Dog Ear
Bootstrapping (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 October 2017 00:00

ow that I’ve given up jogging and I’m doing quick lunch-time rush-writing (an hour each time, typing with one hand, holding my sandwich with the other) I’ve begun to notice a thing I do that I’ve only just identified. In fact, when I wrote Indigo years back during lunches, I’d do the same thing.

So, what I’m doing is something I’ll call “bootstrapping”.

Works like this. When I settle into writing, my mind enters a streaming state where part of it is imagining the moment of the scene. It pictures the characters, their actions and reactions, the pace of the story, even the surroundings and weather.

Another part of my brain is working over this imagery, breaking down the 3D scene into a 1D stream of text. It’s one thing to imagine the moon speared by cool mountain pines, it’s another thing to process it into text data (like I did using the word “speared”, which positions the trees and moon and mood all in a single word).

And yet a third part of my brain is handling logistics and inventory control. How much description have I done in this chapter? Where are we at in this chapter? Should I be scene-setting now (you scene set usually at the beginning of chapter, rather than waste it at the end (where the reader might well walk away at that point, forgetting moon and pines and spears when he returns)).

And that’s why I love writing. My brain is suddenly lighting up across all lobes, converting my dreams into a written work. It’s very busy and brisk and leaves me with a sloppy smile when it’s time to return to the real world.

Ah, but bootstrapping.

So my brain is racing along, running several different levels of functions as I write. And suddenly it’s time to stop, to close the laptop, to return to my desk. But things don’t occur that quickly. Like a tractor trailer on an icy road (with a background of pines and speared moon), it takes me a while to stop. Even as I walk to the elevators, watch the indicator, get inside and mutter “howwazlunch?” to the returning drones, I’m still thinking of plot path and word use and phrase construction. I’ll even find myself jotting ideas down as I settle at the desk, keeping  the ideas I had after the laptop was put away. My mind stills but it remembers that skidding slowdown, those postit notes, the scene I’d just imagined. It stays through my commuting and clubs and meals and minutia. It’s there, waiting.

So a day or so later, when lunch falls and I can do back to the far corner of the break room and write, there is that moment where I ponder Now what the hell was I working on? How do I write? Look at all that empty screen. And this is when I bootstrap. This is when I remember those pines, that moon. And there is that postit note, the one with spear written on it. What was left over from last time kindles what is needed for a startup now. Sometimes I’ll drop back a paragraph or two, reading quickly forward, fingers poised. And when I hit that final stop, the keys begin to clatter and I’m off again, writing at full steam.

The human brain is amazing. So versatile. So creative.

Book critics should get one.


Writing at the edge (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 October 2017 19:32

t’s been a hard couple of months for me, facing everything from a loved-one’s passing to the storm of a century (with more of those yet to come) to the inanity of our President (really, is it even  in doubt anymore?). At one point, doctors were testing me for a possible degenerative disease over a number of tense weeks (just Carpal-Tunnel, whew). And I’m getting older and not wiser, no, just creakier and more fragile. As mentioned in other pieces, I hurt myself jogging which has ended that for me. At least I’ve gotten the bike back under me. I still have that.

So in a world where a fuckbag can kill 59 and injure 527 people and it changes nothing, where burning coal is more important than our survivability on this planet, where people will support a disputable lie instead of the solid truth, it’s hard to keep your shit together. And over a couple of days, I really lost mine. I threw all my passion and belief behind my words and bashed everything from the our president to stupid FUV owners on Facebook (the popular place for ranting). I honed each word, eyed the line of each phrase and put every ounce of disgust I had into it.

Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard.

A couple of people checked in with me – a friend and a sibling. And that’s fine. Yeah, I’ve been under all this pressure lately and the idiotic world needed it thrown back into its collective ass. But one Facebook friend really came unglued by all this. Perhaps he supports that president of ours, perhaps he really hates the NFL player protests with more passion than he does the thought of police officers killing citizens in the streets. I don’t know which of my comments broke his frail camel’s back. All I know is that he wrote an indigent post about what a mean person “someone” was, how everything “that person” wrote was vile and nasty. Yeah, yeah, okay – I suspected it was me. But he left his post up for five days, just ranting about it and how he wanted to remain until “that person” saw it before unfriending them. On the day he threatened to do so, sure enough, I checked my friends count and it had clicked downward one notch.

Well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass, you big baby.

At first, I was irked at the nature of that whole thing. Sure, you can bloativate about it but you didn’t think of posting me a cautionary message first? Or just quietly dumping me (which I have done to people whose grinding I have found odorous)? Annoying.

And then I looked at it as a writer. Sure, what I wrote pissed him off, but on the other hand, what I wrote pissed him off. In its own way, it was a complement to my writing, a show that my carefully chosen words had hit a nerve, that David’s stone had struck Goliath. In his theatrics, he actually confirmed that I can still move people to act (even if it’s to blow me out the Facebook airlock). So thank you for that affirmation, little angry man.

Still, having taken what my other friends to heart, I did tone it back down going forward. I started thinking of nice things to write about again. And after a particularly nice bicycle commute in, I described a few moments of the enjoyment that peddle-pushing can provide. Posted those up. And for that, a work friend responded that I wrote “beautifully”.

