Room For Misinterpretation

I’m a little bit nervous.

For a few years I’ve been part of the article team on Mythic Scribes. It’s been good fun and I’ve learned a whole lot writing for the site. At first I was a bit nervous about people not liking what I wrote, or that they’d think it was stupid, or that I’d turn out to be wrong about something. That’s probably natural, and with time I got over it.

This time it’s different.

Previously, I’ve been writing articles about how I believe things work, and about how I do things when it comes to writing. It’s been quite factual, even if at a basic level. What I’m doing this time is much more personal. I’m writing about myself, and my goals and ambitions as a writer.

EDIT: The article in question is now live here.

When the topic comes up on the forums it always causes a bit of discussion – sometimes heated. The reasons people write are probably as many as there are writers, just as the way they do it. That doesn’t prevent people from having opinions about what ought to motivate others, and what oughtn’t.

It’s the art thing.

Why do you make art? What’s your reason? Who do you make art for? What do you want to say?

My concern with this article, and what I’m nervous about is that it’ll set off a discussion along those lines. Someone’s going to get the notion that my priority is to sell books, or that I think I’m not good enough, or that I should just follow my heart and write any way I damn well please.

So, to set things straight…

  1. My priority isn’t to sell books. My priority is to learn to write stories that people will enjoy reading. This goes hand in hand with a desire to sell books, but it’s not the same thing.
  2. I don’t think that I’m not good enough. I think that I’m not as good as I could be if I knew what I was doing.
  3. I am following my heart. This is what I want to do, and that is why I’m doing it.

That’s it really. I don’t feel like I’m flailing about blindly grasping at straws. I feel like I’ve set out to do something that I want to do, and like I understand the consequences and implications. I have a goal, I want to reach it, and I will.

And, well, that’s really all there is to it.

…it’ll probably take a lot longer than I want to though, but that’s another story.

 

 

Room For Misinterpretation

Unexpected Exploration

Please note: At the moment I’m mainly posting just to get back into the habit of updating my blog again – not because I have anything particularly important to share.

I don’t get lost.

I very firmly believe that I don’t get lost.

I may end up in locations that I did not plan or expect to end up in, and it sometimes comes as a surprise to me when it happens.

I may end up on places from where I don’t know how to get where I want to be.

It sometimes happens that I think I’m going in one direction when in reality I’m going in another.

It happens, but I don’t get lost, because I don’t feel lost.

I may feel stupid and embarrassed when it happens, and I may stubbornly refuse to believe it until reality finally catches up with me, but even then I don’t feel lost.

Obviously it helps to have a phone with gps and a map, but even without it I wouldn’t feel lost. I may for all intents and purposes be what is technically considered lost. Let’s define lost as follows:

Lost: A person is lost when they’re in a location they’re not familiar with, and when they don’t know how to find their way to a location they are familiar with.

At first I’d say that this happens to me all the time, but then I remember that there’s always backtracking. Much as I hate turning around and going back the way I came, that’s almost always an option.

For the most part, I don’t choose that option.

Like, tonight.

First though, some music:

Tonight, I went out running after dark for the first time in months. I dimly remember having gone on a night time run a few months back, but I can’t say for sure if that was before or after Christmas. It’s been a while. I’ve been looking forward to it.

In my previous post I mentioned how I’d gotten back into running again (jogging, technically – I’m not very fast), and how I’m really enjoying it.

With the shift I’m on it’s not feasible to go running in the late evening though. I have to get up early to go to work, and I try not to skew my sleeping pattern to much over the weekend. Most of my running happens in the afternoon or early evening, when it’s still light outside.

It’s nice, but it’s not quite the same as running at night.

I like to be out in the dark, all alone in the street or on countryside roads. There’s just me and the music. I love running with music. The set I linked above was put together specifically for night-time running.

The music is slow and steady. It’s dark and repetitive, with eerie noises, and with melodies that flow in and out of the soundscape. It starts out sparse and minimal and builds up over time. The music never goes too crazy, but the last thirty minutes are still a lot more energetic than the beginning.

I believe in running as a form of meditation.

It’s a way to set your mind free to wander why your body does something else. You don’t need to think too much when running and your thoughts can find their own paths to wherever they want to go.

Sure, it’s not like “real” meditation, but there are similarities, I think.

The music helps.

So, anyway, tonight I went out running. I had the opportunity and I took it. It was just as good as I remembered.

As I set out, I decided to take an old route I’ve taken before. It’s about ten kilometers, and it’s mostly flat. Easy.

