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:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A weird place to find a link to my blog.

On a Reddit discussion about ESL books to use with children in Indonesia, someone recommended my satirical proposal for a HipHip Hooray book based on The Road.

I need to point out that the poster is not related to me.

This week in Creativity (Early October)

Finally a Facebook Suggested post I like!  The post/ad was for 'Spookhaus', which might be a band devoted to spooky music instrumentals or simply one that prepared some goodies for Hallowe'en. Leviathan's Wake is suitably atmospheric music that calls out for a short story (there are more free downloads at that link). So now I am trying to write one.  I even downloaded Audacity in case I choose to record it as an MP3.

Once my story is done, I could do worse than have Stalin (yes, that Stalin) as an editor.
 The Soviet historian Mikhail Gefter has written about coming across a manuscript on the German statesman Otto von Bismarck edited by Stalin's own hand. The marked-up copy dated from 1940, when the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. Knowing that Stalin had been responsible for so much death and suffering, Gefter searched "for traces of those horrible things in the book." He found none. What he saw instead was "reasonable editing, pointing to quite a good taste and an understanding of history."
How did Ben Goldacre write Bad Pharma?
Broadly speaking, my life is spent hoovering up information, loving it, filing it, and using it. I read a lot through “Feedly”, which lets me subscribe to multiple journals, blogs, and other news feeds. I also pick things up from twitter, mailing lists, conferences, and conversations. When I stumble on anything I might want to use again – an academic paper, an insight, a thought, an explanatory framework, an author I want to read more from – I store it in a service called Evernote, which synchronises my notes across my phones, tablets, and laptops. I’m obsessed with devices and systems, and I’ll cheerfully spend four hours automating a task that could be done by hand in two minutes.
People sometimes ask how long it took to write Bad Pharma, and there’s no clear answer, because it can’t be disentangled from this ongoing game of populating the giant, delicious, monstrous, synchronising ecosystem of knowledge that lives and breathes across all these electronic devices and services
Wonderbook seems like a fun, graphic way to see the writing process.

My son loves cheetahs.  I think I am capable of carving one so I will speak to some carvers at the local club for assistance and hopefully a block of suitable wood.  Time to study cheetah images to look at what to carve.  I still look back at my heron carvings as the way I finally really learned what herons really look like.