Flooded Planet

Exploring the World of Writing to the Very Last Drop...of Ink

Author: G2 (page 1 of 8)

470 – The Art of Memory

Several years ago, I began to dabble in a hobby that involves memorizing lists of items. There is an approach called Method of Loci that grabbed my attention (I won’t go into much explanation about it, since the method’s details can be readily found numerous places online). I realized quickly that I was pretty good at remembering lists of historical figures (you know…like Galileo, Einstein, Eleanor of Aquitaine), so I decided to really give it a go and see how many I could remember. When I got distracted by the busy-ness of life, as we all do, and stopped adding additional characters (you know…like Rembrandt, Kepler, Lincoln) I was up to 470.

It’s now some 15 months later, and I have caught the bug again. Having revisited my previous list, I was initially a bit discouraged by how many holes and gaps had replaced the people who used to reside there. Now, about two weeks after that first revisit, I’m quite encouraged by the fact that the entire list has been firmly re-established in my gray matter. I proved to myself just today (August 9, 2019) that I am once again able to recite all 470 personages with no external memory aids, whatsoever. So, it’s time to start expanding the list again, and it’s always fun to consider who that next person will be.

Hmm, maybe…

INVICTUS by Ryan Graudin

As a follow-up to my post titled Fire Sale, I offer my second update regarding those reading assignments I have handed myself. This, as a way of improving my own science fiction writing pursuits by digesting the efforts of others.

Although it is probably among the best of good writing exercises to provide in-depth critique of other writers’ yarns, I’m certain it’s one I’m no good at, and I’m probably not desirous to become so. It’s enough for me to know internally why I did or did not like a certain book. To communicate those reasons with conviction is the realm of the critic. I’m happily a hesitant stranger there.

Yet, it was undeniably me who said that we should compel ourselves as readers to be honest in our assessments of books, even to the extent of providing written justifications as to why our read was a smash hit or a big stink bomb. That said, I feel compelled to give this an honest shot.

INVICTUS by Ryan Graudin is a fast-paced, perpetually unpredictable romp through time and space aboard the book’s namesake with a claptrap crew of young over-achievers trying to “right their ship” as they also attempt to right past wrongs. As they soon discover, however, no bad deed goes unpunished forever, with more trouble never farther away than the next jump’s horizon.

While stealing valuable relics from civilizations long since perished for a greedy and dangerous black markets dealer, the crew quickly learns that their collective future will forever bump into the misdeeds of an ancient past until a surprise visitor-uninvited, and definitely unwelcome-provides the mind-bending clues they’ll need if they’re to escape a most unfortunate fate.

Everything the ship’s captain and his crew thought they knew about themselves, their past, and their mission will be turned on its head.

**

Graudin is a powerful writing talent. With great plot twists and turns, beautiful command of the written word, teenage emotions dripping off nearly every page, and imaginative settings I could envision in my head, she kept this reader mostly well-invested. She pulled me in strong with her opening scenes and I was off to the races. As I mentioned, the pace was breakneck, and probably a bit too much so for me (this coming from a guy who requires that plot move along briskly to stay interested in the story).

Better put, perhaps it wasn’t the pace so much as the details packed into that pace. And because of that ever-increasing mental burden, I felt the cantering story slowly leaving me further behind with every chapter.

I always try to imagine what a book’s tale might look like on the big screen. I threw this one up on the silver and, in my mind’s eye, it seemed to come off pretty well…until I envisioned the director attempting to translate in footage that stickiest of widgets in fiction-Time Travel. Trust me, this tale gets very involved, very quickly. Many passages required a double back by me, just to be sure I understand the intricacies of the tech.

In the end, and literally toward the very end, where I should have been exhilarated in the turn of each new page, I found myself actually a bit fatigued. Ultimately, I burned out, pulling up lame before concluding the last few pages. I’m not sure why, though I have my suspicions, and I believe the fault may be as much in my court as it is in Graudin’s.

