All That Jazz

I’m writing this from my basement office where I finished moving my stuff back in here after trying for the last month or so to work from a desk in my bedroom or at the kitchen table. Those places are a nice break when I need a change of scenery, but for the day-to-day work sessions I need a dedicated space far away from rest of the house and the rest of the people in the house with a door I can close when I really need to. I say this as we enter a new month, which is always a nice chance to reset on goals and projects and other productivity nonsense I need to keep track of to make sure I have the time and mental space to do everything I need to do and want to do before I die.

And what is it exactly that I’ve been doing lately? The last time I wrote to you all I had finished a big readthrough of the first half of my book and wrote out a list of all the things that needed to fixed and/or added to get things solidified in the plot and the characters before moving on to writing the second half.

I’ve been busy turning that list into a fresh outline of the first half with notes indicating which scenes are already written (I had a lot of good scenes already written, but most of them were in the wrong place) and which scenes need to be written. There were about 15 scenes that I needed to create from scratch that didn’t exist before and I added all but the last four to my outline. So my goal for the next few days is to get those last few scenes added to my outline while adding the scenes that are currently written back to my blank document, but in the right spot so that I can start writing new pages for the second half of the book. I’ve had several self-imposed deadlines for this book that I’ve blown through, but I have a more concrete deadline now because I’ll be going to Bouchercon this year after missing last year and I want to have this book finished by then so I can talk about it knowing that it’s finished and in a good place.

Related to that, I’ve been journaling more regularly. I got away from it for a while thinking it was doing me more harm than good, but the truth is writing is how I work through all of the issues in my life from the mundane to the more dramatic and complex issues and I’m at a place in my life where I can’t be public about a lot of the stuff I’m working through, which means I need an outlet to write about it without publishing it – hence the return to journaling. I tried for a few days writing in a notebook by hand, but the time involved and the strain on my wrists was too much to keep up with every day, so I switched back to journaling online with DayOne. I love this app, and have really enjoyed using it in the past, but sitting at the computer to journal didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel intimate enough for journaling. It felt like blogging. I also felt like I was doing Doogie Howser, MD cosplay.

The answer came when I upgraded my decade old iPad to a new model. This thing is great and typing directly into my iPad using the keyboard on the screen gives me the intimate connection I was looking for. I’m also able to use the Apple pencil with it so that when I feel like I absolutely MUST write in longhand, I can do it on my iPad and it immediately converts it to typed text. It’s really quite amazing. I’ve also been ready more magazines and newspapers on this because the screen is great. I’ve even started dipping into reading comics on it.

Now let’s talk about what I haven’t been doing (aside from not finishing this book ha ha), I haven’t been on social media much lately and I’ve loved it. I used to be very addicted to social media, Twitter and Instagram specifically, but both have have been rendered unusable in very different ways and all of the new platforms trying to take their place are half-baked at best. Engagement is nearly non-existent, so it made it easy to pull back and not feel like I was missing much. In it’s place, I’ve been starting my day by playing games on the New York Times app like Wordle, Connections, and Spelling Bee. It keeps my brain fresh and makes me feel better when I’m done than social media ever did. I’ve also been reading more. I’ve switched to reading almost exclusively on my Kindle and between my reader, my iPad, and my phone, I always have a book nearby and I’ve been reading some good ones as well as getting back into reading short stories.

I’ve also been getting very big into Dungeons & Dragons. This is something I’ve been wanting to do since middle school, but never found the right game to join. Finally I got sick of waiting and decided to start on myself. I bought the Essentials Kit which set me up with just about everything I needed to get started and I’ve been playing with Spenser and Nat trying to get the hang of it all before I start inviting some other nerdy friends to play. It’s not only been a fun way to spend time with my kids, it’s been great for my storytelling muscles. I’ve been mostly restrained not buying too many accessories, but I’m itching to get some really cool things to play with.

I hope you’re all finding ways to keep your brains and imaginations engaged and exercised. And I really hope I get to see many of you in Nashville this year for Bouchercon. Until next month(ish)!