The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘time’

Even Being Overworked Is No Excuse For A Lack Of Inspiration

Posted by BigWords on February 14, 2010

I’ve barely had time to do anything this week, yet I seem to be compiling notes for things I have yet to consider writing. Comparing a lack of actual writing to the dulling of a blade might be a touch too self-critical and analytical, yet there has to be something in the notion of the art of writing as comparable to cutting through… Something. I don’t hold to the conceit that there is anything particularly important about one suggested work over another (some ideas are terrible, but the state of the idea rarely matches the state of the finished piece), so trying to placate the inner editor with assurances that quality can arise from such loose affiliations of idea is an interesting and infuriating process.

The steampunk movement may have been around for a while, but I have never dared broach the subject with any real intent towards completing a full story; and yet everywhere I turn I seem to be given slight and obscure hints at the things I can attack on my own terms. Mechanical adaptations of digital technology is incredibly hard to make work, even in a fantasy setting, yet some real-world applications of theory have made me stop for a second and consider what could possibly be done – and this all started off thanks to an article on an expensive watch.

I received a forwarded a link to an old article on the De Grisogono Meccanico DG, which is a digital watch, inasmuch as it has a fascia which, on brief inspection, looks like any other watch, yet is composed entirely of clockwork innards. I love that the art of making it entirely mechanical has produced something truly steampunk, though the creators would probably disagree – it is art and technology hand in hand, moving towards new ways of thinking on function and appearance. The notion stuck with me for a couple of days, and when I later discovered a DVD nestled amongst my non-fiction collection which set out the history of radiation. I have to admit that I hadn’t watched the DVD since I bought it, but finding it again made me think back to the watch – no, I’m not sure why, before you ask.

The Victorians knew enough to make glow-in-the-dark items, and the numerals seem (somehow) to glow anyway. And everything looks better in brass and mahogany anyway, so the ideas bubbled away under the surface. Somehow, despite my self-awareness that time was not a luxury this past week, I had managed to cobble together the hint of a mirage of an idea. Coupled with a love of old films, the idea stretched to fit in the sewer sequence from The Third Man, a gag about The Turk (the chess-playing automaton controlled by a hidden grand master) and some strange concoction of Hartlepool monkey-hanging and The Island Of Dr. Moreau – it turns out that the monkey could talk, but because it was speaking in an African dialect…

Then, on Friday morning, I awoke with an idea about migraines, headaches, medical procedures and telepathy, bound together by loose strands of half-remembered technology articles and science programs. There was a much talked about game wherein the player uses their mind to control an on-screen icon (of some sort) a few years ago, and there have been irregular updates on the possibility of telepathy-via-technology over the years – though scientists rarely, if ever, use the word telepathy due to the non-scientific nature of the process. It’s been a while since I read William Gibson’s writing on the possible scenarios of future-tech, and I may have enough wiggle-room to untangle new and weirder aspects without stepping on anyone’s toes.

If only I had time to write at the moment, I would be in my element.

And here is where I’ll lay out why you can never predict when an idea (or several ideas) will come crashing into your mind – it all has to do with receptiveness. I was looking for an escape from the constant pressure of being where I was meant to be (and on time), remembering what has to be done, in what order things have to be done, even whom I am meant to discuss things with… All very dry and serious thoughts. The subconscious (where the primal stew of imagination bubbles away undeterred by the inconsequential matters – of vital importance to everyone else) has a pressure valve which prevents people’s heads exploding a-la Scanners. It relieves our frustration gained from the mundane by formulating the fantastic.

I carry a notebook with me at all times, for when I get a small insight into the fiction I have yet to craft.

Ah, but notebooks are analogue… The thoughts are, like most handwritten material, jumbled out-of-order and useless without context. I’ve yet to find a method which anticipated when the small ideas (such as those above) will arise, and I’ve taken to leaving blank pages between thoughts which are so obviously from different things – the notes on the watch, for example, are set apart from the notes on the SF story by a good twenty blank pages or so. Enough that, when I come across more details with which to play with, I’ll have plenty of room to explore them without nudging into another story’s notes.

