Allergies, Life, and Writing.

April 29, 2014

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Allergies

Some people get the blues in January, from the lack of sun, and outdoor air. I get it at this time of year. I have severe allergies to nature. Ok maybe not all nature but most trees, grass, ragweed, flowers, mold, fungus, etc.

On top of all that I have one of the most annoying and one of the rarest symptoms from allergies; Weakness. When I have a bad allergy day it feels like all my energy has been sapped from my body and I have trouble moving. I also get migraines, trouble breathing etc.

Before I started on the allergy shots I had days where getting out of bed was such a chore that I’d hurt myself trying. I once burst several blood vessels in my eyes from the strain of sitting up. I had bloodied eyes for a week after.

The funniest was when my wife and I decided to start walking in the mornings. About a week into the walks I developed what I call “Demon Eyes” where the white from my eyes turned bright red.

When I was a kid I thought I was a wimp because I couldn’t touch wet grass without getting a red burn like rash on my hands.

There’s a nice break in mid to late July where I’m not allergic to anything blooming and I feel good. Other than that I feel best in winter when it’s -10 and everything is frozen.

Point

I have a point. I’m not just complaining. I swear.

I’m not a particularly People loving person. I believe the Human Race is wonderful and filled with potential and I love my friends and family. But people in general annoy me.

So if you see me, or talk to me, or interact in some way and I’m not my usual talkative self… It’s not you, it’s allergies.

I try my best to be nice and get excited about hanging out with people and once I’m doing it, if the crowd isn’t too big, I love it but beforehand I dread every moment.

Writing

Writing is going well, Parasomnia is well into Chapter 15 which is somewhere between 60% and 70% done the first draft. Once I’m done, my Weditor/Alpha reader will go through it and help me tighten the story. After a quick and dirty edit and re-write I’ll pass it to my Beta Readers who are small in group but awesome. I’ve hopefully acquired a new one who will be able to offer an author’s point of view.

After I get it back from the Beta’s I will then do another re-write and decide whether I think it’s good enough to start pitching to publishers, agents, and contests.

Right now, I need to concentrate on writing one word in front of the other, inevitably moving towards an ending.

Thanks for reading,

Éric

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The Past was like Totally Better

December 31, 2013

Nostalgia: Sentimental longing for or regretful memory of a period of the past, esp. one in an individual’s own lifetime; (also) sentimental imagining or evocation of a period of the past. – Oxford English Dictionary

Someday we’ll look back on today and think how wonderful the world was and how horrible it has become. I can say that without exaggeration because it’s already happened. It’s happening right now. (I’m looking at you!)

I think it’s part of human nature that we idolize a time where we think we were happier, where life was simpler, where all the horrible things had yet to happen. We latch onto the horrible things in our lives now and glorify the good things of the past.

It’s not that we forget the bad things but their bite lessens with time. We can see it with less bias. There are two quotes that come to mind and I’ll say upfront that I disagree with Doctor Who.

“Great men are forged in fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame” – 50th anniversary of Doctor Who

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.” – Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

These two quotes define our cultures beliefs on life. Fire, turmoil, battle, horror, etcetera are what creates great people. It is what makes exciting stories but not people. We don’t define ourselves by our hardships but our successes. When we don’t, we run into trouble.

Back to nostalgia… Nostalgia is our way of whitewashing our past and making sure we mostly remember the good stuff. It’s not that we want to forget the bad but that we want to concentrate on the good. We also tend to make a big deal about stuff that we won’t find important in the future.

A good example for me is writing. When I’m writing I feel stressed to be writing, but excited. I also feel ridiculously frustrated when I first edit. When all is said and done and I have an “almost” finished book (I say almost because my mind will never let me finish. I can always do more.) I feel amazing and only remember the excitement and elation of writing.

In some cases nostalgia is right but in a lot of cases it’s not. The world isn’t worse off than it was twenty years ago. The nineties wasn’t a better time. The internet and technology isn’t leading us to a horrible brain melting doom.