Before I made this decisions, I’d been browsing the map and looking at potential options, bu eventually decided against any of them.

I should have stuck to that.

As I got to an intersection in the road I turned left instead of right. One of the routes I’d been looking at went down that way. I felt fine, and the running was easy, and I figured I could easily handle fifteen kilometers instead of ten. No big deal.

Unfortunately, as I should have learned since many a similar incident in the past, my map memory isn’t perfect. A little bit later on I took a left when I should have kept on Straight.

I realized about a kilometer later when the road didn’t cross over a highway as expected (it went under), and I stopped to check the map on the phone.

Yep.

Wrong turn taken.

I can’t turn back though. It’s not right. Demoralizing. Weak. Yes, I know it’s stupid, but I’m running for fun and it’s no fun to turn back. It’s like admitting defeat, and I’m too stubborn to do that, so I went on.

I had a vague idea I’d be on my way up towards the airport, which might be a nice good run. Turns out I was sort of wrong about that too. I got to a place from which I knew I could find my way to the airport, but not by a pleasant route. The roads too narrow and with too many hidden bends. It’s not safe for anyone on foot.

So I went a different way. I found a path along the highway which matched one I’d followed another time further along.

There were no lights.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with running in the dark. Even at night there’s enough ambient light from the city that you can see where you’re going. Usually.

Tall trees blocked out most of the light from the surrounding streets, and a high wall separated the path from the highway. I could only just barely tell my feet from the ground where I ran.

Yes, I slowed down quite a bit.

I’d never gone that way before. It was exciting, and a little bit scary – in the right way. After a while, and without incident, I emerged from the trees. There were more lights here, and there was even a lit tunnel under the highway.

The path I ran shared the tunnel with a wide stream.

As I entered, something in the stream splashed. Big enough that I heard it over the music, but fast and small enough that I never saw what it was. It was not a crocodile. There are no crocodiles in Ireland. Don’t be silly. Probably just an other, or a big rat. Definitely not a crocodile.

I think that was the most scary thing that’s happened to me in a while. Unexpected and unseen – a weird noise from outside the shelter of the music.

I’d been toying with the idea of joining up with another trail I knew that I’d be crossing later on, but I decided not to and went straight home instead.

I didn’t make the ten kilometers I’d planned originally, or the fifteen I’d changed my mind to. It doesn’t matter. Nine kilometers isn’t a bad distance, and it feels kind of good to tell myself I could have done twice that distance, and actually believe it.

I could. I’m in a good spot at the moment. Fit enough, and not injured. I could, but taking a wrong turn, and ending up in the wrong place kind of ruined the mood a little bit.

Getting to go out and run at night was great though, and getting to test out my night-time running soundtrack was fun as well. It worked really well, even if I didn’t even get halfway through it.

I’ll try again another time.

Unexpected Exploration

I’m back: 14 irrelevant things that happened since last

It’s been a while since last. A month, probably more. Not quite too, I don’t think.

I’ve been thinking for a long time I should write a post and share something of what I’m doing. There are plenty of things going on, and there’s no lack of things to write about. I just haven’t gotten around to it. No excuses. It just hasn’t happened.

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No blogging, only coffee.

So, to try and get back into the swing of things, here’s a short list of things I’ve done since last I wrote anything – which was back when me and J returned from our walk along the Thames.

List:

  1. I’ve had a lot of coffee. Not so much beer, but don’t worry, I’m fine.
  2. My dad visited and taught me how to temper chocolate.

    2017-05-16 00.43.49
    The ganache is the best part.
  3. I stupidly hurt my arm during a workout, but I’m slowly recovering.
  4. I decided that the massive novel I was planning to write would be better off as a series of short stories or novellas.
  5. I’ve started on a new mix-set in the Magical Mixtape series.
  6. I’ve released three other mix-sets, two of them for running.
  7. I’ve gotten back into running again and I’m really happy about it.
  8. I found a real nice little cafe up near where my friend M lives. The coffee’s not particularly exciting, but the view is amazing.

    2017-05-16 13.50.34
    Told you the view is nice.
  9. I went to Dublin to collect my dad’s iPad that he forgot there at his last visit a year ago.
  10. I’m trying to get into the habit of doing a little more cooking of my own. It’s sort of working out in a vaguely positive fashion.
  11. I changed shift at work and I’m with a new time working different days and slightly different hours.
  12. I bought an aeropress and can now make my own fancy coffee.
  13. I figured out the GoPro camera is still working and I’m shooting time lapse movies of clouds again.

