“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”
Oscar Wilde

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

the fragility of afternoon writing time
Thu 2016-01-07 23:35:09 (single post)
  • 1,904 wds. long

I've finally realized: On roller derby evenings, my afternoon shift is really fragile. Yesterday I lost it because of a sudden attack of the sleepies that, honestly, I should have just pushed through--writing, like skating, makes me feel better, if only I can exert myself to beat the inertia. Today? Doctor's appointment. Which always takes longer than expected on both sides of the scheduled appointment time, especially if you're chasing down a prescription and some equipment afterwards that turn out to be out of stock. So then you go make groceries instead. And then it's already 4:00 and you planned to leave for derby at 5:30 and you really, really need some downtime in between...

The doctor's appointment was interesting. Seems around this time last year, out of seemingly nowhere, I started exhibiting freakishly high blood pressure on a consistent basis. Like, Stage 2 Hypertension high. I kept hoping it was just a hiccup and things would return to normal, but after Tuesday morning's dentist appointment got me a reading of something-or-other over 104, I made an appointment to discuss it with a doctor.

The long and the short of it is, I'm going to have to start taking blood pressure medication at the ripe old age of 39. Seriously. Despite my exceedingly active, moderate-drinking, non-smoking lifestyle, my perfectly acceptable blood cholesterol and thyroid numbers, and goodness knows I've never really had cause to worry about my weight despite what the BMI says ("Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI Is Bogus," NPR.org)--well, just goes to show, you can do most everything right and still draw an unlucky lottery ticket. But that's a lesson I should already have learned from my experience with leukemia at age 11, right?

But there's a silver lining here! When I mentioned "self-diagnosed Raynuad's Disease" to the doctor (and we discussed that a little bit, like how often does it happen, how severe is it, etc.), she brightened up and said, "One of the blood pressure medications I could prescribe you also happen to treat Raynaud's! What do you think?" I think it's a low priority, but if it's that easy to roll the two issues into a single solution, hey, let's do it. I could sure do with fewer 7-finger days in the winter, that's for sure.

Anyway, after some deep conversation with the doctor, an EKG reading (also perfectly normal), instructions to make an appointment for an echocardiogram just to make sure, I left the doctor's office at about 2:45 and pointed my car toward my usual pharmacy. Only to find the medication wasn't actually in stock yet--"Come back tomorrow after 1:00 PM"--and neither was an automatic arm-band style blood pressure monitor of an approved brand--"You might just have to try the Safeways and the Walgreens and that"--and so I lost another 45 minutes of afternoon shift to futile attempts to run these doctor's-orders errands. And then, like I said, I went to the grocery.

I'm glad I decided to rest and eat dinner rather than work and snack, though, because roller derby practice consisted of a special clinic led by a D1-level skater and then a scrimmage that beat us all up some good. Also last night's squat workout came back to haunt me. I'm sore and tired and this hot bath with epsom salts plus optional beer is really awesome.

Again, I'll get a little bit of work in on the short story. Just not the two hours I wanted to log. Last night, after posting to the blog, I spent about a half hour just reading through it--which means I didn't just read through it, but instead tweaked sentences here and there. Weird thing about my revision avoidance issues: if I can only convince myself to open up the manuscript and "just start reading," I'll find myself unable to resist doing at least a little revision. So tonight I suppose I'll pick up where I left off.

And tomorrow I have nowhere to be in the evening, except maybe in a holiday party on Puzzle Pirates.

a seven-finger and afternoon nap kind of day
Wed 2016-01-06 23:17:53 (single post)
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It's cold out there. It's a 7-finger day. By that, I mean that it's so cold that by the time I got where was driving to, seven of my fingertips had turned pale and numb thanks to something called Raynaud's Disease or, colloquially, "being allergic to the cold." Calling it a "disease" makes it sound worse than it is; it's mostly just annoying. Main problem tonight was, with so many fingertips affected, I couldn't start typing comfortably until I'd clutched my Irish coffee long enough to warm up again.

