Catching Up

I’ve been bad about providing updates. Life has been a little crazy. Here are some newsly bits.

With the leadup to NaNoWriMo, I spent most of October working on my outline for this year’s novel. And then I spent November writing said book, when I wasn’t at AmberCon Northwest or sick in bed. This year’s NaNo was the epic bureaucratic fantasy novel that I’ve threatened for years to write. It’s originally based on the short story I wrote several years ago for Crossed Genres. You can read that here if you like. You can read the first scene from the book on my NaNo profile.

Then I re-published Kensei.

My current plans for post-NaNo looks like this:

  • Outline my ideas for Kensei-related serials to work on.
  • Get ready for the next Mad Scientist Journal anthology we intend on doing (Selfies from the End of the World: Historical Accounts of the Apocalypse)
  • Try to finish up a few short stories to include in the mini-collections I’m putting out.
  • Make solid progress on my Apocalypse World hacks.

In terms of my ongoing quest for figuring out what to do with my life, I’ve been taking meditation classes through Seattle Insight Meditation Society. It’s a different style of meditation than I’ve done in the past. In terms of structure, this has definitely been the best meditation class I’ve ever taken. And my drive to really create change in my life has kept me more disciplined with my meditation than I’ve ever been. I’ve really felt a difference in my life. I completed both an introductory class and a follow-up class with a different instructor.

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the group itself. I’ve been missing having Buddhism in my life, and for a long time I hadn’t really found anywhere that really fit with me. In terms of teaching, this certainly fits better with my belief system. Part of why I selected this place was the distant connection to Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs. But there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to connect with people.

I have a much larger blog post I’m mulling around about Buddhism and meditation. I’ll save further thoughts for then.

I’ve also been working with a new person from HR who has been showing me around through the Gallup Strengths concept. Rather than going with the notion of trying to improve your shortcomings, it instead has the idea of figuring out what you are good at and finding ways to apply that.

From the stuff I’ve been reading about it, it seems slightly different from the Passion Search that Centerpoint does. Or I may be misunderstanding. In the book I was loaned (Tom Rath’s Strength Finder 2.0), it uses the movie Rudy as an example of what not to do.

The movie, which I’ve never seen, is based on a true story about a young man (Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger) who desperately wants to play football for Notre Dame. He fights just to get on the team, but isn’t allowed to play. It’s not until his last game of his senior year that he gets put on the field for a few plays. He sacks the rival quarterback in the last play of the game. He gets carried off the field like a hero, and has apparently had a long career writing and giving talks about being successful. As far as I can tell, he never played football after that.

Rath describes the love of the underdog story as a mistake. Rudy spent thousands of hours practicing to only get a few seconds of actual play and make a tackle. He was never a particularly good football player. The time he spent would have been better used working to be better at something Rudy had a talent for.

And so I wonder how the notion of Passion interacts with the idea of Strengths. Especially when what you are passionate to do is not something you’re good at.

To be clear, the Gallup Strengths idea doesn’t specify something like “football” as a Strength. It has 34 categories that define the types of Strengths they examine, and they have names like “Intellection” or “Restorative.” And the idea of the Passion Search workshops is not to find that you have a passion for playing football, but rather to find out what it is that appeals to you about playing football and finding ways to find a job that fits for you.

But I can foresee the same problem arising: What if you are not good at what you’re passionate about? I may find an answer in these weird adventures. I might not. I guess it will be interesting.

And, with Centerpoint, I’ve signed up for their Passion Search workshop. Eight crazy weeks of examining my soul and helping others do the same. I’ve had my first session of that, and so far it’s gone well?

I’ve been pondering why I’ve sought out things like the meditation class or this group-activity workshop when I’m such an introvert. Some of it speaks to my strong motivation to figure out a better path for myself. I’m willing to go outside my comfort zone in order to accomplish this.

It’s also made me realize that being an introvert is not quite the monolothic identity that various online comic strips and info-graphics would make you believe. One thing I find important is finding “my people” and being able to talk connect on topics important to me. The hard part is the connecting part. It’s hard to go into a group of strangers and do that, as I’ve found with attending some of the more regional fan conventions like RustyCon and Norwescon. I’m more willing to put up with the mob of people if there are friends I can see. I connect to individuals, and having those individuals mixed in with the group makes me like the group better.

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