The teenage chitchat became too tedious for this old man. And I didn’t swoon where I was probably expected to (again, I’m not the author’s target audience, so swooning at my age is just hard on the knees). Some of the later scenes-piling up on top of one another like the wardrobe-strewn time machine that served as home-away-from-home for these swashbuckling amateurs-became too bursting with emotion-filled longing for love’s first kiss. And the unknowns that were racking up, as well, began to make my head spin.

In the end, the dizziness induced by this adventurous race against time demanded that I dismount while I could still look back at all that ground I’d covered and not feel too much regret for failing to cross the finish line. The plot line was a lot to take on, and probably more than enough for me. I was disappointed to find that I was not in need of yet more INVICTUS adventure.

So yes, not so memorable characters (Eliot was by far my favorite), some interesting tidbits from history (with a particular focus on the Titanic and ancient Rome), inspired, imaginative, extremely well-thought out plot that I personally was never able to fully understand (again-Time Travel…requires suspension of disbelief through and through, and especially from someone who readily acknowledges he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed).

One problem for me might stem from the fact that I cannot properly decide if INVICTUS is primarily character-driven, or plot-driven, since it seems to possess an even measure of both. Is that a good thing? Possibly. For me, however, the author who can captivate me by hooking me, reeling me in slowly, steadily, revealing ever-deepening recesses of each character’s personality, motivations, and best-kept secrets-she’s the one I’m going to follow.

I think Graudin might have better scratched my reader’s itch had she shown me yet more of Farway, Gram, Priya, and even the bad guy, Lux. Even if this meant sacrificing an action-packed scene or two.

Then again, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m not Graudin’s target reader, and perhaps the level of personal backgrounds she afforded her story’s main actors was just about right for a target reader a third my age.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being stellar, I would rate this mostly solid read as a strong 7, and would definitely recommend it to the children’s children of friends and family.

Hard – Science Fiction

As a follow-up to my post titled Fire Sale, I offer my first update regarding those reading assignments I have handed myself. This, as a way of improving my own science fiction writing pursuits by digesting the efforts of others. I’m only somewhat pleased to relay (because I realize now that choosing so many books at one time was probably overly ambitious) that I have finished exactly one. If I’m reading, I’m not writing…a conundrum I must accept and conquer, heartburn be damned.

Carbide Tipped Pens is an anthology of seventeen short stories, collaboratively put together by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. Mr. Bova I fondly remember from his days at OMNI magazine some decades ago, and the sole reason I selected this book (name-recognition). I should include that for a young teenager longing for good reads over sometimes boring summer vacations, a subscription to OMNI, with a fresh issue arriving in the family mailbox each month, was about as magical as it gets.

After diving into one or two stories, I realized rather abruptly that I probably should have left this title on the shelf. Certainly not because of the stories, which are just fine. The problem, I’ve discovered, lies in my court. I wasn’t careful enough when selecting to realize that this one is stuffed full of “hard science fiction.” Took me no time at all to notice that I’m not a big fan.

Right now, I’m looking at the titles of all seventeen stories as they appear in the Table of Contents, trying to decide which ones best held my interest. Of those (almost 400 pages worth), perhaps only three mostly fit my reading style and interests. Of those, perhaps two were satisfying for the most part. And perhaps only one thoroughly entertained me from start to finish. The remainders proved to be difficult reading for me, not because it was uninspired writing, but because the plots left me feeling uninvested.

Not that I don’t like science as much as the next guy. I certainly do. That is, if the next guy isn’t too serious about it all, doesn’t get all hung up about the feasibility of the physics, and isn’t too bothered by dialog that, at times, feels like stilted conversations between engineers arguing over the finer points of unproven theories that are a bit beyond, if not his mental prowess, at least his reading stamina. Ignoring such indiscretions meant that only a small percentage of these shorts held enough entertainment value to keep me from scanning and skipping forward.

