I've got a lot out of this, so I thought a reflection might be useful, if only for me.


33 writeups

25 definitely non fiction

5 definitely fiction (inc. poetry)

3 memories

28 C's

23,190 words

702.7272 words per writeup on average

12/30 writing days

2000 words per writing day, roughly.


I first thought of attempting Iron Noder in 2018. I created a draft with a list of about 40 topics. This was not enough. Some days I just didn't feel like starting by writing anything on my list. I still haven't written the No.1 title on my list because I want to do it justice and it crosses a few different topics. I ended up deleting about 25% because they'd either been filled or they just didn't attract me anymore, I wrote up about 33% of them, and the remainder are still on the list. Watching. Waiting. Their very existence a silent and semi-secret accusation. In the end, it was a conversation in the catbox with andycyca that made me stop looking at my list and bang something out that wasn't on there. The ball was then rolling. Another conversation with RO and a bunch of other people made me remember a short series of slash fiction that I started for a laugh (but, you know how it is, secretly wanting it to be good) 10 years ago and never finished. I dug it out of my oldest email address outbox and dusted it off and replotted it. When it's finished, it'll be about 8-9k words that I'm actually pretty happy with. I got some feedback on it that was really helpful and addressed a part of my writing I've been trying to work on for years for my novels. I'm taking it, keeps me going.

As noted above, I've only actually written on around 12 days out of November. The only writeups that I did for Iron Noder that I ever slept on as drafts were the Spock/Uhura slashfics. Everything else got pushed out the same day it was started. I think by the 17th November, what had looked like something I had a real chance of failing at, had instead become achievable. On the 16th, after one of the worst weekends of my life, I pushed 8 writeups. They're alright, they do the job. I'm learning that the perfect is the enemy of the good. That was the day I got addicted to Iron Noder 2020 and really felt like I had a rhythm.


That feeling of rhythm is something I'm going to try to take from this process. It's wonderful that our bodies and minds are organised to get more efficient in the face of manageable resistance. I love the way we find our own process in writing, and experience challenges, plateaus and breakthroughs. One thing I didn't take into account was the extent to which writing begets more writing. One writeup might need 2-3 supplementary definitions that are potentially worthwhile in their own right. A writeup about something from secondary school might trigger a memory from primary school, which becomes a seam you can mine for more material if you choose or need to. This morning it crossed my mind that I might go for "Steel Noder", which is 40-49 writeups. That reminded me of a lad named Steele I met in a hostel in Bruges. The night before I met Steele I had observed a street kid busking in Brussels, which reminded me of a story my father told about his time as a kid selling newspapers. Then I wrote my dad a letter, I might even send it. I'll say it again, Writing begets more writing. You can read that one hundred times, but you don't know how it feels until you know how it feels. I've been in writing routines before, but I'd never experienced an urge to keep writing the way you might get an urge to keep running before.

I guess some people might read this reflection and think, "So what?". I'm writing partly from excitement and happiness, as well as to collect my own thoughts and solidify this practice. These are the best fake internet points I've ever collected. I've shown myself something I didn't know I could do, which I can apply outside of this context. I've exceeded my target for the month. Over 20,000 amateur words in 12 days out of a month! That's the best I've ever done, and I feel better for it. Also more keenly aware of my own shortcomings, which is useful.


Lockdown helped. which is weird. I think of this as the 1st month, if I can sustain 75% of this tempo in my other things for 2-3 months, I'll have a habit, and I'll be even happier. Lockdown has also been stressful, so that excuse not to write is kind of gone, hopefully. It took me longer than I wanted to get started, and I would have been sad if I'd failed. I should have started earlier. Being able to dance around topics is easier than taking a narrative forward step by step, but maybe I should dance a bit more through the narrative in order to keep writing and finish some NOVELS.


I really appreciate this writing community, which is my only writing community. I read amazing things here, and I connect with people and their writing, sometimes people connect with me and my writing. I value it. Through discussion, criticism, care, feedback, reading, inspiration, I've benefited from contact with hundreds of people here this month. I'm tempted to actually quantify that, produce some kind of infographic. I wouldn't have written this many words without this place. I've had messages from people that have really helped my writing, I've encouraged people. I've read tons of writeups. This place is wonderful.

Everybody should buy a copy of "The Plague" by Albert Camus before they're all sold out.


This is the twelfth or thirteenth Iron Noder I have participated in, and will be (hopefully) the eleventh I have completed. Every year has been different, both in what I was doing on E2, and in the circumstances of my outside life.

