peartreealley: (travel)
For months, we'd been hoping to get up to the Peak District, and the plan kept getting pushed and pulled due to various outside influences--but once G had freedom, we decided to go for it. We planned to go for three or four days and stay with friends to maximize our countryside exposure (we've been itching to escape the city for weeks), but then had to cut it down to two days, in part because it's August and the height of the holiday season, and the time when our friends were available, both our cat sitter and back-up cat sitter were unavailable for any stretch of that long weekend.



Anyway, the Peak District! Since moving to the UK, most of my hiking has been flat, or at best, gently rolling. The Dark Peak isn't mountainous by Pacific Northwest standards, but my legs definitely got a workout. We began in Edale/Hope Valley, and then climbed our way out, up Jacob's Ladder, and to the plateau moor of Kinder Scout.

Jacob's Ladder

Once we reached the moors, navigation got confusing and the terrain became treacherous, climbing in and out of little ravines, getting trapped by boggy, sticky peat, and other adventures.



Our friend, C, turned his ankle on the moor. We limped on. Eventually, we made it to the edge of the plateau, and back down into Edale via a path that was not the one we had intended (this was basically true from the moment we hit the moor). G and I left C to rest his ankle and self-medicate in a pub while we continued on the remaining trek to get the car and pick him up.

All in all, we did something like 12-ish miles (of a planned 8-9 miles) through conditions much more difficult and dangerous than the ones we've encountered on the Ridgeway (and I was not shattered the next day), so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself--although I'm itching to get back on the Ridgeway. And, actually, the Peaks. It was just as magical as everyone told me it would be. I'm already looking at property pr0n in reach of the Peaks just in case....

Because just before our trip, a company in Liverpool contacted G for an in-person interview. He was like, "uh, can you do Tuesday because I'll already be in town." So with the cat situation as it was and a looming deadline on PS1, I took the train home on Monday (discount last minute First Class seat, FTW), while G stayed in Liverpool with our generous friends until he'd completed his interview.
peartreealley: (journal)
I've been having a dawning reality check the last couple of weeks, which finally crested over the horizon yesterday. I did the FateNet series (five novellas, total of 190k words) in 14-15 months from planning to publishing the last installment.

And I've been flogging myself with the Persephone Station series (three novels, estimated total of 180k) feeling like a total slacker because I'm not meeting my goals, with the delusion that I should be able to have it all out in... six months?

I mean, I understand somewhat where that delusion came from. It's only three books, my brain said. And you've gotten through some of the learning faff from the last series! But I didn't seem to taking into account that those three books were twice as long as the ones that came before them and so they might take... twice as long? I'm not actually sure if that's a straight multiple or if it's longer (more narrative complexities) or shorter (less shifting between activities). Twice as long is at least a somewhat realistic estimate that I can adjust from.

So I was talking to G the Project Manager about this yesterday, and he said, "While I do believe you can increase efficiency from the last series you did, perhaps you should consider a 10-20% increase in efficiency? Not... 60-70%?"

A long story short, I'm now aiming for twelve months from planning to final installment publication. (For my editors reading, don't worry--I still plan on having the first book to you in the timeframes agreed on. I'm just not also planning on having the first drafts of the second and third books also done by October.) If you're wondering, I'm counting twelve months from June to June. I technically started PS in April for a couple of weeks, but then shelved it until July to finish off FN, so I think that splits the difference.

Well, you learn. Eventually.

And twelve months is a lot friendlier for being derailed by relocation than six months.

***

G has three job interviews next week, only one of which is in London. I'm making peace with potentially relocating this autumn.
peartreealley: (tea)
For the last two weeks, I've been in the Dordodgne region of France. I'll have more about to say about that over time.

At the moment, though, my thoughts are on another place. The day after I moved to the UK, still jet-lagged and in shock at my life change, the Gryffindor took me to one of his favorite places. A place that even after five years away, people remembered him. A place he goes to almost every Saturday morning. A place I can go to in his stead, and say "Hi, I'm G's wife and he couldn't make it today--can you help me find what he usually buys?" and they'll laugh and know who I'm talking about.



It's the lane where G, [personal profile] sigelphoenix, and [personal profile] ratzeo went to get delicious food for our wedding. Where our wedding cake was made last year.



