Cthulhu smiles upon me

Our lord and savior Cthulhu can be a temperamental being. But maybe he’s feeling lenient now that his presidential campaign is going so well. Just when things were starting to get crazy, and I was worrying how I’d have enough time in the day, the stars were right again.

Two of my video projects got delayed – one a week, and the other a month. But it works out. Instead of having an extremely front loaded August, I now have an evenly spaced August and an evenly spaced September. I’ve picked up one, maybe two contracts to fill in the gaps in early August, and I’m definitely on track to meet my goals for the year. Contracts are getting signed, invoices are coming in, work will (eventually) make it to my portfolio for show-offsies.

I am impatient, as you all know, but I’ve already got half of my year end profit goal on the books, and the other half will probably come with my highly likely but still unsigned leads. Honestly, if I did not book another lead for the rest of the year, I would probably meet my goal. And it may have to reach that point. I have a couple of really big projects coming up. I have two clients who, assuming one actually hires me and the other continues hiring me, could theoretically supply 2/3 of next year’s goal alone. Dunno if I want all my eggs in that basket, but we’ll see how much time I will need for it all.

Paradisa is now with a professional copyeditor, the amazing Leona Wisoker. Leona and I met through AtomaCon and she loves diverse SFF and supporting female writers. I read her first book, Secret of the Sands, and thought she had the most wonderful writing style I’ve ever read and a perfect grasp on psychic distance. Plotwise, we couldn’t be more different – her book was an epic length, slow burn quest adventure while mine is very commercial, short, and very urgent. But I didn’t find that to be an important distinction in choosing her as my editor, because I’m fairly comfortable with my choices in how Paradisa is plotted. To say that much maligned phrase – it is what it is, and the audience will subjectively gravitate towards it or not. What I objectively needed help on is voice and narration and POV, and Leona has that stuff for days, ya’ll.

I’m also participating in #PitchWars! Which could really throw me for a loop if I actually get in, because all of a sudden we’ll have two very fast months of lots of Paradisa revisions (hopefully the copyedits will be here by the end of October, so I’d be able to add them into my #PitchWars revisions too). There are two mentors in particular who I think I’ll see eye to eye with, and two others that are a bit of a gamble. The likelihood of getting picked is low, but I’m hoping to at least get some feedback. I will probably upload my PitchWars bio sometime this week (maybe even today).

Everything else happens during the in between moments. I’ll cram Unreal training in there. I would like to get Devil’s Advocate uploaded to Film Freeway and start submitting it to some film festivals (one’s deadline is today, so I might still have some time…) I submitted to a pub today after an exclusive got rejected. On and on it goes.

Switching Gears from “Doer” to “Learner”

I started writing my business and marketing plans for Aether Motion yesterday, at the strong recommendation of everyone who has advice to give about entrepreneurship. They’re pretty intimidating documents, asking me to envision a very specific path to take with my company. They’re forcing me to think about the value I can add to the local economy, which is a bit hard when most of my endeavors are pretty self-serving. And it’s intimidating because I’m really not sure where to specify in right now. I know the endgame, but I need to get hands on Charleston’s market before I can decide the best path to take. Is there only room for wedding videography here? Is there a huge void for DPs and commercial videographers? I’ve scouted out a few stats and looked up my competition, but only meeting the market directly will give me a good perspective of where I should focus.

I have picked a focus clientele  – small businesses and indie artists who cannot afford, or who don’t need, some of the bigger guys with 15 years Hollywood experience. It seems like the most sensible way to compete with said Big Guys. I also know that some of the more unique services I could offer include motion capture, visual effects, and animation, which no other videographers in the area can do (there are some who JUST do motion graphics and VFX, which says a lot about how schizophrenically I might be running this thing).

But here’s the issue – I don’t have my mocap equip yet, because I can’t afford it (although I’m going to try to win a Perception Neuron suit soon, so we’ll see how that goes!). I can’t offer animation and modeling yet because I don’t know enough about it. I can’t offer visual effects yet because I’m not entirely proficient in After Effects and I would need enough steady income to afford the $20/month license to After Effects.

