Unplugged my table saw for the last time


My wife and I have been working on cleaning up our living space and removing things we no longer need or use. We’ve been talking about it for a while now, but after watching the Marie Kondo Netflix series, it got us moving. Well, that and the disastrous economic situation awaiting Alaska over the next few months. Better to sell things now than wait until everyone is broke.

Anyhow, I had been planning on hitting the workshop slightly later in the spring, but someone already offered to buy the table saw. So, I need to get it ready to go. I also needed to get in there to make space for another shitty task planned for the weekend. As you might imagine, this required more than just shuffling things to the side. I actually had to start going through things and organizing them. You know the process, “This goes here, this is trash, what the hell is this for? etc…” No problem.

Then, I actually got to the saw and unplugged it. It was a totally flippant move. I didn’t think about it, wasn’t really thinking about it, just going about my business getting things together. I set the plug on the table top, as one does, next to the push-block I used to use. It’s yellow and narrow and can be used as a square plus it fits really neatly right in a slot on my fence. It hit me. I won’t ever be using this saw again. Maybe never make another stick of furniture again.

I had no idea getting rid of that saw was going to feel so much. When Stacy and I talked about getting rid of the tools, which was my decision, by the way, I said if I wanted to do it again, I could start over with better tools and purpose. Looking at my little push-block sitting in its usual spot made me realize that’s total bullshit. The minute I unplugged that saw I was done. For good. I was not prepared for that realization, and I am not happy about it.  I mean, I legitimately teared up and had to step away for (it’s why I’m here instead of finishing the job.)

I used to spend hours behind it getting covered in saw-dust as it ground through all manner of projects. When I was feeling stressed, I would get out there and work on shit and it always involved that saw. It was my work-top, my work-horse, and my thinking table. When I stood out there, wearing my ear-protection and goggles, all the ills of the world just melted away. It was like meditation for me. The only thing that mattered was not fucking up whatever was in front of me, to include my fingers.

Marie Kondo tells people to keep the things that bring them joy. It sounds like great advice, but like so much sappy shit on TV or online, it’s just a fucking platitude that’s been dressed up with different words to seem new and fresh. I don’t want to get rid of that saw, I really, really don’t. I’d much rather be out there making things and taking the edge off, but it’s not possible anymore. Life has gotten too busy for things like that, and I don’t see it getting better. This isn’t just about me wanting to spend more time writing, or even about my wife working more. There’s a lot more here that I could bitch about for hours, so I’ll leave it at this. I’m pretty upset by this, and tomorrow is going to be a lot worse for totally different, identical, reasons. In any case, this is a decision I’ve already made for a lot of good reasons, so the tools are going, and a pretty important bit of me is going with them.




Why are beginnings so damn hard?


Everyone who knows me, and some who don’t, are more than fully aware that I’m working on editing the Dark Queen of Darkness. I just finished up the first round of developmental edits, which are back with the editor (Jette Harris). However, I’m not even remotely close to done yet. My process thus far has been to run through her suggestions, pick off low-hanging fruit and then go once through for each of the larger issues to ensure consistency. This usually starts with starting at the beginning. Every time I start at the beginning, I inevitably fidget with the first few paragraphs. It’s killing me.

I wrote the first paragraph to the dark queen almost 3 years ago and it was fucking great. So, naturally, I’ve hated it ever since. The current incarnation is:

There was no mistaking the dark tower. It was the tallest, blackest, and most evil looking tower in the whole of the dark kingdom. Hexe, the dark queen, had built it specifically to say dark queen and sorceress right down to the foundations. She’d even gone so far as to have the words property of the dark queen etched on every stone. The tower was an imposing and unlovely sight, much like Hexe herself, tall, narrow, and nothing but sharp, plain angles.