I get upset whenever there is an attack, of course, but I have to admit this last one hit "close to home" in a way I've never quite experienced before. G is a stoic Londoner ("I was here through the IRA bombings"), but I guess I'm just a bit more excitable and I'm still learning how to live in a city that is no stranger to being attacked and carrying on.

peartreealley: (Default)
Well. I wrote down a list of projects to work on, and promptly fell off the face of the Internet to work on them.

What's been happening since?


  • The Gryffindor and I went to a LARP-writing weekend at an isolated farmhouse in the Midlands. The 30 or so of us assembled tossed around ideas on Friday night, broke into groups of 5-ish, and then spent Saturday writing the LARPs. On Sunday, all six LARPs were playtested. We wrote one that smashed Torchwood/Warehouse 13/Laundry Files together (with the serials numbers rubbed off, of course), with office politics and disastrous team-building exercises. It was good times--we hope to run an improved version at the LARP con we're going to in November.

  • Over the May Day bank holiday weekend there was D&D, a geeky picnic, and a wander to Kew Gardens to observe the bluebells before they faded away.

  • G ran his first table top session since we moved to London, in a sort of shared 'verse with the LARP that he and I have been developing.

  • This last weekend, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We decided to spend it, as we often spend time together, with a mix of hiking, good food, and games--with upgrades. On Saturday morning, we drove deep into the Chilterns, and parked our car at a lovely inn that we had booked for a night. Shortly after, a taxi arrived and took us about 10 miles away from the inn, via the Ridgeway National Trail, which we've been working on in bits and pieces, usually on 5 mile there-and-back walks. We walked only forward, and we talked. We stopped at a pub on the trail for lunch. We walked, and we talked more. Upon our return to the inn, we changed into evening clothing, and returned downstairs where a bespoke tasting menu of food and wine waited to delight us. And it did.

    We're now halfway done with the 87 mile trail.

  • The next morning, we were off to a village north of Oxford, in which we played an epic time-travel RPG session that ties into the Oxford LARP we've been playing. My character was sufficiently traumatized by the event that I get to look at some interesting new costuming options for the LARP component....

  • Oh, and I've been writing and revising and editing and all of that in between. Progress is coming along on my Four Week Plan. I think I'll end up getting about 2.5 of the 3 items done on it by the time we leave for holiday, and given how much I stacked on, I'd still call that a success.

  • I've also been reading--books on nature, on spirituality, on fairy tales and folklore... thoughts about those are still forming. Another time.


  • And all the while, I've been slightly drunk and stunned by and grateful for this amazing life I'm living.

    Cheers,

    PTA
peartreealley: (Default)
Following on my comments about the 12 Week Year yesterday, my brain has been humming:

One of the things that I realized is that even though a 12 week window is indeed shorter and more urgent than 12 months, it’s still too long of a window for me. I run best on intense intervals, and 12 weeks is plenty of time for me to drift off course.

With that in mind, I started playing with ideas on how to scale down the goal/tactics window to create more urgency and better fit into my processes. I also took another look at my vision statements.

Long term plans are not my forte, so 3 year, 5 year and 15 year (!) visions just don’t work for me. I can totally write them, but they’re too vague and too far out there. I know enough of my life patterns to know that something (probably me) is going to explode and my life is going to spin out in some mad way that invalidates every plan I had in the wings. Knowing that reality undermines the clarity and motivation the long term vision is meant to give me.

So I’m scaling that down, too. 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years is as far as I’m taking my visions. (Even 3 years feels dangerous.) I’m also adding a present vision--how are these goals I'm striving for right now going to give me the life I want right now?

Of course, the test is in the execution.

As it turns out, I have two projects I need to finish in the next 4 weeks, plus one that I'd really like to finish--and at the end of those 4 weeks I have a 2 week holiday planned which makes for a fairly immutable deadline. I don’t really want to leave anything hanging so here is my window and my urgency. It's not a perfect test because I can't replicate "4 weeks and then a 2 week holiday" every 6 weeks (if only!), but it should let me get through a scaled down cycle from beginning to end and evaluate it.

So, I guess I'd better get on with that....

x

PS 1 First Draft
35064 / 60000
(58.44%)

On Systems

Apr. 19th, 2017 02:03 pm
peartreealley: (Default)
I love productivity systems. It's awesome when getting things done is just a matter of plug-and-play.

(Of course, it's never that simple.)