Simply put, I have a lot to learn before I can start doing. And I have a lot to build before I can reach where I really want to be.

The more I dwelled on this – all the things I’m trying to learn, from C++ to Unreal Engine to 3DsMax and all the settings on my own DSLR camera, the more it dawned on me that this year, 2016, is not meant to be about accomplishments. I am facing constant difficulty due to my lack of experience and knowledge in the things I’m trying to achieve. I definitely don’t regret putting myself out there, as that took courage and has motivated me to actually achieve my dreams. And I can certainly work with the status quo.

But I think I may shift gears for this year, and focus less on meeting goals and more on preparing myself for them. If I make more time in my schedule for learning,  that will give me a better foundation for all that I want to do. So, with that, I’ve changed a few details about this year’s plans…

  • No endgame animation/modeling plans for 2016 aside from completing a proof of concept for my Fallout series. I may reduce this PoC to modeled stills instead of animated product. Hopefully I can merge some of this work with the “learning” aspect of my journey, and make this project my “thesis”, so to speak.
  • Eliminated Ascendents, the sequel to Paradisa, from my writing schedule. There is only one reason for that sequel to exist in novel form, and that’s if I manage to sell Paradisa. It definitely does not need to be written by this August. I will instead loosen the timeline on finishing The Shadow of Saturn, and hopefully still write my time travel book The Mothers of Invention at the end of the year. So I’ll still be writing, but slowly, to give myself more time for learning. Obviously I still need to finish the final edits on Paradisa as well.
  • Experimental work for the rest of the summer for Aether Motion. I want to film about 3 gigs a month at minimum, and hopefully have a diverse and impressive portfolio by August.
  • Backing off a little on the Indie MoCap article pipeline until I can start making my own content. Again, really hoping to win something to help with this (believe me, I will blow up your feed with me begging for votes when I do!)
  • Attend some animation/modeling classes at a nearby tech school during the fall, and maybe hit up one of their seminar-style classes on marketing, SEO, and social media. I may be able to find such resources in a free online course too, or on books through Kindle Unlimited.
  • Attend every free seminar on entrepreneurship that I can, and hook myself up with a free mentor at SCORE.
  • Read a ton, particularly nonfiction. I have two books on mocap on my shelf that are probably a good place to start.
  • Really push to get a piece of short fiction published this year, to go along with the “establishing myself and my reputation” thing that I’ll thank myself for later.

One thing I strive to be is adaptable, and unafraid of shelving things that aren’t working for me. I don’t want to get so attached to my goals that I feel disappointed in delaying or abandoning them. Truthfully, I still have the same endgame. But I’m giving myself the tools I need now to save myself a lot of headache later.

A Good Start To April

As I said last week, I handwaved March and vowed to get myself together in April. Unfortunately, my body decided that it was not done being sick and that I was going to have a clogged sinus valve of some kind that left my eye pussing for three days and a constant pressure system roaring in my skull. Luckily my sinuses got their crap over with quickly, and I was (mostly) back on my feet by April 1st.

So I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve made strides on some projects. I also got to feel the validation of a few completed tasks as well. That always does my motivation good.

