Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

31 December, 2012

Small Skinny Quiz of 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

It is the last day of the year, so it’s a good day to stop and look back at what has happened so far. If you’ve been reading my little blog, I hope you were paying attention along the way, ’cause here comes the quiz. If you haven’t been reading it and are just coming in now, I hope you’re a good guesser. Best of luck, and happy new year!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

3 May, 2012

Writing on a Schedule

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

All right, time for some rambling. The time is rapidly approaching midnight, and if I am to stick to my schedule I need something to go up, and I have no good ideas popping up.

The thing is, I do have a few ideas. I have a list of draft posts which consist mainly of a title and maybe a few words describing the core of the idea, but these are ideas I think are pretty good, and they require a certain amount of time and effort to do right. Lately, I have not found much of that time. My writing, as a result suffers, as I try to squeeze out something passable despite lack of inspiration and time to polish.

Now, forcing yourself to write regardless of quality has some merit. That’s part of the reason why I made this schedule in the first place. It’s also the core idea behind NaNoWriMo; quantity can in some cases be better than quality. If you don’t write some crap first, you won’t get to the good part later. I read a book on writing once that said the first million words you write are practice, and don’t count. Even if you publish books and win awards, put them away, and keep practising. I don’t recall who wrote that book, but presumably he’d written a fair bit himself, and the message seems sound. You have to write through the crap and the duds to get good enough to write the real things.

I’ve tried my hand at NaNoWriMo a couple of times. Once, I even made the target, 50 000 words written in November. The other time I petered out after 14 000, as I found myself without time – there’s that word again – to devote to the project. November just isn’t a very good month for that sort of undertaking, I think.

In neither project did I have a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I had some characters in mind, and a couple of settings that I still think are pretty neat, but no clue whatsoever on plot. Both of the texts ended up being mostly a series of events without much conflict attached – a very long introduction, essentially. The first go, the one where I actually finished, was a story about a young ghost. The idea was that ghosts and goblins and all manner of mythological creatures were actually related beings made of some dark energy, and they had set up a society of their own on the other side of reflections – not mirrors, mind you, reflections. The story was basically this young ghost, having been born in the real world, travelling there and settling in … and that’s that, the end. 50 000 words of exposition. Like I said, no good ideas for plot materialised. I might go back to it at some point, though, I think there’s something good to extract from it.

The other attempt was much less developed, but also a concept I’m more excited about and which I absolutely intend to return to. It was a fantasy about a group belonging to a monastic religion focused on fire worship establishing a small foothold in a Victorianesque industrial city on the far side of the world. Picture a Buddhist missionary monastery opening in 1850s London. Except they can control fire. Anyway, I didn’t really get far enough for much plot in that one either, but I’m real invested in the world building there.

Right, that’s stream of conciousness for you. Started with whining about blogging, ended up talking about writing fiction. The point of it all was the idea of forcing production, as I’ve done for this very post here. Actually, I think it ended up not being half bad. Made me want to star up the fiction writing again, too, though I doubt I’ll find the time before the holiday. Still, not bad, twenty minutes before the deadline.

16 February, 2012

Abject Terror

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

So, some times you get results you didn’t expect.

Sunday evening I sat there panicking about the impending public shame that would result from a Monday with no post, so I hit upon the idea of making a quick and dirty one, that would be fairly easy – essentially a small list. I knew there would be some duds when I started, right? So I pooped this post out in about forty minutes of not very focused work – which doesn’t mean I picked the links at random, though, they really are very, very good – and then scheduled it for publication. Sure, it wasn’t my best work, but I went on with my day secure in the knowledge that I don’t really have many readers yet.

And then this happened:A tweet by David Willis

 

And then this happened: Graph of site visitors

And then this happened: A drawing of me hiding under a table

Sure, two hundred people may not be very many in the grand scale of things, but for a fledgling blog that still numbered its posts in single digits and had its previous high point in visitors at 12, it was a bit of a jump. And on that post, too! The half-arsed, minimum-work hackery! It’s very possible this is the largest audience I’ve ever had, and that is what I showed them? And these aren’t people who’ll be coming back, either, I had one chance at an impression here!

It didn’t even look good! The subheadings weren’t very aesthetically pleasing. I thought about trying to make them look better as I wrote the post, maybe make some nice lines under each of them, but decided to not get bogged down in that sort of coding minutiae. That’s the sort of stuff I’d use to distract myself from writing anything at all. So up it went, in all its lack of glory.

Obviously I’m glad Willis liked it enough to comment, that was a nice thing to do of him. But man, it was not a post designed to impress writers I admire.

So, lessons learned? Fear the duds. Try not to be mediocre where large groups might see it. And when you link to someone awesome, someone awesome might also link back to you, so … try not to? That’s the lesson here? Hell if I know.

19 January, 2012

The Smell Doesn’t Really Matter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Naming things is hard. As I am writing this, I am trying to think of a new name for this site, something to go on the top banner to trumpet the identity of this little blog. I am finding it difficult. By the time this post is published, I suppose I will have chosen one, displayed right at the top of this very page, so the suspense is ruined from the start, but perhaps the process will be interesting even so.

