Cheeseburger Gothic

JB's day off the tweets

Posted February 28, 2018 into Writing by John Birmingham

I had a day off Twitter today. I have days and even whole weeks away from Facebook without thinking about it. I even quit the thing for a couple of years until the need to advertise my own ebooks drove me back there.
But Twitter I've always stayed with and mostly loved, even when I hated it, and there's been so much to hate the last few years.
However, I've been trying to re-engineer my work day (I know, I know, it's like painting the Harbour Bridge) and having had some success with increasing focus by removing the social apps from my phone, I thought I might get a little more hard core about cutting myself off.
I've been reading a book by a guy called Cal Newport, a computer science professor. Mostly he codes, teaches and thinks about coding and teaching, but he's also done some interesting work on... er, work.
His latest title, Deep Work, explores the difficulties of doing deep, focussed, super intense knowledge work in a world full of shiny distractions.

I'm still reading the later chapters, and I'll write something more specific when I'm done, but long story short, this guy really fucking speaks to me.
And one of the things he's been telling me is to get off the Twitterz. It's not the genial little private club it once was. It's largely useless as an advertising platform. And then theres the Nazis... both left and right. Ugh.
So I started to look at my Twitter habit, which used to be worse but is still pretty bad. It wasn't the main thing getting in the way of all the writing I have to do this year. But it was a juicy, low hanging piece of fruit on the ol' productivity tree.
So today, I just, didn't log on.
I did post one tweet early in the evening, via Buffer. But otherwise I stayed away.
There were times I felt myself reaching for my phone like a robot zombie with fear of missing out, but not while I was working. And I resisted the urge anyway.
Gotta say, I feel a lot less head fucked at the end of the day. And I even felt like writing a post for the Burger!

The link below goes to the paperback, but the Kindle version is massively cheaper, if you're so inclined.

8 Responses to ‘JB's day off the tweets’

Surtac puts forth...

Posted March 1, 2018
I did wonder what you were up to. I assumed in the end it was deadline pressure of some sort.

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Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted March 1, 2018
Never done Twunter myself. Wifey is a fan, particularly with her addiction to Cycling (the lycra wearing kind). When the big grand tours are on, esp the Tour de France, she has an extended array of folks with whom she communicates. So I suppose for something focussed like that its still good....rest of the time I dunno.

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted March 1, 2018
Twitter is where I go to indulge in a very little bit of guilt free trolling.

Otherwise, it is an open sewer of useless crap.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted March 1, 2018
I tried this as well . . . but then i created an instagram account . . man, that is a shallow oily pool of reflective shit. One guy followed me who had some pretty pictures but clipped himself climbing on the holocaust memorial complete with the "we must remember history" sentence. I pointed out to him the insincerity of his profile picture and post and he unfollowed (hahahahaha). I used to like twitter for the science twitter group but even that has lost its shine. When everyone you follow has had their likes turned into retweets its bloody tedious.

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted March 3, 2018
G'day John, I've never been on Facebook or twitter. I'm more interested in working on mechanical things and I really value my privacy. I really don't think that I've missed much. I have noticed friends that were really connected into all the social media stuff are starting to use it a lot less frequently. Some were totally immersed for years and some still are. As trends go though it has certainly outlasted most that I've seen. My sister rang me up and told me that a girl, that I pursued non stop at high school without any success at all, was looking for me on facebook. I told her to tell her that I was an alcoholic who lived in the bush with blackfellas. Funny. I never heard from her again.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted March 3, 2018
My blood pressure dropped by several mm/Hg when I de-twittered. Iam still shockingly unproductive and easily distrac hey a shiny pretty

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted March 4, 2018
Twitter is so polarised. Its like the binary opposition storm took hold of twitter and wouldn't let go. Watching the Americans lurch from hard right to a weirdly Marxist left is very strange. Then the ultra rich Americans trying to appear as social justice warriors when they have more in common with Trump than without him is odd too. I do like the comic book artists and writers on there, that's pretty cool. Instagram is probably my favourite at the moment, so much art, some of the kid's on there and their work is amazing. 16 year olds who wipe the floor with apparently mature artists. And they use Instagram as a compare and contrast tool, pushing themselves forward to create more and better work. Really good stuff.