And this is what writing is about – sharing your emotions and moving people. It’s what we writers do.


Legging it (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 12 October 2017 20:32

’ve jogged for years, ever since my first Corporate 5k. And I hated every step of it.

When I cycle, there is motion and wind and fun. If I stop peddling I glide like an eagle (as opposed to jogging, where when I stop I feel black guilt). I’ve never felt that “runner’s high”. I’ve jogged and jogged and never gotten any better, holding a just-over 10 minute/mile rate. And my support squad, the Lunch Runners, has dropped from a dozen years back to… just me.

But still I had a commitment to this; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, even though it took out three hours of what was once enjoyable writing time. So, instead of coming back to the desk after lunch feeling jazzed about an idea, a phrase or story, I’d limp back sweating (even after the shower in the unventilated locker room) and drip into my shorts, taking forever to cool down.

Thus, a week ago I found myself outside in the noon-day heat, shooing away the beggar ducks as I stretched and reminding myself to get into that lookout-fer-the-cars mindset. And off I went. The run itself was unremarkable – since my efforts have been haphazard, I’m still not up to my prime and found myself stopping at just over two miles to walk out stiff calves. Got back to work, took my shower, got some water, at my lunch at my desk, worked for some time, went to stand up.

My right knee flared with hard pain.

And that was strange. Nothing in the run felt wrong but afterwards everything was.

So this is about the forth injury I’ve suffered running. Feet, knees, calves, everything has been damaged at one time. And when I hurt myself jogging, I can’t ride my bike (which sucks even more). So I found myself sitting at my desk, still dripping, my leg icepacked with a coffee-filter baggy filled with drink-machine ice, and thought Enough.

That’s it. I’m done. While I’ll miss the respiratory and cardiovascular benefits of running, I am going to do myself serious harm some day if I keep this up.

And then there is the added benefit – I get to write again. So this first week off the treadmill of suburban jogging, I found myself writing once again. I read over old efforts. I kicked out a short story (just a for-fun experimental piece). Of course, there was that first day where Micro$oft Office started its configuration nonsense. As I mentioned, I just went over to Open Office and that settled that.

Yeah, I might not be as healthy as before (baring all the injuries and agonies) but at least I’ve rediscovered the “Joy of Writing”.


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 October 2017 20:38
Open Office (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 05 October 2017 00:00

ll writers face impediments. Nothing kills a writing career like a wife (and, eventually, children). It’s hard to hold the edge when someone’s dumping a load into their diapers. Not that I’m blaming them – there are plenty of other distractions. In older days, there was absinthe in Parisian cafes, whisky in run-down gin joints. And now (sadly) the world is now full of very petty distractions. Computer games, streaming TV, Iphones; you name it, it’s out there. Even I have too many things – cycling, astronomy, model railroading, game design – to write my passions. The world is more demanding and distracting.

And then there are the thermonuclear disruptions.

I’ve lost a lot of writing time (lunch time, specifically) to jogging. There will be more on a followup piece about this but in a nutshell I hurt my leg in that ridiculous pursuit and suddenly got some lunch hours back. I had so much to catch up on, some little commissions to write. Checked my schedule and I had time between a staff meeting that ended at noon and a scrum-of-scrum (yes, as dirty as it sounds) at 1pm. An hour of me-time.

Except that staff ran an extra 15 minutes due to gasbagging and windbragging. Honestly, people should be forced to write their dialog – maybe then they’d realize how wandering and repetitive most of what they say is.

Went down to the break room, found my favorite seat, booted up my tinytop. Haven’t run this thing since for the last two weeks (when I left it running in Word and the battery died). So, double clicked on my document and Word came up. Or tried to. It kinda hung, letting me know that it was reconfiguring office and it would take a few minutes. Grind grind grind. Twenty minutes later, the reinstall failed. I told it to try again and it ground away.

Now, the point is, why did Micro$oft feel the need to change anything? My computer was happy. My product was happy. The only time I go online is to unload stories. It’s a fixed and steady state. Or should have been. But now something was wrong with the tool and I was burning juice and minutes fussing around, trying to get it to run.

In the end I had to ditch the whole writing session, frustrated that I’d wasted one of my only chances to be creative in the day for administrative nonsense. Worse, now I wasn’t sure if I could get this to ever run again. I’d loaded Micro$oft office as part of a long-ago work offer and didn’t have the download anymore.

Came back to the desk, slumped into my chair, and listened to Scrummy nonsense. And while stewing over my lost storytelling, I realized I did have a backup plan. Open Office. I’d installed it ages ago (before letting Micro$oft onto my machine). I’d gone to Office only because Open Office’s Excel clone uses a completely different form of VBA and all my GridSims games wouldn’t work on it. Still, I booted it up with OO and it fired right up. There was my work. There was my story, all clean and ready for writing.

I’m writing more now. Going to write today at lunch. And the good news is OO is there to provide a simple (and non-grinding) solution to the simple task of writing. Eventually I suppose it will be Word that finds its way into the unused folder. For now, I’m productive again. And that’s good enough.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 07:39

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