Chipspeech on Linux! It can be done!

Chipspeech is probably my favorite instrument plugin. It’s a singing synthesizer from Plogue, and it features several sci-fi characters, each with a voice that replicates a different historic speech synthesizer. It’s an incredibly powerful little program, and I’ve made a lot of fun things with it. But I’m a Linux user, and Chipspeech is a Windows program, so getting it to run is… an adventure.

This guide is mostly for my own reference, as I think most people would probably just run it under Windows. But hey, maybe it’ll help somebody. It assumes you’re using LMMS on Ubuntu, but you could probably tweak this for other Linux distributions/digital audio workstations too.

Continue reading “Chipspeech on Linux! It can be done!”

I have a new(ish) writing project!

The other day, I passed 10,000 words in the rough draft for my current writing project. I haven’t done that in over a year and a half, and it feels incredible. I’ve been working on this particular thing for about four months, although I’ve really only talked about it on Twitter, and the fact that I’m a) still working on it, and b) still excited about it, is kind of extraordinary.

So what is it? It’s a goofy pulp science fiction story, with robots and rayguns and badass mathematicians and telepathic tree aliens who glow in the dark. It’s got all of my favorite pulp sf tropes in it — absentminded professors, analog computers, plucky whiz kids, and a blatant disregard for the laws of physics. It’s super queer, because I don’t know how to write anything that isn’t. Oh yeah, and it’s a Star Trek fanfic. (Albeit one where literally zero canon characters appear.)

It’s called “Captain Proton: Duplicates From the Fifth Dimension!”, and it is absolutely the most fun I’ve ever had while writing.

(For those of you who don’t do Star Trek — think “Buck Rogers” or “Flash Gordon”, those gloriously long and winding space opera serials from the 30s.)

I’ve been wanting to write a ridiculous pulp sci-fi story for a long time, but I could never quite get myself to actually do it, because it scared the crap out of me — even at the “zero draft” stage. I get really easily intimidated by Big Projects; they tend to get too big very fast, and then I get kind of freaked out. I also have this tendency to write scenes out-of-order, which usually ends up with me having trouble connecting things later on. So I’m limiting myself here to a single story, a semi-established universe, and (mostly) linear writing.

I’m posting chapters a couple of weeks after I write them. It’s a good balance between giving myself time to revise stuff, and keeping myself from dwelling too much on whether or not each chapter is “perfect”. I’m not really doing multiple drafts on this thing — each chapter basically gets a single revision, so the reality of it is that perfection isn’t part of the equation.

That makes certain parts of me want to scream (hi, anxiety!), because how could I possibly be okay with putting less-than-perfect writing out into the world? But hey, if I do this long enough, the quality will improve over time… I hope.

(The blatant disregard for physics, on the other hand, is forever.)

The story lives here, if you’d like to read it. I’d certainly appreciate it — knowing that people are reading it encourages me to keep working!

“How the heck do you do NaNo when you have ADHD?”

Whelp, it’s November 1st. Y’know what that means? It’s NaNoWriMo season!

As an ADHD person, NaNoWriMo can be terrifying. Me? Committing to a writing project for a month? And working on it every day???

But if you want to do NaNo, you should! And you can! You just might need a few extra things put into place to help you… especially in the “writing every day” department.

A hugely helpful resource for me was Cory Doctorow’s essay “Writing in the Age of Distraction”, which I read for the first time in high school. Ten actual things you can do, instead of vague “find your mojo” bullshit! I noticed immediate positive changes as soon as I followed some of these strategies, participating in (and winning!) my first NaNoWriMo that year — and I’ve been writing just about every day in the six years since.

Here are the things that seem to work for me, from experimentation with the strategies in the essay:

 

1. Actually make time to write, because it’s important.

I know that sounds… obvious, but listen — if I want to get any writing done, I have to block out a specific time period in my day for it, and decide that it’s something important. It has to be up there in my priorities next to “feed the dogs”. For me, that means I have a scheduled writing time every day, where I set a timer and do nothing but write until it goes off. If I don’t do that, my brain decides that it can wait until later… and we all know what “later” means to an ADHD brain.

 

2. Use “rigidity” to your advantage.

One of the things that Doctorow warns against in the essay is ceremoniousness in the writing process, and I’m inclined to agree — only being able to write under very certain conditions just isn’t helpful. But for me, adherence to routines is very important; it’s part of how I manage my disabilities. My comfortable middle ground seems to be keeping my routine portable — my writing notebook and pen live in my bag, which stays on my person. These, plus a playlist of Good Stimming Noise, enable me to write with a comfortable degree of consistency, wherever I happen to be.