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tqft is gonna tell you...

Posted March 4, 2018
I wouldn't make it to the end of the day without some twitter.

I need a short distraction that keeps me active between things at work. Let's me reset my head between radically different tasks.


Also gets me out of my little bubble, Which I need very much, to help stop me screwing up.

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Finished plotting: The Golden Minute

Posted January 31, 2018 into Writing by John Birmingham

After lying fallow for most of last year, I've got plans to do at least five books this year. Yep. Five. One is already drafted up - The Cruel Stars. And now another one has been plotted out. At least in draft form.

The last four or five days I've been stalking around my office, muttering at the dogs. This is my preferred method for blocking out a story. I talk myself through it before I write the first word.

It's surprisingly hard to do, even if you're using a template like Blake Snyder's fifteen story beats from his screenwriting How-to, Save the Cat. (Thanks to Girl Clumsy for putting me onto this. It's been a bit of a golden goose.)

The hardest part isn't filling out the beats (Opening image, catalyst, protagonists debate, and so on). It's later when you get most of the way through and you're tempted to just throw the plan aside and get writing. After all, it's sixty, maybe even seventy percent done! What could go wrong? You'll work it out on the page later. The characters know what they're doing.

Yeah, nah. Keep hacking away, JB.

So I kept hacking away, and today I finally filled out the last card.

Tomorrow I can start writing.

Friday, I start plotting WW 3.1.

And I already have the plots beaten out for two other books.

15 Responses to ‘Finished plotting: The Golden Minute’

HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 31, 2018
YEAH BABY. FKN GUNNA GET SOME! " AWAY BORDERS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 1, 2018
I am off on holiday next week with no Birmingham representation in my reading folder. Disappointing but... Five books, looks like next summer is sorted.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1, 2018
Have you ever seen The Rewrite with Hugh Grant? Without having to watch the whole thing, check it out on Youtube at about 50.30 for a minute and hear him talk about a story line one of his students has written. Spooky.

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1, 2018
"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story."
- Terry Pratchett

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2018
Dunno which one to most look forward to? And that is some tortured English....

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted February 5, 2018
Easy. Three point one.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2018
YAAAAS!!! This is great news :)

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted February 7, 2018
Beer 'n books is a real thing. The excitement of starting a new book is joyfully enhanced by a freshly poured beer.
Here is a suggested beerage guide to JB's books.
Felafel - Coopers Sparkling Ale
AOT - Budvar Pilsener
Disappearance - Pirate Life Pale Ale
Dave v Monsters - Little Creatures Pale Ale
Girl In Time - Feral Hop Hog
Cruel Stars - Stone and Wood Cloud Catcher

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2018
I am intrigued. Very intrigued.

I would have thought, though, to best understand the sleazy grime of Felafel one would have to drink cans from a 30-block of XXXX?

Therbs mutters...

Posted February 8, 2018
That was my first thought but after readapting the stage play version of Felafel for more recent times Bedes had Coopers Sparkling as a rider when he attended performances. So its a nod to Felafelling in this decade.

jl ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2018
Enjoyed Felafel. Over here, I would re-read it with a choice beer called Natural Light. Almost cheaper than bottled water at Wal-Mart.

Therbs mutters...

Posted February 8, 2018
And that would fit right in with the Felafel style

jl has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2018
Oh yeah. Stained bean-bag chairs, piles of empties, pissing in refrigerators, and seeking the dead junkie's money stash. Time to pop open a cold Nattie Light.

Rob reckons...

Posted February 9, 2018
ah cheap beer and a sympathetic ear.

