Writing habits

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Of course you do. Kind of like discovering chocolate for the first time, you just wanted more and more.

My first proper relationship was notable in that it was mostly long distance. Soon after we met I went overseas to study and decided to pour my heart and soul into keeping the relationship going. And a writing habit was born.

We were prolific. The amount of words written in letters, emails and text messages was at an almost Shakespearean quantity. Every single day, for months on end. Quality was highly questionable, but quantity was admirable.

This laid the groundwork for blogging and writing regularly for the rest of my life to date. I’m thankful. Thankful for the habit, thankful for this blog, and thankful my current relationship is in person.

What are the origins of your habits?

Happy Monday chimps.

Love and War

King of your realm? Everything in its place? You will inevitably receive a challenge to let the spirits of War or Love come in through the front door. Accept the challenge and then everything changes. You have a choice to let them in or not. To stay where you are, or to take on the responsibility.

Years ago we let a dog through the door. A long haired mutt called “Trumpet” – Hair and damp spots grew in the realm. We fed him, changed his name, took him to school, gave him haircuts and a bed of his own.

Other spirits heard our doors were open and started to arrive in different forms. We let in more dogs, fish, grownups and finally children.

If you let them in, Love and War can take over the realm. This is not ideal and can lead to eternal battles that will burn the realm to the ground leaving nothing but scorched earth. So what to do? It is tempting to enforce discipline on the spirits no matter what. To shout and push them around. This works to a point, but the realm loses something in the process so too much discipline and fear will hurt the realm. Once upon a time we shouted and ordered spirits around for three whole days and the realm turned grey. No more color was left. It was as if the realm was sick with a cancer.

Instead we recommend you provide a stage in the realm for Love and War to play out their fantasies. This stage needs to be thought out to a degree, but really you just need a snug place to sit, some open space as a stage with sunlight to light up the spirits, and some clean air. Maybe a bit of music in the background for atmosphere. Once the stage is set, sit back and watch for the magic. Note that this can be messy and cleaning up after a performance will be up to you, but pay attention when the play is on because the magic is oh so beautiful. Carry a glass jar to capture some of the magic if you can. Then you can hang the jar on a piece of string and let the children sleep easy under its light.

This will come with practice.

Motivation vs discipline

I can’t think of anything to write. It’s often the way with writing. Or painting. Or creating anything.

Sure, every now and then the words flow like wine from a carafe. Sweet muse does her thing and inspiration hits. But most of the time it feels more like squeezing water out of a rock.

What helps in these situations is discipline and routine. This forces you to do some work despite the way you feel. Open the laptop. Write something. Anything. Go through the motions.

And there’s another blog post.

Contrast = interesting to humans

I once asked my dad why he liked The Rolling Stones so much. His answer was that they understood the need for highs and lows in a song.

It is hardwired deep in your nervous system. The senses that we humans have developed over millennia of evolution – touch, smell, sight, hearing – are made up of nerve cells linking to our brain. These nerve cells respond better to a sudden change than they do to repeated stimuli.

What does this mean? It depends on the situation.

For Mick Jagger and the boys it means that their songs have light and shade. Quiet verses and soaring choruses. Jagger will whisper and then he will growl and roar.

For emergency response vehicles it means the loud sirens are designed to be varied, sharp and with many different patterns so as to be noticed over the noise of everyday traffic. This contrast works better than one continuous noise which is easily filtered out by the human ear.

For creative people, I think it means that if a piece of art is not getting the desired response, then one of the first things to assess is the use of contrast – light and shade, highs and lows.

Contrast = interesting to humans.

Sleep and Leftovers

Dreams remember they don’t mean much.

Snippets, memories, old desires and such.

Memories of memories become loops. Internal errors.

A Treasure hunter is on the beach tonight. Metal detector sweeps the sand while the waves crash hard.

Take the good and leave the bad.

Programmable robot.

Reboot your glitch.

Podcast ambitions

Today I am starting to work on a new series of podcasts for the blog.

This is a misleading statement because as yet I don’t know what it’ll be about, who will be on it or how many I will do.

Perhaps more accurate would be to say I am starting to think about starting to work on the podcast!

One idea is to use the blog itself as a resource, looking back over the most popular posts I have written and use them as a guide for podcast topics.

But like I say – still early days. So watch this space, and prime your ears in the meantime 🙂

Robot

His doubts started with his changing values. Take a look at the things he holds most dear. The opinions, the causes, the risks and the opportunities. He noticed they were not as permanent or as important as he once thought. He found out they are interchangeable. Take out one strongly held belief and swap it, like a battery or a computer chip, for the complete opposite belief. Life goes on.

In fact he is becoming convinced that he is a programmable robot, more than an organic, free, human being. He looks down at his own arms. Is there blood under this skin? Is there a mechanical, robot-arm like Arnie in the Terminator movies? And blood doesn’t count as proof of life. What is “blood” anyways? Liquid full of little micro-robots delivering chemical loads and hormones around his body to keep the robot system in balance.

What would a robot do?

