May 13 2020

The Moving Hand Hath Writ

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“The moving hand once having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line.”
―Omar Khayyám, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Been chewing more on my same thoughts from last night re: blogging and social contact and such. The annoying truth of the matter is, frankly, that’s it’s not 2005 any more and it never will be again.

I’ve never wanted to be a “Thing were better in the good ole days!” sort of person, and it’s not in my nature to dislike new things on the grounds that they’re new. What is in my nature, is to hate losing things that I loved, whether it’s TV shows that have gone off the air and fallen out of the public consciousness, Long John Silvers restaurants, happy bubblegum pop music, or a thriving LiveJournal community.

I don’t know what, if anything, is “the current hotness.” Our culture has become so balkanized that very little seems to make a lasting impact, and it often feels like by the time something pops up on my radar it’s already waning. But it’s not like I changed how I approach or consume media and culture. It’s more like… stuff just stopped showing up.

I am aware of the accelerating nature of my perception of time. When you’re twenty, a year seems like a long time because it’s 5% of your whole life experience. When you’re fifty, a year goes by while you’re thinking up a blog post, and you’re like “WTF just happened?” But I’m also aware of a certain amount of jadedness that I think is an inevitable result of having been such a ravenous consumer of culture for so long. I’ve read so many books, watched so many TV shows, playing so many video games, that I could probably identify every entry on TVTropes.org and cite two or three examples. Things that seem exciting and fresh to people with more limited experience, I see as a retooling of a thing I saw back thirty years ago, and why get invested in the new one when the one from thirty years ago is still perfectly good?

The answer, of course, is connection. Fandom is a team sport, and if I want to be geeking out with friends about stuff, whatever that stuff is, I have to go where the people are! Unlike my mom, who was flabbergasted that none of my nieces had a clue who Gilbert & Sullivan were, I don’t want the things I love that used to be popular, to become a prison preventing me from being connected to what people are living in the moment right now.

-The Gneech

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May 12 2020

The Silence is Deafening

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On a whim, I went to the Friends page of my old LiveJournal.

It had, literally, no entries.

I looked at the equivalent page on Dreamwidth: it had entries, all from one person.

I miss blogs, man.

Three Good Things for Today

  1. Did some graphic design work for a friend.
  2. Got my unemployment filing done for the week and deposited a royalty check.
  3. Re-empowered my Bujo and my “Three Things” posts!

Three Goals for Tomorrow

  1. Post some art to FA
  2. Work on a new design project
  3. Intro for this weekend’s D&D session

Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. <3 -TG

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Apr 01 2020

Back to Good

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My best self.

I… might do art streaming again tomorrow.

It’s been so long since I did art streaming, for so many reasons.

It’s been so long since I did art, for so many reasons.

With “social distancing” and my jobs drying up, I need to do something, and I need contact with people. But mostly, I just need life to be good again. “Back to good” is a slogan coined by the D.C. metrorail system’s attempt to renovate their systems and rehabilitate their reputation with the public, and I gotta admire the ballsiness of just coming out and saying, “Yeah, we kinda suck right now, and we’ve gotta get back to good.”

That’s what I need to do, too. I’ve spent the past three years in an almost constant state of “tryhard,” watching my fortunes dwindle, my attempts to get anywhere be frustrated, and my mental health and creative drive evaporate. In late 2019 it just completely came crashing down around me, and in January and February I began the long climb back out of the wreckage… only to be greeted by the pandemic. Wow. XD

But to be completely honest, I feel strangely peaceful about it all. I’ve got a roof over my head and food to eat for the time being, and unemployment checks coming in at the very least while I continue my hunt for a day job. It’s not the “frugally comfortable” level I’m used to, but it could be a lot worse, and I can build on it. I can get back to good.

So what makes life good? Fun, friends, art and writing, creativity and gaming. I’ve got a big ol’ queue of art I’ve promised to folks, and with everyone doing Stay-At-Home Con, the best way to get some socializing in is while sitting there getting work done. :)

I hope if you’ve enjoyed my art streams in the past you’ll come back, and if you’re curious you’ll come around and give it a try!