  • The Shadow of Saturn: I need to write 50k words this month to finish my first draft, which is basically NaNoWriMo. And hey, it happens to be camp NaNoWriMo this month, so maybe I should sign up! I’ve already logged 1200 words, and pretty much have to write 2000 words , 6 days a week, to keep up with this goal. No easy feat, but not impossible either. When I wrote the first draft of Paradisa, I was pushing out about 3600 words a day. Hard to believe I ever managed that!
  • Video Business: Almost done with the website. Need to order business cards this week, and make a couple demo reels. I was randomly shooting things with my new DSLR and can hopefully compile that footage into a sizzle reel.
  • Animation/Webseries: So, I haven’t spoken much about this, because I don’t like to talk about projects that are only in the idea stage. And this was a project that, despite my excitement, seemed too ambitious for my skill set. However, I have officially moved past the “in my head” stage to the “I have actually accomplished a kernel of possibility”, and I’m ready to start track this project officially ^_^ Having downloaded Fallout 4 on PC this weekend and leafed through its resource files, as well as tinkering in Source Filmmaker, Silo 2, and the Unity/Cry/Unreal engines, the idea of doing a fanseries is actually within reach…because as much as I’ve moved on to original properties, you can’t take the fandom out of the fangirl :P. More on this later, but I’ll spend most of this month trying out various programs and reassembling a few of the game assets in them. Maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll have a proof of concept together to show off to the fanbase.
  • Indie MoCap: I let this slip last week because of my illness, but I tried out Twitter Promotion and gained 25 followers over the weekend – much more than I anticipated. Not sure it was worth the money, but I guess it was a worthy experiment.
  • Kindle Shorts: Changed my keywords again for Book #1, as sales slipped again. You can check out my first monthly report here, where I break down stuff that worked and stuff that didn’t. I finished Book #2 yesterday, so I’ll publish that early this week.
  • Reading: I’m halfway through Rollback, so maybe I’ll get to 4 or 5 books this month.

Just need to catch up on Dead Air, Paradisa, and the two short stories I plan on writing this month. I still want to make that Cecil B. Demille story happen. I just don’t know where I’m going to go with it.

Cheers to a good April, folks!

 

A Better Week – Sort Of

Thanks for all the well wishes last week. I’m glad to report that this past week was (relatively) pain free, aside from oh my god it is pollening so hard outside, I can’t breathe and my head hurts. There was one day where I was basically bedridden after work because of lower back issues, but mostly I was just plagued by lethargia. I don’t know if it was my autoimmune system flaring up to fight away a virus I picked up, or if it was just my sinuses, but I didn’t want to do much.

Luckily, I feel pretty great today. And since I have Friday off and I took Thursday off as well, it is an abbreviated work week. If this won’t get me back on the saddle, nothing will.

Some highlights of what I got done last week: (it’s not much, but it’s something)

  • 4000 words of The Shadow of Saturn. I am officially caught up to March 1. But I still 21,000 words behind. Eek.
  • Paradisa edits, as usual. Still on track for this. If nothing else, I’ve been editing Paradisa consistently!
  • Indie MoCap, one article per day and continuing to build my social media platforms and email list. I wish this was growing faster, but these things take time.
  • Video Business, looked into getting a bank account and discovered that I need an IRS form. Trying to get that sent to my house this week.
  • Kindle shorts, wrote 1500 words of Short #2 and changed my keywords around for Short #1. Sales slumped drastically last week, so maybe some new keywords will help. I rank very high in all of the new ones, and I even rank #1 in one of them.
  • Reading: Finished Ready Player One. I have lots of thoughts about it that I need to articulate. I may actually write the rare book review it. I started on A Vision of Fire, which was my Bookcase Club book of the month, but it’s pretty lame so far and I might switch to the assuredly-better Rollback.
  • Submissions: I actually managed to submit to 3 literary marketplaces this week. Woohoo.

I didn’t edit any Dead Air, work on my video website, work on freelance or AusmAtari, work on my short story, or do animation tutorials. I mostly played a lot of Fallout 4, because it was the only thing I had the energy to do. I’m also aware that tomorrow will be eaten by the release of some Fallout 4 DLC, so I’ll probably do Tuesday’s work tonight. ;)

It may be worth mentioning that I did some spring cleaning yesterday too. I sent a load of clothes to Goodwill, purged my cosmetics cabinet, washed my clothes and sheets, and got groceries. Not fun or artsy stuff, but a necessary part of Adulting.

I’m ready to say sayonara to all this March pain and blandness. I have things to do, darn it!

My Time of Perfect Health May Have Run Out

March has been difficult. All that momentum I built up has been lost to a combination of personal responsibilities (a couple concerts, some social outings, doing my taxes) and feeling generally unwell since the month began.

