Sunday, 1 February 2015

Niceties, Nightmares and New Ideas

The word of the week is fixative.

Jan 26 – Writing Free

Mondays are pretty routine for me, but that's okay: sometimes I get to write.

Even if I don't, there's always my local writing group that I help to run and tonight's meetup  was a smashing success!

It was a freewriting session this evening, led by another member with some experience in that particular craft. Essentially, freewriting is writing in its purest form: you put down every thought as it occurs in your head and never edit, just write:

After a few hours, I was quite happy with some of the pieces that I had scribbled on the page in front of me, including the seed for a science fiction story that I may develop. There was also a murder mystery that appeared from out of nowhere that everyone at the meeting was enraptured by, myself included, so there's that as well to look at. The idea keywords were ‘apple pie factory’ – here’s what my brain came up with on the fly:

   Apples. Apples everywhere, scattered in sticky piles. Sticky with sugar, with filling, with sweet bits of crumbly crust. 
   Sticky with blood.
   Frank stood, wiping off his hands, his wide mouth making a move of just taste. His shiny loafers squelched in the layer of apple guts and he winced as he felt something crunch under his heel. Probably a tooth.

   Pushing back his had to scratch his head, Frank turned to eyeball his partner.
I know, I know: not my usual fare, but it showed there's a lot more rattling around upstairs in my head than my Muse is letting out. Mine was just one of several dozen stories people came up with and it seemed to be a good evening all around for creative output, judging by all the laughter as we shared out work.

Jan 27 – Loving It

Just a brief job update: it’s going great!

I smiled for the entire walk to work today, as I had rolled out of bed feeling a bit blah. Once I'd woken up a touch after getting outside, I found myself questioning my attitude: why the heck was I feeling down? 

I could discover no good reason and so I did what I often do to perk up my mood: I quickly listed all the good things about my day I could look forward to:

  • I was walking to work, on a lovely morning with no winter snow and sunshine
  • I was going to a job where people like, respect and value me for who I am
  • I was earning a wage that was far closer to being what I think I’m worth paying
  • I was helping people over the phone, instead of in person, on serious matters
  • I was working at a job where I didn’t have to stress to succeed

… and so on. By the time I was done listing all the positives regarding my day job, my smile had grown exponentially and that was reflected in my workday: I was tasked with invoices!

Far from being a dull shifting of numbers, invoices freed me to listen to epic music while not having to answer phones or perform other tasks, which is perhaps my favorite way to spend my workday. It allows me to feed my muse with music for hours on end. By the time I went home, I had a few more new ideas for my novel series, which I always consider indicators of a successful day. As a bonus, my mood was quite light thanks to the music I've been able to listen to all day long.

What's not to like about that?

Jan 28 – Nightmares? Not me.

I dream, but I don't have nightmares; I rarely ever have.

Why is that, I wonder? Thinking back, I don't think I've ever had a nightmare in my adult life: not a single one. Sure, I've had nights that I haven't slept well were slept badly, but never because of bad dreams. Not even once.

Realizing that peculiar datum of my life this week, I took a bit of time to research a bit further. The science of dreaming and nightmares is not a well understood one, though there are commonalities that most doctors familiar with the subject will talk about. A fair bit of that data is health related, but what I'm interested in is what's going on in the brain itself, not the body per se.

Turns out that people who are well-adjusted, have no major stress factors in their lives and aren’t prone to anxiety rarely have nightmares as all of those previous factors are triggers. The subconscious picks up on such things and worries them like a dog with a bone, to the point where a person sleep is fraught with imaginary peril at night.

I find the subject intriguing, if only because I've been so extremely stressed and anxious for the last 20 years of my life yet I've never experienced a nightmare because of that. I did discover that those people who have extraordinarily strong minds and great reserves of willpower generally don't suffer from nightmares and it seems that I fall firmly into that particular category, for which I'm quite grateful. I can't imagine what my mental state would be like nowadays if I had been prone to suffering from nightmares due to stress and anxiety.

I think I'll sleep better at night knowing that, if only a little bit.

Jan 29 – Work hard, Write Soft

I've been working extra all week long, with a few hours added on to each shift to lengthen my day. I'll be working this weekend as well, both days, so my paycheck in a week’s time should be fairly decent. I'll have worked the equivalent of another entire full work week; even after taxes and deductions, that will be a welcome bonus in February. 

Working so much overtime( a rare opportunity, I might add so I've taken advantage of it while I can )this week hasn't left time or energy for much else, so work on my second novel is had to take a back seat yet again. A few ideas pop up regularly during my days and I scribbled down for inclusion later in my work; but seems to be my process so far this year and it's a good indicator that my subconscious is still hard at work on the details.

I also have to start thinking about finding an agent later this year, once the fourth draft of Book 1 is solidly underway. I believe the third draft is good enough to send out to solicit agent interest, in order to find representation, with the goal of having Book 2’s first draft already completed by the summer.

That and a million other details will need seeing to this year in order to prepare for getting my books out into the world. Every time that I take a few minutes to sit down and think about what needs doing, I see branching trees of stories that need writing, articles that need research and contacts that need exploring, among so much else.

