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

Top Ten Reasons for me to finish my latest WIP

  1. Finishing is good.
  2. Stop getting the “Are you still working on that? I thought you finished it last year?”
  3. Get rid of the guilt all the characters in the novel are putting on me to finish.
  4. Finally get to write the scenes I’ve been waiting to write.
  5. The New Hotness will finally get a chance to be the Old Hotness.
  6. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.
  7. The first draft of the Mystery is getting angry at being ignored and is thinking of making me the victim in the sequel.
  8. I’ll be allowed to complain about George Martin not finishing his series. At least he’s been writing…
  9. Finishing will allow me to get rejected by a whole new group of people – Publishers.
  10. I can blog about writing again, because I’ll be writing again.

 

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Obligatory cat photo

As Always – Be Well – dcd.

 

 

A Retreat, Shame and wth? An Editor…

I got back from the writing retreat setup by Randy McCharles earlier this week. Randy’s a great friend to writers of all levels. Check him out. He has new series coming out soon. More news as events warrant.

 

Ok – the people at the retreat made me feel ashamed of my commitment level.

They were a bunch of BIC’s (Bums In Chairs) It was humbling. Their schedule looked something like this:

  • Writing by 630 AM
  • Short Break 10:15
  • Lunch Noon (45 Min)
  • Short Break 230 ish
  • Dinner 6:00 PM (an Hour)
  • And most nights another 2 hours of writing then a sit around chat.

With the guilt hanging over my head after the first day I tried to buckle down and get crunching out the writing.

Here’s what got accomplished:

  • 30K editing pass – and then sent to an editor for revision, plus alpha readers. Yes I crapped my pants.
  • 10K New words
  • Major problems resolved- two
  • Incorporate all changes from Editor on the Prologue. (2500 words)

Robert J. Sawyer Blessing My Keyboard

This is for what I refer to as the “CheeseSpaceOpera” Today’s working title “Icarus: Book One of the System War”.

Some of you might be still coughing about me sending something to an editor, please check her site out: http://moreedits.ca/. If she can work with me, she can work with anyone.

So in an effort for full transparency – Yes –  I am on the road to having something published; either self-published or otherwise. (Insert Laugh Track Here)

The biggest single new technique I learned and put into practise – Editing pass while you listen to the story. I did this through MS Word’s “Read Aloud” function. It’s astounding the sheer volume of prepositions I don’t put in when I write.

What are you going to put into practice for your writing?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

One of the many skills I am working on is letting readers do the work. Let them make assumptions right or wrong.

Jacqueline watched as a man walked down the stairs of the lecture theatre in a worn leather jacket and felt hat. 

 The reader will and should start making all sorts of assumptions. Is the man the professor? A student? Why a leather jacket? Who wears a felt hats these days? Is this an Indiana Jones knock off?

The answer to the description can take us many directions.

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“Many of you are wondering why anyone in this day and age would wear a felt hat. Some of you are thinking, ,”Oh great another wacko prof”. The man paused and then continued. ,”It’s the only item I have from my father who died when I was five.”

The answer should trigger a whole bunch of questions in the reader’s mind. The underlying one, the one they are trying to answer is: Why is it important for the professor to tell the class such an intimate personal detail.

As a reader who is trying to become a writer and then an author, my process is to reverse engineer from the reaction that I want.

In the above example I want the reader to feel sorry, to have pity on the professor. I use the hat for that. Later on in the story you can use the same hat for a different effect. Let’s say the student and Professor start to date. In a moment of intimacy he confesses that his hat is just one he bought years ago. Not his father’s and his father didn’t die when the professor was five. He admits that it is just a story to gain the trust and pity of the students. The student dating the professor who’s relationship started with the story the hat now has to call in to question everything she knows about the professor. Just as the reader has to doubt what they have been told.

A second outcome could be that the story of the hat is real, but the professor still uses it to gain and inside edge teaching and having romantic affairs with young students.

A third outcome could be the professor gives the student that hat as he is dying and she becomes a professor, etc.

The real reason of course is so that no-one looks too closely at the leather jacket which is in fact a pilots jacket from the Second World War and the professor hasn’t aged a day since he donned the jacket and the professor is part of a secret study on increasing the longevity of humans.

Here are the current rules I have around this concept:

  1. The readers are always smarter than me.
  2. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Tell the truth but make it sound like a lie.
  3. There will always be people who can figure out what clever bit of trickery you are trying to hide from them. Don’t worry about it. You’ll waste countless hours trying to outsmart yourself with no success.
  4. The only way you are going to get better is to practice.
  5. Don’t force the reader down a path. Describe items in simple direct terms. Only give away the least amount of information.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get my hat and get back to writing.

