Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Preparing for Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo founder Chris Baty and some people from Blurb talk about the event.  I think you can see the talk at the link. This link will work better.

One of the things they discussed was the traveling shovel of death.
People rushing to make their plots work sometimes run into the sort of difficulty that smashing a character in the head with a nondescript shovel can solve.
I am not going to tidy the stuff below up.  The very rough notes below are what I wrote while listening to the talk.

NANOWRIMO's Chris Baty talks about the event

The main Problem creating a work of art is "Not a lack of talent but a lack of a deadline".
"Let your creativity fly"
"Up to 10 New York Times bestsellers; including "Water for Elephants", "Night Circus"

Common objections
"I don't have the time, the talent, ..."
"Nobody has the time to write a novel, but everybody can find the time.  [working on nanowrimo]...Makes reading books more interesting."
"If you've got a million things to do, then 1,000,001 isn't that big a deal.  If you've got nothing to do, then one thing is a big investment."

nuts & bolts of doing Nanowrimo:
Writing totems, hats and dragons - toys or mascots to motivate you.  What can I carve?
Doug Tiffin  –  Get the beginning, middle and end in 30 days, not a finished novel. But be sure to get an ending.  Have gaps but include an end.
What is better, "Plotting v Pantsing"?
By the seat of your pants.  I don't know which is better.... find a middle ground.
Start out each day by planning what will happen in this one writing session.
I like having a set of story peaks or events so I can work at different locations in the story if the story stops in one area, I can continue in another area.

Avoid oily snacks - don't mess up the keyboard
Carrots or celery and coffee.
Writing challenge - you can't go to the bathroom until you write 1000 words.

best advice for 1st time participant:  "Know that you can do this.  There is a great distance between where the book is now and where it will be."

plot bunnies - Plot ideas can breed like rabbits until you have more idea than story.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Professional musician? Hope you got a day job.

Does creativity pay enough to live on?
  I don't know much about Iggy Pop but I do [EDITTED: too fast typing earlier. I'd written "I don admire..."  Crazy stuff.  Sorry]   admire his voice and know he's more than moderately famous and skilled at his work.  He needs to moonlight?
To keep skinny body and maverick soul together, Iggy’s become a DJ, a car-insurance pitchman and a fashion model. If he had to live off royalties, he said, he’d have to “tend bars between sets.” As I listened to his enthusiastic stoner Midwestern drawl, I thought: If Iggy Pop can’t make it, what message does that send to all the baby Iggys out there? In a society where worth is judged by price, for better or worse, what are you saying to someone when you won’t pay for the thing he’s crafted?
A few days before Iggy’s lecture, Australian novelist Richard Flanagan won the Booker Prize, the most prestigious in the literary world, for his Second World War story The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Just in time, it sounds like: Mr. Flanagan told reporters that he was making so little from his writing that he was thinking about packing it in and becoming a miner. (He comes from a small mining town in Tasmania.) The prize money of about $90,000 and the following sales bump will allow him to continue, but most of his colleagues aren’t so lucky: “Writing is a very hard life for so many writers,” he said.
The link above references a lecture by Mr Pop.  Here is a transcript.

[Added later (Oct 22)]: More on the subject:
People who graduate with a degree in the Arts generally have to deal with high debt and low prospects for earning a sustainable living as working artists.
That's the big takeaway from a new report from BFAMFAPhD, Artists Report Back: A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists [PDF]. The short version: “the fantasy of future earnings in the arts cannot justify the high cost of degrees.”
Way off topic:
Write or Die is software that offers a stick to encourage you to return to writing.  Actually, now it offers sticks (scary spider pictures) and carrots (cute puppies or the like) depending on your wriitng output.

I don't know how to use these new icons, but Google has made them freely available.

Friday, October 17, 2014

advice on drawing and lessons on movie making

On Quora: "Is my drawing worth selling?"  The top rated answer is sympathetic but honest - no, it is not.  The responder does give some interesting and apparently useful advice (Drawing is a skill I want to be good at, but haven't put the time into, and I have shaky hands - computers are a wonderful invention - so I qualified the above with 'apparently').
Here's two ideas for you to play with - the first one, just draw to copy it; the second one, get a photo of yourself and enlarge it to at least 8x10, and then cover one half of the photo with plain white paper, and then try to draw the opposite side of the face - the examples are below.  The first one has guideline in it to show you the proportions and layout of the face and facial features.  And in case you are wondering why to do this, it will help you see more clearly how the face appears and is drawn, and will give you good experience.   I do suggest a class, it's the best way to learn.
The examples are probably at the link above or definitely this one.
Every Frame a Painting is a tumblr of excerpts from movies explaining what makes them great.  I am not sure if the above link will show what I want it to, which is a dissection of a scene from Silence of the Lambs - I don't see individual post links.  Anyway, interesting stuff even for movie watchers, much less for makers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cicada Magazine wants stories

and they pay 25 cents a word (and it is time for me to learn how to get the green characters on my computer's keyboard.  The '4' key has $ as a shift and the 'cent' in green).
The stories should be about tricksters or thieves:

Cicada magazine, a cultural arts publication for young adults, is inviting writers to submit stories for a forthcoming issue on Tricksters and Thieves. This issue will include stories of pirates, hustlers, and charlatan gods; scrutinies of bewitchment, enchantment, deception, and other guiles of illusion; and inquests of the trickiness of the real self in a field of performances.
NorthWoods Literary Festival in Muskoka
Sixteen acclaimed, award-winning Canadian authors are bringing their talent to Bracebridge for the NorthWords Muskoka Literary Festival, Oct. 3 to 5. It’s an opportunity to meet the authors, learn about their books and inspiration, do some early Christmas shopping for book-lovers on your list, and get those burning questions about a writer’s life answered – all while savouring delicious meals catered by Bracebridge restaurants....Nipissing University provides the venue for the first two events on Friday, Oct. 3. Authors Michael Wuitchik and Anne Lazurko are joined by three literary agents and a publisher, to present a fiction workshop for aspiring writers. Over the afternoon, writers have the opportunity to book a pitch session with the agents to receive feedback on their current projects. An evening wine/beer and hors d’oeuvres reception follows, featuring Giller-nominated author, Anthony De Sa and best-selling author, Terry Fallis who will entertain with their unique brands of humour. Although Anthony’s newest novel, Kicking the Sky, addresses a dark period in the history of Toronto’s Portuguese community, he exudes warmth and humour. The immense wit of Terry Fallis, author of No Relation, matches De Sa and ensures a great time for all. Fallis’ newest book, No Relation, about the effects of being cursed with the name of a famous person like Ernest Hemingway or Marie Antoinette, is full of chuckles and laugh-out-loud moments.

Where should you live to create art? And Raiders in Black & White

If you can work from home, where should you move your home to?  Chang Mai, Thailand and Prague, Czech Republic are apparently the best places.
Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution wonders about purchasing power parity as a criterium.

Steven Soderbergh, ah, adjusted the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark to better watch the staging or framing of the movie without distraction.  He removed all audio and added a music track and removed the colour.  The movie stands up and the framing explains all it needs to.
What Brainstorming can teach you: As I understand the blog post, being told to accept any idea, however crazy, removed only some of their mental blocks: studying the results displayed a big one they are accepted as elemental or as obvious as air.  Teachers were asked to offers ways to reduce traffic congestion from student drop-offs and pick-ups.
In this case, the impossible ideas have a common thread: rather than try to change traffic, they all seek to remove cars from the traffic congestion equation altogether. This produced an "ah-ha" for all involved and led our principal to favor strategies that would help her remove - rather than attempt to change - traffic.
science and design well-integrated.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Twine and CBC short story contest

Twine is, well, I'm still figuring it out myself, but it seems to be a way to make interactive fictions and at least text-based games similar to the old choose-your-own-adventure books of my childhood.  It seems pretty cool and I will be playing with it further.  What I've seen is pretty cool.  Twine 2.0 is now in beta, which I think means it is mostly ready to use. More info from the maker. Wikipedia has a stub on the subject.
Ah, Gamespot has more:
It allows you to link passages of text via links, which has led many people to compare games made with Twine to old Choose Your Own Adventure books. But Twine allows you to do things that those books never could. Games can keep track of decisions made and actions taken by players much earlier in the game--what type of weapon they selected, for instance, or whether or not they collected a particular key. With a bit of creativity on the part of the creator, games can have puzzles that players can't quickly "solve" by just trying each of a few options. Games can also include images and videos, and with a bit of extra know-how, you can also employ basic effects, such as flashing text, which can do a good deal to foster a particular mood in your game.
The CBC's short story contest, Canada Writes, is running now.  They are accepting stories of between 1200 and 1500 words until November 1.  Entry is limited to Canadians or residents of Canada and there is a $25 fee to enter the contest.  The CBC also has a word cloud of clickable tips for writing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stephen King on Writing, Sci Am on mental disorders and creativity, and writing a book with evernote

