Sunday, 17 May 2015

Focus, Friends and Fantastic Finds

The word of the week is retrograde.

May 11 –Focus

My task-reduction strategy seems to be working; I'm feeling much more focused of late.

Tonight's writing group meeting seemed to support this new clarity of thought, as I was really on point for the discussion that burgeoned halfway through the evening.

The meet up was supposed to be about writing “in-house” in that attendees were encouraged to use the time to write in a setting of their peers. This would allow people to talk over sticking points in their writing, or to collaborate with others to create something new.

Writers being writers, about halfway through, most of us started talking about writing.

In my case, I found myself tying together my reading experiences growing up with my current situation, expounding on my desire to create now that I’ve “filled up” on reading for 30+ years. I waxed enthusiastic at times, eloquent at others and felt my words following each other point to point like good little soldiers, exactly as a writer hopes words will do as they fill each new page.

It was a great feeling.

May 12 –The Third Dimension

Some things just can’t be loved enough, like Babylon 5.

It’s a shared love, what g33ky fans do, when their mutual admiration is focused on things of quality like B5. What’s so fascinating about fans is that they come in all shapes and sizes, talents and backgrounds and personalities, all united in their shared passion for Things G33k. That shared passion can lead to some truly amazing things, as I'm constantly discovering.

Case in point: creating something from nothing can be done in many ways, such as words or the visual arts. 3-D artists especially hold fascination for me for what they can create.

But, back to B5. There was a series of several dozen novels, loosely set as ‘canon’ for the series that continued and branched out into various plotlines. One book in particular stood out from the lot: To Dream In The City Of Sorrows was the only book of the series completely endorsed by JMS( B5’s creator )as being 100% canon. In the book, there were several prototype fighters, creations of the author to serve the story. In reading the book, I thought they were very well thought-out.

Enter Amras, a B5 fan and 3-D modeler - he built the fighter from the book! Go ahead and click on the graphic, you can rotate and zoom the image all you like with a mouse or pinch / zoom:

    by amras
    on Sketchfab

All I can say is… wow. It’s as close what I saw in my head when I read the book as one can get, a vision brought to perfect 3D life by a fellow with a different set of talents than mine, but no less a fan of B5. Through the magic link of the internet, he was able to share his passion with other fans.

Dream on, fellow g33ks!

May 13 –Update, Moi?

On the 13th of every month, I update my website for my books.

Sometimes there's a lot to say, and sometimes there's only a little; it depends on how the month is gone. But I still update regardless, for those few dozen people who check in every so often.

It's kind of like this blog: I'm writing as much for myself as I am for my audience, which is you.

Writing’s a funny thing that way. Among the gigaquads of writing advice out there, you'll often hear the line “Write for yourself, first.” Which means don’t put your intended audience before the work; that way lies disaster. The famous author Ursula K. LeGuin said this on the subject:

Writers are egotists. All artists are. They can’t be altruists and get their work done. And writers love to whine about the Solitude of the Author’s Life, and lock themselves into cork-lined rooms or droop around in bars in order to whine better. But although most writing is done in solitude, I believe that it is done, like all the arts, for an audience. That is to say, with an audience. All the arts are performance arts, only some of them are sneakier about it than others.

I'm writing this blog for many reasons, chief among them to become better writing. Setting a deadline( Sunday nights, weekly ), having a word count( flexible, but around 2000 words per blog entry )and not boring myself or my audience( hence the varied topics, never repeating in 7+ years ) means that I can be proud of what I write here for you to read week to week.

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you next week.

May 14 – One Fine Falcon

Oh, if I was only a millionaire… I’d buy a fair bit of Lego, for starters.

Then I’d have to somehow find the time to practice to become really skilled at manipulating hundreds of different kinds of bricks into shapes resembling the real or the fantastic from my imagination.

One of the reasons I loved Lego from an early age( and still do! )is that you can create almost anything if you have enough bricks, patience and skill. Not to mention room in your basement.

If several Lego masters get together, the sky is the limit for what they can create. Like this:

It's minifig scale... incredible!

That is a 10,000-brick model of one of my favorite starships, the result of two months work by a group of dedicated Lego fans - you can see more incredible images of the build here. It's the sort of creation that I made on much smaller scales on my own when I was a kid, using all sorts of different colors of bricks mashed together to create spaceships with ‘real’ interiors that then became the playsets for my imagination to romp around with. Many a brave crew went to their doom immediately after I’d finished assembling their ship.

I love it because the model combines some of my favorite things: Star Wars, cutaways models, Lego bricks and creativity - not necessarily in that order. What more could you want? 

