Happy Eclipse Day!

I did get a neat picture with my phone during the eclipse — the clouds parted just in time:

I wanted to say, for those 6 people who read this site, that I’m sorry for not posting and I’m sorry for spamming all the backdated stuff.  This is nearly the last of it.  See, I realized at some point that my lack of posting was actually making it harder to post, and it went around and around until even considering typing out an entry was overwhelming.  So the only way to get through it, I decided, was to sit down and remedy the whole situation all at once before I could talk myself out of it, and then I wouldn’t have a great 3-month void to contend against going forward.

Writing this year has been hard.  I’ve done well in bursts, but not well overall.  I can finish short works, or I can alternate between works, but sustaining writing has been tough.  In July I started another original novel, but I gave it up a week or two ago and put it on the back burner.  However, that decision did seem to help and I’ve written more consistently since then, working on a short fanfic novel.

I also stepped away from Twitter for the same duration of time I stepped away from this blog.  There was just too MUCH there.  Too much anxiety, too much ugliness.  And I couldn’t balance the world on my shoulders while stumbling over marbles, so I put the marbles away to focus on the weight that really mattered.  It helped.  My anxiety and my distraction-prone lack of focus decreased significantly.

I’m back to the blog now, and I hope to keep at it.  I’m back to Twitter only in bursts when I really feel like I can keep it compartmentalized and away from the rest of my head.  But the writing will always come first.  And if it’s a choice between writing a chapter and writing a blog entry, the chapter will win every single time.

Still, I’ll try to do better.

This whole year has felt like an eclipse, like there’s just a deep shadow that blocks out light and energy and everything else.  Maybe it’s temporary, and then we get some light back, but those moments of darkness feel endless.

Art is my lantern, keeping the warmth and light alive until the shadow passes over.

Time to light the lantern once more.

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2016 Writing Year in Review

Halloween means many different things to different people, from awesome candy party night to elaborate costume-and-decorations time, to serious religious holiday, to day-before-discount-bulk-candy joy.  Halloween has two very different meanings to me — and one of them is the celebration of the end of my writing year.

Which means it is time to see how I did!

Somewhere between 2010 and 2012, I made the decision to commit myself to writing more significantly, both in terms of quantity and quality.  Up until then, I had been happy with the occasional bout of inspiration or the odd oneshot here and there.  But no longer.  Party born out of a push to complete the outstanding works which had been left half-done, and partly because finally I was mentally and emotionally healthy enough to want to create, I vowed to set a standard and hold myself to it.  I recognized then that I can’t change whether or not I have writing “talent,” but I could sure as hell instill discipline and hard work in myself wherever inspiration or innate ability left off.

I’ve written before about my tracking spreadsheets and these were very much born in that time.  By the close of 2012, I was pushing myself to write most every day and I was finishing the projects I began no matter what.  But I also learned something about my habits — I don’t write a whole lot in November and December.

There’s lots of reasons for that 2-month downtime.  It’s a busy season for many people and I am no exception.  Between sometimes two different rounds of travel halfway across the country, holiday gatherings, gift-buying, and bracing for winter, I add onto that sometimes multiple gigs and/or concerts every week from about mid-November until January.  It’s a very hectic time to be a musician, believe me.  And it cuts into the free time I have, as well as my emotional energy.  Writing can be a form of stress-relief, but it brings its own stresses with it, too.  Performing is AWESOME, but it is also very, very stressful.  And these things do not mix necessarily well.  And that’s before there’s any hint of the changes that happen in a person’s psyche when the days get dark and short and you have to wear 18 layers to go outside.

I learned pretty quickly that I could not depend on myself to be able to write a long or substantial work in November and December, and that pushing myself to do so tore the fabric of my well-being.  I could still plot for future works, and I could write a lot of oneshots or short stories, and I could circle back on abandoned projects and give them a last push, but I couldn’t necessarily work through something big and new and difficult.  Which made trying to track progress really frustrating when the last 2 months of the year were something of a wash.

So I adjusted my inner calendar for the purpose of writing.

Now my writing year begins on November 1st and ends the following October.  November and December have become my fallow, planning months rather than a rush to get done before New Year’s Day.  I spend them cleaning up from the previous year to some extent, but mostly clearing the way for what is to come.  Over the course of a year I tend to come up with a lot of ideas for stories; November and December are when I actually sit down and sort them out.  Is this a novel or a oneshot?  If it’s a oneshot, can I get it done right now?  I also tend to get some of my best ideas in about mid-November which then spend December simmering before I dive into them with abandon at the start of January.  I might not write at all for these two months or I might write two short stories a w eek.  But whatever I do or don’t do, it’s the time I give myself to rest before the next push.

