Posts Tagged: thoughts

Writing and Reading

While I have been on my Big-Five-Oh birthday gift to myself writing retreat, I have also been reading. So far, I have worked my way through a re-read of the whole Ben Aaronvitch’s Rivers of London series and I am nearly finished with re-reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series (minus the more recent co-author or other author Pern books).

Why am I rereading books I have already read many times before, particularly in the case of the Pern books? I am reading them not just for the joy of the story but also to see and analyze how two authors who I admire have constructed their stories and series as a whole and from various writing perspectives.

What this past two months of reading and writing has shown or revealed to me is that I have a preference for multiple person point of view / main character stories or at least multiple threads of story interwoven over a single main character’s point of view with one story arc.

McCaffrey’s Pern books are almost always, with the exception of the YA books, multiple main characters with multiple threads of story. While Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series is from the POV of PC Peter Grant, each book weaves in multiple strands of story, including one series long story thread. One of the things that I also like about Jane Austen books is that by and large her stories are also ensemble stories, even if we see the story from the POV of one or two main characters.

The novel length story I wrote from 2015-2017, A Quiver Full, was a multiple character POV story. I started writing it as a short story for a writing challenge and it was originally written from the POV of two characters, after I expanded it to novel length – several more characters demanded their share of the conversation and stage time. After the fact, I got the feedback from a reader that it should have more of the romance of just two characters and not so much of the other stuff.

After finishing writing A Quiver Full, I printed it out, then I put it up on a shelf for a bit of aging before I reread it and started rewriting. It was six weeks on the shelf when I received the above feedback, which hit me enough of the wrong way that the first draft has stayed on the shelf and I started writing a whole new novel in December of 2017.

This second novel is from one character’s point of view. It is meant to be a humorous mildly unreliable narrator story wherein by the end the reader should be questioning if the main character really was all that and more or if we want our hero to be heroic rather than a mere man. Now more than seventy percent of the way through writing the story, I find myself longing for more strands of story – not in the novel I am writing now but in general.

Then it hit me about a week ago, as I was knee deep in my Pern reread that I prefer multiple characters with third person limited POVs in the plural to one or two main characters. I want more story, I want more points of view, and I want to be stretched. When I return back to California, I will be ready to take A Quiver Full off the shelf and start the rewrite.

But before I can do that, I have got to finish writing my one guy and his POV story.

Coming on Ten Years

Ten years ago this week, I gave my two week notice at my well-paid but non-web related corporate job. I gave my notice so that I could go pro as a web designer rather than just doing it as a side job or hobby. I gave my notice so that I could start my own web design freelance consultancy. I gave notice so that I could teach web design and 20th Century art history at a local university. I gave notice so that I could grow into my new life as a full-time web designer.
My timing, I have joked for years, was impeccable. I gave notice to start a web design business right on the precipice of the Dot Com Bust of 2000/2001.
In the last ten years, I have built a web design and development business / freelance consultancy that has focused on small businesses, creatives, non-profits, and education related endeavors. In the last ten years, I have offered my clients not just a new web site, but also how to conduct an online marketing or promotion campaign, how to use the internet to grow a business or project, as well as helping the internet phobic get comfortable in this new space. It has at times been very satisfying and at others deeply frustrating.
Five years ago this month, I wound down my web design business and teaching at the university to go back to school myself. I packed up my whole life, gave up my lovely 1890s back of the house in Orange, and in Sept of 2005 I moved to Dublin, Ireland, to attend graduate school at Trinity College, Dublin. I went to graduate school with the intention of learning more about programming and web development, as well as to focus on a mobile project.
When I first returned from Dublin with my new minted Masters degree, I spent 6 months in a job search of which many leads were pursued, paths investigated and interviews conducted but none lead to a corporate web or mobile design job as I had hoped at the time. In 2007, I spent a great deal of the year trying almost any new professional adventure offered to me – speaking at developer conferences about design, working as a web developer contractor to an East Coast based agency, thinking & planning a mobile hack day, etc. In one way, this was good, as I got to discover what I did not want to do, but on the other side it was bad, as I felt like I was too full of post-masters degree energy and that I was scattered and did not focus.
For the last three years, I have been working more on the web development and programming side of my skill set, both on client projects and a large semi-collaborative web application, as well as mobile development projects. Something funny happened on the way to the web app forum, I discovered that what I knew to be true in early 2007 when I was interviewing, which was that I really did not want to work for myself anymore but instead work on a team doing bigger projects than one person can accomplish alone, is still very true, in fact truer now than it was in 2007.
Furthermore, I have discovered that the longer I am a freelance web designer and developer working with remote clients or on contract, the more demoralized I become. It is not enough to work on a remote team where there are weekly phone or Skype meetings, I deeply desire, be it a larger company or at an agency, to work on an in office/studio team to be a part of a larger whole than what I can accomplish on my own. I want to hear more than just my own thoughts or what little I can glean when I throw out an idea on Twitter. I want to participate in discussion and discourse, I want to be challenged, I want to learn from colleagues, I want to be able to mentor in turn, I want to collaborate, and I want to participate together on projects.
To this end, I have spent much time this summer dusting off my resume and working on how to best presentation of my portfolio. I have been watching the job listings at companies I admire and would want to work at. I have let friends and contacts know that I am starting a job search.
While most of my client work the last ten years has been mostly web based, be it web design, development or marketing, my true passion and where I have spent most of my non-client working time in the last five years is in mobile. If you have read this blog, you know that besides mobile blogging & camera phone photography, I tend to blog about mobile. Thus, I am searching for jobs in mobile and at mobile companies.
If you know of any openings in mobile for a passionate and bright designer / developer hybrid with strong talents in user experience, communication, marketing, and systems design, please let me know.
Follow Up: Anxious? No.