Looking back, in all of 2007, I had 19 writeups on E2. By 2007, the initial rush of being on E2, going back to 2001, had faded. "Write about random thing on the internet" was no longer fun. It seems that like a lot of people, I had grown out of E2. 2008 wasn't looking too hot, either, until sometime in September, when I decided to write about Yamhill County, Oregon, a non-spectacular subject that I managed to find interesting things to say about. And it just started something: I realized that I could write about anything, and that it didn't have to be particularly cool, internet-wise, or a grand thesis. I could just make note of interesting things. And the first Iron Noder solidified that. Or I assumed it did: this was 2008, I was still in my 20s, and my memories are hazy. And that kicked off a regular period of writing. I would return every year for another Iron Noder. Some of those years seem to have a unifying enthusiasm, others I was phoning it in. When I look back at my 2011 writeups, I can't remember what was going on. With 2012, I do: I had gotten a job offer to start teaching community college in Brookings, Oregon, and had tied the notion of success in with doing well at Iron Noder. I wrote 101 writeups for 2012. My next noteworthy Iron Noder was 2017, after two years away. I had been in Chile, and had thought my new life as a glamorous international ESL teacher meant I was too cool for writing on the internet. But after a year and a half in Chile, I returned to wanting to express myself here. My writeups in 2017 were unified in theme, not intentionally, and they inspired me to spend 2018 writing a book, my Autogeobiography. All of this paragraph meaning that over the years, my response to Iron Noder has been up and down, sometimes dealing with exterior events, sometimes with personal events, and sometimes I have just had more on my mind than other years.

All of which brings us to 2020. A year that I am sure will be seen as pivotal in United States history, to say the least. A time that, despite its difficulties overall, is not that bad for me. as of yesterday, I have a job. The election meant that one of the worst movements in United States politics is now over, or at least curtailed, and I am keeping busy with inaturalist and making movies on YouTube. I do have very limited social activities. Meaning, basically, none. I am mostly inside my hermetically sealed little apartment, trying to keep myself busy with little games, but being very uncertain about what the larger future holds.

I also wonder how this will reflect to people reading my writings of this year, in the future. It is often difficult to realize how much history is influencing us, at the time. Perhaps when I, or someone else, reads my writeups this year, in future times, it will be obvious that they were the product of a difficult time. My Iron Noder output this year includes three writeups about chewing gum marketing campaigns from a generation previously: something that does not seem to be directly related to living in a country with a pandemic and that had a swirling civil war around it. Maybe it was! Maybe it is obvious in context that I was writing those things out of nostalgia for a simpler time. But for me, my Iron Noder in this plague year has been like so many activities in 2020: a muddled attempt to do something, anything, while waiting for things to resolve themselves.


