Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Write On

Ambrose and I, as is our tradition, went camping over Memorial Day Weekend. Car camping, because most of the trails we like are still snowed in at this time of year. Plus, it always seems to rain over Memorial Day. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with any production tasks on my guide book, because that depended too much on my at home computer. But I was able to keep up with my writing.

Not the way I originally planned though.

I had hoped to take an old mini laptop out to the campsite and use it to type things up, but when I tried to start the old thing up, I found a problem. The battery wouldn't charge.

At Ambrose's suggestion, I tried shutting it down and taking the battery out and putting it back in. I tried letting it stay plugged in all night. Nope, nope, nope. It just wouldn't charge, and without the battery, it would be useless at the campsite we were planning on occupying.

So I had to go for plan b.

I didn't like plan b as much, because it involved using the cell phone to type my thousand words each day. The type/swipe method in google docs isn't the easiest when it comes to speed. I have to go slow enough to notice when google wants to replace the words I'm trying to type with words it thinks I should be typing. I did warn Ambrose that there would be weird typos, but I did try to catch as many of them as I could.

Probably where the story is flowing best is where he'll find the most errors.

And, plan b was better than plan c, which was writing everything out longhand and then typing it back up when I got back. That option had several major drawbacks. First, I would have to count my words to make sure I was writing to my goal each day. Second, I'd have to write slowly so my handwriting would reach a bare minimum standard of legibility. Most tedious of all, I'd have to actually retype everything at home. A time suck and difficult because of the handwriting thing.

Luckily, using the cell phone worked perfectly. And it made up for the fact that I'd forgotten the camera at home. Overall, it was a fun weekend, though it did rain every day (and hailed on Saturday).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Writing Proceeds Apace

My plan is working so far. I didn't set a goal in my last blog, but after getting some writing done, I've settled on an informal goal of 1000 words a day for writing up my solo trip. Since I'm holding myself to that standard on week nights when I often don't feel like doing anything after work, that means that I have to get creative with my planning.

When I knew I wouldn't have time to write very much after work, like on the days I was planning going to an evening CrossFit endurance workout, I'd make sure to get my words done during lunch at work, even if that meant skimping on socializing or watching shows during lunch instead. On days when I planned to workout during lunch, I better make that time in the evening to write.

It's been surprisingly easy to make progress this way.

Another way I've departed from my past efforts is that I'm not typing up my handwritten notes first. While I hike on the ICT, I've been using the reverse sides of my maps to write notes about the day. My first step in writing up these trips has typically been to transcribe those notes. But I don't really use them once I do transcribe them. So this time I'm putting that step last. I'll write them up once I finish my draft and, if there's anything they have to contribute, I'll add it in.

I've made some progress on the production side for my guide book. I got an initial batch of photos and renamed them to reflect where they occur on the trail. I think I'll add a few more different views and then start winnowing the field. After that, it will be creating the captioned photos that will actually go in the book, and then I'll start formatting. Last will be the cover, since I won't know the dimensions I'll need until I know how many pages it's going to be. I will be using the same template that I used for my first guide, so that step should go more quickly, but it's still a lot of little details that need to be completed. I feel good about being able to get that done by my goal date of June 4th.

I think I'll finish the write up of the solo trip before my goal date of July 1st, as long as I keep up the pace. And there's no reason not to. It really isn't difficult to write 1000 words telling this story every day. It's still fresh in my mind. Heck, I'm still looking at fading bruises. This might just be the way to write these.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Focus

In prior years, no matter how early I got my solo hike done, I didn't really get to writing the book until the fall. Part of that was that I had other trips to write about, and part was that I wanted to let the experience sink in a bit.

That's not what is going to happen this year.

This year, I'm hoping to get out two big hiking books, which means I need to get cooking on this one before I start doing other trips for the summer. So I've already started the write up, and I plan on getting the words completed by July 1. Although I will allow that if I haven't yet done the Stanley Lake to Marsh  Creek section, I won't be able to have that part finished.

The other thing that I'm going to focus on this month is production work on the Queens River guide. Every day, I'm going to do some production work and some writing and I'm just going to keep hammering at this until it is where I want it to be.

What stopped me with the Queens guide was that I was done writing, but I wasn't sure what photos to include. With the Chamberlain, I didn't have quite as many trips to choose from, but I've been going to the Queens River area for 4 years now, often multiple trips per season. On my computer, I've got my photo files all out of order, so I didn't know where to start.

I finally decided to start by changing the names of the folders so they would have dates instead of camera codes. Then, I'll put them into folders based on location. Actually, that's a longer term project. For now, I'm only moving all the Queens River pictures into a folder, and then I'll keep going on production work.

The next step will be choosing which pictures show important areas along the Queens. Junctions, crossings and destinations will be key, but I also want to include a few pictures that are simply beautiful.

All the while, I'll be writing more and more words on the solo trip. The fiction is pretty much dropped for now, but I'll come back to it.

After all, I need to find out how that story ends.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Writing Bits

An advantage to having a writing goal of 100 words per day is that it's really easy to meet the goal. Days when I'm feeling sick, I can convince myself to get to the writing computer and just do those 100 words. I might not have a lot of time, but I can find five minutes to get those words in.

I like that. It helps me to stay on a streak of writing.

But there's a significant disadvantage that I've noticed after doing this kind of goal a few times.

The story loses momentum. I get a good idea and I start running with it and by writing it in tiny chunks I slow myself down. I don't continue writing at the pace that the story wants to go. And then I get neurotic about it and can't get myself to just play with the story again.

That's not a disadvantage when I'm writing a guide book or a hiking book. I know the shapes of those stories already in my head. I lived them. With fiction, I'm discovering the story. It's like I need to pay attention to the story and make it move more quickly if I don't want to lose it.

And somehow, writing just the 100 words has also taken my attention away from production work on my Queens River guidebook. The words are there, but I need to get the pictures squared away and the cover and all the fiddly bits. For the Chamberlain guide, I stopped writing after I finished the words so I could focus on production and I got it done pretty quickly.

After my solo trip, I'm going to have to write that up and work on the story and do production work on the guide. So I guess I'll be doing a bit less TV watching...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Health Matters

It happened again. The end of the month came and I felt sick again. I ended up going home early from work last week and slept a full 8 hours from noon to 8 pm before getting up for dinner and then sleeping another 8 hours overnight. I'm at my wits end here. I'm half convinced this is punishment for thinking that it had been so long since I'd had a cold about a year ago.

I've been a lot more careful at the gym with wiping down the treadmill before I use it as well as after. I've been exercising regularly, sleeping 8 hours a night regularly (or more), and I drink plenty of water. Like a gallon a day most days, often more (okay, some of it's herbal tea, but that totally counts).

I'm doing the right things, but I'm still getting sick.

And it isn't like it's a bad sick. It's a little sick. It's sniffles and exhaustion. No fever or vomiting or anything that would generally make me stay home from work. Instead, I've been suffering through it for the most part - although I did take a break from working out last week because of those sniffles.

But not too much of a break, because I needed to prep for my solo trip with some pack weight. It's always better if you can get some time under weight before starting the hike. Less of a shock to the system. I guess it's good that I pushed the dates of my trip back a bit or I would have been sick on the trail.

I just need to figure out how not to have this gunk recur for the rest of the summer and I'll be good. I promise not to brag about how long it's been since I've had a cold ever again.