Damn Plot Points

Pic of the day:  Windbuchen

798px-Windbuchencom

____________________

Who is there, my friend, can climb to the sky?
Only the gods dwell forever in sunlight.
As for man, his days are numbered,
whatever he may do, it is but wind.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet III Babylonian version

____________________

I haven’t written in days.  Not a single thing.  I couldn’t finish the book idea I had during Nanowrimo because I got stuck.  Too many things in the middle of the book that need to be altered and worked on that affect the outcome of the book to finish it before the end of the month.  That doesn’t mean it wont get finished, it does mean however that it won’t get done in the 30 days that Nanowrimo wants work done in.

But this entire exercise was not about Nano for me.  It  is about writing a book, or something book length that resembles a book with a plot, characters, action  and storytelling placed in such a way as to make the reader want to turn the page and find out what happened next.  I don’t know if what I have done so far resembles that basic concept, but I hope it does.

I feel a hair guilty about it as well.  I could have written in all likelihood, nothing stopped me from going to the keyboard and banging out a few hundred or even thousand words, and I’m not inhibited now either.   Every time I wrote something for that book I easily knocked out well over the average amount of words that was needed to get to 50,000 words in 30 days.  In my heart of hearts I know why I’m not working on it right now.

It isn’t good enough.  I think, or more appropriately feel like what I wrote wasn’t good enough, and that comes from a lack of planning and forethought on my part about the story.  I got to the part of the book where I am now, nearly 40,000 words in knowing that there is a great deal of work that has to be done to salvage the story.  I am going to get to it, but first I am going to extend my outline and work on those story elements that were lacking internal cohesion.

There was good news though. There was one bit of my writing that went well, that I really liked.  Character development.  The story which was going to be very much event driven came to be very much character driven, and the word pictures I drew of the characters was complex and showed effectively how the characters interacted with their surroundings.

Now if only I could get my damn plot points straightened out, life would be much simpler.

____________________

Enkidu opened his mouth,
saying to Gilgamesh:
“where you’ve set your mind begin the journey,
let your heart have no fear, keep your eyes on me!

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet III Babylonian version

____________________

There is a reason for the quotes from the Epic of Gilgamesh.  As I have been looking for inspiration for my writing I have been listening to a great many audiobooks.  But since I don’t have any money to burn I have had to listen to free audiobooks, and I have a favorite site for them, Librivox.

I was listening to a bit of Kurt Vonnegut, the story 2 B R 0 2 B, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, and a number of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft. It was then that I went random and started listening to the work of a man named Donald Alexander Mackenzie in a book titled Myths and Legends: Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. Which I have found to be an absolutely fascinating book.  It was not the stories themselves though that had my curiosity piqued.  It was how closely the “myths” of Babylon and Assyria mirrors the beliefs, customs, stories and in some cases the names in the Bible.

Which is amazing seeing how we are several languages and several thousand years removed from Babylon.  It is pretty amazing to me to think that any religious person from anywhere on the globe at this point is essentially telling the same stories and using the same psychological constructs that were in use several millennium before the birth of Christ, and makes the point, though not in so many words, that stories attributed to Christ were in fact stories that had existed for a great deal more than a thousand years before Christ was born.

Interesting and amazing stuff.

____________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Give Thanks

Pic of the day:  Thanksgiving Day Greetings, by Frances Brundage

____________________

Damn me, it’s worth a fellow’s while to be born into the world, if only to fall right asleep. And now that I think of it, that’s about the first thing babies do, and that’s a sort of queer, too. Damn me, but all things are queer, come to think of ’em. But that’s against my principles. Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth — So here goes again.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

____________________

At the very beginning of black Friday I am here to tell you that I am thankful.

Thankful that I am not out there with the crazy people who go shopping at midnight.  Thankful that I am not taking part in that gluttonous ritual.  Thankful that I am not part of the madding crowd.

I am tired.  I ate entirely too much food, as a great many Americans do.  I ran, I exercised,which I love doing as it makes it possible for me to keep myself from becoming a blob that I would clearly become if I didn’t run and exercise.  I’m quite happy that I can do that, not everyone can, and many simply don’t want to, which I’ve never understood, at least not since I started doing it myself.

I did my daily write on my book, which seems to be stalling a bit in a few places, but is still moving nicely.  Took an hour and a half and wrote 1300 words.  Not enough, but a good amount for the time I spent writing.

I am thankful that I have the time and energy and patience to do all of that.

I am thankful that my wife loves me.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and food to eat while under it.

My life is replete. And for that I give thanks.