Title Ease of writing Fun of writing Comments
ICCF numeric notation Very easy Meh Why did no one node this before?
The Pomodoro FAQ Medium Medium I had been wanting to write my own FAQ textfile for some time. This is far from my best work, but it will do.
Who took my beer and gum? (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Medium Fuck yes! This idea came to me after reading the notice that inspired it and was writ in a single sitting. I don’t think I’m a good fiction writer, but there’s times like this when I enjoy it immensely
Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta Medium Medium I know this topic by feel because I took part in it, but I had to make research a bit more than I anticipated
Morse sequence Easy Meh I translated the Wikipedia article to Spanish a few years ago, after a YouTube video I saw. It’s a very interesting sequence, I’m partially surprised no one noded about it before.
Reventure Below medium Eh I enjoyed the game, but only up to a point and then it became a chore. After finishing, I decided i’d get as most fun as possible from it, and writing a node counts.
How to write about colors? Hard Little It’s hard for me to write about my feeling of “being a foreigner” in E2. I know that this being the internet means there’s no real nationality here, but there is an imbalance of language and as such an imbalance of representation of cultures. This, of course, is not by malice, but an unfortunate consequence of this being an English site. The fact that I get more readers here in English than in my “home places” in Spanish means I get more eyes in a foreign language than I’d like to get in Spanish.
Rubber duck debugging Easy Funny! I’m very much an amateur when it comes to programming. I started learning it seriously to fill up time at my horrible job back in 2012 and now I’ve written code for academic purposes. I cannot call myself a “pro”, but I’m definitely not a beginner anymore. I learned about this technique through reddit and never thought it was standard. Moreover, after practicing it, it amazes me that it’s not more popular
November 6, 2020 Easy, but harder than the actual code Funny! See the above. I learned to program doing toys like this, and now I’m an intermediate user. It’s strange.
n00b Easy A bit infuriating This was initially a very long winded rant on people who just want the answers. I refrained and instead tried to channel my inner hacker
Minimal Working Example Medium None Another “why wasn’t this noded before?” writeup. This one was also part of a larger rant about LaTeX users and n00bs. Please take it to mind the next time you ask for help about your code.
Do I require an identity? Medium-hard Medium I really don’t know why I wrote it. Even though I was there at the start, I’m very much not part of Tumblr culture and associated ideas/memes (like “snowflakes who demand you to address them in preferred and strange pronouns”). I don’t know how much of it is exaggeration, how much of it is “Social Justice War/Warriors” and how much of it is true advancement of new ideas in society at large. But I wanted to express my point of view on how this is not all about me, or you, or any one person. I still fear I screwed up in some way and reckoning will come years from now.
"What *should* we be worried about?"; or how too many cooks make a statistically average soup Easy (but hard to transcribe) Yes, some fun I started reading the book when I was going through a depressive episode a few months ago, so I tried mustering up my inner cinic to somehow deflect the negativity inherent to the topic. It partly worked. I started taking notes, originally to talk about how wrong some predictions are, but later on I started to actually reflect on the topics presented beyond their actual outcome. Those reflections will most likely never make it here, they’re too personal, but I wanted to share the overall feeling of reflecting on what other people worry about.
The drunkard and the lamplight Easy Mild Studying a Masters in “Hard” Science has only helped me further my understanding of how science actually works (as well as seeing how disconnected “Science” can be from the “common man”). The idea of using just a few things that work regardless of how well they fit is pandemic to most sciences and even pseudosciences. I hope I can help fight this a bit with this writeup.
An oversimplified explanation of Neural Networks Easy, except for the ASCII LOTS! I had had this idea tumbling around in my head for more than a year, given that it’s tangentially related to my thesis. I wanted to have some sort of “science fair” where I could explain this, but alas such opportunity has never materialized. Instead, you get this.
Ven a mi casa esta navidad Easy, yet hard A bit This carol hits me hard, even in years without a pandemic. This writeup has also been making the rounds in my head for a while now. The words just flew from head to keyboard.
November 14, 2020 Easy None at all Some nights I manage to fend off The Monster. This was not such a night.
Book of Demons Medium Medium I recall enjoying this game a lot when it came out. I reinstalled it to remember it well, and found myself sinking two more dozen hours into it. It’s an interesting concept and I truly find their concept of “middlecore developing” interesting. I really, really wish these guys will finish their project.
Don’t @ me Easy Fun Now I can’t read declarative sentences and religious texts without thinking of appending this at the end. Thanks raincomplex
1/0 Easy A bit infuriating Just like my Pi FAQ, this came out because of some oft repeated questions in places like Quora and Reddit. One of the worst things about widespread access to the internet is that lots of people don’t use it to actually try and learn but still feel the need to broadcast their radical ideas, unaware that they are neither radical, new, nor useful.
masa Easy Not fun, but not unfunny See my thought above about being a foreigner in E2. This one was a bit infuriating, because it seemed to coincide a lot with the worst gringos’ attitudes I’ve met: people who think they know all about my country and culture just because they learned a word badly. I did feel Schadenfreude when I was told the offending writeup had been nuked.
Rejazz Medium Some I love this song. It’s close to a prayer for me. I wanted to share that idea.
A simple way of constructing (some) magic squares Easy Very funny! This is one of those recreational mathematics that I came across when I was little and amazed some of my nerd friends back in 5th grade. It’s nothing too deep, but still quite fun if you’re into that.
Memorizing text through initials Easy Some Much like the above. I keep these mental curiosities mostly to myself, and only recently I realized I can just post them to the internet!
alambre Easy-hard Fun As mentioned elsewhere, putting up a “traditional” recipe here is not easy, because translating it is more than just looking up the appropriate words in the dictionary. It’s translating cultural nuances, many of which are invisible even to myself, who is embedded in this culture. Hopefully, this is useful for someone.
Not for everyone Medium Eh The actual topic has existed in my mind since 8th grade Spanish, with a wonderful teacher who wasn’t afraid to really challenge our minds when it came to language. She urged us to be critic of ourselves, and she would ask for phrases like this to be banished. I love that woman.
November 26, 2020 Hard None at all Another night when The Monster won
XP inflation Easy Lots! I’ll admit it, it’s a cheap shot at Everything from the past. It’s easy to criticize the past before social media because no one could have ever predicted it and its impact. That said, I think it’s an important topic for us to ponder in 2020 and forward
Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough Easy-Medium Some I reread this book because fuck it, this year is shitty enough and I wanted to indulge my nerd mind. This is not the most challenging book I’ve read, but it was fine. Hopefully the summaries will be helpful
Iron Noder in the time of Plague Easy-Hard Some? It’s never easy or comfortable to look into the past, or a mirror, and I did both here. I hope you like what I write