 

I’m back: 14 irrelevant things that happened since last

Writing Lots of Words

I’m doing the NaNoWriMo, which is why there are even less updates than usual here on the blog. It’s not going as well as I’d hoped, but at least I’m writing, and that’s something at least. There’s five days left of the month and I’m at about 29k words total – out of 50k.

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It’s been cold in Cork.

There’s no way I’ll be able to pull off 4k words a day for the next five days, but that’s not going to stop me from finishing the story.

So far, the story is quite a mess, but I think that once I finish the first draft, I can go back and clear that up. I think that for the second draft I may have to rewrite the whole thing from scratch, but even then I believe it’s a story worth keeping. It’s just the stupid romantic subplot that showed up between two side characters that keeps ruining everything.

It’s good to be back to writing actively as well. Most days I’ve spent well over an hour with my story, including work days, and only on a few occasions less. I’m still really slow compared to other writers I know, but I imagine that I’m improving. I’m missing out on a whole lot of gaming though, but maybe that’s not something to complain too much about.

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Hot chocolate with ice cream.

There’s something about writing that’s very satisfying, once the words start flowing. In some way it’s similar to reading, in that the story plays out in my mind, except I can steer it in whatever direction I want. In most other forms of entertainment that’s just not the case.

Not even games.

Computer games come close, and role playing games come even closer, but even then it’s not quite the same. With computer games, there are limitations inherent in the game. There are technicalities that limit what you can do. In role playing games the limitations are more of the social kind, and you’re limited by the other players (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

When writing, you’re really only constricted by the limits you’ve created yourself – for better or for worse.

Read Me

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More about the book here.

This is my other pet project. I made a book out of Valentine’s Day cards that I designed. It’s available through a Print On Demand service and I received a bunch of copies in the mail the other day.

Some of them are available for sale at Alchemy here in Cork. Some of them have been reserved by friends, and a few I’m mailing out to people as gifts – mostly for the members of my Burning Man camp as they never got any copies of the ones I brought to the desert.

It’s a special feeling seeing my words in print like this. I’ve got about eight different versions of the book, so I’ve seen it in a number of different shapes, but it’s still satisfying to hold a new copy in my hands.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of making the pages of the book available as individual cards – especially for Valentine’s Day. It’s still some time off, but I have a hunch it’s about time I got started, both with looking into providers and with picking out the designs. I looked into it a while back when first starting work on the book, but nothing came out of it at the time. I found there definitely are sites which do custom cards though, so that’s a start.

When/if something happens, I’ll make sure to post about it here.

Writing Lots of Words

What Does It Mean?

This post is not about rainbows.

I’m part of the article team for Mythic Scribes, which means that every few months I write an article about writing. That’s also why I don’t really write about the technical aspects of writing here on the blog. Today, my latest article went live on the site. You can read it here.

As I always do on these days I shared the link to the article on FB so my friends could see it and have a look. I know some of them write, and some may find it interesting anyway.

This time I received a comment along the lines of:

Your own writing makes a lot more sense after reading about the thought process behind it.

It got me thinking…

Obviously, I think my own writing makes sense, but that’s because I’m privy to my own reasoning (for the most part).

What about others. Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure. I can see how if you’re not used to my style it may seem strange. Random. Fragmented.

Over time the way I express myself in writing has changed. It’s become a lot more stylized, and perhaps a bit unconventional. Could it be it’s getting to the point where my prose is becoming difficult or inaccessible?

I’d like to think it isn’t so. I hope it’s not.

I like the way I write. It suits me, and it suits the stories I want to tell. I don’t plan on making any changes to it – other than what will happen naturally on its own. I think my readers get it.

The person who made the original comment brought up something else that’s also interesting: how does it affect the reader if they know how the writer thinks?

I’d like to think it’s positive.

If you’re familiar with how a writer expresses themselves you may be able to read more into their words than if you’re not. As an “experienced” reader, you might be able to pick up hints, or read between the lines, in ways a new reader might not.

Is this something that I as a writer should be taking into account? Probably.

What to do about it though? That’s a trickier questions. Being aware that readers may draw different amounts of variations from your words is good, but it’s also something that will happen regardless of your style of writing. All readers come with different frames of reference as it is already.

Sure, I can try and put in some sneaky clues now and then, but if I overdo it I’ll probably just confuse the readers who aren’t used to my way of writing, and who haven’t read my previous stories. I don’t want that.

For now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It’s fun. I enjoy it, and if it turns out people don’t understand what I’m writing, well, I guess I’ll figure something out. On the other hand, if it turns out that people who are used to my way of writing benefit from it over someone who isn’t, then I think that’s probably a really good thing.

