Archive 2012-2015

With the transition of hosting services, I was negligent in my duties of backup and was unable to save the entirety of my development blog. I was, however, able to salvage a record of these entries as they are compiled below.

 

Finally, a site; an area, a space to work in; to work on. I’m excited. It’s a lot of nothing right now, and it’s taking longer to figure out the quirks and specifics than I anticipated, but I should have the site functional enough for my own development purposes fairly soon. So far I have the domain, obviously, and the hosting. I’ve begun work on a MySQL database for the wiki to the 3030Universe and so hopefully there will be some cool PHP developments to make that stuff more interactive for myself, as well as guests. That’s all for an update for now, but there is plenty more to follow.

 

So last night I came across a documentary that was released in 1986 about the Jehovah Witnesses and their interesting history. Why is this significant? A key plot point in the 3030 Universe is in the year 2012, all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses on the planet suddenly disappear in an apparent rapture. What’s great is I had planned this all into history without really knowing too much about the actual history of the religious organization. I’m about halfway through the documentary now, and so far it seems like this organization fits the bill perfectly for their role in my story. Their focus is on eternal life, and only a select few of them get to be truly saved. You have to earn your salvation by going door to door to spread the word of the impending doom and submit your time cards to the The Watchtower. These people will make excellent hosts. See you in a thousand years.

Well today I finally managed to get around to completing my first attempt at a one page character profile for my novel’s characters. For some reason I thought it was going to be Keith first, Davrick’s close friend aboard the Harvester Charon. Walter Domini is easily more profoundly important than poor old Keith though. This man is a nexus of evil and bad intentions, and his influence spans over a millennium. It’s suiting that his profile get drafted out first. Finding the notes I had scattered about over the last year through about three living situation transitions has been illuminating. I have certainly forgotten more than I have written by this point, which only makes for more familiarity once I revisit it, I find. It’s like finding your missing left sock or that hat you haven’t seen in almost a year. The goal now is to see if I can get another simple bio done by tomorrow. That’s the plan.

Over the last several days I have been undergoing a transition of living arrangements moving into a new apartment with my girlfriend/fiance. What does this mean for the development of Titan 3030? Recently I have had to consolidate all of my physical materials related to the development of the series; note cards, binders,  etc. All from a variety of different places I had happened to place or store them over the course of the last year or so. Fortunately for me and for the series, I was able to keep most of these isolated treasure troves of insight and inspiration relatively cohesive and I only today just managed to collect them all into one spot. The result was an unexpected amount of developments that have taken place on note cards alone. I found a section of chapter 4’s draft I thought I had lost, as well as some brainstorming for the structure and outline of chapter 5 as well. As I begin to reorganize and consolidate this work, it’s revitalizing to the overall effort itself. Revisiting my notes each time breathes a breath of life into thoughts almost forgotten.

I also received an interesting and unexpected lede as it were, pointing me in the direction of an online publication of a woman who does work in physics, metaphysics and the spiritual realm. After reading only a fraction of this woman’s work I already felt re-energized in my series’ mission to communicate it’s story. Titan3030 is a fiction set in the future of an alternate universe. This makes it science fiction. I include a lot of arcane/supernatural/alchemical elements fused with the concept of steam combustion, which gives the world of 3030 a steampunk-esque feel as well. I also venture to say some aspects of the book will be so strange and peculiar it will seem fantastical as well. The 3030 Universe may be fictitious, but the underlying forces at work are very real in our own world. The message is to be communicated; the story is the vessel. The characters are merely avatars; manifestations created to enact out the solution to one of life’s greatest problems: finding meaning, and purpose in our own lives and in life in general. The solution I think, is compassion. However, it is a long and hard road to walk.

Welcome back to Titan3030 and a Happy New year to all. 2013 was in my eyes a slow developmental year for the novel and series. More was created peripherally than linearly, which is not helpful to a mentality of finishing a novel’s first draft. However, what this expansion along the fringe of my fore-thoughts affords me is the deepening and widening of my 3030 universe. So many great ideas struck me out of nowhere.

As it stands for 2014, I entered the year with 25k words in the draft. Chapters One through Five are considered draft-complete. The next goal is to outline the next 5 chapters and begin filling in the story around my ‘mile-markers’.  Chapters 1 through 5 were interesting because to myself, they were the biggest challenge to write. From the first word I worried whether or not I’m engaging my reader, or if I’m alienating them with the strong technical language from the very beginning. Regardless of my very initial attempt to spark wonder and interest in the reader, I feel as if though chapter one as a whole provides that ‘Grabbing-moment’ to the reader that compels them to continue reading and have to know what’s next.

The following 4 chapters really set the stage for the novel’s setting. We learn more about our protagonist and his history and place in the universe just continues its slow expansion. All of this build up catalysts with The Distress Signal received from deep space concerning his father. The news pushes our hero to visit his friend for comfort, and reflection. His friend obliges in a way Davrick could not have anticipated.  And then Davrick flashes back to a moment in his childhood that would become a defining moment in his and his family’s history.

The next 5 chapters perform a similar role to the first 5, but instead of setting the stage, they expand it. A new pivotal player is introduced in the middle of the novel, a member of an alien species, that has been co-habitating with humans unbeknownst for millennia. We also explore the underworld of the city of Jalex, and learn more about the corrupt corporate history that manufactured this city on the brink of a frozen hell.

Not only do we learn more about why people are on Titan, and how it is they subsist, but Davrick learns an incredible amount more about himself, as well as gaining some interesting insight as to the fate of his father; and not a moment too soon, because as soon as he begins to feel optimistic about his father’s welfare, tragedy strikes the city from the skies. Another seemingly-alien presence arrives with force and begins attacking the residents of the colony.

The last 5 chapters, of course, finalize the conflict and provide some partial wrap-up and closure to some of the micro-events that happened in the novel. What remains open and unsolved is even larger, paving the way for the continuation of the series.

I’m setting a goal for myself right now. I’ve read some good advice on goal setting and systems/processes. My goal is to not have a goal of when to finish this novel, but the goal is to instead create a process by which to follow on a regular basis to produce progress. Not a goal, but I hope to have chapters 6-10 completed by my birthday toward the latter half of February. Also, I hope to, as a part of this system, implement more updates here, for you, the loyal (curious) reader / fan.