I’ve had sciatic nerve problems since I was 18, but it’s been rare. Maybe a flare-up once every 3 months. I’ve also had back issues for about two years, but only enough to make me creaky in the mornings and for my shoulder blades to sting if I look down at my phone for too long. But for the last month, I’ve noticed the sciatica becoming more frequent – once a week, then twice a week, and now some spike of it nearly every day. My lower back continually aches, and that pain echoes down my entire lower half. The joints in my arms and fingers and knees hurt too. I feel inflammation everywhere, and am left sore all over.

Autoimmune disease runs in my family. Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, mostly, but also lupus and narcolepsy. It exists in my cousins and aunts, but also in my grandmother and mother. My 23andMe genetic profile even claims I’m at higher risk for the autoimmune disorders of MS, ankylosing spondylitis (which is basically RA of the spine), narcolepsy, and ulcerative colitis.

So, an autoimmune disease someday plaguing me is not a question of “if”, but “when.” And I’m starting to wonder if “when” is “at the age of 24, because seriously Michelle, you aren’t a teenager anymore.”

I’m planning to see my mother’s rheumatologist soon and get some tests done. It might require a referral, which could take some time. Either way, this has interfered with my life to the point where I’m less productive at my day job – even taking some PTO one day because I was too sore to really do anything – and absolutely unproductive in my home work.

That’s not to say I haven’t made some progress, though. For what it’s worth, here’s the status quo for most of my projects:

  • Indie MoCap: Officially launched and growing. I’ve kept up with posting every weekday, I’m building my Twitter following, and my email list has a few subscribers. As long as I keep plugging away at it, the site should continue to grow and be impossible to ignore.
  • Video Business: I obtained the keys to my PO Box. Honestly, this was so that I don’t have to use my home address on my Indie MoCap mailing list (or any other mailing list). But I may use it for business purposes as well. I also sent in for my tax returns this weekend, and will get my work bonus tomorrow, so I will have enough cash to purchase all my videography equipment this week. Huzzah! It’s all in my Amazon cart waiting to be purchased.
  • Kindle Self Publishing: I’ll show my records in detail after a month has passed, but sales have been shockingly decent. Over 10 days, I have made about $11 in royalties with virtually no promotion and no backlist. I’m ranking #4 in one of my keywords too. That doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about authors making one sale or no sales at all. It’s also worth noting that sales and KU rentals have been steady, with activity occurring almost every day. For this story to basically be selling itself has made me very happy. Someone even took the time to leave a review (which was well rounded and generally positive, but did said there was too much erotica in my erotica story. To which I’m like “…what?”) I’m halfway through my second story and have the cover finished, so that will go up under my other pen name soon.
  • Dead Air Webseries: I missed my editing session last Wednesday, but this episode is an easy edit. I should still have it finished by April.
  • Paradisa Edits: I finally rewrote what two of my betas dubbed The Worst Scene In The Entire Book, ha. I had been procrastinating on that one, so I’m glad it’s out of my hair. Still on track to be done by April.
  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft: Blerg. I have used up all of the text from my first attempt and now must write from scratch. I am about 10,000 words behind now. I might have to eat my loss on this one and work harder in April. After all, so long as it’s finished in its entirety by May, I’m still good.
  • Side Hustles: Earned some in ShopKick, Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Swagbucks, and Inbox Dollars last week. I think I’m officially passing on iPoll and Qriket because they’re kinda useless. Honestly, once I get a few of those Kindle stories out there, I will probably drop these entirely. Publishing has made me loads more passive income.
  • Short Story: This is a bit unplanned, but I am working on a submission for the “Strange California” anthology right now. It involves Cecil B Demille and the excavation of his Ten Commandments set. Right now I’m in the research stage, but I’d like to write this next weekend.
  • Reading: I’m still on Ready Player One. I might be able to make it through The Call of Cthulhu and one other novel by the end of March. At this point, I’m almost certain I won’t make it to 4.

And then let’s not even talk about animation practice, short story submissions, freelance, or AusmAtari. I’m way behind on all of that.

