)
  • Getting a new story run out on the fiction front.
  • 448 words typed.
  • 804 words typed.
  • A recurrent Wednesday problem
  • G’wan, have a look.
  • 25 min.
  • 45 min.
  • see below
  • Enough to prevent fresh writing.

I was struck on Tuesday at the relatively grim words/minute stats that the second drafts work out to.  Take it was proof that there is actual revision in that stage of the exercise, not mere transcription.

…because otherwise I’ll be horribly embarrassed.

Also, due to an illness-induced short staffing of The Regular Job, I feel I have to include yet another animation to suggest how the past couple of weeks has seemed (complete with inexplicable interruption and repetition).  Unavoidable working through lunch breaks!  Monstrous!

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Raise the Alarm

Posted by Dirck on 2 October, 2015

The Regular Job presented me with several metaphorical fires to put out today, which has eaten into my lunch break!  Thus, a late and entirely thematic Friday Film From Faraway

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Sea

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Progress, and deep thoughts about the near future

Posted by Dirck on 3 September, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 1 September
  • 1 September
  • 2 September
  • 3 September
  • First draft of “Old Home Week”.
  • Pondering Patreon, Kickstarter, and Gofundme.
  • The same (more story than pondering).
  • “Old Home Week” concludes
  • Five manuscript pages.
  • Deeply.
  • Seven pages.
  • Four pages, and about a pint of tears– this one really opened an emotional vein on me.
  • 30 min.
  • All damn day.
  • 40 min.
  • 35 min.

The three crowdfunding things listed above are another response to the current dire financial straits I’m bound up in, of course.  The prospect of strangers sending me money is, for a dinosaur like me, a slightly odd one, even in the versions where there’s some strings of performance attached.  At the moment, what I’ve got in my head looks like this:

1) Kickstarter

Pros:

  • Everyone has heard of it (and yet I provide a link to show what it is…)
  • Doesn’t call for repeated output, just a single explosion

Cons:

  • Should have a specific goal in mind (a novel, an anthology, a comic, something with a title hung on it)
  • Categories include “publishing” but not “writing”, and I’m not sure I have the knowledge nor the stamina to figure out self-publishing.
  • Need to come up with a lot of extra little treats for the various levels of support
  • Needs a certain amount of flashy production in the presentation to be really successful

2) Patreon

Pros:

  • Has a discrete “writing” heading.
  • May provide enough of an ongoing income that writing displaces The Regular Job (may–  I’m not insane in my optimism on that point)
  • Pushes me to push my writing out the door (much as one must eventually sent the kids to school, no matter how tiny they look crossing the playground).
  • I know there’s probably a curious follower or two here that would like to actually see the stuff I’ve been boring you with for the past couple of years
  • Comes closest to the “get paid for what you like to do” sensation I’m hoping for

Cons:

  • Anticipates extremely regular output which means:
    • relentless pressure to keep producing (so a long, time-consuming thing like a novel or that still-awaiting-second-draft Choose Your Doom project becomes difficult);
    • on-line releases of material, which burn first-publication rights (a consideration when hoping to get into more traditional print anthologies)
  • That extra treats problem raises its head again, although possibly more manageably
  • A lot of the writing projects seen there seem to view the natural measure of funding as “per project” rather than “per month”; it takes the time-pressure off, granted, but doesn’t seem like a good way to get bills seen to.
  • Also needs a somewhat flashy production (although perhaps less-so than Kickstarter) in the presentation to be really successful

3) Gofundme

Pros:

  • Doesn’t have to be reliant on productivity– “I am broke” is a viable pitch
  • Not as Big Fat Project-ish as Kickstarter, but also not open-ended like Patreon; looks like a good middle ground for funding the effort of a novel without having to see it all the way through the presses (if it was a novel rather than bills that were my current prime concern…)
  • Less anticipation of rewards for donations, but it is there.

Cons:

  • Embarrassment factor of shaking a begging bowl, especially when it’s not a discrete “house burnt down” situation.
  • Not as well-known as either of the others for artistic funding; I know when I see it I’m thinking “people in trouble” more than “project needs funding”

I need to do something, because The Regular Job isn’t keeping up its end of the social contract, and there’s little alternative in “real jobs” otherwise for reasons I won’t bore you (moreso) with.  Right at the moment, I’m wondering if I don’t try two of the above; I begin to see, with some serious thought-experimenting required to finish, how I might be able to work my way into a Patreon client, and while the house hasn’t burnt down, I have the sort of real concerns about it remaining intact without renewal of the roof that make Gofundme seem wise.  The martyr/proud idiot element in me shouts that doing both at once is somehow cheating; I don’t understand why any more than you do, but it’s in there.  Kickstarter is where the money is, and I think I’ve got sufficient powder for the charge if I go that way, but it’s SO daunting in the department of stuff that would still need doing should funding be successful… and frankly also in the prep needed for a pitch.

