Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

When I was a junior in high school I was in two classes with my favorite teacher ever. I was in her advanced English class and on the Literary Magazine staff. She was a great teacher, one that shaped my life ever since. I don't know what she saw in my writing, but I'm grateful she saw something. She encouraged me, offered actual critiques, advice, and treated me like I was actually onto something when I wrote. It's safe to say she's the reason I'm still writing.

At the end of my junior year I was sitting in her classroom working on finishing up our notes for the literary magazine that year. I had already agreed to come back and be “Head” editor the following year, so I wanted to leave myself a few reminders.

As I was working she came over to the desk where I was working and said “Nate...this is probably a good book for you to read.” and placed a trade paperback on my desk, then left the room. She seemed a little nervous, I guess because giving gifts to one student instead of any others might seem somewhat preferential.

The book was Red Sky At Morning by Richard Bradford.


I read somewhere recently that Terry Pratchett had a goal to write four hundred words a day. Anyone who is familiar with Sir Terry's body of work knows that he must have written far more than that most days. You don't create the Discworld and Good Omens and all his other projects without putting in a fair amount of time and effort daily.


Let's say it one more time for the overachievers up in the front: “Quality over Quantity” is for consumption not creation. When you are choosing what to bring into your life it makes sense to be choosy. When you are working on your output you need to just keep producing. Writing 200 words a day is a far better practice than fretting over a thousand words for a week. “Thinking about writing” doesn't make you a better writer. Writing does. The only way to write the things you're really proud of is to write a whole lot of other stuff as well.


Me, Last Night: oh, This is a good idea that I just had. I should out of bed and write it down. I’ll probably forget it if I don’t.

Me, This Morning: So, I remember I had a good idea, no idea what it was. Cool. Very cool.

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I'm an introvert. like, a serious introvert. One of my employees asked recently if he could get a subsidy from our organization to pay for him to work in a rented office space instead of working from home. All I could think was, “WHY????”. For me working from home is the dream, it's a thing I never imagined would happen. I can't imagine paying good money to have to work in an office; I would pay a portion of my paycheck every month to avoid going back to an office.


It's spring in my part of the world, which means itchy eyes and sinuses. Working from home means I'm not in an office with industrial strength air purification, so I have to make it work on a personal level and budget. Here's what I've found that works:

  • Vacuum frequently. At least twice a week
  • Keep the window closed, obviously.
  • Wash every fabric thing in the room and change pillow cases on my nap pillow frequently. (what? Naps are good for productivity!)
  • Use an air purifier
  • Keep the door closed helps.

Just in case this helps anyone else.

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I've been thinking about the overstimulation of our reward centers. Not in those words exactly, but considering how we behave these days, as a species.

It's very easy to be entertained or distracted at all times. In older days, a term for a person who was addicted to substances was “Dissipated,” and I think it's very accurate. When we allow our attention to be taken at all times like this, we allow ourselves, our energy to be spread too thin, to be quite literally dissipated across all our interests. When water is dissipated, it has less ability to exert force. A focused stream can cut metal, a slowly seeping puddle takes much longer to effect any change.


According to the Official Site it's currently Bandcamp Friday, meaning Bandcamp is giving all their proceeds directly to the artists instead of to their new Epic Games overlords. So hey, as long as they keep doing that I'm going to keep buying music I probably don't need but definitely enjoy on the first Friday of the month. Some highlights:

Tunic Soundtrack, by Lifeformed

I love Lifeformed, I have for years. So even before I knew about the game TUNIC I knew I wanted this soundtrack. Today's a perfect day to pick it up! As with Lifeformed's other work, this is full of lushly layered sounds, both delicate and intricate, with deeply satisfying bass notes interspersed with crystalline synths.

St. Christopher by Peter Capaldi

Yes, the 12th Doctor Who made an album! This should surprise exactly zero Whovians, as Peter Capaldi's doctor was the first and only one to get to play a guitar version of the opening theme song over the opening credits. His album St. Christopher is, as the title of the first song suggests, beautiful and weird. This is the music of a genuine punk rocker who has grown up and been married for a few decades and fulfilled his life dream of playing The Doctor and now wants to make a solo album.

NO, I'm not getting paid by anyone to endorse these, nor do I get any clickthrough revenue. I just like Bandcamp and these artists and albums and thought I would share.

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I was thinking about sound the other day. Sound is fascinating and our sense of hearing doubly so. If you reduce sound to its most elemental level, it's nothing but a series of higher- or lower-pressure waves that stimulate a specific nerve in our auditory canal. But given those very basic impulses, we can discern many different sources of sound. The sound of me typing on my keyboard differs not only from the sound of my son playing the piano, but also from the sound of typing on a slightly different keyboard.

And for some reason this has always annoyed me. If you look at a visual representation of an audio file, you'll see the overall outline of the waveform, and it seems impossible that such a primitive shape could contain music with voices and instruments and beauty.


Quick follow up on Nate's Novel Finishing Month:

I'm (re-) writing Pacifica on Campfire Writing. I've been looking for a good way to collaborate on projects like this, and they're getting increasingly common. Campfire has a few rough edges to be sure, but I like it overall.

Anyway, if you want to follow along with what's going on with Pacifica in its re-write phase, you can check it out on Campfire's “Explore” site, which very handily lets me keep certain pieces of information back in case of spoilers.

Check it out here: Pacifica on Campfire

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