Hello fans and skeptics alike!

I figured today would be a good day to update on a recent development to my writing / creative strategy. I’ve decided, since I’m not exactly a linear writer, what is more important to me is not the continuous flow of ideas in sequence of how the occur, but rather a continuous flow of ideas. How does one accomplish this is in a linear fashion? ( day by day) The answer that occurred to me was this: Every idea is no more than a puzzle piece. Whether or not that piece comes in the form of a sentence, a paragraph, a page, an image, or a rough sketch, it matters not, it is equally one piece of this grand puzzle I’m attempting to assemble. So I figure, If I can somehow identify one novel puzzle piece a day, I’m making incremental progress, regardless of how I try to quantify it in relation to the linear progression of the novel itself. I hope this makes sense to anyone besides myself, and really, it’s not that completely novel of an idea. It does however provide a framework for me to qualify progress which has a tendency to lend a defeatist attitude to my demeanor.

So today I offer you this. Shwha: Shwha is a puzzle piece, and I decided I know right where it fits. A word of power, and rightfully so. It has to do with that little obsidian box, that’s not a box, and what’s inside of it. Since what’s inside that box-that’s-not-a-box is a pivotal end-game piece, I don’t feel comfortable saying too much more about it here. It would be like a magician revealing the secret of his illusion, or reading the last page of a book prior to the first. If I collect enough puzzle pieces, the story might just fall together like I hoped it would. Fingers crossed.

Hello valued readers,

I typically don’t intend to make an update or a post unless I’ve put some thought into what exactly it is I plan on saying in regards to progress or updates. Today however, is an unplanned, almost arbitrarily assembled update.

So first off I suppose a book status is in order. At the moment I’m writing chapter 7’s draft. I wish it felt like I progressed through chapter numbers faster than I do, but on the flip side, I also don’t personally determine or measure my progress or success on how far I’ve gotten in congruent word count. The word count is one of my least favorite measures of success or accomplishment. A big number in word count makes you feel accomplished. “Wow, I wrote 5,000 words!” Typically, in any burst of insight I have, about two to 4 pages of hand written text is produced. Sometimes, when conditions and setting are ripe, I can produce up to 10 pages of manuscript in a sitting. Now, 10 pages of manuscript to me, sounds like I accomplished something. Until it’s typed up. It’s typed and then I analyze the word count. A great example of this is chapter 7. Chapter 7 at the moment, is 5 typed pages, 1,669 words. That’s what ten pages of manuscript becomes in draft. The page-count is halved, and the word count is not all that impressive. The feeling of stagnancy is reflected in the overall word count as well. The compilation file I have, (which is essentially, each individual chapter pasted into one document for the sake of analyzing progress) is 90 pages long. 90 pages, wow; Easily the longest thing I’ve ever written so far. Word count: 28,095 words. 28 thousand words to me, is a complete failure of an attempt. When I compare that number to say, just as a benchmark, 50,000 words, I’m only just past the halfway point, word-wise. Why 50,000 for my benchmark? 50,000 is the commonly referred to number of words in a ‘typical’ novel. 50,000 is also the word count goal of the annual NANOWRIMO event; and those people pump all the words out in 30 calendar days. Do I think 50,000 is an unreasonable expectation? Not hardly, but I do feel the quality of my work is discounted when assessed by such measures. I prefer to look at my progress in terms of content-development.

How do I determine how much progress I’ve made in content development? Well, it’s measured by all the words that don’t get counted in word count. An example: A couple weeks ago, I proliferated about 4 or 5 family trees over the span of a 250 year time frame in order to build continuity and world-structure between my planned prequel (Serial book 4) and my first novel. In doing so, I created well over 500 individual people, all to be associated historically with a free-people/pirate community that becomes increasingly influential as the epic unfolds. Each of these 500 or so people, have an assigned birth year, and I know the death year of every male. In many cases, as I developed these lineages, my process organically showed me new and interesting details about my universe. The story began to unfold before me as I began to pick up and assign the pieces. I am honestly not sure how anyone writes differently than this. I’m sure there are those out there who have an idea, and rigidly hold to it and then progress linearly from start to finish. In fact, I imagine this is a prevailing mentality to the creative process of writing, as evidenced by the amount of depth-less garbage that we are ordinarily flooded by. I’ll document it now, and here, in this particular blog entry: I have a lot of ideas about my epic story. In fact, most of my ideas are in the form of concepts, events, and terminology. None of those three things, by themselves, or together, give me the creative insight required to write my story from start to finish in any sort of serial, linear fashion.  As I contemplate my ideas, and work with them, manipulating them, fashioning them with my hands; shape begins to form from the undefined, shapeless form. Every idea is a component in an extremely large and at times, terrifyingly complicated, system that makes up the 3030 Universe. Despite the terror associated with the complexity and intricacy, it is when I am able to see how two seemingly unrelated ideas can crash, collide, coalesce or condense together, seamlessly, that I am able to listen to the story my idea is telling me. I do not know everything yet. I feel like if I was at such a privileged vantage point, I would have already have read the entire epic, start to finish, including my prequel and the subsequent series that follows. It’s at least 11  books. AT LEAST 11 books. I have not yet written one; the first, second, and serial fourth is in production. It’s such a precarious position to be in: 3 unfinished works in progress (JUST considering this high-fantasy-fiction-space-opera, ignoring previously started works: AWOCF, Unsung History of Nasson College) and nothing “under-my-belt” yet to provide a sense of certainty, or inevitability to my future success.

So with a stronger understanding of my “position” in the spectrum of progress, I can say, word count means something to me, but I don’t let it define how I feel about my work. I don’t like every word in my word count, and many will change, fall off, or more will be added by the time the draft revision process is finished. My favorite number to look at is easily typed page count. With standardized formatting and line spacing, my novel at the moment sits at 90 pages. I’ve read shorter books in my life, which gives me the sense that my story is obtaining that attribute so commonly associated with books: pages. But even with pages, and word count, the measure of progress and success is still merely a numbers game, and I believe writing authentically, and creatively, does not produce words for a number game. Writing authentically, organically, as I watch my story unfold, is in a way, a practice of linguistic, hermeneutic alchemy.

