November Retrospective

November Sunset

I set out in November to write a blog post everyday. I hit that goal, and then I stopped posting anything for two weeks. To be fair, it’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks, getting ready for the holidays, playing with the Oregon Tuba Ensemble (and participating in Tuba Christmas for the first time), getting my Christmas cards out, and going through a major software deploy at work. I’m hopeful that things will start to calm down a bit now.

The last day of November was a very clear day across the entire state, so I decided to head out to the ocean to catch the sunset. I love catching the sunset in Winter out here, because it’s so early – 4:45-ish. I spent a few hours on the coast, putting my new tripod through it’s paces. Having a tripod really makes a difference when taking photos.

When conducting a retrospective, it’s helpful to ask four questions: What went well, what could be better, what’s puzzling, and what ideas do you have. So let’s do it.

What went well?

I successfully posted every day. Because I posted a few at the end of October, my streak was a little longer than thirty days. This is the first time I’ve ever done that. I had a variety of posts, and some posts I put a lot of effort into, and others not so much.

What could be better?

Post quality was almost universally terrible. I’m almost scared to go back and read some of them, because I know they were horrible. I knew they were horrible at the time I wrote them. But I didn’t really care. I just wanted to get them out there. I wanted to skip my perfectionism by purposely avoiding thinking about it so much.  That was goal number one. Some days I threw up simple photos without any context. The video I posted making a card was extremely poor quality especially.

Sometimes I waited too long into the day before starting.

What’s puzzling?

I don’t know that there is anything really puzzling at the moment.  Perhaps related to technology – why does wordpress sometimes run out of memory on this machine.  But I’m keeping an eye on that.

What ideas do you have?

I think my next goal will be to maybe post less frequently, but ensure that post quality is much higher.  I should pick a topic and work on that post for several days, and then only post it when I feel like it’s ready.  But maybe I should also have a deadline, so my perfectionism doesn’t go too crazy.  I think it’s something I can experiment with a bit.

Video: Making a Photo Card

Yesterday, I wanted to to a add some photos to help explain the individual steps, but then I got the idea to create a video of the process instead. Here is is:

I’m sorry about the poor quality of the video. This turned out not to be a good idea. I haven’t done much video editing since I had macs available to me, and there is just nothing comparable to iMovie on the windows side. I tried using movie maker, but it was super slow and completely failed on my. I downloaded a program called Power Director, which is a lot better, but costs $100, and I really can’t justify that purchase for a single video.

On top of that, my camera focus kept going in and out, and the table kept popping, and all in all, the lighting was too dark, and everything considered, the video is really poor quality. But I spent a couple of hours on it, so I decided to push it out there anyway.

How I Write

Pen and Paper

I’ve been spending a lot of time writing in the last year or so.  It might be more accurate to say, I have spent a lot of time staring off in to space and then writing out a few words every once in a while.  I’m still pretty new to writing, so I have a lot to learn about what it takes to write consistently well.

It’s tempting to romanticize writing.  Writing is seen as this thing where you sit down and the words pour out, fully formed, able to exactly communicate what you want them to, in a way that moves people.  I’m finding that while this happens from time to time, writing for me is more strenuous.  I sometimes think about the scene in Finding Forester where Forester yells “Punch the Keys, for god sake!”

Sometimes, I get distracted by looking for tools that will help me write better.  What if I had a better pen, or a better writing pad?  Will this or that software program finally help me finish a writing project?  My writing would be so much better if only I had a way to organize it more!

The problem is that there are slivers of truth in these things.  They can all help me write.  It’s true.  But the biggest problem is me.  I need to sit and do it.  I need to punch the keys.

I write all sorts of different things.  I’ve been writing letters mostly.  Small handmade cards to friends and family, and sometimes strangers.  I dabble in poetry from time to time.  I’ve been trying to write non-fiction narratives around some major events in my life (like my dad’s heart attack and recovery).  And of course, there is never a shortage of fictional plot bunnies pouring out of my head.

Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Real things are only created by discipline.  I’ve been trying to develop mine, and while I’m improving, I still have a long ways to go.  I’m creating my process.  I remove distractions and have a clean desk or table in front of me.  If I’m typing on a computer, then I’ll likely have the screen completely blank except for my words, and all notifications are off.  I save everything.  I throw ideas out, get them down and move on.  Organizing them comes later.

Sometimes I will stare at the cursor for a long time.  Hours even.  Then in a burst, a few hundred words will pour out of me.  They will stink.  I think perhaps first words always stink.  The words in this blog post stink, for example.  But I don’t need them to not stink, I just need to get them out.  This is how I write: I write.  The rest comes later, I think.

Hello, Digital Ocean!

Sunrise on the Pacific

Sunrise on the Pacific

After a little bit of work this evening, I successfully imported my blog from my previous host to a new hosting provider: digital ocean.  This was my first experience with a VPS, and DC has been incredibly easy.  The site is fast and cheap, and exactly what I was looking for.  I’m excited about publishing more content soon!