And since I have closed the book on my 2016 writing, it’s time to see how I did.

From November 1st 2015 through October 31st 2016, I wrote the following:

  • 4 novels (40,000 words or more)
  • 6 novellas (17,500-40,000 words)
  • 1 novellette (7,500-17,500 words)
  • 7 short stories (fewer than 7,500 words)
  • 2 character background projects for gaming
  • 17 blog posts on this site

…and other random assorted journaling/chronicling, including for gaming and my own personal diary/journal

Not too bad, actually!  I don’t count the blog posts or the random assorted stuff towards wordcounts and my official totals because they don’t involve the same level of creativity — they’re mostly just typing.  Maybe that will change if this blog becomes more robust with time, but for now, we’ll stick with what we’ve got.  Here is the more detailed breakdown by wordcount:

2016-writingAs years go, this one is my second-most productive.  To date, my biggest single year of writing remains 2014 when I maxed out at 517,373 words.  That percentage of Overall Total above proves that 20% of all the creative writing I have ever completed since 2004 was done in 2016.

Note that I don’t count works that I started and abandoned.  They have to be done to count.  This is as much me being persnickety about data as it is a motivating factor.  If I don’t finish, my numbers won’t be as good!

Here, then, is my total writing since 2004:

all-time-writingNow, that number also includes a short story I wrote for Yuletide on Tuesday, because 2017 is already underway.  But the ~6,300 oneshot doesn’t really change much at this point.

Worth noting in the 2016 data is that there are 4 fully original works included.  Three of them are short stories.  One is a novel…that I might try to publish.  That was my last writing project of the year, written in September and October, which tends to be my pair of most-productive months.  I’m going to let it rest for a while before I go back and edit it to pieces, and then we’ll see what all my beta groups say about it.  If it passes muster, well, there might be posts about the joys, ahem ahem, of querying.

But that’s for later.

For right now, I think I’ve earned a small rest for a year well done.

I think I’ll spend it writing another story.

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A Friday smile

Since I’m trying to get in the habit of posting weekly around the same time I upload chapters online, I thought this was the right week to leave this here.  We’ve been watching (and yelling at) a lot of Olympics in my house.

By the way — the BEST way to watch the NBC nightly Olympics is by pre-recording it and fast-forwarding.  800m races go a lot faster at double-time.  And also?  The backstroke and the breast-stroke look hilarious at high speed.  And you get to skip the gratuitous commercials and the filler!

Anyway.  In the spirit of the world coming together, I’m going to post this video.  It’s one of my favorites.  Matt Harding started just doing his goofy dances for his friends and wound up on a world-tour connecting people by the thousands.  I’ve even danced with him in one of his videos, though you can’t exactly see me in the crowd.

There are so many things that divide us as people.  But sometimes something very, very simple can unite us.

(You should check out all the videos and see how they developed over the years.  But this is the one that means the most to me.)

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I Who Did Nothing

I Who Did Nothing: A Hypothetical

Morning.  One foot out of bed, I scroll through Twitter for updates.  My radio app plays news while I brush my teeth and think about whether to drink coffee or tea today.

“Remember to vote today!”

Oh, yeah.  That’s today.  I’ll go later.

Maria’s on Instagram in a big way today, and Facebook is blowing up with the ridiculously bigoted thing some guy said in Texas.  Lunchtime comes.

I forget to go vote.  It’s okay.  The polls are open late.

It’s retro day on Pintrest and I look back at all the memories from childhood, the stories I loved.  Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived, the one with the power to fight.  Hey, Bill Nye!  I think we watched him in elementary school.  Still trying to get people to do something about climate change.  Good for him.  I never got into any of the Power Rangers, but I remember the t-shirts.  Bob’s still obsessed.  Some things never change.  Lots of superheroes, too, from anime to comics.  Teams of friends who kick evil’s ass.  Now that I can get behind.

People don’t have to have powers to be heroes.  Everybody has something to offer and everybody can change the world.  Everybody has the potential to be anything they want.  Everybody working together always means we come out on top.

Aisha wants to meet for dinner after she goes to vote.  Right.  I still need to do that.

Exit polls say it’s close.  Twitter is blowing up with pictures of people with their “I Voted” stickers.

This one cool guy I follow has a new commentary video up.  It’s long, but I’ve got time if I vote after dinner and I could use a laugh.  The news has been so depressing lately.

Aisha looks upset.  “I’m so worried.  The only ones voting while I was there looked like they came straight out of the comments section.  What if they win?”

