WET002 – Paul Levinson on writing, technology, music and productivity

For episode #2 of the WET Podcast, I had the great pleasure of talking to Paul Levinson. Paul is a true Renaissance Man. We talked about his academic work, science fiction writing, and musical career. He also gives a lot of great advice about writing and creating.

My favorite roductivity advice from thie episode: Don’t let social engagements get in the way of writing.

Links mentioned:

KBoards Writer’s Cafe (my username is emarsh and Paul’s is paullev)

Synchronicity on Buzzy-mag

Elegy in a Country Church Yard, Thomas Gray

Nature magazine studies errors in Encyclopedia Brittanica vs Wikipedia

Wikipedia entry about Nature article


paullevinson.net | Paul’s Youtube Channel | Paul on Twitter

Some of Pauls books (affiliate lnks):
The Soft Edge | New New Media | The Plot to Save Socrates (Sierra Waters Book 1) | Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium


Video for this podcast:

Subcsribe to the WET Podcast in iTunes | Main page for The WET Podcast

You can follow me at @emarsh.

Music: “Double the Daily Dose” by Revolution Void (http://www.revolutionvoid.com)

Check out this episode!

WET001 – Audrey Watters on Educational Technology

Welcome to the WET podcast’s premiere episode.

In episode #1, I talk to Audrey Watters about educational technology, including MOOCs, Learning Managmeent Systems, distance learning, social media and teaching, among other things.

Check out her incredibly resouceful site Hack Education and follow her on twitter @audreywatters.

Subcsribe to the WET Podcast in iTunes | Main page for The WET Podcast

You can follow me at @emarsh.

Music: “Double the Daily Dose” by Revolution Void (http://www.revolutionvoid.com)

WET Podcast

I haven’t talked about it much, but I am starting a new podcast called WET: Writing, Education and Technology. Each week on Friday (beginning 8/29/14) I will post an interview with someone in one or more of those fields. The interviews will range from educators to journalist to self-published writers to musicians to who-knows-who. I’m still working out some of the technical details, but the plan is to have it here at www.erikmarshall.net/wet. It will be available in iTunes and Stitcher and all the other places you would expect to find podcasts. Can’t wait to start, and I hope you enjoy it.

That thing I said about pseudonyms earlier

Well, I’ve done a 180. I decided a little while ago to go with a pen name for fiction and keep my real name for nonfiction, just to separate the two. Maybe I’ll change my mind again before hitting “Publish” on the novel. Stay tuned, I guess. If you want to be kept abreast of such things, you can join my mailing list.

To be honest, though, I am starting to feel like I should reverse them. I am finishing a draft of my memoir about graduate school, and some of the things I have included are very personal, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes incriminating. I am tempted to use a pen name for that, just to preserve the innocence of the guilty, or however the saying goes (the guilty being me), but that seems like a cop-out, and putting my real name on it, I think, will lend it credibility. I mean, it’s all true, so I might as well own it. But still.

I’m going to looking for a few beta readers soon, people to give it a read and give some feedback. If you’re interested drop me an email (erik@erikmarshall.net).


Failing at Goals, Learning to Forgive

I set a goal at the beginning of April to complete 50,000 words of a rewrite of the novel I started last year. I had been stuck in revision, and decided that the best way forward was to start over completely. Whether or not this was a good idea is another story, but it’s coming along well, plot-wise.
2014-05-01 11_16_34-Project Targets


That goal of 50,000? Didn’t make it, and I’m okay with that. And that last part, the being okay with it? That’s new. Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I’m all blasé about it. I am a little disappointed,  but I am letting myself be okay with 30,000 words. I am forgiving myself.

In the past, I would have beaten myself up by not being done and told myself I’m a loser and not a real writer, and that I would fail at everything in life.  In fact, I would have noticed after a week that I was not on pace and I would’ve tried harder to go faster, and when I inevitably failed after a few days, I would have gone into a depressive funk and stopped writing altogether. But I didn’t do that this time. I knew I was behind early in the month (see chart below), but I just kept writing. And I will just keep writing. So I make 50,000 in mid-May (or late May) instead of later April. Oh well.

