Monday, December 23, 2013

finishing the student's doodles

A teacher in Thailand has many students doodling on their tests.  The teacher treats this as a collaborative process and adds to the doodles.  See here and here and I think the latter is the teacher's own blog.

When I found similar doodles I would typically photograph them to share but this teacher's work seems more fun.

I'm at my sister's house in Alaska so I don't feel like adding much to this post but I'll see what images I might still have.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don't be too alarmed - this isn't a real cheetah, just a carving.

I was a little disappointed once I had finished sanding the carving.  Even after vigourous sanding, there were obvious knife marks where I had cut too deeply.  I was really upset about how it looked.  Then, the yellow coat of paint was applied and it looked at least as bad if not worse.

Then, I added the spots and suddenly, it looks great!

Again, this is not a real cheetah in the picture.  It is a real snake so you can imagine a cheetah v python battle if you want.

And two closeups.

There are some glaring problems and errors - well, glaring to me.  Two pieces of easily shared advice I learned from carvers are 1) when carving with a blade, you always cut too deeply (the alternative is using a grinding tool) and 2) when showing your work, don't mention the errors or mistakes.  If you, the observer, can't see them,I'm not telling you what they are.  They stand out to me because I have held, cut, sanded and, yes, caressed, every bit of this carving and know it better than anyone else.
That said, many of the other carvers offered compliments, and advice.  One gentleman, as soon as he saw it, said, "It's too yellow!"  I was a little pissed off but the man who had lent me the paint accepted the criticism and remarked that that was all the paint we had to use.  I saw I was a little too thin skinned on the subject and so learned another lesson.

Monday, December 16, 2013

'snowbow' and cheetah progress

The snowbow pictures shown are deliberately small (this isn't a scenery blog!) but please click to embiggen if you want to see something cool.  The second picture is from a little later in the day, just before the sun set -well, forty minutes before, versus the one-hour-and-change before for the first picture- and the 'snowbow' just kept getting brighter and brighter.  Both the snowbow and the extreme brightening of it were fascinating.

I am nearly done carving the cheetah.  Only the eyes and some of the muzzle remain.  Here I am, working in the kitchen rather than the garage because minus 25 degrees is too much for me.

 Here is the cheetah just before I started sanding.
 There is a lot of sanding still to do and I have not started sanding the face.  Once the sanding starts, you can't do any more carving: some grit embeds in the wood and damages the blade.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

D-5 need to complete the cheetah carving soon!

I also need to take better pictures!

The nose and muzzle are my current challenges.  I have redrawn the nose so many times that I am not entirely sure which pencil marks I should be following.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Other people's creativiti

As a child, Judy Blume reviewed books that didn't exist. Apparently, she liked them all - she never gave a bad review.

The artwork of Glitch is available.
By giving up our ownership and any rights associated with all these designs, images, characters, drawings, animations, systems, and code, we hope more people will be more easily able to create new works with them. (The initial release was targeted towards developers; the hope is that they will repurpose the assets in ways that will lower the technical barriers so they can be enjoyed, appreciated, or re-used by more people.)
It doesn't matter to us if those new works are commercial or artistic or educational. It doesn't matter if the Glitch art is just the basis for inspiring something else or if it is reproduced exactly. It doesn't matter if we like the results or not. Anyone can use any of it for whatever purpose they want without any restrictions.

Meet the de-imaginator!  "Enemies of imagination, these shadowy figures are locked in an eternal struggle to stop the trafficking of mysterious contraband. Beware of their grabby little hands!"

And a giant!

I never reached this achievement while playing the game, but I'm sure my friends would all agree I embody this achievement.  Although my power is more to terrify others with my sneezing power.

I'm still carving and expect to see images soon.  I have to be done the carving and sanding by next Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo, hot donkeys and Lego-ized Blues Brothers

A friend was displaying this quote on Facebook and I took the trouble to find out more:

"She had an unnecessarily loud voice, a bit of a bray, like some enchanted, hot donkey."

It is apparently from Gone Girl and this website used it in describing how to write emotions and feelings.
In the mall Chase Scene from the Blues Brothers. This link include the chase scene, a side-by-side comparison of the original and the Lego version and a 12 minute 'Making of-" video that looks like it will be useful for my son and I in our more-minor attempts at stop motion.
My son has written a story:
*Cheetahs vs Leopards

It was a hot day in kenya. A cheetah named Albert spotted a impala.  He called Jacob, his assistant. Then the leopard named Carson spotted the impala. Now He called his assistant. Then they both chased the impala. They were just too noisy for the impala. King Albert blamed king Carson. King Carson blamed king Albert.

They got so tired of arguing that they fought for that delicious impala. Bryson, Carson's assistant clawed Phil the cheetah. Phil was really hurt. He had to stop the job. Everybody was sad. Carson called Tyson. Albert called Colin. They told Tyson and Colin, “Come help.”Colin arrived in a FLASH. Then colin did a 360 kick . He kicked Madelaine the leopard right in the stomach. Madelaine and Phil both needed to go to the hospital.