____________________

That’s it from here, America. G’night.

____________________

How?

Pic of the day: North America from the low orbiting earth satellite Suomi NPP

____________________

It is natural that one cannot understand deep and hidden things. Those things that are easily understood are rather shallow.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

____________________

We ask questions like “Who made us?” and “Who made the world?” Because we make things. If we never made a thing, it never would have occurred to us that the world was a created thing, created by a being of any type. The thought can only exist in your head if you are capable of imagining it, and any creature capable of an act of creation can imagine other acts of creation. And because the world is gigantic when thought of in proper proportion, it cannot be helped that some of those thoughts would necessarily turn to the immensity of the world we ourselves live in.

We ask questions like “Why was the world created?” and Why were we created?” Because we, every single one of us act with intent most every day, and have for millions of years of our evolution. If we hadn’t, we would not be the creatures we are now. We could not have survived to become the top of the food chain without it. We didn’t survive because we had the biggest claws or the best physical anything. Intention and creativity gave us the strength to become who we are today. We created bows and spears and a thousand other weapons to kill that which threatened us, with the intent to protect ourselves. Intention and creation are at the heart of who and what we are.

We cannot imagine a world without intent because we have intent everywhere in our lives. It’s hard wired into our brains. Capitalism is an intent engine. It starts with the intention to create capital, to intentionally create something for ourselves to build a better life for ourselves. Nations are intent engines, as are political machines. We are intent engines whose sole purpose is personal fulfillment. Nothing in our lives goes untouched by these things.

So when I hear the above questions, I cannot help but think they are the wrong questions. Who and why, as good a set of simple questions as mankind has ever created, should be replaced with a more pertinent question. How?

How were we created? I don’t know, to be honest. I wasn’t there. I have heard speculation about it but have done no research myself. I think we came down from the trees a few million years ago, but that’s just me. I could be wrong.

How was the world made? Again I don’t know as I was not there when it happened, but I have an idea because others have done research and I’ve read and heard some of it.

It isn’t enough to ask questions. We have to ask the right questions. The wrong questions lead to wrong answers and push us in the wrong direction.

____________________

I feel bad for not writing here much lately. I have been writing, a lot. My novel is coming along nicely. A hair over 33,000 words since I started on November 1st. I’ll write more about that later.

____________________

That’s it from here America. G’night.

Vignettes

We hear curious things from the press sometimes.  Some people might say constantly but i’m not that jaundiced.  Cynical, yes but not so cynical that I automatically judge everything negatively from an entire class or group of people.  But there are times when the silly becomes so obvious that I have to say something, if only to make sure my voice is heard.  Even if only I hear it.

At a White House press conference today I heard Chuck Todd from MSNBC ask the President for a definitive answer to the question of whether Tax increases for the wealthy must be part of the plan to back us off of the “Fiscal cliff”  a great misnomer (fiscal cliff my ass) if I’ve ever heard one, but I’ll get into that subject at a later date.  Chuck worded it differently but that is what he meant, with the implication (and he may have stated it, I forget precisely what he said) that if the Republicans don’t accept it then any deal is off.

Now even if that were the case, do you seriously think, America, that the President would have answered yes? Of course not.  It’s a negotiation, and he is trying to bring them to the table, not shut the door on negotiations.  If he drew that line in the sand, that would almost make it necessary (and I am only saying almost to be nice) for the Republicans to draw a line in the sand themselves, if for no other reason than it would make them look weak if they didn’t respond in kind.

That is not how you negotiate.  That isn’t what negotiate means.  When you start making demands, you aren’t negotiating, you’re dictating.  And as much as it would be refreshing to see him tell the Republicans what he needs to get this done and simply put the ball in his court, he knows that the harder he plays this, the harder they can and will play, placing him in a position of weakness when trying to get the fairest deal for all of America that he can from the  vantage point where he and the nation now sit.

Kind of silly of Chuck to ask that question in that manner.

____________________

Israel and Hamas are going at it.  Again.  This time there was a new wrinkle.  Twitter.  Both sides jumped on twitter to bark displeasure at the other side of the fight.  Good to see that they know how to do more than just shoot each others asses off.

____________________

John Boehner won’t extend the middle class tax cuts.  That is his right, though, isn’t it?  Gives you a warm feeling in the pit of your stomach don’t it? Ya know the one you have when your whole world is going to come crashing down on top of you and their ain’t shit you can do about it?  THAT’s what John Boehner brings to America.  Perhaps mister Boehner should follow his own words…

____________________

Just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do.