You will see from this chart that I spent a little bit of time writing  most days in April. To complete 50,000 words I would have needed to write 1666 words per day, and, indeed, my initial daily goal was 2000 words, which I hit 3 times in the first 8 days of April. Unfortunately, there were three days during that same stretch when I didn’t write at all.  For the rest of the month, I did okay, missing a day here or there, and taking an entire weekend off. I have no excuses but the usual: busy time of semester, grading, travel, etc. Not great excuses, but there they are. I am hoping (nay, planning) to be more productive in May, and to finish the novel, get into revision, get it out to readers and move on to the next thing.

2014-05-01 11_20_49-Word Count - Google Sheets


I’m not saying that one shouldn’t take one’s goals seriously. I do think it’s important to make goals and to try hard to keep them. Self-imposed deadlines like this work best when taken seriously, but they can also serve as opportunities for self-flagellation and counterproductive behavior.  I used to do that all the time, especially when writing my dissertation, but I am slowly learning that if you just keep moving forward, you’ll get wherever you’re going. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to be kind to yourself.

Aliases, Pseudonyms, Alter Egos

flickr photo credit ChaTo (Carlos Castillo)

We all have multiple identities. We act differently around parents than we do around our lovers, in school, at work, in private. Somehow, though, we manage to see ourselves as one coherent identity.

Online, this tendency is exaggerated. We use different usernames to preserve anonymity, to separate different parts of our lives, or simply out of convenience. I have many nicknames and online aliases. Many of my friends call me “emarsh,” which is also my twitter handle (I stole this, of course, from J.Lo).

I have an older online alias that used to be secret, my hacker handle, which became my gamer handle and then my gmail address. Although I was an earlyish adopter of gmail, erikmarshall was already taken, as was emarsh, emarshall, ewmarshall and any other reasonable representation of my real name. I fell back on my old handle, res611, which has now become a major hub of my online identity.

Why res611? Well, when I fancied myself a subversive hacker type in my teens, I thought it would be cool to be called “resident,” which I took from TSR, a “Terminate and Stay Resident” program, one that would lurk in the background even after it closed. Also, I could pretend that much of the mail that came to the house was for me.

Being a dictionary word, “resident” was not always available on different sites, so I appended my birthday, June 11, or “611,” and eventually shortened “resident” to “res.” So there you have it. Erik Marshall = emarsh = res611.

I have had other aliases, some to preserve anonymity, some just to be cute.

As I transition to an academic/fiction/memoir writer, I often wonder if I should use a pseudonym. At first I thought I might do so to protect myself. I wasn’t sure if being a fiction writer might negatively affect my chances on the academic job market. I have since rethought that rationale, pretty much adopting the attitude that if someone doesn’t like my writing, then they can fuck off and I don’t want to work with them anyway.

I have considered using a pseudonym for different genres or types of writing, not for secrecy but to separate different types of writing, such as fiction/non-fiction, but also, say, sf and more literary fiction. I have decided against that as well, figuring that readers will be able to figure it out. The furthest I will go, I think, is to maybe append “Ph.D.” to some of my nonfiction work, such as my upcoming memoir, but not to my fiction. “Erik Marshall, Ph.D.” will mean nonfiction, whereas “Erik Marshall” will be fiction. I trust readers to figure out the difference. If I end up writing a science fiction novel, and then a romance or something, I would think readers would figure out the genre shift. If I end up writing erotica, I might use a pseudonym to separate my writing personae. Maybe I’d just use my initials, E.W. Marshall.

I don’t mind being fragmented or managing multiple aliases online. I also don’t mind lumping my creative work together under my own name and letting people sift through it on their own. I don’t want or need to hide behind different names to express myself.

Do you use an alias? A pseudonym? Do you have an alter ego?