Productivity? Who needs it.

It was not the weekend I wanted. I was stressed out, tired, and basically unproductive the whole time. I had HOPED to be able to script, ink, and color three weeks of The Greatest Science Fiction Comic on the Web, but that kind of quality takes more “soul” than I had in me — at least in those quantities.

I’ll reiterate from an earlier Journal entry: Schlocktoberfest 2004 is going to be dark, and it’s only the beginning of Book IV, which is ALSO going to be dark. Writing this stuff is hard work, and getting it FUNNY is especially painful. It’s easy to write depressing things — just check any teenager’s Live Journal — but writing dark drama with cheery punchlines… THAT’s a real chore. It’s like schizophrenia.

I’m not complaining. I’m not even making excuses. After all, the buffer still stands at 32, and although it’s going to erode quickly with all my upcoming travel, that’s what it’s there for — you’ll get your Schlock fix, right on time.

Okay, maybe I AM complaining. The weekend is gone, and I don’t feel like I’ve got much to show for it. *sigh*

21 thoughts on “Productivity? Who needs it.”

  1. By way of clarification, all the great writing I did this weekend was backstory, “architectural” stuff. It’s not stuff that directly advances the buffer, but it IS stuff that pretty impressively increases the quality of the schlock I turn out. I’m still grateful for that.

  2. we _do_ appreciate it. 🙂 every single day. 🙂

    I spent the entire weekend making a polling system. Rather, half of a polling system. You can create polls, add items and edit polls/items, and vote. You can’t tally the votes yet, though; I’m planning on using Condorcet voting, and I’m a bit intimidated by needing to come up with a good way to _display_ results. As well as actually needing to link those results into everything else that’s going on on the site. Silly stuff. 🙂

  3. You are seeing only the frozen moment of the weekend.

    I observe the process — how Howard Tayler, over time, goes about doing those things he does so very well.

    It’s quite good. You’ll see that soon, when you are in a different frame of the movie. ];-)

    Best wishes.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. Hey Howard, your work is appreciated. Boy is it ever! When comics keep coming out once a week on random days, or not all. When they disapper or go on indefinate hiatus, or just plain aren’t funny anymore. There’s yours, reliabily plugging away daily producing stuff that’s actually worth reading, and has a least one gag per strip.

    Beleive me, it’s appriciated, it’s hard to find good quality science-fiction with a plot and everything nowadays…
    the fact that it’s funny as well is a huge bonus too.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing good work already.

  5. Schlock is one of the first strips I read each day!
    And the consistently high quality of strip and art are appreciated, beleive me.

  6. We all love the results, I’ve counted on Schlock for a daily dose of entertainment for a long time now. I’m amazed you can put out such quality stuff whilst managing another career and a family. I’ve got a 4 month old and can barely find the time for my gaming and coding projects!

  7. Just after writing this Journal entry I cranked out a week’s worth of scripts. I now need to write only eight more scripts to take me to October 31st, at which point I can start DRAWING the 22 days of Schlocktoberfest that have to hang together so tightly.

    The first week has to hang together tightly, too, but it was expositional action, and I could get away with drawing it before knowing *exactly* what was happening in the following weeks. Those last three weeks, though, need interlocking punchlines, tight and FAST character arcs, and need to draw deeply from the “running gag” well — all necessary to ensure that you’ll laugh, or at least chuckle while you panic.

    Anyway, I feel a little better about the quantity of output now.

    A little.


    1. Huzzah! Grats on the productivity, and thanks so much for keeping up the consistently good work.

      Just another fanboy of the Schlockiverse. 🙂

  8. Darkness…

    …. I’m afraid is inevitable from time to time in the Schlockiverse. What you’ve set up with Petey… I have a terrible feeling that there’s no good resolution for him, at least with him being anything like what he is. His whole campaign against his makers seems potentially to just be an expression of their own xenophobia, just turned against them. If so, by becoming meat he may become subject to the same attitudes… which would then make him the greatest single threat the galax(ies)y has/have ever known. And you have so many OTHER dangling plot time bombs…

    1. Re: Darkness…

      > What you’ve set up with Petey… I have a terrible
      > feeling that there’s no good resolution for him,
      > at least with him being anything like what he is.

      So he’s back from the dead, but in a bad way?


  9. I know you hear it a lot but just in case you don’t hear it enough: Thank you very very much. We do appreciate greatly everything you do.

    I think it’s time for me to go buy another shirt.

  10. hurricane francis

    first off i love the comic and normally you’d get compassion from me except i live in tampa bay, FL and two words. Yup you guessed it Hurricane Frances i spent the better part of the 3 day weekend stuck in a 2 bedroom house with 5 people and 7 dogs with assorted psyicogal disorders suffice to say i got none of my college hw done

    1. Re: hurricane Frances

      I spent 1982’s No-Name Storm in a cabin below the Manatee River Dam with 25 other boy-scouts. The rain came through the screened windows horizontally — we were soaked to the skin inside our sleeping bags.

      In the morning they let the dam go, and we had to rescue all our canoes from the rising water, and then drive to higher ground.

      At any rate, I have sympathy for you. At least you’re DRY. 🙂


  11. The proper analogy just struck me. This past weekend wasn’t spent on producing output, but the toolchain needed to get the output done with better results. That kind of work is always productive, well beyond the time spent in actually doing it.

      1. Re: There is a name for it

        So I went out and research “yak shaving.” The term originates from a Ren & Stimpy episode, but its context in the episode eludes my 5-minute-Googling limit.

        It’s in the jargon file as you described. Interesting. But it’s not what I’m doing. Yak shaving implies at least three layers of dependencies from the contexts in which I’ve seen it, and in my case there was only ONE dependency.

        Now, if I’d been reformatting a drive for a Linux server I was building to host the Wiki into which I was going to dump my plotpoints and backstory, we’d DEFINITELY be talking about yak shaving.


        1. Re: There is a name for it

          No, that was MY job. Reformatting the Linux server, installing apache, trying Zend Optimizer, uninstalling Zend Optimizer, making sure PHP worked properly.

          Finding out that I need virtual ftp users, so doublecheck my notes on proftpd, which leads me into researching a password program for ftp, and somehow ends up with my having to work on DNS. What DNS had to do with the machine installation itself is a torturous sequence, and could probably be considered Yak Shaving..



      2. Re: There is a name for it

        This, of course, should be carefully distinguished from “cat vacuuming”, which has become a fairly common phrase on rec.arts.sf.composition. (See, item 3.17 at the bottom of the page.)

        To quote, from the post that started the phrase (albeit in a pre-mutated form):

        Writer’s Displacement Activity? Is that the term? We call it “waxing the cat”. As in, you’re supposed to be writing, but first you have to wash the dishes. And sweep the floor. And then the dust on that shelf really gets to bothering you. And while you’re at it, you could wipe the grime off the switchplates and the door moldings.

        Next thing you know, you’re eyeing Fluffy and saying “Gosh, how long =has= it been since I got around to waxing the cat?”

        — Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 1999

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