Something, maybe

all week, I’ve been waking up at my usual time of around 7am. I zip up a hoodie, feed the cats, look out onto my balcony, and look at this little blank text file. Sometimes I scroll twitter for a few minutes because I’m a sad human who can’t stop, but I’m not sure you can hold that against anyone anymore. It’s a sort of habit I’m trying to rebuild in real time. Let’s talk about a story in the hopes of eventually writing that story. Is this a lame attempt to stave off depression going into the winter months while in the middle of a global pandemic? Duh. But hey, I’m supposed to be a writer. So let’s get to work.

Besides, my favorite show of 2020 is Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!, a comedy about the creative process. Three girls come together to make an anime. It’s wholesome as hell, and you’ll love it. Midori, Tsubame, and Sayaka all have different motivations and challenges for making an anime, and those challenges make up the drama of the show.

And when I think about how Eizouken creative process, you can’t help but try it yourself. Look around, man. There’s stuff to build on. Who’s that guy leaning against your building every other Thursday. What’s he smoking? What’s he waiting for? Your neighborhood isn’t cool, but he is. What’s happening there? He’s lanky and tall. You saw leave the parking lot. He’s got a car. What’s the make? Do cars still define people? They do, right? I don’t drive. That’s what it says about me.

He’s waiting for a girl who lives in my building. I put it together before I see the proof. Sure, of course he is. That adds up. But he waits a long time. Long enough to put the car in the guest parking, not just the entranceway where the delivery drivers park. He knows he’ll be down there a while. He smokes. He looks at his phone. The way he leans is just a little bit mysterious.

I shared the elevator with her once. She didn’t seem excited. Nervous, maybe. But also, sad? It didn’t seem like young love. Or rather, it didn’t seem like the young love I thought I had. I saw her walk up to him. They didn’t embrace. He just dropped his cigarette and stomped it out, and she followed him to the parking lot. What was this?

Hey, that’s something, maybe.

writing anime story planning

The Best Thing That Could Happen

I fell asleep watching Japanese pro wrestling last night. The drama around wrestling is jagged and stressful, but wrestling matches themselves—especially New Japan’s long main event style—are balletic and methodical. You can really put a few on and get the same calm as custom white noise. I mean, turn the volume down. The enthusiasm from the commentary track may not deliver the desired sleepy time heart rate.

While I was watching this match, I had a singular thought: what’s the best thing that could happen here? I didn’t particularly have skin in this game. If one or the other performer won,” would that mean anything to me? Not really. I was here for the choreography. A match can end in a lot of ways. What’s the best one? New Japan is a confident place, and nearly all their matches end with a decisive victor. But you know what I really love? A time limit draw.

If you don’t know wrestling, there are sometimes time limits. It depends on the company and the gimmick and what they’re trying to communicate. Time limit draws are usually about frustrations about working within the system. It’s a shenanigan under the rare guise of rule-keeping. One performer is a brick wall, the other a wrecking ball, and it’s about the wall falling in time. Can the wrecking ball get its job done? But that’s less interesting to me than a stellar performance not being marred by having to decide a winner.” How do you pick a winner in pairs skating, between the two people in the pair? You don’t. They sit at the kiss and cry and you judge them together.

Perhaps my favorite finish in any match is from 2001. Stone Cold Steve Austin and HHH have this 45 minute epic in February of that year. They sort of do the Rocky II finish, where they hit one another at the same time. Only, they collapse. HHH falls slightly slower, and he ends up on top of Austin. He wins” the match because that’s just coincidentally how pins in wrestling work (so, so many wrestlers have won” matches after being dragged on top of their opponent by someone else), but it doesn’t matter. The whole point was the performance itself.

As I’m letting my mind wander about this new story, I’m trying to look at it from new angles. I rarely think about the endings” of my stories. I make a few characters and try to follow them through an arc. But maybe I need to have something in mind, and that it should be worth the arc. My stories are usually love stories that don’t work out. There’s no real correlation to winning and losing in my stories. I don’t think those concepts are all that interesting. But I do like ties. It feels like the characters make it across together.

So maybe my story has to involve my characters competing for something that ends in a draw. Or maybe it’s something more emotional. They fight one another and get nowhere. Maybe they’re struggling too hard towards the wrong kind of ending, and they come to realize it was the wrong goal for them. Would that be the best ending? They realign their values. They’re together, focused. Is the best ending just a fresh, crisp beginning with renewed focus? Is it just circular like that. Is that too simple?

writing wrestling story planning

Contradictions in First Drafts

Denise’s hair is blue. Denise’s hair is auburn. Denise isn’t real. Denise is the only real thing that matters. Olive isn’t real. Lake isn’t real. Frank’s hair is auburn.

Something that snags me all the time is getting the names, genders, personal attributes, motivations, and even ways of speaking of the characters I’m writing. This is a first draft problem I’m sure lots of writers deal with. It’s a lot to keep in my head. It’s a problem for me because so much of my writing doesn’t get past the first draft. I’ve been writing first drafts for the last decade. I’m stuck. I’ve been a first draft writer for ten years. Frank’s hair is blue.

