Process

Black, blue and red felt tip pens are bought by the boxful. Staples brand tape flags are cheap and durable. I also live and die by Moleskine hardback notebooks and yellow legal pads. I use a legal notepad to write out all my first drafts and general notes. I'm a horrible typist and I've resigned myself to working analog first before I type anything out.

I work on an old Dell laptop running Linux. I use FocusWriter as a distraction-free word processor and keep the laptop I write on disconnected from the internet. The drafts get printed out and I go over revisions. I usually go through 3-4 drafts of something before I'm satisfied.

Reading often and keeping a common book is critical to my work process. I go through 3-4 books a week, mostly non-fiction. I flag off pages I like and then during the weekend I take the marked pages and take the best bits and make notes. This usually turns itself into story/essay ideas I can let compost in the back of my mind over the month.I stole the notecard/common book system from Ryan Holiday: (link). 

Steven King said that a professional writer should have at least 4-5 hours out of the day blocked out for reading and writing, and I think that's true.

I work in the mornings. No people, no music, no internet, no phone. A Hot cup of coffee (preferably a redeye) and a starchy breakfast. Making the work into a daily practice can be maddening, but I have to make that space for the work to get done. I'm a bit of a neo-Luddite most of the time, but I go full caveman between five and nine in the morning.

Revising Fiction: A Handbook for Writers by David Madden is one of the best books available for the revision/editing process, I keep a dog-eared copy by my desk while I revise. It's made for fiction, but its lessons can be applied to many different forms of writing. 

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Drawing my work/staycation out in Brooklyn to a close soon. It's been great to recharge and catch up with friends over the last couple of days, especially my hosts, who allowed me to terrorize their kitchen a couple of hours ago and turn a perfectly serviceable bag of quinoa into a wet pile of overseasoned mulch.

Powerhouse Books and Singularity&Co had some fantastic finds today. I'll be filling out my summer reading with The Big Book of Science Fiction. Reading the introduction statement has me thinking of just how underread I really am. If the quality and clarity of intent demonstrated in this intro are followed throughout the entire book, this may prove as foundational to the genre's future as Dangerous Visions was generations previous. Or maybe it will just be great bus reading. That would just be enough, wouldn't it?

Ops Desk

The humidity has been unrelenting this week. We’re past the tipping point out here in Philadelphia, where the summer weeks move from a steady precipitation into a steamy broth that washes over the city. The old Victorian I’m renting out at the moment was not built to breathe in this kind of funk, so I’ve been getting snapped out of bed with hot sweats. This has pushed me into annexing the dining room table for my purposes and, no doubt, given yet another reason for my roommates to have me placed on a watch list.

I’ve fallen back in love with the French press recently, after a trip out to Fishtown got me acquainted with ReAnimator coffee. It’s a strong Guatemalan blend that keeps its potency well after brewing and refrigeration. This morning’s self care was capped off with half a box of pasta covered in cayenne pepper, adobe, and black olives. This is about as close to a green shake cleanse as I’ll get to this week, I suspect.

Getting news in email summaries; bouncing between Foreign Policy’s excellent morning summaries and Quartz’s news brief, which seems to find itself in my inbox at exactly the right time. I don’t know if it was NYT’s morning roundups or reading text transcripts of Democracy Now! In the morning, but I caught an appetite for the format. Digest reading scales scales with how I’m using the net right now; a full overview in the morning and evening with little bits floating into my notifications throughout the day.

It’s also scratching some sort of itch I developed watching procedural dramas like The West Wing and ReGenisis. The idea that you can sit at your desk in the morning and get the world delivered to you, it’s appealing; and if I need to hold onto a Problematic Power Fantasy in the morning, running the world from my inbox is one I can get comfortable with.