Albert just grabbed Bryson and threw Bryson in to Carson. Now Bryson threw Bob the cheetah in to Jacob but, Jacob escaped the throw. Bob landed on the ground really fast. It was a night a very quiet night.They were all sleeping except Albert. He was walking around his house trying to think about something. Next morning He told Carson we could share the impala. Carson thought that was a good idea. And they shared the impala.
See the next adventure that Albert does!

the end!
After I finished my InNoWriMo sory, my son wanted to attempt something smaller but still significant.  He chose the huge goal of three thousand words in a month. He made a hundred and five yesterday and finished his first story an hour ago.  He is still set on making 3000 words and is now at 220 in two days but has decided to make a book of several distinct adventures rather than one long story.  The lead character originally had his own name but I have changed it to 'Albert'.

He would love comments and has asked me to post his story so he can get responses.  A wonderfully naive boy, he believes his father is popular online.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Short on time

My InNoWriMo story is not finished yet - I completed the 50,000+ words, but I figure I need about 10,000 more to finish the story.  that may have to wait as I am in another contest - Surprises Aplenty Vs Christmas!  I need to finish carving and sanding this cheetah before Dec 17, so I can paint it before we travel for the holidays.

I'm really hoping you can see some changes in the face and paws in these photos.  Expect to see more in the next few days.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Criticism of NaNoWriMo

A Google Search reveals many with strong opinions of NaNoWriMo.  I touched on this at the beginning of the month but wanted to dig in now that I have completed the ordeal.

Against: 1) First, the worst thing that happened to me during the month is the gain of 5 pounds.

Against 2: Laura Miller, at Slate, has an odd view of reading and writing:
Here’s why: NaNoWriMo is an event geared entirely toward writers, which means it’s largely unnecessary. When I recently stumbled across a list of promotional ideas for bookstores seeking to jump on the bandwagon, true dismay set in. “Write Your Novel Here” was the suggested motto for an in-store NaNoWriMo event. It was yet another depressing sign that the cultural spaces once dedicated to the selfless art of reading are being taken over by the narcissistic commerce of writing.
I say “commerce” because far more money can be made out of people who want to write novels than out of people who want to read them. And an astonishing number of individuals who want to do the former will confess to never doing the latter. “People would come up to me at parties,” author Ann Bauer recently told me, “and say, ‘I’ve been thinking of writing a book. Tell me what you think of this …’ And I’d (eventually) divert the conversation by asking what they read … Now, the ‘What do you read?’ question is inevitably answered, ‘Oh, I don’t have time to read. I’m just concentrating on my writing.’”
In an essay for the Atlantic earlier this year, the fine short story writer Richard Bausch describes meeting a couple who edited a struggling literary magazine and funded it by publishing a never-ending stream of how-to manuals for would-be writers. The wife offered him $10,000 on the spot to write one himself. “These kinds of books sell better than the fiction books,” she explained.
Frankly, there are already more than enough novels out there — more than those of us who still read novels could ever get around to poking our noses into, even when it’s our job to do so. 
I think she has it backwards; most NaNoWriMo authors make the attempt because they love reading.  There are predatory commercial interests involved but that is also true in the fields of fitness and diet and these subjects are not so rendered unimportant.  A bookstore that invites writers or even wannabe writers is probably going after an excellent target market.

And the idea 'there are enough novels out there' is both trivially true and a diagnostic sign for a closed mind.  There are enough movies, TV shows, books, paintings, woodcarvings, dance forms, out there, so let's stop all artistic endeavor.

This part of Miller's article did make me want more details:
Consider turning away from the self-aggrandizing frenzy of NaNoWriMo and embracing the quieter triumph of Kalen Landow and Melissa Klug’s “10/10/10″ challenge: These two women read 10 books in 10 categories between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, focusing on genres outside their habitual favorites.
  I as a reader and (wannabe) writer set a goal last year of 50 books in 2012.  I beat it handily, reading around 70 books.  I'm impressed and suspicious of someone reading a hundred books in significantly less than a year.  That's a book every three days.

I wonder how much crap they read because they had to to make their quota.  Hey, change 'read' to 'wrote' and that sound like a line Miller used to impugn NaNoWriMo.  Landow and Klug may have read nothing but interesting and valuable books but most in that marathon would not.

Against 3) Here is a reason not to do NaNoWriMo.  Look at this page from my commonplace book.

Those numbers, written everywhere, have nothing to do with the plot but are there to help me count how many words I typed on a given day.  I would tend to update my count every two hundred words or so.  If I was really into the writing, perhaps eight hundred would go by before I updated.  I did not deliberately write valueless exposition or description of backgrounds.  Indeed, when I revise, I expect to need to add a great deal of description to others can see the movie that seems so clear in my head.  Still, when I couldn't think of how to go forward, I went sideways. There were eight characters and, when stuck, I would go into what several were thinking or doing until I saw how to move forward.  This might look perfect as a tension building device but i doubt it.