I’m writing about my writing in the hopes that I’ll kickstart a little bit of actual writing. I’ve got it in my head that maybe novels are too big for me right now. I was working on a novel—I Know Your Real Name Now—but the energy for that one ran out. Big unfinished projects weigh on me. It feels like I’m carrying it around, and unfinished novel” becomes a guilt hammer while I’m doing anything else. If you are what you spend your time on, then I’m mostly someone who works and watches movies. Below that, I play video games, do chores, try to work out, and doomscroll like everyone else. Somewhere below re-organize my closet” is fiction writing time. Denise isn’t real but sometimes wishes he was.

In the last two years I’ve gone from writing a good amount to none at all, from feeling very guilty about that to feeling okay. I’ve gone months without writing and it’s been fine. This is actually okay, really. It means I don’t need to write in order to be okay. Writing isn’t an integral part of the being okay” process. I’ve been writing fiction since I was in grade school. I’ve only stopped” in the last few years. And yeah, I’ve done no writing during the pandemic. It hasn’t sparked any creative outlets.

I’m hoping that I’ll kickstart a little bit of fiction writing because I still like it, man. I don’t think I was bad at it. Okay, I’m less than ace at keeping character details 100% straight, and Olive and his auburn hair isn’t going to keep her straight themselves. I’ve got that work to do. But that shouldn’t be the thing that stops me.

writing story planning

1667

I’m not going to write 1667 words. This was a number I cared about at one point. It has a smell to me. It has the faintest whiff of a stranger’s coffee near you, maybe closer to you than your own. Maybe it’s next to your computer and you don’t love how they pick it up and put it down. It’s careless and you worry about it spilling on your machine. You’re trying to write for an arbitrary goal in a mutually agreed-upon location. You don’t know this neighborhood. You don’t know this person. You know they’d never replace your laptop if they ruined it. But what can you do? I type.

I switch from first to second person. It’s annoying and fiddly and wrong and impossible to properly edit later without losing some context. My neck cricks. Your neck cricks now. I know your real name now. It’s me. Of course I’ve heard of him. I’m looking through glass and still see myself, but it’s not me. It’s you. It’s me.

This isn’t anything. You’re practicing typing again. She told you that you can’t be a good writer without reading more. But every time you read fiction, real fiction, your mind wanders to what you could write instead of what you’re reading. This doesn’t happen with the news and blogs and tweets. When I’m doomscrolling twitter, I don’t get creative. I can read hours of blogs and never want to reinterpret the text to suit my own creative flow. But books? Books get splish splashed in.

While half-watching a sitcom, I opened up the library app on my phone and rented out a new Nick Hornby novel. Later, in bed, the seven-day loan syncs the bits to my Kobo, the light and little ePub reader. I read books on my Kobo because the screen is better suited to reading text than any computer display. The loan says I have the book for seven days. It’s a popular book and I got to skip” the line for a week, but if I don’t finish the book in seven days, the bits disappear and appear on someone else’s account. I hope they’re reading it on some dedicated reading device. But I’m snobby about this. I’m assuming most people read their ebooks as God intended, on a Lenovo PC with a swivel screen running Windows 7 from 2009.

If I want to finish the book, I need to read about 60 pages a day. By page 20, I’ve forgotten any of the characters or what they’re doing. I’ve replaced them with my own imagination. What could I be writing instead? My mind lets ideas escape. I’m laying in bed. The only thing I can hear is one of our two fans spinning. It creates enough white noise to feel relaxed. I’m resting on my right side. My right arm is outstretched under my pillow, bend at the elbow. My right hand acts as the Kobo’s stand. My left hand reaches up and taps the bottom of the screen, telling it to go to the next page. I haven’t really read any of the text on that page, and I won’t read the text on the next page. My eyes lazily glide through them but nothing’s really getting through. But I still tap. I still progress. I’m 4% finished the novel by the time I realize I have no idea what’s happening. I’m a little bit more awake now as I swipe back to the last place where I felt I had the thread. Now, I’m only 3% complete. It is very likely I won’t finish this novel in seven days. It is also unlikely I’ll write down any of the ideas I had. I’m falling asleep, though. At least there’s that.

writing reading story planning

Peloton after 15 months

This is the data just for the last three months. Click here to check the others. Because it’s been one year, I’ll make a separate post with all the numbers added up.

