There are always more anomalies than you planned for – j.townsend 2019

In the mythical world of earth I am a character working in information technology at a company. We recently moved into a new building. Therefore for the last two weeks, I’ve done nothing but work and discover anomalie s . Anomalies require two immediate steps be taken, one is a prompt work around solution to allow the business to function and two, a report sent to allow for the issue to be resolved. Step one requires creative out of the box thinking. Step two requires accurate details to permit the swift resolution. Those of you who have been in this position know that “swift” can sometimes mean 6 or 7 weeks.

The third aspect of this process is the pristine perfect work, your work, your pride, is often compromised to get people working. And unless you do my job it is beyond difficult to experience the ruination of your own work because of others. Such is my situation. Instead of an impeccable server room with neat cables, I have what amounts to a rats nest of chaos. In fact I doubt whether rats would live there.

Random Cat Picture!

The astute reader will identify this as a metaphor for the writing process. And as someone who is going to send out three manuscripts this year into the chaos of slush piles, I have a lot of pain ahead of me. A writer fulfills all these roles, from owner to architect to finish carpenter to accountant to receptionist to IT guy. (PS – IT people hate being called “IT Guy”)

The result is the next several blogs will deal with aspects of anomalies that have corresponded to events in the new building. It’ll be fun, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry and I might get my sanity back. Hopefully I will get my writing mojo back.

Topics include, More phones than places to plug them in: Bridging your main character until you flesh them out making them a better character and thereby making your story better.

Why is it so cold in the building: Building heat in your story that is consistent with your characters. Not just a tussle in the bedroom.

Dealing with false accusations: How to get the enemy to aid your cause without compromising your values.

All of this will be from my limited perspective as a writer. Join me on the mythical adventure into the real world of my writing.

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More than ever this year, be good to people. Recognize kindness, take time to honestly praise people in front of others. Hate surrounds us, destroying the soul of society do not aid in the destruction.

Be well…dcd

I’m not as good as I think I am…

This is not a downer, woe is me blog. If you’re looking for one of those, keep looking. This about me acknowledging to be a writer and have the good habits of writers, I need to follow the hacks that others use. I am not above them. I need to do, what I tell others to do. This is should not surprise anyone.

As a result, this will be a short blog, were I trick myself into writing more.

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And now, a short diversion. The year is 1976. I’m in grade 11. At this point in my life I play a tremendous number of sports. A group of traveling athletes came to our high school in rural Alberta. A chance to see National football players was unheard of at that time. I was one of the fortunate ones chosen to compete in a little head to head action in a variety of sports.

All three of the men were currently playing in the NFL. The one I remember was the Center for the Minnesota Vikings. He was a big man. By Big I mean walls got out of his way and said sorry. (They were Canadian Walls). In the three on three basketball competition. We mistakenly thought we could leave him unguarded on the perimeter. Yea, that was a dumb idea. He was nothing but net from the outside. We also foolishly thought we stood a chance in any of the competitions… Ah the stupidity of youth. And in thinking we could win, I foolishly tried to draw a charging call on Mr.Big. It was a great idea.

Somehow I saw what the play was going to be. So I set up where Mr.Big was going to drive the lane. Arms crossed in front of me protecting the family jewels, ready to draw the charge. Mr.Big caught the ball spun and drove the lane to the basket. When he turned, imagine his shock to see me standing there. But it was too late he barrelled into skinny high school smart ass.

I will attempt to relate what I think happen in mirco pieces of time between him seeing me and his contact with me.

First, I believe he understood, well before I did, what was going to happen. Secondly, he tried to drop the ball and grab me to prevent what occurred. Lastly, he felt pain for me. Sorrow, regret. The last he thing he wanted to do, was hurt anyone.

What happened next was simple physics. Force = mass x acceleration. He hit me square in the chest with his shoulder and I launched off the ground like a Saturn V rocket heading to the moon. (Further evidence would show that the circumference of one of his thighs corresponded to my waist.)

Well, I would have reached the moon, but the polite wall didn’t believe in getting out of the way of idiots and therefore it prevented me being the first Canadian in space. In the nano second before I let the wall catch me, I heard the sound of silence. The entire gym inhaled and held their breath. Even the athletes. I could see all three of them, the fear in their eyes that they just a killed a Canadian High School student.

My mother often said, “You can’t hurt a Dear male by hitting them in the head.” Once again Mother was right.

To this day I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I wasn’t hurt. But I know you can’t fly through the air and get stopped by cinder block wall and not be hurt. I know from first hand experience. But on that day, in that place, I was fine. I don’t offer an explanation.