All things considered, I can lick my wounds and move on. My most important projects are still chugging along. But I can’t really afford to have another dead week. I particularly need to make up ground on The Shadow of Saturn and I need to put more effort into my short works. I’d also like to launch my vid biz to the public in April, which means I need to finish the website and throw some demo pieces together.

Wish me luck and good health, friends. Mentally, I’m in a good place. It’s just frustrating when the body won’t cooperate with it!

How Did I Do In February?

Darn good, as it turns out. No, not 100% on point with my plans, but probably 90% there. Which is pretty awesome, considering my realistic goal was about 70%!

Rather than taking you through the things I did this week, I’m going to summarize how my overall goals for this month fared.

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  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft
    • GOAL: 30,000 words
    • ACTUAL: 23,000 words, but the day isn’t over yet. I’m sure I can get to 28,000 tonight, which is close enough. I am still on track to finish this first draft by May.
  • Paradisa Edits
    • GOAL: To be halfway done with developmental edits
    • ACTUAL: This is a bit hard to quantify, but I did schedule all my edits between now and March 31, and I met all of those goals. I also decided to devote April to line-editing, which takes off some burden. Originally I wanted my past tense conversion and all line edits to be done within this next month, but I’m going to focus on developmental editing only.
  • Short Story Submissions 
    • GOAL: Submit 12 poems or short pieces to 12 publications.
    • ACTUAL: Achieved! And two are in the “final round of consideration” for two different publishers. I will hear back from both in April.

Overall writing grade? I’d say an A. I was a pretty studious writer this month.

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  • The Con Runner’s Handbook
    • GOAL: Brainstorm the book.
    • ACTUAL: I did brainstorm it. I thought my goals were more lofty on this one, as I felt bad about not having it fully outlined. Looks like past!Michelle knew that would be a bit too much for the time being, and already set the bar low.
  • Kindle Shorts
    • GOAL: Write and publish four shorts for Kindle.
    • ACTUAL: I completed one of them, and hope to publish it tonight. The other three were consumed by Sundays that went to other projects. I’m not going to beat myself up about this, especially as writing the first one was a lot of fun and not terribly difficult. But this first one is taking me awhile because the process is new to me. Once I can get into a routine, I’ll hopefully become more prolific. Additionally, I’ve decided to devote 1 Sunday every month to writing a short story for publication, so that will reduce my Kindle burden too.

I’d say a B for this one, as I technically completed my Con Runner’s goal and I am exploring the Kindle Short publication process. Perhaps not as quickly as I’d hoped, but it’s coming.

filmbanter

  • Video Company
    • GOAL: Work on website, research equipment, and file for an LLC.
    • ACTUAL: I did manage to file my LLC, ha! I am now officially a business owner. I also researched equipment, and narrowed it down to two DSLR cameras (the Canon 70D and one of the Canon Rebel EOS t series. Any opinions?). I designed my logo, linked my domain to my Squarespace account, and started designing my website. And best of all, I secured two “gigs” for when I purchase my camera (nonpaying, but it will help my reel). I still hope to launch the site officially on April 1st (no joke ;D) and I feel that I’m on track. I get a bonus at work this month, which I’ll use to purchase my equip.
  • Dead Air Webseries
    • GOAL: Complete Episode #4
    • ACTUAL: I did it, aside from some color correction and sound balancing. On to the next!
  • Indie MoCap
    • GOAL: 20 articles, a completed March newsletter, functional social media accounts and a site launch on March 1st.
    • ACTUAL: 9 articles, plus two secured interviews with some wonderful people in the industry. March newsletter is complete. My Twitter is thriving, although I need to get my YouTube, Google +, and Facebook accounts going. The site launch has been pushed back to March 7th, but I’ve been working diligently on the site, mailing list, forums, and many other features.
  • Animation Tutorials
    • GOAL: 4 animation tutorials complete
    • ACTUAL: 1 complete, plus some tinkering with Black Desert Character Creator, downloading Source Filmmaker, and the start of a 2nd tutorial. Mondays were rough. I’m going to move animation to Thursdays in March, and maybe put my Indie MoCap stuff on Mondays (as I….sometimes get that stuff done at work >.>)

