Writer’s Log: 1845

I can fuckin’ write.

(And so can you, probably.)

Here’s the thing — just a short note — reading back stuff (buku stuff from my past, recent and ancient) I come across and find some turn of phrase, some eloquent flourish of words I may have (yeah it was me) penned in the past, and I think, shit, I wrote that? Daayamn, that’s not half bad.

Like that flash of gold at the bottom of a pan, black sand slipping to the side, water’s ripple urging the skur of tans-and-blacks to move out-the-way. There! Yellow and stunning. That’s the feeling when you read something you wrote that just frickin’ sings. You wrote that. I wrote that. And it was poetry in prose. Pitchers of pulchritude in pottery.

It worked. (And worked well.)

Those glimmers of talent are everything. Absolutely everything, to a grub of a writer. Am I any good? Is this worth all the bloody trouble? Is anyone ever going to read me? I should quit — right?

Yes. Yes. Yes. No.

The end of all this? Write for yourself. If someday you come back and read what you writ, ages ago, and smile, chuckle or — if you’re cosmically good, drop a tear — then it will have all been worth it.

 


Writer’s Log: 1844 Level three

The problem with learning to write is there’s no set program. No prospectus. No itinerary. Every writer has to create and follow their own learning schedule. “Just keep writing,” they say. No, I’m afraid that doesn’t work. Not really. You could beat the crap out of a golf ball or flail the brush with your fly line and never get any better at golfing or fishing. However, in both of those perfectly individualistic tasks, teachers, guides and videos are available to lead you through the micro-steps to better your skills. Writing? Nope. You’re on your own. (Yeah, there are tons of writer’s books, Great Writing, etc. But none of them actually propose a 1, 2, 3 step kind of thing.)

And therein lies the gap that you must fill — all by your lonesome.

“It reads alright to me.” Yeah, that’s the problem isn’t it. Refining your own tastes and critical opinions on what is good or not. Unfortunately, when you write it, it taints your bias. It came from your creative flow and therefore seems valid. But, lo-and-behold, it’s not. It may, in fact, suck.

What to do?

Of cousre, practice is on the table. But, practice what? Write what? Where are my Start Here and then do these next 100 things…? Such a thing does not exist. So you have to dream up your own steps.

Here’s a exercise I dreamed up last night that I’m going to bash my head against a time or three to see if it helps. And I think this general technique may help: Pick a venue, pick a specific writing mode or element or technical writing aspects and focus solely on those aspects you’ve selected.

Imagine two rocks. In a dry stream bed. They enter into a conversation. About the weather. The drought. How do you approach this? See, that’s the thing, learning to creep up on a fictional situation, a narrative opportunity and attack it with just-the-right technique — this is my Level Three.

Do you overtly describe the environment? No.
Do you explain the situation in any way? No.
Do you set the stage, lay a foundation, prepare the reader? NO!

You just dive in, let the rocks talk, let them allude to their predicament. Slip in a sentence or two about the bigger picture. But never bring attention to you the AUTHOR. Leave him/her out of the picture. Don’t step on your character’s toes by taking away from their emotion. Do, or don’t, break a dialog pattern into pieces — based on the impact you want to have on the reader. Drop the dialog tags when possible. Get into the details, early, but precise and not wandering.

All of that above is (essentially) from Phil Houston. Leveling up is not a passive activity. You MUST pick your next training topic and focus, focus, focus.

~~~

I’m going to focus on dialog adopting some of the burden of the environment. One character is going to be bitter, the other sanguine. But through the conversation, we’ll learn of the context and have the two switch places regarding the change coming. I’m consciously intending these aspects of this scene. It’s a training exercise. I’ve picked the intent and now will strive to implement it.

~~~

Red fumed at the sky. “I hate blue. Hate it.” Red sat wedged in the sand between a pair of grey granite dullards.

“I’ve got filaments of turquoise rivered through my core. Is that the blue you despise?” Azul posed the question fully aware of the bait he cast.

It hadn’t rained for a year. The stream bed had been blown full of sand from the arroyo that contained it. Red and Azul chipped away at each other in the heat and relentless beat of the sun.

“No, no. It’s that blue. That cobalt umbrella above that gives nothing, takes everything.”

Azul let Red’s answer linger, precarious like steps on saltpan mud. “Sunsets here make me think of what-if storms. I imagine the streaks of white slicing the night, the rumble and patter coming after.”

“Your foolish dreams are as dry as the grit against my ass.”

“Medicine is bitter. I embrace your medicine and twist it to suit me.” Azul sat a scant ant-crawl away, atop a slate spread which was part of the bedrock of the stream.

Red chafed at Azul’s romantic spin at everything he grouched. “That’s right, pray to your spirits. Their medicine won’t bring relief.”

“Hmm. Well, I’ve saved a special curse for you, when the time comes.” Azul would have lifted a defiant chin had he had one.

“A curse? Why would you curse me? I’m stuck. Welded into place like a concrete fossil. While you sit, your sides open to touch the breeze, as you may.”

“Some deserve curses. That’s just the way of it.”

“But, I’ve done nothing to deserve a curse. What have I done?”

“It’s not what you’ve done. It’s what you could have, but didn’t.”

Red sputtered. “For aeons we’ve lain here. Together. And you’ve never once mentioned…”

“You’re the reason we’re still here.” Azul had sensed Red’s vulnerability and drove home his advantage.

“Me?”

“Did you not hide that time, years ago, when the Wanderer stooped to build his atonement? Collecting elements that would hasten the Change?”

“I… How could I have known?”

“Typical. Your ignorance is your excuse. As always. Why I’ve let you bully me all these years…”

“I’m… I’m sorry. I never…”

“Of course you are.” Azul pressed his point. “But if you ever cared for me, for our tandem trip down this ancient course, you’ll do me one favor.”

