A blog documenting my writing journey
|I hope this is entertaining... :)|
|Okay, this is going to sound really weird, but it’s just how I am. I like activity, exercise, and moving. Being sedentary stresses me out. It gives me time to think about how things should be different or what I should be doing rather than “relaxing”.
Sitting down and reading a book can sometimes relax me, but more often than not, it energizes me to write something of my own before long. Meditating? Forget it. Makes me a complete basket case.
Running a half marathon? VERY relaxing. Going for a long run makes me feel productive and fit. It allows me to zone out. Rock climbing? Helps me reach a state of peace. Being wholly consumed by an absorbing activity like that, one in which I feel like I’m accomplishing something, helps me find peace.
Going on a hike or a trail run is the absolute best. Heading out into nature while pushing myself physically is the best release of negative emotions I can imagine right now. Stresses and pressures fall away when I’m outdoors and in nature—and when I’m getting good exercise at the same time, I feel no lingering guilt making me think I should be doing something else.
So yeah. I’m strange. But it’s just how I’m wired.
|If I were giving a presentation to 500 people new to my field, I would give the following advice.
1. Check everything. Then double check. Then triple check. The consequences of mistakes in the financial world can sometimes be devastating, so plan on spending at least twice as long checking your work as doing it in the first place.
2. While it sometimes feels like there isn’t room for creativity, it’s there. When first embarking on an exercise, challenge yourself to look at things from various points of view. Most of the creativity is in the initial decision of how to attack the work.
3. Work collaboratively whenever possible. Even if it slows things down, it can sometimes give insights and build relationships that are well worth any slowdown in accomplishing some random task.
4. Be kind. Remember that, while we deal with numbers all the time, those numbers have an impact on people. Taking the extra time to be considerate and share the reasoning behind things while still being honest and straightforward is well worth the time and effort. It can really help those impacted negatively by information to at least have a comprehensive explanation as to what is happening. It’s the least we should do for them. I’ve worked with people (and for people) that don’t take that time and effort, and I’ve been impacted by decisions made without explanation. I know firsthand that it is far easier to accept even difficult news when it is carefully and considerately explained.
|I love finance. When I discovered the career and classes, it practically saved my life. Economics, accounting, Black-Sholes options models… sigh. Such amazing stuff.
Okay, I can’t keep a straight face any longer.
Do I love financial analysis? Um, no. Not a chance. Do I like parts of it? Sure! Is the work satisfying. I suppose. Is it challenging? Immensely, at least sometimes. And I do like a challenge. So that’s good, I suppose. It’s part of the reason I chose the career.
In college, no majors really called to me. It wasn’t until recently, long after college that it occurred to me to try my hand at writing. Before that, it was rock climbing, hiking, and all sorts of other random craziness that struck me as an interesting thing to do. Writing seems to be here to stay, however. I’ve been at it for two years now, and I like it tremendously. If I could make as much money at slinging words as I can in the finance world, I would absolutely choose it, but alas, it doesn’t. And I have student loans to pay.
Lots and lots of student loans.
I keep reading about student loan forgiveness, but somehow mine are never included in the program. I’ve had payment requirements frozen, but the debt remains, so I haven’t stopped making payments. I lost one job during the early stages of COVID, but quickly found another in the same field.
I do, however, manage to marry the two at times. When the company needs someone to write an intranet or newsletter article, I always volunteer. When they need web content, I’m in!
And I do like math. And numbers. And I can even handle statistics. Whether it’s building econometric models or running least squares regressions or digging into stochastic error, those things are actually interesting to me.
So while I like writing more, the finance stuff ain’t so bad. And it pays much better—for now, at least.
|Writing! I’ve produced nearly 1,000,000 words of fiction, poetry, and random nonsense since the start of COVID, which is quite a feat for me. It would be more impressive if it were of high quality. Unfortunately, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’ve made it from the equivalent of pre-kindergarten stick figures to attempting to draw full-bodied figures, so that’s something, I suppose.
