Another Thursday

You know, I see so many people who say things like, “It’s just 2 more days to the weekend…”

I’ve never thought like that, I guess.

Wanna know a good way to make every day after dinner seem like it’s the weekend?

Get rid of your TV.

No, I’m not kidding!

People spend their lives thinking, “today is Ghost Hunters. Tomorrow, Deadliest Catch.” or whatever. I don’t know what shows are on tv.

Now, get a book, and read.

Or take up painting.

Or something.

We’re all so passive nowadays, from a lifetime of sitting and watching to see what’s next.

Not a Writer’s Blog

This is not so much a writer’s blog, but a reader’s blog! I’m a writer, and I talk a little about the process of writing, because I always was interested in that.

When Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001, what struggles did he face? What parts were easy? Was he able to do it in 80 days? 50? 18?


WHat about when Tolkien wrote? I know he wrote his books as letters he mailed to his son in the RAF. Did he sit in his study from 6 pm to 8 pm every night, with ink, quill and a candle? Was he like a modern day Scrooge, hunched over an empty desk save for a solitary piece of paper? Or was his desk littered with scraps of this and that?

I always wanted to know that kind of stuff.

I could write a lot of stuff of interest to other writers. But then my audience is mostly… other writers.

I want to talk to readers, because after all, they’re the ones who will buy what I write!

What do you like to read? Do you have pet peeves, things you hate when writers do something?

I always hated when writers would start to go one way, then suddenly go in another direction. I read a book about a man once who was smart, an exceptional military commander. The book as a champ at leading you in one direction, then flying the other way. He starts out his military career making his men crawl through jungles, not trusting intel reports. You see the other armies just walk to the destination, la de da.

You WANTED to see them get blown away. You WANTED to see the commander vindicated. But you’re treated to a plot that… vaporizes. Promises much, then is gone like morning mist.

You were shown a scene where a Buddhist monk tells the man, “I believe you can walk on air.” the man walks off, and realizes he’s stepped off a stone path.. and literally is walking on air. then he falls, when he realizes that.

And can’t do it ever again.

I felt cheated as a reader by that.

What bugs you as a reader?

Michael Hyatt’s Latest Seminar

I was just waaay too busy for Michael Hyatt’s latest seminar. I will say they’re usually infomercials on how to buy his latest product. The last one was “7 ways how to write your book.”

Okay. I took it. I even wrote on it. The most I got out of it was getting Evernote. Yup, he was right.

The latest seminar was on growing your “Social platform”, what others are calling your “writing platform” – a social media presence combined of a website/blog (got that), Facebook (ugh), twitter, and LinkedIn or Instagram. It gets your name out there, people know you’re a writer, have some inkling of what you’re writing, and can follow you once you’re published or sold. And industry insiders are making dire comments that if you don’t have a writer’s platform, you probably won’t get published!

Michael Hyatt is using it to advertise his $280 a year publicity college, where you learn how to build a blog following, etc.

I was interested on watching the seminar, but he sent out the link to the broadcast on the very last day that it expired. He did offer a questionnaire where he analyzed your problems, and had a recommended video. well, according ti him, I don’t know what my message is.

Actually, I don’t know what he’s talking about! So, I’ll go through the workshop pdf, and see if I can figure all this out.

Mike, it’s like this… you need to run the seminars for longer than just two weeks!

Facebook is Evil

I hate facebook.

There, I said it.

some of you spend your LIVES checking to see what someone wrote. And checking to see if what you wrote got any likes.

I never was one of those people who posted, “buying a coffee at Starbucks!” Then, “I’m pulling into my parking spot at wiork!” Then, “I’m at work! Ho Hum!”

To quote Hank the Septapus, “Nobody cares.”

Now, I understand that all writers have to – HAVE TO – have a social media presence. Okay, that’s fine. I understand that.

But I’ll tell you right now, Facebook destroys lives. People kill one another, take out warrants on one another, get protective orders against one another, over words you write in your home, full of self justification , you’d NEVER dream of saying to someone’s face.

So, here it is. I”ll set up a facebook-twitter presence when I’m about to get something filmed, or published.

And promptly hand it over to someone else to manage. Maybe one of my family, I don’t know.

And they can put up the “I’m buying coffee” posts for me.

Remember when you used to call someone up and talk to them?

Unfulfilled Ambitions

 I guess I’ll never be an award winning paleontologist, posing proudly with an Allosaurus skeleton I personally dug out of a Wyoming creek bed.

I’ll never be the award winning ichthyologist, who reveals on film that the Megaladon shark is still alive.

I’ll never be the pro wrestler who beats Andre the Giant.

I’ll never have the 1:1 working model of a Lunar Module in my house.

Isn’t it CRAZY the things you wanted to be when you were a kid?

I did make it to be the man who drinks coffee whenever he wants.

Realized Ambitions…. Ah.

I’m basking in happiness right now.

Unforgettable Movies

The Tenth Level

I don’t watch a lot of movies, I guess. I went through a big phase of watching a lot of movies in the ’80’s, but they had to be action movies. And most action movies people liked, I hated. I didn’t like Top Gun, for instance.

Two movies I saw as a kid were unforgettable to me. One was the Tenth Level. A one set- one camera movie with William Shatner as a behaviorist who hired two men for $20 each to engage in a study on the effects of electric shock on memory. Shatner’s character wanted to see if two friends would pass the level where the increasing shocks would eventually kill. I never saw the end of it, so I’ve always wondered what happened.

Another movie was called Fate is the Hunter. I missed the beginning of the movie, and it apparently starts with a perfectly normal airplane crashing for no reason, and a crash investigator for the FAA has to figure out why it crashed. They’re running out of answers, and finally, they end up taking the sister airplane (made in the same factory the same week) into the air and repeating the flight – right down to, “Where did the pilot keep his cup of coffee when he flew?” And the same events begin to happen….