This is not, by the way, mere rhetorical muttering.  There’s space for comments, and I will happily greet anyone’s suggestions or descriptions of experience (and, with a nod to the embarrassment angle mentioned above, I will at request anonymize or remove those comments from public view).  Speak out, please!  I’m going to do something really soon, and I’d rather do it after suggestions are in.

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Forecast Calls For…

Posted by Dirck on 20 July, 2015

Well, that was a less productive vacation than hoped for.

What I mean is that I didn’t get done a tenth part of the refitting of the house done that I’d hoped.  This is primarily down to the unreasonable attitude of hardware stores, lumber yards, and chandlers in that they like being paid for the stuff you want to take away from them.  Since the vacation didn’t also bring a stack of loose treasure with it, I had to make do with an exhausting amount of moving things around in hopes of turning chattels into load-bearing walls.

We’re getting an heirloom piano soon, and it should do nicely to keep the ceiling up.

I did get a little done on the writing side of things, although the moving-of-stuff kept me from much in that line.  Thus I am champing at the bit for the Regular Job’s promise of a half-hour or so of scribbling away without telephones yammering, cats making messes, meals wanting preparation, and sons wanting “help” in Minecraft (meaning, “you do it while I see to a more thorough distribution of wooden locomotives about the floor; make sure to find lots of diamonds and iron”).  However, there were also some developments in the realm of pens that I would like to share with the dedicated and long-neglected readers here, so I’m going to carry on champing for a little while while I apply the time to writing non-fictions.

Unfortunately, with that foreword written, I now have to break off.  The return to The Regular Job finds a great deal of stuff that I usually do needing doing.  It’s at least in tidy stacks, not the mixed drifts I’ve found on past returns, but the extra week means there’s that much more of it.  The forecast, then, is for slightly interesting things… soon.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Pilot Black (which I don’t have a sample of– it’s black.  Quite strongly black)

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Fair Comment

Posted by Dirck on 21 October, 2014

Ah, meta-blogging– how long I’ve avoided it!  However, it’s time for a little navel-gazing, with a small hint of resentment (but not for obvious reasons).

Those who look at comments will have seen the one on yesterday’s progress report.  For those who don’t, the main part of it:

Pssst,… can I talk to you for a second? Uh… please, please, please forgive me but, … uh… I think you’re grossly over estimating your readership’s interest in “what”, “how much” and “how long”, especially since we never get to see the results of this effort [emphasis added for reasons to follow]. I know, I know we got to see one, but still… these progress reports read too much like, and are about as interesting as the log my gastroenterologist had me keep for a while many years ago. Please, please, I,… WE beg you, go back to your missives and musings.

I would be lying if I didn’t  admit to wondering if this wasn’t the case.  However, there have been a quantity of “like” button pokings and even some new “follow” activity that plainly isn’t just robots trying to sell me stuff.

When I started with the progress report entries back at the start of the year, I had in mind two silly things.  Thing one– if I stop making a noise on a daily basis, people (read, my father as perceived by me at age 13) will think I’m not actually working and become disappointed.  Thing two– how will everyone know what pen I’m using on a given day?  The celestial spheres will catch in their tracks without that intelligence reaching the world!

It has been a LONG time since I referred to the primary reason this enterprise came into being.  While I’m happy to point people at the main site and in that way drum up some business for one of the things I’d rather be doing for money than The Regular Job, that’s not why I started yelling at the internet during my lunch breaks.  I did it so I wouldn’t spend far too much time pondering the various auction sites of the world and getting into trouble when the temptation of a fixable and almost-affordable pen becomes too much to resist.  This avoidance is still an important part of daily routine, indeed all the more so as the federal and provincial governments keep stamping on the middle class with both feet, but the turn to fiction (which is also high in the list for rather doing than The Regular Job) is quite handily turning me away from the sirens of internet commerce.

We will not, out of politeness, mention that even in the absence of the fiction distraction, this thing would have dried up about the same time for want of non-fictional material to chew over.  That first five years of working here really emptied my shot locker.  The infrequent non-progress reports are about all I had in me.

