Sailors on the Sea

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Sister-in-Law

I saw a knight in battle. I told my sister-in-law. The silly woman. All she could think to ask was whether it was a good night.

And when she dropped the expensive plate she blamed it on a bad air.

She knows nothing of sailing. For when I told her my uncle had left on an ocean voyage she said she hoped he found a good aisle. She also warned that he should follow some boy.

She must have misunderstood about who was doing the sailing, for as I explained about things she shook her head and said I was crewed.

And she wasn’t keen on me telling her I thought she was a butte.

But she did give me a compliment when I told her I was thinking of playing some rugby. She said I would be bowled over.

When she told me I should be bridled I replied I was not ready for marriage.

She asked if I was going to help count the senses. I told her there were only five.

She doesn’t like chickens. She keeps saying that they’re foul.

But she’s very religious. When I asked her what was for supper she replied a friar.

She doesn’t know much about animals. When I pointed out some antelope she told me they were news to her.

So although we don’t always get along, I very much intend to be at her house tonight. You see, she said there is going to be a whored of people there.

Happy Rabbit Hole Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Hidden Story

So, I've begun work on the extensive background required (in my mind) for that story I mentioned the other day. You know, the one which is kind of obsolete now because of the internet? Well, I decided to give it a go anyway. But the background work on this one is incredibly detailed. It could be a week before I actually write on the story itself. And then I will only get in a chapter - or maybe two - before having to return to the background work.

You see, the background work on this story is not history. It's taking place simultaneously with the main story. I guess you could call it a sub plot. There is a lot going on, and the danger is in devoting too much time with minor things and ignoring the Main Plot and growth of the Main Character, which is pretty much what the story is about: the Main Character.

Filling a story with too much going on is dangerous. Not physically to the author, but spiritually, to the story. Readers can easily become confused, or bored. Both are death cries to a story. What good is a story is nobody wants to read it?

At the same time, stories without other things going on had better be very short. Otherwise Readers can become bored as well, as longer stories cannot be singly focused. Well, generally should not be. I'm not going to be absolute about this because as soon as I am somebody will point out some great work by some great author which violates this very principal. But generally longer stories have several things going on. The trick is knowing how much time and effort to devote to each of these things. And ultimately, ALL of these sub plots/stories are required to actively contribute to the Main Plot/Story.

Most of my minor plots/stories are set for this current work. The one, however, is so incredibly detailed it is impossible to have it all set out. In a way I suppose it is foolish of me to devote so much time to a portion of the story which will only occasionally raise its head to be seen. Kind of like the creature in Loch Ness. But like Nessie, this piece of background is fundamental to all that remains visible most of the time. To put it another way, no story about the Loch Ness Monster is complete without some idea of what Nessie is doing below the surface most of the time. In real life we haven't a clue. In fact, not everyone is even convinced Nessie exists. But I have the luxury of being able to fill in those pieces - even if the reader will never read them.

It's like the old Tickle Bee game. The bee was in a plastic rectangle. It had a magnet in it. The idea was to guide the bee through the maze using another magnet attached to a wand beneath the game board. You couldn't see the wand, but you knew of its presence every time it interacted with the bee. The bee couldn't move without it.

Sometimes, what we don't put in a story is more important than what we do. It's important, as the creator, to know these things.

I think so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Seemed So Clear at the Time

I have been trying to encourage the Muses to come by for an extended visit. I don't think they like apartment living either. But what I have been doing for the past few days is working in Excel. I like Excel. If it were easy to write my stories there I probably would. But what I have been doing is listing story titles in Column A, and then below in Column B I list the characters I currently know to be in that story. In Column C I indicate the character's gender and (sometimes) purpose in the story. Column D is used for notes about the story, including spoilers. Most of these works were started but never finished.

One of these unfinished stories has been in my head for a very long time. I found the beginnings of an effort to actually write it, but the effort didn't get very far. Only about a chapter. But there were many one sentence notes about what I was expecting to happen.

I remember working this story out well while I was at my last job. The job was fairly mindless for most of the day, freeing my mind to do more important things like work out story details for whatever writing project I currently fancied. Unfortunately, that was like two or three years ago, and now most of those thoughts have long since flown away and/or dissipated in the winds of time. But I had managed to write some notes about what I was thinking.