####

I know I haven’t updated the blog much lately, but I’ve been really busy. Add to that the fact that I left my laptop in the same room as a complete idiot at the beginning of the week, and thus had to fix it back to my liking, and you’ll see why I’m not exactly in the mood to spend time online. “Must try harder” is gonna be written on my gravestone at this rate.

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Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Posted by BigWords on January 31, 2010

I’m barely getting the chance to sit down for five minutes at a time before something (or someone) interrupts me, so if I’m conspicuous by absence anywhere it really isn’t my fault. If you remember my irritation at possibly having my brother come to stay, along with his family, then I’m pleased to say they have found somewhere. It’s smaller than they wanted, but it will suffice in the interim. I’m less pleased to say they have roped me in to the idiotic rush to do everything over the course of two weekends (which is why I’m not in the best mood), and this decision means that, alongside the Herculean efforts I’m making to be everywhere I’m meant to be, I also have more work when I ought to be relaxing.

At this point I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to untangle myself from all my commitments once March rolls around – a month in which, historically, I have been able to catch a breather. I’ve already missed a doctor’s appointment, left books on a train (three, count em’, three), lost my chance to attend Angoulême, fried a classic games console, and mislaid a handwritten manuscript. Things don’t appear to be settling down any, as there is no time set aside next week for myself either. Is this a rant? I don’t know any more, because my short-term memory is fucked. My vision is also being affected by the lack of sleep or rest, though double-vision can be kinda fun if it isn’t permanent. Don’t ask me to re-wire anything though.

Ach. I’m ahead of myself. Backtrack to the last paragraph… The doctor’s appointment was for the nasty evil nipple on my wrist. I’m still thinking that it is needing taken care of, but as I can’t drag myself off to take a shit in peace, I don’t know when I’ll have enough time to take a couple of hours away from the neverending madness. The books I left behind – The Herald Of Coming Good by Gurdjieff, Newton’s Wake by Ken MacLeod and The Chemistry Of Death by Simon Beckett – which I have been half-reading on my journeys, were forgotten as I tried valiantly to stay on schedule. I was offered the chance to travel to Angoulême by a friend who was travelling South for the festival, but with everything that is happening I’m in no position to escape for a few days to read BD, as much fun as it sounds.

The games console… Oh man, that deserves it’s own paragraph. I got a hold of a small stand-alone unit a couple of years ago – a battery-powered unit with screen, controls and a single game loaded onto the hard drive. They were popular back in the eighties, and I thought it might make an interesting addition to the collection of games I’ve been amassing. It had (or had) it’s own adapter for mains usage, but there was something wrong with the unit and I decided to check whether the problem came from the unit or the adapter, so I used a multi-purpose adapter with various power outputs. Of course, being deprived of sleep makes even simple jobs horrendously complex, and I forgot to check the output before switching it on. Cue faint smell of burnt plastic and metal.

The manuscript is less important than you may think, mostly because it is (was, dammit, was – I keep using the wrong tense) a parody of eighties horror, teen comedy and action films. There were references to everything from the Stallone and Arnholt brain-dead canon, Hughes teen comedies, Freddy (Jason, Myers, et al) right through to the Stephen King novels of the era. I think I made point of a few television shows as well, because I vaguely remember writing a monologue about The A-Team. I don’t consider parodies less worthy than ‘straight’ novels, and the reason I’m not cut up about the loss is simply because most of what I wrote wasn’t very good. It is also rather weird to consider an entire era worthy of parody, but if any decade deserves scrutiny for artistic and fashion crimes then the eighties is the decade I would turn to first.

I should mention Wednesday night here as well, because things started going wrong then. That is the night I spent four hours sitting, alone, in an empty apartment – no television or radio, no kettle (and thus no coffee), no seating of any sort… I was waiting on an electrician (or a plumber, or gas engineer, or someone else) to turn up while my brother sorted out other things. Needless to say the idiot never turned up, and I had to make my way home at an ungodly hour. The guy did show up eventually… After 8am the next day. I’m pretty sure that was around the point when my week went wrong. Having been unable to recover the time from such a pointless task has pushed everything else, concertina-like, into a time-frame which is impossible to deal with.