What I learned

Serial fiction is a bad idea (for me at the very least). Going into IN, I thought to myself "I will simply write a SF episode every day." The first episode was garbage, way more rushed than I wanted it to be. I knew that if I tried to churn out episodes they would also be garbage. I'm considering nuking it and never coming back to it. Reviews and informational things tend to be the most well-received of my writeups, which I like. I very much enjoy noding them, probably more than I enjoy poetry. I really enjoy writing poetry, but it's a bit of a self-indulgent thing for a person to node I suppose. I've been meaning to write some horror stories, but I can't write anything that's not long-form. The last time I tried to write a "short story" it ended up being 18,000 words. 



Nameless was a garbage poem. It is there with him was a decent poem, but it was "autobiographical" (something I actually experienced before I was on meds), which is why I posted it unlisted/hidden from New Writeups. Anyway, none of my poems are all that well received, and I'm not particularly good at it. I don't have the mastery of the English language that classic writers had. I enjoy writing poetry, but I think I won't write much of it in the future. All poetry is subjective and I don't care enough about writing poetry to commit myself to those kinds of writeups.

I noded a few of my favorite medieval songs and helped make e2 marginally more complete as a database. I enjoyed writing my thoughts on Café Müller. I was beyond surprised that study Bible was not noded; study Bibles are rather common and well-known among Christian people, and at least one can be found in many households. Maybe it's just my regional subset of Christianity, who knows.

Many days I found it very difficult to come up with things to node; hence my noding of O virtus sapientiae and Flow, my tears (lachrimae pavane). Iroshizuku was also something I noded just to churn out content. I still spent the time and effort to make sure the nodes were excellent and something worth being proud of, but the topics themselves were simply the product of my running out of ideas. I was listening to both those songs when it occured to me to node them; I had a bottle of Iroshizuku on my desk when I decided to node it. Even study Bible; I had my Bible on my desk when it occured to me to node it. 

I was beyond disappointed when The Wizard and the Years didn't get a very positive rep. I am very, very proud of that one; I consider it my best writeup. I wish it at least got a couple of C!s. At least Zephronias chinged it. Thank you Zeph for your silent support. I plan on writing another writeup similar to it, maybe a sequel to it, but it probably won't be in the second-person. I think the second-person tidbit is what made it flop -- or maybe people just hated it. Who knows honestly.

There are a couple of things I would do differently. First of all, I would prepare a bit of material in advance. If not writeups, perhaps a big list or spreadsheet of topics I want to node. I would start a week before November, so that when November rolls around I have a bit of a grip on things. Secondly, I would try to go through IN without posting any daylogs, poetry, or opinions; just things that everyone could benefit from learning about.


This will have been my eighth consecutive Iron Noder Challenge. The first year I did this, I also completed NaNoWriMo at the very same time, because I am a horrible gremlin like that, and overcommitting to simultaneous creative projects is apparently how I show love, or something. Since that first year, I dropped the NaNo portion of the activity, on the grounds that if I'm going to write a novel, I can damn well do it any time of year. I've never cared for New Year's Resolutions, for the same reason I don't care for NaNo: setting a fixed start time to begin a commitment feels too much to me like a preemptive failure of discipline and motivation - like by waiting until the selected date to begin, I am practicing at procrastinating. I just don't like how that feels; I imagine it works very well for other folk.

But that's not what Iron Noder is about for me. November is the month when I hibernate. I get reclusive, and only E2 and my husband (and coworkers and students) see hide or hair of me for the whole month. I've learned that if I'm going to go to ground and avoid social demands and doing emotional labour for my friends, to recuperate my own morale and mental health, then I have to go radio silent, or else I get swamped with other people's issues and very little reciprocal care. In November, my husband and I both have our birthdays, and as Americans we also have Thanksgiving, which is - at minimum - excruciatingly fraught, considering how conservative my relatives are, and considering how the family's elderly population has a distressing tendency to dwindle more and more, with deaths aligning with the holidays. The holidays have gotten brutally uncomfortable, to the point that nobody is inclined to host them anymore, and this year with the plague and all, obviously that's just out of the question anyway. I'm not the only person in my close circle of friends and peers who are going through things like this, and since nearly everyone I affiliate with is some sort of queer and liberal, with conservative homophobic relatives, there is always someone who needs a shoulder to cry on, and considers me their first pick. And that would be fine, if not for "someone" usually being a few dozen separate people who somehow unanimously select me for the job, even if we don't have a historical pattern of that being how the dynamic works between us. The thing is, December is even worse, since Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing for most people who have it, by then, and the winter recess between university semesters means they are often stuck with hateful natal family rather than back at school with supportive friends and partners and a clear sense of academic purpose. If I'm to be available in December, I have to patch up my own shit in November, and Iron Noder is the main active way for me to do that, paired with the more passive hibernatory habits of lounging and playing Pokémon games with my husband. November means self-care, and self-care in November means Iron Noder, and as my homenode states, "if I ever skip the Iron Noder challenge, I'm probably lying in a ditch somewhere, and you should send help."

