Category Archives: writing

Don’t Step on my Segues

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-black-and-white-hoodie-665194/

The man on the train was speaking french. In a post Brexit world, after the vote anyway lets not open that can of worms, I should say that his speaking french is just a fact and not a complaint. It would be the act of utter idiocy to complain about someone speaking another language in any situation – especially as I was in Paris at the time.

Photo by Flo Dahm from Pexels

In french all I can do is introduce myself, ask if someone speaks English, and say ‘Thank you.’ So I had no idea what the man was talking about. All I know was he was standing up, speaking urgently with lots of gestures, and then sitting back down. Judging by the looks some of the other people on the train were giving him he was probably saying something about the end of the world. This happened eleven years ago. And the scary thing is I probably know about as much Klingon as I do french.

In case you didn’t know who they were.

What I know in Klingon won’t have helped. I know it is a fictional language don’t try and be clever. Since all I can really do is insult someone, express romantic interest, use sentences that are only usable in very specific circumstances, or declare today a good day to die.


Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels
This Cat gave me a Klingon vibe.

That is not unlike learning a language though is it? The specific sentences thing not the dying thing. When learning a part of the process to learn stock phrases so you can ask: ‘Where is the nearest chemist please?’ However you can only understand the answer if it on the right by the train station.

Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

Back to the Klingons though. They have always been my favourite race in Trek because of their directness. Go on a date with a Klingon and she bits you on the cheek… well at least you know she likes you… no that was not a misprint. That might be a problem. A date with a Klingon might lead to broken bones. For Klingons a novel like 50 Shades of Grey, which I have not read, would be different. Mr Grey’ sexual proclivity would be one of very tender and soft lovemaking. Not my idea, I read it in a YouTube comment.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Whereas we humans tend not to be so straight forward. For example: ‘I’m having a nice time.’ means ‘After today you will never see me again but I am too embarrassed to say I am not interested in you.’ and cancelling a date and saying ‘We’ll have to do it another time.’ means. ‘After today you will never hear from me again but I am too embarrassed to say I am not interested in you so I am just going to take ages to respond until you give up. I may have some issues.


Photo by: Inzmam Khan

I tend to prefer to be direct. I was talking to someone I work with about her boyfriend the other day. She said that she was surprised that it wasn’t obvious who it was. I said I wasn’t so good at picking up hints of things like that. There was more to it though. I have previously seen what I thought were signs of someone being interested in me and been way off. So if I had seen something between her and her boyfriend I would have dismissed it as me reading something that wasn’t there – as I have done with other friends. It makes me wonder if there has been someone who was interested but I was too oblivious to notice.

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This post went on a weird journey didn’t it? In saying that I can link back to a trains in a completely unnatural segue. I am unlikely to become better at reading people any time soon. So my only option is to bumble along. If there is one thing I have learned from being in customer service… people are strange and that goes for all areas of life.

***
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.  

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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The Ramble of a Confused Man

Have you ever felt like this when Googling symptoms?

The internet is a wonderful thing in many ways but it can also cause many issues. One of them is the problem of Googling to find out what is wrong with you.

Rachel: I don’t know! I think it’s kind of serious! Oh, you know… I was watching this thing on TV this morning about… Newcastle disease… and I think I might have it!!
Charlie: Oh, Newcastle disease is a secretion borne virus that only affects chickens and… other poultry.

The One with the Soap Opera Party (Friends)

A person could spend half an hour googling and discover they have a disease thought to have been extinct, an appendix about to explode, and that they are pregnant. Which is especially concerning if they have already had their appendix removed and are male. The reality turns out to be that they drank too much alcohol and not enough water the night before.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-care-cure-doctor-433635/

I had an idea for a science fiction story once. It was a world where doctors could simulate the patient’s condition in themselves. My reasoning behind this was that in doing so the doctor might be better able to prescribe the right medicine. After all we all conceptualise the universe differently. Even in a family you might disagree on if something is red or orange. When we used to play Uno with my grandmother she couldn’t see the difference between the green and the blue. More than that though mightn’t it be tricky to know what is a problem? The human body is going to hurt sometimes and we all have different pain tolerances. If a patient says the have pain in their arm there is really no way to know if that is something that will pass or indicative of something else.

Flanders and Swann (The Elephant)

In Star Trek they have the tricorder. I wish this thing existed in reality. I am not like the elephant in this song but it would still be great to have a doctor wave a device over me and know about all that was wrong mentally and physically – and how serious it all was? That technology is, at the moment, indistinguishable from magic as Clarke would say.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Sometimes googling symptoms might yield results. I think it can be a good first step but certainly not the last step. Until such time as we have magical scanning devices we just have to get by with how we feel and decided if we need further help.

