The Marathon Ends

As I’d sort of expected, it didn’t last nearly as long as I’d thought it would. In the end, I managed 4,924 words in four hours, which is nothing to sneeze at. I’ll probably be posting an excerpt from the first draft of “Street Food” soon.

In the end, it wasn’t my willpower or my stamina that failed me. What happened was, in the metaphorical twelfth mile, I started to get shin splints, and then the marathon was canceled on account of rain, and I realized that it was probably for the best. I feel only mildly disappointed: four hours of constant writing was more of a strain on my flimsy sanity than I really need.

Okay…I guess I’ll go of and do something “productive.” Damn it!

Really, A Marathon

The big day’s here! The Sunday Writing Marathon will begin shortly. I’ll be doing occasional updates here. Wish me luck!

Update: A Marathon

As far as I can tell, the Sunday Writing Marathon will go ahead as planned (although, I’m thinking I’ll make it an eight to ten hour event, twelve is starting to seem a bit much). Although now, I’ve lost any opportunity for comfortable boredom with the idea, since I’ve decided I will not in fact be spending that time working on my current novel project, which I’ve decided to put on hold for the time being, since basically, I’m sick of the boring-ass main character and the boring-ass plot makes me want to punch myself in the nose.

In other words, now I have two frightening ordeals: trying to come up with a great, inspiring novel idea in the next sixteen hours, and then writing it for eight to ten hours. So, for anybody who was worried that this wasn’t going to be as painful, stupid, and humiliating as running a real marathon, it’s your lucky day!

A Marathon

Not a real marathon. Oh god no. For the time being, I’m content that I’ve actually lost enough weight to see my ankles without bending down (much). No, in typical Life of an English Major fashion, I’m talking about a writing marathon. Since I’ve yet to come up with a suitable topic for the Infinite Novel, I had a slightly saner and much stupider idea: why not spend an entire day writing? Because there’s no way banging on a keyboard and staring at a screen for twelve hours could hurt anybody, right?

Here’s the plan: this Sunday, I’ll get up, eat breakfast, and then write all day. From nine in the morning to nine at night. Twelve hours of constant writing, stopping only long enough to pee, guzzle coffee, gorge on premature Halloween candy, and clutch my ruined fingers and weep.

If all goes well, check my Twitter profile on September 27th. In between finger-ruining and frustrated head-banging, I’ll be posting updates.

(I love how I wrote this whole post with a straight face, as though I have, like, actual readers)

The Infinite Novel

While I was sitting around thinking about my latest project (I’m making another crack at writing and revising a novel), I had a silly idea, and as so often happens, rather than dismiss it without a second thought, I thought, “Well hey, that’s kind of interesting.”

The silly idea is this: an unfinishable project, a novel that never ends, that I keep writing until I grow old and die. (I know what you’re thinking: “That didn’t get caught by your silliness filter?” To that, I say: “I have a very porous silliness filter. You know, in case that wasn’t obvious.”) The Internet makes this a lot more practical than it would otherwise be. Here’s how I see it: when I sit down to my daily writing session (thanks to Stephen King for teaching me about that, by the way; a scheduled daily writing session has done me a lot of good), I hammer out another sentence or paragraph or page or chapter of the novel. And then, I just don’t stop. I keep writing, and the story keeps unspooling itself in my mind. The major factor that’ll determine whether or not I actually attempt this is whether or not I can find a suitable premise for an infinite story. After all, I don’t want it to just be some sort of Gödelian “A Thousand and One Nights.” Some planning is obviously necessary before I even consider the idea.

More news as events warrant.

(Note: I was this close to trying to write an infinite epic poem, but then I remembered my poetic skills are confined to the writing of goofy limericks.)

So Bad I Couldn’t Finish It: “Slither”

So I once again feel the need to convince myself that I’m not just yet another hobby blogger spewing random opinions out into cyberspace. And thus, another pithily-named recurring segment that will probably never recur. I present to you: So Bad I Couldn’t Finish It, a (possible) review series in which I vomit bile all over a movie or book or videogame that was so truly awful that I couldn’t sit through the whole thing.

I’m an avid reader, and I don’t like the feeling of putting a book down unfinished. I plowed through Gerald Edelman’s dense and almost unreadable neurology book Wider Than The Sky back when I was a high school student with a laughable attention span. So, it says something about Edward Lee’s novel Slither that I just couldn’t force myself to finish it.

The novel’s plot runs something like this: a pair of scientists is sent to a tiny island off the coast of Florida to gather samples and escort a ditzy photographer from National Geographic. The island houses an “abandoned” military installation, so the group has a military escort. After a while, they discover some very odd things: giant trichinoid worms, reproductive cells that should be microscopic but are the size of ladybugs, and a profusion of weird cameras and equipment. Some pot farmers have been using abandoned missile sheds as grow-houses, and they get chucked into the action.

The thing is, I’m not sure what that action is, because, although the plot is complex and well-thought-out, the writing is so dry and lifeless that I couldn’t make it to the climax.

I say “climax” for a reason, because Slither is dripping with what I can only assume is sexual frustration. Nora, one of the scientists, is a thirty-year-old virgin who spends an anomalous fraction of her time being jealous of the National Geographic woman’s good looks. There are a couple of sex scenes, but those are far outweighed by scenes of people talking about sex and thinking about sex and admiring or despising their perfect or hideous bodies, respectively. The aforementioned trichinoid worms take a strange interest in female genitalia, but I’ll hand that one off to Dr. Freud.

Oversexedness aside, Slither is simply a lousy read. Edward Lee has the same problem Richard Preston did when writing his novel The Cobra Event: the technical bits overwhelm the narrative. But Richard Preston has two distinct advantages over Edward Lee: one, he’s made his career writing about technical subjects, and so has developed a talent for it; and two, he actually knows what he’s talking about. Lee, on the other hand, seems more or less to be making shit up. And even if he’s not, the execution is so horrendous that it doesn’t matter. I cannot imagine any normal person who would throw technical jargon into idle chit-chat; or worse than that, in the case of one male character, act like a complete geek one moment and then like a stud the next.

Of course, somebody will no doubt argue that, since I didn’t read the book all the way to the end that I have no right to comlain about nonsensical plot points. To that I respond: yes I do. I’m a fan of Stephen King, so obviously, I don’t have a problem waiting for nonsnesical plot points to be resolved. The difference between Stephen King and Edward Lee, though, is that Stephen King is a good writer, while Edward Lee reads like a hybrid between a fourth-grade science book, a pulp novel, and a sexually-frustrated twentysomething’s lurid, sweaty fantasy. Slither’s few virtues–well-thought-out plot, mildly interesting characters, semi-inventive ideas–are simply not enough to compensate for its insipidness and its dry, uninspiring prose.