Historical and legendary alchemists all shared a common belief about the philosopher stone. While more fantastic accounts claim the stone can turn lead into gold, it was really Carl Jung, in my opinion, who saw something more profound in the symbolism and ritual surrounding alchemical processes, especially that which was known as the Magnum Opus or “Great Work”: The forging of the philosopher stone. This process, The Great Work, to me, in its essence, is the beginning of man’s philosophical existential phenomenon in the world. Imagine if you will, a fictional person, who has the “blank slate” of memory, experience, consciousness. This person knows nothing, believes nothing, and takes NOTHING for granted, not even nothing. This fictional person will have to go-about-the-world using the faculties at his disposal (sight, taste, cognition, olfactory, hearing, tactile) and attempt to make sense of the world in order to understand it. This extreme example is akin to the isolated situational experience of a philosopher performing alchemy. The philosopher does not know what will happen. The philosopher does not believe he can predict the outcome. Alchemy precedes the scientific method of hypothesis/thesis. You can’t be truly open to what an experience has to offer if you go into the experience with a goal or agenda you are trying to satisfy. It’s this unrelenting, uninhibited openness that philosophers had when conducting what we would now call chemistry experiments, that allowed them to peer into the depths of their own psyche and dark corners of their own consciousness for the first time ever. More alchemists learned about themselves more than they did about the materials they were working with. Every new experience was a mirror angled to reflect the light of inquiry back into the alchemist’s own darkness of existential ignorance.

So while I take things into consideration when people tell me how other, successful, authors, describe their routine, daily word counts, and bad-habits to avoid; I don’t really care. While I may not be the most efficient or productive writer; I can make claim to the fact that my ideas are not regurgitated, nor forced. Anyone could easily look at any one aspect, or facet, of my 3030 universe and say, “Hey, that’s like this! You stole that idea, ripped it off, or anyone could do that!”.  Welcome to reality, friend, there are similarities, and parallels, relationships, all around you. Looking at any one thing and claiming unoriginality is like saying every day is the same as the last because the sun rose in the east and set in the west, no big difference. Themes reoccur through the most significant stories ever told. A lot of times, themes persist because people still aren’t getting the message the theme is trying to convey, or that simply the theme touches on an essentially human characteristic that must be understood as being definitively human.  Whatever the reason for reoccurring theme,   one should wonder why the theme is recurring or what is it that the theme is trying to speak-to-you, rather than the dismissive, response of, “I’ve heard this shit before.” A lot of people have heard that there aren’t just 3 dimensions, that time is a fourth. A lot of people still have heard that it doesn’t stop there, String theory proposed 10. Fewer people know it doesn’t stop there, the math isn’t quite right, and the  magic number is actually 11 (proponents of M-theory). What a lot of people DON’T know or ever talk about, or try to wrap their heads around, is that the three most familiar dimensions are ‘unfolded’. They are expanded. What the hell does this mean? Well it means that, the other 5 (we’re including time as an unfolded dimension) are folded, closed circuits. At this point, sense should have left you. It’s not an easy thing to consider. Spatially closed dimensions? Well what the fuck is the point in even thinking about them if they’re closed-up, anyways? Well…because they’re folded up and closed and EVERYWHERE. My dimensional example is merely to illustrate the fact that, just because you’ve heard something before, doesn’t mean you understand it, and it especially doesn’t mean you’ve experienced it and made it your own.

So where does this leave me? 1713 words (that don’t get to be in the congruent word count) later and I haven’t yet stated the main point of why I began this update. To put simply, I have begun the process of assembling large amounts of data into an organizational framework to begin the first stages of what I imagine to be a wiki-like-knowledgebase of my 3030 universe. Work on this will be slow but steady I hope, as I assemble new data to enter and begin working on php scripts to make the database accessible and opperational. That is all for now. Thanks for reading.

It occurred to me that I’ve been able to manage at least one update a month since buying this domain, wit the exception of November and December, when I was more preoccupied with working at the temporary scoring contract I’m involved in.  I had managed one update a month so far in 2014, but I almost missed April due to working full time, and overtime hours at more temp. scoring contracts.

Book productivity (and it is more that than writing alone, really) drops significantly when I’m employed. The money gained is a necessity but what it also affords me is a form of cognitive exercise and field research experience. Every day at the job I’m doing, I’m managing anywhere between 4 to 12 people on any given contract. Responsible for answering questions, and checking their work for accuracy. In addition to the roles I’m really supposed to have, I get a lot of variety in my day by simply doing extra tasks and joking around with people. I’m never purposefully off task, but while I’m not doing the mundane task of scoring myself, I enjoy myself. In enjoying myself and trying to have a good time, my presence and attitude effects the people around me, and the result is typically positive. Granted, many of the people I work with are retired educators, who for whatever reason, missed the boat on learning how to use computers effectively, yet, the entire scoring process is done mostly on a PC.

Besides teaching these people how to use a computer sometimes it’s also having to teach them how to make a judgement given a rubric. Some people are just not that great at drawing distinctions. You have to be able to to pull the trigger and make a decision. There’s literally 25000 responses to score. Get moving. The people I meet though are entertaining and unique. It’s reminiscent to my old restaurant systems training, except these people are far more permanent than the random sampling of a town’s population of pancake slaves. Back then it was a whole different world every week. Rarely did people persist longer than a week’s time. Sometimes you saw them again. Most times, you don’t. Nice meeting you all, have a nice life!

Having met and interacted and taught so many people, I can say, they’re all the same. They can all be taught, but the most important thing is to learn how to think for yourself; which can be taught.

I feel like that’s what my book needs to accomplish somehow. It must not ring hollow, but arrive as a wrecking ball. Wake some people up and point them in the right path.

In the spirit of attempting, at a minimum, one update per month, I have composed this update while experiencing some down-time at work today (7/30).

I Want to start off by thanking everyone who took the effort to comment positive and constructive feedback from my 3/28 post. That particular update received far more anonymous attention than I ever imagined it would when I composed it. So thank you, the reader, for finding me, and liking what I have to say and how I choose to say it. For those curious, or interested: I am at this time not actively promoting my book or this site. The reason being; I don’t feel close enough to a finished product. Once that’s the case, I will put more effort into back links, key words, email lists, search terms, and campaigns.

