Content vs. Consistency

Not too much by way of forward momentum in this journey since (roughly) this time last week, but as I’ve continually posted each week since starting this blog, I might as well continue.

But should this be the case?

There are times when I scramble for a topic or theme to write and end up with quasi-rambling musings on random things. Then again, as the entries are written directly into WordPress and posted with minimal edits, while the content may not be substantial (or make any sense to the casual reader – is anyone there?) the consistency of posting something is met. There are other times when ideas and musings flow readily, often inspired from Real World events, or the handful of television shows I watch, which (usually) segue into (vague) tidbits about my works-in-progress.

Then there are those rare times when the Muses weave their magic, and interesting (I hope) paragraphs of literary work emerges. There was a time when I had attempted (twice) to use writing prompts as a launching pad for story ideas – the momentum didn’t last (too) long, yet those samples remain posted within this blog.

Regardless of which scenario happens each week (thus far), actual!writing happens on a weekly basis, which keeps the literary engine running, to use a somewhat cliche metaphor. Then again, (to continue with the aforementioned metaphor) if the fuel that feeds the engine is not of the highest quality, is there a point to keep using it? If the gasoline is watered down to ensure the tank is always full, then the journey stalls until the engine reaches a station where there is actual fuel to produce some forward momentum.

This metaphor actually makes sense in the context of my blog writing journey thus far – and it was one I just thought up as I was writing it (and would make for an interesting side story to that fabled Meta Series).

Anyway.

Distractions and Real Life tend to get in the way of the plotting and pondering and eventual writing, even though the mental writing chugs along at a rate too complex to jot down. The infinite variables and the consequences that occur from those variables blend into something Completely Different, and keeping track of the who, what, where, when, why and how gets complicated. Sometimes as soon as the thought (masquerading as a quasi-epic epiphany) emerges, several other tangents flutter about, helping and / or hindering the original idea.

There may be some value to write an entry when I have something meaningful to share. Then again, I’m not sure if there are any followers out there who look forward to reading these weekly entries. Comments are few and far between, so I’m not certain if anyone will notice, given Real World events, and the billions (?) of other bloggers out there.

So, the consistency of writing blog entries each week may cease, but hopefully when the next entry does emerge, there will be content that will bring about some actual forward momentum.

Until next time.

Whenever that may be.

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Emotions about Epic Sagas

The series finale of Doctor Who, “The Doctor Falls” just aired and it was an emotional roller coaster for many reasons, one of which is the fact that this is Peter Capaldi’s final series as the titular character. I’ve been a fan of the series since it’s revival over ten years ago (though I have watched some of the Classic Who episodes every now and then) and the mythology surrounding the series is extraordinary, especially given the fact that there have been a multitude of writers in its 50+ years of existence. That a (somewhat) coherent narrative arc has flourished (and meandered) centered around a single character is astounding.

For those who may not be familiar with Doctor Who (are there actually people who don’t know something about this series?), the titular character travels the universe searching for adventure, bringing along (usually human) companions and saving the world(s) from threats. Oh, and he pilots (or rather negotiates with) his time machine, called the TARDIS – Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, and can regenerate (change his appearance) when he’s mortally wounded (which is a brilliant way to allow the character to be played by multiple actors, all of whom bring their own interpretation).

That’s a simplistic description, but one that (I hope) is not too confusing. No spoilers here, but ’twas a well crafted episode to conclude this version of the Doctor, referencing themes from episodes / series past. It’s going to be interesting to see who will be the next Doctor, and to see how / where the narrative will continue.

Anyway.

The art (and craft) of creating memorable central character(s) is an ongoing challenge in the midst of a fantastical, mysterious (alternate) universe. Things need to make sense (or at least explained with some sort of logic), and there has to be a level (or several) of emotional attachment / investment for its audience. The audience needs to care about the characters and the situations in which they find themselves, and develop (strong) opinions about them, or else, it won’t work.

There also should be levels of complexity with the overarching narrative flow, with plot twists, red herrings and foreshadowing thrown in to keep the audience guessing / theorizing. The degree of complexity is subjective, but (again) should remain in the realm of (relative) plausibility. The historical context (alternate or actual) is a starting point – establishing the rules and regulations before building up from the foundation with colorful flourishes and accents.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey can only explain so much.

And hitting the Reset button only works every now and then (the “it was all a dream” explanation gets boring after a while).