Short stories, more so than formats that have the luxury of time (read word count), must draw a reader in super quickly. If their whole plot only spans perhaps 20-30 pages, reader interest has to be established in the first precious paragraphs of page one.

It makes sense, then, to dwell on that very quality-“reader interest”-for just a moment. What is it that creates this thing in us, this desire, this yearning to know more? As we consume more stories over the years, we will come to know what kind of stuff draws us in quickly, then holds us in a stranglehold for the duration. We will also recognize those genres that may or may not hold us within their grasp as we do our level best to remain focused, giving the story a fair shake, so to speak.

And certainly, we will also come to know well what simply never trips our trigger, no matter how many soft fluffy cushions and delightful snacks we pile high around ourselves.

Such is probably the case for “hard science fiction” and me. Too much science, not enough fiction. It’s not likely that the hard stuff will ever become my good buddy; nor will we likely hang out together on the weekends. Just not a good fit.

The lesson I’ve learned is that reading is a journey of self-discovery, an exploration of one’s own palate, a refinement of its likes and dislikes as we invest our precious time in the experience, caring enough to acknowledge what gives us joy and satisfaction, and what does not. If something’s not clicking, don’t think of it as wasted time. Think of it as something newly realized about your own personal preferences. That’s a good thing!

If you want to throw a book against a wall, ask yourself why, then take the time to offer up a sincere answer. If you refuse to go to bed at a reasonable hour because you simply can’t put the thing down, again demand a reason. Write things down, make them stick.

In my case, I know I like action, suspense, plot twists, interesting characters, unexpected conclusions, themes that hold personal meaning for me. I won’t read something that is otherwise uninteresting simply because I’m supposed to care about the theme according to society. I’m selfish that way, and I hope you are, too. Diversity and divergence are expected. What you love I might shun. What I embrace you might reject.

So it goes.

I won’t dwell on what I didn’t like about Carbide Tipped Pens. And I won’t tell you which of these stories I liked best. I will share with you the reasons behind embracing what I did: superior character development, fast pace, lots of scene changes, interesting settings, plot twists, beautiful prose, tragedy, death, and all the rest. It’s a wonderful thing to see all the qualities of a good story done well. Nothing beats good writing. Nothing trumps a satisfying read. And if it takes sixteen so so reads to get to that one brilliant find, so be it (next time, however, I’ll be more careful in my selections).

Now go write! Or go read…something.

Inspiration

Many of the writer’s reference books I read frequently now suggest that every serious writer should be gathering ideas for stories nearly all the time. The authors of these books say that inspiration can strike nearly anywhere, and at nearly anytime. We should be ready to receive this spark when it happens, since the same idea might never visit us again.

Some of the books even offer methods for encouraging the muse to come and sit on one’s shoulder, murmuring in the ear of the would-be-novelist as she meditates in the living room, takes a long soak in the tub, or sits idling in traffic on her long commute back home from work.

I’ve always had ideas come to me while communing with Nature. A leisurely walk in the park will surely trigger a flash or two of insight, as well as biking, walking, kayaking, or just sitting quietly on the back porch while the breeze blows through the trees and the birds sing me into a nap with their happy little songs.

Such was the case today while I was outside for several hours, engaged in the intensely laborious task of mowing my weeds. I have about an acre and a half, much of which could be categorized as mangy and feral. I had actually lived on my property for several years before stepping foot on much of it, some areas so thick with trees, bushes, brambles, and thorny things, that I was simply unable to penetrate there. A few years ago, I was motivated to clear some paths. This is an excerpt from a post I made on this blog in October 2016 titled Backyard Playground (my daughter came up with the trail names):

“It is only very recently that I set foot on parts of my own property, simply by deciding that I would cut through the undergrowth (along with the overgrowth and middlegrowth, if those terms can properly describe the thick mass of vegetation that crept and hung and tangled its way across my path from head to toe). Now, after several weekends of effort, we have forged, for our walking pleasure, trails with the following names…Deer Run, Walking Stick, Three Sentinels, Armadillo Hideaway, Picky Vine, Knife Fork and Spoon, Brown Bench, and one or two more. I blazed two of the last ones today (Sunday), before deciding that the look and feel of the place is just about right for now.”

