Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays, for me at least,
is a bit of challenge this year. That's really kind of odd.

And not. Obviously, there's the immediate, the rough sort of year we went
through. It's natural to have to slog through it.

I'm feeling like I have to work at it more, that's all. Like I'm an old bear
whose hormones aren't quite up to the levels needed to stir himself out of
hibernation one more time.

It could also be that we're having more of a winter this year than last year,
with more cold snaps.

Just part of my rhythm at the moment, I guess. I've got the goods, and the
time and energy. It's just putting them all into the habit of doing, and
doing today a bit more than yesterday.

Such is life sometimes. I've got a couple shorter stories in the Open Wounds
series to finish shepherding through the process, galley review and so on.
They'll be up soon. Then some other stories to begin the process. Links,
more pages for the different vendors where my current stories are available...

Little bit, by little bit.

But most of all, I've got stories to write. There's the work in progress,
where the huntress in the night has just decided to show me what she's
capable of...

Monday, January 8, 2018

The stuff of dreams, the stuff of nightmares.

Not that I have any of this tonight. I just like saying it.

That's what writers work with. It's what I want to work with, when I sit down
to pound the electrons from their writhing nothingness into pixels. Fun
stuff. Heady stuff.

Stuff to be wary of? Maybe, sometimes. To approach it with some sense of
confusion? All too often. To worry I have such poor skills?

Ok, let's not get too far into the weeds.

Besides, it's the start of the New Year, by the way the winter calendar
turns. We should be thinking of wonder, and new things aborning?

Then again, it is winter, here where I write. Here 'neath the dark of night,
the longest nights. And the grip of the cold.

Maybe we should be concerned about what things are born, here in the dark...

Monday, December 4, 2017

I'm late to the party on this one, at least in "blog time". Or, social media time, however you want to think of it.

But then, another aspect of all this business is that there's the instantaneous internet, and the demand for the most immediate Pavlovian response.

And then there's the chance for those of us who move at a slightly different tempo to go back and find things to think and write about, sometimes well after the rest of the world has moved on to other things.

The endless now of scholarship, cheek by jowl with the endless now of the insatiable maw of the social digital world.

But I'm also probably way overthinking this, considering that the post in question was only put up November 20, 2017. It's not exactly like I'm digging up something from eons ago.

Any rate, Ozy at thing of things had one of those questions that twigged my funny bone. Mostly because, back in the neverwhen before the Potter fandom was satiated by the entire series being available to read, I spent quite a bit of time in the online fandom.

Mostly lurking, seldom commenting, but always enjoying the fandom's every expanding theorization about the series and where it was going. And of course, one of the essential elements of the Harry Potter fandom is the Sorting Hat.

Ozy's taken the path of assuming that the audience for this piece are pretty well going to, well, sort themselves to fit the premise automatically.

In fact, I'd wager a good portion of the audience sorted themselves without conscious thought. There was no need for it, we've already all done it before.

So, as a fellow scribbler, Ozy I salute you. The idea for the post construction is wonderful, and well done indeed.

You ask about a burned Ravenclaw's perspective. At this time, from what I can tell of the comments on your piece, there haven't been any responses from readers with a take on Ravenclaw that fits with my perspective.

For me at least, there are two sides of the coin. First, there's the more dangerous reaction: Why on earth am I putting any effort into revealing my logic for something, no one's paying attention to it anyway?

The other side of the coin, the redeeming part that, for me, took longer to see (I am not yet a Buddha) is that the people I engage with, my family and friends that I've chosen, and that I try and reach out to wherever they are, are autonomous.

They're going to do what they're going to do, of their own choices and for their own reasons. I need to trust that, even if they accidentally do something that hurts me, or that I have to clean up, or whatever, it's not on purpose, and they're always trying to do what they see as the right thing.

I can help, where I see it, but I have to accept that there's no reason for another adult, especially, to seek out my advice. They're adults, they don't need it. And for the kids, my daughter and nieces and nephews and the other kids that always turning up around here, well, I can make sure they don't get really hurt, as best I can, and I can pick my battles.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 Here's an interesting thing, when and how it'll show up in a story, I dunno.