The drive tonight was from roller derby practice to Boulder's legendary late-night burger establishment, the Dark Horse. They serve delicious food, quite decent drinks, and--this was new to me--they now have wi-fi. So I thought I'd get the blogging done while it was still technically Wednesday.

Today didn't go quite as well as yesterday. For one thing, without something like that dentist appointment to get me out of bed early, I wasn't up and moving until about 9:30 AM. I rationalized that this was fine, I was a tired athlete who'd stayed up until 1:00 AM the night before and really needed her sleep. And it still would have been fine if--and this is the second thing--I had managed to get my afternoon shift done, rather than collapsing into an afternoon nap. I guess I needed it; my eyes started burning and squinting, and it began to be actively painful to remain upright.

I am not dismissing the possibility that this was a physical manifestation of avoidance. My next task was short story revision, and I have pathological avoidance issues around short story revision. But it's very likely that last night's roller derby practice was a factor, too. Tonight's as well. Both travel teams' coaches are serious about conditioning, which means lots of cardio and strength training and metabolic workouts and off-skates exercises and endurance til you puke. (Metaphorically. My body doesn't tend to do the puke reaction to extreme exertion. Instead it just decides to stop bothering with other functions, like swallowing and breathing.) And, lest you think being married to the All Stars coach is somehow an advantage--it's not. It just means he tries to get me to do conditioning workouts at home, too.

It's going to take me a few weeks to adjust to this level of activity, is what I'm saying. And there are things I'm going to have to change about the rest of my life--I can't both stay up until 1:00 AM and get up at 7:45 AM every day, for instance. At least I've got a solid scheduling plan for getting the daily writing done, even if some days I don't quite implement it.

Anyway, the result is I'm trying to get my "afternoon shift" done now, between 10 PM and 1 AM after practice. And because I know I have a tendency to just say "eff it, I'm going to bed" after roller derby practice, I took myself out where bed wouldn't be a temptation. Hence the trip to the Dark Horse. Besides, it was a convenient way to make sure I got some protein down me. Kind of important after the kind of workout I've had.

I don't know I'll get my full five hours in today, but I will get SOME work on the short story in after I post this. If all I do is reread it (for the first time in two weeks) and decide what the next concrete task is, that'll let me close down the day with a sense of accomplishment.

This fictionette's cover art is brought to you by NASA! And also some clip-art from Wikimedia Commons.
this fictionette is going to town
Tue 2015-12-29 00:05:34 (single post)
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Again, apologies for the belated Christmas Fictionette. Well, it's not really anything to do with Christmas. It's set more in the fall, I think, round about harvest time, though I've just realized there's a tiny, insignificant, yet unsightly plot hole concerning this detail. There is an impending birth, and I suppose it's technically a virgin birth, but that's just a coincidence of species. In any case, no midwinter festivals were harmed in the making of this fictionette, which is called "Premature Labor."

This brings my first full year of Friday Fictionettes to a close. New Year's Day will be the first Friday in 2016, and I intend to begin another full year of 'em at that time. (That fictionette probably won't have anything intentional to do with its holiday, either.) It's not that I find the sheer number of Patrons a compelling case for continuing the Patreon campaign. But I do continue to find value in the weekly routine. It's good for my work ethic. It's good exercise for my writing muscles. And it's just plain good fun. So! Roll on 2016, with another 52 fictionettes in store.

The visit home continues at a leisurely, unpressured pace. I thought I might head into the city over the weekend, but in fact I never quite crossed the parish line until today, when I took my freewriting and my fictionette work over to Rue de la Course. This was followed by lunch at Pho Bistreaux (shrimp spring rolls and Vinh's special) and a little window-shopping up and down Oak Street.

That doesn't mean I didn't get out of the house all weekend. Did some biking Saturday (and had the Pasta Carmella at Bistro Orleans). Skated over to Bucktown on Sunday (and wound up watching part of that very enjoyable Saints game at Melius Bar over a couple of Abitas and a chili cheese hot-dog).