So, not too much forward momentum in the plotting, pondering or writing process, as the double punch of “The Doctor Falls” and the final performance of Sunset Boulevard (one of my all time favorite musicals) this past Sunday has left me emotionally compromised. But with these emotions churning within gives the muses fodder to create and explore.

Though Doctor Who has ended for now (there’s the Christmas Special to look forward to) the new season of Game of Thrones is set to start in the coming weeks. So even though summer has arrived (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), Winter Has Come to Westeros.

And another opportunity to go on another emotional roller coaster.

And to write about it.

The Role of Social Media

Back to blogging at my (quasi) usual time, when I ponder about what to write and how much to share, though admittedly, I really haven’t shared that much about the various works in progress aside from quasi-cryptic musings and semi-frequent updates on the state of the Land of Exposition. There are times I wish it was a real place I can visit (or stay for a while), if only to retreat from the craziness that is the Real World – where the weather is temperate (most of the time), the accommodations calm (usually) and where anything goes (sorta). Where like-minded people mingle with ethereal muses and potentially have time to plot, ponder and actually!write, without interruptions, distractions or drama.

Real Life has a way of consuming time and energy – worrying about things that are (mostly) out of one’s control and what the future might be (and considering the state of world affairs these days, it’s a valid concern). Despite all this, the writing process should continue; though in my case it comes in irregular cycles, much of which gets edited within an inch of its life. Sharing details about the works in progress has been intermittent and (probably) inconsistent, yet I post a blog entry every week and share it on social media, albeit the only social media platform on which I share these posts is on Facebook (both on my personal page and an author page I started shortly after creating this blog.). Granted, I haven’t been as active in sharing much writing-related on social media aside from the weekly entries, though I should. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are useful tools used to share ideas and to promote products to the general public (or at least to those who use these social media outlets).

It’s quasi-ironic that I use Facebook, as I’m quite introverted by nature and rarely share anything insightful about myself or my works in progress on my personal page, author page or in the various groups of which I’m a member (though as an avid photographer, I regularly use Instagram and post photos on a semi-frequent basis).  Sharing such details is a dual edge (light)saber, with a Light side and Dark side – sometimes you can receive constructive criticism and other times you get insidious insults.

Alliteration is alive and all right!

Anyway.

Sorting through the chatter is time consuming – then again so is scrolling through social media. Inspiration and collaboration can occur while reading other people’s posts and comments (careful not to fall for click bait links), though most of the time going through the news feed (and attempting to scroll past the knee-jerk, reactive, and often insulting comments) is distracting to begin with. On the other hand, social media is one avenue aspiring writers can advertise their works, with the hopes of building a fan base at the grassroots level. Going the traditional route of mainstream publishing houses is a difficult and lengthy process. There’s a liberating sense of accomplishment in self / independent publishing, though there’s more work involved – editing the manuscript, creating the cover art and distributing the final product (physical and / or digital copies) to the public.

While costly (time and money wise), it’s possible.

I’m nowhere near that point in the process, but at least I know it’s an option. After all, the journey to the destination is just as important as the destination itself. (I think I paraphrased that correctly).

Back to work (though I’ll be fixated on the new teaser trailer for The Last Jedi for a while, and will watch the series premiere of Doctor Who later).

Time Management

Another week, another entry, though earlier than usual this week due to the rare occurrence of having evening plans during the time I normally write these entries. That I started this blog on a Saturday and kept up with posting every Saturday night since then is a remarkable feat – the anniversary of when this blog started is approaching (though the date itself does not fall on a Saturday). The intent of writing these entries was to share the process (if not the progress) of writing, with the hopes of sharing details and such about the plot, the characters and the meaning behind the tales to be told.

Well, that didn’t quite happen.

Many of these entries are quasi-rambling musings of ideas floating about the brain space and vague hints at the primary works in progress, namely the MASC Chronicles and the (somewhat lesser primary work in progress) meta series Tales from the Land of Exposition. As mentioned frequently, the bulk of these entries are written “live” and directly into WordPress with minimal editing (aside from grammar and spelling). Whatever pops into my head at any given moment is recorded, so odds are I’ve repeated myself several times over the years (I’m pretty sure I mentioned this very idea before, though probably not in the same way; then again, odds are the words are probably the same if not similar).

Anyway.

