Thursday, December 5, 2013

A temporary Resolution


It was brought to my attention that the post I wrote a couple days ago was a near carbon copy of one written in June.  It is perhaps an embarrassment that I nearly doubled the size of the project while not properly addressing the bug, but it leads to a conclusion and a solution.  Create the voids.

So last night I stayed up past my bedtime, my cat trying to eat my toes through the bedding and a notebook in my hands.  In doing that I concluded I do want a least one other perspective.  I also am revising the technologies that exist in that universe, this will force me to reconsider how some things fail, and will remove some redundant scenes.  Again parallel perspectives will make this work far better.  Some of these ideas I have considered before but they more clearly set now.

My Nanowrimo project was a failure in that I did not reach 50,000 words or tell a concrete story, but it did produce 10,000 words and do some world building.  Thankfully for my intellectual laziness, the story is set in the same overall universe as the main project, there may be a gap of several generations but the basic backdrop is consistent.  This left me with historical and technological elements that I had not build.  Including evidence for advanced alien technology older than 500 million years, weathered beyond comprehension. This is not panspermia, or ancient Aliens did it.

So as I used the cat to keep my feet warm I created a new set of outlines both for the expanded opening and second half of the tale.  Admittedly the many of these are little more than a single line, merely a chapter title, but they hint at how the story will playout.  A little inspiration does make me feel better.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stuck In a loop.


So November passed, I started Nanowrimo, made it 10 days and 10 thousand worlds before other things took my attention off the project. This project suffered from a lack of a plan, the story was borrowed from a short I never made an progress on.  The details needed to build it up to Nano's 50,000 words did not add much.   This however did get me thinking about the other novel I had been working on.  In there I added a few more words and realized why the project had been so hard to pick back up. 

I have gotten my self good and stuck. The core of the story is the failure of a deep space mission, inspired by both Scott's and Shackleton's expeditions to the south pole. Things going wrong and scraps being salvaged is par for the course.   As I circled what has been since the story's first version a pivotal moment I realized I was doing it again and again.  A similar scene had been played out several times during the various chapters that preceded what I was trying to write, it was tiring.  

Now being a disaster story, where most people will live, and living will  involve improvising some scenes of the mechanics of the universe and the ship are needed. There is value in knowing first what they had and how little of it they keep, but too much time has been spent on those mechanics. The interludes are too small, and fail to build the characters into people I either want saved, or will be missed if I kill them off.  It is a first draft of something far larger than I have ever worked on before so flaws are expected, massive flaws should be considered normal.  Some of the flaws are simple I started too close to the middle, I did not know who was who before I started throwing near death experiences at them.  I am unsure as to the view point, I have drifted in and out of the first person, and currently have only one character's view point.  There is a real reason why the interludes between disasters are lacking, they are the hard part. 

In writing about a stranded starship crew I am facing my experiences in the North.  Perhaps I have not spent mucht time there, the bulk of two and a half years, mostly in one space.  A world that was ripe with adventure when I first got there but became tiring toil quickly.  When I left the last time long after having lost the heart to work so far from home for so long I was angry and despondent.  It was a world I did not fit it, beautiful but I never made an inside of myself, I seldom do.   It was out there I nearly blew a gasket trying to change a tire on a pickup on the side of an ice road.  It was a different patch of ice that swallowed a company truck and took one of its passengers with it.  A man I had worked with loosely for a year and a half or so.  So I find myself taking on the easy parts, the stark white on white of the depths of winter, but avoiding the hard things. 

The old advice of write what you know has value.  I hated the advice when I was 21, in a way similar to how I still hate the advice of "It,s not what you know it.s who you know".  Now I have had time to live, even if I have not built a top notch network, and it has given me material to add to writing.  Unfortunately getting into those head spaces is the hard part.  Also, just keeping focused on a task can be frightfully hard, and it gets harder as my life stays empty of external pressures longer. 

So the novel got stuck somewhere between the beginner and the middle. I added a introduction and parts of opening chapters that will build the characters and world, but to really make it work I fear it needs a massive restructuring. That weight, knowing that even if I push forward to new parts much of what is behind me will have to change.   Now the truth is non of this is new, non of this should keep me from writing, ultimately I have also been lazy.  Both these things need remedied.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Part one the approximate now.

Greetings, and a warning this is going to be a rambling stream of conscience.
Logging on to Blogger I looked at the posts from the last few months. The titles and what I remember of the content based on those titles tells me most of my writing has been about looking back.  Perhaps a few flirted with a couple ideas on how to go forward but little thought has been put into that, and similarly little progress made.  The short answer is I don't know what to do next, the better answer is I have never been able to imagine what I wanted to do that is still true.

  When my work is heavily self directed and or the number of tasks is small a failure to commit to one early in the day compromises my effectiveness at both.  These days I will wake up and ask should I write today or apply for jobs.  The answer will be yes. Unfortunately I don't ask which task gets priority, once the indecision takes root ways are found to avoid doing either, and damn my laid back personality from not beating me up over those failings.

In applying to jobs I submit to postings that come within throwing distance of what I had done in my last post.  Now the thing with me and throwing is I am often off by 30 degrees in 5 different directions.  So the returns are low.  Here comes the part where I blame external forces.  In what approximates my profession, I exist in a small niche a user of an obscure software suit for a recession pron industry, a suit I like little in an industry I am indifferent to. When my search steps away from the industry I started out in the jobs become more interesting but less accessible.  Yet I apply, with varying amounts of care and attention bordering on The Onion's take on job applications. Online job applications are like a monkey flinging feces, without the passion, aim, satisfaction, or results, when a monkey does it a least something is covered in shit. I have had a few nibbles a couple real interviews and a few calls from recruiters who neither understood my work nor the industry I have worked in.

Now I have tried to make this post about going forward, but right now I am thinking more about trying to get back to where I was, if not in job description but a steady job would be great.  So before I explore some other options or decide to delay them for another post I will address the next thing people tell you to do, network.  I hate that term, it always brings to mind people dressed better than me with confident smiles, I can not pull of a confident smile for a sustained period.   Now I understand that in order to connect the services I can offer with the needs they can fill connections have to be made but the way the process is sold makes me feel unclean.  It is at this point in the dialog someone will chime in with the patronizing advice of "It's not what you know, it's who you know".  That may be true, but I will hate you for saying it.  It has always had the effect of devaluing the knowledge I spent time and energy gaining.

It is so much easier to look back.  I know what I did, what parts were enjoyed what parts were endured, it is easy to imagine something the same but different. I have orbited the same but different since I started working.  It is the easy thing to do conceptually.  The work I did for two years at Independence was the dull end of an interesting field and leaving open the prospect that I could land better work employing similar tools must be considered.  It is only the start of my GIS profession and getting started is the hard part.  When the commodity prices were high and I was still taking Geology jobs, offers were more frequent, a healthy reminder that I have be employable in the past.

I have romanticized the notion of landing in a totally unexpected field or weird new job that fits me perfectly but honestly I have no idea how that could happen.  What value is it to most people that I can break open a rock efficiently, or that I can actually use my 30X handlens, and if you give me a few weeks and leave me alone I can cobble together a simple program.   If I squint just right I feel clever and can believe that I can be of good value to people.  Yet I see a job market full of short term contracts demanding specialized skills, and feel useless again.

Damn it I was trying to think ahead. Currently I have rambled on about the now.  The question of how to land an interesting job, possibly within GIS or the geosciences remains poorly considered. Mostly I have reminded myself that mostly I have learned what I don't want to do.  I am not done with this pondering. I will revisit the subject soon and perhaps move beyond complaining.