It will. It's just that when these sorts of things occur to me, in many cases
they're divorced from context.

Any rate, consider an experienced ruler, boss, whatever. Think 'head honcho',
in a context to be determined.

Now, an experienced hand, I think, will start to build up some self defenses
over time. Rules of thumb, maybe thought out and analyzed to a fare thee well,
maybe just hints and instincts and 'common sense'.

Suppose you're an experienced hand. Been around the block, maybe just a couple
times, maybe as many orbits as there are stars in the sky. You might hope
someday to be wise. But most mornings, sitting there miserable over your
cuppa joe and the newspaper, wondering what the nitwits who work for you are
gonna find to screw up your day this time...

Here's a rule of thumb that el jefe might keep in the toolbox. As you work
with someone, read their reports, hear what they have to say in meetings, one
on one or everybody crammed in eating rubber chicken, read their scrambled egg
emails at 1am...

You start to keep track of their bugaboos. Their predictions, and their
complaints. And maybe you recognize their predictable responses. Maybe you
start to know what they're gonna say before they say it.

And then one day, you stumble onto something. You realize that some of the
long term reports you've been reading are mutually contradictory, in terms of
the way some particular underling thinks.

No single report could be wrong, or right, standing on its own. It's only
when you put all of them in a pile, all the reports that this particular
person has written over years of report writing, that you realize something.

Take the last report, where so-and-so is being oh so careful to tread the
fine line, giving all caveats and quid pro quos, dotting the eyes and crossing
the tees...

But then there's the report a couple years ago, where so-and-so was fired up,
gangbusters to go after something, ready as hell to fire up the barbecue and
get ready to rumble.

Then you realize, all you had to do was go back to your instructions, change
a single thing (a name, a particular place, maybe a particular brand), do the
equivalent of replace 'coke' with 'pepsi' in your instructions...

And so-and-so would have handed the reports in exactly switched. The careful,
oh so careful, fine tuned and precise report would have been handed in a
couple years ago, and the fire-breathing, hell on wheels report would have
been handed in yesterday.

And then you go back through all of so-and-so's reports, and realize that
you could pull that string, and get the same pattern, any time you want.

'dr. pepper' for 'mountain dew'. 'root beer' for 'ginger ale'. 'beatles' for
'stones'. Any way you cut it...

so-and-so isn't providing any information. The content, the *new* information
content of any one report, is precisely zero.

Because you can see it coming. The only thing you're getting from so-and-so
is a carrier signal, background noise that can be precisely filtered away
leaving... zero signal. Zero noise, nothing but static otherwise.

Oh, the writing occasionally makes up for it. But after a few years, even that's
tiresome. You know so-and-so's tricks. So even style-wise, that's a bust.

Now, what does the experienced hand do at this point?

Depends on context. The benevolent queen maybe shuffles her minister off to
a corner where he can fill out reports 'til kingdom come. She can always
recall him if she needs him.

A sergeant, maybe shuffles the corporal in the same way. Parks her somewhere
where she won't get into too much trouble.

A not-so benevolent leader, on the other hand... Well, in that case, so-and-so
might better hope there's the equivalent of Siberia, or Perdition, to be sent
to.

The alternatives are usually worse.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The beginnings(?) of a character. If you've read along in the Open
Wounds series, there's a good chance you might know who I'm talking about.

Or not.

She cloaks herself in duty. Her armor is righteousness.

No. Self-righteousness. A Righteous One she is not. She is as far above those
wanna-be's as a no-talent human child is above an ant.

She doesn't need to stoop to begging charms and tricks from others with more
ability and better connections.


That's really all I have at the moment. But I had to get it out of my head
while I was thinking about it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Another month gone, without updates? Not really.

We've had a stretch where there was basically no such thing as free time. Marching season for our daughter, rehearsals, game nights, and competitions on Saturdays.

It ended last week with an epic. The band marched a Friday night game, went home, got a couple hours of sleep, then we packed them on the buses and they drove off to San Antonio at 1am. for BOA super-regionals.

Then drove back home again after the competition was finished.

