Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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Tomorrow I start

June 1, 2011

Tomorrow, June 1st, I’m sitting down and starting the new WIP. Do I have every detail of plot as ironed out as I would like? No, not really, but looking over my old notes from Project W has made me realize how much of that story was conceived on the fly. It’s like the old saying that writing a book is like driving at night; you can only see as far as your headlights allow, but you can make the whole trip that way.

My trusty guide

As for world-building and characterization… well, a lot of the world-building still holds from Project W, as it’s set in the same universe. The characters are new, but they seem talkative and cooperative thus far. As always, I’m quietly excited to see who gets picked up along the way. It’s like the night before the first day of school- when you know, at that very moment, there is someone out there who will become one of your new friends. But at that very moment, neither of you knows the other exists yet.

I have some idea of what I’m in for. My map and bag are packed, my travelling companions are raring to go, but there’s still one or two last-minute checks to make.

The night before anything is always one of the longest and shortest nights, isn’t it?

-Arvik

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Folk Cures

May 28, 2011

It has been raining for days. I’ve actually lost count of how many days it’s been since I’ve seen the sun. Obviously, rain can be depressing. Humans crave sunlight. The cold and wet make the outside unappealing. But for me, the worst part is the sinus headaches.

My nasal cavities are a functional barometer. I can tell when rain is coming. I can certainly tell when it is raining. Unfortunately, the price for this superpower is a dull, persistent ache at my temples and under my eyes that makes me want to claw my face off.

Low Pressure: Why I’ll never climb Mt. Everest
 

Fortunately, a lifetime dealing with headaches has left me with an arsenal of fixes. Some are probably slightly less effective than rubbing myself with a chicken gizzard in the light of the full moon, but I’ll quite happily take the placebo effect as well.

Arvik’s Home Headache Remedies

Drugs. Not exactly a home remedy, but I tend to want pain relief more than anything else. I basically have my own pharmacy that I carry with me, and let me say… it does come in handy.

Sleep. Sometimes the best (and only) way to escape for a few hours and have a chance of feeling better after. Of course, there are mornings when I wake up thinking drugsdrugsdrugsdrugs. Those mornings usually don’t bode well.

Protein and/or Sugar. Low blood sugar can trigger and exacerbate headaches. Protein is awesome because it takes longer to digest- the body can go to work on it like a dog gnawing on a bone.

Cool cloths. Actually, I don’t have a cloth. I have a beanbag thing you stick in the fridge and then place over your eyes. I like it, though I always forget to put it back

Things I Wish Were Headache Cures

Unicorn Horn. Just press the horn (either still attached to the unicorn or not) to your head, and voila! Instant pain relief.

Time Machine. I would assume that people will find a lasting cure for headaches in the future. You could go forward in time, steal a few samples, and return. Alternatively, you could just go to a time when you don’t have a headache.

Witch’s Spell. Witches are notoriously pricey, but if it’s a skilled spell-caster, it may be worth it. Long gone are the days of bubbling broths of eye of newt and breath of fish. Modern witches are all about compacting their potions into efficient little capsules. No fuss, no muss, and no smell.

Magic Spring. Bathing in or drinking magic waters is likely to be less expensive than paying for a spell. They’re just harder to find. However, it should be noted that drinking from a magic spring ought to be doubly effective, since many headaches are caused/worsened by dehydration.

Madame Pomfrey. She can heal anything!

The Doctor. Ditto (actually, one of the main reasons I really like my doctor is because he reminds me of Voyager’s doctor).

 

The Doctor. Dealing with human brains and their pains has got to be easier than dealing with time streams, right?

Pillow stuffed with feathers from the wings of a sphinx. Sphinxes are clever. Not only would I imagine that this pillow would be good for your headache, it may enable some subliminal learning.

Alas, until these latter cures are most feasible… I’m off to grab my cool-pack and take a pill.

-Arvik

 

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The Planning of Novels and Expeditions

May 24, 2011

I think I’m nearly ready. June 1st is my current “deadline” to finish prewriting and start the actual writing of my current work-in-progress (which I’m sure will eventually acquire a code name of some sort). It feels strangely like I’m finalizing the details of an Everest attempt.

As long-time readers know, the novel-writing process as a journey is a metaphor of which I’m quite fond. I think it does help to make things seem a bit more concrete- it’s easier to accomplish tangible tasks (or so I find). And honestly, it’s fun to think of the writing as an epic quest in itself.

