A little bit of all-over-the-place

It has been a productive day, but I’m now at the point where my motivation is somewhere between “Eh, I guess I could do that” and “**** it, it’s my day off and it’s time to be lazy”.  Mostly because I’m a weird, semi-grumpy mood. Five Nights At Freddy’s taunts me from Steam, but I can’t bring myself to play it at the moment. (Sorry, Bonnie. You can kill me another day, you sneaky bastard.)

Mowing the lawn is admittedly not the best for keeping me ready to seize what’s left of the day, unless what I’m really seizing happens to be blankets and I’m curling up in my bed for a nap. It’s way too early to be thinking about sleep, and yet here we are. Today’s post will be a hodge-podge of whatever I want, as it’s the last real post I’m making. Tomorrow’s, as I’ve said, will be me snarking it up a little bit, and then Friday is May 1st. The first day of me being free from blogging on a daily basis. We’ll see how that works out. Anyway, on to the various things I want to post about. Continue reading

Bracing for the hiatus

Today’s a sleepy, do-nothing sort of day, which would work out far better for me if I didn’t have work in about an hour. (Well, in an hour from the starting time of this post, anyway.) I also can’t help but feel a bit obligated to actually try writing posts with actual depth to them, as I have four days (three after today) of blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, and so on, before I start my self-imposed month-long hiatus from most social media and blogging, operating under the assumption I’ve probably reached the goal of One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0. Given that I started this back in January, I’ve probably exceeded that goal, and this might be a small admission that it’s actually quite difficult to keep track of if I’ve blogged for one hundred consecutive days. I imagine I could have crossed off days on a calendar, but hindsight and whatnot.  Continue reading

What writers say with how characters speak

There’s a lot to be said about dialogue attributions in writing. Sure, there are a billion ways to show a character is talking without going anywhere near the word said. If a character is angry, they might shout or yell something. Sad? They may cry or blubber. Happy? They might declare cheer. And so on and so on. There are grunts and grumbles and mumbles and whispers, too. So many ways to get the same ideas across that it’s absolutely maddening to think about. Why, then, do writers choose to instead stick to a steady stream of characters saying things? He said, she said, they said, and everyone else in between said.

I don’t have a right answer, but I have the answer I agree with more strongly. I’m actually fairly certain I’ve written on this topic before, now that I think about it. For the sake of keeping it fresh in people’s minds and because I haven’t got any better ideas. When everyone is going about saying things different ways, each attribution becomes a giant red flag of who is doing the talking. Every time someone opens their big, fictional mouth to shout or whisper or grumble, it turns into another distraction. Uniform use of said, with the occasional use of asked, allows attribution to blend in with the dialogue. The words being spoken are given center stage while the attributions work the flies and levers used by stage crew.

Let me emphasize this point: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using varied dialogue attributions. I think it’s better, for the sake of easier reading, to focus on using something that will allow the focus to fall on the dialogue itself, the actions, and the scenes. These repetitive attributions serve a greater purpose in the overall narrative. More importantly, though they serve this greater purpose they also don’t happen to be important enough to worry that they’re repetitive. That’s why, barring boring dialogue and bland characters, the he said she said business just blends in with the background noise.

The reality of it is that writers can choose to go either route without major detriment so long as there’s compelling writing backing it up. I just happen to prefer said to the collection of other possible choices.

To write now, or to hold off in hopes of a better idea later

I’m trying very hard to actually utilize WordPress’ new-ish post creator, but it’s off to a rocky start as I’m already not fond of it. Something about typing into a tiny rectangle while everything else sits off to the left of the screen is frustrating for reasons I can’t properly verbalize, a problem which only further feeds my lack of joy in using this interface instead of clumsily wandering over to my Dashboard, then hovering over the Posts option to get to New Post. Or whatever it actually says.

