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Second Guessing My Audience

One of the reasons I decided to pursue a novel was to create something expressly for myself. It’s a common aphorism to tell writers to write what they’d like to read. We all use writing as a vehicle to say what we want to say. For me there’s also an element of not having to hold back emotionally, intellectually, or politically. That’s not to say that the book is any of those things, to the extreme. It’s more that I don’t have to worry about second guessing my audience, asking whether they will be offended.


“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.” 

David Bowie


There’s something in the culture right now that makes me more worried about not offending the reader than pleasing them. If you’re on the left, at this moment you’re probably casting a glance at people on the right. If you’re on the right, you’re staring the those on the left. Everyone’s guilty, though. All sides look for reasons to clutch their pearls and pull out the fainting couch, while simultaneously calling everyone else a snowflake for doing the same. Please, make it stop.

Second Guessing My Audience

This past week I was read for filth by a reader for using a word they didn’t know. It’s a common word, not only within my day job publishing niche but out in the broader world. Living in an international community where most of my friends has English as a second or third language, I’m used to explaining slang terms, colloquialisms, and various expressions. This was, apparently, a native English speaker though. When I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up. I use critical thinking to suss out the meaning from context. As a last resort I’ll try to ask an intelligent question.

Not here in 2020, though. I was the asshole for using a term and then not clearly defining it. The onus for their understanding was entirely on me. While I accept that writers have a duty to communicate clearly, that only extends so far. No one can account for the level of education, lived experience, and diligence in the reader.

Which brings us back around to writing for myself. I don’t want to constantly have that reader in the back of my head, compelling me to dumb things down so they get it. There’s no worry that someone will get mad because I made them have to work a little to understand what I’m saying. There’s a freedom in not just saying what I want to say, but doing so in the way I want to say it.

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Journal Thrive

Being Sick and Reevaluating Priorities

This post is an attempt to look at the upside of things. To do this will require acknowledging that there is also a downside. Please don’t come at me for being negative. Being sick and reevaluating priorities isn’t automatically a dark and dismal thing, unless you call taking a realistic look at objective reality an inherent downer.

To recap for those just tuning it, a series of jobs in toxic corporate environments wrecked my physical and mental health. Self-employment has its own stresses. Being immigrant does as well. Chronic digestive issues can be traced back to ulcers, chronic respiratory problems from multiple bouts of pneumonia due to a lack of sick time, and anxiety disorder from having a job that required me to do morally and ethically reprehensible things.

So.

I kind of crashed over the holidays, and I’ve been having a difficulty time getting back up to speed. I am self-employed, so if I don’t write I can’t pay the bills. My ambition is endless, but my energy is a finite resource. I had to step back and look at what absolutely had to be done, what could be put off, and what wasn’t necessary but, for some reason, was still on my plate.

Being Sick and Reevaluating Priorities

If you have been following along for the past couple of years, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this. I think the first major crash was around March or April of 2018. It might have been 2017. The point is that it’s happening often enough that it’s a cycle. The cool part is that every time I get better at managing it. This time wasn’t a major crash, because I sensed it coming on. I took the proper steps early. Previous crashes have already edited many things out. Things went relatively smoothly.

I know not only what task are essential, but what projects are important to me. My limits revealed themselves to me over time. This is actually a superpower now, because I get be as productive as possible and wring every milliliter of value from my time and energy without killing myself. Work gets done. Bills get paid. I get the rest I need.

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Journal Thrive

Taking a Break

My intention was always to blog through the holidays. After all, I’m still going to work on the novel every day, as well as plug away on deadlines for some paying work. The past few days have been beating me down, though. So I’m taking a break until 6 January. Things will pick up right where they left off then.

While I don’t want to lose any of the momentum I’ve built here, seasonal affective disorder finally caught up to me. Ironically I made it all the way to the solstice, when the days finally begin getting longer. All I want to do is sleep. I have no energy. It’s been a struggle to get through the day. This is before the extra energy that will be required to get through Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Before I burn myself out, I’m making a proactive decision. For the sake of my physical and mental health, some things are coming off my plate temporarily. That way I’ll be able to do the things I need and love to do, like cooking holiday meals and spending time with people I care about.

Taking a Break

Have a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of what or how you celebrate. Let’s meet up here in two weeks and we can catch up on what’s happening. See you in the 2020!

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Journal Thrive

New Year, New Bullet Journal

For the first time ever, I’m beginning a journal on 1 January. I’ve always started a new book when the old one was filled up, no matter what the date was. I could probably cram another month into my current journal, but it’s close enough that I don’t feel guilty about wasting blank pages. So it’s new year, new bullet journal.

This seemed like an opportunity to review and refresh some of my practices, too. I went through all of my old journals, both those using the bullet journal method and pre-bujo, to see what works for me and what doesn’t. I spent some time reading posts by bujo bloggers, watching YouTube videos, and even going back to Ryder Carroll’s original descriptions of the method.

My biggest epiphany is that I haven’t been getting full value out of rapid logging. For those not in the know, it’s basically a note-taking methodology where you summarize ideas in a line and assign a symbol or key to it. Then you can review your notes later and sort things out. Years ago I did the Franklin Covey method, which had a similar key, but it didn’t really work for me. I think old associations kept me from embracing the potential of rapid logging.

Rapid Logging Fail

What I had been doing was keeping separate collections (reference pages) for different topics. Rather than writing things on a daily log and sorting it later, I’d flip to the page where I was keeping notes on that topic. It felt like less work, but it wasn’t. It got confusing.

For example, I have a page in my planner for today’s log. I realize that I need to create a graphic for an upcoming project. What I used to do would be to flip to the page I had set up for that project, and write it down there. Then when I worked on that project, I’d see the note and remember to do it. That process took my out of the flow of whatever I was doing in that moment. Rather than “write it down, deal with it later” my mind shifted to “what page is this project on?” and getting sidetracked.

The correct way to rapid log is to turn to the journal, and open to today’s page. Then write down that I need to make the graphic. Add the symbol I’ve assigned to that project, and go back to what I was doing. When I go to work on that project, I skim my notes for the past several days looking for that symbol, and migrate the note to the project page then. Alternately, at least once week I go through the daily entries looking for “open loops” and copy items over to where they belong.

New Year, New Bullet Journal

I cannot express what a revelation this was to me when it clicked. It’s helped me to keep focus while still capturing information. Rapid logging has killed another set of distractions for me. It’s amazing to me that bullet journaling is so simple, but still manages to have so much utility and depth.

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Journal Thrive

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

Hands down the best thing that happened this year was getting our Finnish residence extended. I love Finland, and I’d like to stay here forever. My reason for naming this the best thing, though, is even more basic than that. Our lives aren’t going to be disrupted, at least for another several months when we have to re-apply. We don’t have to abandon the things we have going — Katie’s education, her art career, my writing career — to relocate to another continent and start everything over (again).

The world right now is in such a state that I’m less happy about things that happened than I am over things that didn’t. All I crave right now is stability, something I’m constantly working toward. Just to be able to live life without having to periodically justify my existence. Finnish immigration is seriously a pleasure to work with, they’re nice people and have always been incredibly kind and helpful, but the process is still stressful.

All of this comes down to money. Shifting away from my current publishing niche, learning new skills, and doing better at marketing my work feeds into that. Stepping up my game means earning more, which in turn means less stress over whether my immigration status will be renewed. The best thing that happened this year is that I get to continue pursuing my goals into next year.

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

How would you answer this question, reader?

Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!