Hurricane Michael roared through our neighborhood two years later, and it is only just now, in April of 2019 (six full months after the life-altering destruction) that I have ventured back onto my trails to clear them out once again. The task has been anything but easy.

But let’s not get side-tracked. We’re talking about inspiration here, and not the kind that drives a person to wage war against jungles that spring up on the sides of country roads, but the stuff that drives writers to create best-selling novels.

There was an episode today, and a comical one at that, during which I stepped into a hole about a foot deep, knocking myself off balance. Skittering sideways, I crashed into the stump of one of the trees that had probably been laid low by the storm. My ribs took the brunt of the impact, causing me to relinquish my grip on the handle of the mower I had been using to gain some leverage against the fall. On my way down, and with the handle of the mower now on its way up, I got cracked on the chin with an upper cut that caused my teeth to clap together, forcing me to call out in pain. The mower having gone silent, suddenly I was surrounded by the buzz of nature. My head felt full as I lay there on the ground, wincing at the abruptness of it all, thankful I wasn’t hurt too badly, surprised that I was on the verge of laughter.

I read somewhere that Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” In that moment, Mike seemed very wise to me.

In the meantime, I had knocked my glasses off, and was unable to find them, try as I might. As I hoofed it back to the house to ask for my wife’s assistance (and who would surely have something to say about my ongoing habit for inflicting physical pain on myself for no apparent reason), I realized something rather happily. I had come up with an idea for a story! My altered view of Nature, blurry in the extreme, made me realize that I, my house, the paths I had re-established, and everything all around this quaint little rural scene was constantly and steadily being inundated with green. If I did nothing to keep it all pushed back, in a year the house would be impinged upon by the foliage. By three, it would be half-overtaken. In five to seven, the structure would be well on its way to being overrun by the rightful earth-bound dwellers of the place.

And thus came about my inspiration for my latest apocalyptic story – “Creaking.” Humanity is going to be done in by Nature, and it will be at the hand of the foliage Mother sends to do her dirty work. I can’t begin to tell you how many ideas came swirling into my brain as a result of this very temporary stroll down my walkway, surrounded by these great big blobs of green, clumped together and coming at me from above, below, and every side. In this cheerful little tale, Gaia will rid herself of at least a size-able portion of her most invasive species-us. It will be a real mind-bender. I’m laying out the plot lines as we speak.

Look for inspiration. Write down your ideas as they come to you. Be on the look out no matter where you are or what you are doing. Keep the best ones. Develop one or two. Make them into something beyond just a quick moment of inspiration that you just as quickly forget. These lightbulb moments came to you for a reason. Honor them by paying attention and exploring where they might take you next.

This is all the difference between those who write and those who dream about writing. Make it happen!

Fire Sale

Terms of Lease can be something you definitely want to read carefully before signing on the dotted line. Who would think that the renter of an office space in an outlet mall would be held as the responsible party for replacing the rusted a/c hardware on the roof above their square footage to the tune of about fifteen thousand dollars? Unfair? Undoubtedly. Yet, there the owner was, up a creek without a paddle, in a leased storefront with no way to adequately cool it, and with a second blazing hot summer knocking at an already very hot door. The decision was made to close down. Sell everything and sell it fast, before everything buckled under the searing heat of another Florida scorcher.

There was more inventory to drag out than I thought the place could have held. I, myself, held out until the end, refraining for a couple of months’ worth of ever deepening discounts. Once the overly hot establishment finally began to look respectable in its emptiness, I began seriously contemplating my purchases. It wasn’t until just a few days ago when I entered the place, the brisk breeze from several large fans pushing the air around as best they could, that I was finally satisfied with the prices offered. Hardbacks were going for $1 a piece. I bought seventeen of them before stopping myself, lugging myself and my brood out of there, quite proud of what I’d accomplished.