Nostalgia is great, especially with a drink and an old friend, but next time you find yourself saying, “When I was a kid…” stop and try to think of the good things now.

We live in a time of wonder and excitement.

If you need proof:  At the begining of 2014 Biofabrication isn’t Science Fiction.

See you in the New Year my Imaginary Friends!

Éric


Lately I’m easily… *SQUIRREL!*

December 20, 2013

I’ve been having trouble concentrating lately. Not during important things like reading, writing, or talking to my wife. It’s while watching TV.

I’m an avid fan of television and consume a lot more than I should. Especially while multitasking. My first writing project was a fanfiction staring a post Star Trek: The Next Generation Scotty. I think both television and video games have been greatly underestimated as art and educational. That’s a completely other post however.

Full disclosure, between television, movies, and youtube, I probably watch 30-40 hours a week, most of it while working. I’m a layout artist for the government and can easily multitask without affecting the speed or quality of my work.

All that being said, a lot of shows are having trouble keeping my interest. Most of them are new shows. The particular culprits are Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Atlantis, Haven, and Grimm. I’d watch them and suddenly find myself looking at my phone or thinking about something else.

I thought it was me until I watched Nightmare on Elmstreet 3. I assumed I would have the same problem but I didn’t. Then I started re-watching Gilmore Girls and again didn’t get distracted.

So what was my problem? Was I bored? No. Were the shows boring? Not really.

I think I’ve come up with a reason. “Pacing” any good action, cop, adventure, or genre show has high levels of tension and action followed by cool-down periods. It’s a structure that’s shared between most of them. It helps to calm the audience or build tension depending on how it’s used.

I think the problem is simply that their cool-down periods are boring me. You know the part where they get ready, or the part where they explain, or the part where they chat about the secondary storyline. It’s just not keeping my interest.

This is an essential part of the story but it doesn’t have to be boring. Look at Castle, it has more witty banter and flirting during these scenes to compensate. Or look at Doctor Who or
Buffy, they do these scenes during running, or flying or while they move to the next thing.

Some shows, like Gilmore Girls, don’t need the ups and downs and keeps to a middle ground tension.

All the shows that keep my interest are seasoned with humour. I think the combination of strong character relationships and humour is what keeps me focused during the slower bits.

In writing, I always try to write something that it interesting and funny, to me, in the cool-downs or build-ups. The hope is that the reader won’t get bored or distracted.

These aren’t bad shows, most of them are still struggling to get their balance or get their balance back. If they were bad, I’d stop watching them.

What about you? Are there shows that just can’t keep your interest? If so what would you like to see them change?


Time and perception = Time Travel

December 18, 2013

The subjectivity of time fascinates me. It’s kind of like time travel and you know how I feel about time travel (I love it).

A good example of how mind boggling this concept is, think about the bus. Let’s say, 2 people take the bus at the same time and get off at the same time. The trip lasts 35 minutes. Person 1 is a bus-reader, like me, and sits down to read a good book. Person 2 suffers from motion sickness and doesn’t own a music player.

Person 1 fought dragons or whatever they’re into reading, while Person 2 fought with nausea. They both experienced things but Person 1 would say that they’ve experience more while Person 2 would say they didn’t experience anything.

As for time, Person 1 barely noticed the trip. Maybe they even got frustrated that it didn’t last a few pages extra. Person 2 noticed every excruciating moment.

If we were going to do this in pseudo-scientific math stuff:

Person 1: Time Noticed < Real Time < Experience

Person 2: Experience < Real Time < Time Noticed

Isn’t that cool?

How a character experiences time is extremely important and is rarely exploited by authors. The reason is simple, playing with character subjectivity, is difficult. Not to mention the fact that the human mind will try to compensate while reading.

Does anyone have examples of an author doing this well?


Anniversaries

December 13, 2013

Yesterday I celebrated the 8th year of dating my wife and 4.5 years of marriage.

The older I get the harder I find it to have perspective on the quantity of time I’ve spent. 8 years doesn’t feel that long, and then I realize that it’s a quarter of my life. I have spent over a quarter of my life with my wife. Wow.

