Sunday, 3 May 2015

Happiness, Horror and Heroes

The word of the week is plenitude.

April 27 – Happy Horror!

One of the pleasures I get from helping to run a writing group( apart from choosing the topics! )is to give the occasional presentation – usually on a topic I don’t know all that well.
Challenges for my skill sets and knowledge, donchaknow.

Tonight’s topic: horror! This little ditty popped into my head fully-formed yesterday, like a gift from some creepy power beyond:

In researching the topic, I learned that horror is actually a rather misunderstood genre, one that’s been with us for quite a while and is constantly evolving. Not being a horror fan, I was pleased to discover that horror is not just spooks and gore, but rather centers on emotions, only some of which are things like fear or disgust.

Surprisingly, it’s a genre that makes us examine our Selves and our deepest Beliefs… as well as serving other needs, such as allowing us to travel outside our comfort zones safely.

The evening went extremely well, with a lively and intelligent discussion that ranged all across the horror genre, with a few others thrown in – just as I’d hoped. There were many thoughtful looks on people’s faces as the meetup progressed and more than a few people started up their own discussions for a while afterwards. Which is normal…

Writers: we love to talk about writing almost as much as we like to write.

April 28 – Tablet Time!

Darn. Turns out I couldn’t do without one after all.

A tablet, that is. Trying to read comics, even on the sizable screen of my OnePlus One phone, just doesn’t work… and a laptop screen is the wrong shape. Ditto for ebooks, or documents, and we won’t even get into some Android games that pack too much info into too small a space.

End result: I picked up a used ASUS tablet on eBay for a great price, as it was sans the hard-to-find charger( or any other accessories, for that matter )though in mint condition otherwise. It’s a TF300T: 4 cores / 32gb with a nice 10” screen: perfect for the specific uses I have in mind. Including taking it along with me to work in a backpack, which I’m more comfortable with instead of a laptop that’s worth 4x as much, with essentially the same size screen and general functionality. Not to mention my over-40 eyes are happier with a screen like that anyway.

It’s funny that I ended up giving my 'old' ASUS Transformer tablet to my dad, who’s been enjoying it immensely. The extremely-long battery life means he can use it to watch Netflix for quite some time, not to mention to play games and do other basic tasks. For him, it’s perfect. For me, it’d become too slow, though I do miss it – yet a windows laptop made far more sense for me for writing purposes and things like email or websurfing, which are still simpler than on a tablet... at least one that I can budget / afford.

Quite honestly, I’m chuffed to be able to read my Dark Horse Star Wars comics collection on it, primarily. No more zooming in panel by panel!

April 29 – Routine x2

I’m finding I like routine, and I want more of it, at least for 2015.

In fact, I'm putting my head down this spring / summer, to focus on my writing. Meaning that apart from work and writing, I can't be doing much else. I'm not going to be anti-social for the next 6 months as much as writing-focused. I'd love to get out and Do Stuff more, but I NEED to write.

I haven't come to this decision lightly. After examining my writing time over the last 3 years, by FAR my most productive times were when I had little else going on OTHER than writing for 3-4 hours each day.

Simple, eh?

So this is an in-advance apology, in a way, to everyone: please DO keep me in mind if you're doing things this year, but don't be surprised( or upset! )if I choose stay home to write instead. I have half of a 2nd book still to write, another draft of my first book to revise AND most of my 3rd book to plot out. That's a LOT of writing to budget time for, on top of a full-time day job.

All the same, I will still get out now and then… because I have to live a little too.

April 30 – Monomyth!

What makes a hero?

It’s a topic near and dear to my heart, not only for its cultural relevancy but for how it helps define my life… and the lives of the characters I create.

John Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces, his seminal theory outlining the common journey of the archetypal hero across a wealth of ancient myths from around the world has been applied to everything from the lives of great artists to pop-culture classics like Star Wars.

This wonderful short animation from TED Ed presents a synthesis of Campbell’s foundational framework for the eleven stages of the hero’s quest — from the call to adventure to the crisis to the moment of return and transformation — illustrating its timeless potency in illuminating the inner workings of so many of our modern myths and the real-life heroes we’ve come to worship:

May 1 – Feeling Good Financially

It’s all about simplification right now.

