Making things happen in 2016

January 1, 2016 in Blogging, Freelance, Misc

2016

I’m writing this post as we count down the minutes to 2016.

2015 has been an interesting and somewhat tumultuous year for me, with the usual ups and downs but with higher than usual highs and lower than usual lows.

As usual, I started off the year with big ambitions, though it didn’t take long before I sunk back into laziness and getting sidetracked by excuses. The first three-quarters of the year was not particularly eventful. I sleepwalked through my job, stayed fit for the most part, did some reading and not as much writing as I wanted to. I watched TV shows, loads of movies, and spent a lot of time with the family and the kids. I was content with my situation but not content with my usual lack of motivation to move forward. The most eventful change was probably the decision to switch my movie reviews to http://spoilerfreereviews.pacejmiller.com/.

And then, as often is the case, life threw me a curve ball. The website where I had worked for nearly four years suddenly got shut down, and I had a big decision to make: to be transferred to a group like everyone else, or venture out on my own to be a full-time freelancer. I chose the latter. In many ways, the decision was made for me because the powers that be were so incompetent that I lost all faith in the promises they were making about the transition. As far as I know, those suspicions turned into reality.

Around the same time, family things — like death and health problems to loved ones — put my life in a bit of a tailspin, and for the first time in a very long time I fell into a mini-depression, albeit one I knew was temporary.

Once the smoke cleared, things started to turn around, and I haven’t looked back. When bad things happen it puts things in perspective, and the last couple of months have been super busy but also really fantastic. I feel like I’ve finally found the passion for my work again because I actually care about what I’m doing. The amount of effort I put into my work actually affects my income, which hasn’t been the case for years.

Business as a freelancer has been surprisingly good right from the get-go — perhaps a little too good because I haven’t found time to write at all — but obviously I shouldn’t complain. I’m looking forward to staying busy in a spectacular 2016 — settling into a routine, growing more efficient, reading every day, writing every day, getting back into fitness, watching a lot of awesome movies and TV shows, and spending plenty of time with my family.

That’s all for now. I’m going to let my actions do the talking.

Happy New Year!!!

Treating every day as a challenge

August 4, 2014 in Blogging, On Writing

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Is it August already? Hory shet. Time has flown, again. And so I go back to feeling ashamed about how few steps I have taken towards achieving my writing goals.

But I think I have figured it out

My problem has always been — apart from laziness, procrastination and too many distractions — has been the steadfast belief that I have the power to just put my foot down and say, “That’s it, from now on I am going to be a writing machine, every day until I accomplish my goal.” I would plan ahead and tell myself that I would start powering through at X date, or as soon as I finish X.

Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan. There’s always something else. And so I keep postponing, and postponing. On paper, some of the reasons are legitimate. I might get sick, slashing my productivity at work in half and squeezing dry any free time I otherwise would have had. A child might get sick, in which case my energy levels drop to near-empty and I can barely even think. I might get a new freelance case that gobbles up both time and energy. Paul George might break his leg and plunge me into a mini-depression for a few days.

The line between reason and excuse, however, is perilously thin and often blurry. I’ve postponed writing because I needed to watch a movie or listen to a Grantland podcast. Because there were new levels available in Candy Crush or Plants vs Zombies 2 that had to be conquered ASAP. Because someone recommended me a new game on the iOS. And my fall-back excuse: I still have blog posts I need to catch up on.

I compare this to my constant thirst to begin a healthier diet, which may prove even more difficult. Last week, the excuse was because my parents bought us a few tubs of gelato. This week it’s the honey mustard pretzel pieces. And yesterday I bought some addictive Japanese sour grape gummies. OK, so that last one’s legit, because it’s impossible to stop once you start eating them.

I digress.

Anyway, what I should have realized long ago is that when you have something you want to do, you just need to do it. This “start when I’m fully ready” thing never works because I’ll never be fully ready. I don’t think anyone is ever fully ready for anything. From now on, I’m going to treat every day as a challenge. A challenge to get as much writing done as I can. It could be work-related, blog-related or one of my writing projects. Doesn’t matter, as long as I challenge myself to get the most out of the day. Sometimes I’ll have off days and struggle, but the goal will always be the same. No more looking into the future and no more pointless planning.

I guess we’ll see how this new strategy goes.

Goodbye 2013, there’s gonna be some changes around here

December 31, 2013 in Best Of, Blogging, Misc

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True story: I didn’t even know that it’s New Year’s Eve today until someone asked me what my plans were for tonight. Such is the cloudy mist of routine, exhaustion and apathy that surrounds me these days when it comes to figuring out what is happening outside the bubble of my existence. It felt like yesterday when I said goodbye to 2012 and ushered in an endless list of things I want to accomplish for the upcoming 12 months. And just like that, 2013 is now about to be over!

It’s been a strange year, to say the least. Up at the top of the list is the welcoming of my second child, the absolute highlight of 2013. It’s a different experience when you have a second one. In some ways you care less, and in other ways you care more. I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with a healthy boy, a very good boy, one who shits on the notion that “having one child is like having one child, having two children is like having 10.” On the other hand, his elder brother is growing to be quite the handful, so I suppose things even themselves out.

Family has been a gift this year and through all the trials and tribulations I’ve come to appreciate them more than ever, even when my parents are doing their best impressions of Frank and Estelle Costanza.