But like most things, I need to adapt and customize it to fit my life. (Because I'm special and unique? Because I'm incapable of doing anything "out of the box" without fussing with it? Ha!)

Anyway, two of my favorite systems right now are:

1) Bullet Journal
2) The 12 Week Year

I've always preferred analog for organization, and so I've been playing with Bullet Journal for a couple of years. Initially I liked it because it let me keep everything in one place. Later on, I hated it because it kept everything in one place.

Last year, I bought myself a "wedding present" in the form of a (faux) Travelers Notebook with my married name stamped on it. It's been a good purchase, and it continues to get regular use, despite that I've changed how it gets used frequently. Because it's basically just a leather folder that holds a few notebook inserts a time, it's really perfect for someone who is constantly tailoring their system. (Assuming their system, like mine, tends to involve use of notebooks.)

Anyway, right now, my "bujo" system is as such:
Disposable notebook for to-dos, rapidlogging, and braindumps. At the moment this is an entirely separate item (cheap spiral-bound notebook) from my Travelers Notebook, although I think when I finish this one I'll switch to adding a notebook into my TN to keep everything in the same folder. The reason I keep this one part from other stuff is because I realized that having my to-do lists and random notes in with my more reflective journaling entries led to my journal being overwhelmed by "clean cat box x2" and "do laundry" and "check energy tariffs" and "see if library has this book" and I didn't like that, so I changed it.

Journaling. This notebook has been for reflection, occasional freewriting, and records I want to look back on. Flat things, like event ticket stubs, often end up taped in as well.

Life in Lists. An ongoing collection of bullet points. Places visited, books read, notable experiences, stories written, etc. This is, in a way, my answer to bujo migration.

My calendar is online because it's easier to coordinate with the Gryffindor. Despite having tried a lot of ways, I haven't found a satisfying answer to how to integrate my fiction into the system yet.

The 12 Week Year:
The basis of the system is that a year is a very long time. A lot of organizations create lofty annual goals without much of a plan on how to get there, which mean people procrastinate and faff around aimlessly for the first three quarters of the year, and then suddenly light a fire under their bums and are productive the last quarter when they're under pressure to achieve and make the goal. The idea behind the system is to get people working like that last quarter all the time.

To do this, you are asked to create a strong, emotionally-evoking vision of what you want your life to be (in one year, three years, and five years). From there, you ignore annual goals and instead set a small number (3-5) twelve week goals (personal and professional) that require a lot of focus and dedication, create tactics to achieve them, do weekly plans and reviews, and work diligently to achieve those goals each quarter. (The vision is to guide you and your goals and keep you motivated.)

To be honest, I'm still wrestling with this one, which means it may not be the right system. But I love the philosophy behind it and I think it has potential, and despite that they want you to subscribe wholly to it as written... I will play around with it for my second attempt. It's my nature. (Perhaps I should figure out how to integrate it into my bujo system, too! I did the tracking digitally last go-round.)

ETA: Here is a decent summary of what the book covers.

Anyway! What systems do you love?

Obligatory Writing Update:
PS 1st Draft
31014 / 60000
(51.69%)
peartreealley: (Default)
I fell ill at the start of the holiday weekend, of which I'm now beginning to recover. This meant I missed out on a lot of the weekend's events--going to Oxford, and more time hanging out with our houseguest, AB, but on the other hand I read books and rested and marathoned through most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition), and those things are great in their ways, too.

Yesterday evening, AB left on her way to further adventures (she's in the UK and France for the next ten weeks, spending the first and last few days with us, and possibly an interlude in between). The Gryffindor returned to work this morning, and I'm better but not yet quite well.

This morning, I've worked on brainstorming some disparate thoughts, writing extensive story beats for PS, and misc. other writing tasks that didn't feel too intimidating, and I don't feel that I've wasted the day away, even if I don't have a lot of novel pages to show for it.

I have myriad thoughts to journal, but they're still marinating. I think a common theme has showed up amongst them, though: my deep desire to have a personal user manual or guide for being me. A written guide in which I can reference. "I need troubleshooting. What do I do?" "I'm now in this situation. How do I deal with it?" "Which of these foods do I eat to be at my best?" Explorations of rituals and routines are all part of that user manual. I have attempted to write them down, and there is of course the one in my head, and it's gone through at least as many editions as years I lived, and has an addendum a thousand pages long. But wouldn't it be so nice to have one I could download and reference from my head in the clouds?

x

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