Cover Design for Space-Farming #1

Novel #1 of Space-Farming in the Age of the Disco-Pirates was enjoyed by my beta readers. I am proud to publish it, but first the cover illustration, one last fine-comb edit, and some interior illustrations.

I do all my illustrations and covers, for better or for worse.

It will be published January once the final touches are done.

I am working on Vapor Basin part 2. It pales in comparison to finishing this novel.

More Thoughts on Cliche Stories

I was listening to my favorite rock opera today (Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the center of the earth) and I was reminded of the journey to the center of the earth movies.

There are two that stick out in my memory, the 1959 edition and the modern 2008.

The one from 1959 didn’t rely on a character arc to move the audience. It relied solely on the sci-fi novelty of plunging into the earth to discover mushroom forests and creatures of the deep. Extremely fantastic watching.

However, 2008’s journey to the center of the earth tried to do an abysmal family redemption story. The fake characters turned what could have been (maybe) fantastic scenes into eye-rolling boredom.

Flat characters are better than dishonest characters. Characters like James Bond and Sherlock Holmes are dreadfully flat but due to their expertise make for an entertaining watch.

Rounding Out the Characters in Journey to the Center of the Earth

How can we make the characters in journey to the center of the Earth move an audience while simutanesously retaining the awe of exploring vocanic Icelandic caverns?

It’s dreadfully easy: characters must encounter what they fear.

Everything a characters fears relates to an insecurity, lie, or trauma. That’s why people read fiction, its a safe, fast, and effective way to incorporate the wisdom of others into our life. Characters solving lies and trauma may give us the courage or method to do so in our own lives. If anyone really wanted to learn about the cave systems I would recommend nonfiction.

Why do we watch James Bond or Sherlock Holmes then?

Skyfall was the best James Bond because it presented the first believable fear β€” being past his prime and decaying fast.

I don’t like Sherlock Holmes, I find him boring and trite. There is little reason to watch Holmes.

That’s all.

How To Refresh Cliche Stories

Introducing fantastic situations turns cliche stories into moving entertainment.

One of my favorite films is Yesterday. It is a romance. Jack Malik’s arc is as cliche as it gets. ‘Success can distract you what matters most: love.‘ If you wrote just that, it would be boring as staring down a wall.

But.

If you wrote this: ‘Even if you are as famous as the Beetles, remember those who love you for who you are.‘ It becomes uncommon sense.

And that is where Yesterday comes in. Jack is a no-name musician that travels from failing gig to failing gig. Ellie Appleton loves Jack despite Jack’s passion eating dust. But Jack is far too focused on what he isn’t to see what he already has.

Then one fateful day, Jack becomes the one and only to remember the Beetle’s music. He uses it to become extremely rich and famous. In the process, he alienates Ellie. Drama and struggle ensue.

In a moment of revelation, he throws it all away and chooses Ellie as his dream.

Now, I’ve only ever watched it once but I remember all that. Good films and books will be memorable.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Cliche Go Down

Being the only person to remember the Beetles music is as sci-fi as it gets. Delightfully subtle and powerfully concrete. It is the sugar.

The common sense of ‘not letting success distract you‘ is the medicine. It goes in one ear and out the other.

The magic is wrapping the cliche with the sci-fi and fantastic. We enjoy the glimmer and flash of success and reviving the Beetles but the heart-line of the film is a cliche.

This is not to say that cliche is wrong, cliche advice is often right. But the only way to make your audience read it is to entertain them.

In short, the film Yesterday is the story equivalent of getting a baby to eat by making airplane noises.

That is all.

How to Drink Safely and Responsibly as an Author

The best art is made by a joyful soul. Alcohol is no replacement for meditation and directly confronting insecurities. Always drink with friends that you would trust sober.

The timing of this post is not a coincidence.

No: I’m not going to edit that post, it’s freaking hilarious. My hope is that you read it in a drunken Canadian accent. Then you are off to the races. πŸ˜€

The topic of suffering and starving artists has been on my mind for a while and now is likely the best time to post about it.

In the metaphor of this blog, you are the boat. You are the sailing ship that navigates the seven seas to get to the temple of truth. This post is about plugging the holes in your ship and pumping the bilge.

Alcoholism and Art do not mix.

No not drink and write. (Says the guy who wrote yesterday. Ha-ha.) Drinking is for enjoying the company of friends.

But let’s be real, you already know all that. Your problem isn’t a lack of knowledge regarding alcohol, in fact you probably know more than me.

Everyone I’ve ever met has a deep rooted pain buried in their chest like they’ve been impaled by a tree. All you can ever hope to do is painfully remove each sliver with tweezers and drop them in a glass jar.

Don’t water the impaling tree with Alcohol. You’ve got to get it out.

Suffering artists, weather it be the sleep deprived doctor or the titular drunken writer are terrible lies. Your best work and your best life happens when you don’t need drugs to tolerate the pain.

Starving Artists

Closely related are starving artists. You can’t live on a diet of paint.

One of the best painters in the entire world is a man named John James Audubon. Here is a link to many if not all of his paintings. I love his work and bird lovers the world over love his work. I can rant and rave about how brilliant a painter he was but.

There’s always a but.

He never learned to balance his life and his life’s calling. He lived for many years just painting, all of his small stipend went to buying paint. (I don’t believe he ate paint, it was Van Gogh that ate his paints later in his life)

This undoubtedly cut many years from his life. Which means he has angered God, the muses, or the universe (take your pick). He was put on this earth and he chose his life’s calling to paint birds. But because he didn’t love himself first, his life’s calling became his death’s calling. I am grateful for his work. If I knew him I would tell him to be healthy first.

