Sunday, 25 January 2015

Goodbyes, Gunn Guardians and Gifts

The word of the week is hectic.

Jan 19 – Not A Miss, but A Hit!

This was one busy week for me.

Every single one of each of the seven days was packed with things to do, from work to leisure and back again. Between my two jobs, social obligations and generally getting everything else done, it was rather challenge to keep myself organized and get things accomplished.

Today was fairly simple: work my day job and then my critique group met in the evening. Tonight we reviewed the next two chapters of my novel as well as a chapter from another of our writers. I was nervous, even though last month's reception of Book 2’s initial chapters was overwhelmingly positive. I believe it's because I think I’ still finding my feet and the direction of the book, which can go off the rails so easily if I'm not doing things correctly.

Fortunately, I've struck the perfect set of chords with Book 2, according to my long-term critiquers! All the threads that I’ve been weaving with dozens of characters have caught the interest of my beta readers, who want to know more about all the possibilities I’m hinting at.

Exactly what I was hoping for!

The challenge is, as always, to maintain the reader’s interest as I weave a cohesive narrative from all the myriad plotlines… which is why I’m taking so long to plot things out. It’s extremely difficult to keep all the hundreds of points straight and I’m quite happy to give myself as much time as needed to Do It Right…

Because, in the end, I want to reader to set this book down and go “Whew, thanks! What a ride… when’s the next one coming out?”

Jan 20 – Gifted

I was someone's birthday present today… kinda odd, saying that.

One of my coworkers asked me several weeks ago if I would consent to meeting their father for lunch to discuss the craft of writing. Apparently he's semiretired and wants to spend more time developing his passion for writing, which includes a taste for science fiction.

Of course I said yes!

It was great to sit down with someone who was generally new to writing and just have a free-flowing conversation about what makes them tick and what gets their words flowing. I tried very hard to keep the conversation general, as I realized I'm not an expert when it comes to writing and only have my own experience in the last five years or so to draw from. This didn't seem to bother my friend's father one little bit and we thoroughly enjoyed the several hours spent at Murchie’s over lunch on my day off today.

By the end of the lunch, I could see that I managed to successfully convey my own passion for writing in our conversation and I could tell that my new friend was all charged up to set words to paper as soon as he could. It was a rewarding experience for me and one that I hope to repeat soon; I enjoy helping others and if the topic is writing, it's just a fantastic feeling to really get going on the topic.

Plus, it was a free lunch: my coworker had paid for us both!

Jan 21 – Paper Creations

Paper models of starships? Count me in!

When I was very, very young, I was given a gift of a paper model. A very talented student in one of my mother's grade-school classes had a hobby of creating paper models of planes and spaceships in their off hours. They were generous enough to make several for my mother to give to me, as the talented student had heard I liked spaceships and it seemed the perfect thing to gift. Sadly, the models didn’t last very long, but I do have some lovely memories of what they looked like… and how I was completely unable to replicate them in later years, despite my efforts: I just didn’t have the skill.

Unlike this guy, whose paper models are the best I’ve ever seen:

Based in Japan, this gentleman’s website is chock-full of amazing details about his hobby: clearly he loves what he does. Here’s some more images, combining some of my favourite things - Star Wars, cutaways of spaceships and paper models:

Wherever my mother’s former student is, I hope that he runs across this talented peer’s work someday: it’d be a perfect crossing of papery skills!

Jan 22 – Guardians Meet N' Greet!

I had the privilege of watching a movie with writer / director James Gunn tonight!

Not just any movie, either: it was Guardians Of The Galaxy, which of course he is famous for having championed into the massive success that it's become worldwide this past year.

Tonight was interesting experiment, conducted through Fbook. James Gunn logged into a Q&A session, asked everyone to start up their copies of GotG at the same time and from there he gave a running commentary on every seen as it happened, much like you would get on a well-made DVD extras disk. With two important exceptions: this was live and Mr. Gunn went out of his way to answer questions posted by fans in the Q&A session, which I thought was extraordinarily generous of him. He had some of the stars of GotG along for the ride as well, which was a treat.