I think it’s repetitive, not very grabby, and absolutely perfect at the same time. This is not a good place to be when you’re supposed to be editing. At this point, all I have from Jette (the editor) on this is that it’s fine, but maybe not got quite enough hook. As with all of the advice and feedback offered by Jette, thus far, I feel in my gut that she’s quite right. The problem here is that I’m so incredibly close to the work, especially this paragraph, that I’m unable to tackle it with a properly dispassionate approach.

My favorite book openings are those offered by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and JK Rowling. They tend to be chatty and easy. They give the narrator a minute to bring the reader up to speed before launching into the main thrust of the work. And as I write this, I wonder if examining pieces by those authors might not be instructive – A wise writer once suggested I open a few of the books I like and highlight passages that work. Maybe that’s the answer here. Don’t just look at the words on the page, look at why another author’s intro works.

I don’t know what else to say about this, except that for every book I’ve written, the same problem exists. I hate the intro and also love it just the way it is.

Trying to pull it together in 2019

In looking back at my writing progress in 2018, the best thing I can say is that I didn’t totally give up. I got super close, but not quite. Every attempt to get back on track was half-hearted and generally cock-blocked by something to do with work. In general, I’m not keeping up at work like I need to, and it’s stressing me out, which is making it harder to focus and even less seems to get done. Then, all tired and pissed off at myself for doing far less than I should be, I get home and don’t write. Not writing is also stressing me out and then I get mad at myself, so I avoid the whole thing. On top of that, I’ve got serious parent guilt about not being there enough for the kiddos’ activities or spending enough time on them. Really, by the end of the day I’m at the point where I’m ready to just check-out. Hence, the new gaming computer (Bonus picture below) I built this spring, which I’ve upgraded at least 5 times since June.

In any case, I can’t keep being this way. I seriously need to focus on getting back to a level of getting shit done that will make me feel less like a hopeless slacker and maybe provide some encouragement and motivation. To that end, I’ve got a strategy, but first – some mostly accurate background.

Last month I got a bullet journal for work. (That’s not what happened. My wife got it decided she’d never use it so stole it.) I thought if I had something that would help me identify, organize, and track shit I need to do, that I could do a better job of managing my worktime. In theory, the same thing could be achieved using MS outlook or other productivity tools. While productivity tools may sound compelling, they’re just plain overwhelming. Really, just about the only sane response is to just ignore all of it.

When I was at my last job, we had a trouble-ticket system. Ostensibly, they’re are designed to fill the same kind of niche as something like a Bullet Journal, by tracking and organizing tasks. Really, I find systems like that are so full of dates, numbers, and oh-so ‘helpful’ reminders of how many outstanding tasks you have, it’s more stressful than helpful. I don’t need smug-ass software telling me that I’m not getting shit done. I do, however, need a tracking system because I’m getting old and fat, my brain has become somewhat leaky and I’m also not getting shit done.

Anyhow, this is where the journal comes in. I started using it for work and within three days I realized that what I REALLY need to be using it for is writing. Well, and work too, I’m still using it for work. The idea I had was to write down all of the things I want to do with writing and set a few goals. Since there aren’t any dates, it basically stays evergreen until I start ticking off some boxes. It gives me a canvas to write down things I want to do, maybe over time add in things I think of and just sit on those until I can focus on them, then when I’m ready to deal with them, BAM I’ve got a list with check-boxes. Plus, the way I’ve got it structured, I don’t have to flip through all of my unfished stuff to get to the active project. Out of sight, out of mind.

Anyhow, that’s a long way of saying, I’m getting organized with my goal setting and here’s what’s on the docket for the year: Get The Dark Queen of Darkness through editing and published by September. The other goal I’m setting for myself is to do more blog posts (hence the 2nd blog post this year and it’s still actually January). So, that’s where I am. Trying out some optimism. I hope it fits.


Computer: Ryzen 1700x overclocked to 4Ghz, 16GB DDR4 3400Mhz, AIO water-cooler (push-pull fan configuration), MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, Gigabyte AB350N Gaming motherboard, 1TB SSD, Thermaltake mini-ITX case, corsair 550w semi-modular PSU, and also lots of LEDs.