Current workflow

I like sharing this from time to time, in part to illustrate how fluid a process it is, in part to share what’s working for me now in case it helps someone else.

Over the last few months, I’ve found my writing – and in general, non-work activities – are typically browser bound. I blog in a browser, I email in a browser, and I’ve even taken up writing in a browser (90% of the time any way). When I got paid for my NewMyths story, I already had a plan on what to do with the money. While not a princely sum (this is short fiction, not NY Times bestseller material), the check was enough that with a little saving, I could afford a Chromebook.

I know, a Chromebook must seem like an odd choice for a self professed Linux guy who works on servers all day, but the fact is the simplicity appeals to me. I owned an ASUS Netbook when they were just coming out and loved that little thing to death. Quite literally. I wrote a novel on that thing while sitting in the back of a commuter van in what now seems like another lifetime. A Chromebook spoke to that time in my writing, as well as a desire to have something light and simple I could carry around. When it comes to battery life, simple is better – the less there is to power, the longer the power lasts.

So with no trepidation at all, I bought an ASUS Chromebook. The stats aren’t bad (or great) – 4GB of memory, 16GB SD, plus the usual features (camera, usb ports, etc.).

First Impressions

It’s just as light and easy to use as I’d hoped. It weighs in at less than 2 pounds, and took only moments to integrate into my Google profile. The specs say that it can last for 13 hours on battery. Truth is less than that – that’s 13 hours if you don’t have wifi or bluetooth enabled. I don’t do bluetooth typically, but wifi is typically on, so my battery life is typically closer to 11 hours.

Still. That’s ELEVEN hours of battery life before it needs a charge. That’s more time than I ever get to work on writing, so that’s just fine.

The Bad

It’s a bit slower than I anticipated – my Google Drive pages can take a while to load, even when charged, plugged in (because experience is that wifi signal is weaker on battery for most devices), and near a wifi source. But the only place speed really matters – sitting inside a Google doc, writing – there is no problem, so I’ve got no complaints. If I wasn’t so impatient, I’d have saved up for the more expensive Intel model – I’m positive that the chipset is playing a factor in performance speed.

That said, that’s my entire list of bad things.

The Good

I’m a Chrome user anyway, so it was nice that once I logged into the Chromebook, everything was already there. Bookmarks, plugins, the works. I haven’t found a site yet that fails to work on the Chromebook (the same cannot be said for Chrome on Linux 🙁 ). Since getting the Chromebook earlier this week, I’ve written a few thousand words, edited another 10k words, and started a new short story. Not shabby for a few days work.

So In Conclusion

Do I see myself writing on the Chromebook all the time every time? Eh, maybe. Probably not, though. There are a few things that Google Docs won’t do for me (certain types of document edits, etc.) that I need a real computer for. I know there are services that let you edit word and openoffice docs, but the ones I found (like Zoho) are a bit cost prohibitive for me.

I do expect to see at least the next few short stories start life on the Chromebook, as well as the edits for the novel WIP.

Real life, publications, and writing

Suffice it to say, I’ll be happy when the current phase of my day job is over and I can get back to just a workaholic who writes in his free time. For the last month now, I have been acting Director of Devops at Imgur.

Don’t get excited.

The position is temporary while I help look for someone willing to take it on full time. Which also means in the interim I am doing both that job and my job along with all of the other giraffe corralling that that involves. That’s not to say the job is bad, but wearing both hats is wearying. I look forward to the day I’m only wearing the one hat, whichever it turns out to be (and it most likely will be the one I was wearing before – again, don’t get excited).

Of course, when a workaholic says work is crushing them, that means there really is no time left to write. Which is a shame, because I have both a novel in revision, a stack of short stories in need of a little more love, and a notion for making one of my stories the seed for a novel (that last one is thanks to a very persistent beta reader who’s opinion I value). And all of that on top of waiting to hear back on short stories that are out there in the wild already.

I realize that this is the kind of situation that separates writers from daydreamers. I know I am on the cusp of getting some short stories published. Despite all of the revisions I know are ahead of me for the current novel, I really believe it will find an audience. And on top of all that, I know that seed that’s sitting on the side right now can truly blossom given some love, attention, and time. And of course words, lots of words.

Finding the time is the hardest part. For now, I have to give balance to work and family, but that leaves precious little time for writing at the end of the day. Since I can’t seem to get anyone on board with extending the number of hours in a day, I guess I’ll have to resort to finding a new way to wedge the writing in. I know that if I don’t act soon, the words for these stories will begin to shrivel. It’s only through the constant act of pruning and nurturing that stories develop and flourish.

And on that poetic note, have a good one! I’m off to nurse a swollen gum (as a result of dental surgery) and do some housework.

Nephrology, editing, and a new tool to play with

Today I met with the nephrologist for the first time. All in all, the experience was not as terrifying as I had built it up in my head. Then again, it was only the first visit. What I did learn was that we’re going to spend the next three months reevaluating lifestyle, adding some medication, and doing more testing. In other words, no real prognosis right now, just more tests and comparisons to see if there really is a problem or not (or rather, just how serious it is and how much panic is worthy).

Spinning up on the positive side, I’ve begun my first real read through of the novel I finished in November. I’ve already cut ten pages (ten pages it couldn’t afford to lose), made notes for a new chapter, and changed most of the text in what remains of the first chapter. So that’s going well.

Editing means working with text. In the past I had a tool I loved until I began to feel the weight of how big it was. But I find I miss only one thing about scrivener in linux (and yes, I know there’s a port, but it’s just not the same – or supported), and that’s being able to work easily with discreet segments of text. In scrivener, each scene can be its only file. When writing using markdown, it was all one large file. Sure, I could have broken that up and put it together at compile time, but that still would have required keeping track and organizing of a hundred small files.

Enter Plume-Creator, an application my friend Ken has raved about for years. I don’t want to compare it to another application, because that’s not fair to either. But I will say it lets you work on multiple kinds of fiction writing, and appears (so far) to respect the discreet but whole approach. It’s a little weak in some places (absolutely zero import options? really? not even text?), but I plan on trying to produce the second draft of Chrysalis in it. We’ll see how far I get with it.

And that’s my day so far. Here’s hoping your day is going half as well 🙂