Friday, May 27, 2016

TWIC: words counts, rings and weapons, dangerous rabbits and journals, writing bundle of books

I took the some screen shots of  images at I wanted to list some specific authors who I was familiar with and so skipped on in the middle of the list.

It's impressive to see the variety, from 500 a day to 10,000!
Make a ring from a coin, using a spoon (and a very few other tools).
Also in the fun things to do category, make a trebuchet. Man, this is my most image heavy post in, well, ever!

Rabbits in the margins - of medieval documents: They link to a few sources and the image below from The Poke:

Why writers should keep a journal. I use the more pretentious term 'commonplace book', but agree it is a good idea. I like the pros and cons listed. For:
The obvious benefit of keeping a journal is that you always have something handy where you can write down ideas. If you’re the kind of person who gets inspired to write by seeing an interestingly-shaped rock, a journal can be a major outlet for you. And if you’re not that type of person, get a journal and watch yourself become that. You might feel like sitting down to write something is an effort that must result in some sort of concrete work, but with a journal, all that pressure is off.
You’re walking down the street, you suddenly get an idea that could be used in an essay, you jot it down in your journal, and… that’s it. That’s the end of that line of thought. There’s no brooding on the topic to see how you can develop it further, no thinking of a broader issue that this point can be fit into, nothing. You write it down and forget it, with your journal functioning basically like a garbage disposal for thoughts.
I have bought a lot of books on writing and the writer's art.  I bought some individually but have also purchased a few bundles - Nanowrimo management gave me a bundle as a thank you for being a regional liaison. I have read only a few but somehow think they are useful.  Well, some likely will be useful as they deal with publicizing a work, marketing and finding audiences.  They won't help me write the book, but might help me sell it.  Others seem narrowly focused and useful in their niches.  The Nanowrimo bundle included Writing Horses by Judith Tarr and such things might be useful as needed.  anyway, Story Bundle as a new writing bundle which includes books by Cat Rambo and Lawrence Block - authors I have heard of.  It also has Weinberg on Writing, the Fieldstone Method which was highly praised on Quora recently. The bundle has a deadline - the sale ends in 21 days or around June 15.  I am not recommending it because I haven't read any of the books yet, but I bought it.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Photos I'm proud of

I had a pretty good (film) camera and now have only the one on my phone.  Although it has its limitations -especially in poor light - I have always found the subject matter to be more important than the technology.

The two photos below show a walkway under a major bridge.  Some oldtimers use it to hang out and relax.  I love how much they have worked on the location. Sure, there are no stove or tables, but they have a painting on the wall.  What else could signal comfort so well?  The backscratcher is also a nice touch.

This black crowned night heron also came out well although it doesn't really tell a story the way I feel the above images do.

This photo is far more boring, I admit.  But I am amazed to see Koreans locking a bit of real estate in for a  hundred years.  If this picture tells a story it is either about the optimism of a sixty-odd year old country planning a hundred years ahead or of grand sounding pronouncements that won't be followed through on.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

TWIC: 2 types of writers, the internet for musicians, sci-am art, and Herzog's film-making class,

2 types of writers

Macro Planners:
A Macro Planner makes notes, organizes material, configures a plot and creates a structure — all before he writes the title page. This structural security gives him a great deal of freedom of movement. It’s not uncommon for Macro Planners to start writing their novels in the middle. As they progress, forward or backward, their difficulties multiply with their choices.
Smith professes to being a Micro Manager herself:

I start at the first sentence of a novel and I finish at the last. It would never occur to me to choose among three different endings because I haven’t the slightest idea of the ending until I get to it, a fact that will surprise no one who has read my novels.
She sounds from this brief excerpt to be, in Nano parlance, a pantser.
She also describes a disorder:
obsessive perspective disorder, or OPD — “a kind of existential drama” that unfolds over the course of the novel’s first twenty pages, possessing the writer to compulsively attempt answering the question of what kind of novel is being written. And yet, Smith marvels, despite how disorienting OPD is, it isn’t paralyzing — the writing continues throughout this straining state. In that regard, OPD appears to be, rather assuringly, mere garden-variety anxiety — the same psychic malady that tormented Darwin as he was producing his most influential work, the very state Kierkegaard believed powers creative work rather than hindering it, which psychologists have also found to be the crux of the link between creativity and mental illness. Smith writes:
Daryl Hall defends the internet as a creative place.
You have an instantly recognizable name, and millions of people all over the world are familiar with your music. If you want to start an internet show, you have that advantage. A young artist, as you said, is just floundering. What is that you would do if you were in that position? Do you give advice to the young artists you have on your show?
Well, it is hard for me to give them advice, because they don’t have any help. My show is exposure for them, but yes, I have a name. So, I can do it. Now, if I was the head of Atlantic Records, and not to single them out, I would start an internet show, and I would pair my young artists with my older artists for every broadcast. They have a big enough name. They’re as big as me.
Visualizing the mammals that preyed on dinosaurs. Scientific American Artist, James Gurney offers this video detailing how he painted a badger-like mammal that ate baby dinosaurs.

Werner Herzog's online film-making class  Runs this summer..