So my last update focused more on the technical / back end aspect of my project. I guess it would be only far to indulge those interested with a meatier update of plot progression and story content. As slow as it may seem, I’m still working on chapter 7, or 8, I think. It’s a little fuzzy since most material at this point is hand written manuscript that could relocate its self to different chapters by the time it’s typed. However, I may have alluded to this culminating scene I had sort of come up to and walked away for a while from because of its intrinsic complexity.

Allow me to break it down. A scene begins in the book that happens, chronologically, simultaneously with at least 4 separate additional points of view. So we have my protagonist Davrick, his friend Keith, and mentor Alex all in one room. Somewhere else, a group of three I have affectionately been calling the three stooges in my notes are about to have an interaction with another set of characters I have been noting as Thugs 1 & 2. (I’m keeping some specifics close to prevent future spoilers.) Now, in addition to these 3 groups there is also Detective Munson, doing his thing, following leads and interrogating prisoners, as well the enigma that is Dingle. So if we group these groups of people, as such, the result is 5 independent POVs that cross and weave through this scene. (And each one typically has more than one potential POV) Ding’s is the only POV you don’t actually get to see from, and the reason for that extends beyond the first installment of books, so lips and fingers are sealed on that. However, not including one of the five POVs doesn’t make the task of depicting all of the events in a some-what linear fashion any easier.

I outlined, on graph paper, the events that happened, simultaneously, so that I could have a better visual of where people were and when, while writing the scene. Months ago, it all seemed too complicated still to effectively jump into narrative explaining the scene away, but after churning it over in my head in every free moment I’ve had; I’ve been able to digest the significance of what it is I’m trying to do, as I do it. More clearly; time has done service to the complexity allowing me to really see the scene playing out in my head so that then I need only to write down what I’m seeing. If it were only that easy all the time.

Probably the most interesting thing about coming back to this scene and writing it, is that when I sit down, and ‘go there’ in my head, what comes up is relevant and appropriate, but also unexpected. I couldn’t have told you there would be so much inner dialogue and struggle in Caden. I never would have thought I’d be alluding to his family’s mysterious disappearance already, but it makes sense. Because of how I’m more interested at times in world building than word smithing, there are so many details and intricacies to my story I want to include, foreshadow, and allude to. The universe in my head has unfathomable depth, and I want my reader to have to fight from drowning in it, at times. In Titan 3030 there are no water wings, no shallow end. Its swim with the sharks or drown. I do suppose this is enough of a teaser. I will attempt two updates next month in August. Readers, feel free to hold me accountable.

Hello!

I hope this finds the reader well. Big things are in store for Titan 3030 Development Blog. First off, I have recently gone through and done some mild editing to the site. One might notice a small color scheme change as well as a difference in how pages are being navigated. Please bear with me through this development process as I iron out the wrinkles of my layout and setup.

In addition to cosmetic changes to the site, I’ve also added a few names to the Coming Soon list under character profiles. I would really like to see myself make more of those regularly as an exercise. Choice. It’s all about not giving yourself any, in order to enact discipline. The formula seems to work. Deadlines you give yourself, are: Deadlines. If you don’t finish, well, fuck yourself, you have to finish, or die. That’s pretty much the whole not giving yourself a choice thing.

So this ^ scares me because I gave myself a deadline to finish the Titan 3030 draft by the end of the month. And so, Nanowrimo has begun. But I’m cheating. I have a 40k word head start, for a 50k word challenge. So I’m not doing the square-box-nanowrimo. I’m doing finish-what-you-fucking-started-nanowrimo. So my goals are slightly different:

  • Finish writing 8 chapters *Feints*.

Okay, okay. It’s not so bad. I wrote The Krill short story in a week and a half while working on a PHP project for the back end of the site as well. That was a smooth 7,500 words. Chapter 8, is by my estimate, half written in draft right now. I finally got through a fairly dark area that was hard to see, and I emerged to a point where I’ve been waiting for some sutras to intersect.  I think I need to get structured about end-of-week mile markers if I want to succeed in finishing this draft.

4 weeks. 8 chapters to write. That’s two chapters a week. I’m overwhelmed. I can do this. Focus. Don’t puke.

November fourth. Four days into the nanowrimo customized challenge. Yesterday I hit the halfway for content mark for chapter 8. That’s a decent place to be, but I really need to wrap it up to finish chapter 9 by the end of the week as well. So far, I’ve only really lost whatever sort of lead I had coming into this. It’s a very real challenge. So I tried to focus today as much as I could on what comes next. I outlined the remainder of chapter 8’s mile markers, as they were,  as well as fleshing out my chapter 9 ideas more, coming to a better idea of where that chapter will end and where chapter 10 will pick up. Chapter 10 is probably going to be a fairly long chapter, a lot of things are bound to come up to fill content and give me ideas while I’m writing it. Hopefully it flows smoothly and it will be all for the better. I also began a more detailed outline for the content of chapter 11. In my original outline I wrote 2 years ago, and the notes, I wrote some pretty useless, skeletal comments for that chapter. I really had no idea what was going to happen back then. So much has emerged and disclosed its self along the way, the original outline is like an interesting self-portrait of someone who has no idea what they look like. I hope I finish chapter 8 before I go to sleep tonight. Screw hope, I can’t sleep until I finish chapter 8.

