Managing creative energy

So, I've got a few balls in the air when it comes to projects and organizations right now. This is before I start school, in a little over a month. And I'm coming up against a problem I've had before, but it's starting to feel like it actually matters now because people are paying attention to some of them.

I don't have any particularly established approach to balancing the creative energy I invest in any of these projects. Like, this week Solarpunk Press has gotten a ton of my attention, but my blog posts here have been mostly kind of terrible, and I've been running Watson's Solarpunk on autopilot. The Interstitial Arts Foundation Tumblr is still running exactly the way it did before Readercon, and I've got that mentally on the back burner until I hear from other people who are also getting involved, but I could probably be doing at least a little more to get that going. And I've done exactly one afternoon's worth of work on the NECC Observer staff handbook in the past month.

I want all these things to go well. I don't want any of them to go neglected or fade into obscurity. But they carry different impressions of apparent urgency in my mind, and different levels of task clarity. Solarpunk Press is easy: it's highly urgent, it's all my responsibility (shared with my co-editor, but there's more than enough for both of us to be busy all the time) and it's extremely specific in its tasks so I never have to sit down and brainstorm what I want to do to produce something of worth with it.

Here, on the other hand -- yeah, I'm the only one doing it, but I'm also the only one who suffers if it doesn't get done. And I don't even really suffer. I don't want my blog to start missing updates, but I don't really need it to drive a lot of traffic, either. I've been meaning to start doing Amazon Affiliate linked reviews of books, but again, I'm the only one who benefits from that so it's entirely within my moral power to ignore it. And every day, every post is a whole new type of content. Yesterday was about my personal life. The day before that was a TV show review. The day before that was about Solarpunk Press. And so on. Topics don't always leap to mind like they have today, and even when they do, they don't always flow this easily.

I don't know what to do about this. But it's a problem that's floated to mind a lot, especially since I started Watson's Solarpunk, which drew a lot of my most thoughtful posts away from here. For now I think I'm going to keep going as I'm going, but I'm aware that this is a problem, and if it gets worse I may need to pursue some sort of system change.

Looking forward to showing stuff off

Like every other day this week, I spent a ton of time today working on getting ready for the web magazine that I'm starting very soon. We're still a little over a week away from accepting submissions, but we're probably closer than that to opening the website and telling people the URL and stuff -- which, among other things, means I can stop being so circumlocutory about what we're calling it.

I know exactly what blog post I wanna write tonight, but I'm going to be writing it for the new website and setting it to publish later. 

I'm sure this is obnoxious but it'll be over soon.

I've joined the Amazon Affiliate Program

Well, sort of. I still have to be approved. But, anyway, I want to talk about why.

First of all: because I live under the weight of capitalism and we all have to make compromises to survive in a system that is prepared to imprison or starve us if we don't generate value for capitalists. 

Least of all: because I actually kinda like Amazon and don't mind too much sending them a little extra traffic. 

But for the important reason: I expect it'll motivate me to produce better content.

I read a lot of books, watch a lot of TV and movies, listen to a nonzero amount of music and purchasable audio products. I also use products, often products that I purchased on Amazon, or that at least can be purchased on Amazon.

I have thoughts on many of these things. Often extremely detailed, well-formed thoughts. But I don't often write them down, and when I do it's not always to the best of my ability. There are a lot of things I'm really enthusiastic about, that I want to gush about for days. I often don't.

I think that in those cases, rather than compromising my integrity, a financial motive to write the best, most convincing posts about that content is right in line with my objective.

A financial motive to blog about content also softly encourages me not to write about things I don't like, which is probably good for me.

I will do my best to stay conscious of these influences, and to avoid the perverse incentives that might be created: to encourage people to buy things they can't afford or wouldn't personally benefit from; to fail to identify important criticisms of content I'm mostly positive about; to fail to criticize content that's seriously worthy of critical attention; and so on.

Feedback on this decision is welcome.

Decorated squarespace

My new blog looks less different now than it did before. 

The close-to-default look I had this morning was alright -- I mean, it was really nice looking -- but it felt, like, way too professional? Black and gray text on a white field didn't feel like the right look for my blog. 