What is the lesson I learned? It took me years to figure out what I learned.

I was wrong, is what I have come to understand. The outcome of the game was never in doubt. My drawing the charge wouldn’t have won the game. But to see the pain and hurt in those grown men’s eye’s as I flew threw the air with the greatest of ease, I don’t need to see again. Even if I was in the right.

Be Well…dcd

Mindset

The impact of other’s emotions on my life disables me from writing.

Plain, simple, straight forward.

And right now, I don’t want to harden myself to this reality of life. But neither do I want to let it dominate me. I’m not sure where that leads me? Less facebook and cnn never hurt anyone. And it’s quite clear facebook and cnn have hurt people. It might be that simple.

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I suppose another option is to continue the filtering and de-following of the propagators of hate. That’s never a bad idea. I think I’ll start looking for a cave. Something not too sandy but still with good drainage.

This is really an inner  monologue on balance. Life balance. Learning to write, is only one part of a writer’s mindset, of my writer’s mindset. The problem is for me at this time writing is fragile. It takes time and resources, it’s not like fixing a computer, which I could probably do in a coma.

What’s fragile about writing? I mean come on grow up, it’s almost 2020, your jet pack will be here soon. Just sit down and type, how hard could it be?

I’ve never been a writer. It’s not a skill I have. My corporate emails are fraught with missing words, and prepositions are apparently unknown to me in amy form prose.  Don’t get me wrong, I love words, the nuance of finding the correct word for me. On the other hand, writing is like shopping for paint colours.

“Oh that’s a great sky blue.” I say.

She who knows colors rolls her eyes and says, “That’s robin’s egg blue…”

I’ve stopped picking out paint with her. It’s safer and in the end the color is great. Even if I don’t the right name. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

But words are different. They are different depending where you are in the world and who your audience is.

Physic’s convention, A scientist stands up and asks, “What kind of diaper did Schrodinger’s cat wear?” Answer – “Depends”  

I’ve struggled with this blog trying to convey the struggle to just write and how I am impacted by the world and suffering. I’ll take another run at it another day.  For today I will leave you with this.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Until then, be well, dcd

What good shall I do today?

After I’ve had coffee of course.

I will be fortunate enough to attend a writing retreat at the end of May.  This is a selfish goodness for me. This is a holiday for me. And like any good holiday you need to prepare and pack, because as my wife says, “Pants are good”.

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When I was a younger man and took a holiday it took me two or three days to forget about work and be present in the holiday I was taking. There were entire trips where I never lived in the holiday. Never enjoyed it, fully. I was an idiot. I can’t emphasize this enough. The stupidity of not enjoying, your holiday is fundamentally wrong. I would go so far as to say, evil. People who are kind and generous often learn this late in life. It’s sad and tragic. In my case one of the great regrets of my life. (I know, I know, suck it up princess, some people never get holidays)

Why do I mention this? Because I need to prepare for a holiday, and so should you. For me there are three areas I prepare:

  1. Health
  2. Soul/Spirit/Mind
  3. What to pack?

Health wise I try to start my healthy regime 3 or 4 weeks in advance. I am starting now to make sure that I am physically prepared. While it seems obvious, consider what you will be doing. What hours will you be keeping? Will you need to adjust your sleep cycle? How active will you be?

I am unaware of any holiday that doesn’t change your physical activity level in some way. Whether it is walking more, or using muscles that you don’t normally use. If you are going canoeing and you haven’t canoed all year there is a great chance you will have back problems, for example. Take steps to strengthen your back.

Drinking. Will you be drinking more? Or will you be drinking less? Figure it out make choices that don’t let what you drink determine if you enjoy your holiday. There is nothing worse then running out of your favorite gin half-way through a holiday, except running out of your favorite coffee.

When I canoed regularly we brought two coffee makers on the trip. One was the morning cup of coffee, big robust, plentiful, filtered coffee. The other was a stove top espresso machine, complete with demi-tasse cups. You immediately have new friends if you offer a hard core, freezed dried food canoeing team espresso.  The husband and wife who are traveling with their children drinking instant coffee will think you’re angels sent from heaven. And if you pull out a little Bailey’s , be sure to have kleenex handy for they will be crying.

I point this out for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t believe it is healthy to make major life changes when you are taking a holiday. Don’t try and quit drinking coffee on a holiday. Secondly, everyone needs an indulgence on a holiday, maybe’s it coffee and Baileys, maybe it’s pedicure or maybe it’s just sitting in a chair and reading undisturbed. Figure out what your indulgence will be, make it happen.  Health wise know your limits. And you don’t know your limits until you write them down. As I writer I know there is a significant difference between what I think I will write and what actually goes on the page. The written word defines something, places limits on it. Know what you are capable of and if you are found wanting try and get better.

