Haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I’d blather a bit about what I’m up to.

I can has focus?

I lamented on twitter not long ago that my lack of creative focus probably severely decreases my chance of making significant (money-making) progress in my creative endeavors. Rectifying this is easier said than done. My creative interests include writing fiction (fantasy mostly), composing music, and programming (programming stuff I’m interested in, that is, not freelance work, which is boring). I’m guessing that making decent progress in one area (the sort of progress that would lead to substantial income) likely necessitates giving up the other two for at least some extended period of time. Each creative endeavor includes its own pros and cons in terms the money-making challenges it presents. In fact, let’s make a quick graph as we reflect on what these pros and cons might be…

EndeavorProsCons
Writing fiction• Fun to do
• Can be done just about anywhere with a notebook and pen; not restricted to needing a computer
• Lots of competition
• Takes time to build a significant audience
• Time investment to create a product can be several months
Composing music• Instantly rewarding
• Takes the least amount of time to finish a "product" (a track of music)
• Lots of competition
• Takes time to build a significant audience or client list
Programming• Potential to make quite a lot of $$$ with the right product
• Low competition for innovative products
• Time investment is very high and hard to predict (could be months or even years)
• Can be very frustrating to fix bugs

So which endeavor to choose? I’m leaning towards music, but whichever I choose (if I’m even able to do so), it will be a torture to totally give up the other two, even if it’s only temporarily.

Out of curiosity…

Which endeavor would you choose?

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Writing fiction

I haven’t done any significant writing in a good long while. I’ve completely plotted several stories, and I’ve written several opening chapters, but I keep getting bored and abandoning projects. One could easily chide, “You’re supposed to stick with it, even if it’s boring!” Pshaw, I say unto you! In my opinion, if writing something is boring, then it’s a good sign you shouldn’t be writing it in the first place. Being bored completely defeats the purpose of such a creative act. If you’re bored writing it, why should a reader have any interest in it?

I kept thinking my getting bored had something to do with finding the right personal balance between plotting and pantsing, but as I reflect on why writing SON OF A DARK WIZARD managed to work for me, I believe it has more to do with how interesting I find the characters. Sorren in SON OF A DARK WIZARD, who was an arrogant brat wizard, was just insanely fun to write. So with whatever I write next, I really need to focus on making the character as interesting (for me) as possible. Of course, it’s not necessarily easy to do that. It managed to fall into place quite well for Sorren, but it isn’t obvious to me how to make a more virtuous character deeper than cardboard. Anyway, it’s something I’ll have to think more about before beginning a new draft. I have several more story ideas that I’m eager to get working on, but I want to make sure the main character really comes alive for me before I dive in.

Also, since I really don’t have much of an audience yet, I was thinking of posting my next story for free (at least temporarily) on Wattpad as I write it. That might not help much in building an audience, but it feels better than just sitting on it until I indie-pub the book. By the way, although the sequel to SON OF A DARK WIZARD has been mostly plotted for a couple years now, I don’t have the funds to pay for another cover at the level of professionalism of the first book’s cover, and I really don’t want to publish it with a cover of inconsistent quality, hence why I’m holding off on working on the sequel for now. (If you’d like to donate, let’s say, $2,000 for a cover, I’ll happily get to work on it and dedicate the book to you.)

Composing music

I’ve got several tracks in the works, and I know that I owe my Patreon subscribers 12 tracks for the six months they’ve been charged without me delivering anything! (I’ve been trying to pause donations each month, but I sometimes forget.) I am definitely committed to delivering these tracks, though as usual I can’t promise when. Life just feels very hectic right now and I don’t seem to be in a position to set a good schedule for myself, much less follow it with any amount of discipline. (This is also a deterrent to my inability to make progress in my competing creative endeavors, but one that I’m not sure I can do much about at the moment; I would need the support of other family members, and unfortunately I don’t think I’m in a position to request or enforce that.)

Programming

I’m still working on that more user-friendly MIDI animator that I blogged about earlier this year; I kinda wanna finish this, at least to some degree, before I get back to composing.

And other stuff…

Other than that, I’ve been particularly interested in math lately for some unknown reason. More specifically, I’m fascinated by the human “creation” of math. That is, how do we as humans psychologically come up with math? Euler’s formula, along with the entire idea of complex numbers (imaginary numbers), are particularly fascinating. I understand how to work with them and all that; I understand the concept. What I don’t understand is: how did Euler and mathematicians of old even come up with this concept? It doesn’t feel at all intuitive. If you think about it, Euler’s formula is an implication of the definition of complex numbers more than a “discovery”, but how did mathematicians come up with this “rotational” definition of raising numbers to the power of complex numbers? It boggles my mind. And what does it mean? That is, it’s obvious what most numbers mean even without a context, such as 2 or -3. But what does i mean? (Beyond merely sqrt(-1), which is obvious.) I’m not sure. Yet, it’s useful. Anyway, I yearn to have a deeper understanding of it, and of how mathematicians “create” (or “discover”) math in general.