Tomorrow all depends. If my cousin and her family wind up doing fun things in town, I may wind up tagging along. If not, I'll probably end up combining the skating thing with the writing at a public establishment thing, as it's the last day of my trip that's forecast to be at all dry and sunny, or at least dry and overcast. In any case, it would be a shame to waste it indoors.

I am a little uncomfortable that the best CC-licensed photo I could find of a boxcar interior was of a boxcar that was actually used to haul prisoners to concentration camps in WWII. Absolutely nothing on that scale of horror is going on in here.
the future's so fast i gotta wear skates
Sat 2015-11-14 00:00:04 (single post)
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It's Friday, so I've got a fictionette for y'all. "Future's So Bright," in which the curse of psychic powers messes with one's social life and also one's optical prescription, is available in both ebook and audiobook form for those who wish to chuck a buck or three at the Friday Fictionettes project. The usual excerpt is also available--try before you buy! Patrons get access to a brand new one of these things every first through fourth Friday; everyone else gets one of 'em on the last day of each month. Any of the links in this paragraph will take you to a page where you can subscribe if you so desire.

I discovered this week that it's a lot easier to get a Friday Fictionette up on time if I've been faithfully putting in my 25 minutes a day on it every single day. The fictionette itself was drafted by Tuesday, the cover art done on Wednesday, the draft polished up on Thursday, and the MP3 and PDF produced on Friday along with the usual excerpts.

NaNoWriMo is also easier to accomplish if I put in my scheduled time each time a scheduled time comes round. Unfortunately, I slipped up a bit with it this week. Once again, I've been moving slowly through my days, leaving too much to do for the evenings when I have no energy to do them. So I didn't move the novel's word count at all yesterday, and have only made it through about a thousand words so far today.

It is unlikely that I will make significant progress tomorrow, as I will be in Castle Rock all day participating in that league's annual Fall Down Mix-Up rolller derby tournament. But I will bring my backpack with its usual contents, and if there is time between bouts I might jot down a few sentences. A non-zero amount of words is winning the day!

Matter of fact, I was working on NaNoWriMo at my very first roller derby experience. I was sitting in the audience at the 2011 championships, laptop open and accumulating words during halftime. It'll be just like old times, y'all.

Now, considering that I'll need to leave Boulder at 7:30 in order to get to the Fairgrounds by 9:00, I should probably wrap this up and go to bed. Enjoy your weekend, and if you're around, come watch us skate in Castle Rock tomorrow!

factors in a personal productivity revolution
Thu 2015-10-22 17:24:02 (single post)
  • 4,668 wds. long

I have here, in my hot little hands, a brand new printed-out draft of "Caroline's Wake." It's about 1500 words shorter than the version I submitted last year, and, I very much hope, a stronger story. It's not quite ready to submit at this time, but give me a couple more hours to scribble in between the double-spaced lines of the print-out, and it will be.

Today is Day 3 of Actually Getting Writing Done on a Reliable, Workerlike Basis. Seriously, this week has been fantastic. I've been getting my morning shift done in the morning, and I've been using my afternoon shift to create publishable story copy. It is amazing how awesome it feels to transform writing from a guilt-inducing monster into a life-affirming achievement.

I'm not entirely sure what made this sort of productivity and dailiness feel convincingly possible this week and not, say, last week, or last year, or eleven and a half years ago when I quit my day job. But I can point to a few things that could be said to have helped.

Dropped all expectations of content writing. I got cut from first one Examiner gig and then the other, and I decided I was ready to let them go rather than fight to get them back. Examiner only paid according to some secret metric of eyeballs-on-page, which came to about $20 every third month. I was doing it because it was an outlet for babbling about stuff that interested me, not because it paid well. Which was sily, because I already have an outlet for babbling, and that's this blog here.