This is also where I’ll ask everyone to be patient. I know I’ve said I’ll do stuff (and I will), but there’s so little time that isn’t occupied by something else that I don’t know when I’ll be able to get around to doing anything. The epic lists – back when my spiralling OCD was out of control – are all still on compressed Win 98 disks. The dictionaries and media guides which I spent so long accumulating and indexing are going to be decompressed when I have the chance. I have the disk now (got one yesterday) but I have no way of knowing when I’ll have the chance to load the OS onto a spare laptop. There are so many things on the To Do list that it might be the middle of April before I’m in a position to think straight.

I mentioned the giant ice-trail down the side of my house, and the £210 it cost to get the drip repaired, but it seems that the idiot repairman sent to do the job was a bit hasty in getting me to fork out cash for the repair. It is back, and with a vengeance. There’s a growing puddle of water in the pot below the drip, and I’m getting a migraine just thinking about how much it will cost to get fixed a second time. The financial pressure on keeping this house from falling down around me is beginning to piss me off. If I had managed to get half-decent repairs done five years ago (when I spent upwards of £20k on the building) I wouldn’t be so annoyed, but it seems that all of the so-called experts in this country are taking liberties with their qualifications.

I’ll be busy, just in case anyone needs to get in touch. My mobile is on mute, the house ‘phone is unplugged and I’ve got half a mind to tape the letter box shut while I’m out. And don’t bother calling when I am home, because you’ll just get yelled at. Or water poured over you from an upstairs window.

[This post took five hours (on and off) to write. Don’t think I’m slacking off here.]

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The Future Is What You Make It

Posted by BigWords on October 29, 2009

Some of the strange notions that pop into my head can be disregarded as meanderings, but when I happened to mention a super-internet idea to a friend (the concept of which is really hard to explain here, but I’ll try) there were some aspects I had to concede were good. Maybe not to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but to me they seemed a sensible way forward once the kinks could be worked out. It is, of course, gonna play into my NaNo novel, but the idea of creating a customizable and completely interchangeable internet experience needs expounding…

How many social networking platforms are out there? Too many. In the future of my NaNo there will be an identity card style homepage for everyone, where they can use whatever they want to share with the world. Compatibility issues will be a thing of the past, and the entire internet will be one large social networking scene that has multiple sub-categories for individual likes and dislikes. Into comics? There will be a check button to join that category. Into films? Yeah, check button. Into mind-altering substances? You guessed it, another check-button…

Forums, which I kinda have an addiction to joining – and spend all night surfing for great threads to haunt – should be one area which future software can really improve on. I like a lot of forums the way they are, with maybe the exception of really slow ones like the NaNo set-up. A meta-forum, where millions of different forums (yeah, I’m not using fora here, just ’cause) will merge into a single entity would be great for hot discussions. Threads splitting and merging and splitting again as the number of commenters adding their voices increases…

A person would never have to join another forum again. Join one, and you join them all. A geek’s dream come true.

E-mail, which has been getting tweaks and nudges ever since its’ creation, would – I am certain – be replaced by an IM / SMS-type communication between individuals. When processing power has achieved the ability to create real-time VR, which is quite a few years off even yet, we will have avatars speaking for us in voice communication so real that it would appear animals could talk. This is something I really want, even though I know I’ll probably never live to see the concept realized… Damn limited human longevity we currently have to accept.

If bleeding-edge technology lives up to the promises of various experts, we will see a rise in e-commerce that will make even the largest internet companies of the modern world seem like fly-by-night operators. Hundreds of billions of transactions made every minute, with exponential growth thanks to a subservient robot workforce that can load in new software to accomplish even the most complex of tasks. This will, naturally, see the end of shopping centres as a place to buy product, but it might just reestablish the locations as a place to congregate with friends. I’ve never been one to believe that a completely digital existence will ever come to pass.

I’m still undecided on cybernetics as a point I should bring up in my novel, because the issues which arise from medical procedures to augment human bodies is one which has been covered to thoroughly – and so well – elsewhere. William Gibson is the standard SF text for that kind of thing and, along with Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, is in no need of a reheated and half-hearted answer from myself. There may be minor allusions to the procedures available, but the more I think on the things which would need to be addressed the more I worry. It’s not enough to parrot accepted ideas… My story has to go somewhere new.

