I was hoping to compose 5 minutes of music a week, starting last Tuesday, but unfortunately I was only able to compose 2 minutes and 46 seconds by this past Sunday. So I fail! Shocking, no?
I blame a few things:
1) My job. It’s a part-time job, so I can’t blame it for taking up too much time, but it does take up time. So I must blame it.
2) Fatigue. This is also job related. When I have to work at 9 AM, that means I am pretty much tired throughout the day. Which isn’t a problem for doing most things. But I think a lot while I’m composing; it’s a very mind-intensive activity; it takes a lot of focus for me. And when I’m fatigued, music has a way of lulling me off to the land of pleasant dreams, especially the incredibly fantastic music I compose. So it is extremely difficult to compose while fatigued. I did try taking some caffeine tablets, but alas, no effect. I must have high caffeine tolerance. I could feel it make my heart beat faster, but nothing else. Of course, caffeine really isn’t supposed to be used to counter sleep-deprivation, so maybe it has nothing to with tolerance. But that’s what some people seem to use it for and they swear by it. It doesn’t help me though.
3) Not being able to stay up all night. Again, job related. Since I have to be at work at certain hours, I am not free to simply stay up as late as I want composing and then just sleep until I am not tired anymore. (Not that this problem doesn’t plague most people.) I sometimes seem to think more actively at night, perhaps because there are fewer distractions; the TVs and radios are off, no one’s on the phone and no one calls, etc. But I can’t use the time to my advantage if I need to get some sleep in before going to work.
4) Perfectionism. Or pickiness. I spent 2.5 hours a few nights ago composing and orchestrating 4 bars. I think that’s the longest 4 bars ever took me. But I’m very pleased with the result. Though I suppose I could fiddle around and tweak orchestration for many many hours, it always eventually has to come to a point in which I am pleased enough and must move on.
5) Other stuff. For example, on Tuesday, I had to spend time tidying the house for guests. Chores are evil and must be blamed.
That said, I must say I’m extremely pleased with the progress I’ve been making with my latest piece so far. I went to bed yesterday with the melodies I composed annoyingly humming through my mind uncontrollably.
A big disadvantage of giving myself a deadline has emerged: I get angry. And stressed. And a bit depressed. And what fun is that? I blame all the other stuff I must do, like go to work, which just makes going to work that much more painful and annoying. So I’m very much considering throwing away the deadline and just composing as often as I can. I don’t want to be angry by having goals and then not reaching them due to things like having to go to work that I can do little about. Or I could just blame my undisciplined self for not being more disciplined and getting more done when I do have chances, but that won’t make me any happier either.
Since I don’t have much time for composing, I have even less time to read, but in what short moments I can spare, I’ve been reading a collection of science fiction short stories in a book called Federations. Here are my very short reviews of the few stories from the book I’ve read so far. They are only my subjective opinions, and I am perhaps more picky than most (ratings are on a scale of 0-5 stars):
Mazer in Prison by Orson Scott Card: 4 stars. I actually read this in another book before, so I skipped reading it again, but I almost always enjoy Orson Scott Card. Very good story from the Ender’s Game universe.
Carthago Delenda Est by Genevieve Valentine: 2 stars. Though the premise was very interesting, the author didn’t seem to do much with it. It was more of an idea story, as nothing much really happened. A world was presented, some unimportant things took place, and that was it.
Life-Suspension by L. E. Modesitt: 0 stars. Interesting characters with interesting dynamics. But nothing very interesting happened. And there were these battle scenes that were too cryptic for me with all their pilot-in-battle speak.
Terra-Exulta by S. L. Gilbow: 3.5 stars. Not really a story, but a very fun fictional letter. I enjoyed it.
Aftermaths by Lois McMaster Bujold: 1.5 stars. Again, an interesting premise, but an uninteresting story.
Someone is Stealing the Great Throne Rooms of the Galaxy by Harry Turtledove: 2 stars. Had it’s funny moments, but most of it’s humor was just stale and annoying, as if the author just wrote the story off the top of his head, writing down every stupid joke he thought of. Didn’t really work for me.
Prisons by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason: 3.5 stars. Started off a bit confusing, but once the story started rolling, it was actually quite good.
Different Day by K. Tempest Bradford: 0 stars. Yikes. While I like the idea of not portraying an alien race as a clichéd “monoculture” (as we humans certainly aren’t), this not-really-a-story didn’t really do much with it. It’s just a three page ramble.
And that’s all for today, methinks.