Exploring the Future...until we get there

Category: Art of Writing (Page 2 of 2)

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!

(Time Capsule) They Aint Makin’ No More

(Fiction-originally appearing as blog post in 2007)

The demeanor was typical for a man of his age and station in life: reflective, pensive, questionably retired, combative against the resentment creeping in on all sides of his deteriorated mind.  I, the younger, always acutely aware of my elder’s longing for the better past, tried hard to suppress contrition in my responses to it, watching frail health progressively fail while listening to the incessant pinings.  I speculated with shame as to when it all might stop.  I thought of my little girl, and wondered if she, too, might eventually have to endure the same cruel abuses from her own aging parents.  Shuddering, I glanced over at Grampa.

He always loved the outdoors more than anything else in the world.  The persistent reports of environmental gloom and doom must have felt like daggers to his heart.  Small wonder he’s bitter.  There’s so much to regret—and yet I try to convince myself that there’s simply no point.  Weren’t we supposed to do better than they did?  Weren’t we?  The house he grew up in used to sit just a few hundred yards from where we now stood.

Holding out one atrophied arm so as to draw a great shaking arc with a gnarled old hand, he laid out the landscape that would hold the coming nostalgia as neatly as the driven pilings held the high-rise that was never meant to be squeezed so tightly onto the land, but, nevertheless, was.  Grampa cleared his throat.

“I can remember a time when all this was just lush green meadow,” he said matter-of-factly in that characteristic scratchy voice that accompanies advancing years.  He snorted with his big, overgrown nose, looking like a gnome calmly surveying a once grand homeland, now lost to the marauding invaders.  I waited a while longer, hoping the rest would come right on the heels of the opening rejoinder.  My expectation was in vain.  Having brought me here, his grandson, the land developer, so as to say his peace, he now turned to go.  His retreat was unhesitating.  I took this to mean that there could be little question of anything further possibly being appended.

His waddling gait picking its way toward the truck suggested that he was in a hurry to depart.  I saw him dismiss my ride with a wispy wave of one hand—the way he always swatted at flies in the summertime.  Peering at the incongruous mass of metallic gleam as it must have appeared through his eyes, I saw the truck take on the form of some hulking manufactured grazer, planted firmly on big black paws, dug in unabashedly while it tore at the last little plot of green that still existed here, trying to satisfy an insatiable hunger.  In an instant, I felt myself doing mental battle with fleeting pulses of shame.  Gas guzzling petro hog.  Western excess.  Narcissistic Capitalism.

We were on the backside of the project, just on the fringe of my latest housing development, defining the ugly landscape for as far as the eye could see.  I hadn’t ever glimpsed it from this perspective, a voyeur up here on the hillside peeping down onto the people’s rooftops.  The hill we perched on was barren and scarred, the victim of repeated visitations by heavy earthmoving equipment.  Having been violated over and over, she was now covered in that distinctive dark dried brown, bereft of trees and grass and wildlife of any sort.  I felt panic setting in.

Concerned by the careless manner in which Grampa might attempt to pull his frail body back into the cab without my assistance, I hurried to catch up to him, now irritated by the shortness of the trip, and the brevity of the explanation serving to justify the wasted gas.

I threw up my own hands in exasperation: “Well, Hell, Grampa, what did you expect?  That we should all just forever huddle close together in one small village that never aspires to anything bigger, so that the forest might grow and the flowers might bloom and the bunnies might continue to go hippity hop…and the friggin’ weeds can slither back to the outskirts of town?”

Grampa laughed so hard that he began to cough.  He passed right on by the truck, intent on making the short trek back to his apartment on foot.  I knew there’d be no stopping him.  He called to me over a small shoulder, “They aint makin’ no more of it, Johnny.  They aint makin’ no more.”

Thanks for stopping by!

G2

Living on Writer’s Block

For about the past fifteen years, I’ve been able to make my way in this world through my abilities as a writer. Since the time I was a young man, I knew that, for me, English and writing classes meant an “Easy A.” The dreaded research paper that has been a part of middle and high school curriculums since forever ago was an assignment I embraced, enjoyed, and excelled at. I was always mystified at how such easy homework could cause the excruciating writhing around and wringing of hands I saw my classmates experience, as though the idea of putting pen to paper was among the most painful requirements a teacher could command.

I imagine when the necessity of stringing words into cohesive sentences let loose of them for good, most decided it was time to get on with other pursuits. As for me, I went on to pursuit a degree in Technical Communication. Never got to see the dream all the way through to the end, but it didn’t slow me down any. Here I am, now in my 50s (how did that happen?), making a good living as a technical writer by day, writing my own blog by night, and also producing works of fiction whenever a spare moment of opportunity presents itself.

Having wanted to add the fictional component to this blog since the time I fired it up several months ago, I now feel that there is enough content posted that I can breathe a little easier. Writing for the sheer delight of it is a luxury I would gladly wish upon any writer who finds themselves shackled by the burdens and responsibilities of life, simply unable to find the time to indulge their talents. My advice would be to shrug off a few of those obligations if it means that you will then be able to engage in the activities that bring the most joy to your heart and satisfaction to your life. Otherwise, I wonder what’s the point?

Here is one of the strangest methods I use to engage my creative juices as a writer. I will doodle on a piece of paper using black ink, scribbling around, expanding out from a central area, filling in here and there until an image begins to present itself on the paper. As I continue, ideas will inevitably begin to form in my head about how I might describe, with a good story, what I see unfolding there before me. Once I have such ideas fairly firmed up in my head, I will venture over to the computer and tap out a short story that dramatically details the linear mishmash I have somewhat mindlessly managed to bring into the world. For you non-writers, that sounds just about boring, I know, but for me, it’s just too much fun.

I call these literary and visual art forms Toggle Switches. Why? Not sure. I think of the old days, when an airplane’s cabin would have been filled with a lot more toggles and switches than they probably are now, all meant to cause things to happen (or not to happen)…big things like…oh, lifting off into the clouds, for instance. The idea of being able to entertain my flights of fancy through writing I suppose has something to do with being the pilot of one’s own imagination, letting the destination be unpredictably determined based on the tilts and turns of our human creativity.

With that in mind, I’d like to describe one of these Toggle Switches. It lives over on my Etsy art shop called floodedplanet (no spaces if you’re looking for it by shop name through the Etsy website) under the Toggle Switches category on my shop’s home page. It’s called Dialing in the Driplets. It has a water-based theme, so it fits in really well with this blog of mine. You can read an excerpt as part of its description. It’s a digital PDF download and goes for the low, low price of just $1.00.

Thanks for stopping by!

G2

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