I’m very pleased with how things are going. The prospect of my video company becoming a thriving business is incredibly exciting, as is the growing interest in Indie MoCap. I modified my schedule to make animation more of a priority, and I will continue to work diligently on finishing Dead Air in time for my video company’s launch. \o/

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  • Freelance
    • GOAL: Have talent, make money?
    • ACTUAL: So, you can see why I failed here. I didn’t have any concrete goals! I threw Freelancing onto the burner end of my schedule – Friday nights and Saturdays – which I normally use to relax. I did start interacting with the Freelance Writers Den and doing research, but I didn’t set up my profiles on Odesk and such. With all of my film goals thriving, I’m starting to wonder if freelance writing and graphics is too much extra effort. Or if I need to approach this a different way. Perhaps in March, I will resolve to 1) set up my profiles and 2) write an essay or article to pitch to a few different magazines.
  • Side Hustles
    • GOAL: Earn $100
    • ACTUAL: I earned enough through Google Opinion Rewards to pay for my YouTube Red subscription (I think it was about $13 total). I am up to $15 on Inbox Dollars and $15 on Swagbucks, as well as $13 on Ibotta. I think I’m at $4 on ShopKick. Total, that’s $60. I didn’t put nearly as much effort into this as I could have, and I haven’t cashed out yet. I think I’ll lower my goal to about $40 in March and see where that goes.

Big C for this one, gang. I need to decide where to take my Freelance work and accept that my side hustle apps are pretty low priority.

otherstuff

  • AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel
    • GOAL: 8 videos
    • ACTUAL: 5. It would have been 6 or 7, but Austin’s setup gave us massive technical difficulties on Saturday. At least the 5 we have turned out really well!
  •  AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel
    • GOAL: A book every week
    • ACTUAL: I did it! I completed Chris Kennedy’s Self Publishing For Profit, Leona Wisoker’s The Secret of The Sands, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s These Broken Stars, and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. All of which were quite good, although TSotS was long and has scared me away from books over 100k for awhile (it just took me a long time to get through, and I don’t want to get behind on my 50 book goal). This week, I’m reading Ready Player One. Also in the pipeline for March is The Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Calvino, and Rollback by Robert J Sawyer.

 

Usually after a productivity attempt, I totally overhaul my old methods and come up with something new. However, I think I’ve finally struck gold with this schedule. Aside from swapping my Indie MoCap and Animation days, and consolidating The Shadow of Saturn to 4 days instead of 7, this schedule will remain the same. I am also reducing my load on Fridays, as I find it to be the most unproductive day of the week. Overall, I do not feel any sense of fatigue or burnout. I did a lot of fun things this month, from playing several hours of Fallout 4, to going to a friend’s party, to going to the movies three times and watching plenty of Hulu and YouTube.

We have to know ourselves honestly to achieve that which we strive towards. I have to accept that I am useless on Fridays. I have to accept that technical difficulties happen sometimes. I have to accept that sometimes, projects require more work than I originally planned and may require a week or two of delay. And don’t be afraid to reevaluate your plans and consider if they’re what you really want (like my freelancing). If you really want something, you will make time for it. You’ll have vision for it. If something keeps getting pushed off, you and that project may not be right for each other after all.

Cheers, kids! What are your proud of from February, and what are you looking forward to doing in March?

 

Productivity Progress Report Week #3 – Back On Track

After last week’s lapse in effort, I had to make up ground. I’m glad to say things went easier than I thought they would, and that Monday was my only difficult day. Sometimes your will is willing, but the body makes it hard. At least my body waited until Friday night to give me crippling sciatic nerve pain in my foot…which kept me from doing all the fun social things I’d planned (and already paid for) for Friday evening, but didn’t interfere with any of my projects.

But the beat goes on. This week, body willing, I’m going to keep the momentum and finish February strong!

