A moofable feast.

Be brave enough to burn and you'll be brave enough to fly.

Friday, October 24th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

So, the poem I have been talking about? I don't want to jinx anything by being overly specific before it's actually on the publication docket, but for now, let it simply suffice to say that it has been accepted by a paying market.

That's really the only topic on my mind this morning, so I don't have much else to say in this report. I did succeed in keeping up my random productive writing streak yesterday. It's another piece of flash fiction and not something that's likely to sell, at least not by itself, but if nothing else, it's another Halloween monster tale I can slip into the newsletter next Friday.

The State of the Me

General soreness continues. I was also up late last night as the excitement over my poem, so we'll see what happens.

Plans For Today

Today's going to be entirely MU-focused. I've been bouncing ideas around for fulfilling the bonus story, since that mark was hit almost as soon as it went up. That's going to be my "random side writing" project for the day.

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With everything that's been going on...
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alexandraerin
...I don't think I mentioned that I have in fact joined the WisCon convention committee as a member of the media & communications team. In the long-term, I would like to take a more active hand in the public internet presence of the convention, but right now those things seem to still be in a bit of a transitional mode. I have been helping to craft and polish external communications a bit, where I can.

I volunteered my skills because communication is one of my strong points, but also because it's been one of the con's weak ones, in both directions: listening and speaking. The idea of a media & communications team is a fairly new one and its role is still being defined, but my personal take on it is that our role should include listening.

During the crises of trust that resulted over this summer from the handling of abuse claims, there was a persistent refrain from within the ConCom about the importance of maintaining a single channel of information in order to prevent confusion and rumormongering. As an outsider to the ConCom, I challenged this line of thinking several times by asking if anyone really thought that it was working. From my position on the ground, it seemed pretty clear that the attempts to maintain a wall of silence did nothing to alleviate confusion, and created the circumstances that led to the circulation of rumors.

In fact, I think we must give credit where credit is due. If not for the ConCom members who broke silence and "told tales outside of school", either publicly or in confidence, then a number of people who ultimately increased their involvement with the con might have otherwise left it for good.

I know that's true of myself.

This is why I can't turn around and co-sign a policy of squelching open discussion. The convention is run on a consensus model, though, so while I will be defending this idea vigorously, I cannot unilaterally implement it. Still, it is the viewpoint that I will represent.

This is a time of change for the con, and its leadership. A lot of things are still up in the air. A lot of things have yet to be determined. This much is true: the con belongs to its members, but the big decisions will be made by those who do the work to make them happen. We have an opportunity here, and a responsibility to use it wisely.

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Thursday, October 23rd
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Well, I woke up this morning to a very encouraging response to the poem I mentioned the other day. We'll see how things go there. I don't want to say too much and jinx things.

On the subject of encouraging things: as I mentioned in a post yesterday afternoon, I've written a 10,000 word story I'm going to be submitting to an anthology in a week or so (as that's the deadline). That might not seem like a lot of time to polish such a long piece written in five hours, but while it could use some tightening and strengthening, I've honestly had pieces in rougher condition be accepted for publication before. I think at this point, great first drafts are officially one of my superpowers.

I tell you, I talk a lot about how writing (and creative work in general) depends on confidence a lot, and I think of doing random bits of side writing as getting up my confidence by Doing The Thing repeatedly, but this week has been great for my confidence all around.

The State of the Me

My body is all over the place this week: up, down, turn around, please don't let me hit the ground. I'm at the point where hurting a little bit all over is pretty much registering as okay. I think it's got a lot to do with the weather, which is similarly variable.

Plans For Today

I think today's likely to be the day that breaks my "reasonably finished, self-contained work" streak. After this is posted, I do plan to find something to noodle around with but I don't have any real solid ideas. Eh. The point of random writing isn't just the gems.

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So, about that thing I was talking about this morning...
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alexandraerin
...where the past two days I've ended up writing something short that I thought I could possibly place/sell somewhere?

