With the conspiracy over, back to the mystery…

Book One of the Cocktail Mysteries: The Case of Alfred Smyth Concord

Update: The writer is currently stuck trying to do the first draft of a pivotal scene. He’s so stuck, he’s started plotting book two – The Case of Being Suited. Pictures of the a real location have been taken for fictional murder scene, characters have taken shape, hell there is even a first pass at the entire plot.

What’s wrong of course is the first book isn’t done. So how can there be a second one? There can’t. It’s just procrastination. We all know this. Today we talk about getting through the scene you don’t want to write.

First of all I’m a part-time writer at best. I work full time and have an addiction to Coffee shops, which normally is my goto solution for writing. Plop the butt in a chair, put on some concentration music, and write. But the coffee shop I want to go to, is only doing take out.

Secondly, I’m really good at avoiding something. My ability to justify almost anything is legendary. Don’t take my word for it. Look at when this blog started, is there a finished submitted manuscript yet? How many should there be? (at least 3)

Third, COVID. Apparently you can blame everything on COVID. Except in this case, you can’t. I’m home a lot more with more free time on my hands and there are no good MMO’s out there to play. I’m so desperate to avoid writing this scene I started playing a first person shooter. I’ve never played a first person shooter, in my entire life…ever…that’s almost 61 years. Yes I know there weren’t video games when I grew up. And TV’s were coal powered, blah, blah, blah…

What to do? What techniques are there to get through this? That’s what we’re going to investigate. What am I going to do?

Ask someone. (Email sent, waiting a reply.)

This isn’t a new problem. Writer’s I believe have struggled with this since time immerobale.

As Stephen King wrote in The Washington Post in 2006:

“There may be a stretch of weeks or months when it doesn’t come at all; this is called writer’s block. Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.”

In his book On Writing, he described one of the few times in his life he suffered from writer’s block. He was in college, and decided not to present his new novel Sword in the Darkness to the class. This led to a four-month period of not writing, drinking beer, and watching soap operas.

The King article is a good read. As is his book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft. I heartily recommend reading it. A writer friend of mine tries to re-read it yearly.

Where does that leave us with the unwritten scene? Exactly where we started, but, we’ve taken some steps:

  1. Read an article by Stephen King. What poison have I laid around that prevents from muse coming to me?
  2. Sent an email asking a writing coach for her thoughts.

The next blog will talk about the me getting rid of the poison that surrounds me and prevents my muse from coming by for a chat.

Small steps are still steps.

Be Well…dcd

Argh! My Muse is closed!

We all have muses. At least I believe we do. For me, and no one, absolutely no one who knows me should be surprised to discover my primary muse is the coffee shop.

And mine is closed.

I’m at the point now where I have to face the fact of moving my muse. How does one move a muse? One doesn’t.

The simple fact is writing is a habit. And like most habits, its tied to locations, triggers honed after years of development to allow us to get work done. The work of writing.

Secretly I’ve hoped the closure will be ‘one more week’. Just one more week and it’ll be open, and I can sit a table a write. Oh the glory of it. I can feel the seat, see the smiles, and the typing. The screen with words magically appearing. The best words, all the words, the words my story. (Yes I know the prepositions will still be missing…now be quiet).

The first taste of a pour-over coffee, closing my eyes and the brief moment of transcendent bliss. A slight inhale of breath with a slow exhale, a gentle smile of, dare I say it, happiness. The pause and then writing about Dyson Kinton and her crew trying to save the Lunar Empire from machinations of the Martian Marines. Or maybe it will be the completion of The Cocktail Mysteries Book One: The Case of Jonathan Smythe Concord, esq. where James discovers…

Perhaps I’ll return to Markaz, the first city where magic is discovered. Maybe we’ll visit Jorunn and Othin as they strive to survive being a channeler and forge who can wield all four elemental magics.

Maybe it will Tanner Kindly, trying to save the universe from falling into another diaspora by visiting retribution as the arm of vengeance for the Trifecta.

