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 23, 2012
Yesterday I was reading up on Wikipedia about Audio Normalization, and I eventually found my way to the Audio Sequencer page, where I was enticed by an screenshot of an old version of the music-sequencer software Tracker:
Call this a sign of my youth and inexperience, but I had never really thought about how music software has been around for decades now (in Tracker’s case, since the 1980’s). I was immediately somewhat attracted to the idea of playing around with some really dated music production software; but, alas, where would I ever get it?
Personally, I think that once software is no longer being sold by the company, it should be available for free download. Instead, it’s typically phased out and eventually abandoned entirely in the interest of promoting new-and-more-powerful software.
Still, I think there is more to it. When we phase out old software in the interest of generating forced obsolescence, we’re really throwing away a big part of our history in the interest of selling a few more copies of a new software edition or game tier. And not only that, but we’re severely limiting access to the software for people who cannot afford the newest versions. For example, as much as I would love to purchase whatever Adobe’s latest Creative Suite package is (I stopped counting years ago), I probably won’t ever be able to afford it.
However, I still get by, for the most part, using my ancient Macromedia Studio MX (points to anyone who remembers this, or even remembers Macromedia). However, MX died, of course, when Adobe bought out Macromedia and integrated its software platforms into CS (Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, for example).
I simply don’t believe it’s fair to hold copyright restrictions and diminish access to something as old and unused as Macromedia MX just in the interest of forcing people to buy the newest version of Adobe CS. If it were up to me, I would organize a giant digital archive of old software for free access, and create an initiative to reconfigure software designed for earlier platforms (i.e. Windows 3.1 or SNES) to work with modern Operating Systems. I mean, some of the greatest symbols of human achievement in the past have been our libraries, where we gather and archive thoughts and ideas to share them from person to person. I see a giant abandonware archive as a modern Great Library of Alexandria.
(Note: There ARE abandonware archives in existence, though they often technically violate copyright laws. You can find out more here.)
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!
November 14, 2011
Lately, I have been completely enthralled with the songs of The Tallest Man on Earth. His music is so overwhelmingly inspiring to me–the guitar styles, inventive, quick, intricate; the lyrics, intelligent, poetic, heart-wrenching, and folky–words and phrases that stir the sands of history; and his voice, the emotion, the controlled impurities, the raw power. These are all things that I can feel lurking behind the force my own musical calling, waiting for me to grow to a point where I will be able to release them. So when I listen to The Tallest Man on Earth, I am overcome with the desire to make music; but I am not quite ready. I am frustrated and fumbly. I mess up chords and lyrics frequently. My barring is imperfect, choky. My fingers are weak and tire easily.
I finished recording my album, but I am dissatisfied. I’m going to start anew tomorrow, keeping my old recordings as a memento, but pursuing a cleaner approach, so I will hopefully have something that I can be proud of.
But I am intimidated. I am intimidated by the sheer power of musicians like Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth), who exceed my capacity in both my strengths and my weaknesses. Of course, I will grow; I have time. But, worse than this, I am intimidated by my own songs, and my inability to play them to my own expectations.
This, though, can be solved by practice. Relentless, unyielding practice and persistence (the only talent, as I am told) and the faith that I will grow over time. In a way, it is good that my own songs are challenging me, because that means I still have something to gain from them. Still, the process is grinding away at my willpower, but I suppose that is the greatest challenge of all. And, in a way, even though I don’t plan on publishing my newly-finished recordings, they are something of a symbol of willpower for me. These recordings were forged in a fire fueled by hundreds of takes, by anger and despair and emotions beyond both of those–the clearing past rage and frustration, when the suffering somehow vanishes, when the pressure has burned away and the music can be light and free, even comical.
These recordings are the reason I believe I can actually create this album in the way that I envision it.
November 1, 2011
Well, today is the day! National Novel Writing Month has officially launched. So far, I am at 0/50,000 words. Guess I better get writing, eh?
To help launch things off (and to help me keep my story straight), I’ve been working on a little map of the planetary system in which my novel will take place. The system, as well as its red-dwarf star is called Tin.
There are also some uninhabited moons/dwarf planets which aren’t shown, but these are the ones in which humanity has taken the greatest interest.
In other news, the good folks over at Red Moon Medicine Show, a small KC-based RPG press, are having a ghost story contest, in which people can submit their own, real-life spooky stories for a chance to win a great prize bundle which includes their latest game, Don’t Walk in Winter Wood, as well as a digital copy of my own ghost story, “The Blue Wasp”!
Anyhow, I probably better get to writing…
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.