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Shifting Paradigms

Approaching Life, Five Subjects At A Time

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!!!!

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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!!!!!

The Elusiveness of Life

“The best laid plans of mice.” – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

Why is it so difficult for people to simply let other people be themselves?  Is it simply THEIR failing to think of someone in any other way except what their preconceived notion is?  I know that it must surely allow them to gallop across the vast expanse of their world, knowing where are all of the bumps in the road are, only to come across ones that either never existed, except in their own mind, or ones that exist because people are rarely ever that linear or predictable.

One of the first things I had to learn, on my way to becoming an adult, was to always give people enough rope to hang themselves.  Rarely is anything accomplished when I am pushing them in any particular direction.  It is a false notion that other people can determine your own happiness, so why should there be a Grand Poobah leading everyone to their own vision of happiness.  It just doesn’t work like that.

Further, in my study of Philosophy, I learned that in the search of happiness we will always fall short of the perfect Happiness, namely Beatitude, in which we return to that which created us and we are made whole.  We leave the Creator already paled from the infinite, subject to contrived notions of finitude, as well as decay.  The further we fly away from that which was never meant to be flown away from, we find less and less of what makes us truly happy.  So it stands to reason that a creation should always want to grow closer to its Creator, for fear of missing out on their reason for being created in the first place.  You are only created because you were put into existence.  You did not have to be created, but you were.  And that is a gift unto itself.

This world can, at times, be a very terrible place to try and pursue happiness.  In my experience, the world’s understanding is naturally flawed because it is filled with twisted half-truths and relativistic opinions that only have a self-seeking goal that matches nothing of what is intended for us.  Put simply, there are lots of people with false and even antithetical notions of happiness, who wish to garner selfish power over those who would gladly hand it over to them, if it meant they could, in turn, borrow from this power and lord it over those who don’t think like them.  Perhaps this has always been the case and it is simply my “time” to understand it for what it is and see the fallacies that are created in its wake.  Perhaps everyone, at all times, feels this way about the world they lived in.  Perhaps this is simply the way of things that has repeated itself, from time immemorial, without anyone truly realizing that the same mistake is made in a different way, over and over again.

There has to be some way of fighting through the muck and the mire and arriving where we need to be.

There are many people, in my life, who I simply have to ignore and let them live their lives without me, for fear of losing out on the happiness that I am pursuing.  My idea of happiness, and theirs, are simply at cross-purposes.  Their way seeks to criticize and judge, so that they can feel helpful.  And it is in this “helping” that they feel they are positively contributing to your life, and that this “helping” is the way they show their love.  All the hugs, as well as the awkwardly amorous and filial expressions, do is to create a situation where one’s love is never expressed except in the form of whatever helpful advice can be offered.  While such advice can indeed have some benefit, when solicited or in need, the truth of the matter is that it usually is unsolicited and not needed.  But to feel as if they are contributing something of value to my life, they continue to interject, judge, and determine the proper course of action that I should take, regardless of the fact that the advice solicited is more than likely the advice they themselves should be taking in order for them to become better people themselves.  But that’s the way of things.  Whatever works for us, MUST work for everyone else around us.  And it simply isn’t true.  History tells us that there is much danger ahead for those who think they can simply advise a similar path for those who may appear to be on the that same path, but because blindness caused by bias and partiality, it is in fact nowhere near the same path.  I can ask one thousand people for a piece of advice on a particular matter and potentially get one thousand different answers.  It is not until you query further that you find out that the advice given was something that worked for them.  Which is great, except that I am different and the situation is probably different, even to the assurances that the situation is indeed similar.

 

Life is really complicated.  That’s why I say that everyone should embrace who they are and what makes them uniquely them and do the things that you are gifted to do.  If you are an artist…then create.  If you are an athlete…then play.  If you are a student…study.

Anything else that leads you away from being uniquely you, is simply a waste of time.  Time that could have been spent being a happier you.

 

 

A Very Sherlock New Year To Everyone!