For 1) Antony Johnston feels writing more means improving more (I've added several ellipses.  Follow the link if you want the whole thing - I want his point to be clear but his details to be on his page only.  Go have a look):
Look: anyone can sit down and write two pages of a novel, then forget about it, and a week later write five pages of a screenplay, then forget about it, and a week later start another novel… etc, etc.
That shit is easy. Everyone (yes, even working writers) has a ton of projects they’ve started but never finished.
But writing a whole novel? Or a whole screenplay, or comic book, or stage play, or whatever? Actually seeing it through and finishing it?
Well, now. That shit is hard.
You learn from it. You learn how to sit your arse down and write, even when you don’t feel “inspired”. Even when ... this room could really do with a good dusting couldn’t it, and, and, and you write anyway.
You improve. It’s impossible not to, because you have something finished, to review and assess in its entirety. And when it’s finished, it inevitably comes up wanting. What you write is never as good as what you had in your head when you started — never, ever, ever — so you make a promise to yourself, to do it better next time.
You can’t do that if you still haven’t finished this time.

Against 4) Albert Riehle repeats the complaint that no one feels we should all try Brain Surgery so why do we all want to try writing?  To repeat my rebuttal: Almost everyone can walk and run so trying a marathon or 10 km is reasonable in ways that trying a 10 km swim is not.  Almost everyone reads and writes daily so the step up is not at all similar as attempting complicated medical procedures.  Albert Riehle needs to learn about false equivalence.  He clearly isn't perfect at logic so he should forever give up on persuasive writing.

Riehle also mentions the commercial aspect of NaNoWriMo.  On the website are ads for writing software and professional editing services. This might be a fair criticism.  On the other hand, I usedOmmWriter, a free word processor and found it entirely satisfactory.  The 'Build a book' outline and organization guide I saw on the website was free. I am likely to donate money but only came to that decision after finishing the event.

For 2) JunkFoodMonkey likes the idea of NaNoWriMo as a way to promote creative pursuits:
Okay, so why is it NaNoWriMo, rather than PaintAPictureADayMonth or LearnToPlayAnInstrumentMonth? Those are legitimate creative pursuits. Why is it NaNoWriMo that caught on?
Because writing is easy! In the purely practical sense that is. Almost everyone knows how to do it. You don't need special equipment, at least nothing that you probably don't already own, so there's little or no financial outlay. You don't need lessons or a how to book before you can even start. You can do it almost anywhere.
For 3) DebraEve learned to just write:
3. Distract that troll.  Devise ruthless tactics to contain your inner critic. In fact, give it a name. (I got this from Fi Bowman.) My inner critic is Citirc (pronounced Sit-Irk) the Troll. Not very original, but it sums him up and sounds vaguely Anglo-Saxon.
To keep Citirc quiet during Nano, I left an asterisk where an idea needed research or a hash mark where the plot needed work. Then I vaulted over that area and kept writing, promising I’d come back later.
In short, Nanowrimo taught me how to write – not edit, not rewrite, not research. Before Nano, I’d tried to do all those things while creating a first draft. That’s like hanging a gorgeous pair of silk curtains before you’ve installed window frames. It can be done, but what’s the point?

There is more on both sides and note that I loved my NaNoWriMo work even though in this post I twice wrote against it.
Not really related:  Congrats to my two closest fellow participants.  Perhaps someday I will meet them.

Friday, November 29, 2013

51, 334 words!

The story isn't done, but I have managed this milestone.  Woo-hoo!  I unironically feel very proud.

I know there is a lot of criticism of NaNoWriMo and I understand why.  I have not, in fact, written a novel, but only around 3/4 of a first draft of a novel.  Some of my motivation for writing is now gone and if I needed it to get started, will I need similar motivation to actually finish the darn thing*?  Why would anyone want to read my made-up-as-I-went-along story anyway?

Well, they might want to.  I do know that my story, as a commercial product, is not even half done.  As long as I, and other NaNoWriMo authors keep this in mind, there is real value in the event.

And I have really improved.  My story started as half-assed but is now at least 4/5-assed.  The characters have filled out and possess individual motivations  Friends sometimes have conflicts and enemies sometimes agree.  I am not saying I have written a profound story, but it is deeper than when I started.

I had forgotten the grammar forms for a few situations and have relearned them. I have learned some of my weaknesses and strengthened them.

I am a better writer and it is because of NaNoWriMo.

I hadn't planned to donate to them but I now think I will.
*As a sorta-writer and a sorta-carver, one thing I have learned is that no one ever finishes a creative piece.  The best one can do is decide at some point to stop editing. This story needs a lot of work before even the first draft can be considered done.  I have to end the story (and most of these arguments also apply to choosing where to end) and run it through spell-check, then check continuity and such before daring to show it to someone for commentary.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28th update

I'm surprisingly upbeat about my InNoWriMo book now.  I know my last post was negative about my writing, but my point in writing about the cowardice I described was that I had seen it and understood it enough to fight against it.

There are two days left in November and I have less than 2000 words to go.  I can do this and, after much revision, will have a thrilling tale that I created.

One place where I was not overly verbose was in describing how a character gets killed.  I don't think this phrasing will survive revision and it is probably wrong that I chuckle when reading how I killed someone, but here it is now:
    She was moving to the river when the car of 'ndrina toughs arrived.  She was at the river when they beat the shit out of her, protected from her powers by the approaching car of psychics.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Today, I wrote around 1900 words for InNoWriMo and managed some carving at the Wye Marsh Woodcarving club.  I found something interesting and similar about my two my projects.

I was a coward.

