On the one side, it’s been an absolutely brutal time in which to generate creative ideas for reasons described well by author John Scalzi. And yet, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2011. Basically, I think that doing any kind of creative writing is like developing proficiency in a sport – you have to exercise the basic skills, over and over, until they become automatic. The way I’ve always prepared for NaNoWrimo before was to put together a plot outline, a list of characters, some idea of pivotal scenes, and, sometimes, a timeline of the world I’m building.
I have been spending the majority of my time these last four weeks talking about myself to people I don’t know. It isn’t something I would choose to do, but it is a necessary part of the job interview gauntlet. I talk about what I’ve done, and about things that have been done to me, and about what I thought I was good at doing, and about what I wish I were better at.
The job where I am working now is going away by the middle of next month, so there is some urgency right now to work out some alternate work arrangement, and no way to rig up some sort of a remote engineer position. And so, yesterday I was booked on the short flight there, and ended spending about ten hours waiting in airports because some cloud cover appeared in Los Angeles and some rain fell in San Francisco.
Here is a list of what I have put together or worked on for some significant amount over the last couple of years on the job. Monitoring will get its own post eventually. We migrated from a single service which ran on a single instance in Classic EC2 to a half dozen services running in separate VPCs, each with autoscaling instances behind an elastic load balancer to provide high availability.
Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, I try to do some spiritual reading as a discipline, and this Lent I’m reading St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, generally accounted to be a masterpiece of contemplation. The idea is that the human soul is pictured as a transparent castle containing many rooms, sort of a diamond cloister, the most impregnable fortress against the dangers of the outside world. It was natural that this member of a cloistered order would write based upon something she knew, of course, but the interesting thing will be how much I can make of this idea living in the world.
For a number of years Michael Dylan Welch has been organizing National Haiku Writing Month, more commonly known as NaHaiWriMo during the month of February where anyone can post their minimalistic poetic contributions every day. There would be a prompt for each day the participants could, if they wanted, use as a theme for that day’s installment. I had fun participating this year and would like to present a selection of what I came up with.
For every post here I write maybe three for my own use over on Penzu as a sort of diary of what’s going on. I’ve learned that it’s too easy to forget a lot sooner than you expect just what you were experiencing and saying and doing if you don’t leave some kind of traces for yourself to get back into your head in times past. What I write are things too personal or professionally sensitive to want to put out on a public blog like this, or more often things that only I figure I would be interested in knowing about.
On the way home today, my train was delayed because of a fatality on the tracks happening about forty-five minutes before I got on. It was on the other side of the tracks, someone crossing over the tracks where they should not have been, possibly a suicide. I was already on a later train than the one I usually took, because of a late meeting at work, so the delays took me well past twilight into night.
Posting this here in case it saves someone else some time troubleshooting. I was having lots of problems with Tweetdeck on Windows 10 in Chrome over the last couple of weeks. I hadn’t enabled any new plugins or anything like that, but I was wondering whether the cookies were messing things up, so I logged out, cleared content, and tried logging back in. Surprise, it said my username and password were not recognized.
I’ve been thinking for some time now of what I’d like to do once it’ll be no longer viable to continue working in the tech industry. I’ve dropped out and made my way back in, but do not have high hopes for being able to do that again ten or more years closer to retirement age. I keep coming back to the idea of making a radical change going into creative writing.