So the only reason I’d keep at what, as I have already admitted, is something I wonder at anyone reading is because some people are clearly interested; this gets me back silly thing one, above. I’d probably give up on the whole progress update concept entirely if I didn’t know my own powers of slacking off if entirely unobserved, so what I think I may do is this– some sort of week’s workings report, possibly on Thursday to avoid distracting from the fun of the Friday Fumbled (from someone else’s pocket) Film, and otherwise silence unless I’ve got something interesting to offer.  Interesting within my previously established idiom, that is– let’s not get over-excited.  I forget that with that “follow” button poked, people who are actually interested in what I’m at, whether it’s carving a story out of my brain, contemplating odd choices of style in mens’ wear, or being beaten into an unrecognizable heap by a pen unwilling to be fixed, will have the new developments thrust upon them.  Daily howling is not strictly required.

Which leaves me with a couple of loose ends to tie up, or possibly down.  Let me first address the emphasis added to the quote, which is another thing I’ll admit to some guilt about.  On that, while I’m not going to instantly open the vaults, since some folks have turned the phrase “First Worldwide Rights” into a terrible lurking entity in my world– “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh First Worldwide Rights R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!“– but as Hallowe’en is coming up I am planning on putting something out where it can be (potentially) enjoyed by one and all.  I may also post that contest entry from the summer here too, since First Worldwide Rights the Great and Terrible has caused the forum all the entries are on to hide them from non-members and web-crawlers.

Finally: resentment.  Yep, there’s resentment infused into this entry.  Not, as I hope I’ve made clear with all the preceding, regarding the content of the message.  Rather, I find myself simmering because I’ve spent time blogging about blogging when a perfectly nice first draft story lies hardly begun.  This suggests some degree of addiction.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer TM Valiant (fully recovered from previous surgery)
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lie de Thé

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Trauma, When a Toe

Posted by Dirck on 24 July, 2014

I speak, of course, of stubbing.  Those whose memories extend to the earliest days of this item will remember that this is a practice that I’m not entirely a fan of.  Like all humans, I’m an inconsistent creature, and have committed stubbing upon some of my own pens, and even bragged about the results, and which I continue to enjoy.

Well, on Monday I returned some pens to a client upon which I had also practiced grindery.  These were not the first I had done this to, but in previous examples the stakes were relatively low.  This most recent batch were different in that it was a pair of Montblanc 149s and a Pelikan 800; not inexpensive pens, and pens which I can’t afford to replace any part of, let alone the points.  Those who are familiar with Richard III may have some doubts, but when I say I had to be talked into doing the work, I really mean it.  However, I’m pleased with the results.

As ever, I sound off prematurely, as I have yet to hear from the client if this pleasure lies at both ends of the transaction.  I may be setting myself up for a retraction (at least), but I’m pretty seriously critical of myself.  That interior critic being grudgingly content with the performance, I’ve finally decided to admit to the world in general (and not just you few who look in here) that I’ll do this sort of thing.  For money.  The Services page of my site is even now whispering it into the ear of Google.

On a brief side note which is probably connected, I spent a bit of this morning questioning my sanity.  A very skinny youth on a skateboard drifted past the window here at The Regular Job.  Almost instantly, this came into my head.

Attenuated skateboard dude,
I hope you will not think me rude,
If I observe that it’s quite crude,
for you to do that in the nude.

…which he was not, I hasten to point out.  Now, it has been… , wow, thirty years since I set aside my psychology studies, but I do recall spontaneous rhyming as showing up somewhere in the DSM, and it wasn’t in the “nothing to worry about” section.

That little tremor of concern ties in with another recent aberration.  A friend’s visit last week had me actually looking into the face of Pinterest, and while I can’t say I quite grasp the utility of it (lots of pictures, not much information), I have decided to give it a little time.  Anyone looking at the site will find that all my pictures are now ready and willing to be pinned, for whatever joy that may bring the pinners.  I’ve scored some pretty pictures, of pens and of other things, like the Art Deco infestation of Napier, New Zealand.  In theory, my life is somehow richer.

I suppose it’s something to do with the connection between writers and nuttiness.  Perhaps I should go down the Hemingway path and drink myself sane.  That worked out well for him, right?

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène (the same pen two days in a row!  He’s gone completely round the bend!)
Today’s ink:  Diamine Denim

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