From Odin, 2023's Penultimate Newsletter... or is it?
Details on format changes, news from the world, big updates on my novel and writing, lots of video content, and more!
What's ahead in this newsletter? Big changes (again) to my overall newsletter and blogging format), huge news regarding my novel, multiple articles and other art to share, big thoughts on education and life, developments in my teaching career, and more! She's a doozy, y'all, and I'm so excited to share in this year's penultimate newsletter from Halvorson Times!
December arrives, bringing with it lovely California winter rains and a season of foggy change that I love so well. I have quite a few changes arriving in my life, so November has been a bit of a whirlwind. For one thing, my third semester of Library School is wrapping up, and this means I'm only one year away from having my second Master's degree! I could easily see myself becoming an itinerant collector of professional degrees, simply because I like the experience of learning.
Something I've been thinking about the last few months relates to this: being a first-generation student. I attended an event for my school's First Gen group a few months ago, and realized, as I connected with peers, was how much of my psychology has been directed by this idea that I was somehow not good enough to "make it" in the world of academia.
When I first started applying to undergraduate programs, I remember being honestly quite hopeless that I would be accepted into any, particularly because I wanted a sort of education that did not focus on grades. I wanted a sort of nonstandard educational experience where I would be able to self-direct my learning, and be considered based on my holistic self, if you'll pardon the phrase.
Well, I got into not just one of those programs, but all of them! And yet, my inner self had not yet been disconnected from this very negative view of myself.
The ego is really just a running narrative of our life-an internal story that gets built up over time and eventually becomes realized in the ways we inhibit the world - how we think and act. There is a self-reinforcing loop in our being that can become quite detrimental to our experience of being alive unless we give it a deep degree of loving inspection. This is just what we often call meditation. And, what years of meditation and psychotherapy have helped me to understand is that my internal view of myself was so ossified, so tightly bound into a self-reinforcing loop, that I needed multiple examples of success to arise within my life before I could incorporate the reality of who I was into my ego - before I could create a self narrative that reflected external reality rather than my own ossified internal view at myself as someone who didn't stand a chance of succeeding in the academic world.
My first Master's degree helped, largely thanks to mentors like Theodora Goss, who helped me realize my full potential as a researcher and a scholar. But, it wasn't until Just this year, upon finally interacting with people who didn't come from the privileged background of generational academic success, that I saw my own self image clearly externalized for the first time. Now, I feel like I'm finally rewriting that internal narrative.
So much of our lives are ruled by the inner narrative we carry with us, uninspected. And this shape of our life, even though it is just a distorted homunculus that lives only in our brains, defines the limits of what we consider possible in the world. We self-define ourselves into bit parts in the play of our own lives, and I think that it's one of life's greatest challenges (and its most rewarding) to change that narrative, and to allow ourselves the chance to like truthfully- that is, to not enact a false version of ourselves that only exists as a shadow in the mind.
This year has been filled with changes for me, and I've been standing in the middle of it all, wind whipping my hair, leaves like razors flowing through the air. Sometimes, it feels like any movement is a risk; any choice a step across the edge of catastrophe.
An yet, step we must. We move, blending with the wind as best we can, letting instinct, intelligence, and dreams guide us through a blind maze. Sometimes, you can't do anything but live.
At the beginning of the year, I started a new Master's program, joining the ranks of library scientists around the world. This move came about for the practical as well as the passionate. My first two degrees in creative writing made me the person that I am today, but they haven't yet managed to pay all the bills! (Who knows, though... I'm not "writing" that possibility off yet).
Today's worker must be multidisciplinary, however, and my creative writing experience is absolutely perfect for that premise. That's actually how library science fits into this, too. My passion of library and information science is one that blooms from the autodidact generalist in me. I love learning, I love trying to make the world a better place: these are the qualities that make a librarian.
Writing actually is multidisciplinary, quite deeply so, but it is also just a base framework for a modern career. All degrees, in fact, provide variable value: you get out of them what you put in. But, the more skills that you connect to one another, the stronger your flow through life becomes. The more opportunities that arise.
This newsletter had been weekly, when I started it, and I altered it to monthly for the sake of my sanity during the start of my Master's program. I want to turn that around. I discover new things on a weekly basis, and almost always have new news or thoughts to share. So, I plan to go back to a weekly format, but keep the content shorter and more focused.
This change will take place sometime between now and January. So you'll be seeing a bit more of my in your inbox. I hope that's something you can look forward to.
Until now, I've published my writing directly to Medium.com, and then made it freely available through links in my newsletter. But that's changing. My new blog-based website at OdinHalvorson.com is the one-stop shop for everything I write, fiction and non-fiction alike.
All of my writing is also mirrored to medium.com, so if you prefer to use that service to read my writing, great! You'll be able to continue to do so. And, I appreciate that support (the more reads I get there, the more Medium pays me). But, I've never felt good about locking all my work behind a paywall.
