Monday, February 9, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Temple of "Oops!"

My husband and I have a video game tradition. He plays, I watch and kibitz. And, strangely enough, we both enjoy it. Most of the time.

I offer helpful hints -- "Stop letting them beat you up", "If only you could aim your guns, you'd kill more bad guys and still have ammo", and "No, go that way, the other that way, the way you need to go" being merely three of my standards.

I also spot the things he misses -- 50% of the game -- and read the walkthroughs that we almost always have to find and have with us in order to complete any game. Even the games rated E for "easy". Even on the easy levels of the E-for-easy games.

Tonight's particular challenge (I say 'tonight' but we've been playing it for over a week straight already) is "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb", an older PS2 game we got this Christmas, because we're totally cutting edge in all things. And, the game may be older, but boy, is it eating our lunch. Well, not my lunch. My reading aloud abilities are just fine, as are my snide commenting skills and my ability to confuse by thinking there's "something in the corner" when, there is, in fact, nothing in the corner but corner. No, it's my husband's skills that are being put to the test.

There's a lot of jumping in this game. And the need for a lot of shooting. Neither of which appear to be my husband's particular video game specialities. He's all over the walking slowly parts of the game, but the jumping so as to land safely parts, not as much. Same with the shooting. He's missing with a machine gun. Many times when the bad guys are standing right in front of him. He likes to have Indy spin around and shoot at...nothing. I guess it makes it more of a challenge.

In real life, my husband's a very good shot. In video game life, he's a rank amateur. But he's better at the shooting than at the jumping. With the jumping, he's perfected saying, "I meant to do that," when he falls into the water (at least you take no damage...unless the sharks and/or crocodiles are still alive) or onto the hard ground (where you either take a ton of damage or die, depending). He's meant to get soaked and killed a lot.

But, you know, it's entertaining. Oh, sure, some of that entertainment lies in how cleverly I can find euphemisms for "you suck at this, don't you?" but still, it's fun that goes on and on and on.

At the rate we're falling down and dying, we'll be playing this game, and only this game, until next Christmas. And you just can't put a dollar value on that kind of long-lasting and cheap (when you compare money spent against the hours played) entertainment. Though my husband tries because at least that way, even if we lose at the game all the time, we still win.

I figure that, dying all the time or not, repeating the same sections over and over again or not, and taking months to finish what others did in a few days or not, the game's still better than "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

600 Days

At the end of January I reached a milestone. I hit 600 Days with Club 100.

What's Club 100, you ask? It's a commitment group, started by a romance writer, where you make a commitment to write 100 words a day for 100 days. If you miss a day, you have to start back the next day on Day 1 -- even if you missed a day on Day 99.

My first few attempts at Club 100 were abject failures. My daughter was in speech & debate in HS and I was a speech mom and every other weekend I was judging for an entire Saturday (up before dawn, in bed well past setting sun) and spent all Sunday recouperating. And I work full time and had other things going on as well. I'd crash and burn, despite all efforts. But I kept on starting back at Day 1 and persevering.

Finally, I realized I needed to give myself blackout and floater days -- blackouts were days I just didn't expect to write (Christmas, as an example), and needed to be planned ahead. Floaters meant I got (in my case) 2 days a week where if I just couldn't write, well then, I didn't and it counted as a floater. Voila! I was in business, and able to actually get past 14 days (my prior record after about 6 attempts) that way.

Because I joined Club 100 with two completed novels, one finished novella, and a variety of short stories, I needed to do more than just write and fortunately the rules are clear -- you set up your goals before you start and can't change them until you hit 100 or crash out and begin again.

I set up my goals for this go-round (and all subsequent ones) to include things that moved my writing career forward. So, for any one day, if I did one of the following, I met my Club 100 goal -- writing 100 words or more in any WIP; editing at least 20 pages of a WIP or one short story; in-depth research (among others, I write historicals); writing one query letter to an agent; one submission of a short story or query sent to an agent; in-depth beta/crit feedback; agent research of more than 30 minutes; or one crafted blog (my blogs support my pen names, so have to be in voice and also be relevant, versus stream-of-consciousness). I found that rarely did I only do one of these per day; some days I did all of them, because doing one put me on a roll for doing more.

For my first time hitting 100 days, I counted my floaters and blackouts. I made it about 114 days, if I recall, and then went on vacation and stopped. Back from vacation, I started again -- this time, not allowing myself to count any day I didn't write in my total (ergo, if I wrote on Sunday/Day 12, floated on Monday, and wrote on Tuesday, Tuesday was Day 13). Somewhere along in this next set of 100 days, the real habit kicked in. For the majority of these past 600 days, while I *could* still take a floater or blackout day, I haven't. It's become a massive point of pride to keep my days going without a break. Yes, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, amazingly, even the day I had surgery.

At Day 400 I added in working on my website or business-related activities as legitimate Club 100 marks, as well as speaking engagements, agent consultations, and conference attendance. Why?

Because in this time, I sold my first humor pieces, got an agent, sold my first two-book deal, sold some other shorts, and have a variety of novels being shopped by said agent, and more. And, as far as I'm concerned, I owe it all to Club 100. It helps that there are others there, doing the same thing, logging in their 100+ words a day, hitting their goals, or missing and starting over, again and again. Proves you're not alone and gives you others to run with.

I still mark down what I do in the same little red book I started with. If I don't mark it down daily, I won't do it. After all this time, I still need to have that book sitting on my desk, reminding me that I haven't done anything to forward my writing career today. I doubt that I'll ever stop doing Club 100. My goal now is 700 days, and then 800, and so on. 100 days at a time :-D.

I firmly believe that this is the simplest and best thing anyone can do for their writing career. And I KNOW that if I can do it, you ALL can do it. For writing or whatever else you want to do and do well.

So, you know...why not do it?
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