NaNoWriMo 2016 Preparations


I’m planning to do NaNoWriMo this year,  and like my Disney trip,  I’m starting to prepare for it ahead of time. Here are a few of my preparations: 

Going to bed earlier (by 11). I have such limited time and energy after work and after we’ve had family time and put the little one to bed, I know I’ll have to do a lot of my writing before work. I’m not a morning person by nature,  but I will be by necessity. 

Reading novels to help get my mind ready to write, and to surround myself with positive writing influences of the type of writing I’ll be doing. Good movies may help the general narrative sense, but only novels are novels. 

Writing scenes as exercises to get myself used to writing fiction again. 

Reading a few books on writing craft, so my results will hopefully be better. 

Watching nature documentaries, because I get inspired by cool landscapes and wildlife. River Monsters with Jeremy Wade is my favorite. 

I’m also trying to get ahead on my blog posts so I can focus more on fiction during November. 

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A Perfect Summary of Three Act Structure in Movies


Courtesy of Chez Lindsay, formerly known as The Nostalgia Chick. 

I don’t have much of value to add to the video,  but I like that she mentioned that it probably isn’t valuable for writer’s to sit down with this structure and consciously try to write to it. 

Deserve Part Three: A Warning Against Premature Worthiness

​In my last post, I talked about how I never stepped up and earned any writing skill and success,  never really took chances or dedicated myself back when I was younger and it was easier. 

Ironically, this may be for the best, because everything I wrote before about 2012 I find embarrassing, even negative. And I don’t mean in the open “oh well, I wasn’t writing very good prose back then was I?” way. I mean in the “wow, I’m I’m a different person and I disagree with most of the presuppositions and general underlying themes of those pieces of writing” way.

I was still caught up in the myth of redemptive violence, like most Americans. I operated under assumptions that seem harmful and unChristlike to me now. 

I still wrote without any real diversity of casts,  and worse, without any real understanding. 

So, I’m rather glad  in a twisted way that I never really pulled the trigger before, because my past works (especially if they were successful) would feel like enemies to me. 

Now since they just live on the corners of my hard drive, they’re little more than remembrances of where I was. But if they were out there on Amazon and in bookstores, I would be at war written the works of my own hands.

So that’s where I stand and it’s not so bad as I thought. But it’s not a good place to end up. I have to write more and I have to write more things that I’m proud of and that I think are good – not just “well done” but good in the greater sense.

Ripples (Words and Actions Have Consequences)

​https://youtu.be/1VR3Av9qfZc

Sometimes we aim to misbehave

Most often, we don’t aim at all

In an intricately interconnected world

Our actions and inactions have meaning

Beyond our circle of friends
Beyond our monkeysphere 

Beyond our field of vision

We dance on spider’s silk

Intricately interwoven

Each step sets the strings vibrating

For good or for ill

For ourselves and for those a world away

Myths of violence prime our minds for war

Spinning up from children’s cartoons

To novels and political speeches

Desensitizing, Dehumanizing

One American life is worth

How many Pakistanis? 
How many Afghans?

How many?

Chocolate grown by slaves tastes sweet,  but not to them 

Clothes, Coffee, Rice, Diamonds, Gold

Products of foced labor, by children

So many things it’s hard to know where to start

None of us is pure.

I doubt we can be in a world like this.

Where powerful interests throw their rocks and hide their hands 

What can we do?

I’m no expert, but I have a few ideas.

Ironically, the first comes from Ayn Rand: Call evil “evil.”

Don’t give your silent sanction to things you oppose

Don’t give unspoken approval to things that appall you.

The second is simpler, but requires some self discipline

Pick a few things that are products of slavery,

And stop buying them.

Buy more clothes second-hand, if you can.

If you’re 6’7″ like me, that may not be possible.

Find something you can do, even if it’s small.

Only buy chocolate that’s ethically sourced.

Change where your money goes.

The third is simpler yet: spread the word

Sign petitions. Write your congress people

Post to social media. 

Get the word out, to people who matter.