Tonight’s post will be a split affair, starting now (with now being defined as approximately 7p.m. Eastern Standard Time) and finishing it after 11p.m. because I have to go back to work shortly. It’s also a short experiment to see if any ideas occur to me in the time between now and when I return home. The reality of writing blog posts, such as this one, on a daily basis without really giving them much prior planning (having a theme for each day panned out only so well) is that the ideas will eventually run out. Either that or you’re some sort of creative deity of sorts and you should be sharing your gift with other creative-types, as we need all the help we can get. Seriously. The point I’m getting at here is this: with time-sensitive posting, such as daily blog entries, it can be tempting to put off writing a post until later. Sure, I may have other obligations such as work, but if the idea for a solid post isn’t there and I just don’t feel like rambling pointlessly, well, the temptation to put the post off becomes far greater. However, there’s also never the guarantee that an idea, or a better idea, will materialize during the procrastination time, and so there’s always the chance I’ll just end up too tired and frustrated by the time midnight rolls around and just post another cat picture or something.

This raises the question: is it worth it to put off writing a blog post because you don’t have what you consider a strong enough topic? Or is it better to force a post to happen as soon as possible so as to not fall prey to later-laziness? We’ll see what my brain has to say once I get back later this evening. I’ve got to get to work in enough time to grab something to snack on.

It’s almost midnight and I want to sleep forever. Keeping in mind that I just worked almost twelve hours today, I’d say I made some more progress? Mind you, I have some fictional business floating around in my brain now, but I won’t disclose that here because it’s top-secret.

Goodnight, folks. Happy writing.

Stormy weather, reflection, and personal growth

The weather for today called for thunderstorms, and the forecast was certainly spot-on in that regard. Proper thunderbolts-and-lightning, very very frightening, and so on. Oh, and grape-sized hail that scared the crap out of my cats.

I love a good thunderstorm. One of the things I miss most about living in Carnegie is being able to lie in the back room–my grandma’s old room–and listen to the rain hitting the skylights. Thought it wasn’t quite the same, I did take some time to sit out on the back deck to watch the beginnings of the storm. I snapped a few pictures, enjoying the crazy clouds and the increasing winds, wrote in my journal a bit, and then set both my phone and journal aside to appreciate the weather.

Fun fact: I used to be terrified of thunderstorms. Specifically, I was terrified of the thunder itself. By association, I would freak out when I saw bright flashes of lightning; I knew what they meant, and I didn’t like what would follow. The typical response? Find the nearest pillow and hide, as pillows were obviously the greatest protection from the elements. It’s a common enough fear, and so I don’t feel too bad admitting to it. If the thunder’s loud enough and the lightning’s crazy enough, really, it becomes a surprisingly rational fear, I’d say. It was during those times that I spent cowering under couch decorations that my grandmother would try to comfort me by explaining the thunder away as angels bowling. The louder thunder rumbles were, the more likely it was the angels got a strike. I learned enough about bowling during my formative years while still not finding thunder to be a great source of terror, but the idea that it wasn’t so bad stuck around. My grandmother actually spent a good deal of time watching storms, too, and it’s something I seem to have picked up at some point. I even, against what was probably better judgment, went with my stepfather to try retrieving my grandmother and great aunt after a tornado cruised through Mount Washington and wrought all sorts of havoc.

This is something I dwell on from time to time, as it’s something I’ve grown out of. Here’s the part where I get ridiculous, because I’m drawing parallels all ham-handed and shit. My writing is like the way I’ve gotten used to, and have grown to love, thunderstorms. When I started writing, it was all short stories with MS Paint and Microsoft Works. Lots of crappy writing, thoughtless snark, and…Well, it was my first attempts at writing. Over time, with practice and patience, I slowly got better. I found an audience that enjoyed my writing and I ran with it. I’m still, I’ve discovered, finding new audiences and continuing along the process of finding what works and what doesn’t, and I’ll probably have to keep doing that until the day I die (or, less likely, my fingers all fall off and I’m no longer able to write).

The comparison may have fallen apart there. Over time, these two things–thunderstorms and writing–became things that I didn’t fear (for different reasons, obviously), but things I enjoyed a great deal. They both old a special place in my heart, even when they are a source of frustration.

A bit more on why fantasy isn’t dead

Oh, no, you might think. He’s not trotting out this tired, old horse again, is he? Yes. Yes, I am. And I’ll keep doing so until voices from behind upturned noses stop declaring fantasy and science fiction as genres that have quietly wandered off into obsolescence. Also: for some reason, I found my brain stuck on this topic again first thing after waking up and so I figured that was a good sign I might as well run with it. Especially since my brain has been, from a creativity standpoint, been reduced to being able to produce little more than Post-It Note short stories during down-time at work.