Stephen King recounts being a school teacher.  Jessica Lahey interviewed him on how he taught:
Lahey: You extol the benefits of writing first drafts with the door closed, but students are often so focused on giving teachers what they want and afraid of making mistakes that they become paralyzed. How can teachers encourage kids to close the door and write without fear?
King: In a class situation, this is very, very hard. That fearlessness always comes when a kid is writing for himself, and almost never when doing directed writing for the grade (unless you get one of those rare fearless kids who’s totally confident). The best thing—maybe the only thing—is to tell the student that telling the truth is the most important thing, much more important than the grammar. I would say, “The truth is always eloquent.” To which they would respond, “Mr. King, what does eloquent mean?”
King: A lot of them didn’t care; they were just hacking out assignments. For those that are sensitive and insecure, you have to combine gentleness with firmness. It’s a tightrope, particularly with teenagers. Did I have students actually bust out crying? I did. I’d say, “This is just a step to get you to the next step.”Lahey: Of course, once they have something down on paper, they are going to have to open the door and invite the world to read what they have written. How did you cope with the editing process early in your writing career, and how did you teach your students to handle feedback?
Lahey: You warn writers not to “come lightly to the blank page.” How can teachers encourage kids to come the blank page with both gravity and enthusiasm?
King: It went best for me when I could communicate my own enthusiasm. I can remember teaching Dracula to sophomores and practically screaming, “Look at all the different voices in this book! Stoker’s a ventriloquist! I love that!” I don’t have much use for teachers who “perform,” like they’re onstage, but kids respond to enthusiasm. You can’t command a kid to have fun, but you can make the classroom a place that feels safe, where interesting things happen. I wanted every 50-minute class to feel like half an hour.

There's a lot more that I liked as an English teacher and as a writer.  I think "writing with the door closed" means absent outside concerns, perhaps even walled off from your personal editor.  Approaching a blank page with both serious intent and eagerness is an interesting way to look at it, too.
By the way, I am a teacher who performs like I'm onstage, so perhaps I need to mature up my game.
Scientific American on spectrum disorders and creativity:

They found that both real-world creative achievement and creative cognition (as rated by four independent judges) were significantly associated with two personality traits:psychoticism and hypomania. These findings remained even after taking into account prior academic achievement test scores.
Psychoticism is characterized by impulsivity, sensation-seeking, and proneness to psychosis. Many of the items on the psychoticism scale measure oddness of thought and behavior, such as “Other people seem to think my behavior is weird”, “My thoughts are strange and unpredictable”, and “My thoughts often don’t make sense to others.” In a clinical setting, extremely high levels of psychoticism may be cause for a diagnosis of mental illness, but this finding suggests that in the normally varying general population, there is an association between these characteristics and real-world creative achievement.
Creativity was also associated with hypomania, a mood state characterized by high energy levels, rapid mood fluctuations, and racing thoughts. Some items on the hypomania scale include “I am frequently in such high spirits that I can’t concentrate on any one thing for too long”, “I have such a wide range of interests that I often don’t know what to do next”, and “Sometimes ideas and insights come to me so fast that I cannot express them all”. Again, in a clinical setting, extreme levels of this trait may require rehabilitation. But this finding (and the findings of prior studies) suggests that in the general population hypomania is associated with creative achievement.
Neither creative cognition nor creative achievement were associated with depression ...
Interestingly, creative cognition was no longer associated with real-world creative achievement, psychoticism or hypomania when scoring the test using the method recommended in the testing manual.
I love Ommwriter, others like Scrivener, but Evernote?  Yes, a man wrote a book using nothing but Evernote.
One reason I used Evernote was because I kept all of my reporting notes and research in Evernote, and I wanted quick access to all that while I was writing.
It felt less clunky switching between screens in the same app than switching between Evernote and a slow-loading memory hog like Microsoft Word or the surprisingly lethargic Google Docs.
Another few reasons:
• Evernote constantly saves what you're working on and backs it up to the cloud.• I have Evernote on my phone and iPad, and it was nice to be able to pull up my draft and review it anytime anywhere.• Evernote note windows are sparse, and I like that for writing.• I've developed a "process" around turning reporting/research into writing in Evernote, and when you're doing work as open-ended as long form writing, it's nice to have some step-by-step tasks to do to ground you.