Just a Thanksgiving Wish

So today is Thanksgiving. As most of my readers are American, you’re probably stuck inside, avoiding the Pandemic, trying to make due.

I just want to say I’m thankful for all of you out there that read my blog, my books, my newsletter. I’m thankful for your reviews and feedback and kind words. We probably ought to like do some actual thing on zoom or email exchange or something.

You’re probably tired and it’s OK. Just remember the good things on this day, provide good things for others, and let’s do our best to survive and thrive together.

  • Steven Savage

Creativity And Revelations

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Obviously I’ve thought a lot about truth and creativity. We live in an age of so much B.S. truth matters. Shared reality matters – and by that I mean shared reality with connections to actual stuff that’s real.

We need creativity to tell the truth, especially in an age of lies and deceptions. If you’re a creative person, this is an important ability you have.

First, creativity can let you communicate truth in a way that connects with people. You find a new ways to say things, to show things, to illustrate things. A game can say more than a novel, a novel more than a news article, a news article more than an interview.

Secondly, creativity lets you find how to connect with people in new ways to communicate truth. One person may relate to imagery, another to song, another to the written word. In trying a one-on-one or one-on-some communication you can tweak how you show the truth.

Third, Creativity lets you find out how to avoid disinformers and liars and tyrants. You can undermine them right under their own noses as they don’t understand how you’re explaining truth. They might not be able to imagine what’s being said about them (and will only get more unhinged as they know someone is out there).

Fourth, speaking of, creativity gives you new ways to undermine lies to get to the truth. Mockery, for instance, well-delivered by a creative person drives serious liars and tyrants crazy in frustration. Clever protests leave a dictator fuming in the face of the unexpected. As liars are undermined, the truth can come out.

Fifth, creativity, gives you new ways to see the truth. Preaching, advocating, arguing, etc. can wear you out and the same thing can become boring. By imagining new ways to say important truths you become energized with potential and stronger in having new ways to see things.

Communicate truth with creativity. Leverage those artistic or musical or linguistic skills to refresh truth! If you’re an artist of any kind (and you probably are) you’ve got a powerful tool.

Steven Savage

Work From Home: Vacation An Time Off

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Oh gods, yes another column on Work From Home. I keep thinking I’m done, but I get a new insight and my Geek Job Guru side arises and here we are. I’m glad I can help you – and glad to my readers who tolerate my recent spate.

So recently I was planning some vacation, and my employer provides a handy dashboard for this. I quickly realized I had a lot more vacation time than I’d expected – 3-5 days more on top of the vacation I was saving and banking. The Pandemic had been so disruptive I had lost track.

Needless to say this was part of some jocular conversation between me and one of my co-workers. We began discussing what even is vacation during the lockdown? What is it from work from home?

. . . and then I told him I have to write this column. So there you go.

As we move more to Work from Home (WFH) we have to ask what any time off means anymore. Think about it.

With less commute time are we saving time? Will we use less time off – or indulge it more?

Is caregiving time off and such more relevant, less, or the same when you’re at home with the person who needs you?

Will WFH be more stressful or less? Will we want more time off or less? Myself I feel overall that a lack of commute and more time control is a little less stressful.

With WFH you could take work with you (but shouldn’t) further timeshifting time off. When do you actually go on vacation or otherwise take time off?

And my answer is I don’t know and wish I did.

This is the last thing we’re thinking about right now because of the Pandemic, but we’re going to have to really think about it in later 2021. First, because once we have the Pandemic under control and will want a damn break. Secondly because a lot of us will stay all or mostly WFH and need to think.

Again I don’t have answers, this is a huge blank starting me in the face. But I hope by bringing it up I get you to think – and share your ideas with me.

Steven Savage

Why I (Co)Wrote It: Her Eternal Moonlight

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So somewhere among books on careers and worldbuilding, I co-wrote a book on how Sailor Moon impacted female fans in North America with my friend Bonnie. To this day it stands out a bit among my writings, and that is a worthwhile journey to explore in this series.

It was born at Fanime, a Bay Area anime con. Bonnie and I observed the large amount of Sailor Moon cosplayers at a gathering, and it got us asking if anyone had written about what Sailor Moon meant to people. We saw cosplayers who probably hadn’t been born when Sailor Moon first aired in the US. We remembered the impact it had from our younger days. Someone had to have written about this . . .

. . . and we checked the internet and were very disappointed. So somewhere during the con or after we agreed to write a book on it. To this day we couldn’t remember who first came up with the idea or suggested writing a book. But a book we did write.

Our idea was to simply interview as many fans as we could find of Sailor Moon of any age and interview them. We also wanted to focus exclusively on female-identifying fans so we told their story specifically. For years we had heard from female fans what Sailor Moon meant to them, and it was time to see what they had to say.

Finding people was easy and people were anxious to jump on board. We had a standard interview form, we also talked to people by various means, and compiled our notes. Every interview brought stories of passion and interest and transformation – it was humbling.

We were on the right track.

Of course we wanted to research more on what else had been written on Sailor Moon, and I ended up with a pile (virtual and otherwise) of anime books and references. It was honestly underwhelming – Sailor Moon often got shortchanged, and in a few infuriating cases written off as a “girl thing.”

It only inspired us more.

Once we had the interviews we compiled them, and found something that further inspired us – clear patterns. In the end we identified nine common ways Sailor Moon transformed people’s lives, from identification to careers. No one had the same experiences, but everyone’s experiences might touch on a few of these nine categories.

Also it allowed us to make each chapter a reference to a given Sailor Scout’s attack. Because we were not going to let that possibility slide.

The result was each chapter tightly focused on one major impact, exploring personal testimonies from the interviewees. We must have done well – when we sent people test copies they were happy!

Finally, the cover. We had to have the right cover, and Fanime had provided as well. We’d met the incomparable Jennifer Cox at Fanime, and were impressed with her style – one of her strengths was taking various ancient art styles and doing pop culture pictures. We asked for a Sailor Moon one with a Grecian theme, and she made something perfect.

So that was the story of the book. Inspired at a con when we saw something that just had to be done. Inspired by the people we talked to. Confirmed when we saw a void of thought about Sailor Moon and even disrespect in some circles. Wrapped up in a gorgeous cover.

If there’s a story to take away from this it’s that sometimes you know you have to write a book. If you know when those moments truly appear, that fire can power you through the process and even be rekindled to burn brighter.

Steven Savage

My Audiobook Discovery

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I had never really been into audiobooks like some people. Sure a few were fun to listen to on long trips, but they didn’t seem the same as reading. Besides on my commutes I’d rather write (if I’m not driving) or listen to podcasts. Also hey, it wasn’t the same as reading – or so I thought.

However, a friend kept suggesting the books Indistractable and Atomic Habits, which you’re probably going to be tired of me praising. He mentioned he listened to audiobooks while exercising.

Eventually that settled into my head. I’ve been keeping healthy during the pandemic with a 60 minute walk early each morning (90 minutes on weekends). I also do 10 minutes of intense cardio each day (a mix of weight lift and high step and chair climbs as FAST as possible). Needless to say I couldn’t listen to podcasts all the time, and as some were serious content, they weren’t all realxing.

But books on productivity and cool stuff? Helpful and very relaxing!

So I tried it. Which is how I listened to both books – and it worked! I retained the information and enjoyed the experience. Sure for some books I buy paper copies for reference, but that’s a different thing.

A few insights.

First, I think though audibooks are worth exploring, each of us may have different experiences. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy fiction, but I definitely retained a lot from these productivity books. We may each have different experiences.

Secondly, I think there’s some books just not fit for audiobooks, like say a programming language book. You gotta be hands on obviously.

Third, I think some of this is great for people like me who maintain certifications. We can process vital information and useful books as part of our continuing education.

Fourth, there are a lot of ways to get audibooks, including libraries. Well worth exploring them to save money. Check out things like Libby (which does audio and ebook) and others!

So I guess audiobooks are part of my life now. And you’re probably going to get a lot more reccomendations . . .

Steven Savage

Review: Indistractable

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

A friend advised me to get the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal, a guide to productivity and effectiveness. My take is you should buy it and read it.

There, done. Ok, not quite, but still – this is the rare “must buy” book on productivity that warrants a mention.

Eyal’s idea is that we have two things in our life – Traction (gets us where we want to go) and Distraction (yanks us away from where we want to go). By understanding what triggers our behavior, how to avoid distraction, and how to address specific life concerns, we can be more effective and happier. This summary doesn’t address just how far Eyal goes.

Eyal acknowledges that humans aren’t made to be happy all the time – discomfort and disatisfaction is part of evolution. With this semi-Buddhist acknowledgement of suffering, he’s able to zero in on why we’re distracted – discomfort. We get distracted as something feels bad.

Knowing this is powerful, because then we don’t have to chase the distraction. We can see it, acknowledge it, sit with it, understand it, and avoid feeling bad about it. We can give ourself some compassion and then figure how to adapt productively.

It may seem simple, but ask yourself how many distractions you have that are just trying to avoid something because you feel bad. Probably a lot.

With this thesis Eyal explores triggers that set us off, how we build Traction, and then specific triggers and parts of our lives to address. It’s hard to explain all his ideas or do him justice without recapping the entire book.

Fortunately he’s not just analysis and advice. He gives serious methods and techniques to use, often highly specific ones, to address Distractions. From keeping a distraction diary to see what’s happening to visual reminders, he’s got something for everything. Trust me they work.

I don’t just say they work because I’m using them (though I am), I’m saying that because some of them are things I’ve seen or used before. I was surprised to see some of his advice were things I’d used anyway, with success. That only further confirmed he knows what he’s talking about.

Finally, one of the best parts of the book is that unlike some books, I found you can get use out of either the text format (which I got) and the audio format (which I ended up listening to during workouts). Rare is the advice that works in both formats, but there you go.

So, simply, buy it, use it. You’ll find it gels with all the advice I’ve given very well.