As always be well…

dcd

What does a Thesaurus have for breakfast?

A synonym roll.

Currently I’m pexels-photo-267308.jpeghaving an affair with an online Thesaurus.

Why? Much to my surprise, most of the characters that I write hate the way I speak and doubly hate the way I make them speak.  Their demand, insistence, supplication, clamor to be unique requires me to change.

Generally, I abhor change. It’s too much work. It hurts. Change is hard. As an amateur people watcher, I thought writing other characters would be easy. It’s not. At least for me it’s not.

A fundamental difference exists between mimicking someone’s speech pattern and understanding why a character uses a specific word. Let me give you an example from real life.

As a younger man I learned to swear in a large number of languages. I would whip these expressions out a various times. It was fun, amusing. I suppose I thought I was cool. The rhythm and resonance of swear words can be lyrical, therapeutic. There is a music to swearing, an innate satisfaction in using the correct word at the perfect time. It’s pleasing. It made me happy.

Unfortunately, making comments about someone’s grandmother in a crowded bar, where native speakers decide to educate you on cultural differences can be painful and more importantly, inappropriate.

Imagine if Rick says, “It’d be nice if you remembered, that time, in like Paris?” instead of “We’ll always have Paris.”

Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation use of, or rather the lack of contractions has a profound impact on his character. (Yes, I know he used them, however…)

Or “My pretty ring” instead of “My Precious”

These are all pretty obvious, let’s try this:

“I’ll be back”

Or

“I shall return”

I think you understand. I suspect that most of you know this better than I do.  The best way for me to understand this is to read dialog out loud. Record and listen is even better. As I am still learning about this whole writing thingy, I am going to start using lists. Lists for specific items, like swearing. Since I am doing a space opera I can use expressions like, “The moons of Uranus!” or how about “For Craters and Freeze dried food, shut up.” But I digress.

One last example, Darth Vader, breathing. He’s not as menacing without the breathing, is he?

And on that breath, I am off to work on dialog and characters…

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Be Well…dcd

 

 

 

 

Waiting for…

Writing is similar to  other jobs, and other times, bears no relationship to regular jobs.

Waiting has been fundamentally different in every job I have had.

  • Busing tables meant waiting for people to finish eating.
  • Lighting tv sets meant waiting for staging to finish setting up.
  • IT means waiting for something to break.
  • Writing means waiting for rejection or acceptance.

The fundamental difference in waiting as a writer is that you can still write.

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I quibble with myself about how all jobs have overlapping roles and responsibilities, but for writing, it’s different and longer. I’m not used to such long turnaround times.

In the restaurant business, at least at the one I worked at, turnover time on tables was about 45 minutes. This was lunch rush. Which was chaos most days. The initial part of the shift was preparing for the day, the calm before the storm. Then non-stop for about 2 hours. I knew when the people would arrive. It was regular as clockwork.

In TV, you’d look at a set, discuss the treatment with the director, and know how long it would take. When all the sets were lit, you went home. Again, no waiting.

Working support in IT, I wait for a call or an email, fix the problem  and then wait for the next one. When your shift is over, you’re done.

When you finish writing, you submit the story or novel or flash fiction and wait.

There is no clock to watch, or set to light or table to cleanup. You wait. There is no feedback, the piece of fiction goes out and then you wait. This varies from 30 days, to a year or more. During this time, I am learning to work on other pieces and the get them submitted. It’s not making you money on your computer.

Most authors, that talk about their process have multiple novels underway. This novel is out for submission, that novel is in revisions, here’s one being released. These processes are going on at the same time.

What this produces is fragmentation.  The outlining process differs from the writing , which differs from editing. And submission and query letters are an art form to themselves. I joyfully wait for the time when I get to work with an editor because a piece of work is accepted. (Please feel free to quote me when I complain about an editor I am working with…)

I need to learn to write while waiting for whether a piece is accepted or rejected. If I end up selling one of the series first books, the second book better be ready to go PDQ. There is a grind to writing. A methodical repetitive cycle I seek to discover to let me perform as a writer. It’s a struggle for me. No doubt about it. But when I find it, whatever it is,  I suspect that is when I will get an acceptance. Until then, I am looking for groove.

ETA to first rejection is one week if the submission guidelines are accurate.

Be Well…dcd