A lack of written words is not a lack of desire

Monthly updates do not a good blog make. There are probably a few exceptions to that rule of thumb, such as sites that publish all of their articles in magazine format on a monthly basis, or the more successful review blogs. But for all intents and purposes, I know that it does me no good to not be blogging.

But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to not blogging, I haven’t been writing much lately either. It’s the season of NanoWriMo (and if you are participating this year, know that you have my support all the way – it’s a grueling but rewarding experience to even attempt it), but I’ve elected not to participate this year. “Ah,” my newsletter readers will assume, “surely that means you are wrapping up the next Niki Hunter book?”

Unfortunately, no, and that’s part of the problem. I’m about 40-50k into a draft, a fair chunk of writing under my belt, but I’m lacking the motivation to move forward on it. I’ve stepped back for now, and have asked my better half to take a read through and tell me if the story is even working. The problem is that I’m so close to it, I can’t tell if it’s working as a novel, or if it’s floundering about. When you write a novel, you keep so much of the story in your head as you write it that sometimes you fail to put it all down. So while you know the complete story, the reader is left with a disjointed account. Did that happen here? I’m not sure – that’s why I need a second opinion.

So what am I doing to fill the time?

Well, there’s been a lot of Breath of the Wild. My youngest and oldest and I are playing (independently, but trading shrine and challenge info), and that’s been a lot of fun. I really love being able to play a game on a handheld or on the TV without any break in continuity. I had the gold cartridge of the original Legend of Zelda, and it’s fun to see how far the game series has come since then.

I’ve also been working my way through my stamp collection again, the US issues in particular. I’m catching cataloging mistakes I made originally, which in some instance is disappointing, and others very exciting. Plus, it really is fun to have a hobby where all of your attention is focussed on something so completely non-digital it literally comes from another era. Of course, I’m not completely without my technical crutches – this time around I am scanning everything as I go so that I can make a database of what I have, condition, and estimated value. I’ve never actually taken the time to do a large scale audit of the collection, and what I’m finding is fascinating.

Finally, and I suspect it goes without say, my time has been filled a lot with work. I got a promotion this past summer, and the aftermath of that is more work to fill the nooks and crannies of life. We’ve been pretty busy since summer, and the fruits of those labors are starting to come out. Recently, we launched a longtime fan requested Favorite Folders, and there’s more where that came from.

So, to sum up: Michael has lots of things filling his time, very few of them are writing, mostly because he has a lack of faith in what he’s written to this point on the current novel. ┬áMoving forward, I will return to Niki’s story…eventually. In the meantime, I may work another stalled project to get the mental juices flowing, but don’t be surprised to find me waxing philosophical on perforations and watermarks in the interim.

Stamp Collecting and a Pro-tip – Rubbing Alcohol

English: US Postage stamp, Washington, 1857 is...
English: US Postage stamp, Washington, 1857 issue, 3c, 1st officially perforated issue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long neglected and scattered throughout the house, this weekend I began work on something I’ve been meaning to get back to ever since the debacle with trying to sell it – my stamp collection. Looking it over, I realized what a chaotic mess it was. My goal for the foreseeable future (with one possible exception in March) is to buy nothing, but to work on sorting and cataloging what I have . I’ve resurrected my old database, which will at least serve as a good starting point, and I’ve begun sorting through the mounds of stamps I have, starting with the US issues. (That’s not my stamp in the photo, btw, though I do have an imperforated version)

Which brings me to tonight’s pro-tip. One of the things I love to do is to buy someone else’s album at a stamp shop, nicking from their abandoned collections the stamps missing in my own. Of course, this means I end up with duplicates, but there have been some real treasures too. Thanks to one careful collector, for instance, I now have most of the US issues from 1949 – 1978 mint, never hinged. Not worth a fortune, but still, impressive!

But this also means having to deal with the more common scenario – stamps that have been mounted in a cheap album. Simply pulling off the mounts can damage the stamp, but leaving them on can pose its own problems. Enter: rubbing alcohol. Gingerly applied, and assuming there is no gum we’re trying to preserve, it can be used to quickly soften the glues of the stamp mount and remove it safely without any damage. Rumor has it that it can also be used as a watermark agent (for detecting), though I’m not ready to experiment with that quite yet.

What don’t I like about sorting duplicates? The 1926-34 2c Washington, carmine in color, Scott #634. For every few hundred, there are a few that contain an interesting flaw (the Type II), but it takes a lot of them to be able to find the few that do. How do I know?

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Because I went through this stack, perforation checking them first to make sure they were the right dimensions (because the same face was used multiple times, each with a slight variation in dimensions and perforation). I hate this stamp.

Swing side again – what surprised (and delighted) me the most this weekend was that middle daughter dove in with me, spending a large chunk of time sorting and organizing a huge container of loose stamps. Socks blown off.

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