Day 8 of the nanowrimo custom challenge is here. There was a comment left, by either a bot or a real person that my last few posts have been boring and my content used to be better. I don’t care. These updates here that are in blog format are really for me more than for anyone else. It’s a venting tool. It’s a way to write in repetitious fragmented sentences. It’s a way to write without narrative or purpose. Honestly, it’s just easy. It’s hard to format, to structure, to funnel, to filter, to refine, to create something compelling…worthwhile; coherent. I managed to successfully finish chapter 8 by my first deadline. That was a deceptive victory, because I already had a substantial chunk of the chapter already written coming into November. Today is the day I need to finish chapter 9 in order to have any hope of staying on a pace that I already find challenging to finish the remaining 6 chapters. So far chapter 9 is about 2,500 or so words deep. In my mind, the content progression is at about 1/3 of the way complete. A lot of details are emerging as I’m writing it that I didn’t expect. Part of me is concerned I’m not taking enough time to think this through and that I’m paving a path too quickly without thinking far enough ahead at how the ripples will effect things down the line. But another part of me tells me that that’s doubt blocking discipline and that I just need to stop bitching, whining, moaning, complaining about it, and just do it. So that’s where I’m at.
The novel draft is at 144 pages, 43,856 words at the writing of this entry. Chapter 9 is waiting on page 7. Goal is about 5000 minimum or 15 pages for a chapter draft. Sigh. Midnight will come too soon.

Day 12 of Nanowrimo custom challenge. Where am I at? Manuscript draft word count: 49,435 words at the time of writing this update post. Nanowrimo challenges writers to produce a 50k word novel in the month of November. When I began November, I was somewhere in the mid to upper 30k’s for word count, after 2 years of on and off progress, world building, and procrastination. Already this challenge to myself has produced well over 10k words, the completion of 2 chapters, and the third 1/3 of the way done as far as content progression goes. I have to finish chapter 10 today to feel like I’m on pace, but in reality, I need to do it, plus chapter 11 by the end of the week; however I want to manage it really. I have no system of writing-to-word count, and often times I under-estimate how many words I’ll actually use to go from any point to another. But– If I were to take a step back and look at the fact that I’m closing in on roughly 50k words right now, with almost 10 chapters completed–and with the expected anticipation of 5 more; 15 chapters total– then I can safely assume the final manuscript draft will be somewhere in the 75k word range. 5 chapters, 25k words, that’s 5k words per chapter. I wouldn’t limit myself to keeping them so short, so the end result will likely be something even greater than 75k, but there is a certain sense of running in place I feel at the notion of exceeding 5k words in any given chapter, given the fact that I’m on a time-table; a schedule. That feeling is what I feel like makes me even feel like there’s a choice between a 5k word chapter, or a chapter organically written to it’s completion. I mean, in reality, my challenge is the completion of a novel, it has nothing to do with word count, word count is the by product of my process. The essence of nanowrimo shouldn’t be so tied to the numbers, which is my opinion, but I do know– how else would one expect to meet the precise challenge that they put forth. So, the longer my chapters are, the harder my challenge is for myself. The better I want to do in the time frame allotted makes me feel like quality might suffer for the sake of completion. I can’t argue with the fact that it is forcing me to produce thought- bottom line. Victory is however I determine it at the end of November. In the end, I’m the one who gets to crown my self winner or loser– It’s my custom challenge to myself, I should stop whining so much?

In an unplanned, but actively maintained pattern, I’ve been updating every 4 days for my nanowrimo-custom-challenge-adventure. Today’s a day. Here’s an update.  51635 words in the manuscript. Actively, painfully, writing Chapter 10, still. Many, many distractions are challenging me along the way. The significance and importance of this chapter as the climax, is weighing heavy on my confidence in myself to narrate the story as well as I am imagining it. Still– incrementally I find myself pushing forward in the story’s content. It would be nice to talk frankly here of the developmental specifics, but it borders on the level of massive spoiler alerts to hear me speak of the story non-temporally. Having the position of creator / narrator is challenging to pick the right positions to tell the story from. Obviously I have a protagonist, but he is not the center of my universe. He’s the center of the first book, absolutely. He could very well be the hero of the epic, if not at least one of many. The point is, I guess, my characters are not all shallow. Some I’ve left on the periphery, they’re under-developed. Some characters, I just really don’t understand myself yet, completely. But most– most of them have a depth. They have personality, they came from somewhere, and to me that’s important. There’s nothing worse than having the ability of a God to spawn creatures or characters at will, and to do so recklessly, thoughtlessly, carelessly, without purpose. This isn’t much of an update, but then again, I haven’t honestly made much progress in the last 4 days.

Skipping the four day arbitrary ritual- an update!

Finished chapter 10. I stopped a little short of where I expected to, but the draft is a draft, and I think the context is a better place to transition a POV than losing some of the intensity by moving to where I had thought I’d be. Hard to explain well without spoilers. The climax of the story has begun though, officially. I feel like 75k words for a finished manuscript is going to be fairly modest for an estimate. The earlier chapters will likely get boosted with several thousand words each. The further I go down the rabbit hole, the more everything fleshes out in my mind. My notes have proven invaluable. This morning I spent some time and gutted a significant amount of content from my Titan 3030 binder and moved them to a more appropriate Shades of Samsara binder for series notes. A lot of stuff about the following books, and short stories, as well as world building notes were originally part of the 3030 content notes because I hadn’t yet really formalized an idea about a series title. Knowing it now, it was an easy and welcome transition for my notes. It made the 3030 notebook more manageable and now also a little more organized. Word count has exceeded 55,500 words now.

Holy cow- am I still doing Nanowrimo? I guess I am, It’s still November, sheesh.

Progress- There has been some. Not as much as I would have liked. 58,100 words. 200+ pages now. It’s looking more and more like a real book every day I suppose. Aside from writing into chapter 11 I’ve been spending important and necessary time working on world building of one of the significant factions in my series: the space pirates, aka The Free People of Rhea. For those who don’t know, after several months of working on my series, in the first November, I was working full time for a temp agency scoring, and so I had little time to mentally focus on my new endeavor, and in an effort to not disenchant myself through the feeling of failure, I elected not to work on my novel that month, but instead, venture into a sub-story that happened 250 years before the events of the first novel. A prequel for my 7 or so novel epic. After working on The Rings of Rhea for a while I realized, the entire span of time between then and my first epic was ripe for content, strife, and drama between the Free People’s houses, or families, that were in control and maintained order. So, that’s when I decided there would be at least 3 books to follow The Rings of Rhea, making it an epic-prequel. So, because Rhea’s history is such a long an complex story, I need to be on point when I’m moving players / characters around the field / story. I need to know what their historical motives are. I need to know why they are where they are. What are the relationships that exist, given the frameworks that are already in place? It’s like shading in a box after you have drawn it’s for sides to make a solid figure from a frame. There are 12 families that have power over districts of Rhea. There are more than 12 total and there have been several shifts of power over the 250 years of separation from living under Corporate rule. So far, I have chronologically outlined the lineage of 6.5 families out of a total of 20. Hardly a dent it would seem. Already several hundred people have been given names and dates of birth and children. Simple outlines. I use a couple tools to help me in the process. Random number generators to help me decide things. If I don’t like it I keep rolling. Random name generators. Same thing. Just a tool to take away the labor of searching and leaving it purely on design and choosing, and chance, to spice it up. Death dates tell me the story of passing along power to younger generations. Early deaths make me wonder if they were an accident or was it an act of vengeance by a rival house? Today I need to map out 2 more house lineages so that I can better write the details of the events that unfold in chapter 11 and later. The upside, is this somewhat off-the-nanowrimo-goal-world-building is ground work for not only one, but two, epics.

