She’s 83, has lupus, may be a little too right wing for me. Attended the creation of the drink known as the ‘Ceaser’. Knows what the word rationing means. Old school rationing. The kind where they saved the tin foil from cigarette packs (cuz everybody smoked back then) to help the war effort. A Canadian. Created a drive through for a ladies clothing store one year when the roads were too icy. But that’s a story for another day.
Oh, and she’s my mom.
One day last week at approximately 4:00 PM, along with the rest of the condo owners on the third floor, she swung open her door to the hallway and practised safe social distancing – happy hour. That my friends is courage. The courage to change, yet again, at 83 years young.
It is this adaptability to the situation we are all in, all over the world that saves live.
This courage is framed with two words, creativity and continuity.
Happy hour is a tradition humans have shared in various forms since I suspect the first rotten apple got turned into sour mash. Maintaining happy hour within the bounds of COVID-19 and social distancing is the continuity. The person does not ask the world to revolve around their beliefs, rather an unspoken social contract evolves around our beliefs conforming, yes that’s right conforming, to the common good. To everyone’s good.
Ask not what your society can do for you, but what you can do for your society, for your neighbour. An adapted quote from not a current president.
Be creative, in finding the way of who you are during this time of physical restrictions. Being confined with yourself is daunting. Ask other people what they are doing. See if they have any good ideas. Do not let the anger of the day be your prison. Hate seeks to consume the creativity of this world, a creativity that discovers ways to save more people.
One of the kindest ways to help a struggling author, or society is to encourage. Find the honest path, the true words to help others in their struggle. I have found my soul cannot battle the demons and their minions that assail us as we come to terms with COVID-19. But I recognize the good in others and tell them what it is. Honest, not exaggerated, compliment.
I can encourage the good, the best of people. Whether this is someone singing from their balcony, or clapping for the care workers of all services who are striving each day to get everyone through this battle or simply remembering your Friday coffee group and sending them a text or instagram DM. All of this is encouragement.
This blog is supposed to be about writing. Spend some time writing your future by showing courage and encourage where you are, to yourself and to others.
This is the way I am working on Book 2 of System War:
High level plot of the book arc, this includes the following:
The current situation – I.E. – what has happened since we last saw our heroes and villains. Spoilers below, not that anyone has read book 1.
Large Book Arc Points
An inciting incident occurs that spins out the stories for the rest of the book. The characters are scattered throughout the system. Each set of them is isolated by physical distance and separated. The common theme is they all have to rely on themselves, they can’t count on the others to save them. The weaving together of their individual plot arcs will occur after the climax of the story in the denouement. As in the first book, there will be a space battle with all our characters in various roles before they are all flung away from one another.
The main starting point is event based; they are fighting a war and they must break a blockade. The main character in this arc must control her impulsive nature and realize that not everyone can be saved. This will fundamentally change her for the remainder of the series. Until now she has been able to save everyone.
The main love arc between two characters, doesn’t move forward in the traditional sense, because they are seperated. The frustration of absence and worry. There is no communication between them until the end of the book. Each of them focus on their given tasks to distract them from the seperation.
The environment or the universe arc is summed up with the following: – The dangers of the Jovian Moon and traveling in deep space with no repair port near by. This is the outer danger, the danger of distance.
– The fear of the unknown as two characters discover a fundamental change in the universe, a mini disaster movie arc.
An Espionage/spy arc where characters have to be like spies and make contact with a foreign government, with no support.
/digression – The Bad Guys – yea they get an arc too.
The protagonists must weave their way around the successes of the heroes and then foil them. Even with the successes and sacrifices of heroes, the villians will be closer to winning the underlying contest of who will get interstellar travel and saving humanity from living in one solar system and more importantly who gets to survive. We will also learn why the protagonists are focused on escaping our solar system. The big reveal of ‘the evil’ at the end of the book will be the focus point of driving the third and final book.
These scenarios put pressure on the characters which will reveal more about them. Some will fail, some will overcome themselves and the roadblocks in front of them, some will remain the same.
Characters remaining the same. Why they are interesting. The best example of a main character remaining the same that I have heard of and agree with is Conan the Barbarian. In each of the movies he is the same. There is no dynamic change in who or what he is. The characters around him change, he enables them to change by forcing them to looking inward or aiding in their external conflict.
Seems straight forward? For me examining the process and trying to write it becomes very difficult. The character has to be put under additional strain and pressure that would force them to change, to compromise or act differently. The tests must be harder than in the first book. It is this escalation and how it is managed that is difficult. If Conan fought 10 people at once, he must fight 100 people at once in the next conflict.