It felt very unlike my home, and I want my blog to feel like a home on the internet.

I've had the yellow-and-pink archetypal lemonade color scheme stuck in my head for a couple weeks. I thought about getting new sheets for my bed along that theme, but I want to stick to cool colors -- that was the whole point of getting new sheets.

But I really like it here. It feels really close to the yellow and red-orange of the Wordpress, but less stuffy. That old design was starting to feel a little claustrophobic. (And I hated those gradients and shadows that made it all look textured. I'm glad this layout doesn't have it.)

Also, it seems the www prefix might not work for visiting my new blog, so until my URL is all set it's txwatson.squarespace.com.

Switched to squarespace

My blog looks so different now! For the time being you can reach it at www.txwatson.squarespace.com. The domain name transfer should be done soon.

Squarespace seems a little easier to work with than Wordpress, but it's also a little less versatile. Not nearly enough for me to care, though. And the Tumblr integration is (arguably) better! It posts in its entirety, but so far I'm not sure I've figured out how to get it to reliably link back here.

My Solarpunk blog got featured on another Solarpunk blog!

I'm beaming with pride about this today, and to be honest I'm sure some people are sick of hearing it. But other people only keep up with me through this blog, and I'm proud of this, so I'm posting it here anyway. Permapunk has been featuring notable Solarpunk blogs this week in celebration of hitting 300 followers, and today I was picked. And the post is, like, so flattering you guys.

permapunk:

If you aren’t already following watsons-solarpunk, then that must be one cozy rock you’re under (maybe an Earthship, that would make more sense).

Watson, and co-contributor Faith, are doing a fantastic job of pinning down the overarching concepts of the genre. As a lover of wall-of-text blogs, I’m always pleased to see Watson’s Solarpunk Blog on my dash.

I almost shirked this post yesterday because my kid won’t let me sleep like a normal human this week… It’s getting to me.

sleepy

I'm not in a great place to blog right now. Like, I'm not unhappy or anything. I'm just very tired, and have been very distracted all day -- by a combination of non-narrative things that would make no sense for a blog post, and narrative things that are part of the chunk of my personal life I try and keep off-stage. I did tare at this screen a lot today. Some days that just never ends up turning into a product.

I can't even keep both eyes open while I type this. Good night.

Late-night blogging

I used to have a rule, for getting things done on a daily basis: the new day doesn't start until I wake up, or the sun comes up -- whichever came first. So if it's 3 a.m. and still dark and I haven't been to bed yet, as far as I'm concerned it's still yesterday. I used to do a lot of writing at 3 a.m. so that I could go the hell to sleep.

That rule has never applied to the blogs, which keep track of what day things were posted on and so will let me know if I don't get it done before midnight. (I can back-date posts, but that's totally cheating, obv.)

Today was a very busy day, and while there were definitely a few windows where I could have blogged, there was no point where there was actually an appropriate time for it. I've taken plenty of personal days in the past several months for my own wellbeing and stress level (once every two months, in fact), but I haven't actually worked out the way to prioritize when what's filling my time is the presence of people I care about.

I'm still not sure I need a specific rule to handle that; it's pretty rare that literally every waking moment of my day is filled by either class content or other people, and today was a really great day because of that fact.

But it's something I think I'll keep an eye out for, in case it comes up more often than I'd realized or anticipated.

long week ahead

sometimes i find it kind of impossible to do things... like, things just come crashing down because i just can't compel myself to get started. and sometimes things pile up so much, or so much becomes necessary to do at once, that the stopping part of me just sort of shuts off and i kind of space out and pass through it, and it's hard and painful and exhausting but at the end the things that i care about in my life that relied on doing that stuff still exist. i'm very tired right now. this blog post is kind of an example of the latter thing. my head feels fuzzy and i'm not thinking more than a couple words ahead, but doing this is going to mean my blog is still here tomorrow. i can't even muster the energy to hold down the shift key for capital letters right now, actually. that sentence would have been a parenthetical if parentheses were non-shift keys.

it's time for laying down quietly then sleep now. good night. talk to you tomorrow.