The one area I will be completely avoiding, due to the terribly complex and ever-shifting debate on, is the file-sharing one. Never have so many intelligent people been involved in an argument with so many half-assed assumptions in the history of the internet. I can’t even begin to explain why some of the utterances made my music chiefs are so stupid, because every time I begin to make a balanced argument for file sharing they decide to change their objections… “We’re losing money,” (no, you really aren’t) “It’s immoral,” (and the music industry is?) “File-sharing is evil,” (and music producers are all saints?)…

Added to the confusion which exists about copyright, and you have an impossible task wrapping a fiction around the subject which is less stupid and unbelievable than the truth.

You will, of course, be able to see whether I have managed to think this concept of a super-internet through thoroughly enough when November rolls around. Ye gads, two and a bit days to go… I’m gonna have to sit down and really think about the opening scenes if I have any hope of sounding at least semi-coherent. Time has flown by so quickly that I haven’t even managed to begin working out where some of the jokes and references I want to use can be dropped in…

I may just pop over to Microsoft to talk with someone about setting the internet to rights after November… I kinda like the idea of putting Facebook out of business.

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All The Subtlety Of The Tet Offensive

Posted by BigWords on September 4, 2009

Damn… I keep meaning to keep on top of things, but trying (badly) to memorize worksheets, books and other important stuff to bluff my way through essential work-related stuff has had the odd effect of turning my brains to shit. All the walking I am doing isn’t helping, as I’m often operating under less than optimal performance. I’ll share some of the projects from my To Do list here, and show you why things are a bit more insane than normal.

There’s a small company which needs technical manuals, class handouts and such, so I’m putting together a comprehensive pack of computer literature for them. I’ve sorted out most of the important (and essential) basic material, including the fundamentals of HTML, Java, the history of the internet, clear guidelines on website creation and some Photoshop stuff. I’m not going to get myself involved in the teaching aspect, but I’ll help out where I can.

And that’s put in the shade by a massive commitment to a group which has approached me for assistance with a British comic-book guide along the lines of Overstreet. I’ve got a lot of comics from the eighties and nineties… well, some 2000AD, and a shitload of Viz, Oink!, Scream and lots of seldom-heard titles. The girls comics alone (Misty, Judy, Bunty et al) are going to take a lot of research, so I’m sticking to the stuff I’ve heard of.

Re-reading some of the eighties’ relaunch of Eagle reminded me how much I hated the photostrips, especially since the Doomlord strip was eminently readable in strip form. Not sure what to make of the pictures of eighties television though… I must have blanked all memory of big hair, shoulder-pads and oil barons from my memory banks.

My involvement seemed a good idea when I added the project to my schedule, but I’m stepping back for a couple of months to complete my course and get some free time for real writing. The fiction kind. They’ll still be there when I’m ready to concentrate on the project, unless somebody manages to fill in a shitload of information on pre-1930’s comics… I think I’m safe in that regard.

And there’s the continuing saga of the WIPs to take into consideration.

So there is little in the way of free time. Yet I’m still fucking away the small hours of the night with endless games. Between about 2am and 5am is the best for playing something that requires a moody setting, such as Doom 3 – or the tunnel sequences of most FPS titles. All the better for frightening myself with.

Time seems to be slipping away.

November is scratched out in my calendar for NaNo, the end of December will be wasted with Christmas parties and alcohol, and I’m almost certain that the first couple of weeks of 2010 will be hazy at best. October, being ignored for the most part till now, seems to be filling with work.

The endless e-mails flying to and fro at the moment, proposing my involvement in groups, asking if I need work (and generally sucking up) are welcomed, but I really don’t have time to jump into another commitment without going completely fucking insane. Which I’m sure would amuse everyone, but I’m not giving anyone the satisfaction of seeing me in a straight-jacket. (cue bug-eating and shit-flinging)

Did I miss anything? Probably. I’m lost without my post-it notes, and those are upstairs. If I have promised anyone that I would do anything then I guess this is as good a place as any to badger me into progress. I check in with this blog every day, even if I don’t post anything, so I’ll answer anything that comes up.