How I Beat Writer’s Block

Ah yes, the famous writer’s affliction strikes again. But this time, instead of grovelling at Writer’s Block’s knees, whimpering for it to please go away and let me write, I kicked it in the ass, hurled it off my porch, and threatened to pull off its gonads if it ever came ’round here again. This isn’t some sort of guide, and this solution will probably only work for me, but here it is, how I beat writer’s block.

First, the backstory. I’ve just recovered from a week of semi-insomnia and maybe a month or two of lousy writing. Now that I spend the bulk of my time shoveling different kinds of composted shit, writing has become just about the only useful thing I do (unless you count honing my Fallout skills and learning how to cook lentils), so it was pretty damn distressing when the old WB left me with nothing but Fallout and beans.

But like I said, this time I didn’t curl up on the floor and whimper. This time, I kept fighting it, trying to beat it. So, the first key thing when it comes to beating writer’s block is PERSISTENCE.

Of course, no amount of persistence could fix the fact that I was subconsciously pretending to be Stephen King. The solution to that little problem came when I made an effort to RE-DISCOVER MY VOICE. Which didn’t do me any good as long as I had no stories I felt passionate about writing, so I WROTE OUT MY FRUSTRATION. The result was this: A tiny story called Writer’s Block, and the solution to my problem. Enjoy!

*          *          *

WRITER’S BLOCK

I was scowling at the computer screen when she came in. She was the last person I wanted to see, and I couldn’t get rid of her. As I heard Andrea sitting down next to me, I let out a small sigh.

“You’re looking rough,” she said. I shot her a frown and turned back to the computer.

“Writer’s block.” She took a sharp breath.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah…don’t worry, I’ve got it under control.” She leaned forward and read what little there was to read over my shoulder. When she slumped hard back into the chair, I knew what was coming. When I looked over at her, she was rolling her eyes.

“Wow….read enough Stephen King lately?” I glanced to the computer, and then back to her, turning in the chair and eliciting that mousey squeak from its poorly-oiled bearings.

“What?” She smiled up at the ceiling with mock innocence.

“Nothing. Just a familiar style, that’s all.” Now, I turned the scowl I’d reserved for the computer on Andrea. Her mocking sarcasm was hard enough to take on a good day, and it was not a good day.

“You’re saying it’s unoriginal.” She looked up at the ceiling again.

“’I stole one last glance at the old pocketwatch as it tumbled down into the sewer drain. The light of the setting sun flashed off its face for a moment, and then it was gone. Hopefully, forever.’” She looked at me with those scalpel-sharp eyes of hers, and gave a similarly sharp smile.

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, if you’re writing for Hollywood.” I felt my face flush immediately, and put up a noble battle against the urge to stand up and shout at her.

“That’s not Hollywood!” I barked. She rolled her eyes again.

“Wow…nice to meet you, Mr. I-Can’t-Take-Criticism. New in town? No, I think you must’ve been here a while.” I realized my nails were digging into the arms of the chair, and I tried to slow my breathing and calm down. With her still smiling that goofy, incisive smile, it was difficult.

“I can take criticism.”

“Clearly not.”

“I can!”

“You can’t. If I told you what I wanted to tell you, you’d hit the roof and then yell at me to leave.” The fact that she was right was infuriating, as it often is.

“Tell me.”

“No.”

“Stop playing games!” Andrea’s smile broadened.

“You really don’t want to hear it.” I sighed, my anger finally exhausted.

“No, but I probably need to hear it.” Some of the sharpness went out of her eyes, and her smile grew softer.

“Now there’s the right way to ask. But you have to promise me you won’t yell.”

“What do you care if I yell.”

“Promise me.”

“What does it matter if I get angry?”

“Well, we can’t have you getting your blood pressure up, can we?” she mocked. I almost wanted to shove her out of the chair.

“Fine. I promise.”

“Good.” She folded her hands and leaned forward. “First of all, I have a suspicion that I know where this story is going. Let me guess: main character buys weird pocketwatch from old gypsy, discovers it has supernatural powers, uses them, pays dearly, finally decides to get rid of it.” Her rightness continued to irk me.

“I wasn’t sure where I was going with it,” I lied.

“Fine, I’ll pretend that’s true for the sake of argument. But what the hell’s the deal with the style?”

“What’s wrong with the style?” My face was getting hot again, and I was leaning forward, trying to bore into her skull with my eyes.

“It’s forced, and like I said, it’s pretty Stephen King-ish.”

“Stephen King’s a good writer.”

“Right. Stephen King is. But Brad Gorham pretending to be Stephen King is something of a hack.” I could feel my carotid artery pulsing against my shirt collar.

Nothing came out of my mouth but a long, drawn-out Hhhhhhh. I couldn’t bring myself to say the H-word. I stood up (the chair squeaking like a rat), and balled up my fists. Andrea, as always, did not look concerned.

“Sit down. You’re not going to hit a girl, and even if I was a guy, you wouldn’t hit me because you know that I’m right and you’d feel terrible afterwards.” After standing there for a moment drowning in bile and breathing my own hot exhaust, my fists loosened and I sat back down. “Besides, I didn’t actually call you a hack. I called Brad-as-Stephen-King a hack.”

“You know how easily other writers influence me.”

“Stop making excuses. Like it or not, you’re trying to be Stephen King.”

“I’m not!”

“Oh, shut up,” she said playfully, “You are, and you really ought to stop lying to yourself. You’re trying to be Stephen King, because you like his style. But I can tell from the expression you had on your face that you don’t enjoy his style. You don’t like trying to write in his style. It’s too hard, and it’s no fun.” She was right, and my anger had been replaced by rueful concession.

“Okay. So what do I do, then?”

“It’s obvious.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is. Get back in the groove. Find your style again.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, you’re the writer.” That made me smile a little, and Andrea caught my smile and magnified it. “Try writing from your own perspective.”

“What about, though? I lose interest in everything I try to write.”

“Well, write what you know. Write about writer’s block.”

At the front of the house, a key rattled, and the knob made a clunk sound. The door squeaked (sounding nothing like a mouse), and heavy footsteps thumped down the hallway.