I wanted to write this because I know there is something not quite right in my mind. I feel strange a lot of the time. I get upset over small things, I get stressed in situations that others can cope, I am slow where others are fast, I struggle where others do not. And none of this is to get sympathy, that is not what this is about, it is about the human condition.

Photo by samer daboul from Pexels

Fear and anxiety are the easiest emotion I can think of to explain what I an ineptly reaching for. Spiders don’t bother me at all. If I see one in my flat the most I would do is say: ‘Hi, Bert.’ Some people are terrified of them and it doesn’t matter if they know they are harmless. For myself I have difficulty with plans. When I go to work in the morning I will have an idea in my head of what I am doing that evening, even if it is just watching Netflix, and for me it is not such an easy choice if I am invited to the cinema after work – because I had plans.

That is the thing I really want to say from this rambling post. I think we all need to understand what others find difficult. I want to put an example here but I don’t want to offend or embarrass anyone. Some of my issues are weird even to me. Like feeling I shouldn’t have spent so much time on this post. Why? Because it wasn’t on the plan for today.

Maybe this post is too rambling. Maybe it doesn’t make all that much sense and it is just a bunch of words not in a good order. I don’t know. Sometimes things demand to be written. I needed to write it though and try, even if it only makes sense to me, to get somethings out of my brain and on to screen.

In closing I would just like to say I hope you are doing well with whatever fears and difficulties you are facing. And I am going to prove I leaned nothing from studying creative writing by ending on a cliche – ‘You’ve got this.’ Good luck to you, dear reader. Good luck too all of us.

***
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.  

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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In Search of a Title

https://www.pexels.com/photo/view-ape-thinking-primate-33535/

It is funny to me that the first thing that I am expected to write for a blog post is the title. Shouldn’t a title come at the end? The beginning for the reader but the end for the writer. As I write this I have no idea where it is going. And that is scary and exciting all at the same time.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/choices-decision-doors-doorway-277615/

While looking for inspiration I found this picture. Maybe it is just me but it feels like a good representation of my mind a lot of the time. The paralysis of indecision. What do I do? Which thing on my list?

A person’s life, their future, hinges on each of a thousand choices. Living is making choices!

Captain Picard (TNG: A Matter of Time)

On waking we have to decide if we are going to get out of bed or doze until we end up getting ready for work in a great rush! And when it comes to creativity we have to decide which project to work on.

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

I remember seeing an interview with Christopher Judge where he talked about writing. He said that the only way he could get his scripts written was to lock himself in a room until it was done.

Photo by Maria Pop from Pexels

And you can’t argue with the results. The SG-1 episode “The Warrior“, that Judge wrote, is an excellent story.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

I have spoken quite a bit about productivity on this blog. I have used paper, various apps, and a spreadsheet and all of them have flaws. In the final analysis maybe the thing to to is to just sit down and do it. Which is true but not very helpful.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/bookcase-chair-computer-contemporary-263209/

In other news I have just come to the end of a week off work. The flat is still a bit of a mess but I have got ride of a small army of plastic bags. So progress is being made. I hope that all your endeavours are going well.

***
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors. 

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

Leave a comment

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Write the Words, Brother Benny!

A picture of a neat desk with a typewriter.
https://www.pexels.com/photo/ballpoint-pen-classic-coffee-composition-261510/

How many of you, I wonder, got the reference in the title? If you did kudos. Yes I want to talk about writing today – or lack of same. At the moment my writing is inching froward like a snail.

A close up of a snail on a road.
Photo by invisiblepower from Pexels

I suppose it is all about perspective. If you want to walk the length of the UK then an hour won’t give you much head way. If you want to walk from one side of the room to the other you can do it many times in an hour. And a novel or a play is a very big thing indeed.

Actors preparing for a rehearsal of a play.
Photo by Ruca Souza from Pexels

I am working on a play. It is 33 pages long so far and my target is 50. I am enjoying the process. Hitting page 50 doesn’t mean it is done of course. In fact editing can take longer than the writing. There is just one problem…

It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

Homer (The Simpsons: Blood Feud)

I can write the words and I can form a story but the message is taking its sweet time arriving. Maybe a message isn’t actually needed. There are things I want to say and I am not sure if I am saying them.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

The play is an expansion on a short story I wrote: The Sound of Silence. The theme I am aiming for is language and communication. Which sounds similar to two modules I did in university: Language and Society and Communication and Persuasion. The trick is to aim for the end. Which is what I am going to do. In between my posting here and my never ending novel – the novel is going well though. I attend Cardiff Writer’s Circle every Monday it gives me a degree of accountability. There are people who know if I haven’t written the next section. It helps.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/hands-coffee-cup-apple-5199/

So I will keep writing the play, the novel, and posting here. This year is going to be the year. (He said with cliched January optimism.)

