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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The slump

Life happens. And in the hustle and bustle of life, and I'm not even talking about the holidays, things become pushed aside. Not only that, but the temperament changes. The general malaise that is associated with doing certain things be it going to work, watching television, preparing a meal. Mind and body both just sort of shrug and try to find something else to do as the other activities have no appeal whatsoever.

I am in such a malaise.

Even reading has become onerous to me for some reason. Writing has almost completely gone out the window because my mind can't seem to focus on the task. For other activities, stopgaps and alternative measures present themselves. A lot of work can be done on "automatic pilot" just to get you through the day. Don't feel like cooking? go to a restaurant or grab burgers on the way home. For the TV, change the channel; put in a dvd; go to a movie, play, or concert; or even hang out with friends. Writing, though does not have any alternative options. To write or not to write, that is the question. Forced writing can turn out very poorly as well. Rambling off things can sometimes work, and sometimes not. I've had days where I pushed myself and once through the initial inertia, the writing not only goes smoothly, but amazingly. Only sometimes, though. The other times I end up writing and then looking back at the pages of gibberish to scrap them. Still more often my brain just gets sidetracked so I can't get the writing done. I'm aware of many tricks to get rid of writer's block, slumps, what-have-you, but I'm always eager to hear more because I find that I need an ever-changing repertoire of techniques to shake away the malaise. I know at other times I just need to let my brain wrestle around with things in the back of my mind to percolate into the perfect brew---root beer, of course. I strongly believe that writing, like baking, cannot be rushed. to try and rush the act causes disaster. Yet, the reverse is also true. Wait too long, and things turn out the same. I think I need to work on find out that perfect blend for me. How long do I let the dough rise? How long in the oven? Too little or too much time yields a distasteful result. I think many bakers develop a feel for their craft, and I think I'm getting closer to that with writing.

I need to work on further developing that.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A thousand points of light

The line has been used before in many different ways, but usually not disparagingly. And my use is not exactly disparaging, but I do have an issue with it. I am a writer that suffers from too much light. More specifically, too many light bulbs; I have ideas that fire off rapidly, and while I make brief notes like any good writer so that I may revisit them, I'm finding, especially during this month when I'm supposed to focus, that stories that I'm trying not to focus on are the ones that insist on being written. It's as if the seeds of the story have germinated for long enough and I must shed at least some light upon them when the urge to do some comes upon me. This is not a bad thing, excepting that it distracts me from writing the story I'm trying to focus on. Instead I find that story is blocked from me. Perhaps I need to work on these other stories as a way to give myself time to work through the block, or perhaps I need to work on the story with the block and just get through it somehow. It sounds like an odd curse, but it does feel like a curse right now as I have odd snippets of stories stacking up around me, but i would like to get to a point where I can sell novels and actually earn money for my writing, and writing five or more novels simultaneously is not the way to go about it.

I know I can't repress the creative urge, even the one I had today about creating a detective based on the models put forth by Hammett and Chandler. I'm a fan of Sam Spade, and miss that kind of character that relies on wits and bold action instead of hard science to get things done. In a match between Spade and every type of CSI show, I'll take Spade any day.

And so I've digressed again. Oh well. I'll focus on the story I need to while trying not to repress the ones that create another bulb over my head.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My technical rant

I know, at first thought you don't know if this is actually about writing; however, I assure you that the subject of this rant is intimately related to writing. I, as you can see if you look at the links in the sidebar to the right, am an advocate of WordPerfect. I have used this amazing software since my 286 computer from many moons ago. Many moons. For those who don't know what that is, do a Google and marvel at the wonder of computer before Windows and mice took over; try dealing with command lines and switches with DOS and the infamous "syntax error"---and as a writer I feel syntax is very important.
&nbResuming my rant, I use WordPerfect for a variety of reasons. Primarily among them is that I can readily usp; se keyboard shortcuts to achieve nearly any effect I want, thus keeping my fingers on the keyboard where I can type instead of on the mouse scrolling through menus for features (I will not even bring up the horror that is Word 2007). Other reasons include the ability to actually get WordPerfect to do what I want instead of what it thinks is best for me. Word's desire to help in all the wrong ways, thus slowing me down, becomes a major irritant; plus Word has a tendency to screw up in some style aspects and at times the only thing to do is to copy all the text over and paste it without formatting to start from scratch. With WordPerfect's reveal codes feature, eliminating unwanted formating is a breeze, just ask anyone who has used reveal codes, it's indispensable. Lastly, I consider file size to be very important. I'm attempting novel length documents, and for reasons passing understanding a Word document that is identical to my WordPerfect file is twice the size; a personal letter runs only a few kilobytes, but they do add up, especially when for these larger files I'm starting to push a megabyte for a Word document. Yes, I am fully aware that digital storage is very easy nowadays with usb drives running into the several gigabyte range with ease; however, I don't have just one document. I'm an educated man with years of essays written as well as several hundred files including notes for novels and short stories. I have well over three thousand files that are all documents, and they add up. And for many more reasons on why Word isn't the best document format, click here.
Yes, I will admit the last is a minor point, but it still serves to tip WordPerfect as my preference as I did have to cram essays onto floppies while in college. This, however, leads me to the other aspect of my rant. At college, they provided WordPerfect as an alternative, and even on some machines that didn't have it, the college had installed the appropriate document converters into Word. These converters come with every iteration of Microsoft Word. Word even offers a "help for users of Wordperfect" as an option on the installation, but only those who actually look at the install options will find it. Word doesn't install it by default.
Because Word is the default standard for word processors these days, I have been forced to use it when I receive documents from others, and I must admit certain things in Word are easier than in WordPerfect. However, I am tired of converting all of my WordPerfect documents into Word documents so people can look at what I've written. At this point, I simply refuse to cater to Word users. I am not without mercy, though, and have actually done the leg work for my friends who use Word exclusively. By clicking on this link, you will be able to install the conversion filters into Word. This will enable people to open up WordPerfect documents automatically in Word, and save me a great deal of hassle.
And for those who are at least interested in looking at WordPerfect, I shall point you in this direction. I'll be putting up some customized link badges regarding these links in the near future, so they'll always be there as a reference and reminder of my position and advocation of the what I feel is the best word processor.
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