The theme / topic of this entry is time management, which has multiple meanings depending on the perspective the phrase is used, whether within or without the context of the narrative(s). Granted, I know I should schedule (or at least attempt to schedule) time to focus and actually plot, ponder and actually!write, but (per usual) real life interrupts and / or distracts from that notion. There’s only so many hours in a day, and fitting in time to have the clarity of mind to organize the ideas and figure out the nuances of character, plot and setting is not always possible. Ideas bounce about like fluffy bunnies wanting attention – whether or not they turn out to be useful is subjective. Most of the time, ideas flutter around only to be filed away for possible use in the future, though probably not in the same way, shape or form as originally intended. Managing time within the context of the story is a challenge, as playing with the notion of time travel keeps popping up every now and then, with alternate / parallel universes and other science fiction-esque devices.

Telling a simple story is not (always) enough – readers expect more and usually something different than what is already been written yet at the same time something familiar so they can have a vested (emotional / intellectual) interest in the lives of the characters and the journey / plight they take during the story.

Another facet in the whole time management with respect to the actual writing process is the ebbs and flows of when inspiration hits, which is something that can’t really be anticipated or controlled (at least not for me). There are times when I can sit down and focus on the works in progress and actually!write some of the narrative (then spend almost double the amount of time editing what I had just written), and there are times I stare at the screen and ponder what should happen next. There are countless memes about how sparks of brilliant ideas emerge just as you’re falling asleep and you’re too tired to get up and jot it down, hoping it’ll still be around in the morning. (Spoiler: it rarely ever sticks around for that long).

Plotting general outlines and such is a good way to find structure and build a foundation upon which the story can unfold, but finding the nuances and layers and figuring out where the details fit in the larger context is difficult. I’m pretty sure this is an issue across all genres, but especially for mystery and suspense – sprinkling enough clues for the detective / reader to follow but not giving away too much too soon (and adding red herrings along the way, which may or may not be red herrings.)

It’s a lot to ponder and plot and process.

If only there were enough time to manage all of this and live a “normal” life…

If only the TARDIS was a real thing (thankfully, Doctor Who will be returning soon, though it’ll be bittersweet as it’s Peter Capaldi’s final season / series as the Doctor)

TTFN!

NaNoWriMo (2016) Update #4

Perhaps this will be my last year attempting the challenge that is NaNoWriMo, but for some reason, I have a feeling I might (attempt to) undertake this feat again next year.

After all, next year might be the year I could hit at least the halfway mark, or at most the 10,000 word mark; the total word count in the five years I’ve participated (thus far) stands at 18,150 words. Conversely, this blog has existed for about three years, and the word count (thus far) stands at 110,707 words (obviously not counting this entry).

Then again, those unedited 18,150 words were written within a (roughly) 14 week period, and the unedited 110,707 words within this blog were written within 188 week period so it’s not quite fair to compare the two.

It’s akin to comparing apples to kumquats.

The NaNoWriMo writings were pure fiction, whereas the musings from this blog were mainly quasi-rambling streams of thought, with the recent entries tinged with politics (though I’ve never been actively political in these entries, tending to stick with the geeky / dorky /nerdy fandom commentary).

Some of the NaNoWriMo offerings were attempts to actually!write the stories that will eventually (inevitably?) end up somewhere in the MASC Chronicles Universe, while others were attempts at pantsing an original story, the latter usually finding its way into the former.

I’m not quite sure how that happens, but it does. Even when pantsing, the plotting reigns supreme.

The antics of the Real World and from the Real Life Brigade have (per usual) seized attention away from the true purpose of the Land of Exposition, with its land minds and other ploys at distractions, diversions and deviations (oh my!) to derail the momentum.

Anyway.

I’m sure it’s sounding like a broken record (if anyone out there remembers what records were and what an actual broken record sounds like) but procrastination does seem to go hand in hand with plotting and pondering. Structure and order (and a quasi-decent road map) are required in world building and character development and narrative arcs and all that jazz.

The Game of Genres for the MASC Chronicles has tipped toward a hybrid of Science Fiction / Fantasy mixed with the Mystery foundation; the narration is (still) in first person, though the narrator for Series One has oscillated between the main two characters. Influences and inspiration from the Real World will continue to impact recurring themes and character relationships, as well as (probably) comment on what could be in the near future.

It’s all still in a dry-ice fog of Uncertainty, as the  concrete is still damp, with falling leaves leaving minute imprints creating a mosaic pattern which will end up looking like… something completely different.

Maybe.

The Future is (still) unknown and the fictional world is still a work in progress.