We’re not big on hullabaloo for our anniversaries. For our wedding anniversaries we either relax at home or recreate our first date. Last night we went to a restaurant and the “Midnight” premier of The Hobbit. Thankfully it’s not really at midnight but 10pm.

Relationships are hard! All of them are, not just romantic ones. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new friendship but it’s harder to upkeep it in the long run.

A romantic relationship has so many extra stigma’s and insecurities that they are extra hard.

Like so many other things in my life, I didn’t know what I was doing when I met my wife. I still don’t, but I do know enough to be thankful. I don’t just have a wife. I have a friend, and a partner.

Anniversaries should be about enjoying each other and appreciating what you have. Love you Sweetie!


Identity Musings

November 22, 2013

“The soul’s made of stories, not atoms.” – The Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity. Who we are, who we think we are, and who people think we are.

The Dissonance of Identity

It’s happened to all of us at one point. A friend or family member says something is “typical you” and it shocks you. “How could they think that?”

When my wife was younger, her family would by her cow themed presents. She says that once she mentioned that one cow was cute; her family swears that she loved cows. That’s a perfect example of the dissonance between who we think we are and who others think we are. “I don’t like cows” compared to “She loves cows.”

There’s a disconnect between what the three parts of yourself. I’m sure there are technical terms for it but I’ll just make it up. There’s the Self Identity, the Projected Identity, and the True Self.

Forget about the last one. By the time you have discovered and understood the True Self, you’ve already altered it.

The other two are important to understand, both in life and in fiction. A good villain thinks he’s the hero. Think about that… Go ahead I have time…

Yeah you could be the villain in someone else story. The truly depressing fact is, you have been at some point.

There are two ways to look at this, you either accept that it’s part of you or you deny the effect of other people’s opinions on your life.

I know I’ve done some stupid things and I’m not proud of everything but I am sorry.

To everyone who has seen me as the villain in their story: I’m sorry. (And thank you for reading my blog.)

Changing

When I was young, I hated green olives, or I thought I hated them. Then one day I decided to try one. Something had changed and suddenly my mouth was telling me I liked green olives.

As human beings we change and a lot of the time we don’t notice. This applies to everything in our lives. However our perception of ourselves doesn’t always change with us.

That’s what makes me still think of myself as an Improv player, despite the fact that I haven’t played in over a decade. The realization that you aren’t who you thought you were can painful.

Fandoms

Being a fan a decade or two ago was simple for me. I was a Trekkie. No doubt about it, no second guessing nothing. I built my identity, morals, and knowledge of story structure around the shows. From 1987 to 2002, I lived and breathed Star Trek.

If someone were to ask me the same thing now, I’d reply that I’m a Geek. It’s not that I love Star Trek any less, it’s that I have so many other Fandoms that I don’t have the time or energy to list them out.

There are fandoms that I’m not part of but still enjoy the source. I like Star Wars but I wouldn’t consider myself a Jedi, Warsy? Whatever they call themselves.

When I was about to go to high school, I was terrified to be placed in the wrong group. Television, books, and movies had trained me to think high school kids were sorted into categories. Boy was I shocked when I realized that it never happened. Sure there were cliques and groups but they weren’t categorized and the groups consistently shifted.

In a world that tells you, consistently, that you must be one thing, it’s hard to realize I’m not just one thing.

I will attempt to list all my fandoms at the end of the post. *

The Future

As confusing and as painful not knowing or being wrong about who you are is, it’s nowhere as devastating as realizing you aren’t who you wanted to be.

At every part of your life, you’ve looked toward the future and said, “That’ll be me someday.” Some people even achieve those goals but most won’t.

Interestingly the idea of what we are going to be seems to be tied with turning 30. It’s not everyone but when people say, “When I grow up.” It’s around 30 that they are thinking or in the very least 30 is when we stop pushing the age back.