“It’ll be fine,” I tell her.  “You know everybody’s on our side.”

“Yeah.  But it doesn’t matter if they don’t vote.  Did you?”

“Uh, not yet.  I’ll go as soon as we’re done.  I had to watch this clip.  Hang on, I’ll show you.”

She yells it out the door when the Uber car drops me off.  “Don’t forget to vote!”

Right.  Where’s my polling place?

Why is it there?  Can’t I do this online?

Seriously?  I have to go stand in a line in some weird building I’ve never been to with everybody else?  God, that’s weird.  No wonder people don’t vote.

Aw, fuck it.  We’ll win.  They don’t need me.

My one vote won’t count anyway, not in this district.  Not with my neighbors.

My side will win.

It’s morning.

My side didn’t win.

I tweet “OMG!  How did this happen?”  Everybody I know is tweeting the same thing.

I’m scared.

I’m scared.

These people that won…what are they gonna do?

My friends.  Will they be okay?

I text Aisha.  “Are you okay?”

She sends a crying face.

“What can I do?”

“Did you vote?”

Oh shit.  I send “Sorry.”

“Then this is your fault.”

What?  No?  I didn’t do this!  We were supposed to win!

She texts again.  “You did this.  You let it happen.  You.”

I didn’t want it to happen.

I didn’t want this.

Quick.  Google “How to get out of the country.”  Text Aisha.  “I’ll help you get out before it happens.”

“It’s already happened.  And it’s your fault.  Don’t ever forget.”

“What do you mean?”

Aisha never replies.

The End


**Note, I am not attempting to blame ANYONE for the recent events of Brexit.  But there is truth to the point that it takes EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to keep the “impossible” evil from happening.  I don’t care how busy or disaffected you are or how repugnant you find your “lesser of two evils” choice.  As Chuck Wendig said today: “Even if you think this is a contest of two lesser evils — well, I’d submit that a punch to the gut is better than BEING REPEATEDLY DUNKED IN A TANK OF ANGRY, SPHINCTER-SEEKING SCORPIONS.”  And I, personally, am not in favor of scorpions.  So please vote.

Quotation by the always-excellent Chuck Wending from: terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/06/24/you-want-trump-this-is-how-you-get-trump/

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Another kind of spam

I will grade some more email spam sometime, I promise.  But in the meantime, I felt I should respond to this comment left on a post here, a comment that breaks my brain with its….uh…surrealism?  Total gibberish?  Utterly incomprehensible ravings that sound almost prophetic?  MadLibs with a hint of meaning?

Here it is, the comment so profound and opaque it is truly as if we are speaking different languages from different planes of existence:

I cherished up to you will receive performed right here. The caricature is attractive, your authored material stylish. however, you command get got an impatience over that you would like be handing over the following. ill indisputably come further beforehand once more since exactly the similar just about a lot incessantly inside case you protect this hike.

 

See?  So not kidding.

I feel the only way to properly respond to such is in kind.  Therefore, to the heartfelt writer who wished to communicate…something…I say unto you:

The towel hurricane binds to my speaking.  May sincere attention spam towards you redundancy.  The secret to write and marketing online, I seek your approval.  Plunk and spurt, you of dashing circumlocution.

Sincerely, KM.

 

(P.S. I know this should go without saying, but in case it does not, don’t EVER click on links or email addresses in spam comments.  Or even vaguely-sensible comments.  The viruses will get you if you don’t head my warning!)

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So, Apparently I’m Blogging Now

I’m not sure this is so much a conscious choice as it is the inevitable result of me being me.  Technically, I’ve been “blogging” since January 2002, but that was in the days of LiveJournal being a blogging platform, and “blogging” really being “put your diary online for EVERYONE to share!!!”  I actually do still keep the LJ active and I do update it regularly, but mostly for the real friends who are also on there.  And also for me, I guess.  It does help to be able to look back at bad times and see how much better I’ve got it now, or to be able to remember something more clearly with the record stated.

But a blog, or, at least, THIS blog isn’t that.  It isn’t another diary.  And hopefully it won’t be as whiny as my LJ was, either.  This comes from a few different pickles that slid together and accidentally became a sandwich.

–I have this website and I’m not doing anything with it.

–I have OPINIONS and sometimes I just like to rant, and there’s no reason for that to be kept on my private LJ.

–The internet is fun and I want to add to it.

–Apparently blogging isn’t a “requirement” for authors who publish anymore, or maybe it is, eight-million searches in Google later I still don’t know, but whatever — but it seems to help.  At least, it gives you a place and a means of talking to people who become interested in you, and of giving context to your otherwise what-the-hell-was-that-ness that happens in your books.