Oh, right: the time to create such works of art!

May 15 – Missing Jim

Tomorrow would have been Jim Henson’s birthday, his 78th. Jim passed away on May 16, 1990, a quarter-century ago – hard to believe it’s been that long.

At the time, I was saddened to hear the news, as so many of his creations were integral parts of my childhood: Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and so many more. I was in high school, just finishing class for the day when I heard and I thought “Oh no, that’s terrible. What will happen to his creations?”

Hey, this isn't Pigs In Space...!

I'm happy to have seen Jim Henson's legacy live on through the efforts of his children, though I am still a touch out of sorts about the sale of the Muppets to Disney a few years ago. Not so much now that Star Wars has joined the Disney stable and it looks like the mouse is treating them both very well. Having had the recent experience of my trip to New York in late 2014 to meet one of his children who are continuing his legacy, I feel a closer connection than ever to his works.

Jim Henson managed to balance creativity in its purest form with business savvy meeting to success, which I find incredibly inspiring. Being able to create art and then have that art turned into monies which can then support the creation of more art is a cycle very few people succeed in finding. I very much want to go down that path, in that any success I find will support my creative side to allow me to continue making new art throughout my life.

That's is just one of Jim Henson's legacies, and why I miss him.

May 16 – Weekend! 

Today was a busy day on several fronts!

First up was afternoon viewing of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I had high hopes for the film and it delivered in spades: while it wasn't perfect, I cannot of it smiling wide and that's enough. The writer in me was satisfied, the fan in me was thrilled and the moviegoer in me thinks I got more than my money’s worth. The villain Ultron was a fantastic incentive to me as a writer to create a character as layered and mesmerizing as well as on the screen today. While critics weren't as favorable to the film as audience members, I give it two thumbs up!

Right after the film, I dropped into a birthday party out in Langford for a former coworker. It was lovely to see everyone there, as it’s been several months since I last got together with this particular group of worthies. Given that I will be spending less time this year socializing, it was quite meaningful that I was able to attend tonight. I should mention that I was the only one there without kids, finding it both amusing and telling of where am in my life right now. None of the kids there will be playing with toys more complicated than soothers anytime soon, I might add.

Speaking of toys: holy monkeys, did I find something amazing today on the internet!

Have you ever heard of a Supernova Battle Rover? No? Neither had I, but for some reason it popped up on as being on sale at a massive discount. Being the curious fellow that I am, I took a look and felt my inner child jump up and down in pure glee. Take a gander:

The toy is quite simply everything I would've wanted as a kid at that age rolled into one. I was very much possessed of an active imagination and something like this would've had me playing in the backyard every day for quite some time. I'm actually quite jealous that this sort of thing didn't exist when I was a kid, at least not in the singular form. I always enjoyed the Fisher Price toys I had as a child, as they were quite durable and came in a variety of types well-suited to boisterous imagination( Playmobil comes to mind too, but they weren’t quite as sturdy ).

In any case, thanks to toys similar to this, I can safely say that my imagination was well-prepared for being a writer of science fiction. I mean, how could it not be?

May 17 – People Passing Patios

I actually managed to get outside to enjoy a good part of the day today.

Not in the direct sun, however: I’ve discovered that sitting on a patio in full sunlight tends to make me overheat rather quickly even if I'm sipping cool drinks and wearing a hat. I'm sure ambient air temperature has a lot to do with it as well as clothing choices, but here in Victoria one tends to layer one’s garments as you never know when a cool southern wind is going to blow through the city of an afternoon. I don't do well at drafts or cold winds any more, it seems.

My patio time was quite productive, powering through the critiques of my fellow writers so that I'll have feedback for them when we meet in a few day’s time. It was simply wonderful to be able to sit on a warm patio today, taking in the many passersby in Cook Street village while enjoying tea and music and the knowledge that I won't ever again have to work weekends if I don't choose to do so. The only sort of work I'll be doing is that of my own choice: writing.

I have to say that people watching is fast becoming a hobby of mine, in that it's incredibly useful for character building – in books, not of my own character, I mean. It's fascinating to see how people carry themselves about their day, interacting with others and presenting themselves to the world. Springtime especially sees everyone getting outside here in Victoria is much as possible, going places and doing things while the Sun is shining and the clouds have rolled away. Nowhere today did I see a frown on any face that passed by.

From what I saw, it was a good day for many.

It's been a great week, with some new developments I hope I can comment on a few blog posts from now. In the meantime, work's steadying out and so's my writing - see you all next week!