“Sounds like George,” said Andrea, getting up from the chair and turning to leave.

“Wait a second!” I protested, swiveling to face her as she paused in the doorway. She looked down at me.

“What?”

“We’re not finished yet!”

“Well, you’ve got something to write about now, so hop to it!” She smiled and walked out into the hallway. A second later, George walked in, sweaty from his run and breathing hard.

“Who were you talking to?” he rasped, wiping beads of sweat from his huge forehead. I almost said Andrea, but I stopped. George wouldn’t really understand. But I said something fairly close to the truth.

“Myself.”

The Writings Page is Back Up

As far as this site goes, this was a pretty excellent turnaround time. I’ve removed a few of the stories I thought were crap or at least in need of revision, and added two new ones. Enjoy! (Note: I may very well be posting the first chapter of my novel Sirens as soon as I get it revised, although I don’t know if I’ll post the whole thing).

AdSpace — The Internet had finally become the great electronic universe it was always expected to be, a place where great minds could come together and do great things. Then, in a flash, the evolution of advertising wiped it all out, and Shiva spends his days zealously hunting spam in the ruins of cyberspace.

Bugs — Josh and Sandy Richter were enjoying their generic domestic life together until the old man downstairs killed himself. Rumors spread that a battle with bedbugs drove him to suicide, and soon, the super is ailing, too, and anything that crawls becomes a horrific menace.

Another New Short Story: “The Boat”

As I walked home from class today, I was in the mood for some symbolism. I started thinking about my life, and about the way society sort of “threw me out of the boat” when I was younger. Then, this story wrote itself. Of course, with any allegory, there’s the risk that people aren’t going to be able to figure out what is a symbol for what, or worse, that you’ll seem pretentious, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Here’s how I summarized it on the Writings page:

A short and semi-autobiographical allegory about society, survival, religion, life, being an outcast, and our incredibly mysterious ability to hold ourselves up, even when nobody else will.

You can read The Boat here.

A Story for Halloween

My mother is one of those odd people for whom Halloween is a more fun and more interesting holiday than, say, Christmas, or any of the other major holidays. Lately, I find myself following in her footsteps. And so, in honor of Halloween, I present: Hosts, a short (and fairly gruesome, and probably mildly disturbing) horror story. Here’s how I summarize it:

How do you survive as the last normal human, and all others are host to alien Larvae, euphoric and stupid and violently defensive against non-hosts? Gregg thinks he has a solution, but he knows it won’t last forever.

Enjoy, and merry Halloween.

Advice for Aspiring Novelists

Regular readers will know that I love to write. I’ve written more short stories than I can count, at least a few of which don’t suck, along with two novels (both of which do suck), and two more in progress. None of my stuff has been published yet (here’s hoping, though!), but I like to think that I’ve gained a lot of useful experience these last few years. So, in The Life of a Math Major tradition, I present yet another bulleted list of tips for writers. This time, though, the advice is geared more towards novelists, the marathon-runners of the writing world. Like running a marathon, writing a novel takes a lot of practice, a lot of determination, a good bit of self-delusion, and you’re going to come to the starting line and chicken out a few times before you actually manage to run your first race. So, in order to help other aspiring novelists, here’s a metaphorical cup of Gatorade to keep you from conking out at mile ten (yes, I am sticking by that metaphor. It’s a good metaphor. Don’t give me that look, it is!):

  • Even arbitrary deadlines help. I discovered this the first time I participated in National Novel-Writing Month. NaNoWriMo offers no prizes other than bragging rights and a nice certificate, and there are no measures in place to keep people honest. And yet, that goal of fifty thousand words in thirty days always drives me forward, somehow. Before I discovered NaNoWriMo, I found it impossible to maintain the necessary momentum to finish a whole novel. With the arbitrary deadline hanging over my head, though, suddenly, I could do it.
  • Enter contests. NaNoWriMo is a good one, but any writing contest will do. If you don’t have one available, start one. Once you know that you really can write a whole novel, you won’t have to worry about it, and you can concentrate on writing something good.
  • Never give up. While writing my current novel, something unprecedented happened. About a month ago, I got a nasty case of writer’s block, followed by insomnia and a really busy period at school, so I stopped writing for a month. With every one of my previous novels, that’s been a death sentence. This time, though, even though I knew I’d have trouble getting back into the spirit of the novel, I started writing again. And it worked. The novel is now resurrected. The moral: never give up on a novel. If you want badly enough to write it, you can, no matter what gets in your way.
  • Start with a good idea. This connects to the “if you want badly enough to write it, you can” thing in the previous bullet point. Let’s face it, a novel is really hard work. You have to put a lot of energy into it, so don’t try to write any story idea as a novel unless you really, really (really) like it. If you have an idea you’re not sure of, write it as a short story to test it out.
  • One piece at a time. When you sit down to work, try not to think about the fact that you’re writing a novel. That’s a good way to get overwhelmed. A novel is a daunting project, and until you’re finished, it can be hard to feel like you’ve accomplished anything. So what I’ve done with my current novel is to write it one chapter at a time. Not only does this fit nicely within my limited attention span, but it allows me to feel like I finished something, like I’m going somewhere. As long as you make sure the chapters dovetail nicely with one another, then this method shouldn’t do any damage to your plot.
  • You have to actually write stuff. Every writer who gives advice ends up saying this eventually, but it’s true. To keep a novel alive, you have to write, preferably every day. If you don’t, it can be hard to get back into the right mood. And just as importantly:
  • Don’t be afraid to write rubbish. In all likelihood, it’s not rubbish. In my experience, most writers think the stuff they write is crap. Don’t worry about that. Even if what you’re writing really is rubbish, keep writing it anyway. You can fix it in your revisions. The important thing is not to let it stop you. A novel with a few rough patches is better than a novel that never gets finished. At least the latter can be fixed. If the plot starts to wander away from where you wanted it to go, gently push it back and move on.

I wish I also had some advice for how to revise your novel, but I’m still stuck on that step myself, and don’t even get me started on getting it published. For that, I’d need someone to give me some bullet points. For now, though, I hope you find these tips useful.

“Extreme Science Fiction”

Last December, I wrote a poorly-argued post about the trouble with modern science fiction. Almost immediately, someone viciously cut me down, and I put up a rather pathetic defense against it. Well, it seems the universe has a sense of irony, because only a few months after I wrote that post, I found myself in my local book shop, where I stumbled upon a hefty tome with the horrific title “Extreme Science Fiction.”

Now, that was almost enough to make me put it down, but I didn’t. I turned it over and read the back of the jacket, and I was intrigued by the premise of the book: it was intended as a collection of inventive, mind-bending science fiction from (mostly) modern authors, edited by Mike Ashley.

And by the time I’d finished reading it, I knew that all those complaints I’d made about the state of modern science fiction were completely idiotic. Everything I’d said was wrong with SF today — the lack of originality, the lack of experimentation, fear of pushing boundaries, and the rest — was rectified by the stories in that single volume.

This is not really meant as a book review, though. Instead, this is a humbled retraction of all the rubbish I said before. I have to admit, I was wrong: good science fiction really isn’t dead.

New Short Story: “The Long Wait”

After a few days’ work, I’ve finally finished another short story. Lately, I’ve been getting the disturbing feeling that, if I keep actually finishing stories like I’ve been doing lately, then I might set a precedent and accidentally amount to something.

Anyway, enough disjointed self-deprecation. I present to you: The Long Wait. It tells the story of Derek, who’s spent the last ten years trying to escape from the Harvesters, even though he knows they will find him eventually. As he wanders through the desert, trying to scratch a living out of the sand, his life becomes an a miserable burden, and he begins to wonder if there’s any reason to go on living.

(Beware: Existentialism ahead!)

How to Write Well

If you saw the title of this post and immediately started reading it, you’ve got a lot to learn. If there’s anything I’ve learned in all my years as a novice writer of fiction, it’s that it’s pretty much impossible to be taught how to write well. Fortunately, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. Instead, I present a list of helpful suggestions that will not teach you how to write well, but, hopefully, teach you how to teach yourself how to write well (how’s that for a new-agey, wishy-washy sentence?). Here goes:

  1. Read Every Day: This one is vital. You won’t be able to write well unless you are A) some sort of prodigy, or B) you read enough good writing to know what good writing looks like. After a while, you may (as I have) learn to “mimic” other writers’ styles, and after a while, you begin to take bits of style from different writers, until your own personal style of writing emerges. A warning, however: if you intend to write in one particular genre, do not read books exclusively of that genre. The worst thing a writer can do is to become wed to a single genre. This goes especially for science fiction writers.
  2. Write Every Day: This is especially helpful when writing a novel. This has gotten me through two novels and numerous short stories. You don’t have to write much. If you’re not feeling inspired, just write a few paragraphs. If you’re in a better mood, write more. This step is especially helpful, since not only does it keep you from getting out of practice (which happens faster than you think), but it also keeps your plot from stalling or getting bogged down. As hard as it may be, you should emphasize this step even more when your story seems to be going nowhere. The only way you’ll get yourself out of any corner you might have written yourself into is to keep working at it, millimeter by millimeter if necessary, until inspiration strikes.
  3. Don’t Give Up on a Good Idea: If you’ve got a good story idea, one that really speaks to you, focus on it. Even if you have other story ideas, try to focus on the one that you think has the most potential. Don’t neglect your other writings by any means, but remember: they can be continued later on. Here, I like to employ a method I call “seeding”: write a few paragraphs of your new story that capture the feel and the mood of it, and then shelve it until your main story is done. That way, you won’t lose the essence of that story, and you also won’t get distracted from your primary one.
  4. Stockpile Ideas: Whenever an interesting story idea strikes you, write it down. You don’t even have to start writing it, but at least make a note so that you don’t forget it. Personally, I like to do this in a spiral notebook that I use exclusively for the purpose of recording story ideas, but you can do it however you see fit. This is important for those dryspells when you’re feeling uninspired, or when you’re assailed by writer’s block.
  5. Let the Stories Write Themselves: As you accumulate writing experience, you may begin to notice that your stories seem to flow rather naturally, once they’ve got some momentum going. Plot events seem almost to appear out of thin air, and turns of phrase suggest themselves to you. Don’t fight this, it can be extremely helpful and productive. Don’t “take your hands off the wheel” by all means. After all, this is your story. But don’t force it; instead, try to give the plot a gentle nudge in your intended direction.
  6. Expand Your Mind: This one is probably one of the most important steps. It’ll keep your style fresh and help you be more creative, which will help you tremendously when you’re suffering from writer’s block or feeling uninspired, or when you’ve written yourself into a corner:
    • Step Outside Yourself: Don’t write exclusively within a narrow genre (this goes hand-in-hand with Step 1). One of my most fascinating writing experiences was when I decided to take a chance and try to write a romance-based science fiction novella.
    • Experiment With your Style: There’s a school of literary thought called Oulipo that originally developed in France, based on the idea of enhancing creativity through self-constraint. There was one novel (the title of which escapes me at the moment) which was written entirely without the use of the letter “E”. Some authors write in anagrams or palindromes. Get creative. I can especially recommend the letter-omission method, which very powerfully forces you to alter your language and crack open your thesaurus.
  7. Don’t Distract Yourself: Unless you are a supremely focused person, music or external noise will likely distract you from your writing. Even if you think you’re concentrating very intensely, you may find that your writing simply isn’t as good when there’s noise or distractions in the background. I find that radio and most music usually turn my writing to rubbish (I’m listening to NPR as I write this article, which probably explains a lot). An exception I’ve found is the music of Brian Eno, and pretty much any orchestral music. Even better, you can sometimes use music to manipulate the mood of your writing. For example, if you have to write a sad scene, but you’re just in too good a mood to do so, try writing with Moonlight Sonata in the background.
  8. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously: Many serious-minded people have no doubt said things to the effect of “Writing is not a hobby!” The thing is, writing can be a hobby if you want it to be. Contrary to popular belief, you can write without being published, or without ever intending to be published. Actually, some of the best writing (such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, if I’m not mistaken), has been written for the sake of nobody but the author. The problem with taking yourself too seriously is twofold: 1) You may stop enjoying writing, which is one of the quickest ways to start writing badly; 2) You may develop what I like to call an “inflamed ego,” which is the second quickest way to ruin your writing.
  9. Know Your Words: They call writers “wordsmiths” for a reason. If you want to write well, and avoid becoming repetitive or stale, learn all the words you can. Adjectives are very helpful (as long as you don’t overdo it). A good thesaurus is invaluable (the one that comes with your word processor included). Also, remember what they taught you in elementary school (at least, I hope they’re still teaching this): look up any word you don’t recognize, especially if you like the sound of it. I find dictionary.com especially useful for this, since I write primarily on the computer (my handwriting is far too slow to be productive).
  10. Be Original: Whether you think so or not, every writer has at least one unique story in them. Don’t be afraid to tell it. Good writers tend to be the ones that either write something that has never been written before, or find a way to write something old in a remarkable new way. And don’t be daunted by all my superlatives and adjectives, because you can, with practice, write something that’s never been written before, something remarkable.

That is my advice.

Writings Page — Up and Running!

As promised, I’m slowly beginning to merge this site with my two other blogs. Pursuant to that, I’m now posting some of my short stories on the newly-minted Writings page. I plan to update it semi-regularly — that is, on those rare occasions when I can actually get around to writing semi-regularly — so check it periodically. When I’ve finished my revisions on For Ardella (the novella I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2007), I’ll probably post that, too.

A warning: if there isn’t now, there will probably at some point in the future be stuff posted to the Writings page that is not suitable for very young readers (especially if I actually get around to posting For Ardella). There won’t be anything terribly pornographic or overwhelmingly vile and horrible, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend all of my stories for people younger than fifteen or so. But, if you think that you’re mature enough to handle mature themes like sex and death and all that good stuff, then go for it. You have been warned.

The Trouble With Science Fiction

Over the years, I’ve been developing an aversion to modern science fiction — both literary and cinematic. So, in the true spirit of blogging, I thought I’d share some of my complaints and suggestions with the world that is the Internet. Here goes.

My chief complaint is that science fiction these days is all too frequently just about the science, never the fiction. In fact, a great deal of it reads like a lengthy, flowery technical manual, or like something written by a futurist. Nowadays, very little time is taken in character development or plot structuring. This problem plagues sci-fi movies with an especial severity. Now, many will no doubt protest that the “sci” is what sci-fi is all about, but I beg to differ. To me, it seems  that sci-fi should only ever be deployed as a tool to allow the telling of stories that aren’t possible in other genres. For example, there are few genres that can so eloquently explore the ramifications of mankind’s creations the way AI-centric sci-fi does. Interspecies tolerance — or lack thereof — speaks potently about our own tolerances and intolerances of each other, in a way that is frequently more poignant and direct than the literarily bogged-down novels of the past.

There is of course a much more serious problem with modern science fiction, and that is that it all seems to be written or filmed by a bunch of pimply adolescent technophiles with about the same amount of imagination as the average armadillo. Most science fiction novels — at least those by the “up and coming” writers — seem to be getting uncomfortably close to the gauzy rococo fantasies explored in the fantasy genre and Japnese anime (I must take a moment to warn my readers, I am terribly un-fond of anime. I think that it’s a bloated, stereotyped medium that Westernizes more sloppily than almost any other Japanese format). While I have no problem per se with either of these, I think that they tend to make the work clichéd and uninteresting. After all, how many angsty twentysomething protagonists with blue hair do we really need?

And as for the lack of imagination, if imagination were oxygen, then somewhere in the world would be a huge pile of asphyxiated sci-fi writers. About seventy-five percent of them would be screenwriters. It seems to me that there are about five science-fiction plots out there, and that whenever a young writer wants to get into the business, they simply pick one, add on some extra bits, throw in some filler, and call it a day. Now, this may indeed be the way that most novels are written — after all, there is only a finite number of plots out there, they’re bound to get re-used eventually — but the problem with that is that science fiction is a very dense pocket of literature, and any excess overlap brings it dangerously close to homogenity. What happened to the Arthur C. Clarkes, the Charles Strosses, the Isaac Asimovs, and the Phillip K. Dickses (Yes, Dickses. I am going out of my way to avoid being juvenile here, give me a break.)? What happened to the ebullient, enterprising spirit that made sci-fi great? After all, as I said before, science fiction is merely a stepladder to reach the previously-inaccessible reaches of literature. What happened to the galaxy-spanning civilizations, the beings composed of ions and magnetic fields, the self-made destructions of civilizations, and the kind of remarkable creativity of a story like Asimov’s “The Nine Billion Names of God”?

Here are my suggestions to my fellow writers of science fiction, in my standard, convenient, lazy, bulleted format:

  • Don’t be afraid to step outside of humanity. What science fiction really needs right now is somebody with the talent to make readers feel connected to a character of an entirely different species. Anyone who can do that — or has done that — with any elegance can have my pocket protector.
  • Don’t rely on archetypes and stereotypes. If your writing has become the standard test-of-the-hero’s-mettle stuff, then smack yourself in the face with your manuscript.
  • Only use sci-fi where it is truly needed. Some stories can be told much more elegantly within the confines of a far less exotic genre. Imagine if John Steinbeck had been born a generation later, and had tried to express the beautiful themes of Of Mice and Men as a space opera. The mind recoils.
  • Don’t, I repeat, don’t be a slave to the genre. Sci-fi does not necessarily need pitched space battles, homogenous gray-skinned aliens, and advanced weapons to be great. Isaac Asimov did it without aliens altogether. Arthur C. Clarke went beyond the whole “Take us to your leader” thing. And Charles Stross went — and is going — beyond the idea of humanoids as the only viable kinds of aliens. And none of the previous needed any kind of blinky, flashing lights or space battles to do what they did. I suppose what I’m trying to say is, don’t write anything that resembles any science fiction movie produced in the last thirty years.

Those are my thoughts. Enjoy.

The End of the Tunnel

Well, I’ve done it. I finished a 50,000-word novella in thirty days or less. Although For Ardella is hardly pulitzer-winning material, I’m glad I’m still capable of getting so absorbed in my writing that I’m capable of finishing 50,000 words in a fortnight.

Well, finishing is probably far too strong a word. Because what I finished isn’t really a novel(la), but rather the first draft of one. And the editing, as always, is going to prove to be the hardest part. By the time I’m done, maybe (just maybe), I’ll have something publishable at last. Although my NaNoWriMo novel from 2006 (Wormhole, Wormhole) remains almost entirely un-edited, I’m hoping that revising For Ardella will give me the inspiration I need to revise that one too.

Wish me luck!

The Halfway Mark

I can hardly believe it, but somehow, against all the laws of nature, I have managed to reach the halfway mark (25,000 words) of this year’s National Novel-Writing Month novel. This is definitely a personal record.

That said, I’m incredibly dissatisfied with the result. So far, I’ve got a meandery, trashy, nonsensical, almost pornographic attempt at a romance novel. Somehow I knew when I started that my attempt to write romance would not come off as planned.