For the writing, I have what I think is a good premise and plot points but still need to write the actual plot.  That might not be clear: I needed a mentor to be killed, then one of the students before the group digs in to fight back.  I'm having great trouble deciding how to kill the student and have mostly been writing background and exposition, rather than getting into the emotionally charged material.  I am ahead of schedule to make 50,000 words by months' end but it won't be a complete story, or, at best, it'll have a very rushed ending.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm writing about the easy stuff - how or why I think some parts are easier than others is worthy of another blog post - and waiting to do the hard stuff later.  Well, I'm running out of later and it may be that I've filled my story with boring stuff.

For the carving, almost the same thing.  First, have a look:

I can see big differences although perhaps someone who isn't actually working on the piece cannot.  The places where I am working do need the work, but are also the easy places.  I am concerned about how to do the face and paws and when I sat down to carve, I meant to work on the hind paws at least.  Instead, I thinned various sections, especially the neck.  It's work that needs to be done but isn't difficult.  I must admit, I do like the tail though and that didn't feel easy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 24 productivity report

This is a big day for my InNoWriMo story.  I need to produce a lot of words.  Yet,the first thing I did this morning was delete 400 words, the second thing I did was read this:
Bonus Pep Talk from Tai Reichle"Don't go down the darker path, Wrimos. Every word you delete, every font you change, and every link you click will bring you closer to my hopeless state. Even when devoid of inspiration, keep writing seemingly dumb, uninspired words until November's up. Then read them, and you may discover that they're more inspired than you originally thought."
I never know when I copy hyperlinked text if the link will work.  Here it is again.

My original plan involved one character being killed and then another but the way I'd written it last night, the two were going to go together.  The level of violence seemed to ramp up too quickly.  Well, now today needs to include 400 more words.

2:00 PM I'd planned to drive to Barrie and meet other writers but we've had unpleasant weather for the past thirty hours.  And if we have unpleasant weather, Barrie is experiencing fimbulvinter.  Don't worry too much about them, they get through fimbulvinter several times a month in the winter.  So, I'm staying home and possibly going to a Tim Horton's for a change in writing space.
Late evening: Finished the day with 1680 words to the good - just over 2000 total.

No carving.

Itchy mustache.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nov 23 productivity report

The writing is getting tough.  I am a little ahead in my numbers but I didn't write much yesterday or today.  Tomorrow, I will kill at least two main characters and the story is going to get grim fast.  I wonder how I am at writing bleak stuff?
Jeff Vandermeer writes about completing a book in two months.
 I think you’d also have to factor in that as a writer in your twenties and, to some extent your thirties, you are still getting comfortable with your writing. You don’t know how to do a lot of things and so some of your time is spent puzzling out how the pieces fit together, how this or that technique works, why this doesn’t, etc.
Now that I don’t have a full-time job and am approaching the age of forty, two things have happened: (1) I can put more of the full force of my attention into a novel or short story more intensely over a short period of time and (2) I’m much more relaxed and as a result my rough drafts tend to be more complete than in the past; I still do a ton of rewriting, revision, and line editing, but I find that more of the initial vision in my head is in the draft right away.

Sci Am on Creativity and Mental Illness (again) 

Apparently, writers have the greatest rate of mental illness and perhaps it powers their efforts:
Jamison concludes that the manic phase of bipolar disorder infuses the writer with furious energy and limitless stamina. The author foregoes sleep, is driven to take daring risks, expands their imagination and embraces grandiose thinking.
The crash of depression ending the manic phase immerses the writer in the depths of human suffering. This infuses poets and writers with the most monumental and profound dimensions of human experiences, moving them to contemplate the meaning of life, confront the certainty of death, and struggle against the agony of despair to survive adversity.
Am I happy that I don't seem to suffer from this kind of illness or upset that it means my potential is limited?  If I can be one and then the other, ...nah, no diminishing of the severity of mental illness here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21

7:30 - InNoWriMo goal: 2000 words
      Carving - understand what the cheetah shoulder should look like, thin out shins and fore-legs.
      Movember - condition the 'stache! - ah, I really don't use conditioner much, but am still trying to soften the mustache.
2:00PM, Just finished 1700 words and it's time to carve.

I don't think I've mentioned this already on the blog but my story narrative grammar sucks!  Wait, I did write about the grammar rules for dialog.  Well, that was just one example.  Having been a blogger for nearly ten years, I felt that my writing skills were better than they are.  Also, I hadn't realized how many times I would write 'teh' in a day.

5:10 PM, 2100 words today.  Still spinning my wheels a little. I need to fit in a lot more excitement than currently exists.

Oh, and the carving went well although the time was short.  The legs are looking good although I still don't have a feel for the head or body- the body especially feels too square.

Neat links - maybe needed to encourage Nano people struggling to finish.

Be friends with failure - a lesson I've heard countless times but still be to be reminded of every few, ...months? ...hours?
Mother and daughter work together on paintings.  I'm seeing a lot of beaver tails so perhaps this is a Canadian duo.  The above link is an article about the collaboration.  Here is the duo's blog.

Scott Adams considers how to manage creativity:
Find the Dilbert's explanation for his creativity crisis here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20 productivity report

Today's goals (written 11:00am):
One hour of woodcarving - this might be a challenge because, at home, I carve in the garage which is not heated.
2100 words for InNoWriMo
Five PM, I am now at 2,200 words for the day.  I am concerned that I worked on three points in the story and in two points, I mostly wrote about relationships and the connections my characters have.  In the third, I advanced the plot, but again, not as much as I want.  There are several points coming up were I need more tension, excitement and creativity and I am mostly nibbling around the edges, preparing the field for violence and excitement, but not what that will actually entail.  A group of young psychics, only partially trained but free of ancient preconceptions and biases and beliefs need to defeat a larger group of well-trained but set in their ways psychopathic psychics.  I wonder how they will do that.

A small flash of insight at ten PM:  a main character does a terrible thing and his friends are angry with him but accept his pretty horrible actions quickly - I think they accept them so quickly because it was easier for a lazy writer but now I also think he was partially forgiven because another character has forced them all into strange new tasks and his goals aren't precisely theirs -they're doing strange things and able to spread at least some of the blame to this other character.
I hope that wasn't too cryptic.  Perhaps if and when this story is done, I will explain it better.  This blog is about recording my creative output so I felt I needed a note even if my reader(s?) don't so much.

I didn't do much wood carving today, just enough to retain my feel for it.  I find that when I step away from carving for a few days, the gouges feel strange in my hands and I really have to study the pictures to decide what my next moves will be. When I keep up the habit for a few days running, I can start as soon as the tools and workpiece are in my hands.  Here is a picture of the sculptor at work:

I am sitting on the stairs in the garage.  My eyes are becoming far-sighted so my glasses are beside me.  The lighting is from a bad angle so I am wearing a headlight.  The pictures I use as models are sitting on top of a garbage can lid.  The garage is cold so I am wearing slippers and a cardigan.  I don't know why everyone doesn't want to take up a cool hobby like wood carving.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19 photos.

Only eight hundred words in InNoWriMo, so far so I have more to do tonight, but we have internet access again!

First, the thing the internet was built to promote- a cat picture!  Here it is wearing an 'American Girl' Canadian winter hat, part of the Canadian Winter package.  It is actually part of a Christmas gift to my niece.

I hope you can see my Movember mustache.

Cheetah tail.  I am very near the final steps of detailing the paws...and working on the rest of the body.

November 19th update- no internet at home!

The Horror, the Horror!

I had just gotten caught up to the minimum number of words per day to complete InNoWriMo when a few small things happened to take me away from the story.  When I got back, I was unable to post anything here.  As of last night, I was a little ahead of the count and we will see what today results in.

I think what I had been typing before was necessary and interesting - to me, at least - but now I've used all the 'slack' in the story.  Now, each event needs to be more planned and choreographed; I am having trouble just sitting and typing.  For example, yesterday, two members of a psychic mafia were arranging to meet.  One had left the family with a priceless tool and the family wanted it back and possibly to kill the him.  He had to follow espionage tactics to arrange a safe meeting.  I think my solution worked but it depended on the premise that the two men meeting had been friends for a long time so the subterfuges might not have been heavily tested or needed.  There will be more of this and I my words per hour have dropped greatly.

Today, i should also get back to carving.  I need this cheetah done for Christmas, or, in fact, December 18, before we fly out to spend Christmas with my sister.  I have a little more time for it, but it is of far greater value at home than the writing contest.

My mustache looks great!  Well, it is noticeable, I think.  And it has softened enough to stop itching.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14th update - characters making decisions I don't care for

The characters in my InNoWriMo story are coming to life, sometimes in annoying ways.

Two surprises today:

I'm attempting to be subtle - never my strong suit - and making some balanced characters. Now, my monsters are becoming too human and my heroes are becoming too monstrous.  The bad guys have honour and don't blame the son of a traitor for his betrayal.  Things are gonna change in the editing stage!

My story is topical: I wanted the villains of my story to connected to a mafia so I Googled Mafia, Ontario and learned of the " ‘Ndrangheta". The villains, or the monsters, as described above, are part of a 'ndrina based in Vaughan. Now, I've learned that the ‘Ndrangheta in Italy is trying to kill the Pope. Man, that's cooler than anything happening in my story!

I think you see my mustache in this picture.  Well, the picture's terrible but perhaps you can see a few wisps of hair.

Picked up my gouges today for the first time in too long.  Mostly, I reacquainted myself with the cheetah and scraped a little off here and there.  I found some pictures online of cheetah paws but didn't bring them with me to work on detail.  Next time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This is not me!

To be clear, I write the Creativiti Project blog and have nothing to do with the Creativity Movement.  I am not religious, I don't use religion to promote racist ends nor racism to promote religious ends.  Those people are monsters.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday evening progress report

I just finished the minimum number of words to keep up with the InNoWriMo.  Still no carving done.

Jeff Vandermeer is doing the next pep talk at Nanowrimo.  I have his book on my table now. I'm not sure how it will help me this month but it is beautiful and full of advice and suggestions for writers.

Writing courses and some silly advice at the Water Mill

November 11th Productivity report

Yesterday was my toughest writing day yet.  My story deals with a group of ordinary young adults whose lives are turned upside down by fantastic events.  I started by writing about their normal, mostly carefree existence and that wasn't as easy as you might think but I now need to write about some dangerous people and their desperate existence and their motivations for their actions.  I had left quite a plothole, motivation-wise, and am am trying to fill it.  But, it can't just be superficial, this is an important part of the story.

