I was affected by the Great October 2020 Evernote Disaster. The rollout of Mac Scrivener 3.2 (which quickly became 3.2.1, and the numbers are still spinning) didn’t help. To top it off, my poor Macbook Air 11 is in intensive care (surgery for its failed battery is scheduled at an Apple Genius Bar next week.)
Nonetheless I managed to chug through 5 chapters. Onward!
Fubar. (Rough translation: Fouled Up Beyond All Repair.)
I didn’t break five digits. I’d go look at my final total, but it’s too embarrassing.
OTOH, I’m past the winter solstice, alive, and not too much heavier than I was at the beginning of October. My short story, “The Replacement”, was published in the NaNo Los Angeles anthology, Journeys to Uncharted Lands. I’m working on publishing it as a short in the usual places. I’ve redecorated my bedroom/office and re-read every novel series in my reading apps, as (looking at my reading app stats and credit card statements) I do every winter when I’m seasonally depressed. At least I haven’t gained 20 pounds or stopped exercising completely, as I did last year.
Those of of you who’ve followed me a while know that every winter I deal with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Yes, even here in sunny Southern California. Usually I don’t notice until February, by which point I’m so deep in that I can’t claw my way out until May or June.
This year I noticed early—right after the start of NaNoWriMo. My weight had spiked. I craved carbohydrates. I felt tired all the time. My blood pressure was rising, and my exercise falling. Nothing was interesting. And writing wasn’t happening.
I made a decision to put my health ahead of writing this November. Sue me.
I’ve changed my sleeping habits so that I’m awake from sunrise on. I’ve made outdoor exercise a priority. I’ve managed to find a food plan I can stick to even on my worst days. As a result, my blood pressure, inflammation levels, blood glucose, etc. have all stayed in healthy territory. Even my weight (which goes up 7–10 lbs. each winter) reversed the late October spike and is now holding steady.
I’ll take it. Steady is good.
NaNoWriMo comes after all that. No more late-night catch-up sessions fueled by caffeine, carbohydrates, and anxiety. NaNo comes after getting outdoors in the sun… (or maybe with it if my electronics will stay charged.) NaNo is less important than getting enough sleep, getting exercise, and keeping my food clean. I signed up for an ordinary 50,000 word project, but honestly I’ll be thrilled if I make it to 10k.
So no progress bar this November. In December, I’ll let y’all know how far I got in NaNoWriMo and more importantly how the winter is going for me in general.
The most productive way for me to write fiction is handwriting, slow though it is. But I find the necessary transcription to digital form painful. Don’t even talk about typing from paper copy—repeating the stuff I’ve already written is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Even using a notetaking app that will convert a page of handwriting to digital text for pasting elsewhere requires a cleanup effort that drives me loopy. No, the way I’ve found that works for me is using a handwriting-recognition keyboard on iOS Scrivener. Do the cleanup as I write, that’s the ticket.
Camp NaNoWriMo, though, meant I needed to keep track of my writing minutes. That’s hard for me to do on iOS. I have to start timers, turn off timers, restart timers… not to mention recording my results. It’s an error-prone process. So I stuck to the Mac most of July, where RescueTime tracked my app usage. But MacOS has deprecated its old Ink handwriting interface, so even if I had a graphics tablet it was typing for me on my Mac, until…
I noticed that one of the apps I use to make my iPad serve as a second monitor, AirDisplay, let me pull up the iOS on-screen keyboard. Yes, that let me use my iOS handwriting keyboards to input directly to my Mac!
All was not smooth with AirDisplay, though, and I can’t recommend it for this purpose. It was challenging to get Scrivener to stay visible—I found it almost impossible to keep menu bar menus accessible, let alone keep my insertion point visible so I could see my typing. The final deal-breaker was a bug in AirDisplay that means the Delete button on my iOS keyboards won’t work.
Maybe you can write without ever needing to delete a letter, but I can’t.
Disappointed, I wandered around the App Store and discovered the YAM (Yet Another Monitor) family of apps. YAM Air turned out to be the iPad-as-a-second-monitor app of my dreams.
When I bring up the iOS keyboard, the Mac screen stays stable behind it, so that it’s easy to access Mac menus. The stable screen position also lets me take advantage of typewriter scrolling in Mac Scrivener to keep my insertion point in view. Yes, if I need to access something at the bottom of the screen I must put away the keyboard, but if I need to do that I’ve stopped writing anyway.
Now, AirDisplay does a fine job as a second display app. Its iOS keyboard interface is buggy, though, and managing the display behind the keyboard is awkward. But YAM Air’s iOS keyboard interface is stable, and the display behind the keyboard is straightforward.
Also, YAM Air offers drag-and-drop between iOS and Mac. How cool is that? And all for $3.99 USD.
It’s YAM Air and handwriting on my Mac for me! Yay!
I did get interrupted by the last two rounds of editing for the LANaNo Anthology story I’m contributing. So that’s something writerly and productive I’ve accomplished. Yay!
Beyond that, I’ve come to accept that I don’t know how to make progress on my novel-in-progress. Rather than keep banging my head against what I now recognise as a brick wall, I’ve hired a writing coach. I’ll have a session with her shortly.
There’s no point in keeping on doing the same thing and expecting different results.
You who’ve been with me a while know that I can’t resist playing with new tech. So I ordinarily wouldn’t have bought the Bose QuietControl 30 (QC30) in-ear headset during July Camp NaNoWriMo—but I made the mistake of putting it on my birthday list, and to my astonishment, it arrived! (Thanks, Hubby!)