Just don’t ask me to start a new project…

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Where Did All The Cigarettes Go?

Posted by BigWords on August 30, 2009

The main problem with being awake for so many hours in the day – okay, not the main problem, but a close second – is the temptation to keep smoking when any sane person would be considering how many cigarettes they go through. I spent about half an hour searching through my coat pockets, in drawers, beside my chair, looking through the kitchen… There was just a single pack left. Which is strange in and of itself, but I bought 100 on Friday afternoon. It’s the lack of sleep…

I don’t normally smoke so much, but with the agitation caused by spending the night looking for a game which wouldn’t annoy me, then having a day full of interruptions to my writing, it’s no wonder I smoke so much. It’s only when I have to run for the train in the morning that the full effects of my habit seems to show itself, but that is a subject for another post.

For a long time, maybe three years, I have managed to ration myself to one cigarette an hour, but the temptation to light up when I get even slightly irritated is growing.

They go so well with the consumption of endless cups of coffee, and y’know, the odd alcoholic beverage, so it is easy to lose count of how many I smoke in a day. But 80 since Friday? I’m sure I never smoked this much when I was in my twenties, when I had the capacity to deal with such intense abuse of my lungs. I still have the endless fucking walk each day, but it isn’t exactly the kind of exercise that is going to help in the long run.

Sometimes I think that the self-destruction gene, which ain’t so dormant in humanity at the best of times, is pushing forth on my being. “Go on,” it cries, “Light up, you fucker. Take a deep breath.” It’s the same voice that whispers in your ear when you’re on the balcony of an apartment, telling you to jump. Only it ain’t as blatant. It’s the tapping of fingers, the urge that grips in the gut, the need to fill your lungs with the inspiration-giving escence of nicotine.

And a few thousand words later I’m back where I started, looking at the screen and hankering for another smoke.

‘Scuse me, I gotta go. I’m sure I have a lighter around here somewhere…

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Punctuality Is The Bane Of Small Minds

Posted by BigWords on August 21, 2009

Having spent the better part of the week running to and fro across the larger part of Fife, I’ve realized that I don’t really care for being in a place at an exact time. Five minutes either side of an appointed time is accurate enough, and I’m already too fucking tired (with, y’know, the insomnia and everything) to be doing such things. Seriously, the amount of hassle to get to a place exactly on time just isn’t hardwired into my brain. I can barely tell you what time it is without spending a minute hunting for my ‘phone.

There are, however, some people who see punctuality as the be-all and end-all, and I don’t mind if they see me as an aberration. I like those guys. Really, I do. They’re perfect models on which to base my villains on, because (alongside record-keeping) the psychotics of the world seem to have a fascination with time. Just look at Sylar if you don’t believe me.

Maybe I wasn’t born with the “time gene”, which explains a lot. I couldn’t tell the time on an analogue clock until I was about fifteen years old, and when I write I tend to time-jump back and forwards between different eras. The messy way I see the past – lumping big stretches of my life together as if everything happened at once – is because I can’t sleep, and it all seems so, so long ago. Last week or last year… It’s all the same to me.

In about five hours (give or take) I’ll be back at the train station, wondering how the fuck I manage to get anything done without sleep. I’ll have had my fourth coffee of the day by that point, and I may be in a better mood.

Don’t bet on it.

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Time And Numbers

Posted by BigWords on July 30, 2009

Joe Shuster, co creator (Superman), died at 78 on this day in 1992.

I’ve been reading the pages of information available on the net about famous dates, and what happened on which day. Over the course of three or so hours of reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that there may be more to ‘clusters’ of interesting and important events than first appears. The concept of leylines has spread from the alternative scene to mainstream thinking, but ‘temporal lines’ is my own weird addition to the theory of hidden energy around us.