Strangely enough, I haven’t read the works of other sci-fi writers’ all that much, and it’s high time I did. I’m excited to get started. I’ll let you know what I discover.

Keep writing!

Writers, Prepare for Endgame!

When my daughter asked me several months ago to watch a Marvel movie with her, I couldn’t possibly have known what I was stepping into. It all seemed innocent enough. Excitement, adventure, superheroes saving the world. Good stuff. My daughter is pretty low key, however, so I was caught a bit off guard to witness this imaginative personality so unrelentingly captivated by this hulking behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even less predictable would have been me, the dad, getting so thoroughly swept up, as well. I’ve sat down on the couch once, twice, now at least a dozen times. I’m hooked. I’m a fan. I can’t wait for more! Why?

It’s the beginning of April 2019, and I’m just as excited as the youngsters about the release of “Endgame,” now only a few weeks away. I’ve been casually searching my brain to pin down the source of such unbridled attraction to this tantalizing franchise. My answer came quickly and was certainly predictable, since it’s an element I find important in many creative efforts, including my own: it’s the details.

If you ever want to gleefully jump down a bunch of frivolous and entertaining rabbit holes, go to Wikipedia, then hop around in the world of superheroes. Click on the name of a specific character. Any of them will do. Let’s say Iron Man. Wow, look at all those Team Affiliations! He’s a busy guy. There’s a whole day of reading right there. Fictional Character Biography could be another hugely wonderful waste of time. Now click on his Armor link to go to yet another page dedicated entirely to that one aspect of Mr. Stark’s character. Oh jeez! So many links beckoning me. I don’t have time for this. And yet, I find that I actually do, and there’s a good reason why – I’m honing my craft by studying the pros, seeing how they do it.

For someone still learning the tricks of the trade in fictional writing, this is not trivial stuff. It’s a gold mine to be discovered and explored. MCU is not just for kids. Oh no. I’d be willing to bet the adults love the storylines even more than the young fans. And for me, the guy still putting “pen to paper” after all these years, the value of spending ridiculous amounts of time ogling the special effects on the big screen, trying to figure out the web of intricacies that tie it all together, wondering how I’ll ever keep it straight, then realizing that, slowly, I actually am…this all counts as a very good investment in my book. Not to mention Marvel has given my daughter and I something very fun and endlessly entertaining to share and talk about, and that’s always a good thing.

So I’m happy to sit on the couch, my little sidekick by my side, both of us riveted to our seats, watching, listening, waiting, only to be surprised, time and again, by something new, or an unexpected someone coming to steal the scene in surprising, mind-bending ways.

MCU has become my classroom. For those of us drawn to speculative fiction, Marvel can teach us a’plenty about character development, plots and subplots, world creation, twists and turns, pacing, good dialog, danger and suspense, and unexpected endings that leave us yearning for more.

If you, too, are a writer, struggling to get your creative juices flowing, I urge you to spend some time with Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, and all the rest. Consider it study time. A fun homework assignment. Your portal to see how the professionals go about bringing their audiences back, time and again. How many of your own story ideas might your cranium generate as you watch, glued to the screen, imagining new characters coming to life on the page, your own new worlds springing to life, your own new plots being planted like seeds in a vast plain of potential.

Can’t wait for April 26. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. You should too. Seriously…go get busy!

Little Gems of Addiction

(fiction…sort of) I’m sitting in my house. It’s the weekend. I have some time. Precious little. What to do? I already know. Right in front of me, sloppily stacked, one tossed on top of the other, is a hastily acquired collection of Little Gems, aka writer’s reference books. I showed not the least hesitation in bringing them home, scoring one more hit each time, the last one, the last one, my mantra, until I needed another, then another, individually, sequentially, collectively hoarding them, now all residents in my home, unhesitating in their role to quench my thirst for more.