Although with a Dave book I think some slab of non- descript Aussie beer would be in order, xxxx, VB or Cascade Lager. Mainly for the snark, Dave would drink non craft beer just to be bloody minded and sniff at those annoying hipsters with their slick beer. But then drink a Kaiju IPA while no ones looking. Dave's like that, a smug asshole.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2018
For your consideration https://www.vox.com/world/2018/2/7/16974772/north-korea-war-trump-kim-nuclear-weapon. Via next draft

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Plans for the year

Posted January 17, 2018 into Writing by John Birmingham

Five books, basically.

After a shocker last year I just want to get my head down and write some novels. The long awaited Girl in Time sequel. The even longer awaited WW 3.1. Another space opera. My end of the world thingies. And a couple of conventional thrillers.

It would be a nice retreat from the world.

I suspect nice retreats from the world are going to be in high demand for the next few years.

I've written intro chapters and plot outlines for the two thrillers. I'm thinking about selling them locally, but retaining the overseas rights for myself. One thing I've recently learned, publishers are not keen to split print from ebook rights. They're starting to demand audio rights too, for no extra payment. But they're still locked into the old territorial model. So selling a title here, wouldn't preclude self publishing it overseas.

It'd be a bit of a dog's breakfast though. With retail prices of 14.99 in A/NZ and 4.99 globally.

So I dunno. I'll have to think on that some more.

2 Responses to ‘Plans for the year’

jason asserts...

Posted January 18, 2018
I reckon there is a sequel to "How to be a writer" in there somewhere called "How to deal with publishers - without resorting to violence"

jl puts forth...

Posted January 18, 2018
Just thinking about the process and its mechanics makes me want to smash my head onto my desk until I see stars and taste blood.

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The knife

Posted December 8, 2017 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm in the final trenches of the space opera I've been writing. (Although the characters seem to spend more time fighting in trenches than space).
As most of you know, I've been a plotter since Weapons of Choice, which taught me a few hard lessons about not working with a plot outline. For THE CRUEL STARS I have a comprehensive scene-by-scene blueprint in Scrivener. I do let the characters walk their own path if they insist, but we always come back to the main narrative arc.
I can see from the outline and the words I currently have in the manuscript bank that this book would run about 30-40% over its contracted word length (90K) if I let it.
I'd like to, but can't. The audiobook people, for one, would freak.
So this morning is all about taking a knife to that outline.

13 Responses to ‘The knife’

jl would have you know...

Posted December 8, 2017
Sometimes you just have to prune. Audiobook? Awesome. I'm a die-hard reader but nothing beats a good audiobook on a long car ride. Looking forward to Cruel Stars in my Chevy.

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted December 8, 2017
That's an awful lot of pruning. It will be interesting to see the results.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 8, 2017
The pruning is to the outline, not the finished chapters. Hopefully it won't be noticed.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted December 8, 2017
Understood, but it feels like you're trimming the bit of the tree your wife can see from the living room window while leaving the rest as is, like when I used to mop the stairs and she thought I'd cleaned the whole house.

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted December 8, 2017
I imagine this could be challenging....you don't want to be chopping out good bits or essential elements for the sake of shrinking the document - I could imagine agonizing over the 'do I or don't I' questions.

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Oldy reckons...

Posted December 8, 2017
Any chance of seeing the outline one of these days, JB?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 8, 2017
Not before it's published mate. But afterwards, sure.

Oldy mumbles...

Posted December 8, 2017
Nice :)

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted December 8, 2017
Compress and consolidate. You've done it before.

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Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2017
On a different subject, can I say how much I enjoyed your piece in the Murder and Mayhem compilation!! It was seriously up to the brief and left me wanting more. I cannot say the same for maybe 1/2 the others - left me bored and distracted, a couple were like your effort - Eva Destruction and Chlamydia Phlegm? Hilarious! Loved a couple, liked a couple, couldn't read a couple but overall worth it.

Surtac would have you know...

Posted December 15, 2017
I must agree. It was a very pleasant surprise to see Savage Henry brought into the modern era and given a more prominent setting.

So, are we going to see the return of Commander Biscuit at some point in the future and hear some of those Duterte stories, I wonder?