As an ADHD writer, I need a serious noise-attenuating headset. I’ve had a mid-level active noise cancelling (ANC) in-ear headset, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33IS, for years. It does great for airplane noise, but for coffeehouse music and conversation, not so much. I’ve had two gaming headsets, which do well on passive noise attenuation. But I left the quite good Hyper X Cloud II over-the-ear set behind at coffeehouses no fewer than three times, the last time for good. It just wasn’t meant to be. And the Razer Hammerhead BT—well, it’s just not up to attenuating the coffeehouse milieu, either, not even with Comply Foam Eartips installed.
Since I can’t stop losing over-the-ear headphones, there seemed to be only one choice for wide frequency, in-ear ANC—the outrageously expensive Bose QC30. Four times the cost of the ATH-ANC33IS or Razer Hammerhead BT, is it really worth that much money?
Yes. Yes, it is, if you need that level of attenuation. The QC30 drops outside music and loud conversation volume to such a low level that I can turn down the volume on my soothing background music and just write. OMG, it’s wonderful! Occasionally I start thinking that it’s not doing much—but then I turn off the ANC and hastily turn it back on.
The QC30 music quality is great, for my not-too-picky taste. Will it satisfy serious audiophiles? Probably not, but it’s not shabby. Check out this Sound Guys article if you’re curious. I’m happy with how it treats my Bach concertos, though.
There’s also the “Control” part of QuietControl. I can increase or decrease attenuation at will. In other words, I don’t have to dig an eartip out of my ear in order to talk to the coffeehouse barista, then replace it afterwards. I just lower attenuation, talk normally, then raise the attenuation back up to max.
Don’t be discouraged by the (comparatively) low ratings for the QC30 v. the Bose over-the-ear headsets. Expectations for Bose are high, and in-ear headsets always have lower ratings than their over-the-ear counterparts. Here are some common complaints:
The batteries die after two years. Rechargeable lithium batteries wear out. Depending on how many times you charge them, this isn’t unexpected. Not even Bose can change physics.
The QC30 doesn’t stand up to workouts. Bose doesn’t claim it will. Their sports headsets are not noise-cancelling. Their noise-cancelling headsets are not intended to stand up to sports.
The eartips don’t fit. They’re good eartips, provided in small, medium, and large, but of course they won’t fit everyone. Poor eartip fit is the cause of not only fit complaints, but many poor sound complaints as well. I’m lucky the large tips fit me, because the QC30 won’t accept third-party eartips. In my opinion, the inability to accept third-party eartips is one of its few flaws.
The neckband shifts position. It can slip off to one side a bit if I’m taking a brisk walk to the neighbourhood Starbucks whilst playing Pokemon Go. The only time I’ve had a real problem with this is if I’m listening to music, forget myself, and start dancing. This appears to be part of the “not ready for workouts” syndrome.
The ear wires/neckband physically wear out. I haven’t had mine long enough to give this a test. However, by design necessity in-ear headsets are more delicate than over-the-ear ones. The wires and components of the QC30 are heavier than those of my old AT headset, which has lasted me years. Many Bose customers complaining about this say that it happens after the 1-year warranty runs out—and that their expectations for Bose are that the set will last several years more. I’ll revise my review if this happens, but like my Audio-Technica set, I intend to treat my QC30 as if it’s made of glass. Similar complaints were rife about the AT set, and I managed to get five years out of it (it’s still going, in fact.) Honestly, I’ll likely wear out the battery before I wear out the rest of the device.
Tips for Using the Bose QC30 Headset
Update your firmware. There are many reviews complaining about the voice microphone for phone calls, sound quality, etc. My unit arrived with firmware 1.2.x. By the time I finished updating, the firmware version was 3.0.3! Don’t just depend on the Bose phone app, Bose Connect. I got a more recent copy of the firmware by going to the Bose update site, btu.bose.com. I have had zero problems with sound quality or with folks I call complaining about call quality.
Change the way you think about voice pickup. There’s no microphone in the control module. It’s not hidden in the neckband, either. No, the microphones(!) are on the earbuds themselves. So holding the control module or the neckband closer to your mouth won’t help. Just speak normally. I’d suggest keeping your voice even a bit softer than normal—one person I called said my voice was “over-modulated”. That meant that I was speaking too loudly for the mics and they were distorting my voice. But please do be sure you have the latest firmware (see above.)
Once again I’ll be submitting an entry for the sixth annual NaNo Los Angeles anthology! This year’s theme is “exploration and the unknown”, with an added element of “something left behind.” I’m already two-thirds through it, despite medical appointments. I might even finish it before the deadline this time!
That’s right—Shadowed Doorways, the fifth annual NaNo Los Angeles anthology is now available on Amazon.com! My story, “Fire Assurance,” is one of those featured in the blurb:
These stories and twenty-two more comprise our fifth edition of the Los Angeles NaNo Anthology. NaNoWriMo participants across the globe submitted short stories involving elements of darkness and concealment. This year’s diverse collection includes the most powerful and fascinating entries we received.
So open that door and take a step into the shadows beyond. Who knows what might be waiting for you inside?
I’ll make no profit if you should buy the book by clicking here—all proceeds go to support NaNo Los Angeles and National Novel Writing Month, and their literary educational programs.