It’s certainly been an experience so far, though. And it feels like, this time, even after the arbitrary deadline of NaNoWriMo has passed (this deadline, for some reason, has always been the only thing that could ever motivate me to finish a novel. Go figure), maybe I’ll be able to get started on my next book right away. Yay! Or, perhaps, I’ll finally get around to making the necessary revisions to my NaNo novel from last year, which, it seems, would probably have a much better chance of actually getting published.

Personal Best

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written at 1 A.M., with very little sleep the night before. I make no guarantees regarding the coherence, or sanity, of the following words.

Psychologists have identified an altered state of consciousness known as “flow.” Wikipedia defines flow as: “the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.” A more common name for this state is the clichéd phrase “In the zone.”

Today, for the first time in my life, I have experienced flow. It is the closest I have ever gotten to something that I would call “transcendence.”

As my regular readers will know, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, which entails writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Needless to say, that requires an intensity of focus and the utmost concentration. Well, being rather dissatisfied with the novel I’ve got so far, I started writing a totally different story, just something that had been knocking around in my head and that I wanted to get on paper. I had no idea what awaited me.

I’ve often heard fellow writers say that you know your writing is going well when the story seems to take on a life of its own, and sort of “write itself.” Well, that’s what happened. I began writing at 5 P.M. It is now 1 A.M., and I have only just finished writing for the night. I have never, in my entire life, been as concentrated as I was for those eight hours. I entered such a profound state of “flow,” that time became utterly irrelevant. It was not until I pressed the “word count” button on my word processor that I realized just how focused I had become.

Dear readers: today, in the span of eight hours, I wrote (and I swear on my life that I’m not lying) 11,567 words. In 12-point Times New Roman, that is about 17.3 pages. Seventeen pages. This is, by far, the most productive I’ve ever been since I started writing in the fourth grade.

Needless to say quantity and quality are by no means necessarily linked. Actually, I’ve often thought they were mutually exclusive. And I make no guarantees that what I wrote is actually coherent, but still, it’s a feat I did not believe myself capable of. I’m not sure that I’d have the focus to write that many pages if I was just pressing random keys. Hell, under any other circumstance, I’m not sure I could even motivate myself to do that many pages by pressing the return key over and over.

Some people call this strange state “flow.” Others call it “being in the zone.” Still others call it “extreme sleep deprivation.” As cool as it may be, I’m still inclined to refer to it as “a momentary window into madness.”

NaNoWriMo 2007

That’s right: National Novel-Writing Month is upon us again. For the entire month of November, thousands of intrepid (“foolish” might actually be a better word) writers will be attempting to write a 50,000-word novel. In thirty days. No, I’m not kidding.

It can actually be done. I managed to bang out my first novel Wormhole, Wormhole in thirty days. Don’t look for it in bookstores, though…just because you write the 50,000 words doesn’t mean you’ll actually produce 50,000 publishable words. Hopefully, this time I’ll actually get around to the vital revision stage.

Wish me luck! Anybody who wants to watch my progress (I can’t imagine why, but I won’t ask questions) can find my profile here.

A Debate

 Author’s Note: These are my personal (and sometimes inaccurate) ruminations on the idea of a simulated universe. I don’t claim to know anything about the philosophical treatment this idea has already been given, nor do I know much about any of the arguments. If I’ve stolen someone’s idea, I apologize…I didn’t do it intentionally.

Bob sat on the great stone platform atop the mountain, gazing down over the endless convolutions of the Great Valleys below him. His face bore a look of the most intense concentration. His brow was furrowed, and his eyes were distant and contemplative. It was in this state that Alice found him. She ascended the great staircase and seated herself next to him.

“So there you are.”

“Yes.” It was nothing more than a pleasantry, for Bob was far too lost in thought for any real communication.

“What on Earth could you be thinking about with such intensity?” Bob did not answer, but instead maintained his tense posture for another minute or so, then relaxed, and looked up at Alice.

“I’m sorry, what did you ask?”

“What are you thinking about with such intensity?”

“Oh, well…I’ve just been considering something.”

“Well, what?” A look passed across Bob’s face, and Alice realized with concern that he could very easily lapse back into mute contemplation.

“I’ve just been wondering…it seems to me that we are living in a simulated world?”

“What? What do you mean by that?”

“I simply mean that the Universe that we see is really just an assemblage of data in a computer somewhere, and that the physical laws we observe – and their consequences, such as our own sentience – are simply processes within that computer. You know, program instructions.” Alice rolled her eyes surreptitiously, then crossed her arms.

“Not this subject again!”

“Well, I believe it deserves consideration!”

“Why? It’s an entirely foolish idea!”

“Why’s that?”

“Well, how could we possibly find ourselves in a computerized Universe? No computer could ever manage such a feat of simulation, and even if it could, it wouldn’t be able to produce the robust world we observe!”

“That’s where you’re wrong, I believe.” Bob had now turned fully towards her, and had fixed her with the challenging gaze that was his trademark.

“Oh, really? And have you any evidence of my wrongness?”

“Of course. You know – you should know better than anyone else – that I never make a claim without having a good argument to support it.”

“Well?”

“Okay. Since I am going to base my argument on the idea that a computer likely simulates the universe we live in, I’ll make my argument from a computer-based standpoint, even though essentially any suitable substrate could simulate our Universe. Now, consider a simple electronic circuit.”

“All right.”

“Right. This circuit consists of a small mathematical processor, a few registers for storing data, and all the other necessary equipment for a circuit to work properly.”

“I’m with you so far.”

“Now, say this circuit, on every tick of its internal clock, performed the following calculation: take the value stored in the data registers – call it x – and squared it, then multiplied it by some constant k, then subtracted from the result the value j times x, j being another constant, then stored all of that back in the data registers, and repeated the process ad infinitum.”

“I don’t quite see your point here, Bob. I must confess that I’m rather confused.”

“That is because you’re not thinking about things correctly. Okay, I’ll give you a hint. What would a system such as the one I’ve described represent?”

“Some mathematical function, I think.”

“Go up one more level of abstraction.”

“What do you mean? There are no other levels of abstraction in this system. Either it is a system consisting of electrons darting from atom to atom in a silicon circuit, or it is an abstract mathematical system. There is nothing else!”

“Ah, but you’re wrong on that account! For, think about physical laws!”

“What about physical laws?”

“Are they not just a higher level of abstraction than pure mathematics?”

“Hm…no, I don’t believe they are.”