They don’t write them like that any more. I guess I’m trying to change that.

Updated Ideas

In reading “Save The Cat” Snyder talks about updated ideas and characters, giving us a listing of popular actors who basically are playing silent age, early age and golden age movie characters. He also gave a list of movies that essentially were,” let’s combine this movie and this movie.”

I guess I’m too original in my outlook for that kind of thinking. Certainly, although years ago I tried for a martial arts movie career, I was never trying to be anyone else.

Now, I’m content to write books and movies. I have zero interest in being a movie actor anymore. But if you’re going to be, what about being Spencer Tracy? What about being Jimmy Stewart? By the way, if you want to be technical about it, Jimmy Stewart should have been addressed after World War II as GENERAL jimmy Stewart. He literally stopped acting to fly 40 bombing missions in the Army Air Corps in Flying Fortresses. I can’t think of anyone in Hollywood today who, if America were in as desperate a war as that, would volunteer to join the Air Force, or go on the ground as a combatant. I think the absence of Jimmy Stewart in Hollywood allowed others with little experience to rise as stars after that.

So, if you’re struggling for ideas, get on The Movie Channel. How Can I combine these two movies? Literally, the next two movies you watch. TRy watching them with a stack of 3X5 cards, and writing down key beats. Then logline both movies, and figure how to stick the two of them together. It won’t always work. In fact, it might almost never work. But if you need ideas, try that.

Flipped Books

I read a couple of months ago, where people have re-written classic books, like “Wuthering Heights” from another character’s point of view. I remember struggling through David Copperfield, a woefully oppressive book full of pro-communist rhetoric, and finally getting through to the end. I absolutely hated it. And most people who’ve read David Copperfield have said the same thing.

Dickens will be forever remembered for “A Christmas Carol”, which had moderate Communist overtones. Let’s leave your politics out of books, please! How would you all like it if I forced you to endure my polemics for long periods of time? Probably not. So I keep my politics to a minimum. You should do the same.

But then it struck me… Copperfield, from Uriah Heep’s point of view? Could be interesting. But – alas, it would require me re-reading David Copperfield.

I love classic books. I had hardcover edition Reader’s Digest classics at home growing up, and read them all. I don’t know if it was my habit of reading every book I laid my hands on that turned me into a writer. To my knowledge, every one of my sisters, my mother and even my dad all tried writing novels. And to my knowledge. I was the only one who completed them.

what else could I flip? 20,000 leagues under the sea, from Conseil’s point of view? I mean, he stole the book. Or Journey to the Center of the Earth, from Hans’ point of view?

I suppose if I had limited ideas, I’d give it a try. Right now, I’m swamped with projects that wait in the wings. But hey! If you’re a writer and you’re struggling for ideas, flip a book for practice!

The Story I Never Wrote

Years ago, being a Star Trek fan, I once got a big jump start on a novel I was writing. I had Commodore 64 VizaWrite, or some program like that (seriously, I cannot remember – we’re talking 1984 or so…) I had conceived of a way to fix:

  1. The huge inconsistencies in Star Trek novels
  2. The massively inaccurate way Romulans were being portrayed in Star Trek Novels
  3. The unaccounted for absence of my favorite class of vessels in Star Trek
  4. One Star Trek novel where my favorite class of vessel finally made an appearance, but was changed for some incomprehensible reason.

Let me explain, and we can resume our vastly more interesting lives uninterrupted after this.

The official TV Bible (I hate that term being used for anything BUT the Bible) for Star Trek recounted the Romulans as being a cross between the Romans and the Japanese Samurai. The most popular Star Trek novels out there depicted them as an opporessive, totaltarianistic society without honor – and other Star Trek authors were jumping on ship with that depiction. Since the Romulans were my favorite, I was irritated beyond means. “This is not how Roddenberry depicted them – everyone’s in love with Diane Duane’s description of some other species.” John M. Ford’s Klingons were REMARKABLY consistent to the TV show, and indeed, may have led to the decision to make the Klingons part of the Federation.

So, the problem was, everyone was crazy about the race Diane Duane created – but the problem was, they were so inconsistent with being Romulans, they quite simply couldn’t be Romulans.

So, my novel had the Romulans being two distinct races – the Rihannsu, Diane Duane’s completely puzzling and woefully un-Romulan Romulans, and… The Rom, the ones we saw on TV – Vulcans, who still had their emotions.

My favorite Star Trek ship of course came after I got the Technical Manual around 1977. My imagination went nuts as I looked through it, and I saw, at the back pages of the space ships, a MASSIVE beast – the Dreadnought.

Every Star Trek movie I kept waiting for a Dreadnought. Every novel, I waited impatiently for the appearance of the Dreadnought. I gave up on Star trek around 1988 or so, got rid of all my novels. But still, there was only one novel that featured a Dreadnought. And the author changed them.

What, are you kidding? These things are COOL!.

So, I had started on writing a Star Trek novel that showed the Rom essentially overthrowing the Rihannsu, and almost wiping them out in the process. Good riddance. Meanwhile, the Dreadnought project is rescued from oblivion by increasing tensions with the Romulans, and as they engage in a sneak attack against the Federation, you have groups of cadets jumping into these massive warships, sitting in Space Docks around the galaxy, firing them up and turning them on in a race of time, trying to figure out how to fly these powerful monsters, stay alive, and defend the Federation during a massive attack by the Romulans.

And my Commodore 64 stopped working. So it never got written!

But at least, I can buy a couple of Enterprise model kits, and kitbash them into a Dreadnought.