Categories
Meta

I’m excited for The Slow Reader – 2 weeks from now

I haven’t even completed the pre-production on the final episode for “Gone” (catch up on the book by following the Podcasts category on the blog) and I’m already excited for it. I’m excited for me, and I’m excited to have people listen to it. Because I think it’s going to be the best one yet (for this book). I’ve been really up & down with my own personal reaction to the podcast and how I’ve produced it, but I’ve been taking in everything I’ve done for it so far and internalized how I want to make the podcast sound better.

I’m not going to release any details – because there’s still two more episodes for the book left (tomorrow, and 14 days from now); but I will give you a little bit of behind the scenes to chew on.

Left: My Kobo Clara HD reader
Right: My podcast notebook

This is a new approach to podcasting for me; I usually just take notes and improvise as I go on the mic, because I don’t like working with a script. While this isn’t exactly a script, and I deviate from what I write from time-to-time, I figured that doing a solo show needed a bit more structure and that doing it unscripted would be harder.

Indeed, even partially scripting it is more difficult than I thought (for example, for an episode I thought would definitely be longer than 15 minutes, I came in under 10). But I’m having a good time doing it. As I said to Vanessa last night, I’m doing a lot of the work for the podcast in small chunks, because I don’t want to burn myself out and have it actually feel like work.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been trying to make the podcast sound better as I continue through the books and reading that I’m doing. It bugs me a little bit that most of my episodes are still quite short – 10 minutes or less. I feel like I’m not putting as much effort as I could be into the episodes, so that’s mainly why it’s bugging me. So that’s why this episode coming up in a couple of weeks has me excited – like I said, I’m still doing the pre-production work and have a lot to put together, but the material I’ve written already is some of the best I’ve done for this podcast to date.

Something I’m struggling with at the moment is a lack of time, though. I’ve finished Gone, but haven’t picked a new book to read yet – so while I have plans for an episode or two in between Gone and the next book, I don’t know how all of that will work out yet. If I sit down and think about it, I likely have a lot of time to puzzle it out. I definitely want something planned to release so I don’t get caught with several weeks without a new episode again.

I’ve got a few notes and ideas for the next book and how to cover it a bit differently. Some of that will go into the final chapters of Gone; but for the most part you won’t see a change until the start of the next book.

Thanks for reading / listening. Let me know if you are listening to the podcast!

Categories
Life Podcasts

Self Reflection with the help of Podcasts

I listened to three podcast episodes recently that I thought were really good at sparking a line of thought for self reflection and/or improvement.  Two of them were from the same podcast, the third was a different one.  

Overthinking It – Episode 531 – You Are Not Worse Than You Are and Episode 532 – The Dragon Bookmark. 

Normally Overthinking it spends time picking apart popular culture, but for the weeks of September 3rd and 10th they didn’t deem popular culture worthy of being picked apart.  Episode 531 was all about self improvement, and the ideas inherent to those words themselves and other ways people go about trying to improve themselves.  532 was something else entirely – it was about the experience of being alone with your thoughts (to put it briefly).  

I really wish I wrote down what prompted me to start this post at the time that the thoughts came, but suffice it to say that I was very much engrossed in these episodes and figure that other people can get something out of them as well.  Even if you’re not focused on self improvement at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to engage in some self reflection.

The Hilarious World of Depression – Imposter Syndrome: True Tales, Tricks, and Tactics for When You’re Feeling Fraudulent.  I get this a lot – I feel like my efforts aren’t good enough at all when it comes to making things.  And it doesn’t even have to be in the creative realm – that was a revelation I heard while listening to this podcast.  Often times I believe myself to be less than what I am in other people’s presence.  

I remember being busy cooking while I was listening to this episode, so I might need to listen to it again when I’m less focused on another task.  But sometimes it is helpful just to hear that other people struggle in the same way that you do, so that’s the primary use behind this episode for me.

Bonus Podcast: I forgot about this one when I started working on this post.  Raise the Bar – Season 2 Episode 2 – One Kwe.  This was basically a long interview with the owner of One Kwe, Kathryn Corbiere.  She’s in the process of opening her own storefront soon on Manitoulin, and has had her work featured in many different places (most prominently, Manitoulin Brewing Company).  It was very refreshing & inspiring to hear her story.

Categories
Meta

Trying Something New

As I type this introduction to the blog post after typing the title, I realize that this should be the perfect post title to match with a life experience that I’m trying new for the first time to follow up my post about acting a couple of weeks ago.  Disappointingly, it’s not about that (for now, anyway).

Instead this is just a post about the blog itself and a head’s up for what I hope you will see happening in the next little while.

I’ve cleaned up the blog categories and separated everything into 4 broader headings: Media, Life, Sports, and Meta (which houses stupid self-referential things like this).  So if you come here and are only interested in one topic, you can click on the one that interests you most.  Why you would want to read the meta posts, I don’t really know.  But people like weird things on the Internet.  In fact, I bet there’s a niche out there for blog posts about blogs.