Continue reading

Productivity Progress Report Week 2: I Need A Time Turner!

Last week began excellently, but I threw it away in the 4th quarter. Chalk it up to Deadpool, Valentine’s Day, and my general fatigue over the weekend (Deadpool, by the way, was quite good. I don’t normally enjoy R-Rated humor, but it was funny and edgy while still being….tasteful? You’ll have to wait until December for my Movie Report Card to hear more of my verdict, but I massively undercut my prediction on this one.)

Anyway, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly for my second week on this schedule.

THE GOOD

  • Indie MoCap Newsletter: I actually finished this for the entire month, meaning my next two Thursdays will have an hour freed up. Whoo.
  • AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel: Once again, we filmed two Let’s Plays on Saturday afternoon.
  • Cover Design For Kindle:  Already had my cover designed for the current WIP.
  • Dead Air Webseries: Still on track to finish an episode by the end of the month.
  • Editing Paradisa: I exceeded my plans! I had two medium level edits, one new scene, and one easy edit to make. I think I did all of those and an additional 2-3 edits on my list. I might actually have this finished before March 31…
  • Camera and Equipment Research: I let this slide on the first week, but did plenty of catch-up. I am torn between a Canon DSLR and a Sony HD cam, leaning more towards the Sony now. In a perfect world, I could get both. Alas.
  • Animation: Learned how to set up a reference photo box in 3Ds Max and began a tutorial on character box modeling. I got a bit stuck on the tutorial I was working on, but I figured out my issue after mulling a bit. I also downloaded Source Filmmaker and picked up the PC version of Fallout 4 during Steam’s Lunar sale, mostly to play with its resource files.

THE OKAY

  • Indie MoCap Website: I set up my BlueHost account and installed WordPress, along with transferring my domain. It will take a week for the transfer to go through, so I couldn’t actually edit the website yet.
  • Writing Submissions: I managed to edit one of my stories and submit it to Okey Panky. Now that it’s fixed, I need to send it off to some others.
  • Aether Motion Website: Set up my Squarespace account.
  • LLC Research: I still haven’t filled out my paperwork, but I have a list of all the steps I need to do and a pdf of the Articles of Organization. It’s just a matter of doing it.
  • Reading: My reading improved this week. I am almost finished with Secret of The Sands.
  • Indie MoCap Articles: Once again, I finished two and started on a third.  I’m starting to think that Thursday nights might be for my long form articles and all my other articles will be written on the spot before posting. The idea of writing five in one night is daunting.
  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft: I wrote some, but am currently 4000 words behind. I was too busy with Indie MoCap stuff on Thursday, and I didn’t even want to look at my computer over the weekend. Luckily, I’m still pulling words from my original draft, so I’m certain I can catch up this week.

THE BAD

  • The Con Runner’s Handbook Outline: Didn’t work on this at all. Not a big deal to skip a week, but I still want an outline complete by the end of February.
  • Freelance Video and Writing: I did not progress much. I agreed to devote some of my freelance time to editing the AusmAtari videos, but I didn’t even manage that.
  • Side Hustles: Didn’t do much for these at all.
  • Writing For Kindle: Probably my biggest disappointment of the week. I had full intentions on Sunday morning to tackle the 3500-4000 words I had left to write for this….and then I spent five hours finishing Austin’s V-Day present and it exhausted me. Alas, I know there wasn’t much of a choice here. I needed to finish that present! But by 1:00, after setting up dinner and finishing that, I was pooped for the rest of the day. Which is why I was like “screw it, let’s just go see Deadpool.”

Unfortunately, this week will not get off to the easiest start, as my Monday night will be monopolized by seeing former President George W. Bush at the local arena (one of my bucket list items is to see a President in person, and my mom surprised me with a ticket. May as well, right? Especially on President’s Day!) Despite my bucket list having one more check, I will be another 1000k in the Shadow of Saturn hole and still trailing on animation.

