February 2, 2012
I just wanted to keep you all updated on a few things as we tip over into this eerily warm February (at least here in the Midwest).
First of all, I plan to launch my second Kickstarter project sometime this weekend. This is another publishing venture, though I won’t be hand-printing these books.
Over the past year-and-a-half or so, I’ve been playing a number of simple writing games of my own invention with friends in coffee shops around the city. Now, it is my goal to bring these games out into the world, and to take the great coffee shops of Kansas City along with it. I’m putting together a book of my writing games and calling it The Coffee House Games, and I’ll be using Kickstarter to raise the initial funds needed to bring the book to life.
The book itself will feature fifteen different games as well as a variety of the wonderful coffee shops Kansas City has to offer.
The other news I have for you is perhaps equally exciting: My album is roughly 80% completed. It has taken ages and has transformed from the bottom up on several occasions, but I am finally putting together these songs in a fashion that I’m not only happy with, but fairly proud of. I’m currently tinkering with song 8/10, and it may require a bit more recording before I am ready to move on, but I should be tackling the remaining two either over the weekend or during the early days of next week. After that I’ll go back through and finalize each of the tracks, and then we’ll be just about ready for release!
Expect to hear more on both of these topics fairly soon!
January 16, 2012
No, it isn’t to drop out. It isn’t not to drop out either. That, I believe, varies from person to person.
It’s this: No matter how busy your life is, make time for at least one of your own personal projects or goals, particularly something major.
This goes especially for those of you in college. All throughout the three years I was enrolled in university, I constantly used my school obligations and burdens as an excuse to avoid my own personal projects. I was always too busy or too tired for the big projects I wanted to tackle.
When I quit university last summer, I immediately realized how much I had let myself down. Not only had I neglected or abandoned projects, but I had terrible self-motivational skills. School can teach you how to work on different projects, but it can’t teach you how to work on your own projects, and I quickly found that these are entirely different.
So here are a few quick tips for self motivation that I’ve learned through my few months of being in full control of my destiny:
- Value your own projects at least as much as outside projects.
The key to this is balance and separation. Give yourself enough time to accomplish everything for your own projects and outside projects, and assign time spots or specific places for each variety of work. That way you’ll be able to keep outside projects from interfering with your personal projects and visa versa.
- Respect your own deadlines and commitments.
Every time you disregard one of your personal expectations, you’re making it easier for yourself to do it again in the future, or even make a habit of it. However, every time you uphold a personal commitment, you’re reinforcing it’s value. This is one of the most challenging areas when the only person expecting you to accomplish something is yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to stop and reevaluate.
If your schedule isn’t working out or you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment (or several hours, or a whole day even) to straighten things out. Every time you do you’ll learn more about how you work personally and how you can manage yourself–which is really the entire reason all this is so important.
That being said, do note that these guidelines are by no means easy to uphold. Balancing one’s schedule and priorities is hugely difficult, and holding oneself up to one’s deadlines is perhaps even tougher. Even a semester into my experience as a college dropout, I pretty frequently mess up one or the other. However, as things to work toward, I feel that each of these is invaluable.
Nash the Dropout
January 10, 2012
I don’t think I have mentioned it on this blog yet, but I have been doing editing work for the past three-or-four months now. The first of my editing projects was a lovely little novel by a friend of mine, Ethan Bryan. In his novel, Run Home & Take a Bow, he attends something like twenty Royals games over the course of their last season in order to discover a space in which faith meets baseball. The result is quite extraordinary.
I’m something less than a faithful person myself, and I’m admittedly not a very big fan of baseball, but as I edited, I found myself enthralled by the world Ethan paints. Though I would recommend it most for fans of baseball and followers of Jesus, I still found it extremely approachable and quite enjoyable. I even found myself a little bit more interested in baseball. Maybe next season I’ll have to pester him into letting me join him for a game.
Now that the editing process is finished, Ethan is working toward bringing the book into its physical form. Right now he is in the funding stage on Kickstarter, so if you’re intrigued by the idea, I strongly recommend visiting his Kickstarter page for more information and a chance to get involved in this project at such an early stage!
Speaking of Kickstarter, I want to add that I am working on plans to launch another Kickstarter campaign of my own at the beginning of February. This project is for the publication of a book of Coffee House Games that I have been working on. These are quick, simple, and fun writing games that I’ve been playing with friends in coffee houses for almost a year and a half now. More details on that later.
January 4, 2012
First, I want to say that I am deeply sorry for disappearing for nearly two months. I’ve been this weird combination of busy and lacking interesting things to blog about, but I’ve also been bustling around with friends and family for the holidays.
As I mentioned in my last post, I started over in my process of recording the album. I still have the 12 recordings from the 4-track cassette sessions I did, but I probably won’t be releasing them.
Anyway, I bought a small Behringer interface which allows me to run my mixing board out to my computer, and I have been playing with recording techniques. I have set up a little studio in my room:
Here is a little improvised, layered track I did on one of the first days after receiving my interface.
In further follow-up from my previous post, I have been practicing heavily on all of my guitar-based songs, and I have been happy to notice my playing style has been improving. It’s surprising what an impact the little nuances of playing can make on the overall sound, and I just really needed to be at a place where the rest of the performance–the lyrics, the chords, the motions–were all pretty well imbued before I could really focus on the tiny details. I hope this will show in my recordings.
I’ve also dropped two tracks from the final album lineup. They aren’t bad, but they just didn’t quite fit with what I am imagining for this album, and I’m shooting for pretty solid cohesion here.
As far as progress, I just finished base recordings for the remaining two songs, so I will be recording basslines and other additional tracks, as well as generally cleaning things up. However, the overall album should be finished before too long!
Now, for non-album news, I have several other things brewing at the moment, but I’m afraid I have to be a bit hush-hush about them for the time being. However, I promise that once I’m in a position where I can release some of the information, you’ll be the first to know!
October 28, 2011
Okay, so I’ve been tinkering for a long time with the idea of someday programming a text-based roguelike space-exploration game, in which you remotely-command a probe, explore, collect materials and data, and eventually upgrade with new equipment, sensors, weapons and whatnot. Anyhow, I’ve been reading about Minecraft (another game worth looking at) lately, and through that I happened to come across the freeware game, Dwarf Fortress. Quite frankly, I am amazed.
This game accomplishes almost exactly the sort of intelligent randomization that I am hoping to formulate, quickly generating a high-fantasy world, complete with civilizations, monsters, named people, not to mention its own history. Then, you get to play your own part in this world’s history either city-builder style in Dwarf Fortress mode, or RPG style in Adventurer mode. Whoa!
Now, I won’t lie. The interface and graphics take some getting used to. There are a whole lot of keybindings to learn, and it can be tricky at times to interpret what the text-tiled graphics are indicating, but if you’re interested in extremely in-depth fantasy games, then I would definitely give this a shot.
Now, for a quick update on what I’ve got brewing (no, the aforementioned Probe game is not on the list–I’ll let you know when I get to it!). My album recording may have hit the 2/3 mark today. I say “may” because I’m still debating whether or not to keep my recording for song 8/12. There were a few moments in my take where things didn’t go quite as planned, which leaves this recording somewhat organic (as I have been calling it). Frankly, I’m a bit fond of it–which is actually unusual for me in respect to my recordings; however, I’m still not 100% certain.
Furthermore, I have been outlining/developing backstory for my science-fiction novel for NaNoWriMo (if only my brain could intelligently randomize an entire solar-system as quickly as Dwarf Fortress can a fantasy world!). I’ve also been working on a map of said solar system, which I will post here when I finish it. So stay tuned if you want a sneak peak of the solar system where this story takes place!
October 23, 2011
Well, the funding deadline for my Kickstarter project has officially passed, as of 12:00pm yesterday. Thanks to everyone who participated! Over half of the copies have already been sent out, and the others are either awaiting shipping information or will be sent out during tomorrow’s trip to the post office.
What’s up next, then? I’m still chugging along on my album (see previous post). I haven’t quite hit the halfway point as far as recording goes, but hopefully sometime tomorrow I will record vocals for the sixth song of twelve, and that will do the trick. I’ve been dying to get another looping pedal (my previous one went haywire), but it isn’t really a necessity for this album (which is entirely acoustic guitar and vocals/harmonica). Still, I think I may resolve to purchase another one as a reward for finishing the album, though I’m not certain what kind I will try.
On the writing front, I am gathering ideas in approach of the outlining phase for my Science Fiction novel (which is, as yet, unnamed). I plan to start writing in November, to coincide with NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month), it is essentially a personal achievement in which one strives to write an entire 200 page/50,000 word novel during the month of November. Participants can even sign up on the official website (linked above) to help keep track of their progress.
I won’t be signing up this year, but I have decided to at least give it a try. However, I am allowing myself to possibly opt-out if I decide that the NaNoWriMo deadline is too oppressive for me/this particular project, because, simply put, I am an incredibly slow writer. But, who knows? Maybe this sort of pressure will be perfect to kick me into high gear for once! I intend to find out…
That being said, I am definitely not going into November unprepared. I intend to have a detailed outline of the entire plot, as well as a vivid notion of backstory/setting/characters/macro mechanics. And that is what I’m up to now.
Now, what is this novel going to be all about? Well, you’ll have to wait and see! I’ll offer up a little snippet in a few days after I’ve compiled my thoughts a little bit better and have a more concrete idea of names and such.
PS — This post has 425 words. Successfully completing NaNoWriMo means writing over 1,666 words every day.
October 20, 2011
Well, this is exciting! My hand-publishing project has been a whopping success so far on Kickstarter , with 458% of the funding goal raised (the excess allows me to print more books for everyone who has ordered). Remember, if you’re seeking a good ghost story or two this Halloween season, it isn’t too late to order your copy of “The Blue Wasp”! Funding ends on Saturday at noon (central US time).
That being said, thank you deeply and sincerely to everyone who has backed the project so far–I could not have imagined this level of success!
In other news, I have recently launched a new webcomic, about a brain amoeba, named Avery, who has been released into the Internet after attempting to settle in my head. It is more or less completely based on true events. Anyhow, I will hopefully be updating every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Avery also has a tumblr account which you can follow if you would like to keep up with the comics via Tumblr.
Now, as the title promises, I’ll finish with a little bit of music news. For those of you who haven’t heard, I have an album in the works. I’m still up in the air as to whether I will use it as a demo to submit to recording companies, or if I will simply self-publish it. Right now, I am recording in a very lo-fi sort of style, on a four-track cassette recorder with not-so-very-good equipment, and I sort of appreciate this feel for this particular album. However, I wanted to include this in this update just to say that: there is a good chance that I will hit the halfway mark on recording today.
Actually, that’s what I’m going to go do right now.
PS. If you want a sneak preview of the album, you can download (for free!) early recordings of several of the tracks here.
November 27, 2009
Technically, Thanksgiving ended for the Midwest about three hours ago, but, I spent those three hours being harassed by vending machines, scraping ice off of a car, driving home, and cleaning up a hideous amount of canine waste products, and was therefore unable to reflect upon my thankfulness until now. I did, however, manage to do a great deal of complaining–probably enough to merit its own holiday. However, I would feel incomplete if I did not take such an opportunity, so I would like to do that now.
I’m not going to order this by priority, so first of all, I would like to thank you for cats. Never before have I seen an animal be so deliberately obnoxious as Zoey, save perhaps for the squirrels that throw acorns at people from the safety of the treetops. Thanks for them, too. Thank you, also, for Don McLean’s “On the Amazon”, Colin Meloy’s “The Bandit Queen”, and for Kimya Dawson, in general, for teaching me that music does not always have to be serious. On that note, thank you for Beret-wearing Existential man, and Randall Munroe for thinking him up.
I would also like to express my appreciation, amusement, and general slack-jawed awe-strickenness at your handywork in setting up the Earth’s orbit to be just the right balance of variables so that our water molecules would bounce constantly between states, which would, in turn, have them, not only forming a great deal of our ecosystems, but also floating around in the sky, then suddenly falling out of it. Quite frankly, if this were a planet in a science fiction novel, The Water Cycle would surpass my willing suspension of disbelief. On that note, we had some fog at school the other day, and I feel like it was just too darn thick to be realistic. But thanks for making sure that reality stays unrealistic, just to keep us from getting too level-headed.
Thank you for 3/4 time.
I also appreciate the night time. I would guess, rather astutely (just like anything else I think or say), that you put some sort of spell over it, or a perfume of sorts, that, when inhaled, causes us to become so silly that we laugh at all sorts of things, and finally let our guards down enough to open our hearts to one another. Thank you for the majestic stillness of the nocturnal air, as well as its mystery and wonder. I suppose that’s another thing I should be grateful for about cats: they don’t mind getting up and hanging out with me in the middle of the night. It’s nice to have that kind of company.
Thank you for that paradox which we call Love; the bargain in which we gain through the gains of others, and they through ours. Somehow you managed to code a blatant infinite-loop error into the Universe without causing it to crash–maybe that is why we are still going.
As much as sometimes I do not appreciate it, thank you, and this Love, for every time it viciously massacres its way through our bubble-wrap worlds and reminds us that so many of our loved ones are suffering horribly, that so many of our brothers and sisters had barely anything to eat today, while we feasted on all sorts of wonderful foods. It’s painful contrast, God; I won’t lie to you, but I appreciate it ever so much, because that is Love and I could ask for nothing more.
Thank you also for the dream of your Kingdom, which takes these painful realizations and uses them to set us into motion, giving us the hope we need to survive such truth without being drowned in discouragement, because, with you, we can help bring the beauty of your Kingdom into Earth, and truly live out that Love.
I have a question. Do plants ever get bored, not being able to move and all? I sure hope not, but either way I appreciate them, especially seeing how much of my survival depends on them. But I also think that they are quite lovely, like little cities built up all around us. I used to watch the bugs fly around, like little spaceships in some crazy, science-fiction metropolis, taking off from the launch pad on one flower-building and soaring neatly onto another (or clumsily, in the case of june-bugs).
Thank you also for my ridiculously generous and loving family who not only understood (mostly) when I ditched them to visit a friend over Thanksgiving, but left me with a huge container full of my favorite food in all of my extremely limited frame of past experiences, Vegetarian Divine Runzas.
Thank you for limericks, God, for showing us that poetry doesn’t always have to be serious, either (though, really, limerick is a very rigid form of poetry). The same goes for made-up words.
It may be materialistic of me, but thank you for dice, harmonicas, cards, writing utensils, and small pads of paper. There are so many things that pack almost infinite entertainment value into a tiny object, and I appreciate them immensely.
And thank you so much for music. Really, I don’t understand what is so appealing about creating patterns in sound vibrations, and layering the waves to fit together neatly (or just a bit off of neatly), but, for whatever reason, it seems to be the only way that I allow certain parts of my soul to escape their tangible anchors.
Finally, thank you for the all things I don’t understand. It is wonderful to be so much smaller than the Universe. Whenever Christmas comes around, I always find myself imagining what it would be like to be the size of an ornament, to get to climb around through the tree. I would be surrounded by the giant green needles and outstretched bark branches. I would visit the lights and find them to be giant, illuminating the entire area around me in red, yellow, blue, or green. The tree would be my fortress, my city, my own little world of adventure.
Well, God, I am smaller than ever, and the Universe is my Christmas tree. Please don’t let me take it for anything less, because, really, it is so much more wonderful even than that.
November 15, 2009
I realized tonight that I don’t love all people as much as once I thought I did. At least, I don’t love them nearly as much as I ought to, nearly as much as they deserve. Honestly, I don’t think I could handle it, but I still believe there is a way, and I still believe that it is something for me to always strive toward.
I started learning about love from my church, and it was there that I came to believe that love, without restraint or requirement, is the force we need to heal the world. I learned about another level to this love from my friends at college. These friends are my family (my family still is, too, though my sister argues that I don’t come home enough), and even when I go crazy and try to push them away, they don’t let me. I’m glad they don’t. But I’ve been learning what it is like to really love people with these friends, and, quite frankly, I am pretty lousy at it. But, if nothing else, I have been learning.
Tonight my friends are in The Pit. At this point in the evening, most of them have been working in the theatre for 13 hours, and, according to one of their estimates, many of them have another four to five hours to go. And tomorrow they start another ten hour shift at 9 a.m.–after 3-4 hours of sleep. I’m not involved in the theatre, but I hate show week, because of what it does to my friends. It is so hard for me to sit here, with only a few writing assignments to work on, while my family is working away for hours and hours, and I all I can do is pray.
This is why it occurs to me that I do not love all people, because my Family is always in The Pit somewhere. For many of the members of my Family, these working conditions are a fact of life; many of the members of my Family are in worse conditions–starving, freezing, sick, forced into war or prostitution or slavery–but my heart does not ache endlessly for them, because I am so distanced from their struggles.
This is why this Love is so important, because without Love our hearts cannot span the distance, the thick bubble-wrap walls that keep us from knowing the pain that fuels our comfortable lives. Without the Love, we are neglecting our Family, and we are incomplete.
So, as much as I hate to feel the way I do now for even a week, Lord, teach me to really love.
November 13, 2009
This has been a very psychologically trying semester for me, and I realized that this struggle has been bleeding into my writing. I’m in Advanced Composition, which is an extremely open-ended writing class–though it is still my most challenging so far, perhaps for this very reason. So far I have produced three different writings: a short story, which is, by itself the longest piece I have ever written, a short play, and a narrative poem. The writings are completely separate in terms of plot and characters, but there are subtle ways in which they depend on each other and interconnect, so I am inclined to include them in the same collection. I was imagining this collection to be heading toward some cumulative point, until Wednesday. On Wednesday I realized what my writings really were. They are partial psychological profiles of myself.
It just so happened that in Advanced Comp. on Wednesday we were asked to write a short piece that develops one of our characters. Mine is probably a bit shorter than the requirement, but I don’t think I’m going to add much more to it, and I think I will use this as the introduction / preface to my collection.
Confessions and Regrets
It is through situations that we best see into the souls of characters; it is through characters that we best see into the souls of their authors.
Y’san in the Market
The marketplace stirred like the clouds of dust that follow the hooves of horses, but Y’san drifted about like an autumn leaf in slow descent. Ahead of him, two children tossed a stone back and forth between one another. When a failed toss left the stone at Y’san’s feet, the old man smiled at the children, picking up the stone, and returned it, nodding in respect to the child’s gratitude.
“Rolls today, Y’san?” hollered Pedro as the elder approached his bakery stand.
“Yes, please. Six coppers, correct?” Y’san replied, once he had finished walking to the booth.
“Six coppers. Here you are.” Pedro handed Y’san a basket of rolls.
“Thank you much, Pedro. And your coppers.”
Pedro took the coins and crooked his head. Just as Y’san was about to turn to leave, Pedro blurted, “Hey, we’re getting together for cards tonight—you should come join us!”
“No, no,” said Y’san, “I’m much too old for that.”
“Nonsense! You know that some of the finest cardsmen are the elders! And I’ve heard stories about when you used to play. Join us! It will be a good time.”
“Oh, no, no.” Y’san smiled, shaking his head slowly, and walked away. That night, the elder watched the wind blow through the ferns and imagined the jokes and stories that would be shared over that game of cards.