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Coffee shops, processors, and writers

When people sit in a coffee shop, typing away on a computer or tablet, what are they working on?  Tristan Montebello asked his fellow slurpers and found out.

 The image below has been shrunk. To see it full size, follow the link.

Scalzi would tell you you aren't fooling anyone by working in a coffee shop, but he'd also tell you he's okay with you typing there (Amazon, Tor - quote below from Tor).
The immediate, obvious value of this book is that Scalzi is in no way shy about telling it like it is. The reader won’t find any flowery, romantic notions about starving artistry in this book. Instead, there are honest discussions of what working in publishing is really like, how to make money as a writer (hint: it isn’t easy and you will have to do work that doesn’t tickle your creative fancy), and how to behave, based on how Scalzi himself made it down the road to be the success he is today
And it’s pretty funny, too.
Word processors in their infancy and the writers who loved them.

 The image below has been shrunk. To see it full size, follow the link. Eve Sedgewick, pictured, looks cozy but also like her neck will start aching in an hour.
The first application of the MT/ST in a literary setting was by the British spymaster Len Deighton’s assistant, Ellenor Handley, who used one in Deighton’s high-tech home office to prepare the manuscript for his 1970 World War II novel, Bomber, (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). The tape reels containing (as Deighton was to put it in his afterword) “the first book to be entirely recorded on magnetic tape” are long gone, but the final manuscript survives, now in the hands of a private collector; in 2013 Handley was reunited with it, revealing, if you look closely, the bite marks along the edges of the pages where the MT/ST’s mechanical tractor feed had once gripped: the enduring mark of the mechanism.
The book is available at Amazon.
My handwriting is terrible.  Few people benefited more from computers and word processors than I.  And the bite-marks on the edge of the page where the track connected are quite familiar to me.  I remember printing long homework assignments anxiously holding the column of paper and carefully feeding it through the mechanism.
How are writers for Wikipedia motivated?  Sci-Am describes the research.
So, what does Gallus’s research tell us about motivating volunteerism more broadly? Since this study addresses the problem of high turnover in volunteer organizations once people have already made the first move to contribute, the key takeaway is not how to attract volunteers, but how to keep them. In organizations with a steep learning curve, the cost of high turnover is problematic. Since people deeply desire validation and a sense of ownership over their work, simple recognition is a low cost way to give volunteers a stake in the success of the venture. Although this might not seem like a new concept, the challenge lies in understanding what recognition means for each organization’s particular context, and establishing a community in which volunteers want to belong.
Ursula Le Guin on Writing: She mainly points out that the chief rule is that there are no formal rules.  Find someone who appreciates your work and make it fit that shared mold, don't try to fit it a generic reader.

Friday, May 13, 2016

publishing hijinks in Germany

First, a fun one that the fantastic Tim Powers describes:
On Thu, 26 Feb 2004, timpowers1952 wrote:
>In German editions of my books, a weird thing happens -- where in my
>English-language text a scen will go something like:
>Joe hangs up the phone. "She's tied to the railways tracks! We have
>only minutes to save her! Go get the car!"
>-- in the German version it's:
>Joe hangs up the phone. "She's tied to the railway tracks! Wh ave
>only mintues to saver her!"
>Someone else: "Do we have time for soup?"
>Joe (anxiously): "What kind of soup?"
>The Someone Else: "Knorr's Soup. It's quick to prepare. We have all
>twelve tasty varieties."
>Joe: "Well -- okay."
>(They cook & eat the soup, remarking on how good it is.)
>Joe (looking at his watch): "Get the car!"
>In every book from this one publisher. I told Bill Gibson about it,
>and he found the same business in his German editions! I find this
>kind of charming; but I wish they'd let me write the dialogue, and
>choose where it's to show up. (Incidentally, it's not Knorr's soup in
>the books. I forget which brand it is.)
Apparently Pratchett and others had similar experiences - noted at the link above.
Although I described the example above as 'fun' it is only because Powers himself made light of it.  This next example of greed by German publishers really can't be giggled over.  When a media device is sold in Germany - a blank CD or perhaps an audio or video cassette, maybe even blank paper - it carries a surcharge that goes to authors or creators whose work you might end up copying.  Such money also went to the publishers.
The society that collects and distributes this money, Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort, has been remitting 30-50% of the royalty to publishers. Now, Germany's Supreme Court, the Bundesgerichtshof, has ruled that this was unlawful, and affirmed that the law requires 100% of the levy to be given to authors alone.
German publishers are claiming that this is their death-knell, without acknowledging the hardship they imposed on authors by misappropriating their funds. As Stefan Niggemeier points out, if publishers can't survive without these funds, that means the industry was only viable in the first place because it was stealing from writers.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Some famous British educators worry about the effect of fantasy

Graeme Whiting of Acorn School disapproves of modern fantasy novels - 'modern' extending back to Tolkein. I'm with him as far as Game of Thrones is concerned; as a North American, I am not so upset by the violence but by the sex.
"Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett, to mention only a few of the modern world's 'must-haves', contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult behaviour in children; yet they can be bought without a special licence, and can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children, many of whom may be added to the current statistics of mentally ill young children.
Harry Potter? Terry Pratchett?
He told parents to steer clear of the "mystical and frightening texts" and they should instead read classics such as those by Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Shakespeare.
Shakespeare as a role model for children's lit?  This is like the parents in the US protesting various books for their sex and violence asking for wholesome books like the Bible.