So for this trip, I plan to try and write 5000 words a day. To do that I know that i will need to exercise to keep from being worn  out. That means that I am making sure I take long walks every day. It also means that I have the shoes that I am going wear while walking. No blisters from new shoes for this guy. That means I will be exercising more than normal, which in my cases, figuring out when and where. Simple enough.

Not so fast bubba Louie.

It’s not enough to walk more, although its a start, I also need to walk with a camera pack, because I know I will be taking pictures.

You are way boring and pedantic now.

You’re right, but for me, to enjoy a holiday I need to consider the details. Maybe you should too?

oneRock

Be Well…dcd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Eggs and Hedy Lamarr

A joy for me in writing is planting Easter Eggs. Why? because I love finding them in books I am reading. They can be as simple as recognizing a fictitious character name as someone I know. Robert J. Sawyer’s Quantum Night has a number of them, including a reference to a Randy McCharles. Randy helps run and organize the greatest writing conference you never heard of, When Words Collide. This conference, more than anything else has encouraged me to write.

But I digress..

When looking for supporting character names or locations I’ve started looking for historical references I am interested in. This is where Hedy Lamarr comes in. More than a great actress. An actress who’s beauty made audiences gasp when the first saw her with Charle800px-Hedy_lamarr_-_1940s Boyer in Algiers(1938).

She also tinkered with Howard Hughes and his wing designs for planes. Patented a frequency hopping system with George Antheil in 1940. And no, frequency  hoping is not code for her private life escapades. It’s actually frequency hopping. You of course can find this all on her wiki page

And so in the Space Opera Novel I am working I have a pair of characters named Hedy and Erwin. I’ll leave it to  you to figure out Erwin. Let’s just say he’s not a dog person. All of this circles back to reading and my youth where I discovered in Science Fiction and Fantasy much more than an escape.

I discovered a lens to see the world I lived in. A lens that taught me tolerance. A place where equality was the norm. Dystopian fiction didn’t exist yet. Writers were pushing the boundaries of how great humanity could become, not pursuing the depths of despair and destruction. A place where every one was along for the ride, not just the one person who survived to try and rebuild the world. There were plenty of grim stories. But there were also stories of hope, of discovery. A world where people changed. And so the Easter Eggs I will leave will be about people and places that helped make the world better.
As always be well… dcd

 

I live in a world of kind baristas

I didn’t grow up with barista‘s or Pho or smart phones.

Wish I did.

Music was highly limited, tightly controlled by the labels and the cost of producing music. I’m listening to a cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love done simply on an acoustic guitar and solo voice. Achingly painful and beautiful. A sweet melancholy to go with my medium roast pour over.

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It’s a mid-February and mid cold for my town. I am at one of the cafe’s that makes me happy and oddly makes me feel that I have accomplished something by getting out of the house on a holiday at 730 AM.

But back to the Barista’s, briefly.

At this location the smiles are kind and warm. There is no dress code, except there is a dress code that the staff unconsciously adhere to – the code of cool – because that’s who they are. Similar but different.

The job application probably states kind but efficient.

It wouldn’t use the word “cool”. Cool is from an age past. When life and self expression was limited.  When conformity was mandatory and if you rebelled you all wore the same rebel uniform. The word rebellion doesn’t exist here. They have moved on. Grown beyond simple confrontation, ignoring the war against the rules and just be who they are as they find out.

Don’t mis-understand, they still struggle with the being human part. “Does he like me?” “Should I go out with them?” Their struggle is with finding out about life with fewer constraints and more dangers.  In the midst of their struggle, they work and are kind to aging want-to-be writers.

The Barista calls out, “Medium Roast pour-over“. I get up and look to the counter where a kind smile meets me, genuine, not a produced effect. They could have left to get back to work, the barista waited until I acknowledged the call, because it was the kind thing to do, the human thing to do.

Time to get back writing.

Be Well…dcd

 

 

Interlude…

Pristine cut glass snow-flakes reflect prisms of light in the sharp air that bites at my skin.

Blinding bright sun, low at midday, brings a smile to my face and closing eyes can’t see the crystals of ice from my breath, but ears can hear the distant laughter.

In my mind I see the ruby red cheeks of children sledding on twists and turns on the dapple lit forest path. Bursting free into the New Year.