A new year and nothing to burn

Normally, I ‘burn’ a book on the new year. This year, I have nothing to burn. I simply haven’t been able to write.

It hardly needs to be said, but it’s been a difficult year. Writing has been pretty far from my mind for most of it. I even have to remind myself I published The Dark Queen of Darkness in February. I’m absurdly proud of that book and I had high hopes for the launch. Instead, the whole world shut down, hundreds of thousands of people (millions?) lost their lives, and folks who rely on in-person events for their livelihood found themselves without a source of income. My hopes for Hexe hardly even seem relevant looking back on it.

On launching Hexe this year, I had planned a whole PILE of new and interesting things to try and amplify my platform. I was going to start doing regular blog posts on my experiences. I had planned YouTube videos (not the airplane ones, those are a fun 1-off) that talk about my experiences. However, after everything shut down, and my author event was cancelled, effectively killing my book launch, the day job pretty much took over my life.

I’ve spend my last 10 months at the epicenter of contingencies to adapt our processes and tools to work in a remote environment. And for anyone who thinks that after the pandemic is ‘over’, that we’ll just get to go back to old and comfortable ways, that’s a fantasy. The pressure to continue remote work to ‘reduce costs’ and ‘improve efficiency’ will absolutely remain and are likely to increase. My division (or section? I don’t know anymore), spent more than 40 years honing and perfecting data collection practices and tools that make us a world-class organization. What we can tell you about subsistence in Alaska is quite literally unparalleled in the subject area. In March, I found myself repeating: “Yes, we can adapt, we can because we have to.” Now that I’m mid-way through that process, I’ve got two observations. The first is that you can change long-standing business practices nearly overnight. The second is that it’s crushingly difficult, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s emotionally exhausting, creatively exhausting, and takes a significant mental health toll. There’s no time to take a break and not think about it. This is all on top of the routine work we do.

I think this is a long way of saying. I’m exhausted and by the end of any given day, I can’t face it. I open my iPad to pluck away at Apple Pie and Comfortable Shoes (the sequel to Wine Bottles and Broomsticks), and immediately feel overwhelmed. What’s more, those books are intended to be a satirical take on how we treat each other and how people manipulate each other and how in the end we’re all just bloody human and make bad decisions. The “witch hunt” is meant to refer to the colloquial expression and also literal expression. Doom-scrolling through Facebook after an emotionally exhausting day has me fully unable to cope with it.

So, that’s it, I’ve got no writing goals for the year, no goals to keep up with my blog, no goals to get my YouTube stuff in order. It’s not because I’m lazy or giving up, as much as I just can’t cope with another thing right now, especially when that thing, though I love it, doesn’t pay the bills or ensure future employment. I do hope your year is a good one and maybe next New Year’s I’ll have a more upbeat post.

What I’m up to, a follow-up

Two blog posts within a week! I can’t believe I managed it. No idea if I’ll continue, but here we are for at least today. After last week where I mentioned that I had taken a short break from writing to look at some other projects, I’ve decided what I really need to do is share a bit more detail. The short story is that I’m flying around Alaska in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and talking about places, then posting that on YouTube. The new flight simulator isn’t just cool because every aspect is amazingly gorgeous, but because the entire world (anywhere you can think of) has been included to at the very least, a modest level of accuracy. So, I can fly you from some obscure landing strip to another and not only is it possible, but it looks reasonably representative of what you might find. I plan to visit every possible corner of Alaska in my YouTube channel and talk about as much as I can. At some point I’ll revisit writing, but right now isn’t the right time for me. With that, I’ll leave you with a trailer for my channel…

What’s GOING ON?!

Hi everyone. I haven’t blogged in about a gazillion years. It looks like my last post was just prior to everything closing as the pandemic began to grip the country. That post was meant to be a part of an outreach campaign to launch The Dark Queen of Darkness and do a book-signing. Hexe is a book that is near and dear to my heart and I wanted to see it in as many hands as possible. However, 2020 has been an epic shit-show, and that launch was botched across the board, and much of it was outside of my control.

I have been writing, a bit, but I’ve decided to take a bit of a break. In part, because I don’t see an avenue for a no-name author to be heard or even find a platform. Perhaps, in the next year or two that’ll change, and I’ll get back to it. But it goes beyond that. Creativity is one of those things that can be easily over-taxed to the point where you just haven’t got it in you to continue. That’s where I am right now.

After the botched launch of The Dark Queen, life really started to become challenging. Not bad, we’re fortunate, and I both recognize and appreciate that. However, every week seems to bring something new that just adds to the stress of it all. In my day-job, I have found myself at the epicenter of contingency planning. Not because “I’m the only guy who can do it” or anything like that at all, but because I sit at a peculiar nexus of field work, data-processing, and technology. Which is to say, if we have to reinvent how we do business, I need to be involved. Plus, I’m not super awful at meeting facilitation or coordination, and have absolutely no fear of stepping on toes, so I jump in with both feet. That’s a long way of saying that my day-job is exhausting and trying to develop light and humorous work, as much as we need that right now, is a bit beyond my capacity.

That’s only part of the story though. This year, my family has been subject to a bunch of challenges. The current one being isolation because we don’t know if my wife had a weird 24-hour bug or the damn coronavirus. We’re waiting on a test. Other things this year: My wife’s car had to have it’s engine replaced, we had carpenter ants in the wall, somehow we got lice, I lost a lot of my writing in a computer hardware failure, my back went out to the point I might not be able to take a long walk for over a year (if I’m lucky), the cat died, I ran over a dog (he survived), and a bunch of little things besides.

There have been good things too. My eldest son was elected captain of his FTC team and is absolutely working his ass off to be a good captain and see his team win state this year. I did publish a book, and (for now), both my wife and I are still employed.

This is far better than most folks, but it leaves me almost incapable of being a good, productive writer. Instead, I’ve found myself an easier avenue of escape, and one that might dominate my time for a considerable amount of time – I purchased the most recent edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator. When it comes to games and this kind of thing, I enjoy that in spurts and without talking about it exhaustively. This time, however, I’m doing something different. Because of what that Flight simulator is and is capable of, I’m doing a tour of Alaska. You might ask WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THAT?!! WRITE YOUR DAMN BOOK!!!! My response is – fair point, but we’re all struggling right now. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska for a lot of people is more remote than ever. Not only that, I’m struggling to connect with folks through my writing —the best methods to connect with readers are just not workable at the moment. That’s why I’m spending time with the flight simulator. This is not just for me, but anyone who wants to know more about Alaska. I’m also learning about my own home with this project. This is a pretty long way to explain that I’m taking a short break from writing to focus on other projects. While it might not really make sense to anyone else, this is the one thing that’s helping me to remain positive and focused. If you’re interested in what I’m up to on YouTube, check out this link. Otherwise, I’ll try to do a better job of blogging in the coming weeks and months.