Whether you’re setting out for far-off lands literally or figuratively, a plan is a good thing. Scuba divers have a saying, “Plan the dive and dive the plan.” Here’s mine:

Know your route

Usually, you know your start and end points. It’s the stuff in the middle that gets hazy. Have a map. I tend to have a list of plot points to serve as “landmarks.” Do I always know how to get from landmark to landmark? No. And sometimes that lets me discover really cool detours and diversions along the way.

Is it enough to tell me when I’m lost? Mostly. And it’s certainly useful for keeping track of how far you’ve come and how far you have to go.

Pack Accordingly

I always envy light packers. Lugging an overstuffed suitcase up and down staircases is not fun. However, it’s hard to go too light- freezing because you forgot your sweater is no picnic either.

Same goes for prewriting and worldbuilding. You can’t go too light, or you won’t have the details on hand when you need them. But if you “overpack,” you may never actually start. Perpetually adding “just one more thing” to your story bible may be as useful as tossing in a parka for your trip to Hawaii.

Know your travel buddies

It’s a good thing to know whether you can get along with your travel companions before you start out. While the open road always holds surprises, you can mostly tell ahead of time whether a particular person is one you wouldn’t mind sharing a tent with. Likewise, you should have a pretty good grasp of your characters. Of course they can turn around and surprise you partway through- that’s part of the fun. And, just like running into fellow travellers at hostels, you’ll pick up new people along the way. 

I like to know the main characters fairly well before I start out… and know that they’re people I’ll be able to live with every day for months on end. 

Onwards!

-Arvik

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I Now Officially Write for a Living

May 21, 2011

No, I have not sold a book yet. However, I have managed to find and obtain a job which marries three of my major loves in life, those loves being…

  • Writing
  • History
  • Working with kids

Starting at the end of this month, I will be the “Theatre Programmer” at the Pioneer Village just outside of town. Essentially, I will read turn-of-the-century kids’ novels, do historical research on my own, and then write and perform monologues for kids.

Wearing Victorian clothing.

Outside.

In a Pioneer Village.

The amount of awesomeness just increased dramatically. I intend to keep serving on my days off (especially now that I’m getting the hang of it, and enjoy meeting all the interesting people we get in the restaurant), but this is really my dream job.

I’m being paid to write. Not only that, I get to introduce kids to history. And even better, I get a taste of everyday Victorian life for myself. Yes, I will admit, that my first thought after hanging up the phone (well, second, my first thought was probably “HUZZAH!!!”), was…

Imagine the steampunk I’ll be able to write after this!

-Arvik

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No more libraries???

May 19, 2011

I never thought it would happen, but apparently the days of the school library may be numbered.

On the surface, the idea seems absurd. Schools are places of learning. Having a huge collection of books in one place is an excellent way to facilitate learning. Therefore, leaving aside the issues of getting kids to enjoy reading (which I’ll get to in a second), it would seem a matter of practicality to equip schools with libraries.

Yes, technology is changing. We rely more on the Internet for research, and last I heard, Amazon was selling more e-books than actual print-and-paper books. However, that does not subtract from the importance of books as a research source. Do me a favour. The next time a set of encyclopediae is handy, look up a topic of your choosing. Then, boot up your computer, access the Internet, and search for the same topic. I’m willing to bet you’ll end up on Wikipedia.

I’m also willing to bet that it took much less time to simply open a book. Then, since I’m such a gamblin’ soul, I will make one final bet that the information in your print encyclopedia was reviewed and fact-checked, making it more reliable than the encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.”

And this is just looking at libraries from a purely academic point of view. These are school libraries on the chopping block. School libraries are instrumental in exposing kids to books and making the world of reading an accessible one. I cannot count the hours I spent in my elementary school library, devouring books that I found on my own as I perused the shelves, as well as those the librarian recommended to me. The Call of the Wild. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. From the Earth to the Moon. The Chronicles of Narnia. Sherlock Holmes. Ancient Myths and Legends. The War of the Worlds. Watership Down. Redwall. Silver Chief. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. The Hobbit.

Notice, if you will, the presence of a lot of “older” books: Verne, Wells, London. While my school library certainly had books for a younger audience, it also carried the classics. So, when you read everything of interest in the “little kid” section, you naturally moved on to some literature that, in hindsight, was extremely good preparation for the rest of my schooling, as well as my current writing.