I’ve noticed a lot of friends being upset that they aren’t who or what or where they wanted to be. I understand. When I was 5 I wanted to be a taxi driver by now. When I was 10 I wanted to be Paleontologist by now. When I was 15 I wanted to be a robotic expert by now. When I was 20 I wanted to be a media theorist. When I was 25 I wanted to be alive.

Other than that last one, I haven’t really succeeded at becoming what I wanted to become.

It hurts, you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough. Seen enough of the world, or changed it enough.

You’re not alone

You know what?

It’s ok, if you aren’t where you thought you’d be.

It’s ok, if you’re not who you thought you’d be.

And it’s ok if you’re not who thought you were.

The important thing to remember is to Keep Moving Forward. (Yeah I just reference Disney. You got a problem?)

Don’t wallow in pity or fear. Analyze and mobilize yourself. Figure out what you like about yourself and concentrate on improving it, figure out what you hate about yourself and concentrate on accepting it. Talk to friends and family, or even a professional if you need to, it’s ok not to know.

I know what I want to be and where I want to be in ten years but it took me a while to figure it out.

Good luck!

Eric

* I started listing everything and it devolved into listing everything I like a lot. Here’s the partial list, I’m sure I’ve forgotten plenty of things.

Browncoat, Bronie, Trekkie, Gater, Whovian, Fiver, Scoobie, Whedonite, Nerd Fighter, Beard Lover, Fullerite, Supernatural fan, Superwholockian, Schlocker, Playgrounder, Phineas and Ferb fan, Weekender, Kim Possible Fan, Backie, Loki’s army, Baker Street Irregular, Potthead, Ringer, Amberite, Dresdenite, Gaimanite, Gamer, Goblin, Tortallan, Rush fan, David Usher Fan, Shakespeare lover, Robert Frost Fan, Reader, Minion, Disney fan, Stephen King Fan, Winter fan, Superhero fan, Android, Ubuntu, Gadgets,…


Death is a Jerk

November 8, 2013

Death Bah!

I’m sure if there is a personification of Death, they are really sweet. It’s the consequences of their actions that are horrible. So he/she is a Jerk.

It’s a strange concept that haunts and terrifies me.

I remember when I first realized that someday I wouldn’t exist. I was in the car with my mother and had just clipped my seatbelt in for the hour ride to the nearest big town for groceries.

My whole world went black for a moment and I thought I might faint. I must have been seven or eight when I realized that someday I would end. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and talking to my mother about it, I internalized it and it freaked me out.

But Death only terrorizes the living. As far as I know, once you’re dead it’s not scary anymore. It’s those left behind that feel the pain and fear of death.

I’m older now and slightly wiser than my seven year old self, I hope, and I’ve come to realize that Death should be scary. It should paralyze people but it’s important to remind ourselves to appreciate what we have and those around us, while we still can.

Happy Birthday Mom

I lost my mother shortly after my twenty-fifth birthday. She’d been sick for several years, but it still took me by surprise. I had come to terms with my own mortality at seven but I never came to terms with hers.

Today is her birthday and I miss her.

She raised me and helped shape me into the man I am today. More than that she was also my best friend for a long time, I knew I could tell her anything.

It’s been over five years now and it still hurts the same, I think it always will.

Thank you and Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Death in Writing

I tend to shy away from killing my characters. I mean real death, not superhero death. It’s not that I’m afraid to, it that I’m afraid of not being able to give the death the emotional weight it deserves.

That last thing I want is to write a story or book, kill off a character, and be the only one who grieves.

The threat of death, and the history of death, drives most of my characters as I imagine it drives most of humanity.

Another reason I don’t often kill off my characters, especially in short stories, is that they’re going to die anyways. I’ll finish the story and their lives will end. It’s one of the reasons I hate writing short stories. I feel for the characters and then they are gone. It hurts in a ridiculous and silly way.

Question and challenge

Has there ever been a death in something you’ve watched, read, or listened too that hit you hard? Did it surprise you? Thinking about it now, was it important to the story?

I’m going to challenge myself to write a story where someone dies and see if I can make the Jerk come to life in words.