As a personal bonus, Mr. Gunn answered a question I was commenting on, about the role that legendary scifi artist Chris Foss played in the film:

That pretty much made my evening, knowing that social media was able to bring heavy-hitting Hollywood scifi g33ks like James Gunn and their fans closer together informally, to feel like you’re really getting some special time given back by some crazy-talented creative folks.

It was a great night. 

On a related note: here’s how GotG would look as a retro 8-bit video game~!

Jan 23 – A 3-hour Hobbit?

Careful what you wish wish, it might happen... which can be good!

A few weeks ago, I saw the final movie of the Hobbit Trilogy; some of you may remember that I was less than impressed with all the ‘padding’ that was added to make one small-ish novel into a triad of three-hour movies. My thinking was: one book, one movie – that’s it.

Thanks to the power of the internet, my wish was granted!

Just last week, I was excited to find that some stalwart soul had edited down all three movies into a four-and-a-half-hour long epic… pretty decent, right? Well, wouldn’t you know that this week, someone else had whittled all three movies down to a watchable three-hour movie: incredible! Here’s what the maniac fan editor had to say:

After about 312 new edits and cuts and almost 5 hours removed from the trilogy, this single film combines the three Peter Jackson movies into one immense epic that accurately tells the story of Bilbo", Killstein, aka FunnyPuzzle, writes, "while maintaining what new ideas and battles have been implanted in Jackson's retelling (such as the Battle of the Five Armies containing orcs instead of goblins). Scenes aren't always simply removed, sometimes they are repositioned or sometimes specific elements are taken out or added in for coherency or pacing".

Needless to say, I think I’ll be much happier with the less-bloated version. The Hobbit I recall from my youth was a solid, straight-forward adventure tale filled with little gems and not a bloated series of books that belaboured the point: fight dragon and get home again intact.

Jan 24 – Bowled Over!

Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

After working in unexpected overtime shift today, I attended my old workplace’s belated Christmas party… held at a bowling alley in Langford, which turned out to be cooler than it sounds. Are rather large group of around 40 people had a private room with a four lanes for us to use for two hours, which was a whole pile of fun. Myself, I haven't bowled in almost 20 years and wouldn't you know I started out by first game with two back-to-back strikes - I ended up winning both of the games I played tonight! It felt great, though as it turns out I'd somewhat regret my enthusiasm the next day as I had over-used a few muscles that didn't usually get that worked up; nothing terrible but I definitely know that I've been bowling this weekend.
Someone doesn't want their picture taken...

The party itself was a blast, as I felt like it was my retirement celebration, in a way: almost everyone I'd worked with was still with the company was in attendance and we all had a blast. There was plenty of free food and snacks, a cash bar with the first round generously paid for by the general manager and lots of happy conversation going on. I even ended up winning a prize package of some food, gift cards and the like, which was just icing on the cake.

It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night: having fun with friends!

Jan 25 – Soft Landings

I worked my last shift at my old job today, and it was great.

Every shift for the last month or so has been pretty good, in all fact. Knowing that I'm leaving has made it far easier to just shrug and let the silly stuff pass me by. When this was my only line of income, I sweated each and every mistake, making it far a different story from where I sit today.

I'm sad, in some ways, to be leaving, but those few points are vastly outnumbered by the positives: I'm getting my weekends back and I don't have to cycle around in inclement weather unless I want to recreationally. Flat bicycle tires or icy roads won't delay me from getting to work before the relentless time clock counts me as late, nor will I begrudge the time spent wearing a name tag as wasted when I could have been writing. All of the sanity-shredding little stressors I endured there, that added to my challenges these last two years, mean nothing now that I have moved on: I’ve learned from the ones I needed to and let the rest go, as they're nothing that I need to take with me.

When I next walk through those automatic doors, I'll be just another customer and it will take a while before I think I'll feel that way walking around the aisles.

Whew! I’ve spent every day this week, including my day off, going places or doing things at all hours on top of my day job, so I'm rather tired as I write this week's blog entry. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a good twelve hours or so, but I'll be happy with my usual seven in a little bit. It's been a solid week, with a lot accomplished and though I'm quite pooped, it's a fatigue that's comes with knowing that it was energy and time well-spent.