What Does It Mean?

My book is “so weird”

I’ve made a book. It’s a bit of an odd one – a collection of Valentine’s Day Cards that I’ve created – closer to poetry than story. Each page only holds a handful of sentences at most. You can read more about it here.

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Yes, I made a book and called it “Read Me.”

It’s available through a print-on-demand service online, but I had a few copies of it printed. Some of these copies are available for sale at my favorite coffee shop, where I usually go to write. They’ve sold pretty well, considering I don’t promote them, and the only advertising is a little sign that says they cost 15 euro. I’m happy with how they’re doing.

What’s fascinating, and weird, is to be there when someone takes a look at the book. I often sit there and write and I see people come and go. Now and then someone picks up the book, has a look at it, and put it back – or they leaf through a few of the pages and then they put it back.

They have no idea it’s my book that I’ve made, or that I’m sitting there looking at them and wondering what they’re thinking. Probably just as well. I still haven’t been there when someone’s decided to buy the book.

Today, it happened again. I sat there writing, drinking my coffee and wondering how the characters in my story really felt about what was going on.

Next to me, at another table, sat a group of girls. Young ones – upper teens at most is my guess, no more than 21-22. One of them spotted the book and brought it over to the table and started looking through it.

At this stage, I’m having a real hard time concentrating on my writing.

I’m trying my best not to look like my ears are reaching for every word they say. I don’t think they notice.

One of them, the one who picked it up, keeps saying how weird it is. They read the occasional page, and seem to find them cute/funny, but the girl who holds the book keeps repeating how weird she thinks it is. So weird.

It’s weird for me too. For a moment I’m considering whether or not to tell them it’s my book and explain to them where it comes from, but I decide against it. That too would be weird.

Fortunately, I have an appointment, and have to leave, but the memory sticks with me.

I think most of all I’m amused.

The girl very clearly didn’t “get” the book, and I think there are probably two reasons for that.

take me
Do you know the reference?

First, she just flipped back and forth through it, picking out the odd page here and there. Doing it like that, you have to get lucky for the book to make sense. Some of the cards do not make much sense on their own, and a few of them (Potato Angel Buffalo) don’t make any sense whatsoever. Taken like that, the book can probably seem a bit weird.

Secondly, she was young. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with this explanation, but I think it really may be a factor. Chances are that if you’re young, you don’t quite have the frames of reference to relate to all of the cards, even if you get them in context.

If you’re young, you’re fed an image of what love and life are supposed to be like that may not accurately match what life has in store for you. You’ve got more expectations than experience.

This is probably a bit rich. After all, as a middle-aged man, what do I really know of what teenage girls know about love? My theory is built on preconceived notions about how the world works, and it could very well be wrong. It’s not like I’m an expert on love myself.

I think that’s a key point.

If my world is built on preconceived notions of how the world works, it must be safe to assume that it’s the same for most other people too. Then again, that too may be just a preconceived notion…

Either way, I’m not disheartened that someone thinks my book is “so weird” although it was a weird experience hearing them say it.

It’s fascinating though. The book makes perfect sense to me. I know people who love it. I love it. People read different things into the words, and different cards speak out to them. That too is fascinating.

Finally, a slightly modified version of the book is due out in early November. I’m reviewing the changes and letting them mature in my mind a little before I finalize it. It’s on its way though.

My book is “so weird”

I’m not assertive enough for this.

Toini is being difficult.

Or, rather, to be more correct: I’m having difficulties writing her.

For the most part my characters I’ve written about, and from whose perspective I’ve told my stories, have been people I have something in common with. They’ve been acting in ways I can relate to and which I understand.

So far, that’s been the case for Toini as well, but in this latest scene I’ve been working on that’s changed a little. I’ve had to write Toini in a situation where her role as a military commander and leader has had to shine through.

She needs to be decisive, confident, and in charge. Assertive. It’s really difficult for me. I can do all those things, but only as long as I’m on my own, or when I know no one will object to my decision.

In this case, there’s a whole lot of objections. The person Toini needs to keep in line is not cooperating and does not agree with her decisions. If it were me, I’d probably try to argue and compromise, but for Toini that’s not an option. At least not in the way I do it.

Toini has a plan and she means to stick with it. She can’t be making concessions just to fit someone else. Her mission is a holy, god-given quest, and whether her chronicler wants some time off or not is completely irrelevant.

He’s still right there in front of her though, and she still has to deal with him.

Seeing how difficult a time I have to write this I’m really glad I’m not in any kind of leadership position in real life.

I’m not assertive enough for this.