The End

I’ve finally finished something. After going an entire year last year without finishing anything (over 5000 words, anyway) it really does feel good to be able to say that.

I’ve been working on a novella; a space opera with a “Scarlet Pimpernel” flavor. I initially wanted it to be a novel, but decided that it would make an odd novel the way I’d plotted it, so why not take the first chunk and write it separately? There’s nothing wrong with novellas, after all. Some of my favorite Brandon Sanderson works are novellas.

So still-unnamed-Scarlet-Pimpernel-Space-Opera project came in just under 38,000 words, half-way to a short novel. And it was fun! Oh, sure, it needs some work. A lot of work. But I finished it, and it was fun! I didn’t really plot it out, either, so it proved to be full of surprises.

Like the ending. I had been imagining something a little more concrete, a little more “and this is how they came to work together”. But as I was writing today at lunch I hit a point that just seemed the more honest place to leave it. This turned out not to be the “origins” story I had originally envisioned, but focused more on the arc of the narrator. Fulfilling that arc seemed the right note to end on.

So what next? I don’t know. This one goes in the “trunk” for a little while, at least, until it’s unfamiliar enough to come back for an editorial pass. My Futurescapes Writers Workshop is coming up in exactly two weeks. I need to select the excerpt I intend to workshop so I can get copies made for everyone involved.

But after that I’m not sure. I don’t currently have any stories scratching to be let out. I have a couple of manuscripts I wouldn’t mind working over some more. I have also realized lately that the project I worked on in vain all last year was doomed from the start simply because I’d boxed myself into a storyline that didn’t really work. And I’m beginning to learn that I’m not very patient with my own writing. I want things to move forward far more quickly than they need to sometimes. Other writers get away with several paragraphs of description all the time, but I somehow think I’m being too wordy if I take my eyes off the goal for that long.

This has to change. So perhaps I need to do with that project what I did with this one: identify the pieces in play, and then just write and see where it really goes. I don’t think my problem is that I wasn’t capable of writing that story, I just think I forgot to tell the story I wanted to read. I didn’t enjoy it, and so it became work. I’ve already got a job. Writing needn’t become a chore, too.

Anyway, I don’t know what’s next, frankly. And that doesn’t bother me, at least for the moment. I finished a novella. I intend to take a little time to appreciate that fact.

General update: March 28, 2017

Wow, it’s been over a month since I last posted anything. That hasn’t happened in a while. There just hasn’t been anything to say, really.

But in general, life is good. I’m writing, work’s going well, everyone’s healthy, except our eighteen-year-old cat, and he’s on the mend. We’ve got our summer all planned out already, a lot of little things are coming together.

Most importantly, I’m writing steadily again, and enjoying it. My space opera novella is coming along nicely, and I hope to have it wrapped up in the next few weeks. I had planned to set it aside come April so I could do another significant re-write on the novel I plan to workshop at Sundance next month, but I just received some more information indicating that we’re only work-shopping twenty pages. So no need for a major revision there.

It’s a good thing I didn’t set a goal for reading this year, as I’ve read precisely one book so far, and making progress on another. I’ve got a few more queued up–I’d like to finish Mary Robinette Kowal’s new novel before I see her at the writing workshop–but my reading has been seriously neglected so far this year.

Instead I’ve been spending my evenings, when I’ve got them, writing. I reached the conclusion that a comfy chair or couch is just not a good place to write and stay awake. We’ve had a small writing desk in our bedroom for some time, mostly acting as a small display table. I took that over, added a desk lamp, and I’ve got a new writing spot that works quite well. I don’t seem to have much trouble staying awake, and I’m able to compensate for the fact that I seem to have slowed down in my writing speed. I don’t think I’ve written a thousand words during my lunch hour this entire year, when it used to be a regular occurrence. Add in another hour or so in the evenings, though, and I’m nearly keeping a NaNoWriMo pace lately.

Of course I’m not working on my novel right now; I’m blogging. I would like to start blogging again; at least more often than I have been lately, but frankly I still don’t know what to say. But I’ll at least put this up so it doesn’t feel neglected. Twenty more minutes to write–I should at least be able to finish 1000 words for today. Ciao!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

This blog will be undergoing significant changes over the next few weeks or months. I’m going to be rebuilding it as more of a writers’ website for marketing purposes–which I admit will likely be about as effective as my vague effort of monetizing my blog. But it would be a shame to get to where I’m ready to “go pro” as it were, only to find my website just isn’t up to it. It probably still won’t be, but unless I get a publisher willing to inject some real money for a real makeover, this will have to do.

The blog will still be here, but I will be posting less frequently–that’s almost a given now anyway. I find I have less to say than I used to, and when I do I usually want it to be something amusing or positive. But as someone who is neither amusing nor positive on a regular basis, that does make things more difficult. Or at least more sporadic. And the blog won’t be on the main page.

You can expect the look of the site to change–perhaps a lot. I’ll be trying out new templates for a while, so if the place starts to look like the dressing room of a mall teen fashion boutique, my apologies. It will settle…eventually.

I’ll also be porting a lot of content to a new home. Sadly, a site for which I’ve been posting regularly for several years is closing down, and rather than see all my work disappear into the bit bucket I’ll be moving it here. Or at least the best posts. You probably won’t notice unless you go looking for it, though.

Anyway, until everything finds its final home and configuration, please be patient. Things might not work well for a while.

Airbag art

The Slow Mo Guys are back with a poor-man’s firework show, using airbags to launch paint powder in sequence. The first two attempts are cool enough, but the third catches the light perfectly, resulting in majestically vivid colors. Well done, guys!