***
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors. 

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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How has Your First Week Been?

https://www.pexels.com/photo/blackboard-business-chalkboard-concept-355988/

I can’t answer that question as I haven’t lived it yet. This is the problem with writing these things so far in advance. A week has happened though and hopefully it was a good week.

Additional: Although now the week has happened as apparently I am proficient at procrastination. Not that I haven’t been doing stuff I just haven’t been doing this!

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-flying-on-parachute-near-green-trees-67298/

The new year always feels like parachuting to me. The end of the year has happened. The celebrations have happened and suddenly it is just January. Which to me is a bit of a nothing month.

Suddenly I am in free fall into a new would of possibilities. And as the year goes on the ground gets closer and closer and I start to wonder if the parachute will open – will the end of the year make me feel I have achieved something?

https://www.pexels.com/photo/achievement-confident-free-freedom-6945/

Time ticks away and every year seems to go faster than the one that preceded it. We have so much time each year and yet so much of it is already allocated to work, cooking, cleaning, and other necessities. I know where I want to be in 365 days time – it has been the same for the last few years. The question is how do I get to the destination.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/backpack-commute-commuters-locomotive-1170184/

It is said metaphorically and literally that the journey is as important as the destination. I am not so sure that that is true. A train journey can be fun, especially if travelling through a picturesque part of the world, but wouldn’t you hate it if you never arrived? Sounds like a hell realm to me. Especially as over priced snacks would be all there was to eat.

…in many human cultures, the thirtieth birthday is considered a sort of milestone. It marks the end of youth and the beginning of the slow march into middle age.

Doctor Bashir (DS9: Distant Voices)

In September I will be 32 and that fact is somewhat scary. The plan for my life, such as it was, didn’t come to fruition. I feel like I am taking all my time just to stay afloat in life and not get anywhere. This year I need to get somewhere.

Photo by Anugrah Lohiya from Pexels

My passport is on the table in front of my now. And I need to use it. I have some savings and I think I need to plan a trip. Planning is difficult for me. My job requires booking leave a year in advance for one thing. For another I can’t book a flight and an Air b’n’b without work granting me leave and I can’t ask for leave before knowing the flights – Catch 22.

Maybe this sounds silly to you and maybe it is. This is something I need to work on.

One week into the year I am a bit shaky and not that happy. I am glad though that I have written this post and continued my unbroken chain on this blog. See you next week.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

Leave a comment

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2019 Three Weeks To GO

Let’s See What’s Out Their.

Captain Picard (TNG: Encounter at Farpoint)

At the end of the year many people set resolutions and review all that has happened in the year. We see the new year as fundamentally different than the one before when, in every meaningful sense, it is not. 

Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.

Captain Picard (TNG: The Inner Light)

A yeah can begin at any point at all. So can a week. We don’t have to wait until January or Monday to begin the new diet, life plan, or exercise regime we can start now. In the western world we are approaching 2019 – other calendars are on other years and indeed start their years at different times.

If I was designing the calendar I think I would separate Christmas and New Year. I think March would be a far better place to start the year – as in fact it once was. Then the year would start when the weather had started to improve and maybe it would feel more like a new beginning. With our calendar we have Christmas and Boxing Day – then three normal days before new year. I know I am not the only one who finds this a bit weird.

This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

I am writing this on Thursday and it is a good excuse to use that quote because, oddly, I know what he means:
Monday is the start of the week.
Tuesday is the continuation and not very important.
Wednesday is midweek and the weekend is in sight.
Friday is the end of the week – just one more shift!
Saturday is a  day off and you can sleep in!
Sunday is a day off but you have to prepare for work and try to get to bed at a good time.
Thursday is just sort of there.

This year I am not making resolutions as I always fail. There are also two things, no I won’t be more specific, that I have not got around to that I have been meaning to do for a year. It is a bad habit of mine. If it is not on the to-list it doesn’t get done. Sometimes it doesn’t if it is on the to-do list but that is a separate problem.

The one thing I have managed to achieve this year is being consistent hear! There was a bit of a shaky start but for most of the year I have posted every week. And that is something I am pleased with. 

So what have you achieved this year? I hope it has been a good one. See you next week.

***
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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FLT, Universal Translators, Artificial Gravity, and My NaNoWriMo Experience

Spinning is so much cooler than not spinning. I’m the General I want it to spin”

General Hammond (Stargate SG-1 “200”)

When writing science fiction there are two basic types – hard and soft. I tend to be more drawn to soft science fiction. I love Star Trek with its transporters, shields, and the deflector dish which seems to solve so many problems.