Well, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll try blogging a bit more often. I’ve been meaning to for while. I still haven’t posted a “Year’s Best” for 2017. I also hope to post another “composer’s analysis” of the last track I uploaded to YouTube, Moonwish. I’d also like to post about why Cantor’s ideas of magnitudes infinities is useless and wrong, my new(ish) understanding of the second law of thermodynamics (I think “disorder” is the wrong word, for those definitions that use it), and some interesting thoughts about DNA… but all that for another day. Later, my dear readers.

Categories: My life

4 Comments

Scott · July 1, 2018 at 2:15 AM

The writing projects we’ve started together and stalled are still on my to-do list, but I’m not sure I want to take them back to solo projects. Otherwise, I am having a similar problem to you. I am currently writing a single novel very slowly, arranging music at an astoundingly slow pace (mostly because I’m mostly doing it by ear… and in one case the whole thing is finished but I have yet to figure out how I want to part it out for a small ensemble). I also have several pipe dream music projects that I would likely know exactly how to get them heard if I could get my act together to do it. My business model would be surprisingly similar to one of yours. Free to try, then charge when successful. And my third endeavor, which I wish could be even a fraction as lucrative as programming, is actually going well in the prep stages. The real problem will come when it’s time to enact it into reality. If that time comes at all. It’s so unlikely though that I hesitate to even give specifics, so I won’t. You’d probably laugh anyways…lol.

PS: I’m still definitely up for co-authoring that analysis book idea we discussed a few months ago. It could even be a sort of “essay collection” as some of those types are, where we pick topics and work separately, then edit and submit/publish it together. It would keep us from hitting the time-management problems that have stalled our other, arguably more interesting (i.e. fiction), projects.

    S P Hannifin · July 1, 2018 at 6:00 PM

    One of my “pipe dreams” is to design a new gaming remote control; I prefer keyboard and mouse, but I want something that merges the advantages of keyboard and mouse with typical console remotes. But the costs of building a prototype and filing the necessary patents are prohibitively expensive.

    And, yes, I’m still up for that analysis book as well; I just finally started watching the anime a couple days ago, so I’ll probably need at least a month to finish it. I’ve never tried writing nonfiction longer than a blog post, but I think the writing will actually be easier than fiction, since I won’t have to worry about setting a mood and describing details and stuff. It’s the reading research that will probably be the real time consumer, but I think even that will be interesting.

    Anyway, best of luck with your other projects, I’ll be interested in seeing any finished products! (Or even partially finished products, if you release them.) If there’s any way I can help with the secret endeavor, let me know… it’s true, I might laugh, but then I laughed at the idea of Apple making an “iPhone” and the idea of Donald Trump being president, so my dubiousness isn’t necessarily very meaningful.

      Scott · July 1, 2018 at 11:40 PM

      Actually, the non-fiction book would be a step toward my secret endeavor, because its success would be a good step toward developing credibility, which will be one of the biggest obstacles to completing it.

      I’ll definitely let you read my novel when it’s finished. But I keep getting sidetracked on it, for one of three reasons: Either I can’t imagine the scenes in my head the way I want them, or I can’t translate those images into the right words, or I move to one of my other projects hoping that inspiration will strike from the back of my mind… breaks like that work sometimes, but not always, and they always take more time than they should.

      Actually, right now I’m having an issue with the organization of the novel. Currently, it’s broken into large chapters that are more like “Acts,” inside which several smaller “scenes” that are more like chapters are clustered. But when I realized that I needed a plot change to the story that would break the layout severely (forcing me to either split a chapter into two much shorter ones, make one chapter super long, or add a bunch of filler scenes to create two full chapters), I started thinking about making the scenes be the actual chapters and doing away with the larger grouping. But I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on it yet. I tend to think of the scenes differently when they’re part of a bigger grouping; I like how the character points of view shift during them, even after I activated the protagonist’s perspective as the primary point of view; and don’t get as self-conscious about how short some of them are; so I’m still mulling the idea of keeping it the way it is as well. Logically, I know I should pull the trigger, because the book is far more young adult than some of my other ideas, so lots of shorter chapters would probably make the potential audience happier, but I still don’t know… Sorry for thinking out loud there…lol.

        S P Hannifin · July 6, 2018 at 2:18 AM

        Sorry, I didn’t see this reply until today; WordPress stupidly thought it was spam for some reason… fortunately I browsed through the spam before emptying it.

        Secret endeavor: Hmmm… that’s not much of a hint, lol

        I can definitely understand the struggle with novel-writing. With description-writing, I usually just try to get it “good enough”, since it’s impossible to accurately translate an image into words anyway; the best you can do is capture the “atmosphere” and the relevant details. But getting sidetracked when stuck or struggling is of course always the curse of the creative mind.

        In terms of chapter or scene length, I don’t think it matters in and of itself. (Granted, I know it’s easy to say that knowing nothing about the details of your story!) The important thing is just keeping it interesting enough for readers to want to turn the page with a good flow of conflict and resolution. I think of extreme examples, like Hitchcock’s film “Rope”, which is almost all a single long feature-length scene, all in one room, yet the plot continually moves forward and develops as it would in any movie. (OK, that’s probably not very helpful, but not knowing any details, that’s all I can think of it say, haha)

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