This morning I got a slight inkling to write a short story for a call for submissions a friend had mentioned in conversation to me over the weekend. I started writing at 10:00 a.m., and at 3... after breaks for breakfast and lunch... I had a finished draft that was just 33 words under the 10,000 word upper bound for the publication.

And I think it's pretty good. I'm going to have to do some streamlining because it could definitely stand to have some more physical description in places, but I'm pretty well-pleased by it.

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Wednesday, October 22nd
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

So, both workdays this week so far, I've ended up writing an entirely new (if short) piece: a flash fiction story that I'll be entering in another contest next month on Monday, and a poem that I'm seriously thinking about submitting to a magazine. It's a mistake to look at two days in a row and declare them to be the new pattern, but two days in a row with successful random writing is definitely a nice trend. The fact that they're both pieces that I feel stand a good shot at outside publication is also a nice sign.

I think this is a good alternative to my old attempted standby of writing a flash story every day: write something. If I'm writing something new every day, then a lot of the time it'll end up being a flash fic, but if it doesn't, then it's not a failure. If it's a fragment that goes nowhere, that's okay. If it's part of a short story, that's also okay.

The State of the Me

Doing okay.

Plans For Today

Today I'm got some necessary business that's going to be taking me out and about, but I should be back in plenty of time to

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Tuesday, October 21st
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Yesterday was a very good day, in no small part because I happened to wake up with energy levels that matched my resolve for the week. Today I'm feeling a good deal less peppy.

In addition to having accomplished many practical things yesterday, I also thought a lot about my goals. I've never written as much general short fiction as I want to, and I think this is all wrapped up in the issues I described yesterday regarding short stories in the MUniverse. Feeling guilty/conflicted about any part of my creative output is going to impact the rest.

I've been doing pretty good on that front lately, though. There will be more news on that in the near future, but for now I'm just going to say that I'm doing well.

The State of the Me

Today's a slower, lower energy day, though I'm feeling less hit by a truck after breakfast, pills, and a modicum of caffeine.

Plans For Today

I'm going to keep things modest compared to yesterday. I'm going to focus pretty much exclusively on writing. I have a random story idea bouncing around in my head that I'm trying to sketch out this morning, and a chapter to write this afternoon, and another chapter to give a final coat of polish before posting. (It's nice being ahead again.)

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By far and away...
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alexandraerin
...the best ongoing fundraising model I've ever had for my writing is the "bonus story" approach, where every $X, I write and post an "Other Tales" selection on the site, a little side story or standalone or "Meanwhile" or flash backwards or forwards, or whatever.

It's a useful writing exercise because it helps keep me rooted in the world of the story and thinking about the bigger picture, because it means if I'm stuck on the main story I can always change tracks, and because more writing is more good.

And it's a useful fundraising approach because there's a tangible benefit, the benchmarks are low enough that people don't need to be assured that their contribution does actually help reach it, and there's a constant on-screen reminder that while I do this for free, I do depend on it for money, so I have to actively remind people less.

And honestly, some of the stories that have come out of the Other Tales/bonus story approach are among the best things I've written, to the point where I'm thinking about making an anthology out of some of them that I think would appeal to general fantasy fans.

But the thing is, I haven't consistently used this approach for years.

And the reason I haven't, essentially, is the Centipede's Dilemma. (Warning: Link to TVTropes. Clear your schedule as needed before clicking.)

It was fine when I was just doing bonus stories, but then I added in side stories, like the story with Mackenzie's brother that was supposed to run once a month for a 13 months. And other stories earned as perks for specific fundraisers. And things like that.

See, when I've got all those things to juggle, I start worrying about how it all works... what "counts" as a bonus story, what "counts" as fulfilling the terms of the fundraisers, how it all fits together with the general publishing schedule, and so on. And I don't just think it, of course, I overthink it. Because I'm naturally an analytical and reflective person. And the thing is, there's no clear answer on any of it, which is why I spend so long thinking and not doing that it eventually gets overshadowed by present and future crises, and then forgotten except for the odd moments when I remember it, think about it, and get worried. And that's how the whole thing falls apart.

