A Random Stack of Stuff

30 October 2013 · 9 comments

In a sad state of affairs, I managed to lock myself out of my own blog for a couple of weeks. For whatever reason, this site gets hammered by hackers. I took some security precautions to make things more difficult for them. As a side effect, I made them more difficult for myself. I couldn’t figure out how to log in!

I’m back now, though, with a stack of random stuff.


In the olden days, I would use a horizontal rule to separate sections of my posts. Will that still work? I’m experimenting to find out!


The condo is cold.

Both the thermostat and the stand-alone weather station say that it’s 68 degrees (20 degrees centigrade), which is supposed to be a comfortable room temperature, but my fingers and nose and toes are cold. My coffee is cold. I need a hot bath. Something tells me I’m not ready for winter. (And something else tells me it’s time to turn up the thermostat!)


I have a tendency to take on too much. Every opportunity sounds great, so I eagerly accept. It’s taken me years to tame this urge.

Kim has been encouraging me to reduce the quantity of things I’m involved with so that I can focus more on the quality. That’s a fine philosophy. She thinks I should take on no more than three major projects at a time, and she thinks it would be better if I kept it to two. Or one. I’ve been doing that for the past couple of months, and it’s working great. I’m able to do each of the things I choose to do with greater intensity.

(Kris’s response to this: “Ha! I wish you luck at narrowing down your activities. Kim is a good influence, it seems, and helps you control some of your self-destructive tendencies.” Who knew I had self-destructive tendencies?)

Even with this narrowed focus, I’m not getting everything done that I want.

Two weeks ago, I spent several days in St. Louis for Fincon, the Financial Blogger Conference. (This conference is about much more than blogging these days, though.)

I didn’t speak at Fincon this year. Instead, I volunteered to be emcee. I’ve decided that I’m done being scared to speak on stage, and I want to get better. I asked Philip, the conference organizer, if he’d like some help, and he said yes. So, I introduced speakers and made announcements from the main stage. It was fun!

But that week in St. Louis took time from my biggest project at the moment — producing a book about personal and financial independence. In theory, this is an ebook. And, in theory, the manuscript is due on Friday. It’s still possible I’ll meet that deadline, but more and more I suspect I’m going to need another week to finish.

On some levels, this delay is frustrating. It’s very important to me to meet my obligations to my “publisher”. At the same time, I’ve realized that this book could be a legacy project for me. In fact, I consider it my life’s work. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve been reading and writing and thinking about for the past decade. I have high hopes it could help many other people.

So, missing my deadline: bad — but not the end of the world.


Next year, I’m going to try something really different.

I hate deadlines. I’ve decided that next year will be the “year without deadlines”. I’m not going to take on any big projects with drop-dead due dates.

I have a couple of regular ongoing gigs that are time-sensitive, such as my column at Get Rich Slowly, but I won’t add any new deadlines, and I’ll try to minimize the effects of the deadlines I already have to deal with.


What I really want to do next year is turn my attention to fiction.

Before I stumbled into a career as a professional blogger, I wanted to write short stories. I took writing classes at local colleges, and participated in a monthly writing group. I loved it.

When Kim moved in last July, I was forced to sort through boxes of my old papers. As part of that process, I found some of my old stories. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Not to be conceited, but at times I’m a damn fine writer!

Starting in January, I’m going to take another fiction writing class — my first one in a decade. My goal for 2014 is to write a novel, believe it or not, something I never thought I’d do.

I used to think I couldn’t tell a story. Now I know that’s not true. I can tell stories, and I can make them compelling. I just can’t do it out loud. My ADHD causes me to jump all over the place, which makes my stories incoherent. But on paper — or in pixels — I can edit myself. I can carefully craft the arc and flow of a story. I can tweak words and sentences until they’re just right.


Last night, I had the most hilarious nightmare.

The world was devastated by nuclear war. Cats, which had developed speech due to radioactive fallout, were Earth’s only hope of salvation, but they couldn’t be bothered. We’d prod and prod the brightest cats to take decisive action, but they’d only glower at us, lick their paws, and go back to sleep.

If our future depends on cats, we are doomed.

1 Kate October 30, 2013 at 08:30

If your nightmare becomes the plot of your novel, I’ve already reserved my copy.

Your blogs are both so inspiring. Keep up the great work

2 PawPrint October 30, 2013 at 12:17

Taking my cat for radioactive iodine treatment on Monday–maybe she’ll be able to talk when she comes home! On second thought, without speech she communicates well enough for us to do her bidding so I’m not sure I want to hear what she’d have to say.

Glad you’re back.

3 Christy October 30, 2013 at 15:57

J.D,
As you live in Portland, I recommend that you take any writing class that you can from Kim Stafford. He teaches at Lewis and Clark College. The classes I have taken from him have focused on non-fiction and he is one of the best teachers that I have ever come across.

4 Caelan Huntress November 5, 2013 at 08:18

Also check out Eric Witchey. He might still be in Salem, but his fiction classes are just…beyond good.

5 Tina in NJ October 31, 2013 at 05:08

Love the nuclear cat nightmare. It might make a cute story, but not much action. Getting locked out of your computer account, that has some possibilities. You know how all the heros seem to be rich? How about a frugal rich guy?

6 Mick Wade November 5, 2013 at 04:45

Congratulations JD! You will enjoy tackling fiction, especially because you have already mastered so many of the typical obstacles to creating. Have fun!

7 Caelan Huntress November 5, 2013 at 08:20

Welcome back, JD!

If 2014 is the year of the novel, check out NaNoWriMo. You can spend 10 months preparing (or procrastinating) and November 2014 can be your buckle-down time to write the entire first draft.

8 Aime November 5, 2013 at 11:42

Welcome Back! we missed you!, I can’t wait for your Novel, meanwhile you can tell us more about the Radio-Cat Story ;)

I will follow Kim’s wise advice of taking two or one big projects by month… Hope it works for me too.. Say Hi! to Kim by the way… she should blog too! she sounds Fun! :)
If you take your writing class, we hope you post your essays so we can enjoy them ;) Have Fun!

9 AnnW November 13, 2013 at 16:34

Joyce Maynard, the essayist and novelist holds writing seminars around the country. You might not know it, but Joyce was the young lady who left Yale to live with JD Salinger. Her big seminar is a week in Guatemala every year on Lake Atilan. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time. Maybe 2015, because the beginning of 2014 is pretty busy for us. I’d buy your book, both of them in fact. Ann

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