But this change also occasioned me reevaluating the desirability of having a content writing gig at all. Content writing obviously cuts into my writing time and capacity. Every writing hour spent on Examiner or Textbroker is an hour I'm not thinking up and writing down stories. And while a good content writing gig can be a reliable source of funds, the fact is I'm fortunate enough to have a well-paid spouse who enthusiastically supports my career goals. I can afford to take not just my writing but my fiction full-time.

And if I put all my writing hours toward writing, revising, and submitting short stories, I'm likely to actually sell a few. It's a better use of my time all around.

Which is not to say that I won't be tempted by a decent content writing gig. I did just submit a sample of my writing to a respectable organization that's looking to build a stable of web writers and editors. If that goes somewhere, well, I'll figure out how to schedule it in at that time.

Rearranged my timesheet template. I log my writing on a spreadsheet every day. That's how I know when I've done my five hours. This week I totally revamped the daily template, and it's ridiculous how much this helped. I suppose a well-organized brain is a productive brain.

I used to have my spreadsheet separated out into categories of types of writing: fiction in this block (short story, novel, freewriting), content writing in that block (Examiner, textbroker, other), miscellaneous over thataways (Friday Fictionettes, etc.). Then, if I was feeling decisive, I'd babble out a sort of schedule for the day in a column off to the right, which I might or might not look at again all day.

This week I overhauled it such that the schedule was baked right into the timesheet. Everything I expect myself to do in a work day, it's there, and in order. All the nonsense and clutter is gone. It's just Morning Pages, the Morning Shift block, the Afternoon Shift block, the actually writing blog, done. If I want to be more precise, there's room to type a description--for instance, "Short Fiction" today is described as "finish 'Caroline's Wake' to printable draft" for the first hour and "take your pen and finalize that draft!" for the second. But for the most part, my plan is just to do the next thing until I come to the end of the things.

There's still a line for content writing in the Afternoon Shift block, but mostly it just gets crossed off.

Began enforcing scheduling constraints. Before, I would get lost somewhere between Morning Pages and freewriting, or between freewriting and fictionette, and I might never come back from my long break in order to start the afternoon shift. Having reorganized my timesheet, I can now use it to determine where I break and for how long. Basically, if I'm in the middle of a block, I keep working Pomodoro style until I'm done with that block: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. If I get to white space, I can take a longer break for a meal or for playtime, but I have to have a concrete idea of when I'll start the next block. When that time comes around, I absolutely must get back to work.

This is not rocket science. This is what I always should have done, and what I've always known I ought to do. Somehow, this week I'm actually doing it. Amazing. I'm going to attribute it in part to the overhauled timesheet, and in another part to something else:

Reevaluated how I spend my break time. I hate to admit it, but I can't actually fit an hour of Puzzle Pirates into a 5-minute break. I can't even fit an hour of Puzzle Pirates into an hour. It's like football that way. Or roller derby. The clock may say that an hour of game time passed, but it took a lot more than one hour of real time.

But I can log onto Puzzle Pirates, play a single round of the Distilling puzzle, and log off. That takes about five minutes. Or I can play Two Dots until the Pomodoro Timer's end-of-break whistle.

The weird thing is, these little self-contained puzzle games are starting to act like both a reward and a trigger. That is, they not only function as "Yay, you worked 25 minutes straight, you get a cookie," but also as this Pavlovian signal that it's time to get back to work. Finishing a "pom" means I get to play a puzzle. Finishing a puzzle means it's time to get back to work.

So, these are things that have helped. (Also, getting up early--I keep aiming for 8:00, but as long as I'm up by 9:00 I stand a strong chance of finishing my morning shift by noon.) But what also helped was simply knowing that it's been more than a year since the rewrite on "Caroline's Wake" was requested, and that's just ridiculous, and the ridiculous shit ends now. And so it does.

pleased to make your reacquaintance but just this once
Wed 2015-10-21 21:45:34 (single post)
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Two solid hours on the short story revision yesterday! Even better, two solid hours today! (Well, one hour so far. Two hours by the time I'm done. On that, more later.) The reason today's session was even better than yesterday's was, it came on the day after yesterday's session. Which meant no lengthy reacquaintance period, 'cause I'd got that over with yesterday and didn't need to do it again today.