In its previous incarnation, the blog was simply called Obdormio.com, the domain name filling the role of title. That is a common practice, but in this case I think it was more a matter of me giving up on finding a proper title than anything else. As the new site rises from the ashes of the old, the domain name stays the same – it is a good enough name for me; it uses the handle I have employed on the Internet for many years, and the site is still all about whatever I’m thinking of – but I should like a new title for it. And finding one is hard.

I’ve never been good at naming things, I always worry that the name doesn’t say enough or too much – or the wrong thing entirely. The plain fact of the matter is that Juliet was full of crap – there’s a lot of stuff in a name. It sets the tone right away, and I suppose part of the difficulty in choosing one is that I am not entirely certain what the tone will be here yet. The problem is, I want it all. I want it to be humorous, with some silly nonsense to make people chuckle. I want it to be serious, where I can write about issues I am thinking about. I want it to be informal, entertaining, fictional, real and personal. Is there a name that can incorporate all that? Well, yes, “blog” can do it, but it seems a bit generic.

Title Suggestion: The Blog

And hubristic.

I am somewhat enamoured with big and obscure words, so perhaps I could try to dig up some sort of forgotten word from the Phrontistery with a meaning relating to speaking or writing or rambling.

Title Suggestion: Somniloquence

Possibly even relating cleverly to my chosen handle.

Since I have chosen a visual theme that emulates magazines or newspapers, perhaps I should go with a title that emulated that as well? Content ripped straight from the headlines of my head!

Title Suggestion: The Internal Chronicle

Something like this, but better.

I have toyed with the idea of using a longer phrase, though it does carry the danger of making it hard to remember, or hard to relate to the content. Or worse, just lame.

Title Suggestion: Sufficiently accurate for poetry

"Stealing Babbage's words and making them way more pretentious!"

I just don’t know. Of these, I think I like “Somniloquence” best, but even that doesn’t feel quite right. The perfectionist in me is probably the main barrier to just picking one, I’m afraid. It’s not even as though I can’t change it if I feel like it – the domain name stays the same, after all.

Well, dear future reader, as noted at the start, you already know what I ended up picking. Future people get all the perks. I’ve still got no idea. Naming things is hard.

16 January, 2012

I Am Not a Blogger: A Blank Slate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I am not a blogger, by nature. This, I have deduced from my previous attempts to keep a blog going. It just doesn’t come naturally to me, keeping a regular schedule, updating again and again. While I do enjoy writing, there is a drive, deeply ingrained in me, not to force something for the sake of production.

It’s not a good thing, I think. Forcing production will, of course, result in some duds, but on the whole I think it would do me good to write something regularly – both from a writing and a time management point of view. Improving prose is a good thing. Managing time enough to do it is also a good thing. I have always disliked the Da Vinci quote about there being sufficient time for those who make use of it, because I always feel that time is not sufficient. Unable to fault the premise of the quote, I am left with the fact that I just plain suck at managing my time, something I should seek to rectify. Apparently, Da Vinci also said, “I have wasted my hours,” a much more heartening quote on one level as it puts me in good company – but a second look brings me down to Earth again as it means Da Vinci managed to waste his hours a lot more productively than I.

But back to the point: I am not a blogger, or rather, not blogger material. I don’t have a specific topic – TV reviews, for instance –  in mind to give this thing a focus. I don’t mingle with famous people, and know very little in the form of gossip. I have no particular qualifications setting me up as someone giving informed opinions on a subject. Or, I suppose a case could be made that I should be able to speak with some authority on the subject of revenge tragedy in comics, but I certainly don’t feel like an expert. The thesis got a middling grade, in any case. Looking back on it now, only half a year on, there are already many things I would do differently in it had I the chance, but I don’t really spend much effort on that line of thought.

This is another deeply ingrained conviction, a healthier one this time. I firmly belive that there is little point in dwelling on things you can’t do anything about, and the past falls firmly into this category. I just do not see the point in worrying about something beyond my own ability to affect. That’s not to say that I never do, of course, but I try not to, and I think I am happier for it. The Serenity Prayer does sum it all up quite nicely, I think: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. What cannot be changed, past mistakes among them, should not unduly disturb the present.

But isn’t this whole post dwelling on past failures, failures of time management, commitment, and writing? Yes, and no. Not allowing the past to disturb you isn’t the same as not learning from it. And that, I suppose, is the point of this whole thing, in addition to forcing production – it is a resolution to change and do better. Is it a New Year’s resolution? Not really, though I suppose the arrival of a new year helps kick start this sort of stock taking. Let’s call that one a maybe.

I’ve cleared away the old nonsense from this site, making room for new things. I am not a blogger, but I am resolving to try to become one. Regular production of text, on a schedule of some sorts. Public shame should I falter. And what is all this blogging going to be about? I have no idea. Probably a lot more stream of conciousness rambling like this, to be honest. Hopefully I’ll find a few actual topics to bite into in between the duds. You have to write a lot of shit to get to the gold, the wisdom goes, so if I keep going long enough, I’m sure something will come of it.

I have wasted my hours. I will probably waste many more. But going forwards, I’ll see if I can’t save a few of them.

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