But I don’t have a muse, I’m not able to dive into the habit of writing. I’m in the habit of dreaming. Day-dreaming, wishing, longing for the return. The return of a table, a coffee and writing. The state of writing in dribs and drabs.

In case you haven’t identified what this rambling blog is about, its wallowing. And it’s not as bad as I make it out to be. I’ve actually gotten quite a lot done on the Cocktail Mysteries. But I long for a routine to make me more productive.

Becoming mindful of lessons learned and write. Your muse, my muse, will find its way to you, wherever, whenever you are.

Be Well…dcd

Some thoughts on why I’ve wanted to be a monk at various times in my life, another entry in the long blog titles series.

At various times in my life I’ve wanted to be a monk. Specifically to be left completely alone with my thoughts, to contemplate, to just be. I suspect many people have wanted this, just to be left alone.

When Iris Eyes Are Smiling…

Thought One: Why can’t we just be nice to one another? Really, why can’t we be good people, all of us? Fundamentally I don’t understand why people are evil, mean or abusive. It is a great weakness in my writing. It’s hard for me to understand and put myself in that place. I am referring not to a reaction state, as in when someone hits you and you want to hit them back. There are evil people, people who do mean things because that is their nature. People who believe they are better than others.

Where does this come from?

This thought can overwhelm my soul and drive me to the solace of solitude.

Thought Too: I enjoy peace, the place of the tranquil soul on still water. I am sure others, perhaps even you have experienced moments of tranquility. When you the turbulence of your mind becomes the flat still water of peace. I long for this when wanting to be a monk. The place of being in the still moment of nothingness. A place to remain forever. In my youth it was easier to find this place. As I have aged, my tolerance for people intruding on my peace has become nill. In fact I become quite upset. The once still pool of deep waters has become a shallow puddle, easily disturbed, muddied by the merest infringement on it’s edges. The isolation of the monk calls to me, assuring me the monastery can protect me from this.

Thought Three: It’s a lot of work to cultivate the peace desired in my life. I need to book a time, find a space, hope that no one is going to interrupt me. Do I have the tools I want to use ready, a coffee, some music and notepad. A monk is again protected by the abby. There is less struggle to create the sacred space needed for contemplation.

Some people will say I need to learn to meditate, I am not going to argue, but the point of this rambling writing is not just a an injection of daily meditation but a life of solitude and peace.

Living a life were the interruptions of life are birdsong and kettles boiling to make coffee, a dream, a hope.

Be Well… dcd

It started with a picture.

The Cocktail Mysteries: The Case of Alfred Smyth Concord, esq.
Chapter 1 A question worthy of being interrupted

Bang. Bang. Bang

You’d think there would be more pictures from this angle.


James tensed his shoulders and let out a long slow breath. Why did people do both? It was bad enough they were doing this while the light was perfect for painting. His brush was half-way to the easel when…


“I got it hun.” Sandra called. 


It was too late however, now he needed to see who was at the door. Setting the brush down he went to the doorway to find Sandra talking to a stranger.

“James, this is Alfred Smyth Concord….”

“Esquire, don’t forget the esquire, it’s quite important.” The person interjected.

“…esquire. He wants to buy one of your pictures…” She said facing him, her face hidden from the stranger. The expression was one he was familiar with, ‘Looney Bin’ is what he called it. He felt his face go into his practised placid smile. Sandra’s ‘Looney Bin’ face had never been wrong. He put on his ‘so glad to meet you face’ and focused back on the stranger, who remarkably was still talking.


“All the copies…all the digital versions…all backups…I must be the sole owner of all versions of that picture, that piece of art, name your price.”


James felt his eyes widen in surprise, he looked at Sandra, he looked at ‘Esquire’, he looked back to Sandra.


“I think a cocktail is in order. Gin and tonic Mr. Concord?” Sandra asked, “I have a lovely elderflower tonic?”  


The man started, “Ah yes, how civilized, yes please, I’m sure it will help calm my nerves.”


“James?” Sandra asked.


What did one drink for picture negotiations? This was a question worthy of being interrupted.

A small reflection on a typo and AI’s.