This should expose if the values of the character are true? What is the price to give in? For the Series this process must be escalated slowly. In the first book I tried to show her skills and abilities. Continually building her need to be better, to be smarter. Tougher problems. She must be jeopardized and more importantly, what she loves and holds near and dear must be directly attacked with the intent of compromising her.
At the same time the arc must be balanced against what is going to happen in the third book. This balance is often compromised by not being realistic. The Death Stars in Star Wars escalated out of control. Even for the Star Wars universe.
In the first book, the plot attacks on one of the main characters were focused on the external components of the character – can she lead her crew into battle? Is she a good tactician? In book two the focus will shift to the game of diplomacy and spy craft, something she is awful at and the underlying mystery of the character will be revealed. This answers the question: If she is such a great Space Ship Captain and military strategist, why was she dishonorably discharged from the Fleet? This of course leads to the question: Why tell us this now?
If the overarching point of the book series was about this character, then it would be inappropriate to resolve this plot in book two. Why read book three if main plot point is resolved? However, the answer to this question must be answered at some point as it is an implied promise to the reader. Secondly it is one of the mysteries in the series. Book Two must move the main arc of the series AND have a fundamentally satisfying resolution to a character arc.
Could this be handled in book three? Certainly? But at what cost? The pace of this book series is deliberate with the intent of the tension in various plot points to be satisfying, not a constant roller coaster. The action and anxiety may run for several chapters and scenes, but in the overall pacing I’ve tried to keep specific points where you get to see the characters recovering, being ‘normal’. Why? I’ve always enjoyed books that have done this. Who doesn’t like witty banter at a coffee shop? I mean really…it’s necessary…even in the Marvel universe – why else is there a Shawarma scene?
And that’s this weeks ramblings – return next week where I’ll write something – I hope – until then wash your hands and
I don’t like the word procrastination, hate it actually. I think it is a ‘cheat’ word, well at least for me it is.
I’m lazy, and lack discipline is what I think in my head when I hear procrastination. Why is it I can’t do what I want to do? It makes no frickin sense. For some of you, you will never understand this. Others will be tired of hearing about this again. It can be so tiring to read about the same issue over and over again. I understand, remember this blog is self-indulgence for me, not you. Move along, there are better blogs for you to read today.
/digression – I was going to write “Why can’t I do the right thing?” But I can’t use that phrase. It always reminds me of Spike Lee’s amazing film, “Do the Right Thing” (1989) If you haven’t watched this film, you should. In my opinion one of the greatest uses of the film/movie art form in the history of humanity.
You may wonder why I commented on the digression I had in my thought process. The title of the blog should explain why, the evil P word. Secondly I’m trying to use the blog as a process to get into the flow of writing. The stream of consciousness writing and not self-edit as I write the blog.
Second digression completed.
Part of this is tied to the concept ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’. Similar expressions are found in Islam and the rigors of the scientific method. I am not a scholar in any of these areas.
A crude analogy would be trying to change the course of a river that has run the same way for thousands of years. The river is solidly entrenched in the path it wants, the path of least resistance. Each erosion of the earth has been made to make the river’s journey easier.
Perseverance, Evaluate yourself honestly, Seek help in writing from others. Those are my answers today.
The problem with each of these answers is they require self-discipline or perhaps in my case, the correction of the easy habits, just letting my life run on auto-pilot. Everything around me now seems to revolve around the concept of how to change.
Dynamite or damming the river can change the course of the river. A little drastic, don’t you think? Some of the pools and eddies in the river are just fine, thank-you very much.
And I have successfully procrastinated, at least I’m good at something…
“Treat with the utmost respect your power of forming opinions, for this power alone guards you against making assumptions that are contrary to nature and judgements that overthrow the rule of reason. It enables you to learn from experience, to live in harmony with others, and to walk in the way of the gods.” (taken from The Emperor’s Handbook -Marcus Aurelius- , A new translation of The Meditations by Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks)
Please note the above quote does not say guard your opinions, but the power of forming opinions. The authors of the translation go on to talk about what controls this power and how The Meditations helps guard against foreign powers from taking over how I get my opinions. These powers can be anything, drink, love, lust, or an actual foreign power influencing you.
Again it is not our own prejudices we are guarding, although they are a real threat to living a better life, or so I believe. If we can’t with confidence evaluate how we live our lives and change as a result, we are in far deeper trouble than being manipulated.
Not that reason is the be all end all, indeed, the current modern expression of the scientific method has been co-oped by research grants controlled not by the search for reasons, but by the search for funding. Scientists can only research when there is funding. And funding rarely, if ever, rewards innovative unproven hypothesis to test. Our investigation is derivative. It must be built on something previously proven.
