A Writer’s Life: The Rush

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

Still working to finish the draft of “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.”  In this case, I’ve decided to try and finish it a month early – literally about a week from now.

Usually I did 15K words on it a month.  I’ve gotten to  nearly 29K (nearly 40K for the month).  Why did I decide to do this?

First, I realized that I was committed to what I had (which has problems), so it was best to push through and get it done.  It’d be better to finish up and edit something than to diddle around with plots and tweaks.

Secondly, I’d make discoveries as I wrote.  The more I wrote, the more I learned and thought and explored about my story.

Third, if I kept up the rush I kept in the “zone” of my story, had a better more subtle feel for it.  I think there’s an ideal pace for writing something, a minimum you need to write to stay in touch with your work.  My rate is higher than I thought.  It’s probably every other day at most.

The result is that, upon review, I’m probably going to rewrite a good 50% of the story.  It won’t be bad (I’d say it’s about 60% to 70% a good story), but it can be a lot better.  The thing is if I’d really pushed myself like I have now, just stayed in the zone, I’d have been done in October if not earlier.  Also, the benefits of the replottings and rewrites I had done earlier are ones I probably could have realized in a second draft.

In other words, remember my big halfway point edit?  I am questioning if it was necessary.

This is how my friend Serdar writes – he gets it out and then edits.  I’m starting to think he has a point – but hey, as always writing is an experiment.

So now the goal is to finish up the draft of “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” and see where I am.  Then it’ll be multiple read-throughs and edits, about 4 months at my current estimate.  When you’re dealing with a road trip type story it’s one thing, but it’s eight characters going through weird stuff on a series of weird planets that are totally normal to them.  I’ll be reporting on that too.

What can you as a fellow writer learn?  Well . . .

  1. We all have our ideal writing pace – what works for us, our subject, and our methods.
  2. You don’t find that pace until you do it.
  3. That ideal pace should let you both create a coherent (if not good) work and keep you in touch with the work.
  4. You have to be open to learning.
  5. You’ll keep learning as you keep writing.

My takeaway lesson is that I overplanned and under-applied myself.  Not entirely surprising as I was enamored of trying various methodologies.  But in the end, it’s an experiment.

I learned something.

– Steve

An Experiment in Citizenship – March 2016

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

Anil Dash tweeted out some suggestions on political engagement awhile ago that got me thinking. And, yes I lost the links and am too lazy to search for them as I’m busy being politically engaged.

Anyway, his rough ideas was to at least follow your representatives and write them regularly. I’m always thinking about how to be more civically engaged, and this struck a chord. I wonder often “what should we as citizens do” for our friends, family, organizations, country, and world. How should one be politically engaged – and, bluntly, what is the minimum we should expect of people.

I’m obviously a bit obsessed with the idea (I wrote a book on civic geekery). His posts have led me to this – an experiment in “projectizing” my civic engagement to find a good way to be regularly, appropriately engaged as a citizen.

So here’s what I’m doing – I challenge you to do the same.

STEP 1: Join And Follow

First, find reliable organizations that support causes you believe in, and follow them – via Twitter, newsletters, what have you. Make sure you’re getting reliable information so you’re informed.

Many of these organizations also support petitions, raise funds, do marches, etc. That gives you plenty of ways to get involved.

Oh, and if you can, actually join them and slap down that membership fee. They probably need it.  Some even have magazines.

STEP 2: Follow Your Representatives

Second, find and follow your representatives – at least on the national and state level (and try county and city). Follow them on Twitter or Facebook, get their newsletter, whatever.  Make sure you have a way to know what’s going on, and find the right web pages to write them.

STEP 3: Pay Attention

OK, so you’ve got:

  1. Organizations you follow.
  2. Your regular news feed (you have one, right)?
  3. News from your various representatives.

So you’re informed. Next . . .

STEP 4: Get active

Now simple, pay attention so you’re aware of what they’re doing, what they’re saying and what’s going on – and look for a chance to make a difference. Retweet. Sign the petition. March. Hell, take that part-time opening to do a vote drive.  Whatever.

STEP 5: Reach Out

Once a month (minimum) pick an issue you’re concerned about and write your appropriate representatives. Maybe this time it’s your Senator next time your city council. Whatever, just make sure your concerns don’t sit around in your head – go tell the people you bloody well elected what needs to be done – and be civil.

Chances are if you follow the news, you’ll quickly find things to talk about.
I’ve tried this for a month, and it’s already pretty informative. Among my findings:

  • My Representative is far, far more LGBT-right friendly than I knew.
  • Not all my state representatives are as high-tech as I expected (one guy isn’t that big on social media)
  • My new city is damned engaged in development and listens to people (I found some of that out when I dated someone from the city staff).

Also my monthly reach-out to my national reps was over North Carolina’s hideous anti-Trans/anti-LGBT laws. So I let my voice be heard on that – I got one response (sure it was boilerplate but it was something)
So, you up for this? You up to take the challenge? I challenge you to do the same thing – and blog the results, post to Facebook, whatever. Let me know when you do.

(Oh, and by the way, beyond this stuff, you should be voting and closing other forms of civic engagement like speaking or literacy programs or other stuff.  I may write more on that)

  • Steve

Geek As Citizen: To Play, Dream, and Experiment

As I previously explored, analyzing where we Geeks fit in as citizens, we’re passionate retainers of information that also apply that knowledge. We aren’t so much pure academics (though many of us are professional academics), nor are we just about doing things and being active.  Instead we’re about the interplay of that knowledge and doing something with it. That’s what we’re inclined to do, frankly, and thus it is also something we can contribute as citizens.

We’re information and application bundled together. Actually considering the whole “passion” part it’s pretty hard to separate them anyway from geeks. Passion is often about getting your hands dirty.

There is however, a flip side to our role of “Applied Knowledge” that is also something we can do in society. Geeks also like to get wild and crazy with our applied knowledge, imagining and trying out all sorts of crazy stuff because it’s fun. In short, the flip side to or applied knowledge is toplay, to dream, to experiment and in short, to at times get stark raving bonkers in what we do.

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