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Shifting Paradigms

Approaching Life, Five Subjects At A Time

Month

February 2016

Continuing Education

On an interesting note, this June is the 25th anniversary of my graduation from High School.  Sort of.  I did graduate, according to the norms and guidelines set forth upon my entrance year into the Public High School System, which required me to have 20 credits to graduate.  Back at that time, you only attended 5 classes per day and not the 6, 7, or more, that teenagers do today.  But as the years went on, the school system changed around me to the point that in my senior year, and incoming freshmen needed 24 credits or more of classes to graduate.  I didn’t have to, and I even had 21 credits.  So I had what I needed to graduate.  But!!!  I didn’t earn a diploma.  As it turns out, I failed the last 3 years of English, while only going to summer school to get the credit for 2 of those years.  I had had enough of schooling and just decided to let it be for a bit until I realized that job applications looked more favorably on those who had a High School Diploma or a GED.  So I went and took the GED and passed with flying colors in half the time allotted to me to complete the test.  This, I am sure, nauseated all of my former teachers as well as my parents.

To even be involved in the literary industry in any way, must have my former English teachers spinning in their graves (may they rest in peace), as I am sure none of them could have anticipated how my life would turn out.

But having not really payed attention much in class (aka, I never really read much, if any, of the assigned reading and more than likely failed to participate in any of the book discussion), has left me with a bit of a hole in my education as it pertains to the craft that I am wanting to master.  So from time to time I will take a class in writing or read a book on the subject.  I have learned a lot from this, but occasionally I find things that I have no idea how to do that seem really trivial.  For instance, Scene Structure.  I know, basically, how a scene is supposed to work, but I feel like I have a lacking in my ability to “craft” scenes that really operate well within the context of the entire story.  And not being able to write scenes in the way I want, I really feel like I am at a disadvantage with my every day writing habits.  I don’t have any real way of creating scenes around the outline of my book, or just in practice to help advance my writing ability.

As in all things I encounter that I am unaware of, I am going to attack it with vigor and find the best way, for me, to get better at the things I feel I am not as good at.

Interestingly, this is the one skill in life that I am grateful for having gone to college for.  I learned that if I didn’t know something that not only did I have a skill set to find out about things, but also the ability to learn something completely new and be able to adapt it to how I operate.

And, yes, graduating from College probably also made my old teachers spin just a little more in their graves.

 

See you soon!!!!

 

An Annual Tradition Returns

When I was living in Edmonton, and when I was thinking about becoming a writer, I was already a few years in to one of my favorite addictions.  Castle.  Now, I had been “writing” for a lot longer than Castle has been out, but it definitely didn’t hurt in swaying me to want to aspire to do more with it.

Every year, usually in the summer before the first new show of the season was to come out, I would pull out all of my dvd’s of the previous seasons and binge watch them all.  It was partly to stay familiar with the show, but more than anything it forced me to have some mental down time.  Time that was spent alone in my office away from all the schoolwork and drama that life tends to throw my way.  It was a way to lift my mind out of the every day and recharge my creative juices, as it were.  I would watch Castle and another show, Fringe, religiously as each episode made its way onto my DVR.  I am a big fan of good tv shows and movies.  I have a decent-sized collection of dvd’s that includes tv shows that I love to binge watch and movies that I have watched more than once (some of them 100’s of times *cough* Hackers *cough).

But I have yet to have a binge watch of any of my favorite shows, since moving back to the U.S..  There are a number of reasons why this is probably the case, and I’m sure a lot of them have to do with all of the things that have happened with my family over the past couple of years.

I have given up on trying to return to a life that I once had, and instead take all of the amazing things that I used to do and include them with the amazing things that I currently do and, in the future, want to do.

This is all a part of me finally deciding that now is the time to move on with the life I, and my wife, want to live.  I know that there will be a great deal of things that will need to be adjusted from time to time, but I am wanting to capture the same feeling I had when I was aboard the ship, back in September, when I finally had a bit of peace in my life.  When I was writing, and reading, and watching movies, and living a life that is full of the things that make me who I am.

And so in honor of all this, I have started (actually I started it a few days ago and am done with the first season) binge watching Castle.

There are more things to be done, and I will deal with them in due time.  But for now, it is time to raise my head above the noise and drama and live in the reality of the life that I want to live.  If people want to come along…great.  But I, and my wife, are moving on with our lives.  I can’t continue to wait for something else to happen.  I can’t sit and worry about the things that others do and put my life on hold, because they make poor decisions.

It was funny, because I happened to be watching a show on “Generation X” and there was a part in it that was talking about the war on drugs, and how the government chose to start a campaign against drugs with the slogan, “Just Say No.”  Of course, the typical response to this, in hindsight 30 years later, was to laugh at it and say just how ridiculous it was and how little effect it had.  But aren’t we just betraying just how hard it is to say “No” to something?  Aren’t we, essentially, justifying how weak we are and that there is no series of words or sayings that can change the harsh reality of just how decayed our society is?  And I am always reminded by the people who actually did say “No” to the things that would harm their future.  How people who just say “No”, today, are the ones who are successful at the things they set their minds to.

If I want to be successful, I have to continually fight against the societal norms that say that I am not going to be successful at what I want to do.  Thankfully, I have a lot of years of my life that say that I can be successful at the things I put my mind to.  It’s when I don’t think I am worthy of being successful that I start to slide.

So with that…it’s time to start Season 2.

 

See you soon!!!!

Word Counts

Wanted to keep everyone updated on how things are going with me and my writing.  So far so good, here.  Had to deal with some post-holiday drama which inevitably rears its head, but I have dealt with that and am back on track.

I was in the midst of dealing with said drama, when I decided to just punch it in the gut and purge it.  Coincidentally this was about the same time I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses (www.writingexcuses.com), and the episode was entitled, “Newton’s Laws of Writing”, which had a great idea given by Mary Robinette Kowal about setting smaller word count goals, when things are not going as well as you would like them to.  So I took her advice and started small, but ended up with several days of 1000+ word count days, which is great.  I also had to reassert myself as a writer, which is to say I had to listen to (and am still listening to) this short video bit by Neil Gaiman, when he was on the Nerdist Podcast.

 

I absolutely love this little bit.  It reminds me why I chose writing as a career/life.  I will listen to it, sometimes, 3 to 4 times a day just to keep myself on the straight and narrow.  It’s a gem of a video (or mp3 if you want to convert it to that format).

I am also not shying away from pre-planning more of Storehouse of Memory.  I am doing some scene work with it to see how the various characters will want to work with each other.  I also have a couple story ideas for future stories that I am really excited about.  But first things first, I need to finish off Sand People and get it to editing.  So that’s where my general focus is, at this point.  With the current pace, I am hoping to get it done in the next couple of months so that I have all my notes lined up and ready to send off in a manuscript.

 

Well…that is all for me, for now.  I hope life is treating everyone well.

 

See you soon!!!!!

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