Day: February 12, 2009

An experience in search of a metaphor

This week I’ve spoken to several people about the fact that I’m “running hot”, or maybe I just spoke to myself about it several times. Sometimes I get confused about that. But anyway, what I’m trying to communicate is that I’ve been running on high energy, accomplishing lots, and then fizzling out. The metaphor only sort of works. It doesn’t express the wideness of the experience. Perhaps it is more like the huge sails on the rigged ships of yore. In this state I have unfurled my sales in order to catch all of the available wind. It lets me travel very quickly, but the heavy wind also strains the mast and the rigging. If I keep my sails too wide, I risk doing damage to the ship itself. This one doesn’t quite work either. It does properly convey the images of failure, because when I stop working efficiently, it usually is not catastrophic. Perhaps instead it is like casting my nets wide to catch lots of fish. For awhile I can do it, but then the nets wear out and fishes start escaping through the holes. If I don’t take time to mend the nets, then I’ll end up with more holes than net. Only that is not quite it either.

When my focus is wide, I move fast. I process multiple streams of information. I track many trains of thought and manage them all. As an example, this morning I answered email, wrote a blog entry, put a new item into the store, arranged for printing of the email, and did the last touch of contact on a contract. I required two computers and 30 minutes to accomplish all of that. The tasks were all interlinked. The item in the store was part of the blog entry and required an email to a supplier. The contract contacting was also reflected in the blog post. It was very much like fast paced juggling. It is a high energy, adrenaline charged state, but I can not stay there for long because I become fatigued. Then instead of catching all those balls I keep turning around to discover that one bounced off the floor while I wasn’t looking and others are just gone. Did I throw them too hard? Did they roll off into the corner? I have no idea. Also with my brain opened wide for multi-track processing, I pick up a lot of noise. I accumulate piles of information, but am not able to process it. Quickly it all turns into a meaningless wash. This is when I have to deliberately step back, limit my inputs, and reconfigure my brain to be able to focus on a single thing instead of many things at once. Transitioning from one to the other is not easy. Particularly when being hyped on adrenaline leaves me cold and shaky. I managed it with a hot bath and a nap. Unfortunately I was awakened before I had completed the decompression process. Kids need stuff. Often.

But now I am ready to settle down and focus on one or two big tasks rather than a dozen small ones. The only problem being that I’ve run out of work hours. Now I’m into mommy hours. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep the focus until tomorrow morning so I can get the copy edits and footnote boxes put into Scrapyard.

Good things

It seems that February has been very good for many of my online friends. I know people who’ve landed deals for novels, people who are getting editorial letters, people who are having twins, people whose novels are selling really well, and people whose first ARCs have gone out. I also know some people for whom February has been truly sucktastic, but on the whole most of my friends seem bursting with good news. We here at the Tayler house fully intend to add to the good news side of the scale.

1. We signed the contract with our printer for The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. We’re due to deliver files to them by February 20th. This is past our hoped for Valentine’s finish date, but it is still awesome to be so close to being done. We’re also going to create slipcases which hold the first five Schlock Mercenary books. This means that we’ll be able to sell boxed sets. We’ll also be selling the boxes separately for folks who already have the books and want a shiny box to keep them in.

2. We have new posters in the store. These include a special edition print on translucent Cell paper which is beautiful. Also a new Rule 35 poster “That which does not kill me has made a tactical error”. We intend to make the rule posters available as 8 x 10 prints when we open book preordering.

3. Last Monday a very nice reporter for our local paper came and interviewed Howard for an hour or so. The result showed up on the front page of our local paper this morning. We now know which of our neighbors takes the paper because we can track who has emailed or called to congratulate us. You can read the article online. I’m in the article too.

4. This is the big one, and it is news that we’ve been sitting on since last August. Baen Books will be selling electronic versions of the first four Schlock Mercenary books. We hope to have these available in March. All of the cartoon archives will remain online, we’ll still be selling print books, but this opens up the e-reader market for Schlock Mercenary. It also provides a way for fans outside of North America to buy the books and bonus material without having to pay to ship paper across the ocean. We’re very excited to be working with the good folks at Baen. They’ve been marvelous to us.