Today is Ash Wednesday. What a day it was. Started off with a dentist, ended up with me walking through slush in the driving wet snow. Not exactly the funnest of days. But I guess appropriate for the beginning of Lent.
I’ve decided that this Lent, I will work on resolving a nagging deep personal issue. I will not go into the details, but it is a serious issue that needs resolving. Along the way, I also want to dedicate more of my time and works to the Lord. After He gave me all my gifts, my life and everything. It is only fair I do something in return.
I plan on doing a lot of writing and editing of writing, inspired by Catholic faith. I think this will not only be a good direction for my spiritual development, but also my personal too. Considering that I am an editor of the Alexandrian and a writer it just makes sense. And also the amazing comments from my readers… I feel like I should do this:
So my plan is to spend my free time each day writing a part of my novel, or working on the next issue of the Alexandrian, or working on expanding the magazine. Hopefully by Easter, I will have a quite collection of work that I can offer up. And for the benefit of my readers and friends.
Last week I mentioned that I restarted writing of my novel. Well actually I’ve restarted the writing of TWO novels. Yes, I’m writing TWO novels in tandem. And while it sounds like a bad idea, this can work since I can switch between the novels depending on the mood I’m in. If I’m in the mood for something epic, I’ll continue with A Collection of Shards. If I’m in the mood for something more quiet and personal, I’ll work on Echoes in the Endless. In either case, I’m planning to work on both simultaneously. Also I can not give an estimate of when I will finish writing these books. My previous estimates and personal due dates came and went, and the book writing did not progress.
Echoes in the Endless will look similar to the earlier variants that I started working on. However instead of the majestic huge starships of space operas, I’ve taken a liking to the gritty grim spacecraft of today. I also enjoyed hard science fiction, that involved reality based stories. Yes authors go into great lengths to explain things and it does make stories less “plastic epic”. However these constraints lead to more provocative unconventional stories, and I plan on writing those and not another clone of “Battlestar Galactica” or “Star Trek”. A warning to all readers, neither of these books are meant to be happy. I’m a realist not an optimist so I tend not include pink tinted glasses with my stories.
Finally, I’ve been initially invited to contribute to the next Totally Unknown Writers Festival. Everything is still in the conception stage, however with any luck I’ll read something at next year’s show.
Things are going fairly smoothly for the trip. Not yet at the point at where I can say I’m packed and ready. And there remains a good chunk of work to do. However plans are proceeding forward.
While I look forward to my trip, lately I’ve felt like my self-esteem has taken quite a beating. I don’t know if this signals a slow but steady burnout. Or rather realization and acceptance of my current position and circumstances in life. I’m a bit disappointed. I still feel I’m far from where I want to be in the near future. And reality seems to close more doors than open them. If some potential opportunity opens, it feels more like a tease than an opportunity. Realistically, I feel I’ve exhausted all the straightforward options without compromising or risking my future on some future high-risk scheme. This realization is quite unnerving. I’m not sure what else I can do, aside from doing what I already am. I’ve never enjoyed the prospect of casting the dice and hoping for the best. This is fine in a game. In life not so much, since for action there are far reaching consequences. In life, a sane logical strategy needs to be in place. Still I can’t see how I can achieve my end-goals, circumstances being as they are. I find solace in my writing, and little else.
I’m still going to blog on highly irregular basis, definitely until after my trip. Or most likely after I finish writing the rough draft of the novel. My novel feels like the only meaningful contribution I can make at the moment. Everything else depends on external factors, beyond my control.
And so it begins. Yesterday I finished writing the notes for my novel, A Collection of Shards. I mapped out the basic plot, main characters and setting in those notes. I am impressed with how the idea for the novel is coming together. The novel will have a tight plot with lots of action. I plan on putting a lot of attention to details. The story will feel visceral at times, dreamy at others. I based my characters on real people, should they should feel alive. On top of that I plan on narrating the story in a weaving manner, to make it feel layered. And thanks to the real locations and technology, I can attempt to write a story based on an “altered reality”, similar to that of Strugatsky’s The Roadside Picnic.
With the novel already well planned, I’ve started writing the first chapter. I changed the beginning to a totally new scene that I’ve not worked with before. Still I’m excited about writing this novel. It make turn out as the next science fiction epic.
I’m going to have to keep these next upcoming posts short. I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment, with the sheer amount of things going on at the same time. I still want to try to keep going forward on the projects already in progress. But I will not add anything new to my plate for the next few weeks. I’m seriously planning a trip to Europe this year. Planning this trip will take quite some effort. Still a short update is in order.
I got meet up my university friend Rob yesterday. Have not talked to him in ages. I did spend a long time with him. But it was great to talk to him again, and I needed someone in a similar position to my own to bounce ideas off of.
I started to compile some notes for my novel. I wrote down most of the background of the novel. Now I plan on completing my notes and sketching out the plot. Then the serious work writing can begin. As for programming, I’m working on a PHP powered website for justCheckers. Also I am slowly reading through a book on coding C++ and Qt, along with a silly application I plan on writing to learn the Qt framework.
This week, I’ve started working on my delayed projects again. I feel exhausted from the week. But I also can not wait to play around with my projects.