I am also entering this week with a lot more fatigue in general. This work is not coming as easy as it did the first two weeks. I don’t feel burnt out or overworked from an inspiration standpoint, and mentally I’m in a good place, but my body is bedraggled and my neck/skull area has been in a bit of pain. Heh, might need more caffeine and vitamins this week. And maybe some cheering on from my lovely readers ^_^

 

Can Hard Work at the Day Job Beget Hard Work at Home?

Yesterday, I completed all my planned tasks in half the time I’d allotted. But I’m not telling you this to show off – I want to emphasize how baffled I am by my lack of fatigue. Let me remind you that I’ve spent the last year crawling into bed as soon as I get home. I’d feel accomplished if I could push out a mere 800 words in the evening. I am so used to being tired and apathetic and depressed that feeling normal is….well, it’s weird.

On top of that, this sudden renewal has not just impacted my productivity, but my overall mental health. A few months ago, I was counting calories because I was devastated about my weight. Right now? Pass the brownies, because I couldn’t care less. I was conflicted and stressed about my engagement, wondering if I’m even fit to be married – now, I’m reminded why being with Austin is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And while the idea of socializing normally stresses me out, I happily drove downtown last Saturday and attended a party full of strangers.

What’s given me all this positivity, especially at a time of year when I’m usually weighed down by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? The 60 degree winter hasn’t hurt. I also have a wakeup lamp which helps the mornings feel brighter. Maybe the B12 supplements I’ve taken for 6 months have finally kicked in.

But none of that seems powerful enough to cause such a profound shift. And then it occurred to me what changed the most in the past month – the Day Job.

I spent last year slaving over a project that would not end. I dreaded getting up in the morning because I knew I would be asked to tackle problems without a solution. On top of that, only having one project left me with a lot of thumb twiddling time. I felt like a lame employee who wasn’t doing enough.

At the end of 2015, my boss decided to close the book on that project and introduce me to two or three new projects…one of which may result in a patent. All three have been coming along without much frustration, and I have enough to occupy myself on a daily basis without being overwhelmed.

Here’s what I’ve learned from this – while it is certainly tiring to be overworked, it is equally tiring to do nothing. I’m the opposite of a gym rat, but every fitness buff I’ve met swears that exercising gives you more energy, despite exercise itself requiring energy. I wonder if this relationship between idle living and productive living is somewhat the same.

It was a little hard to admit that a bad year at work affected the rest of my life so drastically, but I can’t deny it anymore. As much as I’ve tried to handwave it as “just a place I have to be five days a week”, my job has a HUGE EFFECT on the rest of my life. Maybe if I realized this sooner, I could have taken steps to stay more engaged and active during my 40 hrs/week as a chemist.

So for anyone feeling bland after the daily grind, I implore you to look into why. If any of my story sounds familiar, perhaps talk to your boss about how you can be more engaged, or how you can move past a major roadblock. On the physical side, try taking frequent breaks to stand or walk around your workplace so your body does not grow stagnant from sitting (my job, when it’s actually giving me something to do, has this built in. And I’ve noticed I feel a lot better when I’m not sitting all day).

I realize that for most people, their jobs do not have much wiggle room for change. Heck, it’s not like I could have made last year any easier – that nightmare project was something I had to ride out until it was over. And I’m not saying you have to be in love with your job either. Even as mine has given me tolerable and engaging activities, I would drop it all to work full time on my artistic pursuits if that was possible.

But perhaps being aware of this relationship between your energy at work and your energy at home may still help you. Boredom is an enemy of progress, and you will undoubtedly carry that boredom home with you. So if you have any choice about how to conduct your work life, the last thing you should choose is to be idle.

Productivity Progress Report: Week 1

How about that accountability? You seemed supportive of my scheduling, so I’m continuing the transparency by keeping you aware on my progress. Eventually, all this work may become so habitual that I don’t need to track it. But while I’m still hammering my life into a routine, I need to monitor what I’m accomplishing one day at a time.

And I’m pleased to say that last week went REALLY well. Almost perfectly!

Here’s the schedule again, for reference.

schedule

And here are my results…

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