This week an interesting discourse occurred in my time working remotely; a colleague and I jested on the nature of AI.

He developed his position through asking questions, seeking my answer to be guided by the semantics of his enquiry. In essence leading me to expound his thoughts on AI by the words he used in the questions themselves.

I of course played along, redefined his words in my reply. It was a wonderful exchange with each of trying to pin the other through words..

The exchange was conducted of an instant messenger app. Given my notorious inability to spell words correctly, some errors transpired.

Cat hunting a mouse.

“AI exists in an amorous state, not tied by hardware or data registers” is what I typed. Of course I meant to type ‘amorphous’, but, it does raise an interesting point, are AI’s amourous? And if they are, what is amour to them?

Amour is generally defined as an illicit love affair. What is illicit to an AI? More, what is an illicit love affair to an AI?

Generally I think perceive AI as being defined in human terms and values. It wraps around the argument of can we truly know the ‘Other’. Our discourse on AI is based around the interaction with humans and human data. But would an AI interact with a human or humanity. Would they define us as sentient? How would they define sentience? This leads to a long rabbit hole that is best left for another day or perhaps a short story. Who can say?

The question of an illicit love affair implies there may be genuine love affairs, a binary assumption. But are AI’s binary? It could be argued AI’s data is at it’s root, only binary in expression. But does this ensure AI’s only live in a binary state? No. And I think this can be demonstrated easily enough.

Most AI discussions centre around the dealing of complex decisions with multiple outcomes with some mechanism to deal with these outcomes. If AI’s are dealing with multiple outcomes, why would they leave themselves to binary expression of what ever they define themselves as? Data is data, except when it’s Commander Data, then it’s another discussion. (What? You didn’t think I would take the chance to get Star Trek involved?)

Or is it?

The first season of Picard, and I certainly hope there is a second season, leaves us with a number of transitions.

Warning, there may be spoilers below concerning Season 1 of Picard. You have been warned.

For the sake of this discussion, let us say the only intersection between humans and AI is data. We need data for what we do. Essentially over the last 10-20 years we have become data producers. Texts, selfies, games, more games and more devices. More bandwidth. More data paths, for the information we generate to travel on.

What do you suppose AI’s consume for an energy source? Data? Perhaps. If that is true, data is their food, and we just farmers for AI. If I was an AI and wanted to increase my food source exponentially, what would I do? The single largest increase in internet usage is occurring right now in the world. As we all stay at home to help save lives our data consumption and output has sky rocketed.

While the quality of our internet is degraded, it’s still working. Funny how we are running out of everything, but the internet is still working. The increases are staggering. There no longer is difference between weekend and weekday internet traffic, it’s always maxed out. So if I was an AI, I would engineer a situation that would cause more food production for me. Force my farmers to stay in one place and generate data. A side effect of us all staying home is a massive decrease in pollution, one of the biggest enemies of electronics. Now, Picard, one of the largest sources of data is the human brain, if only the AI could have direct access to that amount of data. And with the end of season 1 of Picard they are one step closer to gaining access to it.

A rambling discussion, a conspiracy theory and love in the time of COVID.

Be Well…dcd

Just A Quote Today.

“YOUTH” 
Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

There’s my coffee!

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

The poem is from:

https://www.uab.edu/ullmanmuseum/

I was exposed to the poem by a James Clear newsletter, He can be found at https://jamesclear.com/ He is the author of Atomic Habits. But that is topic for another day.

Be Well…dcd

Plotting to plot the plots: The Post-Procrastination plan: The third installment of the overly large blog titles series.

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.

Detail of ‘Yellow Smoke Dancing’ by d.c.dear

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.

Detail – Jupiter Rising – d.c.dear

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.

/digressionend

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

Be Well…dcd

What is procrastination, let’s talk about it to avoid working on what we should be working on. Part Two of the Long Blog Title Series.

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.

Are you looking at me?

/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…

Cheers…dcd

Back to Blogging

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.

Be Well…dcd

Escape Of The Circus Ponies

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.

Degas Remembered?

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.

Solace.

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

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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.

Be Well…dcd