I’ve always admired the KDE and Qt developers. They make some of the most innovative and interesting technology in the consumer-desktop-mobile land. I’ve decided to pick up learning Qt and C++. So far I’ve read the beginning of C++ GUI Programming with Qt 4 (1st ed). I need to play around with C++, which I plan on doing it while using Qt Creator. One of my first major Qt experiments might be getting the TEA text editor working on my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. I know that Nokia just released the tech preview of Qt 4 for S60 devices. But I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully the GUI will port over nicely.
Yes, the project that I left for dead still lives. I want to work on it, as portfolio material. I first plan on building a website in PHP (or maybe JSP?) that renders beautiful CSS and XHTML. And then I need to give the project much love. But I owe it to myself to finish this application. I won’t build any crazy game servers. But I want to make something totally configurable and fun. And in the process I want to create something that proves that I am a strong Java developer.
Writing A Collection of Shards
I am going back to writing. Unfortunately I need to start almost from scratch, since many of my written sections simply will not work. The ideas are there. I just need to get them down on paper.
This one is the ultimate in the tire kicking sense. I plan on getting my driver’s license really soon. Aside from parking, I feel comfortable driving. Once I figure out all this parking stuff, then I’ll be ready. I’m exciting since this will give me a lot more mobility and flexiblity. I’ll be able to solve a lot of problems and have even more time to do things in the day. And I’ll be able to sleep and live in normal time periods.
It is a bit early in the morning to come up with material to write about. And I did not get much sleep this night. Today I probably wouldn’t be able to stop yawning. And insane amounts of coffee will only keep me from trying to take a nap on the new office’s couch. All that said, I am on track with my current work: personal, professional and long-term. I’ve even managed to get to those much delayed tasks. Yesterday I restarted my coding projects. Today I will dedicate some time on building a portfolio: in writing, graphics and coding. And I really need to clear the dust off my resume too.
The key statement for expressing the feel of these past few days should be: I’ll be right on it. And I will. Things get done and on time. The only thing missing is sleep, but I’m sure that will return if I keep at it.
As an aside, I played Alpha Centauri this morning. What a difference lower the difficulty a single level makes. At the moment I’m kicking ass and taking names. I can also verify that what they say about state theory is true. It is all about power and domination over a territory. It takes incredible restraint to not exercise aggressive military power, especially when you know you can get away with it. Hmm… that should prove a great uncurrent theme in my novel.
Final aside: I have to rewrite the first chapter of my novel. I can’t adapt any of my previous writing to it, in any real degree. I can use some ideas and elements here and there, but regretably it looks like the first chapter needs a rewrite. The overall plot and characters feel strong. The setting needs some thought, since the terrain in reality does not work a 100% with my idea. Anyways, I plan on just writing the rough drafts first. Then I brace for painful edits later on.
My best laid plans always seem to flow so well together. But give things a bit of time, and then complications arise. And with complications come delays and reschedules.
I planned on being further along with my writing today. Also I planned on having already dealt with a number of tasks. Finally, I planned on moving forward with my summer vacation plans. Instead I slept, and made a long-term investment. All well and good, but not planned for at all. However the inflexible only complain, the flexible reschedule and replan. Thats what I’m doing this morning. I plan on moving forward today, possibly badgering a few idle people in the process. Also I will redo my vacation plans. As for the writing, I think I will find ample time to write in the afternoon. Everything all due to circumstances beyond my control. All I can do is work around the obstacles and work with what I have.
Went to a fantastic party hosted by the Huddarts, Friday night. I enjoyed myself throughly. Meet new people, had a few too many drinks, and had a lot of fun. Some of the conversations ended up as discussions about my novel.
I’m at an impasse with my novel. I have to decided the setting of my novel. The setting turns out crucial when developing the plot, since I desire to keep things realistic The novel can either take place on a post-nuclear war Earth in the near future. Or it can occur on the planet Mars about 200 years from now. In both cases, a central element of a swarm of military drones and a covert ops team trying to infiltrate a ruined city works. However the Mars plot called for starships (the original plot). These starships act as vehicles for the plot: one gets shot down, another acts as a carrier to launch fighters and a third acts as a spaceborne heavy weapon. And they play pivotal points in my plot. The last two can be replaced with either a land-based facility or an orbital platform. But I can’t come up with a plot element for the first one. I need a reason why a military group finds itself under fire from a swarm. And said military group has to be far from safety, carry some sort of important mission-critical cargo and needs extraction. Being dropped from a crashed starship explains it all.
Now in the post-nuke Earth starships don’t exist. At least not in any large form. However with a near future plot I can use real life experience, existing technology and current events to make the story more realistic. I also face the danger of offending readers if I make things too realistic or tie my story too close to the current world. And I’m not in the mood to deal with snarky, political vigilantes and their poisonous e-mails. Besides I do want to give the story a sort of a ruined future in the desert feel. The Mars plot nicely abstracts all that away, but I lose realism. The Earth plot bases itself in realism but I’d have to do a balancing act to keep the plot neutral and interesting.
So what should I do? Stick with the easier to write but more space opera Mars plot? Or a realistic, gritty Earth-based plot that needs a good explanations, and realistic equivalents to my Mars plot?
Update: Played a bit of Alpha Centauri, and I would absolutely love to write my novel in such a setting. But a Earth far from Earth comes with its own set of problems.