As for my process: nodeshells, baby. If there is a nodeshell out there with a spiffy title, I want to gobble it up like a slice of pie I stole off a window sill. Reliably more than half my compositions are attached to what had been nodeshells before I got there, and the other half are whatever struck me on that particular day as desperately needing a writeup, or at least scratching the itch to write. Occasionally I ask for requests and recommendations from people who leave me remarks in my messages, and it seems like etouffee and I have a habit of turning lines of each other's writeups into nodeshells that one or the other of us fills, so there's never a shortage of raw material. Additionally, this year my husband wrote for me a computer program which generates a set of random words from a corpus of "poetry magnets," and that gave me a great springboard for most of this year's poetry. I don't preselect what I'm going to write; I don't go into Iron Noder with a game plan of any sort - feels too much like cheating, I guess - and instead I decide on a node to write in, and complete the entire work in a single sitting, then return to correct any errors that are caught by eagle-eyed people like DonJaime, Clockmaker, and Tem42, since my eyes are considerably less apt than those of eagles.

I'm glad andycyca made this pile-on node; I think there's a certain indulgence in writing about writing, that is very tempting to pursue, but under normal circumstances it gets narcissistic and navel-gazey at best, or cynical and gatekeeping at worst. I'm enjoying the opportunity to read how others tackle Iron Noder and the writing process overall, and having the license to spam the topic a little bit, myself. Without getting too much into the politics and history of Thanksgiving, I want to say that Everything2 and the Iron Noder Challenge are things I am extremely thankful are a part of my life, and that I'm thankful to be a part of for several years in a row now. I'm grateful to mauler for organising it like clockwork every year, and to the people who read and vote and comment. I'm grateful to the handful of users (you know who you are) who chronically ching my writeups; I haven't been on E2 for so long that I don't feel a thrill of unexpected delight, to be given those little hits of esteem and approval and fellow-feeling. I'm grateful to everyone else who writes for Iron Noder, keeping it an active dimension of this community, and by extension keeping this community lively during the time of year when it's hardest to motivate social participation and creative efforts. I can be pretty scarce during the rest of the year, because IN on E2 is so integral to my self-care that I don't want to undermine the "magic" of it, or the feeling that my birthday aligns perfectly with the home stretch of the entire process. This community and everyone in it are such a gift. The world is borked every which way right now, but this - it's something I'm happy to share a world with.

This year I've been fortunate, amid so much misfortune. I teach online, and that picked up during the pandemic, rather than disappearing from under my feet the way so many people's jobs have gone. I haven't lost any close personal friends or relatives to it so far. My other gig at the hotel stayed steady despite lockdowns, because many of our occupants live here full-time as renters, or as house fire survivors who are put up here by the state until their home insurance kicks in. I live in a deeply rural area with very little inter-region transit by the local population, and for all that the locals are very conservative, they've been scrupulous about wearing masks in public and staying home as much as possible. We lost RBG and picked up a pretty shameful collection of new SCOTUS justices, and only time will tell what kind of fallout will result from that, but the POTUS election ended without a worst case scenario happening, and voter turnout was the highest in US history, which on its own makes me a bit more optimistic about the future of this country, even with so much else going poorly: it tells me that the kids are alright. I made new friends this year, in that online capacity which is allowable under the circumstances, and I improved the quality of existing friendships and relationships. My health has held steady. I've read so many excellent books and enjoyed delightful shows. I've gotten to know and teach some wonderful students, some of whom treat me like family now. I got an ukulele as a birthday present, which was pretty dang sweet. So... I'm doing okay. There are things I wish were better, but I've already named them, so no need to repeat myself.

Now I'll get into the individual writeups, and thank you for reading this far. I know it ran long, but it's a personal writeup; I think that's forgivable.

