Wednesday, October 26, 2016

TWIC: Nano prep, art podcast, drawing

NaNoWriMo starts in less than a week.  I am really torn over this one. Last year, I completed the challenge but, again, did not finish a novel. It crossed 50,000 words but only pointed toward an ending. In December and beyond, I added around 10,000 more words but haven't touched it in more than a month. My plan was, starting November 2015, I will see if I can be a writer. And the only clear result was that I could not. I could write but I didn't follow through. And I did write a lot; I have many answers on Quora and they were well researched. But they weren't the intended forum for my writing.
This year's book has the working title, "Smash the Lion, Smash the Dragon, Smash the Bear" and should conclude my steampunk trilogy - neither of the other two books have endings. One reason I am starting a new book is that this will force me to consider what happened at the end of book two so I will have a clear image of what I need to write towards when I return to it.

This story will feature a typical British stuffed shirt, and I have latched onto Cardigan as my model.

Okay, Nano stuff online: Quora topic page.
Are there are any good writing prompts for Nano?
What else could you complete in a month?
If women wrote men the way men wrote women.
Productive Procrastination.
4. Jordan Tannahill asks, "What is the most ridiculous thing you found yourself doing out of distraction/procrastination instead of writing?"
Duolingo. Not that it's ridiculous to try to improve my French, but it's ridiculous how addictive those little highs are when you get through a round without a mistake...
5. Jalal Barzanji asks, "How many times do you revise your manuscript before you submit it for publishing?"

At least twice - and at least one more time before it gets published.
More on productivity: The best habits of famous writers.
Regarding failure (Toni Morrison):
Pay very close attention to failure, rather than get depressed or unnerved or feel ashamed. As a writer, a failure is just information...I recognize failure, which is important; some people don’t – and fix it, because it is data, it is information, knowledge of what does not work. That’s why writers need rewriting and editing...What you do is you identify the procedure and what went wrong and then correct it. If you think of writing simply as information, you can get closer to success.
On big projects with distance completions dates -and Nano-relevant advice (John Steinbeck):
Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
And some advice important to me (Neil Gaiman):
When people come to me and they say, “I want to be a writer, what should i do?” I say you have to write. And sometimes they say, “I’m already doing that, what else should i do?” And I say you have to finish things...You learn by finishing things.
Arts and Culture podcasts on BBC.
A prompt for artists, your child's drawings.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Incheon Animals: Brown Praying Mantis

I give you Statilia Maculata, the Asian Jumping Mantis.

I don't know why this critter has that green goo or liquid around its eyes and head.
I am very grateful I accidentally used the flash of I would not have caught the colours on the inside of its forearms. I've seen a few of these guys and never noticed that before.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Creativity is the tool

On this blog, and in my life, I have worked to understand what creativity is and how to nurture it. And I’ve gotten this far:

Creativity is the tool
that allows you to
find the tool to
solve the problem.

I’ve followed recommended creativity enhancing procedures for plot challenges in my novels but not for specific concrete problems. Let me check my account...Ah, two coggles used to plan class structure and material, eight for writing. And now, two new ones for the subject listed below.

So I was walking the dog today, a beautiful walk and longer than she normally gets and I could see how happy she was. I felt satisfied for making her this happy and decided I should this again. Then I thought about my son. He is happy enough. I mean, the life of a human is not as trouble free or as simple as the life of a well-loved dog so any comparison must be a cautious one.

How can I make my son as happy as I’ve made my dog?

I am disappointed that I don't have many branches for ideas for my son's happiness. I have long been a quantity time dad rather than a quality time dad. It is time to step up my dad-game.

These days I am semi-employed, working as a freelance English-as-a-Second-Language instructor. The work is similar to my university instructor experience but I now need a certain polish, a way to stand out.

I recently taught two multi-day intensive presentation skills courses for professional groups. I was hired by an agency so there were at least three brands at work. The company whose employees I was teaching, the agency that hired me and me.

The former two had clear logos and brands and their ppt slides were professionally made and standardized. My own were a hodgepodge. Most were from university and middle school classes I had taught on the subject. The information was acceptable and I did a satisfactory job of making sure the information or content fit the audience but the backgrounds were greatly varied. Nowhere was my name or contact information displayed. I didn’t need to do that with university students…

How can I make a good logo that i can use in a variety of situations?

Situations include: business card, PPT title slide, PPT & photo watermark, blog(s) logo,...

In researching this question, I learned a little about Fiverr and this one specific logo designer.