How could I deny myself? Their titles so titillating, their promise so unbearable, seducing me with subtitles suggesting that I can master plot twists, can write with emotion, tension, and conflict, can change the world if I so desire.

“No I can’t,” I’m arguing with myself.

“Yes…you can,” squeals the Little Gem from its perch. I swipe out quick with one hand, then thumb through quick like.

“Of course I can,” I whisper quietly, like I’m in a library or something.

“of course i can, of course I can, of Course I Can, Of Course I Can…” The Little Writer Who Could, I find myself plodding, yet again, toward the front of the store, my supplier, a dingy little outfit daring to include the word “Noble” in its name. Ironic, since there’s nothing noble about the way it feeds my addiction, my thirst for knowledge. Surely I’m not alone. The experience is debilitating. For me…for all of us.

I stand there at the checkout counter, silent, not making eye contact. Smiling quickly to myself, I feel grimly satisfied with my latest Little Gem, furtively snatched from uncomfortable nest, it squeezed tightly on both sides by competitors, all fighting for that same rite of passage-to be purchased by a complete stranger.

Driven home to unfamiliar surroundings, fully aware that I, its new owner, will only care for the briefest of moments about its pretty cover. It knows, it confesses, without a doubt, that I, the stranger, won’t hesitate the slightest bit to find out just exactly what hides inside. I almost sense an exhilarated shudder from the Little Gem, struggling only slightly to free itself from my grasp, the smallest of doubts lingering about leaving its safe haven.

An addiction. What else can I call it when the only happiness I can find is to stand at the checkout, yet again, quietly waiting my turn. I wonder if that lady behind the counter, who now knows my face, can sense my sickness, my compulsion. Some people turn tricks. I turn pages, God help me, and I don’t even care. She fires a glance my way, even before I’m half-way to the swipe, nervously smiling all the while. Then she fires another quick shot down toward the freshly harvested Little Gem that will be getting in the car with me, plucked from its temporary orphanage at the very back of the store.

I sense her artificial satisfaction. We’re all complicit. Without me, she gets sent home, as well, another casualty of a shuttered supply house. I know they’re disappearing all across the nation, the authorities intent on shutting them down, trying to stamp out the addicted, the ones like me frequenting such establishments, all of us feeding our needs and wants, our hopes and desires. It’s all so twisted. So raw. So…literary.

She’s anxious to get me out the door. Familiar with all the many flavors of obsession trudging toward the exit, she’ll have something personal to say to each of us. About me and my particular brand of weakness? She’ll ask if I’m a member yet, knowing I resent the insinuation.

“Hell no!” I’ll say.

“You can save a lot of money,” she’ll reply, reprimanding me for abstaining from that indulgence.

“I don’t want to save money,” I snap back. “Why must we have this little dance every time. Who are you to exploit me!”

She calmly smiles, almost expectant of my outbursts now, as though she knows it’s probably just a matter of time. I dread what’s coming next.

“Well, here’s a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a cookie, and you have a nice day.”

It’s all very non-committal. I stare down at my paunch, then explode.

“Don’t you think you’ve already done quite enough? You’re the one who needs to have the nice day, Lady, not me. And don’t look so smug. I’m not the only one addicted, you know?”

I traverse her up and down with a critical stare, sneering all the while. She knows that I know. It’s no accident when I drop my coupon on the floor. Everyone watches it sway, back and forth, fluttering down for the longest moment. One guy makes a leap for it. I cut him off with nothing more than a step, trapping the little shred of wood pulp beneath my shoe. Everyone feels sullied. Shaken. The checkout lady drops her head in shame. I’ve called her out.

Everybody standing around virtually applauds me in silence, all the while gripping their select Little Gems a bit tighter, shuffling forward in the line, anxious to make their own purchase, to get home as soon as possible, only caring for the briefest moments about their individual exteriors, hesitating not a bit to find out just exactly what hides inside.

I’m sitting at my house. It’s the weekend. I have some time. Precious little. What to do? My symptoms are on the rise. My head is spinning. I’m dizzy and overwhelmed, caught-up in this frenzy of information overload. I’m an addict, doing what addicts do. Situated comfortably on my couch, mindlessly sipping coffee, cradling my latest Little Gem in slightly trembling hands, a trickle of sweat slowly sliding down my back, a roaring raging river of unbridled writing desires carving out huge swaths of an interior shoreline badly in need of a makeover for untold years.

I take another sip of coffee, feeling pathetic. My wife is staring at me curiously. Does she know. Can she tell I’m daring to believe? Maybe I’m too far gone to care.

“What?” I say.

“Oh nothing…it’s just that…”

I bring the Little Gem toward my nose and sniff deeply of its fragrance.

“Don’t judge.” It’s all I can manage and she knows it. She turns away, barely stifling her amusement, heading pridefully toward her own coddled collection of Blue Rays, mostly unaware that a freshly minted universe is violently exploding itself into existence inside my aging cranium.

I casually play with the corner of my Little Gem’s cover, scarsely aware of its glittering exterior. Something about mastering plot twists. Whatever. I tear open the cover to get at the meat. What I find waiting inside leaves me utterly astonished. And yet, I remind myself, it’s been hiding there all along.

The Humbling Act of Honing

I mentioned a few blogs back that I’m working once again on a novel I initially started about ten years ago. How that passage of time occurred, or where I was while it unfolded, I truly cannot say. It’s rather eye-opening to think how much productive time I lost by avoiding the pain of really buckling down. Had I worked out the kinks in the manuscript back then, the story could have more quickly resembled something close to the state it’s in now, lo these many years later.

What’s most humbling to me, however, is the idea of how much I absolutely did not know about writing a novel ten years ago, but was thoroughly convinced that I did.

The difference between the opinion that I held of my writing back then, as opposed to what I think about it now, is the acquisition of knowledge. Specifically, knowledge about the art of writing. More simply put is to say that I have recently decided to dive deeply and take the time to hone my craft. Now that I have started in earnest, I can confidently say that I’ve begun to accomplish a whole new level of writing.

It’s not that I became a better writer. Perhaps I did not. ‘Better’ is a subjective term. It is only that I became a more involved writer. What does that mean? Mostly that I am now aware of many more components of writing. This awarenesss, while wonderful to be sure, is also perhaps responsible for the anxiety that more intensely accompanies my efforts. The devil is in the details. More details, more devil. Damn!

The same question that surely must have always been there in my mind, even as I was only beginning to understand what it means to pick up a pen and write, now cries out in a voice that is deafening – Am I getting it right? The worry, the stress that I feel now is surely more intense than it was when I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

And certainly I’m not suggesting that I’m done with the honing. No no…the self-flagellation shall continue. So the future surely carries only one message for me: be prepared for more suffering. Oh, what misery have I wrought?

This must be why the saying Ignorance is Bliss feels comfortable sliding in here, since it seems so appropriate to express such sentiments. Knowledge is power? Maybe. But be prepared to acknowledge that, the more you know, perhaps the more you don’t want to know.

To hone your craft can only mean one thing-you will become much more unhappy as a result. But maybe, it might also mean that you will one day achieve literary greatness. Hmm…

Better keep writing, anyway, you wretched, miserable soul!

Persistence

The other night, I had the honor and privilege of watching my youngest child try to figure out an insolvable problem. This is the very same girl who, I learned quite some time ago, must never be told that something is not possible. Such silly pronouncements mean nothing to her. Whenever I’ve been foolish enough to tell her such, she has promptly proven me wrong. I smile big in response, beaming with joy, acknowledging that I’m the only one who’s being silly.