Unfortunately, the notes I made, while useful at the time (while the ideas were fresh in my head), don't help me much now. Here is a sampling of what I wrote - fully expecting myself to instantly recall the entire scene at some undefined later date.
  • Jim's first meeting with Devlin Sands
  • Jim meets Isaiah John Mark
  • Jim has supper at Overs' Pizza Parlor (I know this was a good scene because of who Overs is. Unfortunately, I can't remember it at all.)
  • Jim meets Massie Ford
  • The incident at Overs' Pizza Parlor (I vaguely have an idea of what this is talking about)
I don't remember any of those scenes now. And that after spending hours dreaming them up. A couple that I do have more clear recollections of include the following:
  • In Massie's Apartment
  • Mr. Christopher reacts
  • Rock bottom
  • The championship is decided
  • Who is Blibben Overs
It's the kind of story I know I would enjoy (after all, I thought it up), but in all honesty I think it's a story who's time has passed. The internet has pretty much made the basic concept obsolete. But maybe not.

I'm finding myself tempted to work on this story. It's kind of a risk as I have already worked on it once and set it aside. The likelihood that would happen again if I took it up is fairly high. (It's always easier to do something a second time.)

But it's good to know the Muses are paying attention to what I'm doing. I've also been tempted to go back to Animal Kingdom. That story is about fifteen years older than this later one, and I have set that one aside two or three times.

The oven has been preheated and the stories are ready to bake. Maybe.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bevie Meets Modern Day Technology

Thanks to a very generous friend I now own a laptop computer. Not sure if she wants her generosity broadcast or not so I'll leave that piece of information be.

I've never owned a laptop. Haven't even used one since like 1990. Then it was a Compaq. Didn't much like that one. Small keyboard. Small view screen. And if you didn't sit directly in front of it you couldn't see what it was displaying.

This one is much different. Much better. But still awkward to a confirmed desktop user.

I prefer my larger keyboard at its slant, as opposed to the flatter laptop keyboard. But setting the laptop at an angle makes most of this adjustment.

The screen is only slightly smaller than my giant monitor, so that's not a problem. And as my giant monitor is going dark, the laptop screen is actually a significant improvement. Much better resolution. Much brighter colors.

The desktop has nearly ten times the hard drive space, but that's really a non-issue, I think. I have one of those dongle thingies that allows me to transfer large volumes of files between computers easily. Just unplug it from one computer and plug it into the other and that's it.

The laptop also came with a new game I had not played before. Son found it. It's cool - and kind of addicting. But most games are. Basically, the idea is to prevent this colored balls/circles from reaching the end of a track. To do this one has a shooter positioned in the screen's center. It contains randomly colored balls/circles. The idea is to shoot the balls to the line working its way to the center. Get three in a row of the same color and they disappear. I was so impressed when I completed a level the first time. Then I saw the scores. It took me something like a minute and a half to do it. The previous owner's score was there, too. Nineteen seconds. So much for feeling proud.

The biggest adjustment is the mousepad thingy. I don't particularly like it. It's very much like a trackball, and I hated using those. I worked at a company in which the two main members in my department insisted trackballs were better and so everyone had to use them. Oh, I was so happy when they fell out of favor and I was allowed to use a mouse again.

My biggest problems with the pad is its placement and its sensitivity. Its placement is just below the keypad, which means I can't rest my wrists. Yes, I know. I'm not supposed to rest my wrists. But the fact is, I do. Also, because of the placement, my thumbs keep tapping the pad. And working in Excel this is a problem, for every time I tap the pad it changes the cell I'm working in.

These are nuisances and corrected simply through personal adjustment. They are well worth the generosity of my friend, and I am very much thankful for the laptop.

Hmm. I had meant to write about a certain story I have. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Epic Tale of Epic Proportions

Wrote some notes about Swords of Fire last night. Revisited the Great Sea's beginnings. The original creation story was never finished. Which is just as well, since quite a bit of it has changed now. Writing - and thinking - has shown me more and more and I have revised the origin concept.

It still began in the Void - which was nothingness. In my mind I see it as blackness. Not sure why nothing equates to total blackness instead of total whiteness, but it does in my mind. I guess because it's a kind of light, and ALL light is white, while NO light is darkness.

But the Void was not all there was. The Void was simply a place where there was nothing. The Void itself was contained in something else, which I have yet to name.

The ring of earth, coated with a heavy layer of ice, is still present, as is the Fire, except that now there are two instances of Fire which merge into one.

Changing the foundation of a creation has wide sweeping effect. Every story which follows will be affected. Perhaps it's just as well Swords of Fire is not published yet. Once it's published it's written in stone. Kind of.

Do you ever do this? Revisit the beginning and modify it to suit knowledge you have now but lacked then? Story knowledge, I mean. Who, and what, things are.

Do you have a story that you just keep working on? Always and forever? Or do you always leave behind what's written and move on to new things? I can do that with most things, but not with Swords of Fire. Swords of Fire is my life.