Fitness Discipline

Row Labels Count
Cardio 11
Cycling 1
Strength 46
Stretching 1
Yoga 11
Grand Total 70

Workout Type

Row Labels Count
Arms & Light Weights 7
Bodyweight 3
Core 6
Full Body 10
HIIT 11
Intervals 1
Lower Body 4
Lower Body Stretch 1
Resistance Bands 2
Restorative Yoga 2
Strength for Runners 1
Upper Body 12
Warm Up 1
Yoga Flow 9
Grand Total 70

Calories Burned (this would be massively approximate)

Row Labels Sum of Calories Burned
Cardio 841
Cycling 271
Strength 2822
Stretching 6
Yoga 558
Grand Total 4498

Time Spent in minutes

Row Labels Sum of Length (minutes)
Cardio 170
Cycling 30
Strength 785
Stretching 15
Yoga 250
Grand Total 1250

Instructor Frequency

Row Labels Count of Instructor Name
Aditi Shah 3
Adrian Williams 4
Andy Speer 3
Anna Greenberg 3
Becs Gentry 2
Chase Tucker 2
Chelsea Jackson Roberts 1
Cody Rigsby 1
Hannah Corbin 3
Jess King 1
Jess Sims 6
Kendall Toole 4
Kristin McGee 4
Leanne Hainsby 1
Matty Maggiacomo 6
Multiple Instructors 1
Olivia Amato 12
Rebecca Kennedy 4
Robin Arzon 6
Selena Samuela 3
Grand Total 70

So! Some notes.

Decreases all around, but I knew that would happen in the summer. I barely used Peloton in August. I was active, it just outside, as the outdoor cycling” part of the Apple Watch report below shows off. It’s already freezing and it’s only early October now, so I’m assuming my Peloton usage will spike this month.

Peloton released an app for Roku just before the last report, and I’ve been using it exclusively. It’s very good. It does, however, mean that Peloton doesn’t give me heartrate output anymore, which is totally fine because Apple Watch does that better anyway. Which brings us to:

Apple Watch Data

So, when I start a video on my TV using the Roku app, I also tell my Apple Watch to start a corresponding workout. This means I’ve got personal data for all my peloton exercises. After using an Apple Watch for a few months, I really wish there was a way for me to download workout data to a spreadsheet, just like Peloton. I’ve tried a few apps but none give me the easy stuff.

I’ve actually stopped al lowing Peloton to add health data, since it ends up counting as 2 workouts and skewing results. Because of this, there’s no way for me to a) get accurate Apple Watch readings of heartrate and cals burned, and b) know which exercises are from Peloton and which are from other things. But, hey, I can guess.

Thankfully, iOS14 has an improved Activity app, so I can at least gather some data at a glance.

Here’s July:

Workout Type Total Cals Avg Calories
Strength Training 2204 157
Yoga 462 154
HIIT 446 148
Outdoor Cycling 3187 265

Here’s August:

Workout Type Total Cals Avg Calories
Strength Training 467 116
Yoga 697 232
HIIT 647 161
Outdoor Cycling 3981 306

Here’s September:

Workout Type Total Cals Avg Calories
Strength Training 2507 179
Yoga 339 169
HIIT 657 164
Outdoor Cycling 1541 308
peloton wellness

September 2020 in photos

photos

Good Movies, September 2020

Logbook movies

Link Blog, September 2020

Logbook links

RSS reading in late 2020

Yesterday’s IFTTTs remap made me think about how I’m reading sites. RSS never fully went away for me, but now that I can’t rely on IFTTT, I’m going to lean on it a bit more.

My new rules for RSS:

  • No Fire hose websites. If i see 50+ articles a week,” I’m out.
  • No publications. Twitter and Nuzzel are pretty good about lifting the more timely and interesting stuff from verticals.
  • Newsletters are A+ RSS material, because most people write 1-2 a week. Newsletters have been the new blogs for a while now, and I’m still surprised how easy it is to just put a /feed in front of a newsletter URL and it just works.
  • Check it when you remember. No notifications, no apps on the home screen. The whole point of an RSS reader is it’ll keep it until you need it.
technology rss blogs

Microblog Thoughts, August 27-September 25 2020

  • I love that Twitter’s algorithm places Charles Manson in entertainment and Satan in politics.
  • Someone remake Lovecraft Country episode 2 as a six episode mini series please and thanks
  • Please, I’m begging you all. Stop posting screenshots of text nobody can read. Just, like, publish a blog post. It’s very easy.
  • So there’s just no cure for snoring huh
  • So for the Oscars this year, uncut gems right?
  • Microsoft could move its two big Duo features - App Pairs and opening a new app while keeping your last app active on the left screen - over to Windows 10 proper and everything would be pretty good.
  • I can’t wait to see what phones and laptops look like in two years after engineers have spent all that time at home.
  • Oh no I like Notion
  • What makes Peloton leaps and bounds above any other video workout thing is, they don’t stop. There’s a new video almost every hour. You never ever feel like you’re stuck watching a repeat. not that Apple won’t try. But that’s the challenge. it’s like the difference between Netflix and Disney+. Netflix is just relentless.
  • Just give me the ability to sync an Apple Watch to an iPad. Isn’t that like, maybe the perfect combination of devices?
  • What’s the right number of Apple Watch pals? I’ve got two. I feel I could handle two more before all the exercise notification send me into a loathing spiral
  • I’ve owned two 3DS models: the original in purple, and the XL. The XL is so good I might just keep it charged forever, and I’ve still got a dozen or so games downloaded I want to finish.
  • The emoji search bar is the sleeper best feature of iOS14 🤩🥂🎉
Logbook my stuff tweets