Updates that are even more boring than yesterday's

For the second day in a row, as I have been getting ready for bed, I have remembered that the thing I did earlier today, when I wrote like 200 words on a complicated topic then saved the draft and closed it because I couldn't keep track of it just then, does not actually count as blogging, and so I still have a post to write. (Yesterday it was etiquette and thoughtfulness. Today it was the complexity of the idea of 'being yourself.')

So, stuff I did today. Involves zero finishing-interesting-media, so that's off the table. (Although yesterday's post was a list-of-things-that-are-cool-for-reasons-I-can't-say-because-spoilers so that wasn't very exciting.)

My laptop shipped! I am very excited about that. I have been checking the UPS Tracking page every hour to see if it has made it to my state yet. It should arrive by Thursday.

Classes start tomorrow. I've only got one class on Wednesdays, but I have it for three hours, because it's a science class and Wednesday is the lab day.

It probably won't be three hours. First days are basically just handing out the syllabus and asking whether we really need the book.

After school, I have two interviews for stories for work lined up in the afternoon. So, that's going to be lots of fun. (One of them's about the history of a library, so I'm p. excited about that.)

It's going to be a very busy week, but also a very boring week. I don't know what I can really do with that, blogging-wise. Any ideas?

What this blog is, and what it could be

That title is way too dramatic for the content of this post, just to get that out of the way first. I've written a lot of stuff in the past few days. Really, I have. I've written for work, and I've worked on two short stories. I wrote two separate speeches for hypothetical futures, one of which was seven pages long. I'm not burnt out. I swear.

But I seriously can't think of stuff to blog about right now.

I mentioned on Tumblr a few days ago that I wished I had a camera. (It was because I wanted to take artsy pictures of my phone, but my only camera is on my phone so that wouldn't work. I got in a meta-fight with a friend about it, which culminated in the creation of a side-blog documenting the event, here.) Another one of the great things that could theoretically be true about having a camera is I could start learning to take pictures of stuff. Pictures are awesome web content! They fill up like 250 words of space, so a picture with a caption is basically like a whole post.

Or I could get a scanner, and start doing art that I can post in higher quality than photos-of-pages-with-cell-phone. That could be fun. Or I could get a nice laptop and photoshop and I could do digital art. I used to be kind of good at that.

My point is, I know that I am failing to create interesting content here, and I feel shitty about that. But it's not because I'm not doing anything. It's just that my random musings lately have been less in the publish-for-the-internet genre and more in the file-away-for-possible-future-I-told-you-so's genre.

def not a skip day. nope. not at all

I forgot to blog today! And I'm about to go into work, where I'll be until midnight. So I'm gonna take this moment to remind you all about Reasonably Sound, Mike Rugnetta's podcast about noises. The new one, which I'm about to pause partway through, is about "concert pitch," the note that oboes play to tune an orchestra.

Sorry for no link.

Bounce rate

blog bounce rate  

Either my blog this week has been literally the most interesting it's ever been, and today it's just starting to slip, or there's something wrong with the way my blog is calculating bounce rate.[1. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit one page on a site then immediately leave instead of clicking on any other pages.]

New writing project: 4 Solarpunk stories

(Reposted from Tumblr last night because I've been reposting solarpunk stuff here but also because I feel like stating my writing commitments here makes them more real) So, workshop application season is coming up and I spent the last couple months working on a novel draft, so I’m going to need some fresh short stories soon

And I am obsessed with solarpunk right now and would like to be spending time with that artistically

And in the past, arbitrary challenges have worked really well to motivate me to get writing done

SO: for the next 4 weeks I will be writing 2k-4k short solarpunk stories — one per week, at least two drafts. Weeks end Sunday night; I’m starting now so story 1 gets a few extra days.

They will be themed: Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Because that seems like a reasonable arbitrary rule.

I won’t be publishing them here or anything, but if anyone following me is interested I would like to share them with beta readers. And, for that matter, if anybody else wants to do this with me, we could swap critiques. (No promises on critiquing everybody if this post is absurdly popular.)