Sunday, 23 July 2017

Vacation, Valerian and Validation

The word of the week is ineffable.

July 17 – Group Goodbyes

I said farewell to my Land Mark group tonight.

What I had thought would be about a 10-minute gentle sayonara turned into a 45 minute feedback session on my leaving, which was a surprise, but not unwelcome.

Several group members voiced their reactions to my bowing out, and they had some interesting points to make, the most interesting being that they thought I hadn't considered how my absence would affect them. I had, to be honest, but I didn't think that my contributions were significant as they made it out to be, which was both refreshing and humbling.

One thing I was prepared for was disappointment, and it was evident that my leaving was not taken by several people in a better light, but so be it.

As I said at the end, I need to be doing something else: writing. Every fiber of my being, all the tension that I'm feeling, the lack of focus and the sense of invaluable time passing all pointed towards the bowing out, as I should've done at the end of June.

But that's hindsight, and now I'm just looking forward again.

July 18 – Speaking of...

Writing's about all I've been doing this week.

Getting into the flow is key, and that process for me is simply spending enough time every day to make the story stick in my head, so that when I'm doing other things I can come right back to the writing and the flow starts again immediately. I can really feel the book jelling again in my head, and I think that I should probably have taken a 'writing vacation' earlier in 2017 already.

Have you ever wondered what the heck is in everything in the world?

When I look at the Periodic Table from time to time for inspiration or for research for my stories, I wonder what some of the more exotic foreign usual elements are used for in our world. Then I found this amazing interactive table, which explains it all - so useful!

July 19 – Valerian?!?!

Such anticipation! Such excitement!

After winning passes last week, my girlfriend and I went to see Valerian( the latest movie from Luc Besson )tonight at a preview screening. I've never been to a movie preview before, and even though it was a packed house when we arrived, we managed to find two perfect seats right in the middle of the theater - yes!

Then the show began... and I got less excited.


Note the eyeballs on the left...

I went in with an open mind, thrilled that Luc Besson finally got to make his dream project of his, a miracle independent film costing hundreds of millions of dollars that only exist because so many people believed in his vision of Valerian.

Which he delivered, I have to say: visually, the film is sumptuous, with so many special effects that two major CGI companies( Lucasfilm and WETA Digital ) had to split the over 2700 CGI shots between them in order to complete all. The opening sequence was stunning and imaginative, and the rest of the film's CGI was top-notch, to the point where the line between what was real and wasn't was thoroughly blurred.

Unfortunately, that's for the romance ended for me.

The lead actors were enthusiastic but not properly cast, as they felt like the understudies who had suddenly been asked to fill the main roles and their performances were less than the film needed. Indeed, the romance between the two leads felt like two high school kids awkwardly standing at their first dance.

The story was overlong and clunky and could probably have benefited from a trip of about 20 to 30 minutes to tighten things up. It was unnecessarily complicated and the 'big reveal' of the big villain's identity was excessively telegraphed.

Was an enjoyable? Yes, to my eight-year-old self, but not my current self.

Was The Fifth Element a better film? Unquestionably, yes.

What I watch it again? Only on Blu-ray so I could enjoy the CGI effects in all their glory, and I download a 'fan cut' if it meant a shorter, tighter film.

Darn... if the film does well overall, we may get a sequel that will be far better, but tonight I went home simply thankful that the film had finally been made, and by someone who loved it instead of a hack who bought the rights only to butcher things - I'm looking at you, Michael Bay!

July 20 – Tent Rentals?

Rent in the city is still too damn expensive.

Even though the latest reports shows that Victoria's rents dropped by 5.1% in June 2017, the reality is that most rental units Victoria experience some form of bidding, especially if they're in good areas or have other desirable features.

It sucks, but that's what you get when economic growth booms in a limited geographic area: supply and demand. I'm actually surprised to see that the rents in my old stomping grounds in Niagara are so high, so all things considered, it wouldn't be much different from the living there then it would be here.

At least it's not like Fort McMurray, where back in 2014 during the oil boom, one-bedroom apartments were going for over $1700 - ouch!

So there's that.

I'm still working on my tiny house plans, having taken the first steps last week to speak to City Hall about the bylaws in place for housing and how tiny homes fit into( or don't )current standards. It's going to be a while before I can afford a home of any kind, but it's best to start early because red tape is really sticky stuff...