At least at this point all I have to occupy my time apart for my writing is a single day job.

Jan 30 – Movie and TV Night!

I took this evening off to relax; no overtime tonight.

With a good friend over, we watched a few more episodes of the second season of Dollhouse. In every episode, I have found the writing to be solid, the production values excellent and the acting excitingly varied. It's been rather a good ride and I am a little disappointed that there is no third season to see: such a shame.

We also watched Zoolander, which I've never seen and have been a little wary of watching, to be honest. I don't know what it is but the movie never seemed to be on my radar, though there's plenty of pop-culture references to it floating around. Since I enjoyed Night at the Museum, which stars both Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, I thought I might give Zoolander a try, at least once, on my friend’s advice.

To my surprise, I enjoyed it from start to finish.

Ben Stiller’s dumb-yet-lovable characterization of the lead protagonist was a perfect casting, far more so than someone like Adam Sandler would have been in the role. I was shocked to find that the movie had kept my interest all the way through, despite the occasional lowbrow meanderings of the plot. While I doubt I'll re-watch the film anytime soon, I have to say that I think it was a good way to spend a few hours tonight.

If you think about it, I now have some more insight into the world of male fashion modelling… huh. Go figure.

Jan 31 – Got IMAX?

Saturday night: Game of Thrones at the IMAX movie theater!

Just for kicks, I invited about 50 people to see the inaugural presentation of Game of Thrones at the local IMAX theatre. Well, almost local: it’s a half-hour bus trip from my place, as the IMAX downtown wasn’t showing the special presentation. I don't feel cheated however: only a few dozen IMAX screens in Canada were showing GoT this week and Victoria was one of them, so I feel quite lucky to be able to see the episodes! All the same, nobody ended up responding to my invitations and I was ready to go it alone…

Fortunately, one person did eventually end up attending after all and gave me a ride to the theater, saving me too long bus trips in the rain for which I'm quite grateful.

Apparently the ticket sales were brisk and I anticipated a decent crowd when we arrived well before the show. Heading into the theater, I was pleased to see that while it was busy, it wasn't jam-packed and we found excellent seats fairly easily.

I had, of course, already seen both of the episodes being shown but the draw was watching them on the giant IMAX screen. While the screen at Tillicum isn’t as large as the IMAX at the BC Museum( which is the largest IMAX in BC! )it is new and digital, meaning it can show the latest releases with incredibly high definition: sweet!

The digital conversion of GoT looked astounding on the screen and sounded great too!

I think the best way to describe it was an experience: with such fine detail on such a large screen, it was completely immersive to watch and I found myself involved with the story as I've never been before. Everyone in the audience was enraptured and I don't think I even heard the sound of breathing the entire time we all watched the show.

I truly hope that this is the future of modern media, where television meets movie theater and vice versa, to take advantage of each others strengths to keep the entertainment industry vital. I can't see myself paying a premium to watch quality television shows on a regular basis at the IMAX, but I certainly would go see the first few episodes of the new season of GoT on the big screen…

BONUS: Here's the Season 5 GoT trailer world preview, seen first at the IMAX! 

Feb 1  – Fuutball?

It’s Superbowl Sunday… a meaningless term for me, at least.

But not to other people. Understanding the passions of others without being dismissive is a skill that most people don't possess, nor care to develop, to be honest.

For me, sports have been a zero-sum part of my life: I've no interest in them and I've not felt the lack. However, I do see that many people I know are quite passionate about sports, so I've endeavored to understand the reasoning behind sports as a fulcrum for understanding passion for anything in one's life.

It's big subject, so I won't bore you too much with the finer details, but it's fascinating nonetheless. Being passionate about something means that you enjoy it unreservedly and enjoyed even more when sharing that passion with others of similar tastes.

For me, one of my many passions is writing, along with anything g33ky; that's just to I am. Most of my friends are cut from the same cloth and while a few definitely share a thinner fabric, every one of them is dear to me in their own way for their passions.

Even those who really, really like sports: while I just don't get them, I do understand their passion and I smile when I see it, because it's reflection of my own. We all get excited about certain aspects of our lives in our own way and being able to express that is not only healthy but necessary to maintain who we are in our lives. Passion provides meaning for everything we do: it's a motivator for achievement and success and becoming better people while attracting those who feel the same way.

Don't ask me how I got all that starting from a chat about the Super Bowl, however. I've as much in common with a football fan as an Apple does with an orange, but we’re both parts of a balanced diet and don't fall far from the same tree, to mix a metaphor.

I guess what I'm saying is that everyone's a winner and if that's not a sports metaphor, I don't know what is. So on that note, I'll sign off for the week.

Ergh. It's only half-past ten and I'm falling asleep at the keys; my week-long overtime grind has caught up with a vengeance. It's the LAST weekend I'll have to work though: from here on in, my weekends are MINE to do with as I please! Most likely I'll use them to write and on occasion, socialize, but it's the delicious thought of a weekly dose of two consistent job-free days that will send me to sleep tonight with a smile...