“Yes, Blue, anything.”

“Next time, let the Wanderer find you.”

 


MTBF: Life

* Fermi Paradox topic alert

MTBF is a manufacturing term meaning Mean Time Between Failure. On average, what is the amount of time a product operates without failure.

In our analysis of the paucity of life in the universe, this concept — as applied to life — is less frequently addressed. But it’s critical to understanding why humanity is “probably” alone in the universe.

If you were an abiogenesis researcher trying to create life in the lab and one day you astound yourself and world by creating replicating, mutating life in a petri dish. You run out of the lab, shouting to your peers and head to the bar to celebrate. Meanwhile, Billy-the-janitor, runs across your ugly-smear of creation you left on the counter and tosses it in the trash headed to the incinerator. Poof. MTBF of your abiogenetically created life? About 24 hours.

As we investigate the probabilities of life in the universe, we must not only imagine the conditions that we believe are required for life to spawn spontaneously in the strange seas or tide pools of exotic planets, but we must include the MTBF of that life. If a comet smacks such a life-foundational planet every few months, wiping out Darwin’s crucible — over and over — that must be a part of our calculations.

If life gets started but the periods of prosperity are so short lived, despite the initial conditions that engendered such life, it doesn’t matter that such a place is ‘perfect’ to harbor life. A short MTBF will exclude it from our tally.

And it’s not just microbial life that we’re considering. MTBF of a society killing asteroid: 50 million years? MTBF of a super volcanoes: every 100,000 years? And my favorite the MTBF of a technologically advanced society, reliant on electricity coursing through wires, due to coronal mass ejection (CME): About 200 years.

There are dozens of other types of life erasers, each with its MTBF. Pockets of life must not only navigate such continuous disasters, but it must grow large enough so that as these calamities occur, the likelihood that any one catastrophe kills the entire genome of the planet (or the species) is reduced.

We look for the exo-conditions that we think are favorable to life. But we must remember to include the windows of opportunity life has, interstitially inserted between extinction events. What is humanity’s real MTBF?


TGE is COMPLETE!

The experimental project — an illustrated YA novel — is complete. One final edit and it’s off to submission land. If you’d like to beta read it — just comment here.

Dave Cline - lost and found

The Gribble’s Eye (TGE) is now officially complete.

All 50 images are in and shaded and added to the manuscript.

And to share one which really hallmarks the action, here is an image from the end of the book — a real dynamic scene.

46-SadieLioness

These two characters have names in the story — but you’d have to read it to find out. Isn’t that a great illustration? Yulian Mulyono did an excellent job on all fifty original artworks. I found Yulian on Fiverr. He and I worked out  deal and ONE YEAR LATER we are finally finished!

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Obesity: stocking up for the End

What if the current trend of obesity was preparation for the coming apocalypse?

When Anak Krakatoa blows its lid, kicking off another super volcano somewhere (there are a number of them). Or when the CME finally arrives (I’ve been waiting for years). Maybe it will be that elusive rogue asteroid that sneaks past observation (I’d mention alien invasion here, but aliens don’t exist). Whatever it might be, when the world system shuts down and collapses, people with a few extra pounds (or tens of pounds) may be fixed to survive longer than the fit-n-trim bunch.

That is the way humanity’s physiology is built — gorge in the late summer and fall, eat and gain weight for the coming winter and starvation period of spring. This epidemic of obesity spreading around the would, maybe it’s just preparation? A collective subconsciousness aware that the End is nigh. So pass the pizza and beer, I’m loading up for the Apocalypse.

(Of course, there’s the complication of Insulin being a short shelf-life drug that would cease production during the collapse… See: https://anonymole.com/2017/04/06/diabetics-and-the-apocalypse/)


What would you say to Hemingway?

If I could someday write like Hemingway, Steinbeck, or London, I’d die content.

Dave Cline - lost and found

What would you say to Hemingway?

The Idaho sun is, just now, rising above the treetops. The Sun Valley home you find yourself within smells of Hoppe’s, old leather, whiskey and sweat. He’s there, sitting in a stiff backed chair behind a desk. You’ve plopped yourself into a leather stuffed monster that nearly swallows you whole.

“Papa,” you say, “your stories are not — have never been — real.”

“Of course they were real.” The man slurs his words, from age or alcohol, it’s hard to tell which. His bearded face scowls at your assumption.

“I mean, to readers. To readers, they were always imaginings. They shut the book and their own lives came back into view.”

“Your point?”

“You could go on telling stories that even you, yourself, knew to be ensconced fully in the realm of imagination.”

The old man cleaned his teeth with his tongue. His jaw…

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Elder centers: beta reader bonanza

I wonder if there are any elder care centers around that might entertain the idea of creating a beta-reader club.

Here’s a population of folks with time on their hands. They have organized activities, book-o-the-month clubs, social gatherings and whatnot. They sound like the perfect victims for assaulting with the likes of a poorly written beta-level novel.

“Hello, Epione’s Excellent Elder Care Home? Yes, I’d like to swing by with rough-printed copies of my new novel for your residents to read, at their discretion and interest level.

I would bring donuts…

You’d have to get approval from management? Of course. Yes, the content is relatively tame — no hard-core sex scenes, or disembowelments.

I can come by? Excellent.”

Baby Boomers Abound. I think this is an untapped resource ripe for harvest. Imagine organizing the Elder-Brain-Trust into a distributed knowledge processing service center. Millions of old-foggies bored to tears, aching for something to do with their time. And here come all these nascent authors in need of beta readers. Bingo! A perfect match.

I’m gonna print off 10 copies of my latest story and march right down there. For $85 I can get ten printed copies delivered. Sounds like a plan to me.