That’s it for now, I need to actually do stuff.

Hello-

Happy New Year to everyone. 2014 was a productive year (in comparison) for writing the manuscript of Titan 3030. 2014 brought with it the umbrella concept of Shades of Samsara, the series title and theme for the upcoming and future installments I will write to compose my epic. This time a year ago, the manuscript was 25k words, and that was probably being generous. The Nano-wri-mo-custom-challenge I attempted proved to be incredibly fruitful in the month of November, although the idealistic goal of finishing the draft was not accomplished, I did manage to end the year with a word count of 60k+. In terms of regular 8×11 pages double spaced 11 font, that’s 210+ pages. I found myself toward the end of November approaching a point in the novel that I never really knew was going to happen. There was no way for me to have known to plan or to write the scenes that I discovered as I arrived at them, which made me really become cautious as to how quickly I tread through the unstable content.

The writing process is interesting, confusing, and fun. It’s difficult to explain satisfactorily sometimes because people tend to want to agree with what you’re saying before you even really say it sometimes. As I’m writing, I let the story tell its self to the best of my ability. When I don’t feel like I’m doing that, I feel like I’m forcing things and it becomes obvious and apparent when I re-read or listen to what I wrote. I’m becoming better at identifying when I have the ‘channel open’ and also becoming better at opening the channel at my own will.  Those two are the not-so-scientific aspects of great writing in my opinion; the ability to open a portal in your mind to another world, and the ability to use it effectively and efficiently. I think a lot of people are great at one or the other; I think much fewer excel at both. I find everything gets much clearer after like 1am; I don’t know why.

So, in short, I’ve had to put a lot of conceptual thought into the elements that surrounded characters of Chapter 11. I had written out a 3-page, 17-point detailed outline of what I imagined a 15-20 page chapter 11 should contain for plot points and elements and story line. After 18 pages I had only finished the first two bullet points. I can’t stress enough how much of a surprise that was and sort of still is to me. I still can’t think about what should or needs to happen in that space and think it shouldn’t take more than a couple pages. I know what happened. I know whats in it. I know what I wrote. I know why it’s 18 pages for 2 bullet points; but some part of it still baffles me. Perhaps it’s left vs. right hemispheres of the brain’s interpretations. Thankfully, I write with the right, and outline with the left, otherwise the book would be a boring read like the Policlone Log Book I might write up at some point. Regardless,  the result is that I need to re-organize and re-outline the remaining 4 chapters and see if whether or not it would make sense to add an additional epilogue.

So what does 2015 hold in store for 3030? Goal set is finished draft by birthday. That’s February 19th. That’s 4 chapters, 2 months. Completely do-able. Completely reasonable. On a separate note, I’d like to thank anyone who read my short story The Krill. Knowing people are looking at it is a good feeling, but I have to be honest, it’s frustrating that I have not heard any real specific feedback about the story. I received one positive, non-specific review from a long-distance friend, but beyond that, no one has elected to start  a conversation up over it, which I find to be short of fulfilling. So if you do read it, or have read it, feel free to tell me what you think; good or bad, it would just be nice to talk about it.

I’m also going to try to update here much more frequently. Thanks for reading.

A teacher concludes a lecture on the difference between Pro and Con.
A student walks up to his teacher and asks, “Will there be a test?”
The teacher replies, “Of course; life is a test.”
The student is not quite sure what the teacher means, and says, “I don’t get it.”
The teacher says, “The tests in life are many, and no two are exactly the same. It will be up to you to choose which tests you’ll face, and how you will answer their challenge.”
The student thinks for a moment and says, “I think I understand, but the implications trouble me.”
The student continues, “If I am to believe that Pro and Con represent what you say they do, then why do the tests you give in school come across as a contest? Didn’t you say that was the negative of the two? I think, then, if the choice in life is mine, then I should protest your contest as a testament to my understanding.”

I feel like when I’m up late, tinkering, reading, or thinking about my story and what to write next, I often come to a certain point where I feel like if I have not accomplished enough, I can’t allow myself to sleep. Sometimes this bears fruit. Most often it just causes me to become over-exhausted and stay up much later than I either needed or wanted to. The flip side is that I have written, quite fluidly at times, some of the best prose in my novel very late at night with very little intention guiding the story to do what I would want from it, and more allowing myself to be a conduit for it to be released. Right now I’m amidst chapter 12, 10 pages into it. I always feel like I’m perpetually 1/3 of the way done anything. Like as if though the idea I had originally was never even understood in its own conception; how its own constituent parts would eventually come together to create the whole. It’s more like I’ve created a great basket or container for the content to then fill, but, as I go to fill it up, I realize there is far more space than I had planned to fill it with. But- that’s not to imply there’s any sort of shortage of content TO fill it with, the opposite is true, I feel like I have almost an unlimited supply to use, to fill the container, the outline, the shell of the idea, of the story. The problem becomes figuring out how to fit the pieces you can pick up while you’re working and doing the Tetris maneuvers necessary to make it all fit right. I mean, I have far more characters than I really anticipated I’d have when I started. In this chapter alone, 38 people can be easily listed as individuals whom at least I should know what is happening to them, if not the reader. The story being told is far from linear, and that has proven challenging in writing the narrative for it. Chapter 12 is reminding me a lot of chapter 7, and that is, to date, the longest chapter I have written. I listened to a segment of it earlier today for context / refresher, and the section I listened to was over 5000 words, which dwarfs some of the earlier chapters in and of its self. It’s not that I don’t want large chapters, its just that writing them become arduous and difficult to maintain focus as well as momentum. These chapters have me feeling like I take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back, and one off to the side. Too many different points of view, but I suppose that’s the challenge of having an omnipresent narrative. I certainly have a protagonist but he’s more of a MacGuffin than a Hero, so far. At least I wrote almost 500 words in this box. It’s something.

