What’s Happening in 2017

Hello everyone.

The blog is on hiatus right now.

For the past two years I’ve used this blog to talk about…

  • Story Structure
  • Creativity
  • Novel Writing
  • Health/Inspiration/Motivation

Now it’s time for me to bring all that research to bear on my own novel. Book 1 of my fantasy series, Turtle Island, is still in the works.

I’ve been working with a professional developmental editor for the past 8 months. My novel is coming along, and in the meantime I’m getting a crash course in writing from someone who does what I want to do – someone who deals in words for a living. Most importantly, I’m getting direct feedback on my writing. Which is scary, and painful, and exactly what I need.

I still plan to have the novel published on Amazon in 2017. But because this is my first time going through the process, it’s hard for me to judge exactly what month I’ll be able to publish.

My blog hasn’t slowed to a halt because I don’t care about writing anymore; it’s just that, I’m trying to stop talking about writing and do the damn thing.

When I do re-start the blog, I’m actually considering doing it in the form of a podcast. In my podcast I plan to break down famous novels, especially fantasy trilogies and series like…The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. The podcast will be the result of some intense reading and studying I’ve done in preparation for my own fantasy trilogy. Because how better to learn than by taking notes from the greats?

 

But the podcast is not right now. Right now I’m in radio silence mode. Working my day job, day dreaming about writing during my day job, and coming home every evening to write.

So that’s where I’m at. When I’m back here next, I’ll be carrying a basket of good news.

 

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Patterns Within Patterns

bali rice fields

It takes a damn good Villain to sustain a lengthy series. Petty criminals can be tracked and detained within the space of an episode, but a Voldemort or a Darth Vader can push your hero to the brink.

Arguments about what people should or shouldn’t do only distract from the reality of what people are actually doing.

Life is what happens from 9 to 5. Evenings and weekends are just commercials that break up the regularly scheduled program.

You can fake love, wealth and happiness, but you can’t fake fitness.

All I have to do to become a poet is read every poem ever written, starting with Homer.

What people/characters want is usually very different from what they need.

Life imitates life. The start of a new year is like the first flowers after a bitter winter, which is like a fiery sunrise after a moonless night, which reminds us of birth, which is like waking up after a long nap, which feels like forgiveness, finite youth, and limitless possibility.

How to Make a Character

pengubengan road

The boxcar full of innocent people is hurtling toward the cliff. Superman wants to save them but WAIT! Lois Lane is on the cutting board, the laser inching closer and closer to her exposed neck. What’s it gonna be Superman – your love or your duty?

Everyone pretty much agrees about life’s core values. Is FAMILY important? Yes. Is GOOD WORK important? Of course. What about SOCIAL JUSTICE? What about PERSONAL HEALTH?

Yes yes yes. There’s not much room for debate here. We all nod, love and truth amen.

But a novelist tortures his characters by making them choose one value over the other. It starts to get interesting when you ask someone, “which value is more important – FAMILY TIME or PERSONAL HEALTH?”

Superman usually figures out how to succeed in both. But us regular people have to decide: should I take the money job that requires me to work 12 hour days? Should I skip the gym membership so I can spend evenings with my grandparents in the nursing home?

These decisions always hurt. They differentiate you from the people around you. These decisions are the structural support beams for the building that is your Character.

The Martial Arts

 

I love practicing the martial arts for three reasons.

  1. The workouts kick my ASS.
  2. What I’m learning is practical. I travel a lot, and I like the idea that I could protect myself and my family if needed. Basketball is crazy fun for me, but it isn’t useful in the same way.
  3. My instructors and partners are good people. From what I’ve experienced, people who practice these lethal art forms are honest and hard working. The culture is one of deep respect.

Last year I practiced Jiu Jitsu and right now I’m practicing Muay Thai. Here’s a short word on each art form:

Jiu Jitsu is the art of grappling on the ground. If you go to youtube and type in “street fight”, you’ll see that eventually every fight ends up on the ground. Jiu Jitsu teaches you what to do once you’re down there. If you are on top, how do maintain your control? If you are on your back, how do you A) get back to your feet, or B) attack from your back?

Muay Thai is a specialized form of striking. In Muay Thai you learn that your body has 8 weapons: two fists, two elbows, two knees, and two legs. You learn how to dance in front of your opponent, how to protect yourself from strikes, and how to throw your own combinations. Throwing an effective punch is harder than it looks on TV. On my first day of Muay Thai training, I spent a long time learning how to stand.

From Taekwondo to Judo, Karate, Boxing, Kick Boxing, Wrestling, there are a lot of fighting disciplines. But it’s clear that some disciplines are more useful than others. UFC fights in the 90’s and early 2000’s proved that a well trained Jiu Jitsu fighter has a very good chance of out-matching a striker, even a bigger and stronger one.

UFC fights are fascinating from an intellectual perspective because they attempt to answer this question: If two people face off, and all other things are basically equal (the fighters are the same size, there are no weapons, both fighters are healthy, etc…) who will win? Which fighting technique, or combination of techniques, is actually the most effective? UFC fighters are today’s Roman Gladiators. They really do “fight to the death,” but the referee’s job is to intercede exactly at the point that death is imminent.

I never thought I’d be a die hard UFC fan, but since when did Mrs. Fanny Fate ever give a shit about what we thought we’d grow up to be?