The "reacquaintance period" happens after a long absence from a story. It involves rereading it in detail in order to, yes, reacquaint myself with it. In the case of a revision paused part of the way through, it also involves some line-level, word-level tweaking of the prose in maddeningly fine-grain detail. I keep telling myself, "This is not the time. This sort of thing can wait until you've finished the new draft and have printed it out. Please do not do this right now!" But I can't seem to stop myself. It's as though it's not enough to reread what I have so far, but I also have to get all hands-on with it, too, before I can work with it again.

If this were sculpting, I'd be smoothing my hands over the piece's contours, maybe adding or adjusting texture. Getting back in touch, see?

So that was an hour of yesterday's two hours: Getting back in touch. Rereading the beginning and changing a word or two. Revising sentence 1 of paragraph 10 in several minutely variant ways before finally changing it back to what it was before. Remembering how unsatisfied I was with a particular segue, and, despite knowing that now is not the time to get it perfect, wading in and trying to fix it for good and all. Then finally giving up in frustration and moving on.

This is why it is a bad idea for me to stop working on a project for weeks at a time. When I come back, I have to go through the reacquaintance period again.

Today has been much better. Since it was fresh in my mind from yesterday, I was able to jump right back in and continued transferring chunks of story from the previous draft to the new draft. I smoothed out transitions where verbiage was cut, reimagined characters' perspetives and motivations, and improved flow as best I could as I went. But the important thing is, I went. I progressed. The mental bookmark denoting the place I'd let off in creating the new draft has moved significantly forward this week.

I am reasonably optimistic that, if I continue at this rate of two hours every workday, I'll have submitted this requested revision before Halloween.

Which means maybe I can participate in NaNoWriMo this year! With a couple years' worth of daily freewriting to delve into for plot and character and worldbuilding ideas. Wow. I might write just about anything.

But to bring things back to the present: I still have to put in another hour on the revision tonight. The two-hours-a-day goal is absolutely accomplishable, but I seem to want to split it up into two hour-long sessions. Today it was because I hit saturation point on a narrative tangle, and rather than keep banging my head fruitlessly against that wall, it seemed better to pop the problem on the backburner and let my unconscious play with it for a few hours. Also the restaurant I was at started filling up with small children playing with toy cars around that time. (Also also I spent most of my time at that restaurant procrastinating, so that I'd only left myself one hour to work before I had to be somewhere. But that's just happenstance.)

Anyway, time to put this post up and get back to the grind. For the second day in a row! Hot damn!

tryin to get the feelin again (and quite possibly succeeding)
Tue 2015-10-20 20:28:13 (single post)
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So the other day I was talking about how accumulating rejection letters can make it difficult to convince oneself to keep accumulating rejection letters; or, put another way, how it's hard to keep believing in the viability of a story that has accumulated a lot of rejection letters (for emotional values of "a lot"). There comes a point when the writerly weasel brain starts insisting that the reason the story keeps getting rejected is that it's no good.

Well, whatever the opposite of writerly weasel brain is--writerly angel brain? writerly sweetheart brain?--it starts to sing the moment one hears "Good news! I liked your story and sent it up to the Editorial Board for further review." Or words to that effect.

Words to that effect arrived late last week, providing me with an effective argument against weasel brain. Regardless of whether "It's For You" is ultimately accepted or rejected by the Editorial Higher-Ups, I'll be able to tell myself that someone liked it enough to put it in front of the Editorial Higher-Ups. That's enough to keep me going.

More than that--thinking about it got me excited last night for today's workday. Like, "I can't wait to write" excited. There's a logical component to it: "I can't wait to finish more stories, so I can send out more stories, so I can receive more good news about my stories! And feel good some more!"