I’m not a fan of the fact that I stress out wondering if using a gun in a science fiction novel is stupid or cliche, or too easy, or un-inventive. It’s not like the story lacks imagination, or creativity, but I have a real hard time even wanting to spend time thinking about the specifics of something like this. I mean, to contemplate how people are killing each other in space over a thousand years from now in an alternate universe is sort of….pretentious. How the hell does anyone get it right? Lucas used light sabers to make Jedi’s one of the coolest, well known, and beloved science fiction factions. Seriously, they have the power to use the force, but they have light sabers. It is so hard NOT to want to emulate that in some way or think that there’s something yet-unimagined that’s better. When I seriously contemplate it, what the reality I think will be in 3030 is instant death at will. How, I don’t know, but you’d think they’d make something like that extraordinarily efficient. How would you though? Who would have such a weapon or a power?

My alchemists are the powerful sorcerers of my future realm. They are the ones with true power, the power of being an exceptional man. But being an exceptional man does not grant one the power of dominance over others, and that is why we weaponize. So– if man is made to be docile, then what need have man for weapons, when the most rudimentary or basic forms of combat will suffice against one who does not martial his own defense.

It’s 5am in the morning and Chapter 12 draft is finally done. I know it needs work, but I don’t care, the draft is done.

A teacher asks a student, “How high can you count?”

The student replies, “I suppose that depends on what we’re counting, doesn’t it?”

Seriously? I almost titled this “I need more people to kill” like as if though that wouldn’t be taken the wrong way. But no- I need more people…who will probably die, eventually…in my novel. I’ve kind of taken for granted the fact that I might still need to be creating characters in the 13th chapter, really, toward the end of the book, but, the more I think about it, it’s a constant thing. It’s god-damn epic, they’re endless. But something that has become clear to me is that in writing so progressively as I have, I have been focused, and linear, and it seems my periphery has now become blurred, so I might need to stall my pace a little bit to see what it is that’s coming in from the fringe. The city is under attack. Not just my harvester crew. Not just the Policorps. Not just the one ring miner crew. Not just the small group of nurses. They are many, but there is a whole city around these people I’ve yet to really do justice. I think that’s what I really need to focus on now before moving too much further. Broke ground in chapter 13 though, about 250 words (That’s like a page) but it’s better than staring at the blank sheet. I had written a note to myself the other day to revisit Wizard and Glass to read the bar scene with Sheemie and Roland, but wasn’t able to find it among the 600 pages, so I settled for reading King’s note to the reader at the end, or maybe it was in the beginning. Eitherway, he wrote the thing that resonated the most with him about that book was that It’s hard to start, or begin. And that is a very real thing. The toughest moment in anyone’s life is the moment just after reaching their long sought after goal. The vacuum that follows is a nothingness until you work to fill it. To stuff it, to build it up to a new goal. Every chapter is like that it seems. It’s a struggle to finish one at times, and then it’s right back into the fray of a brand new chapter, often having to pick up where your last difficulty left off. Time to go populate a city. (There are more words here than in my new chapter. Writing in non-narrative is so much easier.)

So today, I figured out that I need to start thinking about my story with 176 more people in consideration. That’s pretty humbling. 176 more people. In reference to my earlier post, I suppose I get to mitigate this number by killing many of them. The problem I had this morning was I knew I needed more people but I didn’t know who or how many of them or why, besides logically a city consists of more than just the people I have already mentioned in some measure. Ugh-So, Here’s who makes up the city of Jalex:

Methane Harvesters Ships (count, 6 x crew, 15)

Ring Harvesters Ships (count, 6 x crew, 3)

Terrestrial Miners Personnel (count, 12)

Entertainment District Personnel (count, 13)

Science Vessel Ship (count, 1 x crew, 5)

Medical Facility Personnel (count, 24)

Dinning Commons Personnel (count, 14)

Mineral Processing Personnel (count, 12)

Alchemical Facility Personnel (count, 4)

Logistics and Maintenance Personnel (count, 14)

So, yesterday I showed how I would and have attacked the fringe of my novel’s universe, and most specifically, the city of Jalex. I outlined how many people needed to sort of be spawned for the lack of a better word, but I spent the better part of today naming them all. They all have a first name and a handful have last names. The last names will be the hardest I think, but I also think those don’t need to be as firm for me to write some of these placeholder people into the novel seamlessly with just a first name and a point of reference to their profession.

The total came out to be 255 people. All first named, many not the same but there are a couple repeats. I thought a few men should be named Walter…it seemed only likely in a world where a man like Domini had as much influence as he had.

So, out of the 255 people or so I realized I needed to populate, they all now have names, first and last. Except the policlones, because, well, they have no last name. Their last name is Copyright, Trademarked, All rights Reserved, Patent Number:…you get the drift.

Still…there were only like maybe 30-40 clones total out of all of those people, it was a lot of names. In name-mapping, I realized I have a couple interesting characters, or actually, interesting information about periphery characters that have already been written about a little bit. I discovered who they really were, sort-of. I think facing this problem a year or even two ago would have been like hitting a wall I had no equipment for to climb and overcome. Now, I feel like I saw the obstacle in front of me, and unpacked my gear, laid it out in front of me for inventory check, and then began scaling this beast. I have what I need now to comfortably continue chapter 13, so lets see how well that goes tomorrow.

