Reading time: 8 minutes.
The Changelog – February 2023
There is a little trick I find helpful to get unstuck. Take the one thing you would like to do. Take the smallest related activity that you would consider a goal. Divide that effort by ten.
I wanted to actively come back to fiction writing for a long time, but I never managed to get myself to do anything in that regard. So this month, I followed my own advice and asked myself to write for 30 minutes three days a week. It is really nothing. But it worked, and I wrote the first 2000 words of fiction in a long time. Not much, but still 2000 more words than in the previous 13 months. And even if I continue with this laughable average, I will still have a complete novel in 1 year. Not bad for “getting unstuck.”
This month I struggled a lot with getting unstuck. Mainly because I felt that I was getting stuck all the time. The propulsive power of January was fading away before I really had a chance to gain momentum. Looking at my journal, there is more worrying about the possibility of getting stuck again than actual lack of movement. I guess it is something I should keep in mind.
But what if something cannot be broken into one-order-of-magnitude less scary things? This month I scrambled more than usual with social anxiety, and I felt the pressure of the lack of my agency. I would like to get unstuck there too, but at this time, I didn’t find a way to apply the “divide-by-ten” rule I can use to such a scenario. It will be something for the March backlog, I suppose.
I know. I am late with this release. But between 28th February and today I had to replace my kitchen and I didn’t had the time and strenght to click on the “publish” button.
Before we move on, some housekeeping.
First, the article I promised you on my new opinion on Mastodon is live. You can find it here. The summary is: “Mastodon didn’t get better, everything else got shittier — and then Mastodon got a bit better.
Second, I am experimenting with a lighter version of my blog hosted on Microblog. It is something in between a crappy Mastodon toot and a full post. You can find it here. (Or following the Micro button on the top of my homepage.)
This was a month with four books. A good average, I’d say, given all the other stuff going around.
1. “Sea of Tranquillity” by Emily St. John Mandel
I looked at this book because it was the “Goodreads Best Sci-Fi Book of 2022.” The problem is that it is not science fiction, not even close. And I despite 90% of the time travel trope. Books with time travel often become an incoherent mess. This book is no exception. It frustrated me, and I anguished every page of it.
But I know it is just me. Normal people do not suffer so much from a butchered temporal mechanic. So, maybe, you may find it enjoyable.
2. “Hyperfocus” by Chris Bailey
I am always uncomfortable with productivity books. I like them more when they focus on psychological insights because I consider them an expression of practical self-reflection of the mechanism of our psyche. I like them way less when they stress the “productive” side of things too much. This topic, though, would start another 2000 words article.
For now, let’s say that this sits in the middle. There are interesting bits of information that I liked. I agree with the importance and fragility of focused attention, but also on the importance of mindful unfocused attention. However, there are still too many of the standard “email/meetings/do a lot of stuff” things I tend to dislike. But Chris is a really nice guy, so I am biased on the positive side. :D
3. “Writing into the Dark” by Dean Wesley Smith
This month, I started writing again, so I wanted to give a shot at a book that proposes an approach to writing that I never really used: writing without plotting.
I started with some skepticism, but I am now more convinced. So, it is a good book. Not exceptional per se. After all, there is very little to explain in a book about not-outlining other than why the author thinks it is a good idea.
But, in the end, the book made me realize that rewriting and outlining was the primary process that killed most of my books. Some years ago, I wrote two books with very minimal outlining. Then I jumped on the rewriting/careful outlining wagon and… I didn’t write anything more. So, maybe is it true? Maybe writing into the dark works better for me, even if my rational mind is pro-outlining? It is worth a shot.
4. “La Matematica è Politica” by Chiara Valerio
This was a small Italian book whose title translates as “Mathematics is Politics.” The general idea was intriguing. However, I found this book very confusing. There are some good things, but they are scattered. It read as a partially-structured stream of consciousness, and more than once, I struggled to understand what the hell she was trying to say to me. Some parts are good. Some parts are a bit cringe. If I should give it a score, it would be a perfect 5 out of 10.
This month, not a lot went on in my watching department. As I said last month, only the coming of Star Trek: Picard could shake things up. ST: Picard always has been the most disappointing of the nu-trek. I constantly get excited at the beginning just to drown in a big “meh” at the end (and I am being optimistic).
This month I watched the only two released episodes, and so far, I am pretty happy. Finally, there is some space-action and some good men and women in silly suites giving questionable commands to gigantic spaceships!
I still wonder, though, if I would be disappointed at the end as usual. We would know this in April, I suppose.
Meanwhile, I am too much of a fanboy to critically do anything other than watch it. :D
The King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard not only have the record for the weirdest longest name I had to type over and over this month, but they are also the best band I have stumbled upon in the last year.
They are not new to me – if you remember, I already suggested Omnium Gatherum in the September 2022 issue – but they really grew on me over time. So this month, I decided to go all in on their vast backlog, culminating with this month’s album suggestion.
But let’s step back a bit.
The KGLW is a Psychedelic Rock band from Melbourne, Australia. And they are prolific. In their 13 years of activity, they have produced 26 studio albums and 15 official live albums.
The secret for so many albums is probably their commendable ability to explore different genres. While their main style is psychedelic/garage band rock, you can find great variety in their backlog. There are albums with a more electronic sound and some with a clear thrash metal sound (one of my favorites, btw). There is also a weird, narrated Western-themed concept album that, while considered subpar by many, is a perfect manifestation of KGWL’s ability to explore the musical landscape.
So, this month I bought their last Live: Live at Red Rock ‘22. The album features their three days concert, for a total of 86 tracks for 8 hours and 32 minutes.
Listening to this behemoth was a work project, a marathon, that kept me busy (well, it kept my stereo busy) for a significant part of February.
And I regret nothing.
That KGWL album absorbed a great deal of my capacity. Still, I managed to go over 37 full albums for a total of ~1245 tracks. As usual, here is the 5x5 collage of my most listened-to albums for the month.
And here it is this month playlist.
In February, I completed the last few hours of Disco Elysium and nothing more. I don’t have much to say this month, I’m sorry.
Other Interesting Things
- 📹 If it was for me, I’d recommend all of Dr. Hossenfelder’s videos every month. But I try to restrain myself so you get only the best. Like this fascinating explanation of waste energy-induced planetary heating.
A fitting shorter edition for a shorter month.
With Spring at the door, I cannot wait for the longer and warmer days (I said warmer, not the bloody scorching hell I already fear).
This year appears to be the Year of Change. A new car. A new kitchen. A new approach to my work. And more.
I am eager (and a bit scared) to see what March has in store.
If you want, we will discover it together in the next ChangeLog.
Until then, have a lovely month!
Header Photo by Tomas Tuma on Unsplash