Soft science fiction requires willing suspension of disbelief and everyone has a different threshold. The Star Trek transporter is something I am fine with – a star drive powered by mushrooms I am not.

Photo by Ashish Raj from Pexels

The funny thing is that while a transporter is impossible anyway I would find it weird if it could beam up a standing person and rematerialise them in a sitting position. To me that seems more impossible. Can you have degrees of impossible?

And speaking of the threshold of disbelief… Threshold is also an episode of Star Trek: Voyager – where we lean that travelling to infinite speed leads to being transformed into a salamander! And still more believable than a mushroom star-drive – well maybe.   

Hard science fiction is based around our current understanding of the universe. In some ways the limits of space exploration are down to budget more than possibilities. Think what NASA could do if they had the US defence budget. An example of hard science fiction is The Martian. Which in my opinion is one of the best films ever made. It was so refreshing to see a science fiction film with out a villain. I was literally on the edge of my seat for parts of it and I had to remind myself a couple of times that it wasn’t based on real events – that is how well done it was.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-and-white-robot-73910/

For my own writing I like to go for a balance between the two. I don’t want the vagueness of energy shields, not that they don’t look cool, but I do want FLT for what I want to write it is essential.

As well as FLT I feel the need for a universal translator. Without such a device the story becomes about the language. There are films and TV shows that have done that to good effect but I want to sidestep the issue. That said I want a plausible universal translator. It can only translate languages programmed into it. For races not previously contacted it might take hours, or even days, to be able to build up a translation. Perhaps the computers of us and the aliens could talk to each other and work out a way to  communicate.

For my writing FLT and a universal translator are essential – but what about artificial gravity?

https://www.pexels.com/photo/child-children-close-up-colorful-270949/

In film and television science fiction artificial gravity is often just there. It is not explained and is accepted as a science fiction staple. The reason is obvious simulating zero-g would be prohibitively expensive. 

A book doesn’t have that issue. In a book you can do anything. Except that you still have to think about the physics of the situation. And physics is not one of my strong suits. 

A good halfway house is to have your star ship, or space station spin. This creates the effect of gravity and, while not being quiet this simple, the writer can basically forget about it and get on with the story. 

However in writing for nanowrimo I still found that the physics of the situation confusing. My brother does understand these things but I can’t be calling him all the time. So I am wondering should I just give the ship artificial gravity and maybe inertial dampeners and have down with? I haven’t decided. Anyway here are seven things I learnt from doing nanowrimo.

One: Have a plan. I launched into this with out one of any kind of plan. As such a lot of what I have written may prove useless. Still 50,000 words have now been put together in a way not done before and that, if only to me, is worth something.

Two: Consider the merits of different types of narrative. This is connected to the first one. I wrote my novel in first person. My protagonist was a low ranked crewman. That was fine until I realised that there were important plot points that she would not know about. It seems the story would work a lot better in third person.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Three: Focus on the novel. I try and do too much most of the time. We all have so many calls on our time it is difficult to juggle them all. I left myself with a situation where the ending was rushed. Early days of NaNoWriMo had very few words written. Next time the words should come first and then the other things. The key? Smash through the target on days off so days in work, with greatly limited time, are easier to manage.

Four: Think of food. My diet is, in general, not great. That is a bigger problem that I need to deal with. For nanowrimo it has been worse as I have not wanted to take the time to cook. Next time I need to have a meal plan to stop this from being an issue. I have put on a bit of weight from this month.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/burrito-chicken-delicious-dinner-461198/

Five: Don’t neglect the body. Work obviously gets me out of the house but days off need to be considered too. It is all too easy to stay in for most of the day writing even if it is not going well. Staring at a blank screen is not going to help. Exercise is important. Yes the guy who can’t resist free cake, it happens at work sometimes, is telling you to be healthy!

Six: I don’t need to be linear.  One of the things I struggle with most in writing is bridging sections. Characters need to get from one place to another but you can’t put every detail i.e: being welcomed into someone’s home, removing shoes, coat and banal greetings for example. When dealing with nanowrimo if Chapter 4 isn’t coming together you can do Chapter 5 or 6 or any other part.     

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Seven: Relax. This is very much a ‘do as I say not as I do’ situation. At the end of the day Nanowrimo is about you and you alone. And if you don’t get the words it is not a huge deal. If you are anything like me though you probably feel as pressured by internal deadlines as you would by external ones. So if life gets in the way, or the words aren’t flowing, don’t worry about it. Take some time to relax. Even if you only get 10,000 words that is still an amazing achievement.

So how did your November go? Were you stressing about something too? For December I am going to do more writing but with a much more manageable word count of around 20,000 words.

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

Leave a comment

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