Sunday, 1 May 2016

Smarts, Sailing and Scripts

The word of the week is revision.

Apr 25 – Free And Clear

For the next three months, I will be extremely busy after work.

As I have mentioned previously, I have freed up my schedule and most of my responsibilities, so that I may concentrate on the fourth draft of my first novel. I write best when it's consistently every day, so that my headspace is continually immersed in the fictional world I have created. While it doesn't do much for my social life, it certainly gets the words on the page ... and that's really what it's all about, isn't it?

Ideally, I will be able to finish the next draft by the end of this summer, if I dedicate my time to it fully, at least in terms of daily writing sessions. I don't have a lot of feedback to incorporate this time around, like I did creating the third draft, so this is going to be the edit where the small details matter the most.

I'll also be condensing the book considerably, especially the first third, which I wrote without knowing the world nearly as well as I do now. The third draft of the book currently stands at 138,000 words and my target is to get it down to around 110,000, which is a size much more appealing to publishers. I will not, however, compromise any major parts of the novel, as much of what is currently present is necessary to both the story of this book and the two that are following.

It's going to be challenging to me as a writer to not only improve the story but do so by reducing it significantly in volume. There's going to be quite a few words littering the floor when I'm done, but that's all part of the process, I understand now. Once it's finished, I will be sending it out to publishers and hopefully hear back from them sometime next year, for good or bad; even a rejection letter is useful if it has some notes attached on how the book might be improved.

I can't wait to be the first person to read the fourth draft when it's done!

Apr 26 – Desired Trackball?

Sometimes, you don't know the value of something you use everyday.

Take, for example, the Logitech trackball that I have used daily for almost 10 years now. It's somewhat worn but still in perfect working order; that's why I buy Logitech, after all. But you'd never think by looking at it that it was anything special.

Unless you checked eBay, and then your eyes would pop: they're going for up to $600 each, a far cry from the $50 I paid back when it was new, and even that was on sale.

Why are they so valuable, you might ask?

Doesn't look like much, does it?

As it turns out, this particular trackball model was one of the best ever made, in that it is extremely versatile, being able to be used by people using either hand and possessed of a multitude of programmable buttons. In addition, it has extremely precise, accurate tracking, so much so that artists prize this model for being able to work on their digital art almost as well as using a far more expensive graphics tablet. I personally love it because I can put it on any surface anywhere in the room( it's wireless, after all )and not have to worry about needing the space to move the mouse around.

I must admit, I was a little stunned to discover this value, as I had been thinking about replacing the trackball with a newer model. Strangely, Logitech never came out with an actual successor to this model, at least not in terms of something that closely resembles it.

Meaning that if you want one, you have to pay through the nose, so it's highly unlikely that I'm going to replace this one any time soon. Meaning I should probably stop bumping it around and totally forget the occasional drop on the floor.

Or I can just go back to using a mouse… not likely, that.

Apr 27 – Getting on

I'm still a bit anxious now and then, but not nearly as much as I was.

If I had to quantify it, I'd say I'm anxious about 10% of the time now, compared to 60-70% previously, and less than half as anxious at its worst now, compared to how I was feeling two months ago.

That's a HUGE difference.

Helping me measure has been my phone's Heartbeat app, which lets me measure how I'm actually feeling at any given time: am I anxious, or just thinking I am? It's been fantastic to be able to tell the difference, quantitatively: it's helped me set my mental state based on how I'm feeling rather than the other way around.

All this from a little phone app.

I'm on the right now, not the left, and improving daily...

It is worth noting that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is different from panic attacks, which I also have had several of in the last six months. The racing heart, excessing sweating, dizziness and other related symptoms were things that I don't ever wish to experience again. I believe that I most likely won't again, given how I've been facing and overcoming the issues that were at the root cause of them in the first place.

A positive future is something that I'm working diligently towards, personally and professionally. As many of you know, it's been a long and winding road with many unforeseen obstacles along the way, but I'm still making my way forward.

The future is still waiting for me.

Apr 28 – ECC Bonus!

Well, it's official: nobody noticed me... in Seattle, that is.

Specifically, at the Emerald City Comicon three weeks ago: I was in costume for around three hours on the Friday and while I did notice a few people who took my picture, none of them seemed of ended up on the Internet.


Admittedly, it's kind of disappointing, since I worked so hard on the costume, but it's not surprising as I had no idea where all the cosplayers were getting their pictures taken at the crowded convention, since there were no signs indicating such. As it turns out, they were all out the back in some kind of garden courtyard, as many of the pictures from the convention seemed to have been taken there.

However, in my perusal of pictures relating to the convention were last few weeks, I came across an unexpected bonus: two cosplayers who had ALSO chosen to go as Colonial Marines from Aliens - huzzah!

The big board on the right shows how MUCH was going on at ECC2016!

 While I have no idea who these two guys are( no info on the blog where I found the pics )I salute their costuming skills: they look fantastic! The smartgunner especially is an extremely difficult costume to create so that the gun moves properly AND looks good too.

