How I’m Keeping Busy

When I was laid-off back in April, I had mixed feelings.  At first there was a moment of “I HAVE NO JOB! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”, which luckily soon passed (sustained screaming makes my throat bad-tingle).  Once that moment was gone, I realized that my old job had made me…not miserable, that’s too strong.  It made me enervated; I would start the day with ideas of the things I would do once I finished work that day, but by the time I got home I was drained.  Not that the job (shipping/receiving) was hard, it wasn’t.  I was really good at it, which was the only reason I had survived through two prior rounds of lay-offs.

But being good at a job and loving your job are two different things.  So while I certainly miss having a job, I don’t miss that job.  Because of this, I made the decision to stay on EI for a while, and try my hand at some things I do love.  So here is a quick rundown of some of the things I’m working on at the moment:

Freelancing:  I officially hung out my shingle today as a “white collar mercenary”, providing editing, data entry and research services on a freelance basis.  You can check out my Rate Sheet, hidden under the About Renaissance Dork button above.  I think there is a “freelance office worker” niche to be filled for self-publishing authors, small press houses and small businesses that can’t afford a staffing agency.  And since I both enjoy and am good at editing and research, and am willing to perform data entry (can anyone be said to enjoy it?), I might as well fit myself into that niche.  I am excited about this, and curious what will come of it.

Volunteering for On Spec:  I have been a fan of short SF fiction for a real long time, and a fan of On Spec for almost as long (as I talk about here).  Shortly after Aluma gave me my walking papers, I contacted Diane and asked if I could help out, maybe read some slushpile stuff that was piling up.  She was gracious enough to allow me to do some copy-editing, as well as putting me in charge of the @OnSpecMagazine Twitter feed (which you should follow if you love Canadian SF and cool stuff like that).  I’m loving both, but the copy-editing has been the best fun so far.  I’m currently editing two stories, and one of them is in my favourite (though somewhat scary) stage, working with the writer.  I won’t say any more, other than you will love these stories when they come out!

RPG Writing:  Oddly, while this is the one I was most excited to get to work on, it is the one that has stalled the most for me.  I’m still working out for myself why that might be, though I know the fault lies with me and not any outside source.  But in the meantime I have worked up the second draft of a Pathfinder Society scenario submission, started the second draft of an article to be submitted to Wayfinder Magazine (a fan published/created magazine on Pathfinder), and am picking out three article proposals to send in to Kobold Quarterly.  I did complete a paid assignment for a game product coming out soonish, but I don’t know how much I can talk about it prior to it being announced.  So let us say I am cautiously optimistic about my future as an RPG writer, and leave it there for now.

The Blog: Well, you’re here, so I don’t really need to explain what this is.  I’ve wanted to focus on writing for a while, and the blog is a big part of that.  Not only does it give me a chance to sound-off about the geeky things I love so much, it has also helped me form relationships with other bloggers/writers.  And as part of my daily writing process, it does two things. First, I can use it to clear out the cobwebs at the start of the day, by banging out a blog entry, freeform (which I later edit and re-write; don’t worry, only the best for you guys!)  Second, if I’m stuck on something else I’m writing I just pull up the blog and work on that.  At some point that unsticks me, and I can go back to what I was working on.  So whatever else happens, the blog is too important for me to give up.

The Sorta Secret Project: Used to be Super Secret, but I couldn’t contain my excitement and told a few people.  I’m not going to give away too much…oh, all right.  Here are three clues: I’ll still be talking about geeky stuff; I’ll be working with a fellow geek I’m rather fond of; and it will start (as far as you are concerned) in February.  Beyond that, my lips are sealed GABBO!

And that is what fills the days and sometimes nights of the Renaissance Dork, padded out with role-playing games, television and the occasional movie.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life, and hey, tell all your friends about the white collar mercenary thing, eh?

Comments, in perpetuity, below.


New Site, Same Old Dork!

Yes, it is true.  After years on Blogspot I decided it was time for a change.  Having heard such wonderful things from several people about the green, green grass over at WordPress I decided to give it a go.  The verdict so far?  Smoother, easier to use and a lot more writer friendly.  Plus, Blogspot was doing some weird stuff, dropping pics and such.  Hard to miss a site that makes parts of your post disappear.

So feel free to reset your RSS feeds and bookmarks, it looks like I’ll be here a good long while.  I’ll also being tinkering a bit, here and there, to spruce the place up.  But in the meantime, on with the show!

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I’d like to talk a little bit about perfection, and what an absolute pile of horseshit it is.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to geekery with the next post, I promise)  I struggled with being a perfectionist for a very long time, and I can tell you from firsthand experience it sucks.  Not just because it puts so much stress into even the simplest acts of creation; that in itself would be bad enough.  The constant, anxious focus on making sure that every…little…piece fits just so into what I’m creating is quite frankly draining.  No, the real suckage that perfectionism brings is all the projects never started because I couldn’t get them perfect in my head, or the situation wasn’t just right, or my life somehow wasn’t in exactly the right spot.  And that has been the real challenge for me, to stop using perfection as an excuse to keep myself from trying.

I watch a show on HGTV called “Holmes on Homes” (this may seem like a digression, but bear with me). For those that have never watched it, Mike Holmes is a contractor who comes into a different person’s home each episode and fixes what a previous contractor has screwed up.  I get a very comfortable feeling watching Mike tear out crappy work and replacing it with good work.

But here is the reason I bring it up: at one point in an episode he talked about the difference between something being “straight” and being “true”.  He basically said that it is very unlikely that you can make anything in a home renovation “straight”.  Angles won’t be perfect, cuts have been done fractionally wrong, floors have settled and so on.  And if you try to make things “straight” you’ll end up with something that doesn’t look right because nothing around it is straight.  But if instead you try to make it “true”, that is, try to match it to the existing imperfections while at the same time balancing them out, you will give the appearance  of “straight” because what you are building fits.

So that is what I am going to work on from here on out.  I’m going to stay less focused on making sure that every angle is perfect, and instead look to make sure that what I’m working on is true.  Whether that is my writing, employment, gaming, weight-loss, whatever; I am going to look at ways to make it fit with what is already here, instead of trying to get everything in some nonsensical “perfect order”.

And for me, an important component is going to be adding the fun back.  Once upon a time I used to enjoy writing, a lot.  It used to bring me joy to write gaming material and short stories.  I can remember that, from way back in my teens.  I looked forward to the times that I could write and I resented anything that took away that time.  If things are going to be true I have let that joy come back.  Because I’m starting to realize that without that I’m not going to get very far with anything I decide to pursue.

Okay, so that was my HGTV-inspired epiphany.  Thoughts?