Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sidetracked (Again)

Did I mention that I was am somewhat ADD?  The other day I got a comp copy of an anthology I contributed to a while back - all short stories (yummy!)  I thought I'd take a short break (no pun intended) and read a few.   While reading a few, I got an idea, quickly sketched out a rough scope, and puy it aside to work on later, after I finished working on UN#3*.

My muse, fickle bitch that she is, insisted, when I next sat down at the word lathe, that maybe I should flesh out that rough scope a bit more, which meant that I had to posit a character or two, some setting description, and maybe what the starship should look like, which little detail I'd forgotten to mention in the draft scope.

Three hours later I'd written a fairly good description of the ship, its drive (and principles thereof), and its necessary limitations.  But, along the way I realized that the characters needed more fleshing out and....

Well, it's week later and I now have seven scenes drafted, rough sketches (ideas, really) of the others, a general idea of how to arrange all of them to tell a decent story and, oh  yeah IMHO, a killer opening! Still not certain of what the protagonists might do or say, but that gets written as needed and when the scene requires without a lot of writerly forethought. Should be done in another week - it's only a 5,000 word story, or maybe a bit more or less, let's say 7,500 to be safe and then I can get back to UN#3, or maybe #4.

Unless something else derails my best intentions.......


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Meanwhile, Back in the Wordsmithing Shack

After a political event that threw all thoughts of plot and characters, much less setting our the window, I am now once more back at work pounding words into place so that they resemble something others might want to read. I apologize to those of you who want to continue to concentrate on politics but good words, well-expressed are more important.

To continue, I am back working  on Incomplete Novel #2 which stands at a staggering sixty thousand words, plus another five thousand in outline form in the last five years.  Right now the plot more resembles a tangle of yarn than a clean line of progression.  Originally I set out to write a story with multiple POV's, shifting from one to another as major events transpired. Somewhere around milepost 35k a major branch occurred which forced me into adjusting the remaining outline,  Then, at 50k there was another, but lesser divergence which is now causing me to readjust the objective once more. Each one of these branches opened new vistas to be explored, introduced new characters, and revealed more crap, all of which interfered with my best intentions.

As if those side shows weren't enough, I seem to have had a population control problem.  There are now nine principle actors, at least thirty supporting characters, and more than a dozen plot lines that should hopefully begin to converge around the 90k mark (I hope) which means I'll have little space left for resolving the plot lines stemming from Divergences #1 and #2 (Sequel?) Every time I sit down to write another scene, yet another character pops up, demanding his or her few steps across the stage.  Maybe I should stop naming these pesky intruders or giving them thoughts, actions, and personalities? But no, that would take the fun out of it. Undaunted, I struggle onward in my usual state of perplexity wondering where all this stuff is coming from and why me, a short story writer, ever thought I could write a freaking novel this long and complex.

Maybe I should be working on Incomplete Novels #3 or #4 or, better yet, work on another (required) short story for an upcoming anthology?


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Set Theory

The analyses about the election show a House divided as well as an unbalanced Senate.  This sets the stage for more divisive interference with the wishes of the opposite party, largely for political dominance reasons rather than what might be good for the country.

Clearly, the Republicans hold a majority, but not one sufficient to guarantee dominance over the Democrats, but I wonder if those political labels really mean anything in today's fractured world.  What would, for example, the congressional balance look like if you separated members into liberal/progressive vs conservative/reactionary camps?  What about gradations of left- or right-ness with the moderates occupying the broad center?  What about social conservatives vs liberal ones?Or even (shudder) coastal vs interior?

There are many variations of separation, but what if, among them we could find a grouping that maps a way that members can bridge the apparent political gaps that has brought the meaningful management of our country to a virtual halt and cooperate?  What if there is a grouping that makes an end run around party rules, gotcha politics, and concerns about the next election cycle?

Wouldn't that be nice?


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Winter is Coming

The forest is alive with color as the year marches inevitably toward dark winter.  The leaf fall has not yet begun, although the poplars and maples are sending out a few scouts to scatter over the dying lawns and gardens.  The Hostas have yellowed, as  have some of the ferns and the annuals  have stopped producing colorful blooms before they too decay into mush following a frost.

The bird feeder is attracting much attention and our three tier fountain nearby provides water and baths to the chickadees, cardinals, sparrows, two kinds of finches, and an occasional Blue Jay, which seem the size of pterodactyls in comparison.  Mostly the smaller birds are courteous about drinking or bathing, lining up along the nearby branches for their turn in the upper bowl.  The two lower basins are fed by water overflowing from the top bowl and are seldom, if ever, used.  Perhaps the rush of water intimidates the smaller ones, although it is hard to believe that anything could intimidate the feisty chickadees. It was all very civilized and fun to watch.