NaNoWriMo (2016) Update #3

So it’s Week Three of the (quasi-non) adventure that is NaNoWriMo, and not much forward momentum in the actual!writing has actually!happened.

Clearly, November is (still) not a good month for me, writing-wise.

The plotting and pondering marches on, albeit in a haphazard fashion, through the reactionary goings-on in the Real World and the covert shenanigans from the Real Life Brigade. As the days turn colder, and grow shorter, it seems things will get worse (quickly) before they can get better (I’m still optimistic that things will get better… eventually).

Winter is coming – though Game of Thrones and (presumably) The Winds of Winter will return next year.

Anyway.

The Mind Writer remains in the mind, as the Muses wander about and the Plot Bunnies plot the Steampunk / fantasy / alternate future world of the MASC Chronicles, the often mentioned yet rarely elaborated epic series saga that will (eventually) be my magnum opus. The (not quite) “straight from the headlines” plot idea vaguely hinted in last week’s entry is bubbling out there (in the dark) and may or may not be incorporated into the elaborate fabric that is the MASC Chronicles universe.

Meanwhile, things in the Land of Exposition have been buzzing with activity, though it’s mostly containing the aftermath of the aforementioned shenanigans, raking up all the fallen leaves and collecting acorns.

Why?

Why not?

These are uncertain times we now live in, with protests and heated words thrown about in the sphere of social media, which is all the more reason why the Arts (in all its forms) is vital. If only (most of) the worlds writers can create with their imaginations can be brought to fruition in the Real World, ones where equality is guaranteed for all, conflicts can be resolved before resorting to abuse (physical, emotional and / or verbal) and where differences can be tolerated (to a certain degree).

Then again, some fictional worlds should remain fictional, lest they become our new Reality.

Off to plot and ponder, whilst stepping off the mini soap box.

Game of Genres (Part 3)

The plotting and pondering ponders and plots on – the pieces are falling into place (kinda) as the Grand Mashup shakes up the battle ground / playing field of the (meta) Game of Genres (as the track “The Wars to Come” from the Game of Thrones Season 5 score plays as I write). The proposal of a compromise between the feuding Genres to co-exist is a welcome relief for all, though the logistics of coordinating the peace is the tricky part.

And the quasi “fun” part, as it’s become quite evident to those following my quasi-random musings and meta ruminations during this (rather) long journey through the Land of Exposition that I have a penchant of complicating things when it comes to the art/craft of  storytelling. After all, the epic saga that is the MASC Chronicles began its life as a short story and grew to a 3 part, 36 book series, all of which is (still) in various stages of development.In the end it’ll all make sense, and will hopefully be one that will be worth all my plotting, pondering and quasi-random (often meta) musings.

The Land of Exposition is in a state of quasi-normalcy, with the Real Life Brigade making (somewhat reasonable) demands that keep the staff at the Character Development Inn working past normal hours, expecting their needs to be satisfied over all others. Other than their propensity for persnickety petulance (alliteration has returned!), they have been keeping to themselves (though the veiled threat of undiscovered land minds is omnipresent).

Anyway, I’ve quasi-caught up with watching the Game of Thrones episodes I missed (though the Tony Awards were AMAZING – fantastic musical numbers, heartfelt speeches, and an absolutely brilliant host – I hope James Corden is a regular host for the Tonys (and YAY Hamlet  Hamilton!). The narrative arc of Season 6 thus far is shaping up well, with loose ends being picked up and address (well, except Gendry – is he still rowing? Where is he? Rickon finally reappeared, albeit for a few minutes, though now a hostage of Ramsey Bolton). I do hope the remainder of the series as a whole) is the Return/Revenge of House Stark. Once again, I’ll miss seeing the next episode “The Battle of the Bastards” as it airs due to another great clash of titans (i.e. Game 7 of the NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors), As the only cable-equipped TV will be preoccupied, I will be watching Series 3 of Endeavour (on PBS) instead, which aired in the UK  months ago, a (welcome) return to my Mystery! roots.

But I digress.

Clearly, I should be actually!writing instead of blathering on about TV shows, but then again, scripted dramas are a kind of storytelling, with its twists and turns. The “problem” is that I’m much more of a plotter than a pantser so a whole lot of strategy and use of flow charts and such needs to take place before any actual!writing actually!happens.

The journey has been long, and I like to know (relatively) where I (and the narrative arc) is headed.

It should all make sense in the end.

And it should be a good ending (or beginning, depending on one’s perspective.)

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.