But I digress, the quote is about the individual guarding their own process for coming to a conclusion and forming an opinion. I doubt there is a single course of study providing guidance in this matter. Critical thinking, you say? Critical thinking is by enlarge about thinking, not protecting.
What are your defenses for guarding your process? When you write do you jump on the latest bandwagon, magic bullet for writing? I sadly don’t have an answer other than I try to:
Record what works for me to write and then practise that process.
Avoid ‘triggers’ that put me out of the writing flow.
A space to write in.
Somedays I wish I could wrap myself in bubble wrap. How about you?
Today’s diatribe has been brought to you by the word ‘Trigger’ and I don’t mean the horse.
I’ll hopefully be filing the space here on a regular basis to get the flow of typing/writing going again as I try and put some projects back online.
Goal is once a week with a new piece of art or photo for each blog. The focus of the blogs is undetermined at this time. There is a high probability that I will be using them to dump raw scenes or try out ideas that are once removed from a real idea I am writing on.
An example of this might be on writing pieces focusing on minute detail. What is the bird thinking about when eating a shelled seed? How did it shelled? Or ‘It’s about time he stopped putting the the shelled seeds out, aint nobody got time for shelling and thank the lord above he got a squirrel proof feeder finally.’
But none the less some free-style, blah, blah to get going.
Currently I’m listening to A Pattern of Shadow and Light by Melissa McPhail. It’s been a wonderful series. But today I want to comment on the narrator – Nick Podehl – he is amazing and actually the reason that I am listening to the series at all.
I was out of books to read and I want to keep on an Epic Fantasy Theme, because that seems to make me happy on my 36 minute commute. I searched his name and found Ms.McPhail’s series on Audible. While this may seem odd at first blush, it’s not to me. I liken it to watching all the movies by a specific director or actor. He does an tremendous job on all books he voices, which are quite a few.
I have to wonder what his real voice sounds like? Does he ever use his real voice.
Do any of us use our real voice or are we only imitating what we think we sound like? It’s common for people not to like their own voice once recorded and then played back for them. And that’s what this blog is about finding my voice in writing again. A voice that makes no sound but is an integral part of any writing.
The whimsy of the song forced a small smile onto his face, despite all attempts to prevent it. For a while he let his head sway to and fro just listening to the song, not letting memories and melancholy of long ago overtake him.
The furtive first line of the song, the hesitation before the escape was simply wonderful. A precis of the gentle bounding to come. Then, rather than a stampede of sound, the composer let a lyrical ride of notes cascade out and run around the listener.
Still he let himself just listen.
He found solace in the song. Understanding now why he was listening to this song, this song from so long ago, when he was a different man. Comfort in time of distress. But what sorrowed him now? What was his distress?
He let his thoughts wander and drift where they may, relieved of all control or all purpose. Currents of movement, of where he wanted to be, of where he wasn’t.
“It’s time sir.” His aide said.
Taking in a deep breath, he open his eyes letting it out in a slow powerful, grounding action, his confidence returned.
Taken from: Memoirs Of The General by Aninka Kindly circa 14 N.E
Escape Of The Circus Ponies is a real piece of music by Liz Story.
Memoirs of The General is a fictional book written about General Tanner Kindly.
Most of the time spent writing this was given over to finding the spelling of the word “precis”.
Degas Remembered? Is a real piece of art created by dcd.
She explained juggling was simple. He laughed, watching her keep five balls in the air. They fell like a fountain, cascading perfectly into her hand. Cascading, like her hair, her laughter. He loved his muse.
Inhaling her presence of wonder, her every word kept him in rap attention. A juggler, only catches one ball at a time, and throws one ball at time she said. You can catch one ball at a time. You can throw one ball at a time.
She threw him one ball, startled, he dropped it. A giggle escaped her lips. Still maintaining the balls in the air she knelt and picked it up.
Now you are ready? Try again, and she tossed the ball he caught it. They smiled. Next time use one hand, she chided him. She threw him another ball, but his hands were full, he dropped the first one and missed the second one.
Silly, juggling is throwing the balls up, not down. Again she picked up both balls. All the while juggling. He knew not to ask where all the balls were coming from. Muse’s were magic, and one did not ask such questions, lest the Muse leave.
He dropped the balls again. She took a deep breath, a wry smile crossing her face. She stopped juggling and the balls disappeared. One ball in her hand she tossed it to him. He caught it and tossed it back.
She didn’t throw it back. Instead, her eyes, the pools of his inspiration looked at him. Now you play catch, with yourself. First with two hands, then with one. Soon it will be routine and you will write regularly.
Write? I thought we were talking about juggling?
My silly human, what ever gave you that idea, this is a blog about writing.