-The Gneech

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Jul 23 2019

Check Out JohnRRobey.com!

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I still use Gneech.com for random bloggy stuff (and as an archive of {mumble} years of writing), but if you’re looking for my professional writing site, head over to JohnRRobey.com!

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Mar 25 2019

Fish in Trees: Giving Good Critique

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Critiques can be scary. >.>

Critiques can be scary. >.>

Picture if you will, the valar and maiar gathered around discussing creation.

Reviewee: I have invented a new kind of animal! It lives in the water, has gills to breathe, and flippers that enable it to move. I call it a “fish.”

Critiquer: Yeah, that’s good, but… what if this “fish” lived in trees and had wings to fly with?

Reviewee: Well, the point was to make a thing that lived in the water…

Other Critiquer: Man, I really like this “lives in trees and has wings” idea! You should give your fish brightly-colored feathers and have them sing.

In the FurTheMore writing track, writing groups and critiques — and specifically, how to give good critiques — were a major focus. Having only recently gotten into the world of actually being in a writing group, this discussion was fresh in my mind as I watched and winced at a person in a recent group meeting having their perfectly good kid’s book being twisted into all kinds of weird pretzel shapes. Instead of critiquing the story that she had brought, the discussion kept turning to all sorts of different things the story could have been (or to some of the critiquers’ way of thinking, should have been).

The thing reached a head when one of the critiquers suggested that the entire story could be told in pictures, with none of the reviewee’s words at all, to which the reviewee replied, “So what’s the point of my even doing it?”

Please don’t do this to people.

Giving useful feedback can be difficult, and the thing about writers particularly is that we’re a creative lot. When we see an idea that sparks thoughts and possibilities, we want to spin new stories out of them. It’s as natural as breathing! But in the context of writing critique, it’s as useful as putting a fish in a tree and telling it to fly.

Unless the reviewee is specifically looking to brainstorm new ideas (which can also be a great exercise), your job as a critiquer is to address the text at hand: what works, what doesn’t, and specifically if the writer succeeds at making the text do what it’s supposed to do. “Maybe your fish should have its eyes on the side of its head to more easily spot predators” is useful feedback. “Your fish should be a bird” is not, and worse, it can be actively harmful. I don’t think anyone at the meeting intended to tell the reviewee that she had wasted her time and effort creating a useless story, but that was clearly the message she was receiving.

Giving Good Critique in Three Easy Steps

So, what should you do? Try this…

“Get” the Story. Look for what the writer was trying to accomplish, as well as fairly universal things like “Do the sentences make sense?” and “Are the characters engaging?”

Talk About What Worked, What Didn’t Work, and What Was Great. Using the famous “shit sandwich” model (the bad stuff surrounded by good things on either side), give feedback that’s as specific as possible. Remember that the point is to discuss the story that’s actually on the page, not the amazing story you came up with in your own head.

Suggest Changes. Here’s where you can toss in your own ideas, but keep in mind that the changes should be to address what didn’t work first and foremost. If the reviewee’s fish has given you a great idea for a bird, go ahead and mention it as a possibility for expansion or a new direction if you like. Or maybe go create your own bird. You’re a writer, after all! And the best part is that by doing that, you empower the reviewee to make an even better story, instead of tearing them down and making them wonder what the point of having written it was.

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Feb 21 2019

A New! Improved! Website Coming Soon!

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Gneech.com and its sister site, BringingTheAwesome, are both getting a major overhaul! I’m working with Braid Creative to create a new “brand identity” to finally integrate my writing, coaching, editorial, and creative efforts under one unified whole (and a whole new website).

This is something that’s been a long time coming. I’ve been on the web since before it was “the web,” and so I have 25+ years of identities in silos all over the place. It’s time to just be the one “Me!” Writer, life coach, creative artist, giant nerd. They’re all in there. ;)

Stay tuned for progress reports as warranted!

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