John Boehner

____________________

…And why, lord someone explain to me why people in power cheat on their spouses? Do they think they’ll get away with it?  They don’t, ever, but the stupid S.O.B.’s keep doing it.  Did General Petraeus think he was different from everyone else? Better?

We’d be so much better off if he simply kept his wick dry.  We could get this Benghazi crap out of the wa yand get on with our lives, but no, now we have to do this shit too.  Thanks General Dumbass…

And on a lighter note, I love the fact that the word press spell check  tells me that Petraeus is Perpetrates spelled incorrectly.  🙂

____________________

…And would someone tell me why Mitt Romney seems to think the President won the election by giving gifts to people who voted for him? Srsly?  Gifts?  I don’t remember any gifts. Now to his credit Mittens was talking about the affordable healthcare act in at least one instance.  That isn’t a gift to people who voted for him, though.  I don’t think Mitt understands the basic principle of that legislation.  It’s about healthcare for AMERICANS, not just people who voted for Barack Obama.  If you voted for Mitt, or anyone else, you can still get healthcare.

I’m telling ya, these excuse making loons on the right sound like paranoid hippies after a bad batch of hash brownies.

____________________

That’s it from here, America.   G’night.

3:00 am

Pic of the day: Silence, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

____________________

People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. It was a scandal that a breed of fearless and sinister people ran around freely, so they attached a nickname and a myth to these people to get even with them, to make up for the many times they had felt afraid.

Hermann Hesse, Demian

____________________

The clock says 3:00 am.  Doesn’t feel like it.  I’ve  known 3:00 am before.  3:00 am is bone tired.  3:00am is hard work that no one else will do and that is always there no matter what.  3:00 am is fear masquerading as bravado, dancing  in the pit of your stomach exclaiming “You can not sleep.  Sleep is for the weak.”

The clock says 3:00 am.  The lights are out.  The only light coming from my monitor that burns too bright in the darkness, and the television which is currently tuned to a classical guitar channel.  Light guitar music, nearly 500 years old, plays quietly, barely on the periphery of consciousness dances through the air.

The sound of an air cleaner running across the room and the monotonous staccato of fingers on keyboard damage the silence, but only slightly.  This night feels like 10,000 others that I experienced a lifetime ago.  I kinda like it.  I should not be awake.  My pillow is mere feet away, calling me, calling me to dreams.  I do not listen.  There are other dreams I chase this night.  With joy in my heart do I work on my writing.

The book calls to me, tells me there is much work undone that cannot wait.  I smile at this thought.  In another window a program sits open words on the screen waiting for me to add words, concepts, paragraphs, story lines.

Things to do, I must away.

____________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Day Ten Nano Update

Pic of the day: Compassion, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

____________________

A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.

Jorge Luis Borges

____________________

I am slightly over 20,000 words in to the writing of the book at this point. I am feeling pretty good about it so far. The plot pace has picked up quite a bit from when last I updated things, back 6 days ago. Many things have happened, and I’ve added a few sub plots to the book. I am going to have to go into the middle of the book and add a few things, some interstitial pieces, short stories that will help add some needed context.

The context is needed because the bulk of the story revolves around police who are searching every bag that every person carries onto the subway. To make it make sense from the perspective of both the cops and the people, some of whom clearly accept this invasion of privacy as simply part of life, and others chafe under it, I’m going to have to add a few extra moving parts to the story.  And the way the story is going they will be somewhat disturbing elements.

Those elements are a Terrorist attack that kills thousands of Americans on American soil 16 years to the day after 9/11, including the complete destruction of the Pentagon and thousands dead at a bombing in LA, site to be determined, and a new law granting the police sweeping new powers to hold and interrogate terrorists without seeing a judge, essentially destroying the right of Habeus corpus, and because of the wording of it, also allows the same type of treatment of non-terrorists.  Which pushes the police department to search everything under the sun, which has some of the cops and the people angry. I’ve done some foreshadowing on all of these plot elements, but it’s clear that much more work there is needed.

I think the hardest thing I’ll have to do is find a way to tell the story of the terrorist attacks without making it look like I’m just dropping it in the plot. It needs to look natural. It’s all about context, and it’ll take some doing but I think I’ll be able to do it fairly easily. And maybe I should not write it so well, as I don’t want any crazy people getting ideas from me.