This is a good feeling. This is a feeling I need to be able to store in a bottle, then administer to myself via medicinal measuring spoon as needed.

So there's this one story that's been waiting more than a year for me to finish revising it so I can send it back to an Editorial Higher-Up who specifically requested the revision. Never mind the stupidity of my having taken this long about it; I'm trying to focus on fixing it. I'm trying to ride this fresh new happy-excited-affirmed feeling right into the part of my day where I work on that revision. Which is why I'm writing this blog post first. Writing about that feeling makes me kinda-sorta relive that feeling. Kind of like the way writing about bad memories makes me relive the bad feelings associated with that memory? Only this time it's a good feeling.

My impressionable brain! It can be put to work for the forces of good!

(I hope!)

the thing about unexpected things
Thu 2015-10-15 22:51:25 (single post)

Unexpected things are unexpected. Unexpected things are the reason why a writer's gotta do the right thing.

For instance, when I don't get up on time, I lose a couple viable working hours from my day. And when the day happens to not only be scrimmage Thursday, but a particular Thursday in which it turns out we need to get to the practice space two hours early, well, it turns out I kind of needed those morning hours I denied myself by sleeping late.

(It's not that I didn't know we needed to get to the practice space early. It's that I didn't know how early we'd need to get there. Taping the 10-foot marks takes longer than I would have expected. Also the track was needed for a returning skater's assessment before scrimmage, too. Two hours was not enough time, turns out.)

But here I am, at the IHOP in Boulder after Thursday scrimmage, feeling unusually virtuous and ready to get my work done! I had a plan for my work day, darn it, and I'm going to stick to it! I'm gonna write that Boulder Writing Examiner article I've been meaning to write, right, the one about a particular new local Meetup group that's kind of exciting, OK?

Then I login at Examiner.com and discover I don't have the ability to publish articles anymore. I just have the ability to "Become an Examiner." I think I let too much time go by without publishing, and they canceled me.

I suppose I could re-apply. But--why? If I'm going to take up precious writing time with a content writing gig, maybe I should hold out for a content writing gig that pays better. At least somewhat. And if I'm going to take up writing time with blog posts about being a writer in Boulder, well, why not just keep it here on the actually writing blog (since it's actually about writing) where I'm the one in charge of how I go about it?

So, anyway, that was an unexpected thing too.

look here is the ON switch you can even flip it
Tue 2015-09-15 23:51:30 (single post)

I've bemoaned this before: I have "on" days and "off" days. On my "on" days, I'm so on. I have energy and boundless well-being and I Get Stuff Done. On my "off" days I'm lucky if I can get out of bed. I get whatever day I get--I don't get a say, they just happen to me.

Except that's not quite the case. Careful observation yields useful discoveries.

Such as: If I get some serious writing time in, if I just do it even I don't feel up to it (even if it's shaping up to be an "off" day), I'll have a reason to feel good about myself. I might feel sick and lethargic, but I won't also be feeling ashamed.

Such as: If I get my morning cup of strong Assam tea, it not only wards off withdrawal headaches (hello, mild caffeine addiction), but it makes me feel pampered and cared for. In conjunction with the rest of my wake-up ritual--morning pages scribbled at the front patio table--it makes me feel like "someone thinks I'm worth it." That someone is me, but that counts.

Such as: If I get some exercise early in the day, sometimes I stay energized for a long time afterwards.

Such as: Skating just makes me happy.

As to that last--it's a roller derby thing. Or it may be more accurate to say, roller derby (and, presumably, other roller sports) attracts people who find that, no matter how bad the day has been so far, strapping on skates makes everything at least a little better. Like, I'm on eight wheels now, I'm flying, how bad can it be?

I had cause to reflect on this Saturday. It was a very "on" day, Saturday. And there was every reason for it to have been an "off" day. It was stuffed to the gills with scheduling, it started stupid-early in the morning, and I didn't get to sleep until 2:00 AM the night before. And what sleep I got wasn't solid. And yet I had that boundless well-being and do-stuff energy and I just felt good.