There are two things that I have been waiting on, since they were announced a few months ago at San Diego’s Comic-Con.  The first is the return of the X-Files, and the 2nd is a new episode of Sherlock.  My mom, God rest her soul, got me interested in Sherlock Holmes when I was 12 years old, when PBS aired the ITV Granada series of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett starring as Sherlock Holmes.  41 episodes over 10 years and I couldn’t wait until the next one was to air.  Eventually, I picked up the Conan Doyle book which has all of the cases, and not just the 41 that PBS had aired.  I swore undying loyalty to Jeremy Brett as the best Holmes ever, and I still do…but with some reservations.  Until the latest version (and not the Robert Downey Jr or the Faux-Holmes of “Elementary”) of Sherlock Holmes arrived, I had been extremely snobbish about my love of Jeremy Brett as Holmes.  Casting aside the Basil Rathbone’s, Christopher Lee’s, and Peter Cushings, for the man who could singularly capture the great detective whose powers of observation were as great as his inability to live within the confines of an everyday existence.  Nobody displayed the passion, and the psychological repercussions thereof, as boldly and as well as Jeremy Brett.

And I still do believe him to be the greatest in portraying that in Sherlock Holmes.  But I also believe that Benedict Cumberbatch’s “evolution” of Sherlock Holmes is amazingly terrific.  And tonight’s episode, “The Abominable Bride,” was just another amazing episode.  I won’t spoil it for anyone, because it still fresh for all to see, but the bits and pieces scattered throughout the episode are the efforts of some really amazing writing, writing that I aspire to.  I just haven’t pushed myself enough…at all, really.  I feel like I have great stories in me that I don’t even know exist.  And I want to get them out.  This is the year I start to get them out.  It’s time.

 

 

Merry Christmas!!

Just wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  I will be putting up a year end post, in the coming days, while I weave in and out of Christmas Dinner and World Junior Hockey Championship games.  I will be making a few changes, in the coming year, and I will share some of those with all of you.

I do hope that the spirit of the Christmas Season brings joy,  peace, and good health into your homes.

God Bless you all and see you soon!!!

Time Flies……and MUSIC!!

I have been late in getting out posts to all of you, but I assure you that I am alright.  The issue with my neck is such that there are good days and bad days, now, as I began my rehab last week.  When I have good days, I try to get some writing done or whatever chores need to get done.  Between my wife and I, things have been slow to get done around the house, especially when you count cooking meals for family, Christmas decorating, and then accounting for reading time, game time, and spending time with each other.  There are just a lot of priorities that require time.

I had expected that things would level off in a few days, maybe a week, but since it has been almost 2 weeks without anything from me, I felt like I needed to let people know that things are just fine and that I should be able to get back to this with a little more frequency.

 

One of the things that I am looking forward to getting back into, is my love for music and just spending some time listening and letting my mind go.  Currently, I am listening to Linkin Park’s “Burn It Down” and writing this blog.

Music is an interesting part of my life that began when I was 8, 9, or 10, perhaps earlier.  I remember it vividly that my parents got a new record player and stereo with like 3-4 foot tall speakers.  My parents stood me in the acoustical center of the speakers, had me close my eyes, and played Dvorak’s New World Symphony really loud.  It was simply amazing and affected me more deeply than I could have imagined.  To this day I owe my imagination and creativity to this moment in time.  I was allowed to understand that music is as much a medium of sensory harmony, as it is a story told from the heart of a composer, and that there is almost always a story behind a song or a piece of music.

I recently was discussing my writing with the therapist who is helping my neck/back problem and she marveled at my ability to come up with different stories.  I didn’t know how to respond to that, other than to say “Thank You.”  Honestly, I think I simply allow my brain to go off course more often than most people do.  I know a fair number of people who seem to live “on the rails” of life and don’t deviate from the things they do.  And, honestly, I feel sorry for them because they never experience life.  They live to work, or they live to be a part of a group of people considered to be “safe”, but what they miss out on is the rest of the world and what it offers.  It’s so amazing to live in another culture, another part of your own country, or even a new part of the world.  I think that being “on the rails” has really hampered what it means to be a human being and our understanding of one another.  If we aren’t on the same train, or, in some cases, in the same rail car, we can’t understand who that person is.

Sometimes it’s good to derail and see what is beyond the tracks.

 

See you soon!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve spent the last week or so preparing for the onslaught of cooking that is done in preparation for a single meal, on one of 3 holidays where my family gets together and has a full-out multi-course meal.  My mom’s mashed potatoes are made with precision that we know she would give her approval for, as well as some new ways of preparing things.  Cranberry sauce is done in the normal fashion, but this year we are doing a different preparation of rolls, as well as new (to everyone else) recipe for preparing cabbage…well…Brussel Sprouts.  Pumpkin pies have been made, the turkey is brining and will hit the oven around 10am so that we can make it over by about 3pm, with supper to be served around 5pm, perhaps a little early.