This particular night, I turned her loose (granted permission, really…she turned herself loose) on hooking up a brand new DVD player to a rather dated TV set, given to me a few too many years ago by a dear friend. Several lessons were learned by me that evening, not least of which is the idea that unbridled enthusiasm can be a beautiful thing to witness. My daughter’s relentless effort in trying to make something work that, of the two of us, only I concluded would be impossible, was quite touching (if not a little hard on my heart).

I also learned that, if you don’t believe (or know) that something’s impossible, there’s nothing in your mind to second guess any of your best efforts. My advice, as the evening progressed, was that we were probably not going to enjoy success, neither with the hardware and cabling, nor with the interface. I’m sure I know how her mind processed my assessment. She continued undaunted (mostly because the viewing of Spider-Man was at stake). She didn’t realize, as I already had, that our task was, indeed, impossible.

In fact, her unflagging efforts actually accomplished some things that I was not capable of pulling off. To be blunt, whereas I lost patience and interest somewhat quickly (let’s call this giving up due to known constraints), she sallied forth (let’s call that sheer energy, youthful exuberance, and an unwillingness to yield in the face of adversity). Between the two of us, I’d definitely want Daughter on my team, not Dad.

A mere child with no experience in these electronic incompatibilities, her only methodology was one of tinkering her way through a problem. No know how, no prior knowledge, just a stubborn working out of an intractable challenge. Try try again. Brilliant.

The exertion was truly admirable, concluding in results not too shabby by any stretch of the imagination. Not success, but certainly not failure. I smiled at her, hugged her, told her I loved her, then casually added that her earnest struggle, although ultimately ending in our mutual disappointment (I wanted to watch Spider-Man, too), was something she should be exceedingly proud of. I used simpler language, too.

How can any of what I just relayed possibly be related to the act of writing? Mostly I can sum it up in a single sentence of advice, revolving around a single, simple word:

If you want to continually improve your chances of realizing success, it comes down almost exclusively to just one thing…persistence.

Thank you, Daughter of Mine. You are my best teacher.

Conversion

It’s been a year and a half since I made any entries on this blog. A lot has happened in that time. So much change has driven me to shift gears. Flooded Planet is going to stick around, but its focus will no longer be on Climate Change. Instead, we will be talking about writing here, with a strong emphasis on Science Fiction. The motivations for such a drastic change cannot be summed up directly or intuitively.

The main reason is that, well…Climate Change has still been marching on in the year and a half that I neglectfully chose to stay away from this space. Nothing has reversed, slowed down, lessened, gotten better, eased off. No, I’m quite certain such wishes will go unanswered in my lifetime, and I’m already two-thirds of the way finished-assuming I even get to those golden years.

In the meantime, while I continue to watch the news, shake my head as I must, more concerned than ever about what’s coming our way, I’ve been writing a lot about things that have nothing to do with Climate Change. Intense efforts on a novel I started about a decade ago have resumed. Surprising to note that the source of my renewed motivation was my youngest daughter, one of my biggest fans (I will soon share with you the wonderful pain she put me through by forcing me to watch nearly the entire collection of Marvel movies together. While that doesn’t seem like an obvious tie-in to writing motivation, it’s still an important link that we must soon explore).

As I get older, the realization that unforeseen circumstances can keep us from our craft is more pressing than ever. We can be delayed, distracted, and discouraged in ways we find simply astonishing. With that in mind, should we not passionately pursue what brings the most joy to our hearts? Persistently? With a sense of urgency? I vote we say Yes.

Climate Change is being written about by the world at large, and there is little I can add that is fresh or insightful beyond the heavy-laden conversation that is already taking place. Consequently, this blog shall now devote itself to writing about the art of writing. Yeah, me, your host, G Squared (G2) hoping to share with you all the ups and downs that I’m sure to encounter soon as I put my final spit shine on that novel I mentioned and slap it up for sale on Amazon.

Let’s stay in touch!

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