I’m a Prepper

I’m a prepper. Not in the Discovery Channel, conspiracy theory, BPA-free water barrel hoarding way. I just don’t do well with mass amount of spontaneity. A little here and there is fine, but I have to be able to see a plan in place and expect that it will be followed.

I suppose that’s why I ended up with a career as an IT project manager. Making lists, checking them twice, ensuring that the plan is followed and that the customer is getting the value they seek. It’s not the most difficult work in the world, but it also not a role to take lightly. Define your goal, define what it’s going to take to get to that goal, get your materials and people together, make it happen. And if you realize along the way that the goal is moving or something is going to be different than what was planned, you absolutely must be able to identify the applicable Five W’s (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).

Planning individual projects (yes, I often apply project management terms and techniques in my personal life) is a little more challenging. I get extra paranoid that I may forget something, or not even consider something, that will ruin the plan.

So here I am, beginning my prep for an upcoming event. I’ll be attending the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY next week. I’ve double checked (#actuallytriplechecked) my hotel reservation and convention registration. I have dutifully placed print-outs of the reservation and registration confirmations in a folder, along with a printed map route should something go wrong with my phone (#directionallychallenged).

I have set aside the chargers for my devices that will be traveling with me so that I can record workshops and panels as well as get some writing time in. Considering that these are devices that I don’t generally use in my day-to-day life, I’ve already packed them in my bag so that they’re ready to go when I hit the road. My packing list for a successful con experience is fairly simple:

  • iPhone
  • mophie charging station
  • iPad
  • Charging cables
  • Headphones
  • Field Notes notebooks (at least 2)
  • Composition notebook
  • 2 pens
  • 1 Sharpie
  • Hand sanitizer (you’re shaking a lot of hands and it can be hard to avoid the dreaded ‘Con Crud’)
  • Spearmint Altoids
  • Hoodie (for those chilly rooms)

Hmmm, this sounds suspiciously like a bug-out bag. Maybe I AM a bit of a “prepper”.

I look forward to seeing some familiar faces at this year’s Imaginarium as well as meeting new folks. I’m going to do everything I can to steer clear of con politics and just enjoy the experience of being with like-minded writers and creators.



Reading to Write

If your personal learning style lends itself to in-class interaction, then by all means, go for it. I definitely enjoy taking classes and attending workshops whenever I can. It’s good to have immediate access to an instructor or panel to get responses to questions and to get deeper into the various things that writers might want to discuss (e.g. theme, world building, character development, etc.).

Then there’s good ol’ book learnin’, which is what we’re here to talk about today. In-person instruction is great, but you generally don’t end up with a document that can be referenced later. Additionally, you might not end up getting any real value out of a class or workshop. It may be that you weren’t ready for the way in which the material was presented for some reason (mood, focus – damn this hotel ballroom is cold!, etc.). Of course, it could also be due to bad presentation. So what can you do about it? Well, you can pick up a book on writing and read it front to back. You’ve now got a document that you can reference at any time and, if you don’t get anything out of a particular section, you can always visit it again at a later time.

I wanted to drop a list of books on writing that I have read over the years and found particularly useful. This doesn’t mean that every word in each volume resonated with me and became a part of my personal truth. That said, I’ve learned quite a bit from these books and revisit them periodically to see if there’s anything else I can glean from the pages that didn’t stand out to me before.

These books all resonated with me in one way or another, and continue to do so. Your milage may vary.

  1. “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft”, Stephen King. I can’t say enough good about this book. Although, I will admit that some of the hard lines that Kings takes don’t always work for me. He addresses his stance against plotting with a heavy hand.
  2. “Writers Workshop of Horror”, Michael Knost. Really good stuff from a Bram Stoker Award winner. I’ve had a few conversations with Michael and he’s a wonderful person who truly cares about helping writers, regardless of where they may be in their publication journey.
  3. “Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy”, Michael Knost. More good stuff.
  4. “Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction”, edited by Michael Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. I picked this up at a conference a few years ago and I keep it close by in my home office.



Bruised and Blue

I don’t have much this week. I decided to completely revise the entry that I had written up for this week. 

In the meantime, I’m nursing some bruised ribs and a torn muscle or two. A couple of days ago I suffered an unfortunate (and somewhat forceful) meeting of my ribs and the kitchen counter. Nothing overly dramatic about it, really. Just me being an idiot. 

Doc says I should be feeling much better next week and that it may be a few weeks before I’m fully back up to snuff.