Book Reviews

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War - Ties for my favourite book of all time. This bastard book broke me, and it put me back together with gold joinery, and I was delighted and aghast to find nobody had beaten me to reviewing it.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate and Providence - Companion pieces in a philosophically antagonistic way; I read these back-to-back and found that I got quite a bit more out of the experience than if I had only read either on its own.
  • The Quantum Magician - Really just a very fun romp, and good enough to recommend, which is all I ask of a heist novel set in space,
  • Ninefox Gambit - A masterwork of flawless prose and even better plot development. Again, aghast and delighted at finding no prior reviews.
  • frend - I was surprised how many people messaged me saying they plan to read this one; I have had the hardest damn time getting my close friends to take my recommendation seriously and give it a chance. I'm happy to have found some takers here. I really want this author to get "discovered" properly, because I can tell he's got some hard-hitting stories in him, that could use an audience.
  • If You Take My Meaning and The Word of Flesh and Soul - Practically companion pieces; reading these two back-to-back was highly rewarding.
  • Books to read before you give up on sci-fi - Okay, this is more of a bulk supply of quick recommendations, than a review, but it doesn't quite fall in any other category neatly. The nodeshell called, and I answered, and many, many other noders came forward with their assertions that Borges was not a science fiction author, to which I say "Humbug!" and "Linguistics is absolutely a science!" and also "Check out this sweet article which makes my point for me, better than I will."


  • Not all at once, but in a wave - I felt like applying a few principles from cynghanedd, since I noded it anyway, and this nodeshell struck me as a flawless title for a miniature science fiction scenario. I've been wanting to reread Whipping Star by Frank Herbert lately, so the idea that the stars are winking out, but are kind enough to help us escape whatever existential threat they are themselves fleeing, tickled me. I used the "magnet words" program as fuel for this piece.
  • "Too long ago" makes no sense to me. - My relatives have been exquisitely bad at keeping in touch, since the patriarch and matriarch of my paternal family died these last few years. Exactly one cousin has maintained e-mail contact with me, and it sounds like the communication breakdowns are between pretty much every branch of the family. Going through the holidays without the grandparents as the social glue is already patently hellish, and on some level there is a kind of wincing relief that at least we aren't collectively fearing losing our elders to the plague this year (though our grandmother's sister did pass away several months ago, and had too closed a funeral for any of our branch to attend). Nobody is gathering, of course - too much sense for that - but the nostalgia and the sense of abandonment needed somewhere to go, so this poem happened. The "magnet words" generator fueled this one.
  • nine keys and their attributes - Fiction, but I love the sonder of little glimpses into lives I'm not part of. I tried to capture a scrap of the sense of mystery and history found in a house slowly being emptied of evidence of past occupants. It's what my family feels like, from the inside, right now.
  • Something eventually will consume you - Fiction, and the "magnet words" generator fueled this one. Sometimes, as a sapphic woman, a little bit of fictional serial murder and arson is called for, as a way of exorcising the ghosts of fuckboys past.
  • carried off by birds - Another "sonder" fiction, fueled by the "magnet words" generator. The anecdote about the stork taking back a sibling is based on a true event in my family, as is the kicking of pelicans, but they were not the same event.


  • marimo care - Sometimes the words don't arrange themselves in friendly little lines for me, so I have to cast about my surroundings for something that can suitably anchor a topic. A loved one of mine gifted me three marimo for Valentine's Day, and they've delighted me, especially as a low-effort "quarantine pet," so when they came to mind, I knew I would be writing about them.


  • Will it explode in the microwave? - That night I was at hardship for what to write, and I expect it shows. Someone at my place of work managed to burn popcorn and volcanically erupt a can of pork & beans in the work microwave during the previous shift, which led me to some uncharitable thoughts and this writeup.

Simple Factuals

  • ideophone and Prozeugma - Just a couple little linguistics and grammar nodeshells which nobody had beaten me to filling. Short and sweet.
  • wampeter and anticonfluentialism - Fictional concepts which are actually pretty neat! I had fun on these two.
  • quadrumvirate - A topic which looked Latin (a subject expertise of mine) and turned out to be rather more Italian in its actual place in history. Pretty dry, and less fun to node than some others, but at least now that base is covered.
  • Lórien - Ahh, Tolkien, a topic where I have genuine subject matter expertise. I was shocked to find this one empty, and I was torn between noding it and Carcharoth, but I felt it would be a little "cheap" to do more than one writeup this month over material that the various Tolkien wikis also cover pretty effectively.
  • every day carry - A topic near and dear to my heart, even if I am a bit tongue-in-cheek about my own excessive day-to-day preparedness. I worked as a wilderness first responder for awhile during university, and I never have shaken off the related habits of carrying things I might need.
  • Brandolini's Law - Wikipedia had a few things to say about this, but I felt like it would be worth tackling the tactics for dealing with it, as well. The attentive reader may note that nowhere do I include "feed the trolls by participating in their Gish Gallop efforts" as a viable tactic.
  • Solo tabletop RPG - Another dearly beloved topic for me. I discovered solo tabletop this spring, after a lifetime of loving Choose Your Own Adventure stories. The offerings on itch.io gave me ways to kill time and explore some emotions in a productive way. It merited the writeup, I feel.