That is, until a pair of robins showed up.  Now, these birds are three times the size of everything except the Blue Jays and aggressive as hell.  They tend to dominate the fountain even when they are neither drinking or bathing. Sometimes they simply stand in the water and peck an any bird that comes near, giving way only to the squirrel or chipmunk that frequent the place for a drink or two after a busy morning scavenging black sunflower seeds the birds have dropped.

Then, one day there were suddenly four robins, followed by six more and, this morning, over a dozen.  They are a nasty bunch, pecking at one another, squabbling continuously, and fighting for dominance over each of the fountain basins.   They have no problem standing under the waterfalls or crapping all over the surrounding landscape, like a ravaging biker gang sans leather jackets and tattoos.

But, when the brisk winds of winter blow the robins and some of the others away, those that cannot stand the reality the cold weather brings, I will drain the fountain, clean the accumulated detritus, put out the seed and suet for the winter birds, and sequester myself for winter writing when there is little else to amuse me.

And now I have to get back to some serious writing.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Three Hundred and Counting

This is my 301st post since I started blogging six years ago.  I have been trying to maintain a weekly schedule, as I've explained on several occasions, but occasionally have fallen off the wagon.  Much of what I have written concerns writerly pain; the worry that the muse won't return, that I are writing crap (usually half way through my second editing pass), that no one understands how difficult it is to write, the joy of acceptance and the agony of rejections, and the continuing battle with the muse - an unforgiving bitch who demands endless rewrites and corrections.

I've also dipped in other areas of momentary concern and not connected to writing at all.  These were thankfully few and probably reveled much about my political and cultural leanings.  So be it: I write these posts for my own pleasure and if others manage to extract a bit of Schadenfreude then I am happy.

So, how do I embark on this next phase of postings?  The answer is probably that I will stumble along as I have in the past, bitching about the unwillingness of words to assemble themselves as I wish or the vagaries of magazine editors, and concern that somehow I am out of whatever loop others participate in.*  The latter is hard when the majority of my time is either spent trying to have a life, staring at a keyboard for hours, volunteering for SFWA, or making occasional forays into intimidating conventions filled with scary people who expect me to entertain them.  Better to have the internet as my barrier and companion.

Don't expect any revelations, wisdom, or anything  other than what I have been providing for the past three plus years.  Stay seated in the back of the boat as I continue to pole upstream against the current as I bitch about the water flowing past too swiftly.  

*Yeah, grammer is another problem


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to Recognize a Predator

1.  No eyewitnesses.  Privacy is an absolute requirement!  Eyewitness testimony can destroy the predator's credibility when they try to exercise rule 4 (see below).

2. Destruction of any evidence!  Facts have the uncomfortable habit of turning up when the predator least expects them.  They must be very careful to leave no sign of their actions. 

3.  Imbalance of power.  Effective predation requires that the recipient be fully aware of the consequences of resistance.  Unless there is an imbalance of power there is no telling what sorts of  baseless allegations the victim might make. Money may also be used, providing the (alleged) victim signs a legal agreement to remain silent.

4.  Deny deny, deny.  If the predator is careful to say it never happened, then what recourse does the recipient of their alleged attentions claim? When the predator has prestige, wealth, or position their powerful voice can overwhelm any feeble claims.  The predator often falls back on their charm or sterling reputation when pressed.

5. Cast aspersions on the accuser.  The predator's most effective defense is to raise doubts about an accusers honesty, motives, and/or life style, especially if they can suggest that something about these is "just not right." It does not matter if that something is relevant or not. Predators often suggest whatever ulterior motives they can imagine and proclaim them repeatedly and loudly.

6. Litigate. This is the atomic bomb of a predator's defense. Threatened legal action, whose defense would bankrupt the accuser, often works and, if that fails, they can follow through with the legal action and protract it to the limits of the accuser's financial resources.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Just Words

"It's just words," the Donald said, dismissing the power that "just words" have played in history.  The Magna Carta was just words, as were the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. "Just words" have the power to strengthen hearts, change minds, and open eyes to social and political injustice.  "Just words" have moved nations, crystalized political parties, and shamed demagogues, and exposed criminals. They have also been used to curtail criticism, stifle opposition, and promulgate damaging falsehoods.

But words have also been used to gladden souls through soaring literary prose that removes  us from the daily fray. Words have revealed the best and worst of humanity, showing its failures and foibles in dramatic, comedic, and tragic form. "Just words" have presented us with aspirational hope as well as forced us to face gritty reality. They've opened the mind's eyes to awesome vistas and the mind itself to brave, as well as horrifying, concepts.

"Just words" are all we have to convey our thoughts and feelings to one another, for none of us can  discern their unspoken thoughts or emotions and must rely upon words, words, and words using the imperfect tool of language. Words have the power to convey love and hate, happiness and sorrow, compassion and indifference. "Just words" can also expose who we really are.

There are no such things as "Just words."