Stupid things

Stupid pointless dream

I was on a huge train, the sort of train that doesn’t exist in the real world; the inside looked like an old Victorian mansion, yet I somehow knew it was a train. The guy who owned the train was my great grandfather (I never knew or saw any of my real great grandfathers, so the character is completely made up), and he had grown very forgetful in his old age. One morning someone had cooked waffles and pancakes for breakfast. I was the last one to get up, and by that time most of the other members of the train had already eaten and were getting sick and passing out; it seemed the waffles and pancakes had been poisoned! (House influence?) For some reason, I ate some anyway, but I magically didn’t get sick.

Other members of the train blamed my great grandfather for the poisoning, and the police were called. I don’t know how the police make it onto a moving a train, but there must’ve been ways. But I knew my great grandfather was innocent; he was just forgetful, but he would never harm anyone.

Nevertheless, my great grandfather said he had a deep dark secret, he just couldn’t remember what it was. I tried questioning him, trying to find out his secret. Then I saw him on TV in old historical Nazi footage, and there he was! That was his secret: he had been a Nazi! I told him this, but he couldn’t remember whether it was true or not. But someone on the train suddenly discovered that my great grandfather’s American flag hanging on the wall was a Nazi flag on the other side!

Then I woke up, so I don’t know what happened next… but upon waking up I did realize that the notion of some old guy having secretly been a Nazi is horribly cliche. So… subconscious fail.

Mixed in there somewhere were two other random incidents: I got in a fight with one of the other passengers over seating issues, and I thought I could speak French with some French-speaking people, but they told me I was only speaking French-gibberish, which I thought was the same thing…

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

Philosophic dream…

I dreamt there was a woman making some sort of passionate political rant against capitalism or something. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it. But the rant itself didn’t bother me so much; what bothered me was the crowd standing around her, listening to her every word as if they were all experiencing profound epiphanies. I thought to myself: “How can these people be so blind? How can they believe this nonsense? I must stop this at once!” However, I didn’t feel like getting into some political argument or a shouting match. Fortunately I knew I had the power to fly. So I climbed a tall nearby wall, which would have been very dangerous to people who could not fly, and this instantly got some attention. Then I proclaimed to the people something like: “Stop listening to this woman, she speaks lies! Who are you going to believe? Her? Or someone who can fly?” I then stepped off the wall and floated in air. There were gasps of amazement and all who saw believed.

Afterwards, I met one person in the audience who was not impressed with my tactic. It was Foreman from House.

“You didn’t have to do it that way,” Foreman said. “It was manipulative.”

“I had to do it that way,” I replied. “Those people were too dumb to think for themselves. I wouldn’t have been able to use reason with them. They need to be manipulated. They need to see something powerful to associate their beliefs with.”

Foreman continued to disagree. And then I realized he was just acting. He was not really Foreman, he was just an actor playing Foreman. I was on the set of House, and I was supposed to be fixing the carpets. And for some reason my dog’s beds were there, for some reason I had given them to Foreman and Taub.

And then I woke up.

So some of that was nonsense, but the philosophical question remains… are some people too dumb to understand what you think is true through what you believe are rational arguments? If so, is it morally acceptable to manipulate them into agreeing with you? Especially if them not agreeing with you could have devastating effects?

By S P Hannifin, ago
Writing

Couple interesting blog posts on writing

I came across these two interesting blog posts the other day:

First there’s: The Dos and Don’ts of Your Online Presence. The post has some good advice, and summarizes at the end with:

DO:

– Have at least a rudimentary website
– Let people know a little bit about you
– Give people a way to contact you
– Blog about your life and interests

DON’T:

– Alienate your future editors and fans
– Create a digital monument to failure
– Be an unwelcome dinner guest on Twitter

I’m partly guilty of the “digital monument to failure” part. If you remember, I used to have a tally of rejections on the side of this blog, and on my wiki I kept track of who had rejected what. Fortunately I rethought this practice, though I doubt I’ve done enough for editors to really look for me. The reason I thought it was fun to track rejections was two-fold. Firstly, rejections are pretty useless otherwise; they don’t get you anywhere. If I could tally them, keep stats on them, at least I could get some use out of them, at least they’d have some effect. Secondly, I thought it might be interesting for readers of my blog to see, since we all know it happens, yet there’s not much info about how much it happens to more successful authors. I now do my submission and rejection tracking duotrope.com, which I’m sure is better. From an editor’s point of view, who wants to be reminded of a bunch of failure? Even if they can guess just about every author’s been rejected, it’s not great for your impression on a stranger, is it?

Second there’s: Pushing the Boulder: Making the leap from short story to novel. Hey, *gasp* that’s what I’m doing! As the post writer says:

I love short stories for many reasons. At a pace of roughly one story a month, I’ve been able to dabble in all sorts of different things, from fantasy, horror, and science fiction, and things that slip between the cracks. Feedback from beta readers comes faster, within days or weeks, providing encouragement and confidence for an inconsistent ego. Positive reinforcement, sooner, kept me going when I otherwise might have given up.

Like the mountain, novels are a different beast. Unless you’re sending work to faithful beta readers, chapter by chapter, it can be months or even years before your efforts are validated. It can seem insurmountable when observed from page 1, with no end in sight.

It takes a leap of faith in yourself to scale the mountain, especially for the first time. The journey will be long, uncertain and difficult, with treacherous passes and pitfalls never imagined. The risk is greater, but so is the reward.

While I sort of fear that my novel won’t be good enough when I’m finished, I’m also more afraid that I’ll just lose interest and stop writing, and it will turn into yet another failed attempt. I guess the trick is to not think about the whole novel all at once, or how long it’s going to take you. Just tackle it one little piece at a time. Really, really. Of course, easier said than done, eh?

I’ve been thinking about starting another podcast to chronicle this novel-writing attempt, mostly for my own benefit, as a way to try to keep myself on the novel-writing path. (It’s easier to blather in voice than to try to write out coherent blog posts, methinks… not that my blog posts are really all that coherent but you know what I mean chickens and ducks and stuff… oh, oops, excuse my noncoherency.) Does the world really need another writing podcast? Well, no. But it doesn’t really need another fantasy novel either, so who cares about need? Not sure if I’ll do it or not… we’ll see…

By S P Hannifin, ago
Programming

Stories and code and stuff and whatever

I hit a snag in my in-progress short story Through a Flame of Blue and Green. I realized one of my scenes is purely expositional. The information given in the scene is important for the story, but there’s no action, at least no action that’s important to the story. My natural response to this snag is to just stop writing the story until I can figure out a way to make the scene work. “But wait,” I say to myself, “just skip the scene! Come back to it later!” Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? “You just did!” I say to myself. Oh yeah! Both I and me are the same! So I’ll do that… later.

I’m still working on my Android melody generator program as well, but learning to program Android interfaces is boooooooooring, so progress is slow. However, a friend of mine recently gave me some extremely helpful feedback on the screenplay I wrote last year, The Melody Box, so I’ve been thinking about sending out another round of query letters, this time mentioning that a potential film could have the tie-in of software that does what the melody box in the screenplay does: generate melodies. Seems like both products would boost interest in each other. Not sure if that will truly interest anyone, but it’s worth a try, yes? Then I’ll get back to trying to learn how to program Android interfaces.

Other than that, I’ve been endlessly tweaking my outlines for Atarius Destroy This World. There are some tricky little issues here and there. But I’ll probably start writing on Saturday or next week. I’m kind of scared to start. I’ll have to keep saying to myself: “It’s just a rough draft. It’s allowed to be awful. Just get something down.”

By S P Hannifin, ago