Factuals Nobody Asked For, But Nobody Was There To Stop Me

  • web weaving - Yeah, yeah, it's a tumblr thing. I don't care if folks find that childish; I consider web weaving an especially beautiful manifestation of a community orientation toward art and connection, which that particular website expresses especially well. I've run across weavings which made me sob like a desolate child, and weavings that lifted my spirits. I hope I've done it at least half a scrap of justice.
  • sedoretu - I'm polyamorous and bi, and Le Guin's stories featuring sedoretu (and the numerous fanfiction which use it as a relationship framework) make me feel particularly "seen." Bi polyamory presented not just as a tolerable sort of weirdness, but as the dominant and highly treasured-and-defended social norm of an entire planet, complete with its own set of nuances and weird matchmaking drama... yeah, that's for me. Give it here. Let's have more.
  • Cynghanedd - Welsh poetry occupies a vast amount of my cognitive real estate, and this topic is one which wikipedia barely scratches at all, and has rather shabby examples of, in its effort to present it to an anglophone audience. It doesn't address the political nature of Welsh poetry, in the face of English hostility and attempted cultural genocide. The topic cannot be handled justly without such an accounting, as far as I'm concerned.
  • hopepunk and solarpunk - I enjoyed these, but they were a little bit harrowing to assemble, and to feel "finished." I hadn't planned on writing the latter until I had already finished the former and realised that if I wanted it rendered to my satisfaction, I'd need to do it myself, because I do not trust anybody to have my quantity of capital-f Feelings about these genres. My upbringing was not a very friendly experience, and hopepunk and solarpunk speculative fiction are almost singlehandedly to credit for whatever adjacency-to-sanity I enjoy as an adult. Along with Welsh poetry, poetry by sapphic authors, and a great heap of music, they're the substrate from which my soul is hewn, and... that's that, I suppose.

Iron Noder 2020, 31/30

This year has been pretty good for me. I'd had some business problems that only started getting resolved this year. Further, my business was classed in the essentials category, so I was operating through out. Despite the lockdown, there was no fall in revenue. I hope this does not sound callous given how the year has been hard for most people. I have achieved more this year than I have in a really long time. The Iron Noder is one of such achievements. I had a little bit of writing talent as a kid. It won me prizes in secondary school and I wrote for a few campus magazines in university. But I have never been disciplined enough to put in the hard work required to produce a novel or short story or anything of literary merit. Part of the reason was because I wanted to write a book like Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. Or Mario Puzo's Fools Die. Or Kurt Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, and I thought (while knowing that I was deceiving myself) that such a work would spring fully formed from my mind. Nothing that I wrote this month approaches the quality of my aspirations. But the discipline required to write daily was an achievement itself. It is the kind of discipline required to exercise everyday. There is very little that I wrote in the month that I really liked. Further, many times, after posting, I see how I could have written the piece in a better way. But I am too lazy to edit the writeup.

One reason why I decided do the challenge is because I read a lot this year. Normally, I read about 15 books a year. Slightly over a book monthly. This year, I read a lot more. As at today, I am on my 33rd book. One reason I read so much is that I began writing reviews of the books and posting them on a Whatsapp group that is supposedly for literary people. However, most of the discussion is about politics or sex or people just flirting with each other. I posted the reviews partly to encourage others to do the same so we could have a more literary group (even if the conversations would not be as interesting) and partly to show off. Eventually though, I began writing the reviews because I enjoyed it. I read with a more critical eye because I was planning my review as I wrote. So, by the time Iron Noder came along, I was already pretty confident on my ability to write steadily.

Like tiger cub, I drew up a list of things to write about. I think I wrote about half of the titles on that list. However, it got boring. And difficult. I overcome that by adopting a solution like Estelore's - node shells. I would keep clicking on Random nodeshells until something that I felt confident about came up. One thing about the challenge reinforced something I had felt since joining the site. I don't think I am a writer. At least not a writer of fiction, seeing how fantastic some people's imaginations are. But that is not a bad thing. It is good for self appraisal to be honest.

