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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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To my mind, Deep Space Nine possesses the ideal balance for most ongoing serialized TV shows: Too little serialization and DS9 would lose its narrative advantages, and too much means risking a lot of “let’s stall for time” style entries that plague stuff like The Walking Dead. For my money, the only effective heavily serialized show on the air right now is Breaking Bad, which has the benefit of Vince Gilligan and his writing staff, and more importantly, a narrative that specifically lends itself to heavy serialization. Content should dictate structure, not the other way around, and too many shows these days see that serialization is the new thing and latch onto it as though the style in and of itself is justification enough. All of which is to say, the balance DS9 has achieved works pretty damn great.

(via an episode review at the AV Club, this summarizes PERFECTLY my problems with some modern TV shows, like the Walking Dead they mention.)

To my mind, Dee…

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Spinning Plates

You’d think the biggest writing problem I’d have as a stay-at-home dad and full time writer is “THE KIDS” and you’d add “OH MY GOD THE KIDS HOW DO YOU STAY SANE WITH ALL THIS NOISE OH MY GOD”

To which I would smile a little and then look up the word “sane” which sounds delicious.

Anyway.

The biggest problem I have is actually that I write three different things more or less all the time. I regularly write articles, primarily for BookRiot, an activity which I have taken unabated pleasure in since I began. I adore writing articles on a range of subjects (well, books.)

I also write short stories pretty much constantly, either for magazines and anthologies or for little collections I’m putting together myself, for fun. I always have a short story on the go. Sometimes two.

And I write novels. These begin with less frequency but go on for a long time as a project. The biggest problem here is that I am not a natural novel-writer. I’m like a walker who is in shape, but is now trying to adjust muscles and breathing to the act of distance running. I love it, but it’s hard.

And the hardest bit of all is balancing all three.

Not the writing itself, but the mental space is my problem. Case in point is that  spent a week or so struggling to get the novel stitched up and off the ground and moving. Bu then I came back to write some articles and realized I had NO IDEAS. i had NOTHING to talk about. Had it finally happened, like I was always worried it would? Had I just abruptly run out of things to talk about?

I doubt it. No, what I think happened is that my mental gears switched to NOVEL, and because I was so focused there, the ARTICLES plate slowed and slowed and stopped spinning (and fell off, this time). I didn’t think of article ideas because I wasn’t perpetually applying motion to the ARTICLES plate. Does that make sense?

So I lamented my problem on twitter, like I do, and discovered EVERYONE ELSE has this problem too.

SO THAT’S HELPFUL.

So what’s the solution? I don’t really know, but I have ideas.

– Structure: building a structured working schedule for the different forms might be the key. Supposing I KNOW that Monday through Wednesday is NOVEL, Thursday through Saturday is ARTICLES? Or some schedule like that? 

– Notes: I have a hunch that carrying a little notebook with me all the time and writing down novel notes, article notes, story notes, bits of dialog, observations, pieces of articles, might be helpful in maintaining a fluidity in the working process, so it isn’t like I have to stop spinning each plate when the others are going. If I’m writing a novel but making not only novel notes but article notes, might that not keep the matter fresh in my mind, so that when I sit to article (can I use that as a verb?) they’re fresher? Some past days, I wrote two or three articles a day. That’s lovely, but unsustainable (and not always fun, to be honest). 

Other solutions? None yet. I’m really pondering this. It has to be a solvable problem, but I haven’t solved it yet. Probably I won’t ever fully solve it. I’ll get the plates going but then I’ll sneeze or something (whatever the hell that means in this metaphor) and they’ll come crashing to the floor. Here’s hoping not, though. Sheesh, I am optimistic at night, aren’t I?

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Google Glass

Lately, I’ve been following the development of Google Glass with a low-level sort of persistent interest. My technology antenna is tuned pretty specifically to stuff that looks like it comes out of the science fiction I consumed in my youth. People always joke “where’s my jet pack?” but I don’t want one of those. I want to live in Star Trek utterly, okay?

Google Glass – the little piece of eyewear that extends in front of your eye and shows you your smartphone display, sort of — is proper science fiction. I don’t think it’ll show up and take over, and actually I think it’s not going to last thanks to the forces of history more than anything else. I think it’s extremely interesting, though.

First, for people concerned that they’re going to become super invasive, that soon you’ll step outside and everyone will turn and tag you like hipster-dressed Borg…chill. This is the same set of fears when Bluetooth headsets appeared. Mostly what happens is, these things self-regulate over time, due to social pressures. It turns out the person having a bluetooth headset left in all the time, shouting as they walk through the mall…is actually just an asshole. they found a market, a niche, and didn’t pervade like they were supposed to.

I can see some people using Google Glass. I can also see an extremely interesting benefit of them, in that if you synced it with a video game, it could be overlaying interesting information on top of the game. That could be really cool.

What’s most interesting, though, is that Google Glass marks a big public step in interactive technology, which is away from the telephone shape. Smartphones have gotten sharper and cooler and more powerful than ever before. They weigh nothing, they take amazing pictures, and so on…but they all look about the same. They are constrained loosely by size and shape and form. Various pieces of slightly rectangular glass.

I think this is the big change we’re about to face next is not processor power or operating system changes, but is the form itself changing…and becoming less uniform. YOU might opt for the phone-shape smartthing, but your buddy opted for the watch-based on which can holographically project a display onto the tabletop (or something).

I’m being vague because I don’t know what’s coming quite next, although I have lots of non-concrete thoughts on the topic. What I predict, though, is that the Google Glass will wind up being the weird middle-child stepping stone that somehow vanishes.

There were compact discs. Then, there were these really interesting mini-discs that Sony put out for awhile that were small, light, easily rewriteable, and pretty cool (I forgot what they’re called, because if you start keeping track of dead technology names, you will begin to forget the names of your kids). Unfortunately, they came out about ten minutes before MP3 Players themselves took off in a big way, and nobody ever noticed the existence of this weird player that had happened in between.

Likewise here. The Google Glass may wind up being a very cool gadget, but one that won’t hang around. I predict it’ll get stepped over. It may be a shame, and lamentable. I can see fun uses for Google Glass. (climbing a mountain, or deep sea diving, for example. How useful to have the camera and some data right there, without having to fumble around) (in Minnesota, I would’ve loved to have been able to text my wife and talk to her when out walking, middle of a death-winter when it is painful and actually dangerous to take your gloved hands out of your pockets.)

So yeah. I think we’re nearly at the end of the smartphone phase, and we’re heading into something else which’ll seem brilliant and obvious once we know what it is. I don’t think it’s Google glass, though.

(Dear Google. Please send me a Google Glass headset so I can play with it and have opinions better)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized