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

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!