Thinking that I might use some type of subterfuge. Make the terrorists look like jihadists, and have it turn out later that they were actually American super-patriots fighting what they perceive as the wrongs in America, or vice versa. Not sure which, I’ll see.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I am happy with the simple amount of writing I have gotten done so far. I’ve been averaging over 2000 words a day obviously, 10 days 20,000 words. Ended up with that by having a few 3,000+ word days. To be honest I hardly feel like I got anything done today on it, worked on it for maybe 2 hours, some of which was fixing issues with the damn thing and I still managed to write almost 1,400 words today. What’d I have to fix?

Well…I’ll tell you. In this story I have a major fight happen, between 4 cops and one civilian. Guy gets his brains beaten out. But that wasn’t the issue, the issue was I had events happening that simply could not happen in the real world. Had a table break under one mans weight, and three paragraphs later had the same table back up again, only to break a second time. I read it, looked at the screen intelligently, muttered a few hundred curse words, and got to fixing the issue. And while doing that I found another issue, of the same action being repeated by the same character twice when he would not have been in a position to do that deed more than once.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And it has done one thing for my writing, it has definitely made me a faster typist if nothing else. One more skill I can put on the resume, baby!

____________________

That’s it from here, America. G’night.

Basic Post 2012 Election Questions: Numbers

Pic of the day: The March to Valley Forge, by William B.T. Trego

____________________

I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.

Robert A. Heinlein, This I Believe (1952)

____________________

I have questions.

I get that the Republicans are pissed off that they didn’t get the voter turnout that they wanted or were expecting.  Much of the talk from Republicans showing disappointment in losing to President Obama is about them getting 2 and a half million votes less in this election cycle than McCain got last time, 2008 was supposed to be a low ebb for the Republicans.  Admitted that it sucks for them, a dwindling base of voters can’t feel good.  But, despite that, the amount of votes the Republicans lost by actually shrank. Which means they aren’t the only ones who should be unhappy with the amount of voters who showed up at the polls.

Wait… What?

The incumbent Democratic President got something like 9 million fewer votes this time than in 2008.

Where did those votes go?

I am certain that there is definitely something to blaming tighter voter registration rules; and lessening of early voting I am certain had its effect. But it looks funny to me.  And not haha funny, but bizarre funny. Because those states are not the states where the votes seem to have simply gone away.

Florida got about as many votes this time as last time.  Ohio lost about 5% of their vote, but the vote wasn’t 100% counted either, so that number may yet rise to where it was 4 years ago.

I have been looking at the numbers closely and there were states where there were no changes in voter rules whatsoever, that still had a decidedly lower voter turnout this time around than in 2008.  For example, the numbers that I can see show me that California had almost 4,000,000 fewer voters and Washington state had nearly 800,000 fewer voters this time around than last time, and almost 1,500,000 fewer people in New York voted in 2012 than in 2008.

Now it isn’t like that everywhere, but it is kind of curious that states that were not battleground states but are states that are nevertheless powerful electorally lost votes, and millions of them.

I cannot tell 100% why this happened, but what I do know is that it looks to me that it isn’t anything to do with any kind of meddling with the election process.  It may well be voter ambivalence.

Why do you say that, Mike?

The states where this happened (and I should say where I looked as I have not done a state by state comparison of all 50 states {yet}) are all states that were pretty much known quantities without major polarizing races.

Where there was a non polarized electorate, there was a much lower turnout, and it affected both parties negatively in those states.  Because …  I’ll put it to you like this;  Had the Republicans gotten the votes they got in 2008 in these aforementioned states this time around, it would have put both Washington and California in play and made calling both of those states much more difficult.  New York, not so much, but in all 3 cases it would have given hope to Mitt Romney where he had none before.

And I am sure that there are Republican operatives out there who are running this data through their heads and preparing for the next battle in 2014 and 2016 with those numbers  and concepts in mind.

And what are they telling themselves about that data?

One can only guess.

But if I were them, I’d be thinking  we can win, but not by exciting the electorate, but by placating them, and lulling them to sleep.  By replacing passionate anger with reasoned responses.  By taking the wind out of the Democrats sails by taking away from them anything to fire up their base with.

They won’t do it of course.

Why not?

The anger in their discourse, the volatility in their hearts will not be extinguished by anything.  They are human, they feel pushed by events, and when they are pushed, like all people, they will resist and push back. I’ve seen stories online about how deep some of them have fallen for their own rhetoric.  They actually believed that the polls were wrong.  They believed that Romney would win and win big.  They believe they are the last bastion of liberty in the world, and that anyone who believes differently in an enemy of freedom.  How could they possibly back off of that precipice without admitting they were wrong, the one thing they seem unwilling or unable to do?

Watch and see if I’m right or wrong.

____________________

A more detailed breakdown at a later date.

____________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.