Around ten thousand words were thinly disguised accounts of my youth.  The disguising was the toughest part.  Now, I have to make some strange behavior seem reasonable.

Part of the problem is the episodic nature of my writing.  Yesterday, I wrote that I liked to jump around in the story, filling in part here and there as I saw fit, but now, I need continuity and to remember previous points.  Time to read what I have written.

I have also opened a few browser windows on 'grammar and punctuation for quoted dialog'.  Everything I have done this month on the subject has felt wrong and I have tried several styles -comma at end of quote but inside quotation marks, - outside of quotation marks - etc.  I will fix it in editing, but I'd like to not have to fix everything.

Oh, around 1,800 words yesterday and I am now slightly ahead of the InNoWriMo schedule.

No carving to report.

The mustache is pretty itchy.  Photo tomorrow.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9 productivity report

Writing on my InNoWriMo work continues without difficulty.  I wrote down the (let me check) 12 key plot points and then some notes under each plot point.  Now, when I slow down on a part of the story, I jump to a different part.  I have gone back and forth a few times to repair continuity issues but that hasn't been a horrible problem yet.  Anyway, the writing has been episodic and that has been working for me.

The wood carving is also going well.  I am still digging out large chunks but I will soon need more subtlety and precision.

My mustache is somewhat noticable now.

Only about 500 words in as yet so I have to get back to writing.  See ya on the flip side.

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8 evening productivity report

The mustache is growing in well, I guess, and I will post a pic tomorrow.

InNoWriMo numbers:
November 6:   1900
November 7:  2068
November 8:  1791 (as of 4:30pm, there's time for more)

I have been going comfortably, though without really brilliant dialog or action but in the first few days I fell behind a little.  I am currently at 12, 999 and should be at 13, 336 to be on track at the end of the day.

I managed very little carving the past few days but may get some big things done tonight.  Expect a pic of that too, tomorrow.

One thing that had me a little busy was a creationist seminar I attended last night.  I had expected it to be about the origin of languages but that topic had been dropped and the talk was about snowflakes, dragons as dinosaurs and evidence of design.  I recognized a whole lot of quote mining and half-truths, but not much new.  I didn't speak up during or after the meeting and I feel bad about that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A report of no report for Nov 7

I spent several hours at the hospital this morning - I'm fine, most of the time was spent waiting - but I don't feel like making a full report.

I think I'll post mustache photos only once or twice a week - the novelty has worn off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 morning productivity report

Have you ever used the word 'placket'?  Is there a more common term?  Details somewhere below.

A busy day at home.  I wrote around 2400 words for InNoWriMo and am nearly on track for where I want to be and should be.

I also had time for some carving.  Discussion below the images.

I am still having trouble accepting how thin this slab of wood is.  The original image is here and translating it basically into bas-relief is hard work for me.  Oh, the giraffe is now done.

One thing I am learning is how these art-forms are so different.  In InNoWriMo, I am practically vomiting words into the word processor and am both aware of, and concerned with, how much feels like placeholders; A sort of  "This is the general idea.  Fix it later."  Some material is good but a lot just isn't.

A lot of that is the result of my personality and observational skills.  Like any red-blooded male, I can describe a woman's sexy apparel, but my eye and memory seem to have simply drifted past women in comfortable clothes.  Further, I have never been interested in fashion and am now struggling with my vocabulary limitations.  I wanted to describe a woman's button-down shirt with some frills on the, uh, button-down part and didn't know what to call it.  Apparently, it is a 'placket'.  Is this a term in common use?

I read and noted somewhere on this blog (oh right, here) that Wodehouse would tape his pages under revision to the wall and place them higher or lower on the wall according to their quality.  As he edited and improved pages, up they went.  Experiencing it and imagining wading through 50,000 words is troubling, but necessary.

In contrast, my carving needs to be error-free.  If I dig in too far, I either have to cover it up, adjust the whole shape to accept the missing chip or throw my hands in the air in disgust and get a new piece of wood.  By this criteria, writers have it easy.  Up until publishing, huge revisions are possible.
In January, everyone should try and choreograph a ballet. In March we should all write an opera, and in June everyone should paint a fresco. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet the idea that everyone could write a novel in November gets a good deal more acceptance. Why do we assume that, while these other forms would require skills, knowledge and practice beyond most people’s experience, anyone can write a book? It drives me round the bend.
I really do get that there will be a lot of trash out there in December.  I've been pretty open that large portions of my novel will need to be gutted and replaced.  I am also aware that 50,000 words is short for a book.  And yet...

Firstly, I would like to compare two forms of physical fitness training: swimming and running.  Most people have walked and ran at some point in their lives.  Relatively few people have swum (If it matters, I have lived in South Korea where only a small minority can swim.  Things are different here in Canada).  Yes, there is some technical skill involved in running but most people can finish a 1,500 m or 3,000 m run however slowly.  Few people could complete such a distance in swimming and their lives might be at risk in the attempt.

So too, with the attempt to compare writing with choreography, opera writing and painting.   Everyone can write to some poor extent while most have never even tried the latter three art-forms.