Right now Swords of Fire consists of six books: two of which are actually written and a third which has been begun.

There is a background story for what was once a minor character which is now large enough to encompass three or four first novels.

There's so much to say. And so little time and skill.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ideas are Vapors in My Mind

Fairyhedgehog posted about avid reading on her blog. The post is HERE. I commented on the post, bragging about my ability to come up with thousands of story ideas - without actually having written them.

Now I find myself wondering how much of an exaggeration - or minimization - that was. How many story ideas do I come up with in a day anyway? Not how many do I write. Writing a story can take ten, twenty or even a hundred times as long as reading it.

But last year I managed to write a lot. Including poems (which in my case are very short stories) I wrote 111 projects, finishing 97. That's about a story idea every four days. But how many ideas do I actually come up with? And coming up with ideas - does it prove anything? What?

I think I may begin a journal of story ideas I come up with this year. Since it looks like I'm not going to be able to write nearly as much as I desire I will be regulated to imagination only. It's a fun place to be, but it's hard to revisit ideas and enjoy them the same as before.

And should I include story ideas I have that I haven't started? How do I go about tracking this I wonder? I have no misgivings whatsoever about predicting at least 500 story ideas over the course of a year. I might even be able to double that. Talk about bold, huh? But coming up with an idea is easy. Writing it is HARD. Time consuming. It's hard for the work to keep up with the ideas. And when better ideas show up work often stops.

How about you? Do you come up with a lot of ideas - but fail to actually write them? How many do you get? How many do you actually try to write?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Confess: I Don't Feel Like Writing Anymore

I have been attempting to write - but I have been accomplishing nothing. January becomes two weeks old tomorrow and I think I have yet to write more than a few hundred words toward any story.

The inspiration, enthusiasm, motivation have all departed for places unknown. The clouds of story ideas which once filled my head have dissipated with the blow of seeing my writing time on the chopping block. I - have given up again.

Been trying to apply for the job which will kill my writing - and possibly me. It hasn't been easy. The first guy I talked to was great. He explained a lot of things and then got some basic information, which he passed on to the hiring people. These people are idiots. Or I am. Or both.

The girl (and I deliberately say 'girl' instead of 'woman' or even 'young woman') was confusing to listen to. She started a profile for me, which would be used as an application for employment. And rather than simply tell me the website to go to, she had to email it to me. Well, okay. I had it officially written down.

I go to said website and find that since the girl has already begun a profile for me, I must sign in using my username and password. Guess what the girl never told me? That's right. I didn't know my username and password. So I had to email the girl back and ask for the information.

Oh. She also said she would be sending me the email in like five minutes. It was at least four hours.

So she sends me the required information and I begin to fill out the job application online.

They want to know what high school I went to. Give me a break. I haven't attended high school since the 1970s. Who gives a rat's a*s what high school I went to?

The next section was employment history, and it is here I am stuck. Why? Because of my own personal irritation with certain questions. They not only want to know where I have worked (a legitimate request), but they want to know how much money I made while working there. What the h*ll use can that possibly be to them? And unlike the paper applications, in which I just leave those fields blank (and explain - should it be asked for - that it's none of their business), the online form will not allow me to continue without filling this information in.

So I sent another email to the girl (who had sent me an email stating I was to let her know when I had completed the form) asking just why this information was needed, and informing her that I consider it an invasion of privacy.

I suppose I have already established myself in their eyes as a regular pain-in-the-a*s and may not get the job after all. That will go over really well with Spouse. But d*mn it! It's bad enough to have to beg for a job in the first place. But to have to give up private information just because is too much. They cannot want this information for any good reason. I mean, come on! Do you know what the job is? Restocking shelves in grocery stores. Even the first guy I spoke with acknowledged it isn't rocket science. Reminds me of a Donovan song: Goldwatch Blues.

Here's a YouTube link. It's a funny song. Lyrics after the link.


I went up for my interview on the fourth day of July.
First old man he questioned me until I nearly cried,
Made me fill in forms until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer.


Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper to say you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty
years. CHORUS.

He asked me how many jobs I'd had before.
He nearly had a heart attack when I answered, four.
Four jobs in twenty years, oh, this can never be
We only take on men who work until they die. CHORUS.

He took me outside to where the gravestones stand in line.
This is where we bury them in quick-stone and in lime
And if you come to work for us on this you must agree,
That if you're going to die please do it during tea. CHORUS.

This story that you heard you may think rather queer
But it is the truth you'll be surprised to hear.
I did not want no job upon the board,
I just wanted to take a broom and sweep the bloody floor.