In the prose world, I’m quite a bit better at body language. My dialog can be pretty snappy if I put in proper language. Even my action scenes have improved, though I still have a good ways to go there. I can be overly and sometimes awkwardly wordy and need to focus on alternating short and long sentences. My vocabulary is decent but could always be better. I seriously need work on not telegraphing twist endings. All in all, though, I’m a far better writer than I was before the pandemic.
In the poetry world, I’m better at using sound and creative wordplay, though I still need to work on building consistent imagery. My sensory language has become decent but is sometimes discombobulated and doesn’t always drive well to a climax or conclusion.
On the downside, the first year of the pandemic had me a bit out of shape. I gained a few pounds, but I’ve been remedying that, post-vaccination, this summer. This week, I’m on vacation in a national park with plenty of kayaking, trail running, and hiking to finish off my summer of fitness.
|Internet? We don’t need no stinkin’ internet!
Not to share our love of food we don’t.
Food is best enjoyed with others in person. With others. At a table. Preferably one stocked by food that someone else far better at cooking than I.
One of the things I like best about Europe is its abundance of unhurried, neighborhood outdoor cafes. Good is delicious local cuisine. Wine is unpretentious, with the choice often simply red or white, bottle or glass. But the real purpose of that environment is socialization, enjoying a meal with other people.
Truly, the internet is not necessary for sharing the love of food. Company at your house or a night out with friends or family is, by far, the best way to experience a meal.
|The hardest part of my job is remaining modest. I mean, I’m so incredibly awesome that it’s difficult to disguise just how much better than everyone else I am. To challenge myself, I push to do things two or three times as fast as anyone else. The fact that my work will be of higher quality than anyone else’s is simply a given. I couldn’t produce less-than-amazing work if I tried. Which I don’t. Who knows what I might accomplish if I actually gave my best effort?
Kidding, of course.
In all honesty, I would say that developing skills in my people is the most difficult part of my job. I have two people that work for me, one of whom is just out of college. Getting them to produce work that’s polished and well-organized in the way that I like my own to be can sometimes be challenging. I don’t want to be overbearing, micromanaging, or dictatorial, but at the same time, I want their work to be of the highest possible quality. I want them to impress others in the company, to set themselves up for advancement. I also want them to be a positive reflection on me. It’s a tough balance to strike.
So I mostly try to hone in on the most important and visible work that they do, pushing them to polish that to perfection. The stuff that’s more for my eyes or that’s less crucial, I try to be more hands-off on. I hope that helps to give them a lot of feedback where it matters most and more freedom where the latitude won’t cause any serious harm if details aren’t attended to quite as much.
In the world of financial analysis, even small misses can sometimes have difficult consequences, but when people’s jobs are at stake via layoffs or major company decisions are involved, that’s where I insert myself to a greater degree. Information that may be used for those things must be as accurate as we can make it, even if I come across as overly picky to my people sometimes. I try to explain why I'm picky in those instances, and I think that they generally understand.
|In five years, I’ll still be single, continuing to grouse incessantly about how everyone I meet can’t seem to hold my interest for more than a few months. I’ll wonder a few times per day whether it was really a good idea to have quit Facebook when everyone at work jokes about the latest piece of ridiculousness they’ve seen on the platform.
I’ll have received another promotion at work, making reasonably good money at long last. At least, the money would qualify as good in most places in the world. In Seattle, it will be enough to buy a place to live rather than rent, hopefully. But it won’t be a house. It will be a one-bedroom condo as opposed to a one-bedroom apartment. But even that will be a half-million dollar in this town, so I’ll probably be subsisting on meager rations.
I’ll have self-published at least five more novels, none of which sell particularly well. Their Kindle Unlimited page reads will, however, allow me to scrape together enough to continue my Starbucks habit, which will have reached worrying proportions by that stage. If I’m lucky, the combined book sales and job income will be sufficient to prevent me from worrying whether I can avoid homelessness and fund my next student loan payment while I’m in line at Starbucks to pay $10 for a cup of coffee.