Someone filled all of the Post-It dispensers with Pepto-Bismol Pink notes while I was away on vacation.

Someone filled all of the Post-It dispensers with Pepto-Bismol Pink notes while I was away on vacation.

Fantasy and Science Fiction are just like any other genre in that they are only limited by the boundaries of imagination, and also in the sense that at least one stuffy academic will point out all of the perceived inherent flaws they hold within.

Before I go too much further, I will admit that there are stories that have been played out a good deal. That’s true of all genres. However, I counter this point by saying that no two writers have identical voices, even if one is trying to imitate another. There will always be some small differences, and as such it could be argued that no two stories written by two different people are ever really the exact same thing. Yes, fantasy has some limitations. If it’s historical fantasy, it’s easy to say that Medieval towns weren’t and were equipped with certain things. Science Fiction has to have some basis in science or it won’t really work. Or we could, perhaps, reflect on these works being of ones of fiction, and their end-goal is to provide some level of fanciful adventure to worlds like and unlike our own. If someone decides, for instance, that the Cloud Dwellers of Stratospheria are why wind turbines are banned in the future as sources of alternative energy as they are perceived as violent acts of war, that’s entirely up to the writer. There’s plenty of room in the world for all variations of science fiction and fantasy, and there will most certainly always be a market for it as there will always be room for escapism.  Continue reading

Writing letters (again)

My day off wasn’t much of a day off in that I spent two hours of it at work. There was also the small matter of the landlord having the smoke detectors and CO2 detector, which is certainly a good thing. Other than those things, however, I did manage to find time to relax a bit. Took a nice nap to ease a not-so-nice headache.

Oh, and I bought a fountain pen this past Sunday as a part of my last hoorah from vacation. It was a less pricey whim decision, only setting me back $20 for a nice fountain pen and six ink cartridges for it. I have already burned through one whole cartridge while using it for writing in my journals. I feared that might have been a waste of the ink, but have since decided that’s not the case.

About the middle of the week, around the point where I was ready to pull my hair out from stress and frustration, I found myself thinking about what to use the fountain pen for again. The obvious answer, which I felt must have been staring at me intently as it waited for this conclusion to be reached, was to write letters with it. This, of course, was a problem because this pen is really good at writing in a way that bleeds through most paper. Instead of sitting down and plotting my next move, I filed the idea away for later.

Today rolled around, and I got a surprise card in the mail from my sister. A birthday-card-turned-whatever-card, it featured a horse-turned-unicorn by way of plunger and had lots of nice things to say about how proud Chrisy is of me. That sparked the need to get off my ass and find something to write on. Walmart, as it turns out, has some nice, affordable stationary. I’ve found even more fun things to do during next month while I’m swearing off social media.

And so it goes: surviving stress…sort of

I figured this post could use as much punctuation in its title as possible, and also I forgot about having to write a post still because I worked the closing shift at work and had all sorts of other things on my mind. None of those things are worth mentioning.

It is, however, worth mentioning that this week has kicked my ass in a way that makes me hesitate to sit down, albeit not in a literal sense. There have been plenty of problems and surprise-issues and so on and so on. I am, surprisingly, the least stressed about these things that went wrong that I have been in a long time. It’s uncharacteristic of me, but also extremely liberating. In a moment of I-wish-I-were-joking so profoundly stupid it might make at least one person’s head explode, the biggest concern on my mind is “I’d really like to get some more time to play Five Nights At Freddy’s”. This is because I’m still stuck on Night 4, and so help me God I’m going to beat that ****ing game. You’re on notice, Bonnie. No more sneaking into my goddamn office and murdering me. Subsequent thoughts are focused on wondering why places like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell don’t deliver this late at night, as I am both hungry and lazy.

These thoughts are worthy of note because I’m normally, especially during stressful weeks, prone to dwelling on shit like it’s not only my job, but my job, my favorite hobbies, and a surprisingly effective form of nourishment. I am so far removed from feeling stressed that being stressed and I presently exist in two separate dimensions.

I’m also tired, I still feel sick, and I have some more cleaning to do before tomorrow morning, so that’s enough of this post.