Reality Check

So last week I blogged about how I was happy about being in Stockholm and not needing any more summer travel or plans.  Naturally a week later I find myself with a flight to London this coming week, and one to Croatia in two weeks.  I even attempted to book a day of flight this past week to Nice, France to attend a birthday party, but there weren’t any good flights left.

It’s one of the beautiful things about a nomadic life if you can structure things correctly.  I love the freedom to be able to do anything at anytime if I really want.  It can also be one of the secret downsides, as it can be very difficult to get focused work done.  It’s like bingeing on fine dining (literally sometimes too): you know each dish might be the last time you get to taste it, but someday in the future you’ll have to make up for it.

As I was brainstorming what I would discuss on here today something big hit me.  About a month ago I bragged about how I was going to pickup an old novel in progress and finish it no matter what.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen.  Those captivating first few chapters that I was delighted to realize were actually written by me?  By the time I got done editing and started writing where I left off in the middle, those beautiful chapters had long since faded.  I was back in the slog of aimless wandering, not sure where the story should go, and remembering the reasons why I abandoned it in the first place.  My main character, whom I was writing in first person (“I had the most exquisite bowl of quinoa at SweetGreens” vs “She had the most…”) was a little — boring.  I wanted to get into the heads of the other characters, show their POVs, but that would require a pretty big re-write, and I didn’t even know where the story was going or why.  I quietly and embarrassingly abandoned it again.

I did start writing more short stories, but I also didn’t yet follow through on my idea to start posting them on Amazon.  The step of getting an editor (not 100% necessary to post of course, but I don’t want my published work to not be polished out of laziness) and cover designer were just enough to keep me from remembering to do that.  With some very time sensitive crypto projects combined with travel/social life, my short story production has been reduced.

I thought of both of these things today, and I had to do an unplanned life checkup.  What am I doing on a daily basis, and what is the reality of where that is taking me vs where I want to go?  I do these things often on my birthday or around the new year, but I usually have a few wakeup calls per year to recalibrate.  For me the best way to work through these questions are writing them out in a journal.  I’m usually pretty tough on myself, so as I get older I try to be more objective about good things that I’m doing too.

Some of the good things:

  1. I started meditating almost every day for the past few weeks (15 minutes and I feel like I can increase that easily).  I might miss 1 day per week, but I’ve never sniffed that kind of consistency in the past.  I started reading this amazing (and intimidatingly through) book “The Mind Illuminated”  that finally made sense about the “why” for meditation to me.  Not just my normal hippy-dippy stuff, but real scientific and logical explanations of what is going on, how to improve, and why.
  2. My crypto work is strongly leading towards me making good money (fingers crossed).  It’s challenging and fun to work on these algorithms, but there’s a real monetary reward when it works.  If I want to do all of this fun stuff forever it doesn’t hurt to make money when there are good opportunities.

Some things I need to figure out:

  1. My diet could be better.  Much, much better.  Traveling and eating out is a culprit, but I wasn’t doing much better before I left Puerto Rico.  I can feel the effects of ice cream and too much sugar, and it’s not pleasant.  A few hours later/next day I forget, and repeat the process.  I don’t have the short term fix for this, but I think being conscious was an important first step.  When I get back to Puerto Rico I want to make cooking more fun; get a good knife, better gear, spices, etc.  I need a set of “go-to” meals as my friend Jeff calls them.  I really think that’s key.  Not having to think about breakfast and lunch everyday just knowing you have a few quick and healthy things you can whip up.
  2. My creative output.  When am I going to tackle a novel again?  I had an idea that I loved today, something that I imagine might work for me (and if it doesn’t that’s fine).  Instead of the standard 500-1000-2000 words per day, I want to go all-in on a first draft.  Get an Airbnb in a cheap and quiet place for two weeks, do some daily yoga/stretching, have a bunch of prepared meals, go for daily walks, and everything else is just writing.  Bang out the draft as fast as possible, and then come back  to civilization and comb over it at a moderate pace re-writing and editing.  This satisfies both my feeling that it’s ok to focus on other things now that are more time sensitive, but also that I will have a real plan to actually put in the 60 hours or so of writing time it takes to write a full novel first draft.  I have several periods in my year where this is fine, most likely in 1-2 months.
  3. Jeff also had an idea I really liked: doing a (coffee) travel show with my girlfriend in some of the different cities we visit.  She loved the idea too, and it’s something I think that could be fun even if it just ends up being a few Youtube videos we make.  The effort to make a good show won’t just happen, so I need to figure out how to plan this.  I’d reveal more, but it doesn’t feel right when listing all of the things I’m trying to do better on 🙂

Reading wise I’ve been continuing my reading of Crime genre classics.  I finished “The Killer Inside Me” which was the first time I read something that reminded me of American Psycho, one of my favorite books.  The show Dexter, and American Psycho feel heavily influenced from “The Killer Inside Me” which pre-dated them by a long time.  Again I was surprised at how relevant the ideas were, how little human thinking has changed.  Lots of great prose and deep philosophical thoughts, interspersed with some intense killing.

With that I’ll leave you with a pic from Sörmlandsleden, a great place for a hike if you have a few days in Stockholm.

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