Transcribed by Stephen Sander

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Pen is Mightier Than the Computer - Sometimes

Been doing some writing with pen and paper. That's how I wrote Tavaar's backstory. I filled six writing journals during my lunch breaks when I last worked. There is a tactile satisfaction in using pen and paper to write a story as opposed to a keyboard. Of course the computer allows for multiple copies without the extra effort. And no matter how much one writes a computer always uses the same amount of physical space to keep it.

I'm trying to modify my writing style. Trying to keep myself aware of the five senses and include things like sound, taste, smell, sight and touch when describing a scene. Don't know if this will actually improve my writing or not, but it's always fun to try something new.

I will continue to write fantasy. It's my place to write. But I'm still focusing on writing new projects and not investing much time in editing. Editing (in my mind) presupposes a belief that a work could one day be published. I don't think I have any such beliefs anymore. So I will write new things and enjoy them alone.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Broadsword Swings

Life is a two-edged sword, and so are most of the things one encounters while living it.

Everything has a price. Even winning. To achieve it one must often sacrifice other things.

For half of 2008 and all of 2009 I had the luxury of writing whenever I wanted. Well, not quite whenever. If Spouse and/or Son was around I could pretty much forget about accomplishing anything writing wise. But often Son was in school and Spouse was at work. This left me alone at the house, and eventually the apartment. The result of this wonderful free time was my most prolific time ever in writing. I wrote over 100 different things, from simple exercises to complete novels. And if I were to include blog posts the total would rise to two or even three hundred.

It was fun.

That time may now be coming to a sad end.

You see, for all the enjoyment I took in the past eighteen months, there was a price that had to be paid. That price was the absence of money. And the absence of money has meant the loss of health coverage, family trips, better food, repairs and replacements on equipment, and even the loss of our house.

At my age, with my skill set and health, it is not easy to find replacement work. And to be perfectly honest, I have not exhausted myself overmuch seeking out employment with places I know would kill my spirit. I was feeling alive again such as I had not felt since - a very long time ago.

But play time seems to be coming to an end. And with it joy time. There is every reason to believe I will get the latest job I applied for. And while this job will provide something around $200 per week wages (about $160 spendable), there is also a price to pay in having it. In my case, the price to pay is the reduction in time to write.

I have tried many times (and still attempt it) to write when Spouse and/or Son are around, but the simple truth is neither of them respect my writing time and feel free - even obligated - to interrupt me while I am writing. For those of you who write you know the time required to 'get in the flow'. A one or two minute interruption can result in a lost of fifteen or twenty minutes in writing. And if one is being interrupted every ten to fifteen minutes that can mean no writing at all. And so it has been for me.

If I get this job, and right now it appears I will, I will lose three of my five writing days. And the two which will remain will be separated by days.

So I will earn upwards to $1000 each month. Around $700 spendable. If we simply used the money to keep up with the rent and not buy insurance or better food I could probably replace the computer within a year. But to what end? If I'm not writing anything, who really gives a damn. Right?

Most of my stories have happy endings. Not all, but most. Why can't my life have one? It's turning out just like I feared. I'll never write anything that matters. And so there will be no point or purpose to me.

Life sucks. And then you die.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What I'm Doing

Well, I have begun writing something. It's not going as fast as I want, but then I'm letting myself get distracted a lot.

We'll see how it goes.

That's the problem with writing on inspiration. Without it, or with it distracted toward something else, writing doesn't take place.

Depending on how next week goes I may be writing more and more as time goes on.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Progress Yet

Not achieving any progress toward my writing goal. I've managed a single poem and a little more, but nothing of significance. I doubt I've written even so much as 5,000-words yet. Not to worry. Yet. I write on inspiration and feeling more than dedication and resolve. When inspiration strikes I can easily put together five and ten thousand word days.

What I have been doing thus far is wasting my time with computer games. They're an excellent time waster. One can play for hours and accomplish literally nothing. Sometimes that's exactly what one needs to get one going. It's like recharging.

I've got a lot to write and I'm hoping the Muses will complete their holiday soon. Then I shall write up a storm.

Until then - I waste time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Turning Up the Heat

Stories. Sometimes they come easily. Sometimes they don't.

Right now my thoughts are swimming with story ideas. I want to write, but no single idea wants to jump up and be taken. Kind of like watching popcorn kernels in a popper. Sooner or later you know one is going to explode. The tension mounts as you wait.

That's what it will be like. One story idea will POP! And then they all will. My task is to try and keep up with them all. Good luck to me.


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think