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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

School Daze

Every so often, I think about going back to school.

Having no degree has in a few instances shut off jobs from me, which is irritating as I've shipped more commercial products than most degreed folks.  It likely wouldn't make me more money at this point in my career, but it could open more doors.

There are a plethora (today's vocabulary word) of issues, though.

First and foremost is TIME.  Now, while I can free up some time in the evening and on weekends this will cut into my writing time and decompression time from work.  I could find a part-time job and do that to free up more time with a serious dent in my income, a hazard if anything bad should happen to me.  Which leads me to...

MONEY.  If I went to a physical school, that would take hours off of my work week and drop my income.  The least expensive accredited online school I can find is $960 a course.  Going to UT would set me back about $12K PER SEMESTER (!!).   If I banked about $100K I could probably get my degree in 3 years of insanely hard work, but then I'm 3 years behind on technology AND 3 years older AND broke.

Last, but not least, is.. REASON.  After a long hard look back, I've been turned away by HR because I don't have a degree - before even reaching a manager - about 8 times in the past 10 years.  That's way down in the statistical noise.  Being a contractor, almost every employer I've spoken to was interested in one thing: production.  Can I produce? Will I fit? Do I have the necessary skills? If yes on all 3, I get the job.  Degree? Not necessary.  So why on Earth am I considering such a thing?

Well, I've been thinking about a non-Computer Science degree, like a BFA in Creative Writing.  This would serve my career change well.. if I want to write for someone else as a living (which I really don't).  Will a BFA help me sell more books?  Unlikely.  Will it teach me anything I can't teach myself?  Again, unlikely.

Bottom line is: forget it.  It's not worth the overall cost vs. the return on investment. The money is better spent on focused classes, seminars, private tutoring and lots of self-study courses.

Of course, I'll go through all this angst again next year.. feh!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Write Living

Well, I finally managed to get my tail in gear and dive into work on Threshold this weekend.

I'm in what I think of as "pre-production".. research, world-building, an initial character list (main and supporting), and the outline of the main plot.  I've discovered that if I try to write anything longer than a flash fiction piece without a basic structure down, I get lost in trying to mix plot creation with running my characters THROUGH the plot and the results are pretty awful.

Bought more music to write by, some Celtic stuff, and some Steel Panther for when I need to rock out.  Music has a palpable effect on my writing, I've discovered.

The foot is healing, but slowly, as expected.  If I could take a week and stay off it I'm sure it would help, but that's not going to happen.  I'm minimizing the amount of total time I spend on it, though, and trying to keep long walking sessions to a minimum so that there's recovery time in between.  Loading the cabinet at work with soup helps as that eliminates a 3 block lunch time walk!

Work proceeds.. the demo last week went over fairly well, now to finish up this thing so that I can go on to the next project!  All I know is that there are a pile of other projects but the boss won't send me on to the next one until this one ships (lol)!  Pretty unusual for me to just have one iron in the fire.. ok, well, I have 2 (heh).

I'm still planning on the chat meet in May, just before my birthday.  I need to get a pile of money on to the credit card so it's going to be full 40 hour weeks for as long as I can do it.  It'll be nice, I've never been to Las Vegas and I['m curious.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meh, mostly

Not much going on.  The darn foot isn't any better or any worse, still somewhat swollen, better slightly some days, but nothing dramatic one way or the other.

Got a lecture about working 40 hours all the time, even though my work is on schedule and I don't bill when I'm here, so I get to work long hours 2 days to make up for having to leave early Thursdays and Fridays.  Not like I can't use the money, I suppose.

But, meh.

I'm working on 2 flash fiction stories while I think deeply about Threshold.  It's a great opportunity to experiment since they're under 1000 words, and I can rewrite the whole darn thing if I don't like it.

But, meh.

No music composed lately, either, but I do almost have all my original software studio rebuilt on the PC, and everything runs smooth as silk.

Still, meh.  Just meh.

Can't wait for the weekend, maybe going out for chicken wings and beer will help de-meh me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Unreal Estate

I'm sure glad I like my little efficiency, because it looks like I'm going to be there for a while.

First, it's South by Southwest, and anyone with an empty closet is renting it out for an extortionary rate.  I've seen COUCHES for rent for $80 a night! Dang, I'd be on that too if I had space to rent out!  Once South By is over, these should revert to better month-by-month prices.

Second, the school season is in flux so there are a lot of "student-oriented" places (read: party houses) for lease for the school season.  And as much as I like to have fun, I also like to have SLEEP, so none of these will do.  It's too bad because the idea of living in a 4-bedroom with 2 female housemates is kind of intriguing.. oh well, too old for that!

Third, deposits.  All the nicer places want about $500 or so for a deposit plus first months rent.  I don't have that right now because of medical bills, so I'm stuck until I can bank a pile of cash to cover it.

And finally.. The Foot.  With the broken bone, I need ti minimize my walking until it's mostly healed.  The ValuePlace Inn I'm in is 1-1/2 blocks from the bus stop, next to a Whataburger, a sub shop, a bbq place, a urgent medical care place, a spa, and a corner grocery, with a Jack in the Box 2 blocks off.  In the room, the furthest I have to go is from the bed to the bathroom, which is all of 5 yards!  Nothing is a long walk and my foot loves me for this (lol).  Six weeks of low mileage on my tootsies will definitely help me heal faster and better.

Given that my stay is open-ended, the nice lady at the office at the inn says that I just need to pay for the next week every time and I can stay as long as I want.  This is about as easy as it gets.