But the thing is, there's a reason there's no clear answer for things like this, and that is that I'm not following anyone else's model here. I'm doing what works for me and making it up as I go.

And with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and revive the bonus story bank idea. While my long-term goal is going to be to get enough money through Patreon every month to serve as a living wage, until my sponsorship levels are quite a bit firmer, I'm not going to be taking Patreon donations into account here. This is strictly bonus. I don't think I need to worry too much about making sure my current patrons still have an incentive to support my work, since "supporting my work" is already the main goal there. But in order to up the ante a bit, I am going to make my MU drafts folder visible to patrons starting at the beginning of next month, which will allow them to see potential future stories shaping up, alongside the current drafts.

Slightly re-shuffling the "support blurbs" on Tales of MU to make them more noticeable (as static things have a way of fading into the background, and I no longer feel like Patreon is a thing that requires as much explanation as it did when I first joined it) was already something on my "I should really do this sometime/more often" list, but I went ahead and added a bonus bank back on to the website when I did it. It's very bare-bones for now, but I'm still playing with it, as I'm playing with the other content there in the sidebar.

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Monday, October 20th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

First of all, last night I decided to put into action my plan to consolidate the short stories I had for sale into a single volume. I had thought about putting some of my new stories in with the old ones, but after thinking about the numbers I decided it's big enough with the seven existing ones, especially since this lets me move forward immediately. And no one who's purchased all of them in the past will need to buy a whole collection to get one or two new ones.

It's currently available on Kindle and Nook. As with all such books, it's not necessary to own a special device, as there are free apps for computers and most tablets/phones. I'll be putting up my indie bundle later in the day, which includes versions that can open right in your browser with a click.

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OO8Z9NW
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lands-of-passing-through-and-other-sundry-alexandra-erin

We've had some financial discussions in the family over the weekend, and it's definitely past time I started making more of a push on the crowdfunding than I have since the move, being that I am a crowdfunded author. I've done some little stopgap emergency things when the need was pressing, but that's not an efficient alternative to just doing the work of crowdfunding to begin with.

I'm going to be focusing on Patreon in the long term and medium. We're less than $20 away from the next big funding threshold, which is when I'll take Tales of MU ad-free for patrons (with a log-in, of course, since it can't magically know who's a sponsor or not).

Any pledges now will come to me early next month, within about two weeks from today, and getting more regular sponsors on Patreon will solve a lot of problems in the long run... including the problem of never being quite sure when in a given month Patreon is going to pay out. If I'm making enough money there that I'm not going month to month to begin with, that matters so much less. They do seem like they're getting their act together on that front, but it's still early to see if they're going to be consistent with the consistency.

On the subject of getting ahead vs. going month to month, I'm currently paying monthly subscriptions to a lot of the services I use, when annual or longer subscriptions are markedly cheaper in the long run. It's simply a matter of it being easier to find $10-15 a few times a month vs. putting together an extra $100 a couple of times a year. So that's going to be a priority for me as I go forward: get off the monthly service plans onto the annual ones.

More immediately, we have needs like groceries and other living expenses that we generally manage to cover, but that I've been contributing far less to than I need to from here on out. Which, again, is a problem that can be solved by getting my sponsorship up where it needs to be. I think it's going to be a while before it completely eliminates the need for me to rattle the cup from time to time, though. I think I just have to accept that this is part of the job.

So, that's why I'm going to be doing it today, starting here.

The State of the Me

Doing okay. I had a fun weekend, although not without some ups and downs.

Plans For Today

Over the weekend I talked in a couple of places that I usually hangout online about how I'm going to be refocusing my energies. That includes here where I talked about getting out and pushing more. The trick is actually going to be one of balance: making sure that what I'm doing gives me enough momentum to keep going without taking so much from me that I burn out.

Today's day one of that.

