June Checkpoint

Guess who’s been trying to get their shit together this month?

This kid, that’s who!

This has manifested itself in various ways, most notably journaling, keeping up on dishes, and beginning to work my way through a music theory textbook.

Careful observers will note that this translated into a grand total of zero blog posts in June. And you’re right! I’m a bit uncomfortable with that, but it’s okay. I ended up spending June improving my self-care skills away from the keyboard, which I really needed to do.

 

What am I reading?

I did a lot of back-and-forth reading this month. I read about half of Gerard Way’s “Doom Patrol: Brick By Brick” in a bookstore and enjoyed it a lot; I read a little of “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow (and it’s pretty good so far, but I’m still on the first chapter); I’m still working my way through “The Ghost Brigades” slowly but surely. I haven’t been able to read as quickly as I’d like, which is a little frustrating.

I’ve also picked up my copy of “The Nerdist Way” by Chris Hardwick, which has been sitting on my shelf since last Christmas. My feelings on the dude are a little mixed, but I do admire the turnaround he’s been able to make in his life. And at the very least, it’s readable, and I think some of the techniques in it will integrate well with my journaling practices.

 

What am I listening to?

My music habits this month have pretty much exclusively consisted of “Wolves” by Rise Against on repeat, augmented with the soundtracks to “Quantum Break” and “The Martian”.

I really enjoy “Wolves” as a record, so much that I haven’t really shuffled it yet or even focused on specific songs (besides the bonus tracks, which are fantastic).

I’m not the general target for the confrontation (except in the case of “Miracle” and “Megaphone” — one of the bonus tracks), but I remember how I definitely was when I listened to “Endgame” as a teenager. That album made me feel very uncomfortable for a while, and it prompted me to reconsider a lot of the things that I’d been taught as a kid. I had a similar knee-jerk reflex toward “Wolves” on the first couple of plays.

I hope it gets another kid to think critically about their upbringing.

 

What am I making?

Right now, I’m working on two short stories as birthday presents for a couple of friends, as is my custom. I’ve also started working on my novel more regularly, although it’s all world-building at the moment, not Actual Writing. I’m trying to re-familiarize myself with the universe I’m creating, and the characters too. But I’m getting back into the swing of things, which is good.

I was planning on releasing a song this month, but I haven’t been able to get any works-in-progress to a state that feels releasable. A couple of them are getting there, and I think I have something shaping up that feels vaguely like a coherent album idea.

(I think my music-writing will improve and get faster once I have an actual MIDI controller, which I’m currently in the market for. If anybody has any recs for a good starter controller, I’d love to hear them.)

I mentioned last month that I didn’t feel like I was creating enough, and that’s still the case, but I’m slowly getting better about it.

Baby steps.

May Checkpoint

May was…. a weird month. In some ways it felt really long, and in others… not long enough.

I was not as productive as I wanted to be, but let’s take stock of what I did manage to do.

 

What am I reading?

As I expected, I didn’t get much reading done this month — but I did finish reading Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology”, which I loved.

Current reads:

  • “The Ghost Brigades” by John Scalzi

 

On deck:

  • “Ancillary Justice” by Ann Leckie
  • “Eastern Standard Tribe” by Cory Doctorow

 

What am I listening to?

I discovered a lot of really good music this month. Some of my favorites right now are:

 

What am I making?

What I’m writing seems pretty narrow, considering that I did more music-writing this month than I did prose. I only wrote 4216 words this month — so about 136 words a day, which is… less than ideal.

I made four or five tracks this month though, and released one a couple of days ago, so although it doesn’t balance out, exactly, it doesn’t suck as much as I feel like it does.

Overall, though, I feel like I’m not making enough stuff, and I’m hoping to change that in June.

April Checkpoint

Hey all!

At the end of every month, in my journal, I take a couple of pages to take stock of what I’m reading, what kinds of music I’ve been listening to (and what I’ve discovered!), and how much I’m writing.

These seem like small things, I know, but they’re usually pretty valuable things to track, in my experience — I can make inferences as to my mood patterns/mental health based on whether I’m keeping up with the little stuff.

As I was writing this down, I thought it might make an interesting recurring post.

Read More »

A short personal update

I realized today that I never did a Camp NaNoWriMo week 2 update.

In short form, I was sick for a couple of days, and then my birthday happened, and I’ve been playing catch-up. I seem to be doing a pretty decent job of it though — as of yesterday, I was just under 16,000 words, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get mostly caught up today.

On a personal front, I’ve been pretty low on spoons. The fact that I’m keeping up with Camp NaNo as well as I am right now is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. I think allowing myself flexibility in my writing — I’m simultaneously working on this blog, a short story, and a novel — has been a huge help. I’m not very good at focusing on a single thing for a whole month.

Twenty-One.

I turned twenty-one yesterday.

Birthdays are a weird thing for me. I usually spend them thinking about how much I’ve changed in the past year, and what I want to change in the next — about personal growth and relationships and next steps. I know a lot of people usually do this around the new year, but the way I see it, a birthday is your personal new year’s day.

Every year, I pick a word I want to define this next year for me. Last year, my word was “forward” — forward thinking, forward movement in all things, no matter how small that movement might be.

(I watched “Meet the Robinsons” around this time last year; one of my favourite movies as a kid, and still my favourite Disney movie as an adult. That’s probably no small part of the choice of the word.)

I think I did a pretty good job of it, all things considered — I did a lot of things I never expected to do, made a lot of positive changes in my life that I wasn’t expecting to make.