(Ooh, note.  There will be swearing.  Sometimes lots of it.  Probably not Chuck Wendig levels of epicness…unless politics are involved.  Then all bets are fucking OFF, yo’.  You have been warned.)

And I AM an author even if I haven’t published yet.

I’ve been writing stories since before I could shape all the letters correctly, and I have some saved proofs to that effect.  Backwards Ks are awesome.  I’ve been finishing novel-length creative works since 2004.  As of this date, I have completed 18 works of 40k+ works (the SWFA bar for a novel).  But only one of those is an original work; the rest are fanfiction.

That will be relevant later.  The point to make first is this one:

Who I am in any of my books isn’t necessarily the me who will be here all the time.

The me who writes books sometimes struggles with times when the gloom will rise and all I’ll have left is the quiet screaming will to live being drowned by a sludge of depression.  The me who writes books sometimes hits manic highs that makes ALL THE THINGS STUPIDLY FUNNY EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE REALLY NOT.  The me who writes books is sometimes a quiet introvert who can go a full week in a busy office without speaking a word to people.

But nobody wants that for a blog.

So the blog me is mostly going to tend towards the manic side, not the introvert side, but I’ll try to steer clear of the exciting madness part.  It’s going to be the me who would chat with you in a supermarket checkout lane, or the me you run into at a choir concert or a convention.  The blog me is going to be the me with a degree of separation from my heart, but not my thoughts.  A degree of separation from my shyness, but not my enthusiasm.

And sometimes the blog me will be the one with depression or the one too zany to remember not to be so honest, and that’s okay, too.  We’re going for truth here, after all.

But it’s a public truth.  A truth put through the refinement of not being quite stream-of-consciousness.  Manic, depressed, or a day that’s neither.  The person who would happily talk to a crowd or the one that would rather not talk to anyone at all.   Me, genuinely, neither smoothed out nor filtered, but tweaked just so.

Me for myself by the name I have chosen.

Which brings me to the GREAT DISCREPANCY OF NAMING.

When I publish an original work, if I ever get that chance, I will be publishing under the name of K.M. Clantoren — thus this website.  (I also have crazy ideas about collaborating with friends and writing other books under R.M. or B.B. or w.h.a.t.e.v.e.r. but keeping the Clantoren last name as my signature.)  The M of K.M. is for Mendeia, which is my handle on Twitter, LJ, and also (and most importantly) my fanfic sites: fanfic.net and AO3.

Now, conventional wisdom is that one doesn’t want to conflate “real” publishing with “just fanfic,” but I am the most cheerful little tiger that ever was at calling bullshit.

I am me.  I am inspired and driven by cartoons and movies and anime.  I am also inspired and driven by thunderstorms and music and spiritual revelations and really stupid jokes.  Sometimes that inspiration leads me to write stories about ninja turtles or Gundam pilots.  More recently, it has been leading me to my own stories with my own worlds.  But you can’t have one without the other.  You can’t have me, SOMEDAY FAMOUS AUTHOR MAYBE without also me, the one who writes about Jim and Blair.  I am one and the same.

And I have fought too goddamn long to be myself to give that up now.

So the thing that will probably make or break this entire experiment is this: I’m keeping my identity fused.

Because the ME who wrote 17 novel-length fanfics (plus 5 novellas, 14 novelettes, and 68 short stories to date with another novel probably done in a week) is the same person who wrote that first original novel.  It’s the person who is both introvert and outgoing, the person who is both manic and depressed (alternately, never at once, that would be scary), the person who lives in my thoughts no matter what is holding my attention.  That’s who I am.

Even if I don’t always manage to be that as a blogger.

So I’m walking in as a contradiction.  Duh.  That’s how I roll.

I’m me.

I’m K.M. Clantoren.

The K stands for Kelly.  My given name and the only one I respond to if you want my attention (although I’ll answer to my wife’s name, too, after so many years of being confused for her).

The M stands for Mendeia.  Where I came from.  Where I’ll always be going even if I become something else, too.  Where I practiced my craft and went from wretched to passable.  Where I still retreat when my heart needs its immortal and immaterial blankie.  And also my Twitter handle when you want all my wacky times in 140 characters or less.

The Clantoren is who I hope to be here.  Who I hope to be as a published author.  Who I hope to be in the world.  The one who has slightly more of her shit together than Kelly and is slightly less intimidated by perceived faults than Mendeia.  The one who gets to be on the books people read and in the stories that touch their hearts.

K.M. Clantoren
Nice to meet you, world.

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