You know, it’s interesting. Whenever I used to think about who I would step in front of a bus for, there were always people I’d say “yes” for, though there would always be a question in the back of my mind as to whether, when push came to shove, I’d really be able to go through with it. When it comes to my kids, however, it’s a resolute and unequivocal yes. Not even a hint of hesitation. I guess that’s what unconditional love feels like.

While I miss my dear Sydney friends, many of whom I was lucky enough to catch up with during my most recent visit, the friends I have made in Taiwan have been awesome and play another part in my comfortable existence here, complete with regular movies, all the latest TV shows, the occasional book (btw, I smashed my goal of 20 books this year by going for 23), every Pacers game (yay!), and lots of great food and exercise. Oh, and evidently, blogging. But as I have said many times this year, comfort has been a double-edged sword that has sapped me of my career motivations.

That’s where I have to make some changes, man, for 2014. For real. Time to ramp things up and cast aside the distractions. And to be fair, a lot of my distractions are distractions because I allow them to be. That’s it! I’m clearing the plate and licking my chops. Next year, writing MUST be at the forefront of my priorities. Books must be completed. Screenplays must be attempted. Stuff needs to get done.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Now go and enjoy your 2014.

Back in the mix — where my stats at?

December 15, 2013 in Blogging, Misc

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So I’m finally back after a month, the longest hiatus this blog has experienced since its inception in 2009. It’s a long story, but basically I took on a crippling freelance gig that sapped me dry for a week and then I immediately left for a three-week trip back to Sydney with two kids under two, where every single day was packed to the shithouse with activities and catch-ups.

But now I’ve returned to work, where I will do my best to start doing some serious catching up on this blog before the end of the year. At the top of the list is my best and worst movie lists of 2012 (that’s not a typo, I am indeed referring to last year), which shall be done , I swear, shortly. I’ve probably got one or two movies left to watch and I’m ignoring everything else left in the backlog. Rest assured, my lists for 2013 will (probably) follow immediately because I’ve been pretty up to date with those, though the arrival of a second child has made it nearly impossible to watch any recent movies that ought to be considered. Thor 2 has unfortunately already left my local screens and The Hunger Games 2 is in danger of following its footsteps, and I still have no idea how I will ever get to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I’m in pain, I tell ya.

One other interesting piece of news to report is that it appears readers have abandoned this blog completely, so I don’t even know why I am typing up new posts. My average daily blog hits already more than halved after I moved from WordPress.com to my own domain a couple of years ago, but from the start of this month the hits suddenly plummeted from 300-600 a day to less than 5(!). I have no explanation for the drop off other than inactivity, though two weeks appears to be a ridiculously short period of time for a blog to experience something like this, considering most of my regular hits were coming from very old posts anyway. I’m going to start posting regularly again to see if anything changes, but either way it won’t stop me from blogging. It’s pretty tragic that the blog has dropped from heights of nearly 10,000 hits in a single day to a single hit (so far) today.

[Update: Well, as it turned out it was a coding problem, and it has now been fixed, thanks to the technicians at Stiteground, who were very helpful and efficient. Tell your friends! The website is working again!]

That said, blogging is going to start sliding back in my priorities list a little bit in the future as I begin to shift my focus towards, at last, my novel(s) and screenplay(s). I’ve pretty much wasted this year on that front and I can’t waste another one with the shot clock winding down on my cruisy work days. It’s just gotta be done.

Giddy up!

Update on Everything

October 22, 2009 in Blogging, On Writing

Writing and Blogging

As you may have noticed, blogging has become a scarce occurrence these days, thanks to the life and time-draining thing I do called work.  This week things have gotten busy (and I’m not sure if on a temporary or permanent basis) and I’ve had to endure the (surprisingly good) after-hour meals every day this week.  This effectively means that the time I have to write (on stuff non-work related) has dwindled down to practically zero.  Depressing, I know, but what can you do?

My other blog, Pacers Pulse, has recently been moved to WordPress, so hopefully I’ll be able to recommence blogging on that again soon, especially with the upcoming NBA season about to kick off shortly.

However, there are two pieces of information that I am glad to talk about.  First, I have enrolled into a part-time course in editing and publishing next year.  It’s one night a week for the first semester and two nights a week for the second.  Very excited about that and hopefully it will lead to some opportunities down the track in a field I actually have some interest in.  Secondly, I found out yesterday that a guy at work is the grandson of a famous Australian writer – one of those guys that set out to achieve his dreams of becoming a writer against all odds and got there through sheer hard work and perseverance.  Very cool. 

Oh yeah, and my blog recently broke through the 100,000 hits barrier!  Woo hoo!

Reading

I am still reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, recommended to me by theninthdragonking.  It’s taking a while to finish because the only time I get to read it is on the train to work (and sometimes from work if I’m not catching a firm-paid cab home), but it’s a ripper of a book.  I’m up to the ‘final revelation’ climax and it kills me when I have to stop reading (makes me wish the train ride was longer!).  I promise a glowing review is coming shortly.

 A friend recently sent me Gandhi’s autobiography, so I guess that’s up next!

Movies

Couples Retreat, Astro Boy and The Final Destination (3D) – I haven’t been watching a lot of good movies lately.  Not sure if the movie I want to see next, Saw VI, can reverse that trend.

In any case, a friend of mine is encouraging me to write to the film publicity companies and ask to be put on their invite lists for previews.  Apparently it works, so I’ll have to give it a try!