For the first time in years, I sat down on the 1st of the month and didn’t stress out after calculating expenditures vs income. While I’m not rolling in dough, it was a welcome change not to have to wonder if the end of the year will see things look better than in January.  Using, I’ve been carefully watching my spending habits, so combining that with switching to a new financial institution, not buying anything I don’t need and a decent job, I smiled more today than I thought I would when the numbers were all added up.

I’ve also been using an Excel spreadsheet of my own design, after finding a few other useful ones like this or this. The nice part about my own design is that it immediately shows you the cumulative effect of budgetary changes throughout the entire remaining year. By plugging in different numbers, reducing bills or paying more on others, you can see how the year will shape up and so plan accordingly. It’s been most useful to me when times were uncertain, so I could put every dollar in the right place and not be caught shortsighted, so to speak.

Plan ahead – your budget will thank you for it!

May 2 – Bike = Go!

Today was Bike Test Day!

At least, that’s what I called it in my head. It was the perfect weather to ride around town, running( biking? )errands and so forth: sunny, cool and a weekend. My loaner bike – soon to be mine! – has shocks on the front forks and seat, so it rides a lot more smoothly than my old bike… which I still miss, as I had it customized to the nth degree. Today I added splash guards / fenders, so that when I do want to write out of the rain I don't end up wearing half the puddles I ride through. I'm still debating adding a side-basket for carrying groceries or even going for saddlebags, but as I don't ride nearly as much as I used to, I think I may just hold off for now.

I miss my trusty two-wheeled friend.

Now that I have the parts to carry the new heavy-duty locks on the frame, I can tote them around without using a backpack. Seeing as the pair of locks weigh almost as much together as the bike itself, that's saying something not to have to have them dragging at my shoulders. I feel much better now that my bike can be stored inside, even if it takes me 10 minutes to haul it out, reattach the front wheel and inflate the tire every time I want to go somewhere.

Sure beats walking outside and finding out my ride’s missing.

It was really great riding around today, getting my heart pumping and just enjoying the beauty of the city on a nice day. It’s funny how blue skies and a weekend can combine to make so many people smile and I was happy to see that everyone was really enjoying themselves as I traveled around, enjoying my own restored sense of freedom, thanks to a simple bicycle.

May 3 – Productive!

Lately, when people ask me how my weekends have went, I've been answering “Productive!” which seems to surprise them

Most people see weekends as time to relax and forget about the workweek. I'm of the mindset that I have two entire days to do what I really want to do outside of my day job, without being tired from a busy time at the same.

I'm no masochist however; I do get in some relaxation as needed.

This weekend was very productive in many ways, though not for writing is much as I'd hoped. Still, I accomplished a lot of tasks around the house, including setting up my new tablet and cooking a few meals, which turned out rather well, I thought. I spent some time on the patio at Moka House with a friend in the sunshine yesterday after biking around the city and today I got out for a couple of walks to clear my head and pick up a few things for said cooking sessions.

Simply sitting down watching TV, or even reading for long periods, is really in the cards these days. Heck, I just slapped a PVR expander together on the cheap in order to record movies and shows that I don't really have time for right now - I may end up watching them sometime in 2016, at this stage of things.

Not Game Of Thrones, though: I’m making time for that each Sunday night that it's on, though it does interrupt my blog writing time - totally worth it, however. The show keeps getting better, even with the added gore / violence factor that seems to cater to an audience other than myself: I could do a shorter fight scenes and more drama, but that's a personal choice.

It’s a new month and every day I plan on asking myself what I've done: did I get some writing accomplished? It seems like a small thing, but the point is to write regularly so that all the small things add up into a bigger thing that I can call a finished novel, only the second one of three that means to be written and the first trilogy among many that I have planned, at least in a nebulous way. My thoughts and ideas are many and I plan on putting as many of them to paper as possible in the next few decades, sooner rather than later.