I came to this site after lurking on ubersite for about 6 years. I was too afraid to write there because the way people on the site treated newbies can best be described as hazing. But here, everyone was so nice and helpful. I lurked for about a year before posting my first piece. It is something that I was quite proud of when I wrote it. Now, having come on here nearly daily for 10 years, I see that my radical ideas have already occurred to others. It is humbling, annoying and comforting in equal measure.

I am undecided about doing this challenge again, but let us see how it goes. If I do choose to try next year, I will make the decision early so I can prepare better writeups. There is a lot of fantastic content here and I want to add to that quality. It would have been nice if there were enough active users for the possibility of a good piece getting the hundreds of votes and tens of C!s that some of the older write ups have. But, I am not here for accolades. I am here because the content is fantastic. And I hope to improve my writing by contributing to that content.

Iron Noder 2020, 30/30

The people I love are alive. That's the important thing.

I live in a state where the government actually gives a damn about the lives of its people, and the people actually care about each other. So for most of the year we have been able to avoid the worst of the plague, and, as I lost my job opportunity in March and went into a 9-month career lacuna, I had little reason to leave the house -- so I never really saw the plague happening anywhere. Some weeks I forgot about it entirely! I, perhaps alone in the world, was sitting pretty. 

So when I compare my work this year to my work last year, I don't see a huge difference. Absurd fiction, essays mined from my Facebook feed...no poems or songs, this year, this was not a poem year for me. I think I like writing absurd short stories more anyway. But otherwise my output this November doesn't look much different than last November. 

And yet, despite having the same amount of material to mine from Facebook as before, this year it was a hell of a lot easier to hit the 30-mode mark. I am not sure why. Maybe because I was paying more attention this time? Or maybe everyone else was posting enough that I didn't have to wait very long for new posts to push my stuff off the New Writeups table so I could post again.

if I decide to actually make a career out of writing fiction then this year hasn't been a total wash for me but I'm not going to cite this year as the reason for my success. Too much death all around. I don't want to sound like Jeff Bezos.

This was probably the best writing month I've had in years.

Part of this is likely due to my new antidepressants. I started them mid-October, and they kicked in around the beginning of November-- perfectly timed for Iron Noder.

Part of this is because I'm working from home; I'm a teacher, and so while kids are working independently, or when it's my prep period, I am able to write without distraction.

Aside from a few swerves into fiction and review, my theme this year was "weird shit."

Whether it was for the Weird Niche Internet Drama category, like Yandev, Greer, DigiHom, or PFSC, or it was weird history like Deadline, Mary Bateman, or NOC. A lot of the weird internet stuff I've been following for a long time, and this was an opportunity to actually sit down and sort out what I know. The challenge from those came from synthesizing information I was intimately aware of from assorted videos and forum posts into a cohesive narrative that a normie from E2 would understand.

Other stuff, like the PFSC fiasco, is stuff I was aware of back in the day, but never looked too deeply into, and so had to piece it together from the scraps leftover. And then there was Digihom, who nuked a lot of their stuff from orbit a few years back, meaning I had to really scour archives looking for images. Several of the screenshots in the Digihom node were actually lifted from youtube videos, both Jim Sterling's and Frederick Knudsen's, simply because the pages didn't exist anymore.

Then on 11/12, I told Nicolasstag that he should write a choose your own adventure story in order to meet Iron Noder numbers. And because I am a fool, I decided to try it myself, failing to realize that a CYOA is still a work of fiction that takes time to write. The result was Choose Your own Adventure: Mia's Day, which is the first Mia story I've done since 2017.

Also, I found it funny the number of people who messaged me, surprised that the narrator all this time had been Mia's brother. I've had them both in my head since 2012, but I forgot I had left the narrator's gender/name open for interpretation in the actual series, though the narrator was hinted at being a boy in 2013 (it's the first and the fourth vignette down).

At any rate, this is the first successful Iron Noder I've had in a while, and I'm pleased by this.

I got further behind this year than ever before. I blame the election and assorted fallout which is weird because I'm mostly apolitical in my outlook and general life style. Somehow the insanity still got to me and zapped my creative output.

Iron noder is the one thing that can actually get me to write consistently so I'm happy that I participate even if I'm just going through the motions most of the time. Actually, this year I've really warmed up to "just going through the motions" since it at least means you're doing something. When I was younger I had this mental picture of myself trapped in some soul crushing job that I hate by this point in my life. That is more or less what I got and considering the state of the world I'm disturbingly glad for it. I even had enough vacation days saved that I could take the end of this month off which is why I'm typing this. Over all the plague year has been really good to and for me.

Here is to 2021 one being even better.


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