Secondly, writing 50,000 words in a month is an achievable but very challenging goal for most people.  I will be proud of myself for simply finishing the 50,000 words.  I have run a twenty-six k, swam a twelve k, and cycled across the country.  These acts did not make me a professional runner, swimmer or cyclist but I am proud of the accomplishments nonetheless.  If Nimue Brown completes a three k swim or a 100 k ride, I will not chide her for trying to become a professional, I will compliment her on the accomplishment.  If she completes a run, swim or ride entirely on her own, I might be more impressed than if she completes a Terry Fox Run  or the like that is organized to assist her, but I'll be impressed either way.

Nextly*, it might make me, or any of the hundreds of thousands, a capable writer.  The last line I quoted mentions experience.  Well, how does one get that experience?  On the other hand, I find that I have forgotten how to properly use punctuation in and out of quoted speech and have included comma in, comma out, period in-but- comma out, and more trying to decide which one looks right.
The mustache is coming in great.  Time to start rubbing lotion into it to soften it and avoid the itching.

*I figured this word would drive Brown mad, should she have any reason to visit, if the other errors I made and missed do not.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5 morning productivity report

Already this month I have taken more selfies than in the rest of my life*.  Note that I am holding the camera high enough that you can't see up my nose.  I think  you can now see the whiskers without a closeup.

I typed a few hundred more words in my story and only sanded a carving yesterday.  At this rate, this blog will consist of detailing my purely biological acts of creation - perhaps the progress of my son, but more the replenishing of my blood after last month's donation and the growth of (intended) facial hair.

* I traveled extensively after graduating from university and have many pictures of myself with friends and at historic sites.  I think the strict definition of 'selfy' does not include such photos.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 morning productivity report

I think you can tell that I am trying to smile in this photo.  Movember continues, as it is wont to do.  The toughest part of these photos is not giving people a view into my nose holes!

The giraffe is finished except for the sanding.  I had simply picked up a chunk of wood before organizing a children's game and while the game was running, I carved and waited for players to come to me with various problems.  I couldn't leave the area as I had the emergency radio.  Enough excuses; this was a simple project to fill in some time at work when I wasn't otherwise occupied and here is the nearly finished result.  I am expecting the sanding to dim the spots somewhat.

On the InNoWriMo front, I am at around 5000 words and am ready to devote significant time to the story tonight and tomorrow.  As I have time, I want to get ahead of the wordcount - 5000 after three days is exactly on track allowing for no accidents and I want some kind of cushion.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3 morning's productivity report

Movember continues.  I wonder how long it will be before I don't need closeups to show off my mustache.  The light brown and white (I no longer gasp in horror) whiskers make it hard to see even when it is reasonably long.

The cheetah is looking good, if I do say so myself.  I am learning that one difference between a novice and an experienced carver is in the bravery in taking the first strokes.  I am shy about digging too deep into the wood.  I know the head should be much narrower than the shoulder muscles - sharing the widest point with the thighs - but I tend to scrape down a few millimetres on each side at a time in fear of going too far.

 One more gash, this time no picture, on my right hand baby finger.

About 1700 words on my InNoWriMo novel.  I'm not emphasizing it here because it has been stuff I'd been thinking about for months, even years, as I tried to write this story in InNoWriMo 2011.  I have only recently written it down but it is not creative production from this year.

My son's jack-o-lantern.  Yes, it was done in time for Hallowe'en, but I was late in shooting it.

Not my work, but remarkable enough for me to offer a link: What is the most philosophical thing that you have heard a child under 5 say?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November first's productivity report

First off, I managed 1200 words toward my InNoWriMo work.

Second (well, this was done in the early hours of November 2): Work on my son's Christmas cheetah wood caving project And two gashes on my right hand - I'm left-handed, if you wonder why that hand got struck.

Finally (and again this image was taken around 7:00am on the second with the final upper-lip shave on October 31st so 48 hours after the last pass by a razor) my Movember project work.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TWIC (End of October): InNoWriMo prep and more

I enjoy Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic and follow the artist on Twitter.  Here is a Tweet that relates to the upcoming book marathon that begins in only a few days (Yeah, I guess it should be NaNoWriMo, but it's INternational, dang it!).

Zach Wereweinersmith on twitter.

I'm still torn about what to do for InNoWriMo.  I tried it once and have a few thousand words in the story I want to write and have in mind so I will probably keep going on that and perhaps try to end at 55,000 words rather than 50,000.  Or even just the standard 50,000 and simply try to finish the dang thing!  No sense in being too aggressive in my goal setting.

Three carving projects I started last week:
I needed a 'sword' for my Ninja Frog costume.  Alright, since you're twisting my arm, here is the costume:
Anyway, I quickly made a katana style sword.  The biggest challenge was in carving to look sword-like, which was easy, but also to make it relatively harmless.  Ironically, if I had made it sharp and thin it would look more dangerous but be less so.  In fact, after clearing off the bark, the tiniest bit of narrowing of the sides made it look great.  The wood is glossy buckthorn, a invasive species at the Marsh.

Above the sword is the start of a giraffe.  I found the little block of wood and played with it while waiting for a bus and am now continuing the project.  I already know the head and ears will look weird.

Most importantly is my son's Christmas present.  He is fascinated by cheetahs and I am working to carve one for him.  I have only a Swiss Army knife and some super-cheap chisels (or maybe, gouges) and may need to get a new gouge to two to make this one right.  Expect photos of my progress.