Hopefully. My costume will be finished by the next convention I go to and that all also know where to go to catch a few pictures taken to show off my work.

Apr 29 – Life Scripts

David Gerrold is fast becoming one of my favourite people on the planet.

For those of you who don't know him, David is well known for writing in the Star Trek universe and for being a prolific writer in general. I started following him on Facebook about a year ago and haven't regretted a second of the time spent perusing his posts. Of which there are many; he easily writes an essay a day and I have been floored by not only the volume but the high quality of his thoughts translated to print: he has a lots of smart things to say and doesn't suffer fools.

One of his more recent posts has to do with life scripts, which I found both fascinating and worrying, as it's illuminates some aspects of the human character that I had not considered in depth until I read his posting.

The way David posits life scripts, is that people follow them much like a battle plan, interpreting life events around the bases of something they've already decided in terms of action on their part in response to events that may occur for them in daily situations. While this sounds complicated, it's not really: think of it as a mental framework that someone uses in order to determine how to react to any situation.

Amusingly, David uses the example of energy creatures from Star Trek when it comes to understanding how life scripts work. He states that very simply: if you don't feed and energy creature, it dwindles and eventually goes away, taking all of its drama with it. Meaning that if you don't allow yourself to be drawn into a person's negative life script, they don't know what to do with you and so you continue without feeding their script. They might even learn from the experience.

Did I also mention that David is no fan of Donald Trump either?

His post is certainly worth a read, as it may give you a new insights into how people behave and why they do what they do. It's certainly not a world-shaking revelation, but it's I still found it valuable to try to add to my toolbox if I'm having a hard time dealing with someone one day.

Hopefully you will find it useful too.

Apr 30 – Types Of Intelligence

Continuing the theme of self-understanding, do you know there are nine types of intelligence?

Having been a role-playing gamer for much of my life, I amuse myself sometimes even now by occasionally thinking of people as a collection of statistics: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. While this is useful in some situations, for the most part you can't easily analyze a human being in reality by breaking them down statistically into a mere six categories.

However, someone has looked more closely at just intelligence, and come up with an interesting take:

According to this article, there are nine types of intelligence that a person possesses, of various levels and ability. I find this interesting, as it helps to break down why some people are so good at its the physical while being terrible at things like social interaction or self-knowledge. These sorts of tools are useful to me, as I can use them to facilitate creating believable characters for my own work, as well as dealing with people in real life. A double-win there, if you will.

Going over the list of the nine types of intelligence, I can admit that I am not exactly a genius in some areas, such as the musical or bodily-kinesthetic areas. I'm actually okay with that, as I know that I'm not exactly a sports oriented guy nor do I have a particular aptitude for musical creativity, though I do enjoy both classical and modern music to help me be more creative as well as relax.

I wonder if there are nine types of charisma…?

May 1 – Ponding

Michele and I went down to the sailing pond today to enjoy the gorgeous weekend weather.

We arrived well before 10 AM and there was already a small crowd of model boating enthusiasts driving their votes around the waters of the pond. While there was a moderate winds all morning, it was not enough to chill us down nor make sailing too onerous a task.

We took quite a few pictures of all the amazing boats that were there, large and small, including a submarine with working missile launch tubes!!! Here's a little sample:

Click for a BIG version - lots of detail!

We both really enjoy this hobby, as it doesn't require much in the way of ongoing costs and the initial outlay, while not cheap, is certainly paying dividends; our boat always receives compliments from both modelers and bystanders, which pleases both of us and we think it's just a gorgeous toy that we love to sail.

We also stayed long enough to take place in a small tribute to the Battle of the Atlantic, which officially ended 71 years ago today, if you can believe it's been that long. Thousands of Allied sailors lost their lives defending the vital convoys that's journeyed from North America to Europe to keep the war effort alive. Over 600 U-boats were sunk and the Allied Merchant Marine service had the highest casualty rates of World War II: one in seven sailors on the Atlantic during World War II were lost or wounded in action.

The tributes saw us sail a convoy of a dozen vessels around the perimeter of the yacht pond and observed a minute of silence for the brave souls who helped ensure our victory in the Second World War: a surprising but serious and heartfelt Sunday salute.

The rest of the day I spent being somewhat relaxed and catching up on sleep at one point , as yet again the cat had got both my sister and I up several times during the night. It's not something you can get used to and as groggy as I felt this morning, my sister has been faring far worse for far longer. We're working on solutions but at this point I'm not sure anything we do is going to be effective, considering how hard we tried to find solutions to let us both sleep at night.

In the evening, my sister and I continued watching the wonderful Swedish hit-film The100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared. It's a really long title for a rather simple film, but one that can be enjoyed for exactly that reason: it's not complicated and the dark sense of humor that pervades it is lighthearted enough that it never crosses the line into the macabre.

That's about all I've got this week: the next two months are going to be busy and interesting and quite a lot of fun, I think.