Steven Savage

Work From Home: The Meaning Of Space

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I was listening to the book Atomic Habits, when the author spoke about space that one works in. That got me thinking about what the spaces we live and work in mean for us while working from home during the Pandemic.

Sure, we’ve all heard the advice on space usage. Have different spaces for different things like work and gaming. Don’t have work stuff in your bedroom. If you can’t have separate spaces have separate zones, and so on. Have one place one use.

But now we’re stuck indoors. We’re probably Working From Home (WFH)

We’re not able to go out to other spaces.

And there’s a chance you’re working, eating, sleeping, cooking, and binge-watching Netflix under restrained conditions.

So what does space mean to us now? What will it mean to us afterwards? When we WFH more, what will we do to rethink our homes and spaces? Honestly, we’re not ready for it.

But more WFH means we have to be. Because bad use of space is bad productivity and not good for us mentally.

So a few thoughts

  1. Organizations moving to more WFH need to do research and provide advice and equipment so people use space effectively. We can’t count on people to do it effectively because they’re doing it turning a traumatic time. They may need some help.
  2. We ourselves need to figure out how to WFH and make best use of space. This doesn’t mean just reading a book. We need to help each other out, be supportive, share advice.
  3. If you’ve tried shopping for certain office supplies, then you’ll notice some are hard to come by. Will this change? Probably – but we’ll want to plan our purchases ahead, and maybe look at discount and used office supplies (that may pile up with the changes).
  4. Once the Pandemic is under control (I expect it to become like the flu) the meaning of public spaces will change. There may be more people working at the library, a park, a coffee shop, etc. People may want or need different spaces, and there may be more of them (I’ve had many a writing session move due to a crowded coffee shop)
  5. All our other relations will change as we work from home – what we’re experiencing now is the intense, involuntary reminder. We may know our neighbors more, we may want our kids out more, our marriages will change, etc. We need to start learning now – voluntarily, as opposed to the way this was forced on us.

We’re going to have to think aboutspace in the new world of more Work From Home. We may be tired of being in the same space, but that just means we have more to consider . . .

Steven Savage

Steve’s Book List 11/2/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

Why I Wrote It: Religion and Worldbuilding

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’d like to say I wrote this one with noble intentions. But the main intention was “save me from badly worldbuild religions.” This is a personal thing for me.

As a youth I was fascinated by theology. When tested for career inclinations, Minister was in my top five. I probably would have ended up a Unitarian Minister under different conditions.

Theology is amazing, and is really a broad wrapper on a variety of things. It encompasses vast pantheons of gods and cultural traditions. It can be about powerful psychological and mystical processes and practices. In the end, it’s about humanity’s place in the universe and trying to make sense of it all. Well, that, and the legions of a-holes that often mess it up.

You can imagine why I took to it. It was probably one of the reasons I did a BS in Psychology.

But also I would see religions created in fiction and RPGs and they could be as fascinating as our world’s – or they could be derived from our world in obvious and unoriginal ways. One of my pet peeves about fictional worlds is when it’s clear that parts of our world were dropped into something not our world. I saw it too much.

I also get why it happens. We want our fictional religions to be relatable. We might not know how to make interesting fictional religion. We’re used to others “lifting and dropping” our world into other worlds. Also how many people really are interested in theology or get much exposure to it.

So? I wrote a book on it.

As much as I got annoyed by badly made fictional religions, I knew why they happened. I also had that theology interest so I could make a series of questions to help people.

It’s a weird thing really. Annoyed by something, then realizing why it happened, then trying to solve for it. But it looks like a book people responded to, and I’m glad I could help them out.

Steven Savage

Creative Distribution

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

There’s no honor in an unread book” I once noted. A creative person, in general, wants people to experience their works. That’s the goal, be it to entertain or to inspire or to pass time.

In time, I have realized there is a greater reason to spread our works far and wide – people need creative works. People need to be inspired, frightened, to laugh, and to think new thoughts. This helps us grow, helps us be who we are – and it helps us make our own creative works. Creativity is like nutrition for our ever-growing mind.

Thus it is the responsibility of the creative person to spread their works as wide as possible, in as many forms as possible, and as accessible as possible. Yet this is daunting because there are many opportunities, and many competitors.

Let me give you some inspiration.

You’re a creative person – you write, draw, cosplay, or whatever. Turn that creativity into a way to spread your work far and wide. I don’t know what you should do because I’m NOT you, and you’ve got your own unique creative edge to spread your work.

You just need to figure what it is. I mean you were able to write, draw, or whatever? If you can dream up whatever you dreamed up you can figure out a way to spread your work around.

For instance, myself part of my creativity is planning, analysis, and so on. I seek patterns, build plans and structures, and can visualize workflows. So I have a marketing plan with reviews, budgets, and so on.

You might be a writer who makes great ad copy, so you’re buying and promoting ads. Or an artist that can make great giveaways. Or a social butterfly that can enthrall people with online talks and so on.

I don’t know what your ability to spread your work is – you just don’t yet

But then again once you didn’t have any creative work to spread around and somehow you got that . . .

Steven Savage