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

NaNoWriMo – 2018 – Novel

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The War against the Martian Imperium is not going well for Luna. The Empress asks Lady Hedy to take Jonathan Smythe, heir to House Smythe to negotiate an alliance with the Jovian Consortium. Luna must have the support to survive the conflict. With the Icarus fully repaired it falls to Captain Dyson Kiton to transport them to Titan and aid in the negotiations. But how can she do that with the Mars Fleet enforcing a blockade on Luna?

Lady Dana is forced to accept the role as Head of House Gray. Will it be in time to save Luna from the Martian ground force? Can she unite the elite mercenary force to help defend the Empire? What will she have to sacrifice to save Luna?

With Hedy gone, Erwin must enter his true strength as an Intercedist and aid Anthony in the rebuilding of the mysterious Vault. Princess Samantha jeopardizes her future as heir of the Sure Travelers by aiding Anthony in appropriating artifacts long thought lost. She is not the only one who will pay a price to restore the Vault.

The turmoil of the war only aids Sion Kiorkian plans. Can anyone stop him and his Martian allies.

Welcome to my NaNoWriMo 2018 Project

Be well..dcd

Incoming…this year’s NaNoWriMo plan…

This year’s plan for Nano in point form is:

  1. Dictate all the words and use speech recognition.
  2. Finish System War: Book 1
  3. Start the System War:Book 2

Dictate all the words and use speech recognition will include training myself to include the correct punctuation. (Or at least what I can remember to put in.) This will include finishing Book 1 using speech recognition. I’ve had the software and the mic for some time, it’s time to get a return on investment.

To take away some power procrastination, my rule will be:

Dictate when you can, type when you can’t.

It’ll be an interesting experiment to see if I am good dictator.

How much is left in book one?

I’m at 94K words right now and my estimate is another 30K to go. It’s the easy 30k of the book. everything is crashing towards final conflicts and resolutions. From past experience I know my key focus should be not rushing through it all.

As you can see, I will have a list of items to work on. The goals for the words on the page are different than the supporting goals to the writing. The list so far: Dictation, Not Rushing.

How will you prepare for dictation?

I have a clear idea about this. (Yea, I can’t believe it either) One page point form or paragraphs on each chapter. I’ve also decided these will be dictated and printed. (Sorry, I still need the comfort of paper) Unless I can get a monitor setup to work for me.

Secondly, I’ll try and start the process this coming weekend to work out any kinks on the technology side.

Isn’t speech recognition cheating?

Yes, No – not sure.  The goal for word count, today, is to dictate, speech recognition. Punctuation pass. This may not be practical – we’ll see.

How does this fit into long term goals?

This is pretty straight forward to answer. If the dictation proves workable, then I will be able to get more done able to get more writing done in a month.

How will you listen to music and dictate?

Ear buds or head phones with the music track. This will isolate the sound from the mic.

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

Imagine how fat we would be if we could fly.

I think that most people have dreamed about flying. How freeing it would be. But if there is no physical component to flying, say like wings we have to move, my lack of physical fitness would literally balloon to epic proportions. Think zeppelin size people floating around. And the price of toilet paper! Sanitation systems. The list goes on and on. It would be a shitty world.

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Or by being able to fly, we solve global warning, or at least take a big chunk out of it. No need for cars, roads, parking problems are thing of the past. Parkades are torn down for parks. No road rage, stress is down. Commute times plummet.  Without cars to haul goods around we focus on local stores and markets.

Both of these are examples of worldbuilding. You could use either one of these ‘worlds’ in a story, but as you can imagine, each bring radically different impacts to my story. (or your story). What this example does for me is clearly demonstrate that setting is a character in any writing you do. Whether it’s for local papers or epic fantasy like Sharlene Engel is doing, once she stops traveling the world. And yes that was a cheap shot at Sharelene to finish her re-write on her awesome novel so I can read it! (This digression brought to you by it’s all about me (r)).

My struggle with world building is containing the ideas and concepts of the world. They have to make common sense. Practical impacts on the awesomeness of your world. What are the limitations? We are all limited, what constraints do apply to your world? Here’s an example.

Imagine your flying people are space explorer’s and they are in researching a planet for possible first contact. No one on the planet they are investigating can fly. So our intrepid researchers have to walk. What is the impact of walking, on people who have never walked? Or only walked very short distances? (If you like do this as homework)

The better question might be, how can this impact my story?

In our example one of our researchers stubs and breaks her/his/their toe and is forced to go to a local hospital. How can this incident impact first contact between two species? I am sure you can see dream up several ways this can be used in any genre of any story.

My current work in progress has a situation where the artificial gravity goes on and off as a result of intermittent power failure. And while artificial gravity is fascinating to me, what’s more important is the physical impact on characters as they move through the environment trying to save their friends.  There is no need for me to explain in glorious detail how the artificial gravity works, it just does. We don’t stop to explain how electricity flickers on off in power failure, it just does.

I am trying very hard to let common sense and character interaction be my guide. For those of you that know me, you can stop laughing about me using common sense.

Be Well

dcd

Reset your defaults…

Yes, gibberish for a title. It’s one skill I can excel at.

Listening to Writing Excuses the other day and MRK used the expression, defaults. The context is that we all have defaults if direct clues about people aren’t given.

Example: White Male protagonist in a story, by many including me, will be assumed to be straight. White Female protagonist ditto. These are my defaults.

The majority of characters in most novels/movies will be male.

All of these examples are also stereotypes and there are of course, exceptions to the rule. But in general these defaults hold true. When they don’t we treat the situation as odd, or unique. When is the last time a brothel scene in a book or movie was populated with an equal number of males and females?

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None of this is new to the discussion of gender in writing. The point I am trying to learn or teach myself don’t use defaults. If a characters sexual orientation or gender or species is not relevant, and doesn’t come up naturally, DON’T MENTION IT. Does the reader need to know that the engineer on my spaceship is a Slargbo from planet Xenius X? Maybe the fact Slargbo’s have two brains that function in parallel will be important at some point, but until then, the answer is no, the reader doesn’t need to know. Or yes because you want to foreshadow it. But I am only going to foreshadow it because it’s necessary. I don’t need to define my characters gender or sexuality because of my personal defaults. Nor their brain capacity.

“I better tell them this character is gay.” “I better tell them this one is bi-sexual.”

I mean really, in life do people come up to you and say, “Hi I’m Ryan and I’m bi-sexual.” No, it’s ridiculous. I don’t go around saying, “Hi, I’m Doug and I’m straight.”

Other examples of “defaults”: dwarfs in fantasies always speak with a Scottish accent, drink ale,  and have beards. (even the female dwarfs)

Or the engineer on a Star Ship always lies about long it takes to repair the ship. “Oh I canna do it in less than 4 weeks in space dock.” And then has it repaired in 4 hours using spare parts made out of lasagna.

As I am working through the Cheesy space opera novel I am making a conscious effort to populate the world with women, but treat it as the norm. I am wondering what the effect will be on the reader. For example, any side characters or “spear carriers” are women. Why? I haven’t clue, it felt right.

It will take real time to repair the ship, and the engineer will underestimate the time. There will be characters and spear carriers of various genders and orientations. Will you know who is what – only if it furthers the story.

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