Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, September 30, 2011

I think I need to stop drinking Yerba Mate

I'm starting to find that, when I drink mate, I fall asleep. What the heck is that about? Like, narcoleptic. I can barely keep my eyes open at work (not that they're challenging me so severely that I need to actually remain awake).

Also, apparently mate can give you cancer! Hooray!

I started drinking the stuff more heavily when I stopped using kratom, which now that I think about it, I really should write about. Fun stuff.

I keep forgetting to write about it, and then remembering. Well, not today.

Things that are fascinating me: The new season of Ultimate Fighter, The book I'm writing about Brooklyn wizards, and my Kindle. That is all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

keep up appearances

The writing proceeds apace. I'm starting to see a shape to the book and, even though I don't know how it ends, I see HOW it ends, if that makes sense. The mechanics, the motivations, the why's of these characters that can make certain events occur, and conclude. It's interesting. I keep coming to these moments where I don't know what's next, and then, startlingly, I know. I see it. I tell a friend of mine about what's happening, and I say, "Well, apparently, this is happening." and I sound a little nonplussed, because, honestly, I have a general idea, but these characters surprise me.

And here I am. Writing more. It seems I can't help it. Once I get started, I can't really stop.

In totally unrelated news, one of my favorite authors, John Crowley (though, seriously, Livejournal?) has an article at Laphams Quarterly about fiction and the future. In addition to being an excellent read by one of the more interesting minds out there, it's also an insight into the process that, if I'm guessing correctly, informed the creation of Engine Summer. He's got some ideas about how writers predict the future in their work, and he brings up something I've always found fascinating, especially as it relates to science fiction.

When I was growing up, watching science fiction movies and TV shows and reading science fiction books, I always noticed how the future worlds these works created were always extrapolations of the present. Logan's Run saw the future as polyester and plastic and curvilinear surfaces. The Tomorrow People was all brutalist architecture and the depression of 1970's Great Britain. Star Trek looked like a 60's hipster's idea of the future, etc. etc. Crowley came up with an alternate method - figure out where things are going and posit the opposite trend.

Really, he says it much better than I ever could, but it all made me think of Frank Herbert's ideas on prescience in Dune. Herbert thought that any prescient vision automatically set into motion the circumstances under which it would come to pass. Well, we've obviously disproven that time and again, and it's comforting to think that, not only is the future stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine. That actually gives me hope. It's easy to imagine the ways that our mistakes and stupidities screw up the future, but I take some comfort in the fact that the future will be screwed up in vastly different and more interesting ways.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

500 words at a time.

Two days in a row! Woo-hoo! Seriously, you take your celebrations where you can find them.

The book comes along, slowly, but that's a function of the routine I've given myself. I've taken a page from Graham Greene's playbook, and I write 500 words a day. More if I've got them, but I have to hit at least 500 words. That way, I still want to write when I'm done. It's a function, oddly enough, of doing yoga.

"What," I hear you say, "does yoga have to do with writing?" Well, back in March, on Ash Wednesday, I decided that I would do yoga everyday for Lent. Rather than get rid of something, deny myself something, I figured it would be better to add a discipline. It went pretty well. I had a great program to help me do it which allowed me to keep track of how much time I spent per day, how much time per week, it allowed me to set up specific amounts of time to do certain poses, and it allowed me to see how many consecutive days I'd done what I said I was going to do.

This measuring, demanding a certain amount from oneself, allows for an amazing freedom. Aside from feeling slightly virtuous when you've completed your allotted time (no matter what other, less wholesome activities you might have engaged in before or after) you could also have an objective measure. There was no weaseling out of it - either you'd done it or not.

The sense of order that this allowed me let me structure my day. It let me set boundaries with people around me - there was something I had to complete everyday, and everything else had to take a back seat. And as the days piled up, I realized that I was changing. My attitude was changing and my sense of self. And I realized that I was actually quite strong and capable, if I allowed myself to be. I'm just past day 200 of doing yoga everyday, and I plan to keep going past a year, God willing.

So that concept of gradual accretion seems to be working for me in the writing department, too. This is what I want to do, and so I do it, everyday, and after I'm done, I can go through my day, knowing that I've done something important towards completing a piece of work that means a lot to me. I don't have to write it all today, and it doesn't get away from me with my usual procrastination. I chip away at it. 500 words at a time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In direct contradiction to the title of this blog

Taking a cue from this guy I've decided to write here more. In the post, he's talking about writer's block, which I don't exactly suffer from. Logorrhea might be more the issue, most days, though there are occasions when the muse is a bit balky. Seth basically says we should write like we talk, and I've been noticing the more I write the more I get to write the way I sound in my head, which, let me tell you kids, is WAY wittier and more awesome than you can even imagine.

So writing today was like fighting through a fog. I'm coming to the point where I know that I'm going to have to come up with a structure for this book I'm writing, or else it's going to meander and wander away from me.

It's a book about gentrification, the energy and movement of urban spaces, race relations, and wizards. Really, it's just about wizards. The rest of it is sort of incidental, primarily because, as a young-ish (feeling) white man, I don't feel I can do the issues real justice. By putting it into a fantasy context, it feels like I can talk around it, address it without having to tackle it head on. Maybe that's cowardly, but there are precedents - George Romero talking about race with his zombies... well, that's the only really good one I can think of right now. Oh! A Canticle for Liebowitz! That's two! I'm practically in the pantheon already!

So, I've finished watching Game of Thrones' first season, and I'm terribly disappointed that there isn't more right now. Right NOW! I want it. I dream about these characters. I'm enjoying the hell out of this weird little sword and soap opera. I seem to remember reading somewhere that GRRM wanted to write a little ditty about the War of the Roses, and I love how adding zombies and dragons tips the dynamics all over the place. It's exactly the kind of thing I've always wanted to make myself.

I promise to write more tomorrow. It's blathering, but I'm going to make it mean something, I just know it.