Praise President Obama and the responsible legislators of both parties for tightening restrictions

For keeping dozens of slavery products out of the US  

Even if you don’t like their other policies

Fourth, if you are a writer or content creator

Be sure that what you create reflects your heart

Every work has a message

Every work shows and tells how it’s world works, 

How things get better or worse, 

What brings happiness and justice

Money? “Winning” the sexy love interest?  

Outwitting a nagging wife? 

Killing or beating up the right bad guys? 

Every story tells a story… or it wouldn’t be a story. 

Pure entertainment doesn’t exist

A Tale of Three Pens

Like most of the American population, I’ve become more of a visual learner in the last few years. 

I like taking notes in multiple colors, using different pens for different categories or to separate different thoughts. I like having multiple highlighters for review. 

And, of course, I like to use pens that write well.

I know, I know: first world problems. But who doesnt like a smooth pen, especially when you have a lot to write?

So I keep a number of gel pens and quality ball points in my bag. But I often don’t have that with me,  and there’s no good way to carry a half-dozen pens in my pockets. 

So I started carrying one of those four in one ball point pens (The one at the top). They’re not expensive,  and they’re a compact solution,  but they are horrible pens. 

The colors are so dark and still I have to faint to tell the green from the black once it’s on paper. The points scratch and drag across the paper, allowing my writing down considerably.  And that’s when they write I  the first go,  and I don’t have to spend time trying to get them primed to write at all. 

Great concept, rubbish execution. 

So, after conversation with a co-worker who really knows pens, I decided to buy the red pen in the picture above, a Uniball Jetstream.

It was $9, a manageable amount for a pen, it comes with four colors and a mechanical pencil,  and it feels great the hand. I think it looks pretty good, too.

It is world better than it’s predecessor, both in writing experience and in ink color, and definitely worth the extra cost. It’s even refillable. 

It does not write like a gel pen. But the more I write with it, the more I like it. I really don’t need another multi-pen…

…But that doesn’t mean I won’t buy one anyway. Right now I’m looking at the Sarasa Zebra multi-pen, a well-reviewed gel multi, and the Pilot Coleto Multi, a hyper-custonizable gel multi that comes in 2,3,4, or 5 color barrels, and allows you to choose your own colors (or pencils or styluses).

I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Long Journey, Part 2: A Long Road That Has No Turn

​https://youtu.be/sGs9V7iDuZU

Yesterday, I talked about how the changes I want to make in my life all promise a lot of effort, even pain, with no guarantee of arrival. 

I’ve been thinking about that since I wrote it,  and it occurs to me just how  fortunate I am.  

The goals I have to struggle toward are self-actualization goals. The first four levels of Maslow’s needs hierarchy are pretty much taken care of. 

I have a good job (one I enjoy most of the time)  with benefits and truly good co-workers. 

There is plenty of food in our panty,  fridge,  and deep freeze,  and money to eat out of we don’t feel like cooking

Our house is safe, dry,  un-infested, and everything works. 

I live in  a safe neighborhood.

I only drive about 2 miles to work.

As a white (cis, het) man, the world is an infinitely safer place for me than it is for most other Americans. 

I have a loving wife and daughter. 

I have an extended family, and we love each other (even my in-laws, which I understand makes me really lucky).

Truthfully, my stakes are low. If I fail at these personal goals, I will be upset with myself, and my life will not improve. 

But my kid won’t starve, I won’t lose my house, I won’t be raped and then watch my rapist get 6 months in prison, and I won’t be gunned down while buying a bb gun at Wal-Mart.  

We all want to improve ourselves and our lives, but it’s easy to lose track and think that if we can, anyone can. For people like me, that kind of thinking is part of the problem. 

A Long Journey, with Much Pain, and No Guarantee of Arrival


I realized something today about all the things I want to change about myself: 

Every one well be painful and long.  None will be accomplished overnight. They will require me to hurt for a fairly long time. 

Muscles will ache. My mind will wrack  with ideas and extended effort, long after inspiration has passed. 

And not a single one of them comes with a guarantee of success. 

There are smarter ways to work, tactics to prevent injury and burnout, and tips to lighten the load, but there will be no more easy victories. Becoming vegan was the only one of those I’m likely to get. 

The sooner I accept this,  the sooner I can really get started. 

Heh. Does this mean I’m finally growing up?