The reason I had to get up early was, I had to be in Longmont for 9:00 AM and in my skate gear at the rendezvous point for 9:15. I'd volunteered to skate in a parade. I got up at 7:00 AM, managed to drag through my Saturday morning stuff in time to leave the house by 8:45, drove all squinty-eyed with sleepiness up the Diagonal Highway, found a parking spot near the parade route in downtown Longmont, sat on the car's back bumper and tugged on my skate gear, launched myself down Terry toward 5th Street...

...and suddenly realized I was feeling good. Awake. Vibrant. Cheerful and optimistic. Pain-free. Energetic. Spirits lifted. Just physically and emotionally well.

The feeling lasted all day. And this despite adding a surprise trip to the car mechanic to my already overflowing agenda. I just kept feeling good all day.

So I thought, maybe "on" days are a thing I can cause to happen. On purpose!

Today I got up and had my morning ritual of tea and scribbles out on the patio. Then I put on my skate gear and I rolled around the neighborhood for about fifteen minutes.

Then I came back to the house, had breakfast, and just dove into the work day. Bam. Got a bunch of stuff I'd been putting off for a while done, too.

Morning skate. Huh. Might have to make a habit of this.

No, actually, I'm not...
click the music
Wed 2015-09-09 23:29:08 (single post)

Heavens help me. Some scurvy arglebargler made me aware of the Viggle app. Click... click... click...

It is, they say, an app that lets you earn points for the media you consume (say, music and TV shows), then redeem those points for free media (say, ebooks and audiobooks). I like free, and I'm not above a bit of mindless clicking. Therefore, I'm doomed.

Now, as I've probably mentioned before, I am not yet smartphone-enabled. I have a flip phone--it makes phone calls, and for a bonus it sends and receives texts. It will take a picture, and if it is feeling very generous, it will allow me to send the picture somewhere. That's pretty much it. Oh, it's also my alarm clock.

But I have the Bluestacks Android emulator installed on my computer, and so I installed the Viggle app thereon.

There was a bit of a hitch at first. I'm told there's a way to manually tell the app what you're watching/listening to, but darned if I can find it. All I get is the screen that says "Listening..." And then it says, "Viggle can't quite hear your audio. Turn up the volume or try a different show or song."

And then that was it, until I finally went into the Windows Recording Devices interface, and disabled Acoustic Echo Cancellation and disallowed applications taking exclusive control of this device. They seemed like likely culprits.

Shortly after I did this, Viggle said, "Got it!" and told me to click the little bouncy V bubble. Click. It made thinky animations at me for a few seconds, and then it said, "You're listening to 'The Big Money' by Rush," and I said, "I sure am!" Then I clicked the "get your points" bar, and it took me back to the "Listening..." screen.

Then it told me to click again. "You're still listening to 'The Big Money' by Rush!" Why yes, little device, I am, and will be for roughly the next four minutes. But it gave me more points just for not turning off the song partway through and for being willing to click some more.

And so it went throughout the album, until we got to track four, "Marathon," and Viggle identified it as "Cosmic Breath" by Ansatheus. Perhaps Viggle's mistakes can function as a sort of "if you liked this, then try that" recommendation engine. Perhaps I'd really dig Ansatheus. I don't know. I clicked anyway.

This could be a terrible distraction during writing time. The good news is, Viggle has been telling me, "Viggle can't quite hear your audio" ever since I started up the Pomodoro Challenge Timer app. Maybe somehow the timer app is messing with Viggle's microphone access--

Wait, I spoke too soon. Viggle just got something. It says I'm listening to... "Legs In Tha Air (Dope Solution Remix)" by Yung Sheikh.

That doesn't sound remotely close to "Mystic Rhythms."

No, Viggle, it's not "Dub the Witch" by need2reason, either.

*sigh* Click.

Here's hoping I get some phat digital reading out of this experiment. Hugo Award nomination season is getting closer every day, yo.

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