Smugglers Edits no. 2

Following on from my editing of Sci-Fi cerative posts – this is number two in the series so far:

Marlon kept whooping and shouting and cheering as he turned his head straight up towards the sky. He was so excited each time he threw a card, all he could do was shout like a chimp. Up above, the clouds dissolved before his eyes. The storm of the century had been neutralised by the card, as if someone threw a bucket of water on a camp fire. Looking up Marlon saw clear skies and the sight of the heavens took the scream from his mouth. Completely silent, he fell. The smuggler saw a perfect night sky. Like thick, creamy velvet he felt he could almost scoop up the blackness in between the stars. Dark galactic ice cream, Marlon felt it would probably taste like liquorice.

The Milky Way stretched out and twinkled forever. There were shooting stars blazing all around, and far to the east the rainbow colours of a nebula cloud glistened against the black space. To the North, on the horizon a faint aurora pulsated.

Marlon kept his eyes on the skies for as long as he dared, a big smile stretched on his face. He knew that if he looked for too long after throwing a card, he risked going crazy, bewitched by the beauty. He had heard stories of men wasting away to skeletons, their skulls looking up to the sky, smiling even as they starved to death just to stare at the beauty above. With effort, he pulled his head down, wiped away the water from his face and turned his eyes back to where he had been searching during the storm, at the bottom of the Tor on the plains.

With the help of the starlight, Marlon could now see close to the horizon the place he was looking for. It was a slight rise in the plains, and at the base of the rise a small fire was burning. From the top of the Tor this was nothing more than a dot of light. It looked like another tiny star on the ground, except it was noticeably green in colour and flickering on the plains. Eyes straight ahead, Marlon blew a kiss to the velvet sky above and started his descent of Nea Tor. Shooting stars rained all around him but the night remained silent. Silent that is, except for the old rain water which squelched in his boots with every step.

Editing old work

I have been editing some old creative work. The Smugglers of Earth pieces I started a while back have some promise, but I rushed them and lost momentum. So here’s a bit of a restart, with more editing: 

The start of a beautiful thing is often something bleak.

Dominating the otherwise flat land of Colm Naiir was a tall hill called Nea Tor. It rose steeply from the plains like a whale breaching the surface of the sea. Nea Tor was so big some called it a mountain, but instead of snow it was capped by a massive slab of rock. In the sunshine the rock looked like a large limpet on the snout of the breaching whale. Now on the plains at night, in the storm of the century, the rock was invisible. Everywhere was howling wind, pouring water, driving rain, black and cold. It had been like this for the last four hours. Every few seconds a lightening bolt would light up the sky, revealing long sheets of rain pelting the Tor. If you had sharp eyes and you looked in just the right place on the rock when lightening struck, you might also have seen a tiny silhouette. A small dark figure standing at the very peak. A smuggler. 

Marlon’s jacket collar was folded up around his neck and face. The collar was so high that it was impossible to see his nose. A smuggler’s trench coat made of thick leather, the jacket was over five feet long hanging down his legs, with never ending pockets on the inside and tribal patterns punctured into the leather on the outside. In the dry it was incredibly warm but it was not waterproof without a spell, and Marlon had run out of spells before he started climbing the hill. All he had left in his pockets was a small pack of cards, which were soaked. 

Marlon’s dark brown eyes were trying to scan the landscape below him. The rain and wind pressed into his bones and plastered his hair across his face. From the limpet rock he would have had a view for many miles on a clear day, but with the storm of the century throwing buckets of water in his face, the task of finding what he was looking for was hopeless. He sighed and bowed his head. So. Much. Rain. His neck and his spine and his legs had a torrent of water flowing over them. Water ran from his head to his feet. Lightening cracked above his head making him dip down onto his knees. The wind was picking up strength and it now hurt his face to look up from his collar. 

Hunched on his knees he made up his mind and reached into his coat’s never ending smuggler’s pockets. He pulled a playing card out. Immediately, the card began to shine bright blue in his hands in the night. Marlon searched his memory for the correct words. He had learned them in the same place he had gotten his jacket. That was a while ago, but after some thought he found that he still remembered. “Stars, show your fire. Let light see my black and deep desires.” A single voice in a storm on top of a mountain. 

Immediately the card leapt from Marlon’s hands and flew like a bullet down the Tor. Marlon jumped to his feet and peered out into the rain to watch the card fly through the stormy night. Seeing the arc of its flight, the hairs on Marlon’s neck stood on end. He loved the cards most of all. 

As it neared the bottom of the hill the card turned smoothly and climbed straight upwards through the rain, leaving a trail of light in its wake. On a direct collision course with the clouds above, the storm roared and thundered anew. The card was completely unaffected by the tempest and held its course. It sped up, flying higher and higher aiming straight at the lightening and the thunder and the angry clouds. From the top of the hill it looked like a tiny missile heading towards an enormous alien mothership. This made Marlon scream as loud as he could, “Go you good thing! Go! Go! Go! Yeeehhaaaaaaaaa!!!!!” The card issued a deafening crack as it broke the sound barrier right before it hit the clouds. 

After that, all was silence. No more lightening, no more wind, no more rain. Only a single voice on top of the Tor. Marlon was still yelling with excitement.

An hour a day

With most things, an hour a day will make it better. Whether it’s an hour of exercise, an hour of cleaning up, an hour of meditation, an hour of writing.

Only 8 hours in the day though.

The question then becomes, what 8 things am I going to do today?