 

3. Use research as a reward.

Research might actually be my favorite part of the writing process — especially when my story overlaps with my special interests. Since even opening a web browser while I’m writing is a very dangerous idea, I mark anything I need to verify and jot down any questions that pop up in my head while I’m writing. Then, once everything I need to do is done, I can go back and research stuff as much as my hyper-obsessive heart likes.

 

4. Find your tools.

I’ll admit that I was originally skeptical of Doctorow’s suggestion to “kill your word processor”, but holy shit, it’s the best thing I ever did for my writing process. I didn’t realize how much fiddling I was doing with options that literally didn’t matter until they weren’t there.

It can take a while to find something that works for you — there’s a lot of options out there. I’m a WordGrinder person. It runs in a terminal, does only very basic formatting, has a vague 1980s feel… heck yeah. But FocusWriter is probably a better option for the people who aren’t like me in those respects.

 

A personal note: I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year — I’m busy getting ready to go to school in a few weeks, and I’m in the middle of a project right now anyway. But I’ll be writing along with everybody, and I’m always up to be somebody’s writing buddy! Good luck to everybody who’s participating; I’m rooting for you!

#InktoberButChill #3: Melancholy

Here’s another short fiction piece!

I’ve decided not to post #2, as I wasn’t very happy with it. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect myself to write something excellent every day, or to expect myself to share things that I don’t think are ready. So here’s #3 — which I wrote while thinking about shapeshifters.

Continue reading “#InktoberButChill #3: Melancholy”

#InktoberButChill Day 1: Nocturnal

Nocturnal: done, occurring, or active at night.

They would never dare gather in the daylight. It just isn’t safe — too many prying eyes, too many seeds for gossip. Only under the cover of the stars can they be certain that no one is watching. This is the time, after all, when no Right Person would be out, for fear of what might lurk in the darkness. (No one seems to be able to answer the question of just what might be doing the lurking, however.)

But of course, that which lurks is that which they gather to honor in the first place. The darkness itself, incarnate, bringing comfort to those who find it nowhere else.

A small light is placed in the center of the makeshift altar, by the youngest of them, as is customary. She is no longer afraid to perform the rites, the months having taught her the best ways to sneak away undetected, the unspoken prayers giving her strength.
The townspeople had called it the “balance of the universe” — her father’s disappearance, her mother’s simultaneous recovery. They were right, of course, but none but those in this unoccupied house know the specifics. Each of them has such a story; a prayer unspoken except in this house, away from any judgment that might be passed on them.

The candle illuminates their smiles as they link arms and wait in silence. Nothing needs to be said — they know they will be heard.

Inktober is upon us.

Hi friends!

My friend Charlie came up with an interesting idea for Inktober this year — a shortened list of fifteen prompts, allowing two days for each.

This is the list:

  1. Nocturnal
  2. Omen
  3. Melancholy
  4. Dreary
  5. Anachronism
  6. Brooding
  7. Tempest
  8. Macabre
  9. Rapture
  10. Mercurial
  11. Liminal
  12. Celestial
  13. Placid
  14. Cataclysm
  15. Resplendent

I basically fell in love with this on sight — except I can’t draw (motor skill issues are fun). So I’m going to take a crack at these prompts with some short fiction instead.

I’m pretty excited to see what I come up with for these. The first of them is already done, so I’ve got it scheduled to go up tomorrow morning!

Happy Inktober! ❤

It’s Camp NaNo time!

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time! Yaaaaaaaaay!
Well, okay. I don’t love Camp NaNoWriMo. That’s mostly because I tend to set my writing goals way too high. 1000 words a day? With this much depression knocking around in my head?????

Yeah. Nope. I’m not doing that to myself. This year, I’m taking a different approach.

This year, for Camp NaNo, I’m writing a short story. As far as word count goes, I’m shooting for 10,000 words — that’s less than 300 words a day, which is something I can manage pretty well.
Basically, I’m taking it easy on myself, relatively speaking. I’m still going to push myself, writing-wise — I’m sitting down at this keyboard seven days a week and banging out words, because forcing myself to sit down and write is usually the easiest way to make words come out of my hands. But I’m making an effort to be kinder to myself when it comes to my daily output, and this is going to be an extension of that.
I’m not really trying any new things this month as far as tools or my writing process goes. I started using WordGrinder a few months ago for my personal writing projects (read: my partner and I write goofy and gay fanfiction when we’re bored), and it plus git seems to work really well for me. So I’ll keep that strategy — although it occurs to me that I’ve never done a writeup on WordGrinder before, so maybe that’s in the future.
Anyway, more about the story, because I know you’re just dying for details — how could you not be, after all. It’s a speculative fiction piece, and it involves:

• planes
• queer people
• smuggling hormones to trans folks
• did I mention the planes?
So yeah, I’m pretty excited about this one. Let’s see how it goes!