Friday, October 24, 2014

Unexpected consequences

One unexpected consequence of using a new email program on a new computer after my old computer became unreliable is that I have unsubscribed from many email lists.

On the G5 I had established various rules that moved certain newsletters to one inbox and email from certain sources to another inbox and so on. Over several years, I had created dozens of rules to filter and sort my incoming email. Some of those emails I had either stopped reading or only scanned on a sporadic basis.

Because I have not yet established any rules to filter and sort incoming emails, I have realized how many non-spam but also non-essential emails I'd been receiving. Now, as I receive each daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and sporadic email from all the mailing lists I had joined, I examine each one closely to determine why I subscribed (or if someone else subscribed me, the dirty rat!) and if being only the mailing list still holds value. Alas, many of them no longer do. So, I've unsubscribed from more than a dozen mailing lists during the past week and suspect there are several more unsubscriptions to come.

Eliminating unnecessary email means I should have fewer distractions when I'm at the computer. With luck, that will translate into increased productivity.

We'll see.

Forty-seven

I finished and submitted my forty-seventh short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,000-word confession.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Forty-six

I finished and submitted my forty-sixth short story of the year a few minutes ago, a 5,200-word confession. On Columbus Day, using notes from February 2011, I wrote the bulk of the story. My computer bit the big one the following day, and only yesterday was I able to begin writing again. I completed the full draft yesterday evening and this afternoon gave it a final edit before submitting it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Forty-five

I finished and submitted my forty-fifth story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 3,100-word confession that I had completed before the computer debacle and had only to do a final proofreading pass before sending it along.

The end of life as I know it

Two Fridays ago, my primary computer--a Macintosh G5 that has been a true workhouse ever since I purchased it in May 2005--died. It failed to boot up. I knew I would some day need to upgrade and had purchased an iMac last December with the intent of slowly porting everything over to the new computer. Of course, I'd transferred very little to the iMac.

I took the G5 to Best Buy where a member of the Geek Squad found nothing wrong. My computer booted up every time he tried. He suggested a thorough cleaning--I live in a house with cats and dogs and the inside of the G5 was a dusty, hairy mess--which I did with two cans of compressed air once I returned home.

The G5 worked fine all weekend--a three day weekend, and Columbus Day turned out to be one of my best writing days in several months--but refused to boot up again Tuesday morning.

I had backed up all my writing files as soon as the computer booted up Friday evening but had not backed up anything I had done during the three-day weekend. I had also never backed up all the other files on the G5, which ranged from my accounting software to editing projects for clients to personal photos. I knew then that I had no choice but to port everything over to the iMac if I could ever bring the G5 back to life.

Many hours of sleuthing on the web led me to several possible reasons for my G5's demise and potential solutions to resurrecting it. I brought it back to life--several times, much like using a defibrillator on a heart patient--and have copied from it all, or nearly all, of my important files.

Unfortunately, I have also been forced to upgrade software because what I was using was so old that it would not, or was unlikely to, run on the iMac.

So, in addition to the unplanned expense of purchasing new software, I've also consumed a great deal of time installing, configuring, and attempting to learn how to operate it.

This could have been an absolute disaster. As it is, it's mostly a serious irritation. I have not written anything since last Monday and I've done only a negligible amount of work for one of my key editing clients during this ordeal, which means I'll have to work extra-hard to catch up once I have all my software in order.

The biggest unresolved irritation is that I have found no way to port the contact list from my old email software to my new email software. So, it could be quite some time before I rebuild that list. I may have to wait until people contact me so that I can add them to the list and, thus, continue whatever level of communication we'd had before.

I'm certain there are many lessons to be learned here, especially about the value of regular system backups--an external drive for backing up the iMac is the next purchase on my list--but I'm too close to the action right now to know what they all are.

And maybe soon I can return to work, secure in the knowledge that I've weathered a storm.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Forty-Four

I finished and submitted my forty-fourth story of the year. This one's a 3,000-word confession.

Monday, October 06, 2014

36

I received my 36th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago. This one's for a bit of pulpish crime fiction.

35

I received my 35th acceptance of the year today, this time for a ghost story that will be included in an anthology of ghost stories published in England.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

When writing takes a left turn

I write short fiction in many genres, and I often know before I commit the first word to the page in which genre a new story will fit. On the few occasions when I don't know before I begin writing, I know before I've completed the first page. Every so often, though, a story takes a left turn on me.

I often write just enough of a story--a few hundred to a few thousand words--to know where a story is headed, and then set it aside if it is seasonally inappropriate or if there is no market for it. An example would be the setting aside of a Christmas story in January, when it is far too soon to submit, in favor of working on an April Fool's Day story or a Mother's Day story.

When I return to work on the set-aside stories, I can usually pick up where I left off and finish them as originally intended, and that was my intent with a story I recently finished.

I had written the first 1,500 words of a confession about a woman who discovers that her deceased father had a long-term relationship with a woman who wasn't her mother, and my intent was to have the first-person narrator learn that she had a half-sister that she'd never known.

When I resumed work on the partially written story, I realized the narrator's father's secret was much deeper and darker than an affair and a second child. As I continued writing, my confession became a mystery, and, by the time I finished a complete draft, I had a great story poorly told.

I had to work my way through the initial draft to ensure that all of the clues fell into place properly, that the confession style of the first third was rewritten to conform to the mystery style of the last two-thirds, and I had to research some historical information to ensure that what I claimed happened in the story either did or, at least, could have happened when I said it did.

The finished story doesn't much resemble its confession rootstock, but it does retain two key elements of confession: The story is written in first-person by a female narrator.

The story is now sitting in the electronic slush pile of a mystery magazine, and I'm eager to learn if my letting the story take a left turn was a trip worth taking.