Sunday, 29 March 2015

Travel, Theory and Tattoos

The word of the week is prosaic.

March 23 – That’s the way it Crumbles

Let’s start off the week right: with a cookie!

A friend of mine posted a wonderful article last week on his blog. Here's a snippet:

Cookie Philosophy 1: There is no such thing as a bad cookie.

As mentioned above, if we are given a cookie, regardless of it’s ingredients and our personal tastes, we should be thankful to receive that cookie (Unless it’s a peanut based cookie and you’re deathly allergic to peanuts, then the person who gave it to you might be trying to kill you). It’s a first world problem when we complain about the type of cookie we receive.

A great point: don’t complain, it’s a cookie! Even though I don't have a lot of cookies anymore compared to even a few short years ago, I enjoy each and every one that I do have to the fullest. Having cookies is analogous to enjoying life: it's not the quantity, but the quality of the thing.

I'll leave you with this parting thought of his, which I think is somewhat reminiscent of that nice old lady from The Matrix:

Remember that cookies represent all that is good in the world. So take some time to enjoy a nice cookie of your choice every now and then. I promise you’ll feel better.

March 24 – Revisiting Dragons

As a young lad, I loved the Dragonlance series.

Given that there are hundreds of books in said series, it says a lot that I’ve read most of them at least once. Heck, I used to own close to a hundred, at one point, when you counted gifts and assorted cheap finds at flea markets back in the day.

Now, though, I only have a dozen or so that I've kept; all the rest are gone, sold or given away.

Why is that?

To be honest, the world of Dragonlance had run its course with me. I've internalized all the stories that meant anything to my self personally and the rest have faded over time from my mind. While I liked the initial concept, the endless sub-genre exploration of minor characters, sub-plots and backstory became too bloated and I just had to step away. I considered a good lesson in making too much of a good thing.

Mist-terious... well, not really, once you've read it once.

Also, the writing just doesn't hold up to my current reading levels, which is sad in a way because I really do love Dragonlance - I just can't read it as simply anymore for enjoyment.

There are millions of others who also love Dragonlance and thanks to them, I stumbled across The Dragonlance Chronicles Re-Read! This serial blog aims to re-read the initial Dragonlance books with a modern, critical eye( but not too critical! )in order to deconstruct the stories and poke at all the writing holes in order to better understand how everything was put together.

As a writer, I love the idea. As a faded Dragonlance fan, I find it oddly appealing.

March 25 – Everything?

I have to think of everything when I am writing my novels – literally everything.

Did you know I have to think of everything when I write?

Really, it does boggle the mind. Readers assume that the author knows everything there is to know about the fictional universe that the author is creating and that's a mind-boggling task that gets very little credit, when it comes down to it.

It's rather unbalanced, in a way. The reader gets to see only a tiny fraction of what the author’s intention is when it comes to the world being created. Several sentences that appear in a book could have pages of related research and back story to them, but it's the job of the author to ensure that only the relevant points appear for the reader, carefully constructed so that they support the story while providing the intended verisimilitude of the world being created.

They'll add the colour later.
World-building is a huge topic all by itself, but it's simple enough to get a grasp on if you simply look around you: everything you see would have to be created in the author's mind, along with everything else you can't see. Absolutely everything on the planet, the other planets in the solar system, the local star group, the galaxy, the universe… you get my drift. 
We have to think of everything, and then pare it down to what’s important for the story at hand.

The reason that it's such a vital job to come up with as much detail as possible is, in my opinion, the difference between a gripping fictional world and one that seems to be a stage that's set with just enough dressing to tell a story and no more – once that’s done, it all fades from the mind of the audience far too quickly.

I am aiming to create a universe with such depth that I can tell as many tales as I like there and my readers will want to know more every time they finish a story. It may take me a little longer, but remember that if you're reading a story of mine, every sentence has a huge amount of hidden work behind, even before the editing phase.

There's no better way to do it, really.

March 26 – Hope and Planning?

It doesn't look like I'm going travelling anywhere this year, which is a good thing, actually.

Tying myself down — figuratively speaking — to where I am right now in BC only makes sense, if I want to get ahead for once in my life. Having achieved their relative stability at present, I am going to make the most of it this year by simply working in writing, which I may have mentioned once or twice already in this blog.

I think I'm trying to convince myself that there doesn't have to be anything else, no semblance of Being Busy that I have to achieve in order to think that my life is going better than before.

