Jeff James

Blog

Writing is a bit of a contradiction: the physical act of writing usually happens in solitude, but the only way to succeed at writing is through collaboration. When I say that, I don't just mean the sorts of collaborations where two people sit down and try to write one story. I also mean collaboration in the sense that everyone who gives you feedback or helps you brainstorm is a collaborator. The people in your support...

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The second month is usually where it all falls apart. My dedication to a goal starts slipping and I start coming up with more and more reasons why I don't actually need to keep doing it. The last few times I've tried to commit to a daily writing habit, I've given up pretty quickly after that first month. I'm sure that one of the reasons I've had a hard time sticking to my goals is...

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I recently finished the second draft of a new short story, and at the moment I'm feeling pretty good about it. The story was inspired by a prompt from The Five Hundred that I used as a jumping-off point and then ultimately ignored. The story wasn't finished after 500 words, and I was feeling inspired, so I just kept going. I finished the first draft on January 17th with a total of 3123 words. I...

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Writing in January went pretty well overall. I started by writing a little bit of fiction every day and I eventually pulled off a streak that lasted through the end of the month. Right near the end I decided that I needed to figure out a way to count working on an outline, because I spent that last Friday and Saturday getting ready for my screenwriting class and all of my energies were devoted to...

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I signed up for the 201 level of Tom Vaughan's Story and Plot class a few weeks ago, and I'm really looking forward to it. The class starts next Saturday, and this time around we're actually going to be writing script pages. I enjoyed the 101 class a lot, but it's definitely time I started writing a script of my own instead of limiting my creative energies to short stories and The Leet World. I...

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After much tinkering, I finally figured out how to make a decent static backup of my old Wordpress site. I kept running into problems no matter my approach - whether I tried the web interface or wget - but I had a brainstorm recently that solved a lot of my issues.

The main problem with trying to create a backup in the Wordpress web interface is that my site is on shared hosting and Wordpress is a resource hog. It's one of the reasons I wanted to switch to Jekyll in the first place. I'm unlikely to ever be able to afford dedicated hosting, so switching to a static site was definitely an economic choice.

It's also just a matter of impatience. If you try to do anything involved in Wordpress on shared hosting, you'll probably hit the upper limit of your server's memory and your site will crap out.

That's what happened every time I tried to generate a static copy of my site with a plugin called Simply Static. The plugin would load for a few long minutes and then return an error message.

As for wget, it might just be too convoluted for my purposes. I could never quite figure out the right combination of options to download my site without also downloading a bunch of unnecessary garbage. It was also a pretty slow process. Whenever I inevitably realized halfway through that I'd included the wrong options, it meant I had to start over from the beginning.

My brainstorm was when I realizes that I could use AMPPS (or MAMP, if you prefer) to create my own dedicated server. See, I really only need the server for as long as it takes to spit out a static copy, so it would be absurd to pay for hosting.

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OK, so: I'm writing every day, and doing my best to maintain my streak, which means I have a few different irons in the fire at all times. Options are good! That's how I've met my reading goals year after year - by reading at least a half-dozen books at the same time.

I have three (maybe four) stories that I would currently consider "active" right now. What I mean by active is that I'm actually trying to complete them and get them ready for submission. On days when I'm not ready to dive in to one of my stories, I've been trying to prioritize blog posts, although there are a handful of days when I've fallen back on writing a journal or rewriting an existing story.

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If you've met me, you probably know that I love tracking things.

  1. I've kept track of my reading habits on Goodreads (and other services) since 2006. That's almost a decade at this point.
  2. I've owned three Fitbits over the years and am constantly trying to figure out ways to get more steps so that I can reach 10,000 steps a day.
  3. Whenever I decide that it's time to lose weight, I use apps like Lose It or MyFitnessPal to track calories (until I get frustrated and eat all of the calories I can find).
  4. One of the main ways I've tried to get serious about my writing is by tracking my daily output. I've had some success with this in the past, but whenever I've failed, I've failed spectacularly and gone months without writing a word.

This year I'm making an effort to track all of those things again because I'm a masochist. They're basically listed in order of how difficult I find them to achieve.

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After much tinkering, I've finally decided to replace my Wordpress site with a brand-spanking new static version generated in Jekyll. The Jekyll installation currently lives on an Amazon EC2 instance so that I can rebuild it from anywhere, but if EC2 starts costing too much money, I'll probably configure it on one of my Macs instead. I generally use a shell script to deploy the site; first, it does a Jekyll build, then it uses...

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I've only barely watched Girls, but it's clear from what I've seen of it that realistic, awkward sexuality is an important part of the show's DNA.

Accordingly, when Tim Malloy from The Wrap discussed Lena Dunham's nudity at a recent Television Critics Association panel for the show, he set off a miniature firestorm when he said he didn't "get the purpose" of all that clothes-free acting.

Although I definitely don't want to add to the dog-pile that inevitably occurs when someone makes a faux pas that goes viral, I would like to discuss some aspects of Malloy's "question" that may help explain why this incident rubbed so many people the wrong way.

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