The other thing I’m trying to do is automatically import posts from my other blog(s) into this one.  I’ll know tomorrow if it works – I have it set to import a post from Alternative Airwaves tomorrow morning.  I’m crossing my fingers.

Anyway, that’s all for today.  Nothing insightful for you to read!

Categories
Goals writing

Plans, plans, more plans!

OK, so it’s been a week since I wrote publicly that I wanted to get back into writing on this blog (writing in general, really) and yet, this is the first time I’m writing.  If I was serious about it, wouldn’t I have written some posts by now?  Maybe some actual content, instead of posts about posts, like this one?

Don’t answer any of those questions, they’re rhetorical.  Yeah, I’ve dropped the ball already.  Thank goodness those weren’t resolutions, I dodged a bullet there.  I just came in from a walk with my puppy and as I did it without headphones lodged in my ears, I had the opportunity to do some thinking and some planning.  Naturally when I’m walking and without anything to write with is when I do the most thinking.

My pledge as I write this is to work on getting at least 6 weeks’ worth of blog posts written (or at the very least, mostly written).  Next, I’m going to turn Facebook sharing on, finally; I want people to read this, and the most views I’ve seen have come from when I shared a post or two on Facebook.

There are some reasons why I haven’t shared with Facebook up to now.  One is that I am I guess shy about sharing my work with people I know (which is stupid, since I’m perfectly fine sharing with strangers).  The other is that I feel like I’d be spamming my friends feed.  Also a stupid reason, since I barely post at all.  Sharing an extra 1-2 links every week isn’t going to hurt anything.

I am at least hoping that having more people read it on a regular basis will motivate me to keep searching for more things to write about and share.  Wish me luck!

Categories
Goals Life

2018: The Year to Come

Accompanying music: The Band: Greatest Hits

Of all the ways you could describe 2017, the best and most accurate way would be to say that it was a year on Earth.  I think that many other people seem to have been mostly negatively affected during the course of 2017, but for me it wasn’t anything special; nothing terrible, nothing overly fantastic either.  It was a year.

I expect much of the same for 2018, to be honest.  So that’s why I want to do something different.  Unfortunately my plan so far doesn’t extend much further than that.  I have a list of things I want to do, things to try, but beyond that I don’t have anything too specific that I want to work on.

I’ve had serious thoughts of stopping both this and my music blog; however I think I’m going to keep going.  It turns out that I enjoy the outlet for writing, even if some days (or weeks) it feels like I have nothing worthwhile to provide to the Internet.

It definitely helps to know if someone out there is reading, so please reach out and say hello.  If your comments mistakenly get flagged as spam let me know!  Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between real comments and spam comments.  I tend to trust WordPress when it tells me something is spam.

Anyway, my primary goal for 2018 is unchanging: managing my weight.  That part I’ve got down pretty well so far; in December my goal was to go from 264.8 to 260.8; my final weigh-in was 262.10, and I averaged 261.2 over 31 days.  So overall I’m pretty happy!

My goal is to drop another 2-4 pounds this month so I am fairly certain I’ll end the month under 260.

Beyond that, I will make an effort to write some more.  Some of my writing won’t be making it onto the blog, but that’s OK.  I’m tracking a few things here and there on my own, so it’s not necessary to show the Internet that “YES, SEE, I DID WRITE TODAY!”.

On a completely unrelated note, I decided on a whim this afternoon to listen to The Band’s Greatest Hits; I haven’t listened to their stuff in a long time.  If you haven’t ever listened to The Band before, or like me it’s been a while, do yourself a favour and listen.

Categories
Podcasts

Podcast Goals

If you’ve been reading any of my posts for the last little while, you probably know I’m really into Podcasts.  I host my own show, Alternative Airwaves, which is a quasi-monthly music podcast where I play Creative Commons songs exclusively.

Along with my friend Mike, I also co-host Futurama Pedia, which is a “release when we can” model; it’s tough to find time to record together, but when we do, we have a good time.

Beyond that, I’m always thinking in the back of my mind that I’d like to put a podcast together that requires less production time – I can just hit “record” and stitch it together.

Tonight (Monday, the 25th) I completely planned on recording a new episode of Alternative Airwaves; but to do that, I’d need to listen to several tracks (in my process, I usually listen to 15-20 songs per show, and only 12-15 make it), do some research about the artists, and then finally record.  After that, I need to put the show together, track-after-track.

I thought about it some more, and realized that I didn’t want to put in the effort to do it.  With that realization came the notion that I want to go back into turning it into a blog primarily, where it used to be both a blog and a podcast.

I have some thinking to do, about whether I even want to do that much (make it a blog).  It’ll essentially cost me nothing to keep it going minus the cost of renewing the domain name, I just need to put time into it.

Categories
writing

I’ve Had Enough of You, Yoast SEO

When I started this new blog in January, my number one goal – and today it’s still the number one goal – was to engage readers.  That hasn’t exactly happened.  But that’s okay, and I’m still working on it.

But one of the reasons I pushed forward and bought a domain name with a WordPress installation was because I kept getting told I needed to be able to use plugins!  And that I’d never get anywhere without a domain name!

