Jess Nickelsen: Discombobulated
March 10, 2021 - Tech Dilemmas, Sourdough, Writing Stickiness, and On Having Published


No pics this time, though I am trying to get into the habit of including some of my photography every now and then on the blog. It’s a grey old day here in Wellington, and I’ve been upstairs in the kitchen, drinking coffee and reading the paper, and doing soduku and baking sourdough.

The sourdough proofed overnight in the kitchen (the recipe says to put it in the fridge, but our fridge is tiny and we have no room for two bowls of proofing dough) and was huge and puffy this morning. I really like this recipe from I always meant to go on and bake a different recipe from the site (he calls it beginner’s sourdough”) but I love the flavour, texture, and process of baking this one so much I haven’t moved on from it. (It uses a combination of white flour, wholemeal and rye.) Anyway, I really recommend it.

I own one proofing basket, so I proof one loaf in the basket and one in a pyrex bowl lined with a tea towel. I dust everything with rice flour so it doesn’t stick. Normal flour is a no-go, but I guess rice flour is just that little bit grittier and stops the sticking. When I bake the bread I do it in my mum’s old romertopf clay roasting dish. The shape winds up strange (a bit oblong) but I love how it bakes the bread in there.

Anyway! I’ve slowly been working my way through a sticky bit in my current writing project, which has involved mind-mapping, lots of walks, thinking in the shower (that usually works for me), etc. In the past I’ve been so discouraged by these times, where something just won’t let you move forward, but I’m realising more and more that these moments are just part of the process.

Not writing isn’t the answer. I’m trying to allocate an area in my ulysses project (I’m using an old version that I’d bought before they went to their subscription-model, and it works fine) just for brainstorming. In the past I’d get overwhelmed by all the notebooks I would write in, pondering one idea over the next, but I’ve decided this time once I decide on a way forward I’m going to delete all the other meanderings on the same subject. I don’t need to keep all of the wonderings.’

What else is going on…I’m finding more and more that I wish I had something like a Macbook Air so I could work on the project when I’m upstairs. (The mac mini is set up in a study under the house, which also has an external entry. It’s great, but you can’t just duck down and write something without completely removing yourself from family goings-on.) I could use a notebook, like a paper notebook, but I’m off” those at the moment. At the same time, my laptop, which I’ve had for four years now and is still great, but bloated with Windows (and my dual-boot partition of Manjaro Linux) is in need of a clean reinstall. Whenever I get to this point, I always wonder, maybe I could just go the whole way with Linux? And then I wonder what I need this laptop for anyway. It’s handy to scan negatives to, and I’ve worked on it in the past. But I could do that with Linux. Seriously the only thing I wonder about is whether I could run Bedrock Minecraft or The Sims 4, which I play with Leila. I guess I could just switch over to Manjaro and then hop back to Windows whenever we are playing video games.

Anyway. The last other thing I just wanted to briefly mention was the strange sensation of having got The Dark Offering done and dusted. I’ve seen some people warning about falling into the trap of checking your Amazon author rank too often, or angsting over reviews. Naturally I hope these things rise above a non-zero level, but in a really strange way it’s almost a tangent to the main thing,” which for me was just about getting myself into a situation where I could put my writing out into the world. I’ve set up the pipeline, if that makes sense. All of the things that I used to debate, like setting up a newsletter, or an author blog, or any of the rest of it. Those were what was holding me up, holding me back. Getting past that speedbump (roadblock? hurdle?) was the main challenge for me. Now that I’ve got out of my own way on that front, I can just finally sit down and get on with the process of regular writing and releasing. I feel like I’ve moved from one lane on the motorway to the next slightly-faster lane.

Interestingly I’ve noticed my goals aren’t so much about get into that fastest lane as quickly as possible, in a Lamborghini and throwing money out the window,” but more about hey, this is interesting. Let’s see what this is like now that I can move past the people dragging tent-trailers behind the cars still driving on their spare tyres.” (Obviously a metaphor; not judging or hating on people who still drive around on their spare tyres.) And I was one of those trailer-towers, all dragged down by baggage (hey, I think this metaphor has legs). It’s been good to jettison some of that, winnow down my packing to see what I actually want to carry forward with me. Ways of thinking, mostly. Amazing how much we can hold ourselves back through just being afraid to turn our indicators on.


OK, enough with the driving metaphors. Have a good day!