It may seem dumb, but if you think about the incredible coincidences which led to WWI or the various technologies coming together at the right time for the first space flight, then there may be something in the thought. Every so often there is a spurt of energy and we move forward as a species. I think that it’s kinda connected to evolution, but harder to pin down. Maybe coincidences, déjà vu, doppelgangers and convergences of ideas are all connected.

Maybe it is gestalt psychology, seeing order and patterns in the chaos and random events because we (as a species) can’t bear to have no control over the universe.

The same things happen with numbers. Cropping up in clusters over short periods of time, the immediate (and illogical) supposition is that there is a hidden meaning in the numbers, but once we see a number repeated in different places and in different circumstances it is harder to break the feeling that there is a conscious power behind the ‘message’. For me, the recurring numbers are 4, 8, 12, 28 and 88… They seem to crop up everywhere.

On loadings bars for downloads, on the front of disks, on the display panel of the DVD player.

The craziness is spreading…

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A List Of What’s Goin’ On

Posted by BigWords on July 17, 2009

Word has come down from on high that my computer game can’t use my first choice of engine due to cost. It’s a indie project, so I can’t demand the funds from thin air. I’ve already spent a lot of time and money on it, and if I have to design an engine from the ground up, then that’s what I’m going to do. It pisses me off no end that the licensing is so difficult, even when we have given the guys every concession they demanded. Rrrrrrghhhh. I’m not giving this one up.

I’m tidying up the hard drive, and moving across all of the material I have amassed to an external unit, along with duplicating everything onto disk. The older writing is kinda interesting, and doesn’t fit with anything I’m currently working on, so I’ll start placing some of it here (or hereabouts) as soon as I have re-checked everything and done a spell-check. Yup, it’s more geekery and list-obsession, but at least I have precedent with some of the work. Not all of it is my ideas, so I’m gonna check with the appropriate people before some of it gets aired here. There will also be links through to important stuff that explains a lot of things…

Remember back-a-ways when I said I had planned for a massive shed… Well, there has been a lot of work on clearing space to make room for it. I’ve set aside a clear space on the patio so I have somewhere to put all of the wood when it arrives, although a ‘phone call has made me think I may be underestimating the size. It turns out that the delivery will be on Tuesday, and they are going to send it on the backs of two lorries. Yup, two lorries. Shee-yit. How big is it gonna be? It was meant to be 15′ (about four and a half meters I think), but two lorries

I couldn’t help myself – I went out and bought a replacement X-box. I paid twenty quid for it, so I’m not fussed about the condition. As long as it plays my games I’m gonna be happy. You haven’t lived until you’ve wasted an hour playing Matrix: Path Of Neo – at least until the end, when it gets silly as fuck with a giant robot appearing in the late stages. I gave up on the films, but the game is still dumb fun. There’s a spoiler there, for anyone who hasn’t seen the horror that awaits a brave gamer bold enough to keep playing through to the end.

Even though I have neglected the book review blog, I swear that I’m not ignoring it. There’s just so much stuff going on at the moment that I haven’t had enough time to devote a proper level of attention to the things I need to do there. The updates will become more frequent once I finish up with my course. There are a few changes I have been meaning to make, some updated information, and a couple of corrections.

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Did I Say Wednesday?

Posted by BigWords on July 4, 2009

Yeah, there are still no book reviews up yet. I know I pointed out that one would be up by Wednesday, but I’m swamped under with 1001 annoying and necessary jobs that I have had a hard time keeping on top of everything, even with the extra hours that a general lack of sleep affords me. You would imagine that the insomnia would help, but with the sheer number of things coming at once… It’s got to the point where I am wondering if I should cancel the renovations which are underway. I’ve yet to spend any real money, but the time expense has been overboard. The shed alone is going to take another full day (maybe two), and that is without the electrics going in.

Saturday, for the first time in almost three weeks, I have absolutely no commitments. I’m free to update this blog as well as Book Re:View, fix some issues with the laptop, complete a few jobs around the house and – my dumb luck prevailing – I’ll eventually get time enough to organize a few people together for a read-through of a game I have been working on. Things are busier than they have ever been.

This past few months have been hectic. Just as one thing is finished, another job presents itself. I’m beginning to think that I’m never going to have a holiday again.

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