July 21 – Home Stretch!

As of this evening, all my novel notes have been entered!

This is an incredibly important milestone, for as you can see from the photo below there were hundreds of notes that I've been entering the last few months:

Blurred for spoiler reasons!

Now that the notes are DONE, I'll be taking the last step: a final revision.

This is a line by line at, one that is absolutely necessary from my point of view. It will let me continue refining the story / plot details, find small errors, make each of the characters distinct with their own voice, add little details for verisimilitude, and generally tighten up the novel sentence by sentence.

I estimate that I'll be able to properly revise 3 to 4 chapters a night, which means I should be done this at it by the end of July, though I'm not going to push myself too hard due to my core's inability to take sitting for too long in any one position.

It's exhilarating to have reach this point, which I had hoped to be at six months ago, to be honest, but for those of you regularly reading my blog you'll know why I've not been able to set a proper pace for faster completion.

It's been great to have this entire week to devote to working on the novel. As I said above, if I could just spend an entire month only writing and doing nothing else each day, I'm certain I could turn out a full novel in that time.

In the meantime, it's taken five years to get to this point, and I'm going to relish the feeling of being on home stretch!

July 22 – Editing Excitement!

After a full day, I've completed editing SIX chapters!

I feel incredibly good about the progress that I made, though I realize I won't be able to make as much progress during the week due to fewer hours in the evening, but today's completed amount of editing important because it shows just how well things can go in the Flow.

Being able to visualize the case at which proper editing proceeds for my book is critical, so I don't overestimate my abilities and know what I have to accomplish each evening until it's done. I'm doing my best to refine what I see and not add unnecessarily, so that the book doesn't but rather becomes leaner, with each scene balanced within its own meaning and the overall story of the book.

Once I'm done my editing in about 10 days, I'll print out a few copies of the draft and a half-dozen people look them over for any final adjustments. Considering the quality of some of the stories I've been reading lately, some would consider even a fourth draft or final revisions overkill, but in the current market, I need my book to stand head and shoulders above all others... hence the extra work.

From there, it's time to send it out to agents!

I should also note that thanks to a rearrangement of my bedding this week, I've been able to sleep more easily and without any major stomach pain. It's all thanks to a wedgie, as you can see from this picture:

Looks comfy, no?

Sleeping at a 30° angle does take some getting used to, though it's not without precedent: the Minbari from Babylon 5 slept at a 45° angle, which in the show they said was beneficial to their spiritual as well as physical health.

Who am I to argue with that?

July 23 – Last Vacay Day

I took a break this morning with my girlfriend to enjoy the beautiful weather.

After a sumptuous breakfast at The Beacon( gawd, those pancakes!!! )we went down to the Harrison Boat Pond just as the clouds vanished and the sun started blazing. There was a good crowd of about a dozen RC boaters, and among them was the group president, who had brought my PT boat back with him after working on it this week.

Left: AMAZING paint job!   Right: My blah boat...

Unfortunately, there wasn't much he could do: one motor is completely burned out and the other is on its way out to - drat! I'll have to replace both, which fortunately will only cost about $30 and take up a little bit of time two remove the old and then mount the new ones at the correct angles. It'll be great to see the boat run at full power, as it's designed to do, and once the mechanicals are up to speed, all think about adding details like paint, decals and painted crew members to bring the ship to life in all its proper WW2 glory again.

That's the nice thing about hobbies: you can spend as much or as little time or money on them as you see fit, depending on the results you want. For me, since I don't have a shop or studio of any kind where I can do model paintwork, it limits my options. I want to end up with a good-looking boat that I haven't lavished exorbitant amounts of time or money on, as in the end it's more of a toy than a realistic representation of a PT-109 boat. It just has to look good on the water, in my eyes, and it's already halfway there my opinion: it just seeing to the details.

Of course, I'd like it to be able to move on the water too... which it will, in time.

The last half of my final day of vacation, I split between writing my blog and editing. 

It was great. :-) 

It’s been a solid vacation, truly enjoyable with the exception of being in more pain some days than I’d like… but at this point it’s academic, as I’m learning what’s causing my core muscles to ache and what I can do to help them not stress out. Staycations like this seem to feel better somehow in the summer, as I can just concentrate and not worry too much day to day, since I can just step outside for a walk in a shirt anytime I need – yay!