Adventures in Discordia.

My fiction writing has benefitted greatly from interactions with the writing community. From the accountability supported by daily updates, to critique, to discussions of characterization and worldbuilding, I’d have made considerably less progress and felt much more isolated without my writers’ circle. And that circle wouldn’t exist without chat app Discord.

Discord is most popular with the gaming crowd, but it’s fully-featured enough to be useful to anyone who wants to share semi-in-real-time conversation with like-minded persons online. It’s also not so burdened with feature-itis that it’s a headache to manage (looking at you, Slack). After growing desperate in my pandemic isolation earlier this year and reaching out on the forums, I discovered that many active and lively writers’ groups existed on the platform, and thus created one to attract science fiction writers specifically. Having enjoyed the camaraderie and insight of new friends from around the world, I’ve been kicking myself for waiting so long to explore chat. (Call me “social media”-averse, I guess.)

When I drag myself across the finish line for my long fiction project, my group members will deserve part of the credit. Their encouragement has been invaluable during moments when—as happens to anyone toiling away in lonely obscurity—I’ve questioned my own skill and sanity. Sometimes, you need an outside perspective (from a kindred spirit) to tell you your folly is worth pursuit.

New look, new focus.

When last I posted here, I was embarking on some longer-form writing and putting aside the idea of sharing my thoughts blog-wise. Having discovered the ritualized self-abused called National Novel Writer’s Month—during which thousands of would-be writers tackle the seemingly impossible task of cranking out a novel in 30 days—it seemed prudent to conserve my words for the long haul of a 50,000 to 100,000-word novel.

Taken at the Mayan ruins in Copán, Honduras in April 2015.

Fast-forward 275,000 words: I’ve nearly completed my first “book”, though it appears I’ll have to divide it into two or three more digestible chunks; an established author might be able to sell such a monumental manuscript to a publisher (I’m looking at you, George R. R.), but a debut novel needs to fall within the bounds of traditional publishers’ standards for a given genre. And it’s time to re-enter the workplace, in some capacity, as alarm over COVID-19 retreats in the face of vaccinations and business slowly returns to some new kind of “usual.”

Technically writing?

But in undertaking the planning and research, and in adhering to a schedule of daily writing for many long months, I believe I discovered a new potential path of employment for myself: technical writing. Reading and online coursework reinforce the idea that I already possess all the necessary skills for a job that requires excellent language skills, discipline, attention to detail, and the ability to organize, perform research and collaborate with others.

So, as the hard work of finishing an epic science fiction story comes to an end (a chapter and a half left to stitch together), I’m already beginning the very different work of establishing myself as someone qualified to write technical documentation for a living. It’s going to mean a lot of learning (specifically about the tools and methods currently in use) and writing (to build a portfolio). But these are things I’ve proven I can do.

Two paths: writing and writing.

The purpose of my contributions here will be to gather, filter, enumerate and reflect on writing both fiction (my passion) and documentation (my newly chosen vocation). As I’ve pointed out, there’s ample overlap between the disciplines; there are contrasts as well, of course. I know story-writing reasonably well, but the unique challenges of presenting instructional information, recommendation, research results, and the like will become evident as I undertake those tasks. It should be an informative journey, as will going into revisions with my novel(s).

Please look forward to my thoughts as I travel these simultaneous paths.

Again? Again.

After an absurdly long hiatus, I thought it would be useful to reboot this space for short- and long-winded brain effluvia. Therefore, I pressed the nuke button on the old look and gave one of these fancy WordPress themes a try. It’s a several whole-number-WP-versions leap forward, so there’s some learning to do; many of the newer features show promise. I like block editing so far.

While I poke around and contemplate my new outlet for self-expression, please enjoy this glyph-engraved stone from the Mayan city of Palenque.

From Longhena, Maria. Splendours of Ancient Mexico. Translated by Neil Frazer Davenport. London: Thames and Hudson, 1998.