“I think our definitions of ‘abstraction’ may differ. For now, I’m defining ‘abstraction’ to mean ‘representation,’ or something to that effect.”

“Ah, I see. Well, given that definition, I suppose I’d have to agree: physical laws could be seen as a third level of abstraction.”

“Right. Now, back to my imaginary circuit. Think about what its third level of abstraction would be.”

Alice thought for a moment, and then her face lit up.

“Aha! It seems to be the equations of motion for an accelerating projectile subject to air resistance!”

“Very good!”

“But what was the point of the whole exercise?”
“Be patient! I was coming to that! Now, couldn’t one argue – rather convincingly – that in many ways, the creation of this circuit has also brought into existence an accelerating projectile subject to air resistance?”

“No, I don’t think so. The projectile is not real, it’s merely an abstract representation, created by us, its conscious observers.”

“I’ll ignore your little play on the definition of ‘abstraction’ there, for the moment. So, you say that the circuit’s ‘higher-level’ meaning as an accelerating projectile exists only in the minds of us, its conscious observers?”

“Yes, that’s what I said.”

“Well, you’ve stumbled right into my philosophical trap, then! For, is not the mind itself little more than a circuit, similar to (but, of course, infinitely more complicated than) the circuit we are discussing?” Alice looked blindsided for a moment, then recovered.

“The mind is something different. Your little circuit is fixed in time. It cannot observe itself nor rewire itself. The brain can.”

“Ah, yes, but, still, on the cellular level, is not the brain only a ‘system of electrons darting from atom to atom in a biological circuit’, as you said before?” Alice looked as though she had been physically struck.

“Oh, dear…I believe that’s checkmate…Hm…”

“Yes, you see? There can exist such abstractions, the mind being the primary one!” Alice knitted her brow while her toe fidgeted with a pebble.

“Okay, I concede that such abstractions are possible in our Universe. But since our observation is necessary to bring these abstractions – such as the one of the projectile in your nice little argument a moment ago – to light.”

“Ah, I was hoping you’d try to wiggle free in that way, for I have the perfect rebuttal!”

“And what’s that?”

“Imagine a computer, a huge computer. As big as the Earth, if you like, or bigger. It has memory cells for the storage of data, and processors for the computation of the effects of physical laws. Now, furthermore, let’s say that this computer is running a program that simulates the interaction of a huge number of elementary particles, based on physical laws that are the same as those in this Universe.”

“All right, I follow you so far.”

“Right. Now, let’s further suppose that this computer was allowed to run long enough that the Computed Universe experienced the Big Bang, the formation of ‘normal’ matter, the coalescence of stars and galaxies, and the formation of planets, and all the requisite molecules of life. And then, let’s assume that life does indeed begin in this Computed Universe, and that it evolves to the point where it has developed something like a complex nervous system – what resemblance it actually bears to a nervous system is immaterial, it just must fulfill a very similar function. Then, through the slings and arrows of Darwinian evolution – you don’t disagree that Darwinian evolution would necessarily take place, do you?” Alice shook her head. She knew that evolution was a principle based merely on the idea that the more fit an organism is for its environment, the more likely it will be to be represented in the next generation, and this principle is completely ignorant of the material composition of what is actually evolving. “Good. Then, we have Darwinian evolution, and let’s assume that it produces self-aware organisms. Now, do we not have that ‘secret ingredient’ necessary to allow the universe to be viewed in an abstract way?” Alice was at a loss for words, and she had to work to keep her mouth from falling agape.”

“Oh dear…I seem to have argued myself into a corner…if I allow for the existence of conscious minds, then it seems that I must inevitably fall to your argument…” Bob looked rather satisfied with himself, but then Alice took on a very resolute expression. “Wait! Would not this giant computer still require the observation of its operators in order to see the abstract things – the conscious observers – that it represents?” Bob smiled knowingly, and Alice realized that he would soon deliver his finishing blow.

“No more than our Universe requires a godlike figure to observe it in order for ourselves to exist.” Alice nearly fell off the rock. Then, she steadied herself, and a smile crossed her lips.

“Ah, but you have forgotten your original claim! How can you claim that we live in a simulated Universe? All you have done is to prove that it is possible that we might be, not that it is inevitable, or even likely!” It was Bob’s turn to grin.

“I was waiting for you to recover, so that I could philosophically knock you down once more.” Alice feigned offense.

“Oh, you philosophical sadist!” They both had a good laugh, then Bob suddenly grew serious.

“Now, for the final blow!”

“I’m ready.”

“Let’s assume that some species in some Universe – simulated or not – created a computer simulation of a Universe. Suppose furthermore that that simulation was rich enough that observers – conscious entities – could arise within it. Then suppose that these Computed Observers created their own Computed Universes – for it seems inevitable that any such Universe-Computing race would compute more than one Universe – and within these Computed Computed Universes, Thrice-Computed Universes arose. This would continue until the ‘Nth-Time-Computed Universes’ became too small – for any Computed Universe must necessarily be smaller than the Universe in which it is computed – for conscious observers to arise. Despite this limitation, is it not obvious that there would be an immense hierarchy of simulated Universes for every ‘real’ Universe?” Alice nodded gravely, her defeat seeming imminent. “So, given the laws of probability, since there is such a hugely larger number of Computed Universes, compared to the original few ‘real’ ones, isn’t it much more likely that we find ourselves in a Computed Universe.” Alice sighed loudly, but then a glimmer of hope touched her countenance. After a few moments’ introspection, she smiled.

“Unless, of course, some of the current findings of cosmology prove true, and there is an infinite number of ‘real’ Universes!”

“I don’t follow.”

“Well, consider it! If there is an infinite number of ‘starter’ Universes – that is, ones that are not simulated – there would then be an infinity of Computed Universes, too, but only an infinity, since the mathematical laws of infinite numbers are so slippery. Then, the probability that we find ourselves in a Computed Universe is only one-half, since there is an equal number of both.” Bob looked flabbergasted.

“Oh, dear! I hadn’t even considered that! Excellent riposte, Alice!”

“Thank you!”

“But, wait! Suppose that instead of a finite hierarchy of Computed Universes, the hierarchy was infinite!”

“How would that even be possible.”

“Well, suppose that the infinite ‘starter set’ of Universes was itself simulated, and the Universe in which they were simulated was also simulated, and so on out to infinity!” Alice laughed. It was now her turn to be sadistic.

“But, Cantor showed that an infinity is an infinity. Even if an infinity of initial universes produced an infinity of simulated ones, their numbers would still be equal!” Bob seemed almost to deflate.

“Well, one could get around that by supposing that there is only a single Universe.”

“Not really.” Alice was now philosophizing at full steam, ready to make the kill. “Since, in an infinite Universe – which ours appears to be, based on telescopic observations – there will be regions too far apart to communicate, which are separated by the insurmountability of the speed of light, so that no information can ever pass between them. These regions might as well be separate Universes. This position would only be strengthened if the physical laws could vary from one such region to the next. No matter what you do, unless the Universe is closed and finite – which seems unlikely given the data – then we only have a fifty-percent chance of finding ourselves in a Computed Universe after all!”

Bob was silent for a long time, his head bowed. Then, he began to emit a peculiar rhythmic sound, a little repetitive squeaking. Concerned that he might actually be weeping, Alice leaned in to comfort him, but then the squeaking erupted into chuckling, then into uproarious laughter. Alice was confused.

“What’s so amusing?” Bob stopped laughing, shot her an impish grin, and extended his hand. In his palm was a coin. Alice joined in his laughter, and said, “If it comes up heads, we’re living in a real Universe…otherwise…”

Asymptote’s Stories

While I was sitting around reading someone’s blog this morning, the thought occurred to me that it might be fun to create a sort of “story-blog”: a collection of random short stories written for no particular reason, and stuck out there for the public to have a look at. After all, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing posts for this blog, so I give you: Asymptote’s Stories. If you’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s excellent book Breakfast of Champions, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I want to write Kilgore Trout-style fiction.

Enjoy!

A New Kind of Paperboy

Well, it seems that the job application I turned in to the newspaper at my university (the University of North Carolina at Charlotte) a few months ago paid off. I’ve been in correspondence with someone at the paper for the last few weeks, and it seems that I’m soon to start as a staff writer! I had never expected that my first real job would actually be something I’m interested in, and am good at. I’d always expected that, like every other college student, I’d start my career at either a clothing store or a restaurant.

I’m ecstatic. A real writing job! Writing is one of my few talents, so its nice that this worked out…well, that it seems to be primed to work out…I don’t want to be too optimistic.

 Anyway, many things to do. Just wanted to keep my loyal readers informed.

Governments are Doomed to Fall

Ever since I read 1984, I’ve been thinking about the permanence of governments. And I’ve noticed that most seem doomed to fall over time, often very soon after their inception. And that led to a whole train of thought about governments in general.

You see, all governments are doomed to eventual failure. Either they change until they have become something entirely different from what they were when they began; or they succumb to strife between their different internal parties; or corruption alienates the governed from their government, and the governed rebel; or the government is attacked and demolished by a much more powerful one, which then consumes it.  But are there any sorts of government which are immune to these forces?

History teaches us that totalitarian nations have perhaps the shortest lifespan, falling to internal rebellion in short order; and if they don’t succumb to rebellion, they will, in all likelihood, be paralyzed by their own stringent organization, until the people begin to starve and die, which often fragments the nation, or causes it to collapse altogether.

Communist governments rarely fare much better, no matter how good the idea may seem on paper. But in practice, people will not be separated easily from their money and possessions, and the officials in government will rarely be able to resist the ease with which such governments can grant them more power. Thus, if they do not collapse into famine and confusion, as the USSR did in the 1990’s, they will almost certainly become a strained totalitarian state, as China — to some peoples’ reckoning — has.

Democratic governments have been in existence for such a relatively short time (only a few centuries, at the most) that it is difficult to project how (and notice that I did not use the word if) they will fall. But from examples such as Ghana, it can be seen that there are two types of democracies in the world: the type (as in Ghana) which is in turmoil from the beginning, with wild elements within the government continually overthrowing one another and changing the government from democratic to totalitarian and back again; and the type (as, one might argue, America was in the nineteenth century) which remains stable, but seems to move towards more and more government corruption and public mistrust. So perhaps this is the doom of democracies: a slow decay into corrupt bureaucracy, which can easily be usurped and controlled by totalitarian regimes; or simply a continual oscillation that demolishes the nation bit by bit.

In view of all these, it may seem impossible for any government to last which maintains the individual freedoms of its subjects. I would tend to agree with this, but I have a proposition for maintaining such freedoms indefinitely: managed Anarchy.

Managed Anarchy is not the wild chaos and confusion that plagues countries whose governments have suddenly disappeared, or abandoned ship. Managed Anarchy, as oxymoronic as it may seem, is more a type of government than the lack of a government. MA is a grassroots government in which all power is handled by the people, and all power passes from the people,  to the people, without any governing middlemen. I believe that people are capable of self-managing, without the artificial constraint of a government. Now, I do not claim that even Managed Anarchy is an immortal form of government, but I believe that it could be maintained for quite a long time, by following a few guiding principles, the Principles of Managed Anarchy:

  • The people who subscribe to MA must learn to resist all forms of imposed governance, and they must teach their children and grandchildren such resistance.
  • Centralization should be minimized, or eliminated entirely. Centralization gives one individual or group more power than those who depend on the centralized organization. And, in the spirit of this:
  • Hierarchies should be eliminated. The only way true equality can be accomplished is if all people are truly on the same organizational level. This is why centralization must be eliminated.
  • The people should produce the commodities. As above, those who depend for their food, their water, et cetera, on a centralized producer can easily be subjected to the control of that producer.
  • Desire to rise politically should be seen as a very bad trait, and it should be curtailed wherever possible.
  • Violence must be severely controlled or limited. Those who are violent may enlist other violent people to bring their violence on a peaceful group, conquering it, and therefore forming what is, for all intents and purposes, a totalitarian state.

50,000 Words

I was browsing through one of the forums where I’m a member, and somebody drew my attention toNational Novel Writing Month. On a whim, I decided I’d give it a try. Perhaps with proper motivation, I can really actually finish a “novel” for a change. The competition runs all through november, and the end result is supposed to be a 50,000 word novel.

After tossing ideas back and forth to various parts of my cerebral cortex, I decided to write my novel about a near-future world where wormholes are as common (or more so) than Internet connections are today. I got the idea a month or two ago, when I was wandering around and thinking about the consequences of having wormholes everywhere.

The possibilities are endless!

I’m doing well. Today was the first day, and I’ve already got 2,900 words! That’s even better than the “reccomended” amount.

Aside from that, I can’t think of one significant thing I did today…

Oy. Here I go yet again with the ranting…that’s a habit I have to break.