Now, the extra part of this, from my end, is that we didn't just put her on a bus and pick her up at the end. I'm part of the pit crew for the band, we load and unload the trucks and equipment for the kids. And my wife's a chaperon and "fill in the blank" volunteer as well, dog-jobber helping wherever she needs to.

We got about two hours of sleep in 36 hours, plus all the exercise. If you've got a step monitor, you'll know what I mean when I say I wasn't the only one whose monitor told me I'd met my goal at 7am last Saturday morning, and by 10pm that night I'd set my fifth(!) daily step record (23000+) just in the past couple months.

We've been a little busy is what I'm trying to say.

Not that I haven't been wondering about the things I was missing by not writing for the blog. Or, for that matter, for not writing as much as I wanted to fictionwise.

Not that I haven't been writing fiction. I did meet one goal, after I finished my last novel, I told myself I'd write eight short stories before I started in on another novel. I did it for a few reasons. One, to set a professional, here's a thing goal, sit down write finish, rinse repeat.

That's nuts and bolts stuff, just like working up to a marathon, or putting together a new concerto as part of your repertoire. You set little tasks, bit by bit, until the day you need to pull out the horn and go sit in front of somebody and play the silly thing.

The art goal, though, was to basically have a set time for a story, a short time since it's a short story, but no other barriers. I didn't know when I sat down what I was getting myself into.

It helps clear the pipes. Writing a novel, I'm discovering, is bathing inside a pool, over and over and over again. Shorter works are a skimming the waves.

Or riding the rapids. Same muscles, different context.

But, if you, dear reader, look back a few posts, you'll remember that I lost my mother in September, to metastatic breast cancer. I've found that keeping a consistent schedule since that time, in terms of daily extended focus across time, has been a rebuilding process.

No worries, I've been there before, I understand myself, I think, enough to know that my mind needed a break, and that getting myself back to that extended balance beam workout needed for my next long-term project takes a certain process.

What's up now? Well, no more marching contests for my daughter, she's got some holiday performances coming up but that's nowhere near as much work (for me at least, she's obviously got some practicing to do!).

I've a few goals for the rest of the year. Mostly, I started with a basic daily word count I wanted to work up to, like building up to be a 1.5 miler per day, or a number of practice hours per day if you're a musician. Same thing for words per day for a writer.

For me, it's a little more complicated than for others because I have a day job where I spend all day on the computer anyway, so I've got to be careful with my wrists, but otherwise it's the exact same process. Just a little more stretched out.

I also have some publishing goals, get books and stories out, get this web site a little farther along. I guess maybe I need to list all of them out somewhere, just to be able to look at.

But for now, I'm gonna sign off and find a good book to fall into. See, it's the first Saturday morning in a while where we're collectively not booked for anything. So, cartoons and quiet and no worries.

I'm gonna go enjoy it. You enjoy it too, dear reader!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As you might expect if you read back a few posts, the past couple weeks
have been a little busy for me and my family. Basically just dealing with
the aftermath of my mother's passing. For those who know, you'll well
understand.

For those who aren't directly familiar with it... Well, it's a combination
of the obvious, grief, combined in our case with at least some small
sense of relief that at least her time of struggle is finished.
That's due to the particulars of how my mother came to the end, her cancer,
basically, and the fact that we spent those last months with her.

Plus, the rest of the family got the grief in full force, and the low-grade
collective temporary insanity that goes along with it. The extended family
doesn't really get the same type of extended grief process that comes along
with her living in our house and dying there. So they get to go through a
process that's a bit more abrupt. Naturally, that has a few consequences.

Nothing major, and nothing that matters in the long run, just frictions as
everyone comes to terms with the new reality.

Another little side effect is that our daughter is in the middle of a fight
with a bug she picked up in school, and the subsequent ear infection her body
decided to enliven the events with. Add in the first good cold front of this
stage of fall, marching season, school tests, missing time for her
grandmother's funeral, and we're having a rough patch.

I'm fortunate indeed, though. She's handling it with some dignity and grace,
a bit more than I probably would have managed at that age. I know what
happened to me, when I was just a bit older than she is now, when I went
through it with my grandfathers. And I know how crazy I went for a few years.

So, daughter, I know you won't necessarily read this any time soon, but know
that your mother and I are very proud of you, and love you very much.