Sadly, I think I was oversold on the domain name.  Nonetheless, one of the plugins that kept getting pushed over on Reddit’s blogging subreddit was “Yoast SEO”.  The long and short of it is that Yoast SEO is designed to help you craft your posts to optimize them for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

I’ve had enough of Yoast SEO intruding in my writing.

I’ve definitely noticed since activating the plugin that I’m changing the way I might traditionally write a post, and that my own personal voice is marginalized.  I don’t like it anymore, and tailoring my posts to perform well with search engines isn’t doing me any favours, anyway.

So I’m ditching it, officially.  Consider this a negative review, and not just a pat on my own back.

If you’ve never used it before, Yoast SEO prompts you for a keyword (apparently several keywords if you have premium) and scans your post for SEO efficiency, giving you a red, yellow, or green light based on what you’ve written.

You get more points for adding images, headings, etc.  Some of it makes sense to me.  But some of it absolutely doesn’t – and maybe that’s a fault of my not understanding SEO, but I can tell you with certainty that I don’t feel like searching for or creating a random image to insert just because it increases my Yoast rating.

I think this is just my personal use-case showing through here; I believe that for people with focused, niche-oriented blogs, Yoast SEO might in fact be extremely beneficial for them.  It’s just not for me.

If you’ve had better experience with Yoast, let me know in the comments!  I’d love to be proven wrong, and given a lesson or two on how to use it and avoid losing my writing voice.

Categories
Uncategorized

No post today…

In case you were sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for something from me, it’s not happening. Got too busy this week. But if you want some fresh content check out my podcast at www.alternativeairwaves.com!

Categories
Goals

2017 Goal Update

I’m not sure if this is a post people are looking forward to, but it’s something I need to do for myself.  This is a continuation of my first post back in January about my goals for 2017, which I followed up back in March for lack of better things to write about.  At this moment, I’m going to put my foot down and not come back to my goals until the end of the year.

Remain Organized

This feels like cheating to keep this on at this point, but I’m going to officially keep it on my list of goals for the year.  So far, so good.  I’m on page 43 of my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook and have over 200 to fill up.  I’m remembering to write things down as necessary.  Playing around with different ways of tracking things.  Things are going great!

Let me throw a wrinkle into this right now then.  I’m going to modify this goal to include details for this blog and my podcast hobby.  The blog is pretty well-organized, but the podcast is in shambles by comparison.

Be a positive Example

I’m doing well with this one.  I don’t think I’ve posted anything negative online anywhere, and if I have, it’s been constructive criticism.

Learn more about driving social media engagement

I’m learning, slowly.  One of the things I’m starting to get a hang of – finally – is the “Yoast SEO” plugin I use for this blog.  It helps me optimize my posts on the blog so that it can be found more easily by search engines.  I’m including that here in this category.

Write more

I give myself a passing grade on this, but just barely.  I’m writing consistently for the blog, I’ll grant that; but I don’t really feel like I’m doing anything…worthy.  That’s the best way I can think of to describe it.  In the back of my head, I keep thinking that I want to write some fiction but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Read more

This is the one place I’ve noticed a marked improvement.  I finally finished a book I was stuck on (The Mechcanical) and moved on to something else.  I’m making good progress with the book and hope to move on to a few other things.  If you include comic books/graphic novels, I’ve gotten through 7 this year.

Conclusion

To give myself a fair grade, I think C+ encompasses what I’ve done in the first 4 months of the year so far.  OK, let’s move on from self-reflection.

On Thursday: my monthly podcast update.  I’ve got a brief review of the latest hit show, S Town!

Categories
Goals

Update on 2017 Goals

Back in January, I set some goals for 2017 and thought that since we’re now three months into the year (and my birthday is this weekend), I should leave a little bit of a progress update. I didn’t intend to do this until April, but like I said – my birthday is this weekend so it felt like a good time to give the year a quick assessment.

Remain Organized

This is going pretty well, I think. At this point I’m not really worried about my level of organization – I just did a little bit of a purge of my work space at home, and my journal is updated mostly every day (weekends tend to be the exception, which I’m perfectly fine with). The fact that I’m concerned with making my journal look nice as opposed to keeping up to date with it tells me I’m fine here.

Be a positive example

This is probably going to be the toughest one to judge progress. I think I’m doing okay here. I haven’t done a lot of venting anywhere.

Lose the weight.

It’s going, and that’s about all I can say about it right now. I’ve written more about it recently though.

Learn more about driving social media engagement

Right now this is taking the form of figuring out “how to blog”, sort of. One step has been to buy a domain name.

Write more.

Middle grade on this one. Technically I am writing pretty frequently on the blog, but not feeling as productive as I feel I should be. Objectively though, I’m doing great.

Read more.

As overall progress goes, this is fine; however I’m still stuck on a book that I should be finished by now. I just haven’t been making much time for reading novels, but if you want to talk comic books I’m your guy!

In conclusion…

I think I’m plodding along quite well with my goals for the year. I’ve picked some pretty tough ones to assess, which means I think I should do a formal draft of the goals + measure of success for these. I’ll do that in April, when I originally intended to do a follow-up post.