In terms of practical goals, I'm going to be working on e-book stuff and getting my ducks in a row for the week's writing. I'm also going to be looking at a better solution for a personal website, a central presence where I can link to my works for sale and talk about what I'm doing.

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I've been in Maryland a year now, by the way.
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alexandraerin
A year and two weeks, in fact. I really meant to mark it in a more dramatic fashion, but the whole thing with Dorian knocked a lot of the wind out of my sails.

As I've said a few times in the past year, if I could have predicted exactly how things would have gone and what obstacles I would have faced after moving here, I would have officially given myself a year to get settled in and established before I started holding myself to my goals for after the move, including the perk-fulfillment on the moving fundraiser, the more regular and better quality updates on Tales of MU, and the more writing in general.

Though, sometimes I think that if I could have seen the magnitude of the obstacles, I wouldn't have bothered. I would have given up in despair. And sometimes I think that if I could have seen them coming, I would have been able to avoid, deflect, or plan around them.

But that's not how life goes. We adjust to reality and we keep moving on. I've had a year to adjust and reflect... not a year ofF by any stretch of the imagination, but a year. I have a much better sense of what I'm doing and what I need to do than I did a year ago. I've learned from everything that's come my way, including the loss of Dorian.

I've talked about this before -- which makes me nervous about talking about it again, but this is something I need to get over and if it means talking about it until I'm through it that's what I have to do -- but I really do get stuck in these negative spirals that take me nowhere. It has to do with the nature of my work, which is creative, and my revenue model, which is crowdfunded.

When I feel like I'm not getting things done -- whether the degree to which this is true is exaggerated in my head or not -- I don't do the necessary fundraising activity that I need to contribute my share of the rent and groceries and pay my own bills. Which increases the stress that I work under, and also makes it feel less like what I'm doing is worthwhile. And it just... spirals.

And the spiral doesn't move constantly in one direction, obviously, or else it wouldn't be a spiral. I have good days, good weeks, good months, good things, good signs. And I get excited, and this brings the dedication and drive.

But then I think, "It's time to make a push. It's time to attract new readers, time to attract new sponsors, time to rattle the cup and remind people that I do do this for a living." and then I remember all the things I haven't done, all the things I have left undone, all the plans I haven't delivered on.

And it falls a little bit more apart.

And maybe the only way to get past that is to get past it.

That's a big part of why I'm writing this post now, today, on Sunday, not a work day. Tomorrow's Monday. Tomorrow's the start of a work week. Tomorrow I'm going to be making a push. I'm not yet fully sure what form this push will take, or what direction it will be in.

I just know that it's time I was doing things.

It's time that I put my head down not in shame over what I haven't been able to do so far, but because that's the way you walk when you're walking in the wind, or when you've had to get out and push, or when your shoulder is to the proverbial grindstone. That's the way you get things done.

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Friday, October 17th
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alexandraerin
The Daily Report

Yesterday went fairly well. I think the final count of chapters written this week is going to be 3 rather than the 4 I aimed for, but that's still the most in the past month, and it means I'll be starting next week one ahead.

Today I'm working on a newsletter. I noticed that the last two addresses I added to the list never confirmed, so I re-sent their confirmations and gave them a heads-up through Patreon to look for it. My email list host quite rightly does not let me add an email address without sending an automated confirmation thingy to go out, but sometimes it winds up in the spam folder. I might hold off on actually sending it for a day or two because of this, but I'm going to have it ready to go. It's a Halloween treat type thing, as mentioned previously, with a few spooky stories.

On the subject of spooky treats, I have suddenly remembered that a site called MicroHorror exists, and though I haven't submitted anything to it for... wow, seven years... there's a small archive of scary flash fics I wrote there, once upon a time. There's also a horror category in my own flash fiction website, Fantasy In Miniature.

The State of the Me

My early start yesterday was not duplicated today... that probably seems like understatement now that it's almost 3:00 in the afternoon, but I honestly had this written up and ready to post at 10:50 and just now noticed I never hit submit.

Plans For Today

Newsletter and writing are the high notes.

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