Petition update & Writing Process Blog Hop

So you may have gathered that I started a petition a week or two ago and sent an e-mail to Fiona Hyslop to try and engage with her about it while I gather signatures.

Please have a look here and sign if you think it’s worth supporting.  I only have two signatures so far, in part because I’m very new to starting petitions.

I’ve had three letters back by e-mail from Fiona Hyslop’s correspondence team, the last of which was on Scottish Government headed paper, in PDF form of course.

I honestly don’t know what to expect.

This week I returned to the Jobcentre and was asked to sign a Claimant Commitment, which has a depressing number of tasks on it, some of which I’m expected to do five times a week.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to get back into work, but again I’m seeing little to no support from the Jobcentre staff and what little help they did offer I can expect to arrive at a pace resembling glacialisation, and a quality that I will find to be somewhere between useless and mediocre.  That’s why I started my petition in the first place.

Of note, they’re really pushing Universal Jobmatch on claimants.  Let me list the faults of this site and compare it to a more popular jobsearch site.

  • It has a subpar search interface compared to Indeed.
  • You have to sign in every time you want to use it (no cookies for you!) compared to Indeed which will basically allow you to be signed in months after you last used it.
  • Manual entires are limited to 200 characters, with a full page refresh in between.  I try not to swear on my blog but sorry, fuck that.

I already have a completely seperate blog for recording my jobsearch, something which I have mentioned in the past to the staff, but still I am stuck with Universal Crapmatch.

So here’s my challenge to you guys.  Call my Jobcentre coach on 01383 813824.  Ask for Carol Brown.  Tell her about this site and how invested Sam Edwards (aka yours truly) is in his writing, and how petty and demeaning it is to have to use Universal Jobmatch every day.

Please be courteous and polite.  She’s just doing a job.  It’s not her fault that some higher-up has told her to do it the wrong way.

So then, on to the happier part of the post.

I was tagged by Raven this morning for a blog hop about the writing process.  So when you’re done reading mine, could you go check out hers?  She has a Part 2 pending as well, double the fun.

What Am I Working On?

As I mentioned earlier this month, I have three projects that I’m hoping to complete or progress by the end of the month – the first is finishing off Servant of the Siphen, with a thirteenth part and some additional edits.

I’m happy to report that I did manage to make some headway on the past week, though not as much as I need to do.

The second item on the agenda is finishing a part of Pegasus.  Haven’t yet tackled it this month, but I was half-way through when I left off so it should be easy.

The third item is an as-yet unnamed Star Trek: Voyager fanfic focusing on Seven and Kathryn Janeway, which I sort of intended to do last month during the A-Z Challenge.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

I’m honestly not sure.  If I had to hazard a guess, it’s that I learn from other writers and you’ll find little examples of that in my work.  So for example, when Caroline is telling Erica the story about her old girlfriend Vanessa, you might compare it to scenes from one of Tess Mackenzie‘s works, but it’s an entirely new invention.  Tess usually writes a completely different genre, but while reading her stories I have  had some non sci-fi ideas that I wanted to add to Servant of the Siphen, so I did.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

Do you remember Babylon 5?  The Shadows and Vorlons, each of them elder races, trying in their own misguided way to make the younger races choose their path.  Sheridan coming back from the dead and later telling them to ‘get the hell out of our galaxy!’

That’s the sort of sci-fi I grew up on, and so my taste in sci-fi story-telling tends towards similarly long tales with humans allying themselves with others to face a common enemy.  Spoilers. 🙂

I’m also not afraid of having characters who aren’t perfect and who are basically good but make mistakes and have to face the consequences.  For example, Caroline has a wife back home that she truly loves, but when it looks like she may never go home again, she succumbs to her desires and hooks up with Isamura.  Whoops, more spoilers.

Each story that I write expresses something different.  I suppose that rather than cramming all my ideas in one basket, I like to spread them out a bit.

For example, Pegasus is intended to be saucier and funnier story than Servant of the Siphen.  There are less consequences for Dreana when she commits infractions than there ought to be, because after all, what’s the fun of having her confined to her own brig… wait, I’m getting a new idea, hold on while I write that down for future reference.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

Over a very long period of time, with rumination in between sessions of typing.

I think what works well for me is when I let go of the anxiety that surrounds starting a new scene or story.  Setting the scene doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, and neither does action or dialogue.  That’s something I picked up almost six years ago in NaNoWriMo 2008.

I do have to commit myself to analysing and refining the first rough draft, but that’s something that can wait until I actually have a decent chunk of first draft.

I use WriteMonkey (or a pencil and notepad) for first drafts.  WriteMonkey is a low-distraction text editor.  If I like, I can set the back of its window to be transparent, and run a slow slideshow in the background using Irfanview to keep me from fixating on the cursor.

Then I bring the first draft onto pages on this blog.  I can stitch together parts into one seamless story using shortcodes, so I can and do break the writing into bites averaging 1500 words.

When I come to refine the story, I can open these as tabs on my browser, editing more than one at a time or just referring to other parts and to my ideas page or task list while steadily working my way through in a logical order.

I used to work with an outline, but since I’ve moved on from using a word processor, this has fallen by the wayside a bit.

Incidentally, I also have a shortcode that hides in-progress work from the public, if I so choose.  When you’re working on stuff you want to sell, you don’t necessarily want to have it freely available on the site.  I haven’t actually used it to hide a story yet though, just spoilers on the ideas pages.

I try to get betas to look at my work at various stages, although admittedly I don’t try very hard.  I also try to blog or tweet about my writing, to both remind myself and get others engaged in the process.

I take the finished story into ePUB format using Sigil.  Although this stage is still not perfect, I think that it has come on quite a bit since I started.  For example, I can now export individual pages using a plugin and then copy-paste my content from the export file to Sigil.

I use FBReader to look over the ePUB file and check that everything is in order, and if it’s good I upload the story in ePUB format to Smashwords.

Tag People!

Well at this point I would probably turn to Illy and Raven and say tag, you’re it, haha.  But she’s already written so much today so, better not.

I’m instead going to pick on Elizabeth, who kindly stopped by last month during the A-Z Challenge.  I’m kind of interested to read her responses to these questions.  They’re fun and remind you of what you have done and what you need to do.  But at the same time, it’s not required that you participate.

As always, since it’s a blog hop, linking back to the person who tagged you is a way for the readers to follow the trail of posts back to the original source.

If I haven’t tagged you and you’re reading this and feel like getting involved, feel free to jump in.  I can think of a couple of writers out there (but that I don’t know have blogs) who would enjoy this.