Stage or soap-box: Why I’m a little more Gaga

So Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the Superbowl turned out to be controversial. No surprises there, except for perhaps why. Evidently she took the “world’s biggest stage” and…entertained the audience. Shocking! Scandalous!

I’ve watched the performance, and I watched her press conference beforehand. I’ve read some of the punditry surrounding her performance. Supposedly she was told by the NFL not to get political. (Go figure! Evidently that’s for the players only?) She chose not to, but then how were they going to stop her if she had?

But evidently that wasn’t an issue. She herself stated her show would reflect her objectives all along: diversity and inclusion. And evidently her idea of diversity and inclusion includes football fans who just wanted a good show and Americans tuning in for the big game. Oh, sure, the left are claiming some victory for her careful choice of words and songs, but when she began her performance with part of the Pledge of Allegiance, and emphasizing for all, perhaps she really meant it. Perhaps she’s more clever than the average pop star and, in choosing to entertain first and foremost, drew in more people to listen to her message than if she’d beaten them over the head with it as part of the show.

Or maybe she sees the division in our country and actually feels it’s a bad thing, and decided to do her part to counter that? Maybe she realizes, as she seemed to suggest in her press conference, that it’s not all about her. Considering some of her antics of the past that seems incongruous, but she’s surprised me before.

One of the few ad lib moments of the show was her shout out to her mom and dad. Maybe that’s where she won me over. As a parent, I can only imagine how her parents feel, seeing their daughter  giving one of the biggest performances of her career and nailing it. Whether you like her music or not, it was an impressive show. She worked her butt off for it. From what I understand she underwent physical training to be able to do all of that dancing and acrobatics and still sing through it all–for thirteen minutes! The performer in me was impressed. She put it all out there.

Of course not everyone is pleased with her performance. The Washington Post expected her to get political, and ruled that she “whiffed”, and played it safe. Other sites seem to feel she let the left down by refusing to turn her platform into a soap-box. They’ve recently expressed similar displeasure with Taylor Swift for her sideline praise for the recent Women’s March. Many seem to feel that celebrities like Swift and Gaga have an obligation to use their fame politically. (See Why the Left is Going After Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift for more.)

While it’s true that Swift hasn’t exactly been a strong voice for change. She’s on record as claiming ““. . . I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.” While I think that’s actually a pretty mature attitude, I can see how those who think they own celebrities and are owed a particular level of activism in return (though only if it’s in the “right” direction, of course) might be disappointed with that. These people, to be blunt, are stupid. Celebrities have as much right to live their lives their own way as anyone else, to say what they want, or to keep quiet as they please. They don’t “owe” anyone anything.

But Gaga hasn’t exactly been a shrinking violet socially or politically. I doubt there were many football fans on Sunday who didn’t have at least some idea which side of “the line” she falls on. I can’t help but think that her choice to erase that line for thirteen minutes was a statement in and of itself. She made her point, even if it wasn’t the one some people expected. I’d like to think her point was “Hey guys, cool it. Let’s come together for a few minutes, at least.” I’d like to think it was a message similar to that of The Piano Guys, who defended their performance at the recent inauguration by citing the ability of music to bring people together and build common ground and understanding. Good for Gaga for not taking an opportunity to poke half the country in the eye, but to instead give the entire country a chance to enjoy a common experience.

As for me, I’m still not a fan of Lady Gaga’s music. It’s not bad, but it’s not my style–and that’s okay. But I’m more inclined to listen to what she has to say today than I would have been a year or two ago. And certainly more inclined to listen than I would be to most of the soap-box celebrities out there who miss no opportunity to lecture. Self-restraint is a virtue, not a liability. Would that more people could see that.

 

Oh, and in case you’re curious:

https://youtu.be/txXwg712zw4 – For some reason it doesn’t embed, but this is the full halftime show.

And this is her press conference. Perhaps the most important thing she says comes at around 16:35, but the entire thing shows a different side of her I hadn’t seen before.

 

Is it I?

Trigger warning: I quote scripture today to support a secular point. But frankly, if you’re the type who is SO easily offended you’re probably not still a reader here.

During Christ’s last supper with his apostles the following exchange took place (Mark 14: 18-19):

18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.

19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?

I find this fascinating and inspiring. The apostles were human beings who only had a few years with the Savior. We know on at least one occasion they were debating which of them was greatest. And yet we know they did grow, because here at the end, when Christ declares that one of them will betray him, their reaction was very different from usual human nature. They didn’t say, “Hey, I’ll bet it’s him!” or “Who? Who’s the jerk?” or “It’s probably Thomas! He’s always doubting!” (As an aside, as a Thomas, I do feel for the guy–who wants to be known forever as the guy who doubted, even though I can imagine most of us harboring–and expressing–similar doubts?)

Their first instinct was to wonder, “Is it me?”

They had the humility, at least at that moment, to look at themselves first before suspecting others. How awesome and rare is that?

I’ve seen multiple posts on social media lately questioning where all the negativity is coming from. I’ve seen people respond with statements like, “I KNOW! It’s terrible! Where’s it coming from?!” Many of these same people I’ve seen among of the worst offenders; the majority of their posts are negative, critical, offensive, etc.

But I didn’t stop to wonder, “Is it me? Am I part of the problem here? Do I spread the negativity in my own way? I try not to share posts that seem unfair or contain blatantly faulty logic, but I still write posts criticizing them. Am I really helping? What am I doing to make things better?

Am I developing the maturity to first ask, “Is it I?”