How you can support me
Between Medium and my newsletter platforms, I have over 2000 people who connect with my work enough to follow me and read my work. If every one of those people dropped me a dollar's donation once a month, I'd be able to make my living doing what I love.
To be clear, I don't expect this from anyone: that's not why I'm doing this... but, in order to make a writing life sustainable, that crowd-sourced patronage is the only way to go.
So, I'll be a bit more pushy from now on about directing my readers toward my Ko-Fi account, where you can sign up to be a monthly patron of my life and work, or where you can leave one-time donations to brighten my day.
My goal this month has been to step up my writing game. I was talking with a friend recently who noted something quite profound. She said that it seemed to her like I planned my writing life as if everything would go perfectly. Which, of course, is both completely true, and absolutely unrealistic. I get excited about what I'm working on, and then life comes along and derails my perfect timeline, and suddenly I'm bereft of belief in myself and my work. Her suggestion was to see how much I could write in a normal three month period, and use that as my baseline. Turns out, that's around 30k words of fiction. So, given that, I can now better see how long it might take me to finish my projects.
For my novel my goal is to complete a full draft by June (and be ready to share with my writing peers). There is some frustration here, for sure, because my original goal had been to finish the draft this year. But, I am still writing, and that's key. That is, I think, the point where a lot of people let themselves down. When you stop writing, or acting, or whatever it is that you love doing, that's the only point of failure. As long as you're doing something that's all that matters.
So, I of course am also connecting with other writers, too, because community is how we stay engaged with the work. My friends at roundtable writers.org, naturally are my rock. But the incredible people at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, too (I attended virtually this year at the and ab October). This month, I have a piece due to the group of Stonecoast alumni that I workshop with for our January meeting. Sections of my novel will go into that.
So, again, it's not about getting published, it's about staying involved. Because you're got to ask yourself: why am I doing this art? Is it because I want to be the best? Well, my friend... there will always be a bigger fish than you. If you're going into your art for the money- fine-commit to the working lifestyle that creates cash. But, even that is art, really. The only point where things go sideway is when you stop being directed by the purpose of joy in the work itself.
I've also been writing a fair amount for my blog this month, and that's always nice, because then I have more to share with all of you! I remain amazed that more than 2000 people actively subscribe to my writing, and so grateful to have the support to keep doing what I love.
Recent publications (writing, audio, and video)
Articles from November
Carl Sagan Day 2023. Our shared humanity is visible in the light of the stars
Libraries on the Front Line: Amazon and the Last of the Big Fish. How the big five paved the way for Amazon’s predation and the enshittification of publishing.
Holding Onto the Future. What really robbed us wasn’t the pandemic.
Killers of the Flower Moon. Critiques, genius, and how art can change the world.
Without the Cliff by Caitlin Coey — A Review. Childhood traumas, reflections, and poetry for a brighter world.
Henry Kissinger — The Wicked Witch is Dead. On the nature of centralized power’s inevitable corruption.
I now publish all my videos on the same YouTube channel I share with my wife: The Unenlightened Generalists. Please, consider subscribing to our channel for more videos on every topic under the sun.
I've also been very busy with things in the world of library and information science, beyond just the work for my current classes.
I received permission to embark on my own independent study next term, literally crafting my own class. It's going to be devoted to the study of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), and will focus on the Zettelkasten note-taking method in conjunction with Indigenous memory studies.
Related to that, it's been suggested to me that I might be able to take my work creating this class and actually pitch it to my school as a course for me to professionally teach after I graduate! That really would be the next level of professional fulfillment for me, as I've always wanted to teach at the higher ed level.
From the world
I want to keep this section pretty light, so I'm not going to pontificate, just share links to some reading that I think you might appreciate (or that I hope you use to brush up on some important topics).
Chrome Users Beware: Manifest V3 is Deceitful and Threatening. Basically? Just stop use Chrome. For all that is holy, people. STOP, USING, CHROME.
This Tandem Showerhead Turns Your Bathroom Into a Spa. I am getting this. Full stop.
Furiosa’s first trailer teases the origins of one of the Mad Max saga’s best characters. Fury Road was incredible, and I cannot wait for the next installment.
"Big cars are killing Americans." And that's not hyperbole.
Iconic Napalm Rights Advocate Dead At 100. You saw my piece on this man, above, but here's some satire to brighten things a bit.
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Roasts Spotify’s Artist Payout System in Year-End Wrapped Video. Listen, SPOTIFY IS PURE EVIL. That's it. That's the whole story.
Meta Designed Products to Capitalize on Teen Vulnerabilities, States Allege. Meta has always been evil, but here's further examples of why it sucks.
Study: 58% of world's richest companies quietly lobby against climate policies. This fits with the recent climate conference (which, in the most horrific example of dark humor ever devised is run by fricken' Saudi Arabia).
The US government has released its fifth national climate assessment. TLDR? The climate zones have literally shifted, and things are not great.
Okay, enough of the really fun stuff. I'll leave things there.
Until next time, friends, go easy. And, if you can't go easy then go as easy as you can.