Like all other times when we spend an inordinate amount of time on things, we are giving ourselves a forced vacation away so people can’t harass us.  It always winds up better than we expect, simply because we get to sleep in and don’t have anything to clean up or whatever.  Other people cook for us, and we might even catch a hockey game or two, in person.  I’ll give you all the details when we get back.

As far as my writing is going, I’ve been working on getting everything sorted and put together, so I can finish up “Sand People” in the next little bit and get that sent off.  I am expecting to actually get some scene work done, while we’re away.  And then when we get back, I’m going to start spending some concentrated time on getting.  I started partitioning my time a bit better, starting this week, by doing a bit of a social experiment on myself with social media.  I used to have Facebook pop up automatically when I opened my Chrome browser, and I noticed that I would invariably keep going back and checking to see if anyone was doing anything cool or funny, all the while realizing that I wasn’t doing anything cool or fun.  So I decided to take it off the auto-load and only open it once or twice a day and just run through things and then close it again.  It’s amazing how much of a time suck that can be and I didn’t really notice it.  But, thankfully, I am pushing that a little more towards the utilitarian application that it is supposed to be, and a lot less about wanting to know what everyone is doing at all times of the day.  Time to start having more things for me to talk about by having accomplished the things I want to get done.  So far so good.

So I will get this published up and up on the blog, so you can enjoy it or comment on it.

I wish you all a great Thanksgiving and I will see all of you soon!!

Update for “Sand People”

I went to start on some writing, today, expecting that I was going to be working on developing more with “Nowhere”, but instead I decided to see what I could do with “Sand People” in an attempt to get that out of my hands and to the editor.  I ended up changing the flavor of two of the characters.  I didn’t like where it was going, and so in my revisions (later) I will have to make that work.  It’s really not a huge issue to deal with. I just need to make sure I keep track of it in my notes.

Which reminds me, that I need to make a “Notes” document for “Sand People” so that I can have it ready to go off to the editor with the first draft.

The image in the header is a working “thematic” image for the town of Naejen, a bordertown that is on the edge of the desert/mountain area in the Kingdom of Southwald.  I needed something to reflect some of the intricacies of the “world” that the characters are living in.  As things evolve and solidify, I hope to share more of these images that I am using to help shape the story and its setting.

See you soon!!!!!

Lying on the Foam Roller of Life….and Other Tales

In the picture above is one of the new things I get to do probably for the foreseeable future.

Because I work primarily from a desk sitting position and due to the condition of my military neck, I get to realign my neck and spinal column for 10-15 minutes a day.  But it could be worse, so I diligently get on the floor twice a day so that I can enjoy the comforts of a good night’s sleep which has avoided my grasp for several years prior.

The funny part is that I thought for the longest time that I had a recurring sinus problem.  But with the flexeril and the foam roller, I have had better ability to breathe as well as no pain in the sinuses.  Hard to imagine that the pain from my neck was reaching over the top of my head and pulling up on the muscles in my cheeks.

One of the other thins that I am doing is raising the height of my monitors up a good 6-8 inches, so that I can sit up a little better and not have a massive kink in my neck, while still being able to look at a monitor comfortably.  Just one of the little things that I do to alleviate any extra pain.

As for my writing, I am continuing to work on the overall Story Arc, as well as the Character Arcs for at least 5 of the more important characters.  So I feel pretty good about it, so far.  I’m trying to get the overall themes and treatments down for the story, so that I can zero in on how the story will transpire.  I want it to be computer-heavy without being cyberpunk.  I’m also trying to make it my homage to Frank Herbert’s Dune series.  Less about the rise of a new emperor and more about the philosophical overtones of the series.  Essentially, the search for “Freedom” in a land of tyranny, but in an alternate timeline of our history.  There’s a fair bit of making sure that my ideas work with the alternate timeline, as well as not breaking the suspension of disbelief for the reader.  I want it to work in the best way I can make it and see where it goes from there.  Once I have the themes, conflicts, and treatments all parsed out, I want to finish up my “Sand People” story and get it out for edits.  I know it’s going to suck, but that’s the point of the editor…to make it hopefully not suck.  That’s why they get paid the big bucks…hehe.  Sorry MJ.

My goals in life are fairly straightforward.  Keep on writing, hope my golf game gets better as I go, and never stop wanting to learn new things and get better at the things that aren’t as new.

That’s pretty much it for now.  I hope to eventually have some of my writing on here so you all can read it and let me know what you liked or disliked about it.  I might put up some of my thematic pieces for various stories.  Freewriting jaunts that help me to understand where I want to take the story or a certain character, going forward.

See you soon!!

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