Wisdom (And Monkeys) from the Subconscious

I dreamed last night that my family and I were jumping between rocks. It occurred to me when I woke that we were probably monkeys.

But in my monkey dream I remember my monkey-self pushing small rocks off of large rocks to make the landing area clear for when I jumped. And my monkey-father was talking, telling me not to try to make things perfect, but rather to jump the way things were.

Monkey-me never seemed to get it, but now that I’m awake I think I see the wisdom behind the message.

Act when you can. Now when things are perfect.

There’s a metaphor to start the day.

Jump in.

The Close of a Writing Year Approaches

Had an AMAZING brainstorm workshop yesterday for my NaNoWrimo book for the year.

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, November, is the first month of my writing year, so October is the last month of the year.

All that stands between me and that book is the end of my current book.

I am handling a light load of other work, and I’m excited to move on to this new book, especially after the brainstorming session.

My blog is gonna take a backseat in November, but there will still be posts, however short.

That’s what I had to say today, so take it easy.

In Ruins? In Thought.

Just a brief bit of personal history today.

Maybe this will explain why I complain about not doing enough so often.

In June and July 2009 my writing speed exploded. The previous April I had written over 10,000 words in one day for the first time. Between those first two months of summer I wrote another 70,000 words. Now that I think about it, that isn’t really that fast compared to how quickly I write now (30,000 words a month on average).

This post just got weirder for me than expected.

I guess I never wrote quite as quickly or as consistently as I thought only moments ago.

My looking to the past with nostalgia for powers I once possessed seems to have been entirely my imagination.

I will have to keep considering the best way to move forward, but I get my best revelations through writing, so the key is to keep fingers on the keyboard and to keep sharing with others.

May each of you have a good day.

Cards and Creativity: Symbolic, Tactical, Powerful

I have been thinking (and will no doubt continue thinking) about my problems in working on my books.

I think part of the issue could be the exhaustion of mental resources. And I began to wonder if the human personality actually has different capacities for different types of activity. Personally and in my experience, I think its obvious that this is the case. Going by what the team behind Magic the Gathering called the types of players (Johnny, Timmy, and Spike), I imagine three types of creativity.

(The comparison to the types of Magic players is all based on the idea that people like stuff they’re good at better in most cases

Symbolic Creativity, Tactical Creativity, and Powerful Creativity

These are not direct equivalents to the magic types, so don’t assume that if you’re familiar with Johnny, Timmy, and Spike.

Symbolic Creativity means stuff that deals with compressed data. This card represents these effects. This word has these denotations and connotations.

Tactical Creativity is, for me at least, logistics-based. That can mean knowing the right place or right time in a literal sense, and sometimes can be as general as knowing what will happen in a given situation. When applied in art-making this is the skill of extrapolation.

Powerful Creativity is what I see as fuel for action. Inspiration might be comparable, and so might excitement. I think this one is more emotional than the other types, consisting of feelings as often as thoughts.

So these three are all things each person has, but I would like to propose an economy of creative resources.

If I play a collectible card game my symbolic and tactical creative energies deplete because I am identifying the meanings of cards and working to find the best time to use them. My powerful creativity is less used in that activity, however, because the need is to think realistically of what my options in the game are, rather than seek some brand new solution.

When I write rough draft I think I use all three, but less symbolic most of the time because I try to use a lot of familiar ideas and simpler words to convey them. Tactical solutions as to how to best convey the information become more important.

When I edit the symbolic becomes ascendant and the powerful becomes less important, because the raw energy of creation must at that point fit into the preexisting text.

When I outline the book I think things are most equal in usage, but powerful creativity is my access to the freedom of twists and new ideas, and that’s even more true in the brainstorming phase.

This is a fun little thought experiment, but I must admit it is, in and of itself, purely a symbol, like math but for weighing creativity.

For that reason, I will have to keep thinking on it when I have time, and try to refine the idea.

When I started this post I thought I might be able to use theses concepts to describe a shortage of my own creative juices because I overwork them. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe its more like developing muscles than spending fuel, and I need to cultivate and warm-up my mind before I can expect full stories to just pour out of me as it seems they once did.

In any case, have a good day, and let me know if you have any thoughts on any of my ramblings. I don’t often reply to comments, but I enjoy reading them most of the time.