Once the stars align (heh), I'm likely to look in South Austin, in the more artistic part of town - SoCo, or South Congress.  I've seen some nice writers-cave places that would be nice, if only I had the deposit money and my foot were healed (sigh).. around $750/mo, all bills paid.

Back to work and reading "2K to 10K", a book about how to write better, faster, and more professionally.  Go me!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday is NOT a day of rest!

No rest for the wicked, or so they say.

Despite losing a virtual hour of sleep, I've been stupid busy today.  I redid my Website to be a jumpiung-off point for my Red Room Authors Page and this blog, migrated the last of my writing projects from Google Docs to Scrivener, started in on reformatting "Love Dark and Frozen" installed Jutoh, got KindleGen/Previewer up and running.. and managed to get breakfast and coffee as well!

The only thing not in Scrivener is the story and book ideas, I have to think about how I want to set tht up.  I'll probably just use a blank template and customize it for the purpose.  Dang, I love Scrivener!

I installed the newest Korg M1 and Wavestation VSTi, they work perfectly in Tracktion - I'll get them working with Orion today,  This gives me a full arsenal of music tools as now I have all my plugins re-installed!  Composition begins next week, I hope.

I guess I should go out and get lunch, I'm a bit bitey.  That and some beer, and I'm going to spend the afternoon listening to music, chatting, and relaxing!  I've done enough useful stuff for the day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Much icky-picky stuff going on, all very mundane.

I installed Scrivener on my primary machine last night and got it authorized.  Next up is putting Jutoh on it and testing end-to-end, from manuscript development to a Kindle ebook.

I think it'll be nice to have everything on the main machine.  I'm pretty sure I don't need 3 laptops
(heh), since I'm focusing on writing first, music second, and art in my spare time a single machine makes more sense than dedicating a laptop per function.  If I were going to go full throttle on 3D I'd dedicate a laptop to it, but.. eh.  No need.

In the next few days I need to bring Dead Ringer into Scrivener, set up a project for Threshold and bring the current draft into Scrivener, set up the outline for Threshold (yes, I have a nice bare-bones plot-arc outline), and create a project for all my general book ideas and notes.  I'll back this up to Google Docs periodically, this will make it easy to recover if something Terrible(tm) should happen.

Eventually I'll get a 16GB USB stick specifically for backing up, write an automated script, and have the damn thing back itself up nightly at 4:00AM.  There might be free/inexpensive backup software that would just save changed files, that's something worth looking into.

This weekend my Website will get updated to be a jumping-off spot for my Red Room page, and my blog here.  No point in trying to maintain 3 concurrent presences, most people visit here or Red Room already - I just need to be consistent and make sure sends folks to the Right Destination(tm).

Argh, need more coffee....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Foot the bill.. or bill the foot?

Ok, fun time at the doctors this morning.

Between the doctor, the finance person, and me we had quite a lively animated discussion (ie. argument) over the whole foot surgery issue.  To summarize what was an hour long session, the surgery is not a medical necessity, no life or limb is threatened, and while it would be GOOD to get the foot fixed it's not time critical.  Sure it makes the next surgery more complex as they may have to remove/move scar tissue but not to a significant extent.  So, I stay in the annoying medical boot for 4-6 weeks after the swelling is gone and then I'm good for a regular shoe again.  If anything bad happens, to the E.R. I go, but there's no infection and things are proceeding, just slowly since I'm walking on it.

The good is, of course, that I can pay off the $2000 I still owe the place, while saving money for the surgical procedure since I know how much it's going to cost.   I don't lose a week of work while I'm trying to save up deposit & rent money for a move to a more permanent place.  I can bank money and shove a ton on the prepaid credit card in preparation for the whole affair.

The bad is, I'm stuck in this boot likely for twice as long total as it'll heal up, then I got get cut on and THAT has to heal up.  There's also a remote chance of breaking it WORSE if I have an accident or do something stupid, but that'd be a risk even if I had the surgery (and after surgery it's going to be a LOT more delicate until the wound heals).

So.. I will minimize walking the next month or so, keep icing it down when I'm not out, and generally Be Real Nice(tm) to the foot.  During this time I'll pay off the old debt and save for the new one, so I can just pay it off when it happens.  This also means I can save for the chat meet in May in Las Vegas (which is within 2 days of my birthday).  All in all, pretty decent results.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Temporarily Ensconced

Whew! All moved now and settling in to my temporary residence.  It's pretty nice for a "value inn" kind of residence, not too many noisy neighbors, the place is clean and well-maintained, and the soda machine is convenient - as well as the junk food machine (which has popcorn, hooray).

I'm going to be here until after my foot surgery, I think.  Lots of close places to eat, short walk to the bus stop, an affordable cab trip to the office - and very small distances to move in the room - make it perfect for recovering from a foot operation.  One the darn thing heals a bit, I'll start looking in earnest.

I managed to blast out a 459-word flash fiction piece on Sunday!  Kind of amazed myself, really.  I'll eventually post it somewhere, I want to give it a revision pass before I declare victory.  It's actually easy to do without distractions, I just threw on some music, stuck on the headphones, and went to it.

Slowly but surely making my way through a nice book on tools for self-editing, it's great stuff!  I should make a page that's recommended reading.. hmm.

No 2D/3D work right now as it's hard to do on the small laptop screen.  Same for the music at the moment, although Tracktion is easy to use even on the laptop display.  I definitely need a 17 inch screen on my next machine!

Later on this week I'll resurrect Dead Ringer and see if I can't whip it back into shape.  I think I have the knowledge I need to bring it to completion!

Argh more coffee...