So what all did I do?

Developed several new special interests. Specifically, a renewed interest in retrofuturism, fountain pens, and sound synthesis.

Entered a queerplatonic relationship. And can I just say, I am very lucky in that regard. My partner is pretty awesome. It just sucks that there’s a very large ocean between us (they live in Scotland, while I’m in the US).

Flew across the Atlantic. Twice, technically. I spent a weekend in Berlin, back in September, for a Mozilla Tech Speakers meetup. I learned a lot about myself over that trip, and had a blast with thirty amazing friends — some old and some new.

Started making music again. After spending about a year not really doing much on the music front (thanks for nothing, vocal dysphoria), I started making electronic music. It’s still a pretty new medium for me, but I love it a lot. I’m really enjoying the challenge of learning new software and techniques, and expanding my range as a musician.

Transitioned in cyberspace. That is to say, one day I locked my Twitter account, soft-blocked a bunch of people from my physical life — mostly people I went to school with, and a few family friends — changed my username, and started using my new name as my online persona.

Published my first piece of writing. And about Hamilton, no less.

Claimed my identities as a Disabled and Autistic person. I hadn’t felt comfortable with engaging with the disability community until recently, when I started seeking an autism diagnosis. It took about nine months to get that diagnosis, during which time I came to accept myself as an Autistic person, with all it entails — the cool things, the weird things, the hard things.

Oh, and I started blogging here. That’s important, too.

I think I did what I set out to do.

Here’s to another trip around the sun.

The Voyager EP

I’ve just released my first EP!

It’s called Voyager, and you can find it on my Bandcamp page.

I used entirely free/libre/open-source software on this project (Linux Multimedia Studio and Audacity, mostly), and all of the synth sounds used on the EP were created with ZynAddSubFX.

The noise in “Voyager” comes from the Internet Archive, and the noise in “Cassini“ comes from NASA’s website.

I hope you enjoy the music. 🙂

Camp NaNoWriMo update: Week 1

Stats as of 7 April:

  • Total words: 6997
  • Target: 5838
  • Words per day: 999 and a bit more

I survived Week One!

For those of you who might find it interesting, I decided on day 2 to boost my word count from 15,000 to 25,000 — a little under my usual Camp goal and half of the standard NaNoWriMo session goal.

But for the moment, I’m sitting ahead of schedule, which is a rare thing to be celebrated.

Special Interests, Part 1

(A fair warning: I talk and think in large paragraphs. I’ll try to break them up and make them readable, but I don’t know how successful I’ll be. Peruse at your own risk.)

Yesterday, I found a graphic about the #RedInstead writing challenge — thirty autism-related writing prompts for April. Some of the prompts don’t really apply to me, and I probably won’t have the spoons to write and edit a full post every day, so I’m just going to use some of these as an inspiration.

(I wish I’d found this a few days ago, but better late than never.)

Today, I’m going to talk about special interests. To clarify, I don’t mean an infodump about my special interests, but more of a list of what they are and observations on how they tend to manifest. An infodump on the topic of special interests.

A meta-dump, if you will.

I tend to divide the concept into three subsections: broad interest areas, narrow interest bands, and recurring short-term interests. Because I have a lot to say about each subsection, I’m going to focus a post on each.

I think of my “broader” interests as the things I’ve loved a lot since I was a little kid, to the point where other people started to think it was “weird”. The specific aspect of interest changed as I grew up, but most of my more specific interests have been related to either computers or music.

One of my first memories is of watching my grandpa fix a computer. I don’t know what sort of computer it was (I’ve thought about asking, but I don’t know whether he’d remember). And as I got older, computers fascinated me, because they’re so complex. Certain programs only read certain kinds of files. There’s Windows computers, and Macs, and a whole bunch of others — and then the Internet, just a whole bunch of computers talking to each other.

Some of the coolest stories I heard as a kid from my grandpa were about mainframes — I found it completely unbelievable that computers used to take up entire rooms. Big rooms. And they weren’t even that powerful — one of my first narrow interests, the Apollo Guidance Computer, actually had less processing power than a Furby.

(I could fish out my sources on that, but I’d go into a special interest infodump, which I don’t want to do. If you really want the sources, comment or something and I’ll post them.)

My other special interest area is music. Nobody in my immediate family is particularly musically-inclined; we sing in the car, and my younger sister’s in choir, but I’m the only one who stuck with an instrument past high school. Given this, I used to wonder where the interest came from — I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve always needed constant auditory input to function.

I played piano as a kid and had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved the piano itself — long, deep bass notes have long been one of my auditory stims. But I struggled with my attention span, as well as reading two different staves at once and translating both into hand movements.

I had better luck with the trumpet and guitar — although I do still have a keyboard and noodle around on it. (I’m in the middle of learning “Trout Heart Replica” by Amanda Palmer by ear right now.)

Music theory caught my attention — deconstructing music I like is one of my favourite hobbies. I love seeing what instruments (real or virtual) go into a piece, how parts overlap, or just what makes “that one part” sound so damn good. And there are unwritten rules in every genre of music — what makes punk different from melodic hardcore? What makes each subgenre of electronic music distinct from the others? (There are dozens of subgenres. It is a dense subject.)

Pretty much every narrow band of interest I’ve ever developed falls under either the umbrella of music or computers. The exceptions are mostly writing-related — but I’ll get to those in the next post. 🙂