I don’t know that it would have been possible in a public library. Don’t get me wrong, I love public libraries too, but… many of them are a lot bigger. The librarians don’t often know you as personally, and can’t always provide that individualized recommendation. They can’t say, “It’s about a magical land, with a wicked queen and a lion who saves the day. It may be a little scary, but I think you’ll like it.”

Too often, we hear news stories about how kids don’t read, kids don’t use their imagination, kids don’t have any attention span anymore because they’re too hooked in to TV and video games. Growing up, my home was well-stocked with books because my parents were huge readers. But not every child is so fortunate. Nor does every child have a public library that’s close and easily accessed (which is a tragedy too).

And yet, if you give kids the opportunity to explore books freely and comfortably, they will eventually find something that makes their imaginations soar. Then you have a reader for life.

Reading is like drinking seawater. The more you drink, the thirstier you become.

Keep them thirsting for more.

-Arvik

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Endeavour is Off

May 16, 2011

Apparently, I was sadly misled. Or I missed NASA’s updates. Either way, I’m saddened.

I thought Endeavour would fly the final shuttle mission. She gets the next-to-last instead. While I have no real issue with Atlantis seeing out the shuttle age, it would have been nice to witness Endeavour’s final lift-off. As the last mission is scheduled on or around my birthday (end of June- mark your calendars), it would have been even nicer.

But life is what it is. I’ve lamented about the end of the shuttle programme before. The mood now seems akin to the last few weeks of school. There’s a sense of inevitable winding-down, the imminent closing of a chapter. I am proud of the fleet, the astronauts, and the ground-based crews. I’m nervously excited for the future (excited because who knows where we’ll go, nervous because with budget cuts and red tapes, who knows where we’ll go…).

And yes, I’m a little sad that one of the world’s most beautiful machines will be grounded.

Endeavour is “my” ship for a simple reason: as a small child, I spent a few summers at Space Camp/Camp Spatial Canada. Although probably not as cool as the American versions of Space Camp (i.e. the ones close to actual space centres), we nevertheless got to live in a space museum, test astronaut simulators, and fly missions in a full-scale mock-up of Endeavour.

She dominated the training pit, taking up most of the space in the vast hall while the simulators clustered alongside the walls. Every time you walked through the hall, the hulking space craft drew your eye. And while I did have (*cough*still have*cough*) an overactive imagination, I do remember having a moment of disorientation after one “mission,” illogically wondering how she’d landed in the training room without crashing through the walls.

And to the crew now orbiting the Earth: best of luck, and come home safely.

The Cosmodome

In the museum

 

 

 

Simulator at lower right

Arvik

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A Day in the Ideal Life…

May 14, 2011

Lately, I’ve been musing about life. More specifically, the day-to-day shape of my life, and how the future might play itself out. In job interviews, and guidance/career counsellors’ offices, people sometimes ask, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I’ve always found that question hard to answer. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in five years. Obviously, writing is Plan A.

But it’s notoriously difficult to get published. Harder still to make a living from writing. And my Plan B? At this point, it’s looking like academia.

Which means I could be spending my life in a pizza-box shack.

Naturally, this caused me some anxiety. However, always one to look on the bright side of life (insert obligatory whistles here, here, and here), I decided to plan out a day in my ideal life.

6:30: Wake up. Admire the sun rising over the ocean, because I’ll be living in a house beside the sea (fingers crossed).

7:00-8:00: Swim/run/bike/whatever.

8:00-9:00: Leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper and doing the crossword.

9:00-10:00: Surfing the net and taking care of emails, etc.

10:00-11:00: Read

11:00-12:00: Read more, if I’m engrossed. Otherwise, video games.

12:00-12:30: Lunch

12:30-1:30: Casual stroll

1:30-4:30: WRITE (presumably with breaks)

4:30: Rest/run errands

5:00: Make dinner

5:30-6:30: Dinner and cleaning up dinner

6:30-7:30: Read. Or watch Dr. Who. Or Andromeda. Or Star Trek.

7:30-10:30: WRITE

11:00: Go to bed.

Of course, as I reread this, I realize this chart leaves out the spontaneous-social-fun things. Like time with friends and loved ones. Those are important too, and certainly part of an ideal life.

But I think the major stuff is all there. Lots of reading, lots of writing, a good dose of outside time (I’ve decided I’m secretly part dog- I need to be let out every day, or I start chewing the furniture), and a good dose of gaming.

What’s in your ideal life?

-Arvik