TWIC: busy, publish student art, desire to write, art block,

I am currently a 'freelance' ESL instructor. What that means in reality is that I when I work, I get paid quite well per hour but I don't find (so far) many hours. Last week, I worked a lot. I also spent 10 hours in traffic (from two morning and two evenings of driving). I am not sure when the last TWIC was posted and I haven't kept track of new material to make this one. So, I am doing so now and I am not sure then this will be posted.  I should also post other stuff....Anyway, the good news for me is that if regular posting doesn't resume, it means I am working hard again. Indeed, this week, I have five days of work and some of those are very full days indeed.
13 places to publish student writing and art.
These publications are the real deal — online and print periodicals that showcase work by student artists and writers, some as young as age five. Many are run by a staff that is partly or completely made up of students. Each one is beautifully designed and features high-quality work. Some even pay. If you know a student who aspires to become a serious writer or artist, encourage them to take the next step and start working toward publication.
What Students Should Know Before Submitting
Familiarize yourself with the publication first. Although most periodicals like to publish a wide range of voices and talents, you’ll still find that each one has a “feel” to it, an overall sensibility that all of its pieces fit into. Because preparing and submitting work is time-consuming, you’ll want to give yourself the best shot at getting your work accepted by submitting things that would be a good fit.

This person on Quora wants to write. I think this episode of Prisoners of Gravity discusses that a writer needs to be driven to write, not merely think it cool. (end of part two of the video and beginning of part 3)
Monica Heilman on how to break Art Block. I have seen some of her work on her blog and I like it. Last year she participated in Nanowrimo with me and man,can she write! I, uh don't know how good it is, but fast! In twenty minutes I would have 400-500 words and she 900. Anyway, among other things,she says:
This is where my own biases come into play. My art tends to be very detailed and tightly-controlled. Loose, abstract art is the bane of my existence. Okay not really. I just really struggle creating it. So for me, it helps to try letting loose because it’s so opposite to what I’m usually doing.
By accident, I discovered that I really like doing art in the morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TWIC: online class, design, research, scheming, night vale

The university of Iowa has an online class on How Writers Write Fiction.
How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women will bring together beginning and experienced writers for the study and practice of writing fiction. Class videos, readings, and writing assignments will invite new writers to experiment with the creation of fictional characters, scenes, and stories. Advanced writers will be challenged to examine their convictions and to refine and expand their craft. Centering on character - the characters created by women writers and the female characters created by all writers - this MOOC will lead participants through a progressive study of how authors from around the world approach each aspect of writing fiction.
October 12, 2016 - November 22, 2016

Another class is offered The Open University and starts (well started) on October 3.
Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.
You will listen to established writers, such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey, talk about how they started writing. You’ll consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal.

You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.
From Boingboing, Designing the Future of Work and Design Fiction. The latter appears to be a Gedankenexperiment, an attempt to imagine what effects a new technology will have.
Grammar Snobbery and why you shouldn't engage in it.
The following are not strongly related to creativity but do share some characteristics.

Some of the history of free/open software. I use OBS and Audacity and am grateful to have powerful tools at my disposal.
One free/open piece of software that seems interesting is Cryptpad, which attempts to make a sahred word processor similar to Google Docs but with the text fully encrypted.
I have discussed my lack of productivity as connected to a lack of creative stuff. Maybe I need to sleep less. An article on those who don't need as much sleep.
A dissection of a scheme to scam millions from Amazon. I think, though it is unclear to me, that the person used various Amazon Prime (is that the name of the account that allows you do download unlimited books?) accounts to download 'books' - terrible messes similar to a cat walking across the keyboard - for which he received royalties.
Doctorow on the success of Welcome to Night vale.
Stories become great by hacking your brain. Nothing that happens in fictionmatters. The people in fiction are fictional so their triumphs and tragedies have literally no consequence. The death of the yogurt you doomed to a fiery death in your gut-acid this morning is infinitely more tragic than the "deaths" of Romeo and Juliette. The yogurt was a alive and then it died. Romeo and Juliette never lived in the first place.
Stories trick your naive, empathic mind into resonating in sympathy (literally) with the plight of their imaginary people. Usually they do this by scrupulously avoiding any reminder that these are imaginary people. That "willing suspension of disbelief" is a bargain between the creator and the audience: the creator tells the tale and hews to something that is plausible (or at least consistent) and the audience member doesn't pinch herself and say, "Cut it out with the quickened heart, the leaking tears, the smiles of triumph, you dope, this is all made up!"
I have been satisfied with Welcome to Night Vale, but not thrilled. Well, I have some long drives coming up, maybe it is time to dive in and binge listen. Their website is here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

rhino horn and fantasy writing

I recently wrote  a discussion of "Why do I write fiction?" It was the 'fiction' at the end that I had trouble justifying.  I enjoy reading - and writing - fiction and I most love fantasy, which is the most disconnected from reality of them all.
Let me interrupt myself, to imagine a reader's outburst here, "But, but, but, there are real themes, issues of objective value, that are discussed in fantasy novels: Morals and morales, gender and bigotry issues, the value of bravery, honesty, and even connections to historic beliefs and understanding!"
To which I would reply, "An exclamation mark? Really? And 'morales'? Did you think the message behind a fable was spelled that way?" I am, after all, very perceptive. Anyway, yes to all those points. I just have trouble justifying devoting a life to such writing - even as I try to create that life for myself.