My breakfasts will consist of a slice of toast and a grande latte, lunch will be bread and water, and dinner will be beans and rice. At least I’ll be skinny. ;)
I’ll still shop for clothes every now and then—pretty much whenever I can’t stand my 2019 pre-pandemic styles any longer. In 2026. If I actually manage to sell enough Audible books to exceed the cost of the voice acting, I may even splurge on a pair of shoes or two.
Telemarketing will be a thing of the past, but phone hacking will be commonplace, with apps asking for money for a seventy-first audit of the 2022 election results appearing on my iPhone 18 on a daily basis.
I’ll have an electric car by then—used, of course—cursing myself when I invariably walk outside in the morning and realize that I never plugged the thing in after unloading my groceries. I’ll ask my phone—via my stylish new Airpod earrings that I really shouldn’t have spent my money on—whether my iPhone battery can be plugged into my car to give it enough of a charge to get me to work. Once I make it there, I won’t be worried about fuel because I’ll have a seventy-foot charging cable in the trunk, which will promptly be plugged into the USB-6 port located in the exterior of the office building.
The rest of my devices, which never leave my person, will simply charge on my slick new wireless-charging bed overnight. I’ll eye the latest in parking space technology longingly, knowing that my car could charge simply by rolling onto a special patch of pavement, but I won’t be able to afford that one. Maybe in ten years...
|Okay, so I’ve entered the 30-day blogging challenge here on writing.com. Today’s prompt?
“What room in your home do you use the most? The least?”
I must confess that this is not a topic I likely would have blogged about were it not for the prompt. But I suppose that’s the point, right? Prompts have a way of getting one to write about things one otherwise wouldn’t, which is a good thing.
So here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
...the room I use most is…
Yeah. So I’m going to go with my bedroom as the room I use most at home. I’m in there most nights for 8ish hours, occasionally more when I take a nap or read in bed. My cheapo memory foam bed is comfy and warm, something that feels wonderful on all but the 100+ degree days we had a couple of months ago in Seattle. For fall, winter, and spring, I have a cozy duvet with a couple of washable covers, courtesy of Amazon Basics. (I know, I know… it’s just that Amazon is so convenient, especially in our current plague-infested age!)
But the bed isn’t the only reason I’m fond of the ol’ bedroom. My dresser always somehow manages to be packed to the brim with clothes, no matter how many old t-shirts and jeans I donate. It’s like those bottomless bags in Harry Potter. I can just keep pulling clothes out of the thing forever.
I don’t donate my nice clothes as often, so my closet becomes ever more packed, with less and less space between hangers every year. Of course, the pandemic has put a good dent in my clothes shopping opportunities, so I don’t think my garment collection expanded nearly as much in the last year and a half as it used to. That’s probably a good thing.
Aside from that, I have an omnipresent Kindle Paperwhite on my nightstand. (I’m not an Amazon-junkie, honest!) And a charger for my iPhone. I have a jewelry box that I rarely use, a vanity that I always use, and that’s about it.
So now, it’s time for…
...the room I use least!
That one’s a little tougher. But I use my living room a couple of hours a night, and my kitchen probably an hour a day—a little longer on weekends when I actually cook decent meals. So it’s probably my bathroom, which I’m probably in less than my kitchen. Most days, anyway. My bathroom cabinet is crammed full of an embarrassing number of hair and skin products. As is my shower. I have a bathtub, but I never use it.
I keep the bathroom pretty clean, maintaining a biweekly cleaning schedule with surprising discipline. The bathroom and kitchen are the two rooms that I keep the cleanest, which is actually a bit odd given how little time I spend in those two rooms, now that I think about it from that perspective. It’s just that they’re the two rooms that just seem gross if I don’t keep them really clean. Living rooms and bedrooms don’t seem quite as urgent, just getting a little dusty if I’m lazy on the cleaning front.
So there you have it! My most and least used rooms. I probably overshared getting into my cleaning habits, but there’s only so much that comes to mind when thinking of rooms. :)
|I intended to write the rest of my paranormal romance story over the weekend, but I saw the Twisted Tales contest and was inspired to write an Agatha Christie-style children's whodunit instead. But I'm quite fond of this one, actually. I'm glad I wrote it. Sometimes, you just have to follow where inspiration leads...