Substance

Work goes slow sometimes. I have learned so much this year that I know I shouldn’t begrudge my slower writing (Or more accurately, lack of speeding up my writing) throughout it.

Part of me regrets not sharing more of these revelations on this blog, as much of what I talk about is writing.

I have learned about characters and how to make them live and change. I have learned a fair amount about sentence level stamina and the little ideas that make up the body of stories. Very importantly, I have learned a lot about the nature of exposition in my own fiction.

And yet, I feel as if I waited until now to truly express the amount of understanding I have taken away from all the practice since the start of last November. I don’t feel like waiting any longer. A lot of these revelations are things I’m still only beginning to understand.

Part One: Characters
-Characters need to start with a simple core personality trait, so readers can understand them.
-Characters will confuse readers without larger than life aspects that define them and make them distinct.
-Characters need believable motivation, even in crazy worlds. Especially in crazy worlds.

Part Two: Sentences
-Practice is key to making sentences varied and interesting. Paying attention to the individual meanings of words can be helpful in finding better ways of saying the same old somethings.
-Describing physicality is important, and not just for objects, but also for characters and especially creatures.

Part Three: Exposition and Me
-To go back to description for a moment, filling in world detail is fine as long as its necessary to understand the story in motion.
-Information dumps are not for me to avoid, but instead they must be tackled and explored and made readable. In worlds as weird as the ones I write there is no room for Hemingway-esque lack of exposition, and the same goes for my characters.
-The only wrong way to do exposition is the way that bores the reader.
-I’m passionate about the various odd universes I have created. They are a major reason I write what I write

That’s a quick overview of the stuff that I’ve been practicing this year, and this post is here to help remind me as much or than it is to spread any sort of wisdom I might claim to have. I’m not wise, but I’m learning.

Have a great day everyone!

Moving Dreamward

I did some editing of a year-and-a-half-old novel yesterday and was quite pleased with the text as I found it.

This particular novel is a young adult science fiction that involves technology centered on dreams, the very one I brainstormed on my guest appearance on the wonderful Roundtable Podcast almost two years ago now.

I still feel strange that its been so long. Regardless, I am still going to edit this thing, and hopefully wrap the process up so I can submit again sometime in December. I’m still concerned about the number of minor characters in the book that haven’t got enough face time to be important, so that’ll probably form the majority of the challenge this time around.

I’m still approaching the end of the current rough draft, and starting in November I’m beginning to write another book as well.

On top of my own writing and editing I still have fact-checking and freelance writing to do at some point by the end of the year.

I’ve got things cooking. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you folks something I spent more time on sooner rather than later.

Time is always against individual humans. It’s time to claim some temporal places for myself and get to work.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day!

Life of Revenge

When I was a kid I played some real time strategy games with my brothers. Starcraft and Age of Empire II were the main ones that I loved, though I also played the original Warcraft Orcs and Humans as well. I’ve been playing Starcraft II lately, but that’s now what this post is about.

This post concerns Age of Empires II.

For those of you not familiar with the game, Age of Empires II is a historically-based game where you play as different civilizations such as Mongols or Saracens, Mayans or Turks, Teutons or Koreans, and its based in the middle ages time period as far technology level.

In the game there are number of campaigns where one historical general or leader is followed. In this case, the title of my post refers to the name of a mission in the Mongol “Genghis Khan” campaign, wherein the player, as Genghis Khan is trying to destroy a hated rival.

Life of Revenge. There. After that lengthy explanation of the shared title, I’d like to add that this is apparently consistent with some accounts of Genghis Khan’s way of living and there’s evidence he believed it was preferable to the alternative of clemency.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, the mongols under the Great Khan got a lot of revenge, and perpetrated many horrific acts.

Revenge.

As far as I’m concerned revenge is pointless for the individual and most likely for that nation as well, at least in the modern world. But that’s getting into politics I don’t feel like discussing at the moment.

The difficulties of not seeking payback on the personal level are mainly mental. Part of my personal psyche, at least, is preoccupied with punishment, though that part used to be far larger and more powerful than it is now.

Why am I discussing revenge? I don’t know really. Perhaps I really am thinking about the book I am near wrapping up.

Within these six chapters a major antagonist will be looking for revenge.

Can forgiveness be the outcome instead?

How possible is it for people to truly forgive each other for great pain?

I admit, I don’t have answers. I will keep looking.