I note the Telegraph quotes from Whiting's blog and links to some of the various books he names but never to the blog post in question. Let me correct that error here.

One of Whiting's teachers is quoted, "Nikki Ellis, parent and former teacher at the school, agreed with his views - even though she had only read one Harry Potter book."

Richard Dawkins has voiced similar statements, as quoted in another Telegraph article.  I wonder about the quality of a newspaper that has an article from 2008 that hasn't made even the simple correction that appears obvious (my bolding):
The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in "anti-scientific" fairytales.

Prof Hawkins said: "The book I write next year will be a children's book on how to think about the world, science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking.

"I haven't read Harry Potter, I have read Pullman who is the other leading children's author that one might mention and I love his books. I don't know what to think about magic and fairy tales."
I can find no original source for this source, but it was widely shared in 2008.

I loved Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy and loved it.  My son won't be reading them for a few years, but he's ready for HP now.

Educators these days.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TWIC: Get the fighting right, procrastinate, have some nightmares, avoid bolt-on boobs

New Yorkers beat one another with medieval weapons and learn something of how to fight.
The benefits of procrastination

The image above has been shrunk. To see it full size, follow the link. You can also follow the link to read the article. It is from the New Yorker so it has some kind of anti-copy lock on it.  I typed out the following from the article:
If you're a procrastinator, overcoming that monkey can require herculean amounts of willpower. But a pre-crastinator may need equal willpower to not work.
She (Jihae Shin) asked people to come up with new business ideas. Some were randomly assigned to start right away. Others were given five minutes to first play Minesweeper or Solitaire. Everyone submitted their ideas and indeptendent raters rated how original they were. The procrastinator's ideas were 28 percent more creative.
... When you procrastinate, you're more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns. Nearly a century ago, the psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks thatn for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away.
...Of ocurse, procrastination can go too far. Jihae randomly assigned a third group of people to wait until the last minute to begin their project. They weren't as creative either. They had to rush to implement the easiest idea instead of working out a novel one.
Creative people have more nightmares.
It sounds like being creative means you tend to have more nightmares, not that trying to have a nightmare will make you more creative.
people who have a lot of nightmares experience a dreamlike quality to their waking thoughts. And this kind of thinking seems to give them a creative edge. For instance, studies show that such people tend to have greater creative aptitude and artistic expression. Jess and Chris [two of Carr’s research subjects] scored highly on a test to measure this, called the boundary thinness scale, and both are artists: Jess is a painter and photographer, Chris a musician.
People who have (or maybe just remember) more nightmares also tend to have more positive dreams as well.

In my current quest for productivity - actually using my creative ideas to make real things (and those 'real things' could be mere words, sentences and paragraphs in my book) I recall the times I was most productive and busy.  On those days, the workload infiltrated my dreams and I would work out schedules and imagine ways to organize myself as well as perform some of the activities over night.  I didn't like it but my mind was focused when I woke up and I knew where to go when my feet touched the floor next to my bed.  In that way, very different from the research, I had nightmares of a sort and they occurred on my most creative and productive days.  They might have helped, too.

On Quora (is anyone sick of how blog is becoming a review of Quora discussions?), the question "What should a male writer keep in mind when writing a female character?" was looked at.
Martyn Halm had the interesting suggestion of not treating them as men with 'bolt-on boobs'.
Most telling is when the writer puts the reader in his female character's head and she constantly very aware of how her breasts are being restrained by her sportsbra but still moving up and down while jogging.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Explore Bosch's Garden

Explore the Garden of Earthly Delights by Heronimus (or Jheronimus) Bosch.

I took the tour, where 15 parts of the painting were discussed, and also wandered around.

Besides the exploration of the art historical story of the painting we will give insight to the creative process of Jheronimus Bosch. In a web interface the visitor will be taken on an audio-visual journey, including sound, music, video and images to enrich the storytelling. The visitor of the interactive documentary will get a better understanding of what it was like to live in the Late Middle Ages, and for example of what importance religion was in daily life. The interactive documentary can be read like a book, one can come back after a visit and pick up the book again from the shelf to further explore.
The background sounds change depending on where in the painting you are.
I could spend hours here, I think. The original painting was more than 2 by 3 metres and the small details are endless.

I wonder what kind of tree is displayed on the left. (Ah.  There was a clickable place that told me it is a 'Dragon Tree' and quite real although Bosch would never have seen one.) The birds in the painting are entirely recognizable, even if the mer-knight on the flying fish is probably not from life.
Wikipedia on the painting. Wikipedia on Bosch.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Motivation and Discipline

Click to enlarge.  If it matters, a bad word is used a few times.

My posting rate at this blog has really climbed.  My story writing... not so much.  To be more honest, I have written nothing for my story in more than a week.