Learning by doing: my latest project

I only did 2 virtual conventions during Our First Pandemic Year because Discord became the default interaction platform, and it was not only a New And Scary Thing, it was a complex new social one. I was already two social media programs past coping, so navigating Discord servers was overwhelming, bewildering. It was impossible for me to get bast anxiety blocks to process how Things Worked. Not the technical side, that was refreshingly clear, but in a basic, human “how do people use this thing?” way.

Learning to drive is the best analogy I can think of. Complex, multi-channel learning. It’s so difficult there are CLASSES and people have to CERTIFY, right? The difficulty has less to do with mastering the pedals, levers, and buttons to make things stop & go, and a lot more to do with learning the rules of the road, and MOST to do with learning to apply those rules to physical experience in real time so you don’t hit the wrong pedal at the wrong time and crash.

Social interaction is like that for me. ALL social interaction. But each new environment isn’t like a new car. It’s like a whole new kind of driving, period. Think car vs airplane, or electric scooter vs sailboat. New mechanics, new rules, new integration. Some elements transfer, but you don’t know which until you’ve put in the time in the new system.

With Discord, the mechanical part was simple, but there were so many different types of interactions that the patterns weren’t readily visible (To me. Things that are as clear as glass to many people are opaque to me, and vice versa. But I digress.)

Imagine trying to avoid a crash when you couldn’t learn the rules first because you’re already driving, so you can only learn the rules of the road only by watching other drivers while also learning your pedals and lever mechanics. Pretty dangerous, huh?

On social media, crashes translate as mortifying humiliation with the potential to drive me into solitude for, oh, years. That made Discord a no-go zone for me for ages. But that bugged me. Things I can’t do always bug me.

So I made Discord this year’s Hibernation Project.

Late winter is the best time for me to tackle Scary New Things. Once my energy starts to build up after the mid-winter crash, I find something shiny and carry them into my nest and get to know them better by combing & petting & squeezing the stuffing out of them.

Almost everyone learns better “by doing,” but it’s the only way I learn multi-channel processes. When I first wanted to understand website design, way back in the day, I bemused my friends who worked in web design by teaching myself to code sites from scratch using HTML & CSS. Why didn’t I focus on learning the web design programs, they wondered. But see, those programs didn’t make sense to me At All until I mastered the underlying language structure.

This year, I dragged Discord into the nest and made it my own. I built my own little server, nice and tidy, with all the usual parts & pieces, then brushed and polished it up to Discord’s Community Guidelines so eventually I can make it public.

That was a long read to get to the news that there now exists a Dawnrigger Discord server, huh? But there it is!

Right now it’s private, invitation only. If you’re a reader and/or fan of my books, if you have room in your Discord for a quiet little server where there’s not much clutter or content yet, you’re welcome to join Dawnrigger’s Den and share the fun.

This also means that when the day I flee Facebook inevitably arrives, I’ll still have an interactive space online, and I’m a LOT more comfortable surfing my way around other servers & occasionally even posting comments & engaging in conversations.

Not comfortable, but not as uncomfortable. And that’s progress. Wins all around.

That’s all for now. Some heavy shit happened online this week. I’m still processing, but there will be blog on ot eventually.

Until then, have a random cat with a book.

cat sitting on an open book
Photo by Heather McKeen on Pexels.com

Daily Life, Fairy-Tale Style

First, a funny meme:

ADHD cleaning

Point-to-point distraction is a huge problem when I start life chores, but guess what?

I KNOW THE SUPER-SEKRIT WINNING STRATEGY to overcoming it, thanks to my unprofessional, unscientific, non-analytic studies on the subject. And because I’m so generous, Imma share it with you today.

Here it is: life is a series of fetch quests.

Once you know that, you know the third task past the first is a trap, and you can avoid it.

How can I say this with such confident certainty? Well. Thank my parents for giving me so many fairy tales wherein the protagonist had to quest for item after item, then wind back through a long line of exchanges to the beginning to get their prize.

There is always a turning point several quests into the journey. ALWAYS.

If you want to reach your day’s happy ending, turn back at the fourth victory and begin tracking back to the original quest. Otherwise you are DOOMED.

I’m not saying that’s easy. Simple things rarely are.

(I know it isn’t always the fourth quest in the classics — but three-plus-one is a powerful number, and I did mention this being unscientific, right? Right. So. Back to the POINT.)

The fetch-quest model works (for me) because it puts adrenaline-craving and competitiveness into harness together. When aimed at a shared goal, they’re strong enough to haul my interest-motivated ass away from all the shiny things and drag me down the road to home. YMMV, but never underestimate the power of WINNING.

Once I complete the work that earns me a gem from the Goblin King, I know to decline the promise of riches for the easy follow-up task they offer. That quest will surely lead to my destruction, and I ALREADY HAVE AN IN-GAME TROPHY TO COLLECT!

So I refuse the Goblin King’s tempting reward, turn back and retrace my steps to the dragon’s lair, give him the gem in trade for the scale I will use to pay the wizard for the spell that releases the cursed bird from its cage so she can sing the song that releases my love from their enchanted sleep…

…or toss the freaking pens, take the list to the store for detergent, REFUSE TO BE SIDETRACKED INTO FIFTEEN OTHER ERRANDS, and come home to start the damned laundry.

Whichever. Point is, never ever take that fifth fetch quest. Eyes on the shiny, shiny prize.

The struggle is real.

That’s it in random observations for now. Until later!

panorama-2962730_640
We’re off on another quest!
Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

Unpleasant Possibilities.

Zero forward progress has me feeling down.

I’ll have to trunk Sharp Edge if I can’t get these rewrites moving. I don’t want to do it. I REALLY don’t. I’ve promised it to people. I have Rhiannon’s beautiful cover art. I have paid good money for fantastic, insightful edits, and I have plotted out the changes I need to make this already @#%$! amazing book absolutely %!&@$ AMAZEBALLS.

But none of that matters, because I know how the story ends, and writing new scenes into a story whose ending I already know is like trying to tow a loaded ore boat up a canal by hand, all by myself.

Once I’ve dug into a job I’m a strong and steady plodder, but right now I’m slogging through mud where I can’t get any traction, hauling away ay a massive DONE thing that’s sunk in place.

Stubborn determination keeps me sitting at this computer day after day–but every day I find myself working on ANYTHING ELSE during my creative time (like, oh, writing this blog post…) and I finish single paragraphs in Sharp Edge, if that.

If at this point you’re feeling the urge to share pious, sugar-mouthed chirpy cliches like “Just write for yourself/you have to want it bad enough/motivation comes from within,” please keep them to yourself, thank you very much.

I don’t write for myself. I never have. I’ve completed a half-dozen novels not writing for myself just fine, ditto for a dozen shorts.

I only put the swearing and sweat required to squeeze my non-linear thoughts into writing so I can tell stories to OTHER PEOPLE. Therein lies my problem.

At this stage with past books, I hadn’t worn out the few friends who liked seeing the raw pieces as I wrote them. I could convince myself they were urgently waiting and wanting the story. Believing I would disappoint them if I didn’t have something new FOR THEM was like having a whole team of helpers tugging away at me from the other side, countering the weighty DONENESS of the story I was revising.

I don’t have that any more.

Everyone is patient. And understanding. And busy with their own lives and problems, and honestly if anyone said they DID want to read my raw progress,  I would have to be convinced. Several years of experience with Support & Encouragement as Vague General Concepts have taken their toll. I now suspect it all as coming from a place of kindness rather than objective excitement about the story itself, and that’s quite the anti-motivator.

(Hi, my name is Karen, and  my writing kicks ass, but the way some friends get all tense around the eyes and swiftly change the subject whenever I talk about my books makes me sad…)

ANYway.

Anyone out there craving the next scene from this book I am utterly unable to work up any momentum on? Anyone willing to convince– as in NAG– me and insist on being given material to read weekly? Daily?

Anyone love Elena’s whiny teen angstiness and Valerie’s nervous conflict-avoidance that much?

I’m not expecting a positive answer. But I’m working up to facing the reality that if I can’t find someone to help me haul this load, pretty soon I’m gonna have to drop this rope and go find a different towpath.

Even if it breaks my heart to do it.