And that’s why I’m here really, you might be in John James Audubon’s situation, and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell you to love yourself first.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Context for Yesterday’s post.

After much recollection, I can give some context for the drunken crying rant yesterday.

Covid 19 meant that I haven’t seen my friends for six months on top of three months already. In that time, my best friend got married and Covid stole the opportunity from me to be at his wedding. In the last two days, I took the risk and went to see them.

I meet up with him and his wife and we drank a lot. In total I had eight drinks. Four beer bottles and four fancy drinks. The fancy drinks were double shots of hard liquor in content.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the waitress cut us off at the last fancy drink so it might have only been seven drinks. We drank a water to pace ourselves half way through. We ate two orders of chicken tenders to also pace ourselves.

We got back home safely and slowly. Being quiet to respect our neighbors. The brew house being a short walk away from my friend’s apartment. I would trust these two people with my life sober.

Got back home, wrote drunk for two hours, watched star trek.

Woke up at 5:30 and started writing again without a hangover. Odd.

I’m going for a morning jog.

That’s all.

How to focus: Divide your Writing into 3 Steps

Where you are writing is the second level of where you commune with gods, muses and inspiration. The first level is your mind. Everyone organizes their room from time to time β€” when we must β€” but few organize their minds.

No one wants to be buried with blank pages, words we could never set down on paper. I am going to share with you a piece of a system. A way to focus your mind on distinct stages of writing.

If you incorporate this knowledge into your process, writer’s block will never haunt you again.

Division of Tasks

Writing is divided into three distinct tasks.

  • Research
  • Writing
  • Editing

To achieve flow, work on each stage by itself. The mind needs time to get into focus β€” around 90 minutes. Deep focus is nessecary for talking to God.

All of these tasks will be analyzed in respect to writing.

Research is not Writing

Every time we interrupt our writing β€” opening google, searching for the price of wigs in 1567 β€” we are interrupting the flow of creation.

The eudemonia of writing is too precious to be squandered on such trivial concerns!

Never squander passion on tedious research. Its like trading away gold for candy, by weight.

If you don’t know something, make it up, or if you must, write: ‘TK-price-of-wigs’. TK is short hand for ‘to come’. (I do a document search for TK- afterwards to finish a first draft)

Doubts regarding the honesty of your story are difficult. Keep a journal, or scrap of paper handy. Write down any nagging doubts. Then: Carry on writing. Write despite what you think.

Writing is Writing

When your mind conjures words, this alone is writing. Unfortunately, we only have sluggish fingers to pound them out.

I will save the mechanics of writing for another article, but I will leave you with this.

If your fingers aren’t moving, you aren’t in the head space to write. Not the other way around. Little doubts, questions, and pangs of hunger shouldn’t be addressed. Ignore them. Persistence is the key to success. Write them down on a handy journal to log them, then write.

Editing is not Writing

Do not edit when you write first drafts.

The mind-scape of creation is radically different from the mind-scape of editing. A painter does render a picture in crisp focus. Instead, the completed manuscript will come into focus from successive washes of color. Focusing brings things into focus.

If you are writing and simultaneously editing, your mind will be split in two. Your writing (noun and verb) will become tedious.

Removing Distractions from Microsoft Word

Most writing processors are set up in a way that harms are creativity. Red, blue outlines and thousands of menu buttons demand attention. But we must turn them all off if we have any hope to generate words.

To set up Microsoft word for deep focus, you must turn off proofing marks, and enter the focus mode. Open up the ‘File’ section in word. The ‘File’ button is the leftmost button top menu. Once there, look at the left tab, ‘Settings’ is on the bottom. Open settings.

Go to the proofing section, and check off all spelling and grammar checks in the ‘When correcting spelling and grammar in word’ subsection.

Turn them off with the same vigor that a gardener saves her precious sprouts from choking parasites.

Next, go back to the document. On the bottom right there is a button called ‘Focus’. Click it. Well done, you have optimized word for writing.

Allow Yourself to Write in the Language You Think in.

However, man cannot live off bread alone. Practical advice is peachy keen, but spiritual advice is foundational.

First drafts demand vigor. Write them recklessly.

Whatever words come to your head, blast them out! No one, not even your favorite author, has perfect words spring from their heads like Artemis from Zeus. Every book you have ever read is a first draft that has been smelted pure.

You can only write from experience. Perhaps you are like me, and doubt the importance of your life. Your personal language is criticized by your ego. Ego is an embarrassing friend that follows us everywhere.

For example, say your writing your first draft. You write a trope, a reluctant hero. The hero is anxious, so you write a cliche, ‘white-knuckled grip’. These thoughts pass into your mind and out again without your fingers imprinting them on the page. Do not let this happen. Despite how embarrassing your thoughts, you must write them down. Blast through the first draft like a stream of boiling water cutting through snow. White, hissing, fury.

Your stream on conscientiousness must be set down in type. If you don’t instantly play with your ideas, they will get bored and go find another friend.

What you will mine up is gold bearing ore. From there you toss it into the crucible, again and again. I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve been getting quite good at it. I cannot recommend reckless writing enough! You, at times, will find gems in the dirt you delve up. Admire them briefly and keep digging. Most of the time you find gravel, but you must never hit backspace.

Gems are shy birds, and ore are violent seagulls. If you swat away the pizza-swiping seagulls, the graceful heron will think you hate birds. She leaves. Writing: your hands go forward.

Experience is personal, you may doubt its value. I am shy about my religion, career, and passions. The I think in language is Christian allegory, kids cartoons, and card games. While I write, I think, Oh, this part is too religious, no one is going to identify with it.

We must write regardless.

That is all.