Want to learn about film making?  Hitchcock has advice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My itch to write is like my ...

...Athlete's foot.  If I scratch it right, it stops bothering me for weeks.

I'm not saying this is a good thing but it is a pretty honest description of my muse.  Perhaps I need to work more in Haiku.

In other new creative endeavors, I have started carving a cheetah out of wood for my son's Christmas present.  While walking around my workplace -The Wye Marsh - I found a bit of discarded wood so have also begun working on a giraffe. so, after months of basically no carving, I now have two projects going.  Well, the giraffe is from a piece of scrap small enough to fit in a pocket while the cheetah is perhaps 40cm long.  A project and a time waster, I guess.

With NaNoWriMo coming soon, should I scratch my writing itch to, uh, infect the wound and and make it more annoying or ignore it so I can really dig my fingers into the dead scabby tissue and tear it satisfyingly and painfully from between my inflamed toes?  And did I just over extend that metaphor?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TWIC Third week of October - sci am links aplenty

Not from Sci Am: A list of Science writing competitions.

From Sci Am:
The biggest thing holding me back from being creative is laziness and a lack of urgency.  How to stop procrastinating (Gated).  One excerpt:
Learning more effective techniques for regulating emotions can counteract the tendency to delay important tasks and help people commit to their goals.
Only two paragraphs long, I am uncertain if I should excerpt a full paragraph but need to share the information of the post and describe a problem in advertising methods used at Sci Am and many other places.  Write in the third person to encourage recovery:
If a past ordeal continues to trouble you, try writing about it as if it happened to somebody else: “She crashed the car,” rather than “I crashed the car.” In a study that appeared in February in Stress and Health, doing so led to greater health gains for participants who struggled with trauma-related intrusive thinking, as measured by the number of days their normal activities were restricted by any kind of illness.
Note that the hyperlinked word (Stress) is not linking to the journal Stress and Health - see, I linked to it - but to Sci Am posts on the subject.  Some English language newspapers in a country I lived in* did this a lot, but with the apparently randomly chosen words linking to ads on the subjects.  In the paragraph above, it is particularly strange as a link should be here. Still, I like the idea of encouraging writing.  More on the value of writing.
*I can't find any examples at this time so no use smearing mud.
Added in November:  This site has semi-random words linked to ads, in the content and the comments, both. Ah, a friend linked to the post, it's not my regular news source.
I do like Sci Am, but here is another article I feel the need to critique.
In Hidden Metaphors Get Under the Skin, study subjects were told to use their non-dominant hand and to be sure they did, their dominant hand was held either next to their chest or their temple.  People with their hand held next to their chest were more emotional and those with their hand next to their head were more rational, upholding common metaphors for heart and brain.  Interesting but this feels like a priming experiment and results for such tests are pretty controversial.  Still, other parts of the article maatch  my biases so I agree with them:
 The key is variety and spontaneity: “If you want to be more creative, run freely outside and do it randomly for the day. Get away from your typical route, time of day, music or even your pace,” Leung says.
More on brains and hearts here.
Making a robot - with pen-and-paper or circuits - and unsure what it should look like?  Sci Am offers assistance.
Again leaving Sci Am, the Big Hominid discusses his Dalma-do artwork.  Somewhere online I found him questioning how, or if, his use of grey -through photoshop - improved the images.  Another thing I cannot now find.
If this post, like so many at Creativiti Project, is too writing focused, Kottke looks at film and  The five editing techniques of Vsevolod Pudovkin
I think the authors and I are in accord that the current long-term copyright protection laws inhibit creativity.  However, they have evidence that going from short-term protection to slightly longer term was beneficial.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My writing has picked up. Also, NaNoWriMo is coming soon!

I've been trying to write a few stories and have put words in my computer's memory pretty consistently this week.  I'm still working to let go, let he words flow and do the editing later.  I am disappointed that my 'spooky' story has become more child-friendly.  I seem unwilling to disturb myself or to share what disturbs me with the world.  Everyone shudders in distaste and horror upon seeing Christmas gifts in mid-October, right?

This evening, I received an email from NaNoWriMo and am now aware they are open for registrations.  This year, I plan to attempt the 50,000 word goal but also to continue a story I am working on now, rather than try to make a new one to start in two weeks.  Seeing as I am under three thousand words now, and many of them will be edited out, it won't make much of a difference.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

TWIC (Mid-October)

Gord Sellar looks at children's books and the messages they carry here and part two, here.

At Slate, Paul Ford looks at bikes as overlooked tech in post-apocalyptic stories.  Specifically, Citi-bikes, the rental bike program in New York.

One in ten Icelanders has written a book.

Allow me to introduce:
 the Dalton Camp Award, an essay competition honouring the memory of a great Canadian journalist and political actor who, among his many achievements, was one of FRIENDS' founders in 1985.
This year, we have increased this Award to $10,000 in order to encourage more Canadians to think and write about the links between media and democracy.
Please take a moment to consider persons you know who might be interested in this Award – and pass this opportunity along to them.
The deadline for entries this year is November 15.The official rules, past winning essays, a video biography on Dalton Camp, and other details about the Award are available from the Dalton Camp Award website: