H is for both Hiatus and Halting this theme

Like so many blogs, a post at the start of the new year? Who would have expected that plot twist???

Everyone.

It’s been a while, I know, a frequent refrain on this blog. 2020, as it turned, was not the year I returned to blogging, or writing of any kind, really. I finished a few rough draft manuscripts – smoldering excrements not worth the pixels I used to form them, to be honest. I have nothing to blame, nothing to point at as the root cause (not politics, not the pandemic, honest). I just couldn’t find the headspace necessary to create. Regurgitate, sure, attempt to revitalize dead manuscripts, yep, but create whole from new cloth? Miserable failures only need apply.

2021 has made me no promises, and that’s to be expected.

Realizing my writing was sinking, I turned my attention to something else for a while last year, though still intimately related – reading. In fact, although I started the year with a book challenge goal of 35 books, I later revised it to 52, and even that didn’t account for the 67 books I actually read. They weren’t all doorstoppers, but still, wow.

I’m not entirely clear what the future of this blog is (or my writing in general). Neither is something I am ready to give up on, but both have suffered from extended absences. I know I have a blog post I intend to write soon comparing Kobo and Kindle e-readers because it’s something I’ve wrestled with of late. I also have some thoughts on minimalism – digital and otherwise – that I might jot down.

Looking ahead to 2021 – well, if 2020 taught us anything, trying to look a head is a fool’s errand. I started 2020 with all kinds of hopes. Reality was firm and a bit harsh in resetting that perspective for me. But I can talk about what I would like to see happen in 2021. Namely:

  • More writing, particularly of fiction. I have really floundered the last year, and I find myself falling into old traps far too often. I’ll start a new piece, only to decide that it would work better as part of my failed fantasy milieu (and it rarely does), and then both sets of work are spoiled and trashed. I’d really like to stop doing that this year. I miss the joy of creating, the thrill of documenting the scenes unfolding in my head.
  • I wouldn’t mind more writing, of the nonfiction/blogging sort. I have this space, I should use it better. I occasionally even have things to say that people might find interesting.
  • A vacation. Of some kind. Please. My wife (and I) haven’t had a real break in a long, long time. Possibly close to a decade or so, and never one where we didn’t have to worry about the kids. Well, the kids are all teens/adults now and don’t need us to pamper and watch over them all the time, so maybe we could get a little break where we can just relax? Complicated, of course, by the still raging pandemic.
  • In 2019, I made some great progress at weight loss. 2020 did not see me reverse that, but I also haven’t made any further progress. This isn’t as easy as nonobese people think it is (there, I said it). It isn’t just a matter of willpower or doing more of X and less of Y. I recognize my responsibility in it and would like to re-engage that part of my psyche that got me this far in 2019.
  • Reading. I surprised even myself by how many books I read in 2020. Yes, some were graphic novels. One was technically a short “children’s” book (though as a side note, I highly recommend reading The Little Prince to everyone. Wow. What a book.), but that is still 28,481 pages read last year. This year I would love to read at least 52 books again if I can – but only if I can. I’m more interested in reading good stories than in the number of stories read.

I had not intended this post to read like a New Year’s resolution, although it has that feel. That’s also probably a good place for me to stop this post and leave room for another. I think this year I might try a mix of my longer posts (like the Kobo/Kindle post), as well as some one offs that are little more than tweets that were too long for twitter.

Until next time!

E is for Erratic

A month ago, I set out to blog once a week. By accident, I set out with a theme of titling each blog with the next letter of the alphabet, and this week is no different. Picking what the word for E was going to be, that was the hard part.

My first choice was e-reader. Earlier this year, when my Kindle started growing long in the tooth, I decided it was time to finish my separation from an Amazon centric world and bought a Kobo. Of the Kobo, let me say, I love it. I like the independence from the Amazon ecosystem, but more so, the builtin integration to browse both my local library and my Pocket collection. There are some rough bits around the edges, but all in all I like the device.

The problem with that theme is that I’ve been slipping back into physical books of late. It seemed disingenuous to talk about e-readers when the last three books I’ve read, and the book I’m currently reading, are all paper books.

To say e-book was out goes without say.

So I floundered, looking for a topic for this week. I was late at the start – through a series of (unusual for me) circumstances, I woke up extremely late yesterday (Saturday) morning. So late that I had already missed my self imposed deadline for having a new blog post.

I did what any self respecting writer with a themed topic would do, especially when that theme was simply titling each post with the next letter of the alphabet.

I turned to the dictionary.

But not at first. First I turned to the thesaurus, sure that it would have an appropriate synonym for words like procrastinate or delayed or even just put off. Luck was not with me, or my yellowed Rogett’s was just too geared for younger students. So I turned to my two volume, 1976 dictionary set, and started paging through the E listing. I knew e-books and e-readers, and anything e-centric, wouldn’t do. I had a few contenders, fingers holding my place as I leafed, when I realized what the root of the problem was.

I haven’t been blogging consistently the last year or so. I have my rational, and I’ve talked about it before, but I am trying to make up for that. Writers write, as they say, and how can I be a writer if I never write? And while the blog isn’t fiction, and isn’t even decent small town editorial quality, it is something I can point at. But of late, I’d become rather erratic in my posting.

And that’s how we got here today, folks, with E is for Erratic. I can’t promise it won’t happen again – it might even happen next week. But if it does, I’ll just point at this post with an apologetic smile and point out that I admitted early on these were going to be erratic at times.

The Curious Case of the Spare Domain

In a bit of unusual optimism and enthusiasm, I set up a Facebook author’s page last week. Up till now I had resisted the idea, mostly on account of not having actually published anything yet. But with my first story sale appearing in NewMyths,  it seemed like a brilliant time to change that.

I use the word brilliant with a pinch of salt here.

In setting up the page, I had to come up with a unique handle for the URL (i.e., http://www.facebook.com/somethinghere). I thought about using kodermike, which is the online name I use most everywhere, but decided against it because I didn’t want this to be just another copy of the same, but wanted it to be something unique and identifiable for the writing part of my life. It helps I was also doing an interview for a friend last week and one of her questions was whether I had an author page.

So, after a moment of genius (again, irony), I went with “CummingsWrites.” Then my brain did something evil and started thinking ahead, and the next thing you know I own the domain cummingswrites.com.

Only now I don’t know what to do with it. I thought about setting it up as a separate blog, a separate space all together where I could put my writing specific thoughts, observations, news, etc., leaving this blog (datanode.net) as a place where I could just put up my own personal entries. The only problem with that being that when you cut out the writing related posts, there really isn’t that much more to say.

For now, I have cummingswrites.com pointing here. I may eventually opt to swap that – make the blog into cummingswrites.com and just keep datanode pointing here. A lot of this is putting the horse not just ahead of the cart, but about a mile away.

If you have a thought, let me know. I’m very open to suggestion, as anyone that has witnessed me with my girls can attest to.