It's actually pretty good as it is right now, for reasons I've already outlined here before and so I won't bore you with them again.

Sure, I'd like to hop a train and travel across the country this summer, or take a trip to another continent, but those places will still be there in a few years. I'd much rather travel with a sense of balance and well-being inside, then stressing about things I'd be bringing with me on the trip.

It only makes sense. Having my book trilogy written and being able to work on some edits while traveling would be a nice bonus that would enhance any trip, I think.

I could scout locations for a book tour, come to think of it. Hmmm…

March 27 – Soulmate Science?

Believe it or not, I'm going to mention algebra for the first time in my blog – right now! It's going to be in the context of love, to make it all the more strange.

The idea of soulmates has always fascinated me, that peculiar quirk that many of us believe there is someone out there we are ‘meant’ to be with. Or at least are the most compatible with, above all others.

It's a nice thought, but what does this have to do with algebra?

Leave it to Randall Munroe to use algebraic equations to help answer the question: what are the chances of there actually being a soulmate out there for everyone? Here’s part of his work:

The number of strangers we make eye contact with each day is hard to estimate. It can vary from almost none (shut-ins or people in small towns) to many thousands (a police officer in Times Square). Let’s suppose you lock eyes with an average of a few dozen new strangers each day. (I’m pretty introverted, so for me that’s definitely a generous estimate.) If 10 percent of them are close to your age, that’s around 50,000 people in a lifetime. Given that you have 500,000,000 potential soul mates, it means you’ll only find true love in one lifetime out of 10,000.

Long story short: it's a nightmare equation that only mathematicians can appreciate, given that the odds are so extremely low. 

All in all, I'm going to leave it down to two thoughts: (1) Keep looking and (2) Don’t tell me the odds. The last bit is courtesy of Han Solo who, as you may recall, snagged himself a princess! The card-carrying variety, I might add.

Tasteful his-and-hers tattoos. Cute, I guess.

Also a wookie, but we’re not going to go there…

March 28 – Pop-ular Myth?

Do you crack your knuckles? 

I stopped cracking my knuckles about 20 years ago, as I was more and more worried that I was doing damage to my joints for the sake of making cool sound - and watching other people cringe sometimes. Given the joint problems I had back then, I decided not to take a chance.

The jury is still out on long-term damage:

One thing I did notice is that my knuckles are somewhat wider than I remember them as a teenager, enough so that it makes wearing rings difficult - I don't have enough body fat to have fingers that are the same general thickness all along their length, so rings that fit over my knuckles tend to wobble around on my fingers. Probably why I've never bothered to wear them.

So, do you still want to crack your knuckles?

March 29 – Frivolities Falling From Favour

Have you noticed your life changing lately? I have.

The small things are what really clue you in: changing the habits which used to be very important and which have suddenly become irrelevant.

Case in point: electronic shopping. I used to live for it, even if it was mostly just eyeballing.
Grabbing the latest flyers from Future Shop, Staples, Visions( a local BC chain ) and cruising a few regular online spots used to always brighten up my week. No matter how bad things were, I could always escape a little bit by imagining how some new bit of tech might improve my life; weird as that thought is, it rang true for me for a long time. But not anymore.

I just don't need more stuff and I don't need stuff to be happy. I always knew that, but I suppose I was distracting myself with shiny gadgets for so long that they became a means unto themselves, that a sort of self-fulfilling cycle perpetuated itself long after I had any use for it.

Now I browse through the occasional flyer once a month or so, just to see what's out there. I don't need to upgrade my computer or have a new tech toy to fiddle with; I no longer need to distract myself from the problematic daily things that were weighing me down but rather find more time to devote to my writing and enjoying life rather than thinking that such can come from any purchase I make. Whatever technical upgrades I do in the next few years, they'll be necessary once only, like my recent SSD fix for my laptop or replacing my wonky S3 phone with a OnePlusOne.

I certainly have enough PC games and unread books to occupy my free time as it is; there’s no sense in adding any more to my collection until I get some good use out of what I have now.

Not to mention writing a few books and/or games of my own in the near future.

I am pretty tired right now, finishing the blog, more so than I've been in many months. I've just finished working close to 60 hours this week, seven days straight and I've got one more long day to go tomorrow before I get Tuesday off. I probably won't be sleeping in but rather waking up around 6 AM as I have been blessed couple weeks; more time in the day to write, if you look at it that way.