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted December 16, 2017
Fighting more on the surface than space is a common occurrence in space Opera. I think only Weber and Campbell manage to stick to space. Which makes sense. Hard to fight against enemy controlling orbitals. But in the end it's all in execution and since I wasn't disappointed even once by your work I would reserve judgment until I get my copy. :P

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted December 22, 2017
Merry Christmas Birmo and take care.

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Deadline vs dead writer

Posted December 6, 2017 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've reached the point in this deadline where I can wrote or I can exercise but I cant do both. So I might be going backswards on my fitness over the next week.

Must stay away from the bakery.

6 Responses to ‘Deadline vs dead writer’

Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted December 6, 2017
No Portuguese custard tarts fo you my friend......
Tell me which bakery it is, aside from the tarts, your poison and I'll take one for the team.

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Thalesian puts forth...

Posted December 6, 2017
My FIL has one of these you could borrow if you want...

http://img.medicalexpo.com/images_me/photo-g/74702-9100535.jpg

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jason would have you know...

Posted December 6, 2017
Multi task. Apparently men can do it if they try hard. https://treadmilldeskaustralia.com.au/

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 6, 2017
Those typos are so me right now

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted December 6, 2017
One word.

Croissants.

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jl mutters...

Posted December 8, 2017
Totally stay away from the creamsticks.

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An End of the World Project

Posted October 27, 2017 into Writing by John Birmingham

Having lain fallow for most of the year, I now find myself ready to do A LOT of work. The white board that hangs by my desk has a bunch of projects on on it, probably three years worth.

One is called EOW.

I think of it as my nod to The Stand, the book that got me into reading and, as it turned out, writing.

I had been thinking about what to do with it. Trade? Indie? One massive volume. Lots of individual serial stories?

Now I've decided. I'll write it naked.

Not just pantsless like all of my other books. But out in the open, where anybody can watch. Well, anybody willing to pony up the admission fee.

Some of you have already signed on, and for that, many thanks.

For anybody who's interested, the link is here.

I wont waste Burger pixels explainging the idea. Just hit the link.

For anyone wondering, shit, when is he gonna do all the other books... Answer: right fucking now.

The Four Horsemen, as I'm thinking of this new project, will take two years. WW 3.1, Smith and Cady, even The Dave, they'll all get their moment in the sun first.

12 Responses to ‘An End of the World Project’

jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 28, 2017
This is exciting sh*t.

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insomniac mutters...

Posted October 28, 2017
I think the opportunity to see the sausage being made is well worth the small amount of money. Transparency is not something to be afraid of. I happily supply complex, or even simple, search strings to everybody. It gives them the tools to replicate what I do, to be able to bypass me, but it doesn't give them the magic, the dark arts of whatever you excel at. You have the magic buddy.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted October 28, 2017
Oh, does this mean the Solar Project is dead and buried, or perhaps just long forgotten.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 28, 2017
Killed by spam

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Sparty has opinions thus...

Posted October 28, 2017
Top tier sold out already!

jl mumbles...

Posted October 28, 2017
Guilty as charged.

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted October 28, 2017
Done! Although The Dave and Smith and Cady are the ones I look forward to.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted October 29, 2017
They'll be out in January, I reckon.

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted October 30, 2017
Are you sure you can wait 2 years?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/30/mystery-of-octopuses-found-walking-on-welsh-beach

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 30, 2017
The post image is typical Aussie Brit bashing , you can tell the Ashes are coming up ;-)
WHY does it ALWAYS have to be London destroyed.....gives me PTSD about an event which has never happened...

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted October 31, 2017
Because destroying Taunton will never bother people in the same way?

"Oh no, Taunton is destroyed, can life ever b... oh, look, we can just move up the road to Monkton Heathfield."

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jason is gonna tell you...

Posted November 22, 2017
For anyone who hasn't jumped on board I would highly recommend checking this process out. It is a leap forward in publishing.

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