The reason I bring up this background is an apparently unrelated article I read on a friend's Facebook page. My friend linked to a National Geographic article (Warning: autoplay video) describing a rhinoceros farm:
John Hume is the owner of the world’s largest rhino farm; he owns 5 percent of the world’s rhinos. He and others would like to see the end of the South African and international bans on the rhino horn trade so he can profit from his current stockpile of rhino horn, which could be worth about $45 million.
He argues that sawing off a rhino’s horn does not hurt the animal, and he claims that a legal trade can help conserve rhinos.But many conservationists reject this claim about legal trade. They fear that legalizing the trade will only create more demand and, therefore, more poaching—and that illegal horn will inevitably be mixed in with legal horn.The world has already lost much of its rhino population: There are about 29,500 rhinos left on Earth today. Before the 1800s there were several hundred thousand in Africa alone. The outcome of the debate over legalization of the horn trade will impact the future of the rhino.
My response was
I would have some sympathy for Hume if there were some value - medicinal or otherwise- to rhinoceros horn.
I wasn't thinking about my ambivalence regarding fiction writing at the time, but after I read what I had written, the connection was pretty obvious - and problematic for me.

A rhino horn can be ground down and shaped and used where molded plastic is used today. I think it can, anyway. In traditional terms, I think rhino horn could be used to make the grip on a knife. ...Yes, Google tells me I wasn't imagining things. Don't bother trying to embiggen the image: go here to hunt for it and see it full size.

The problem is the Asian use of the horn for its supposed medicinal properties.

If I feel writing fiction is an acceptable profession, I think I have to accept rhino horn farming as an acceptable one, too.  I am no political leader and have no aspirations to be one so I don't imagine myself to be in a position to permit or deny Hume his farm. But I do have trouble with it nonetheless.

That's it. No conclusion other than, "I am troubled and confused". Perhaps you should consider that the final sentence to every post here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TWIC: embarrassment, Advice from Wendig, webcomics maker

Oops. I schedule This Week In Creativity blog posts to appear on Monday or Tuesday and then just add material until it publishes.  Several days can go by while I add content. I am writing these sentences on Sept 23. In the last one, one of the first links was to a description of Bill Waterson's contributions to comics. And, one of the last ones was too. Yes, I added it to the list twice. Sorry. And now I have removed one of the links from the list and changed the title.
Chuck Wendig is a popular and successful writer who also writes advice books for wannabes like me. Somewhere (the links from Boingboing aren't clear to me), he has 25 pieces of advice.

An Australian library has released a webcomic maker. It looks fun.

Kate Kendall's writing newsletter discusses the value of actual experience over Google searches. She rode-along with a police officer and his canine for a night.
Seek out research opportunities wherever you can. Don't be satisfied with just reading and googling and interviewing. Although all those are needed, researching experiences is most valuable. It's also fun and one of the privileges of being a writer.

What's some of what I learned on my night out? What the adrenaline that races through Officer Hobbs feels like. It permeates the air and is absorbed through your pores. You breath it in, smell it, hear it, sense it. Your heart beats it through your veins all shift. This four legged officer is ready at all times. He's completely devoted to his partner and always on the look out for him. Their partnership and dedication was inspiring. And both officers have intriguing personalities.
Semi-related, I presume her newsletter is a way to teach in touch with readers and to create new readers. In choosing to discuss her article, I decided to be thorough and looks at her works.
Huh. Like me, she has works on the way but nothing available to buy today.
I hope this is true. I fear it is a platitude to make people like me feel better.
Image greatly shrunk and found on Tayloredexpressions' Instagram page
Creativity and genius are often discussed together. On that tenuous thread, Sci Am has an article about innate talent vs training. They authors are uncertain. We know that some people have 'perfect pitch'. That is, with no reference note, they can hear a note and name it. I think that means saying, "A#" or the like. This is a rare skill. But it can be learned and some researchers used this point to show that innate talent might not exist. Further reading of their work, however, shows that it took two to eight years for people to learn this skill. That suggests that it is quite a talent indeed.