As I’m working through developing the scene I’m in the middle of writing, I’m working on a sketch of the building and where everyone is relative to each other. Drawing it out helps me keep it all straight since there are so many people involved in the scene. I’m going through this list of policlones that are stationed at the medical facility, since I decided that building had already been cleared, I need to figure out which policlones were taken prisoner and which ones died in conflict. The subtlety comes in from a conversation with Jessica a week or so ago when she asked if there were any policlones named Hal. (This was after I had told her that I had named a bunch of people and the clone’s naming scheme is three letter one word male names.) So I looked and found Hal; he worked at the medical facility. She told me she decided he was important somehow. Guess what Hal? You don’t die here today. I get to carry you along to see why Jessica knew you would be needed. Can’t wait to find out.

An update for those interested.

Old Business

The Titan 3030 Manuscript is resting at 6 words shy of 76,000 words, 268 pages, and in the fourteenth of fifteen chapters, +/- pro/epi-logue.

I’m still in desperate need of a graphic artist who is interested supplying illustrations and web-content visuals with a negotiable arrangement of web-comic / graphic-e-novel project.

Short story “The Krill” is opened by many, read by few. If this is applies to you; you know what to do.

Birthday completion deadline failed, but it served to be conducive to production levels.

Stats:

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February, 19, 2012: Story is not even conceived, final semester of undergraduate study.

August / September 2012: First 20 pages of outline for 7 book Epic Novel series created.

October 30th: I updated a facebook status stating I had completed chapter 3.

November: I decide to start prequel that turns into Rings of Rhea, decide on a 3 book follow up series to prequel. Decide release order of (sos)1,2,3(ror)1(sos)4,5,6,7(ror)2,3,4 making 11 total books.

There seemed to be a fairly large gap in narrative construction of the novel. Much of this time was spent working at xxxxxxxxxx as a temp-slave or fruitlessly applying for jobs no one wanted to talk to me about.

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April 14th 2013: Purchased 1889 dictionary from thrift shop.

June 5th 2013: Facebook status ‘Come on words, form sentences.’

September 6th 2013: Facebook status update indicating I have first A-Z outline of Titan3030 done, “filling most of the big holes”.

September 24th: on Facebook I posted a status indicating I needed to decide on a last name for my protagonist.

September 28th 2013: I purchased the Titan3030.com domain and put up the web-blog for manuscript progress.

October 9th 2013: Blog update indicates I’m mid-chapter 4 and thinking about chapter 5.

October 18th 2013: Blog update, first character profile page created.

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January 6th 2014: “As it stands for 2014, I entered the year with 25k words in the draft. Chapters One through Five are considered draft-complete.”

February 10th 2014: Blog update indicating that I know where “Shwha” goes.

February 28th 2014: FB status “Another day of plotting 250 years of pirate family history”

March 2nd 2014: FB status “Proliferating 250 years of fictional family history becomes taxing around the ninth generation, fyi”

March 25th 2014: FB status “It feels like for every 5000 words in notes, I get about 500 words of congruent text. It’s interesting to watch this story of mine unfold; some parts take longer to ‘cook’ than others.”

March 28th 2014: Infamous 3/28/14 blog update. “The compilation file I have, (which is essentially, each individual chapter pasted into one document for the sake of analyzing progress) is 90 pages long. 90 pages, wow; Easily the longest thing I’ve ever written so far. Word count: 28,095 words.”

March 31st 2014: I indicate how much writing code hurts my brain. Speaking to the development of the website PHP / AJAX backend

June 4th 2014: FB status “Finished my programing project; feel victorious. Now for the next module. *cracks knuckles*”

July 31st 2014 / August 1st: Blog update “As slow as it may seem, I’m still working on chapter 7, or 8, I think.”

August 11th 2014: Back to writing this week. Current stats include 113 pages typed, 35k words; working on chapter 8 of 15.

October 2nd 2014: FB status “Whenever I read about current research and discoveries being made about Titan, it makes me excited I put my first story there. First methane oceans; now cyanide clouds! Love this place.”

October 23rd 2014: FB status “In other news, short story I’m working on as a teaser-sort-of for the novel, 3.2k words, the novel its self is closing in on 40k. I hope to have a presentable version of the short by the end of the month.”

October 29th 2014: FB status “Short story draft complete. Needs revisions then I can share. 7,282 words, 21 pages. If you feel like reading it for the purpose of editing, please message me.”

October 31st 2014: Short story is published on Titan3030.com

November 3rd 2014: Blog update puts word count at 40k.

November 5th 2014: FB update “First Nanowrimo-custom-challenge mile marker met. Ch8 done.”

November 8th 2014: blog update “So far chapter 9 is about 2,500 or so words deep… The novel draft is at 144 pages, 43,856 words at the writing of this entry. Chapter 9 is waiting on page 7.”

November 10th 2014: FB updates “Nanowrimo custom challenge mile marker two complete: Chapter 9 draft: ~5500 words (all but one scene). Book total: 47152 words. 6 chapters to go… 48,500 words; an eerie stillness falls over the city.”

November 11th 2014: FB status “49k”

November 12th 2014: Blog update “Where am I at? Manuscript draft word count: 49,435 words at the month of November. When I began November, I was somewhere in the mid to upper 30k’s for word count”

November 14th 2014: FB status “51k”

November 16th 2014: Blog update “Today’s a day. Here’s an update.  51635 words in the manuscript. Actively, painfully, writing Chapter 10, still.”

November 17th 2014: FB update “54k words”

November 18th 2014: FB updates indicate 55.5k words, chapter 10 finished.

November 23rd 2014: FB update “58k words, 202 pages”

November 24th 2014: Blog update “Progress- There has been some. Not as much as I would have liked. 58,100 words. 200+ pages now.”

December 29th 2014: FB status ” Entered 2014 with 25k words in my manuscript. Just broke the 60k mark. Chapter 11 of 15 and climbing, word by word, as I would imagine an ascent of Kilimanjaro might be like.”

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January 2nd 2015: Blog update “I did manage to end the year with a word count of 60k+. In terms of regular 8×11 pages double spaced 11 font, that’s 210+ pages.”

January 7th 2015: FB status “62K words. 3.75 chapters left”

January 16th 2015: FB status “64.5k+ words, chapter 12 is crawling. Up to 225 pages.”

January 17th 2015: FB status “65k. Those 3 characters don’t do it justice, really.”

January 20th 2015: FB status “66.7k”

January 21st 2015: FB status “Chapter 12 (Draft) complete, weighing in at 6604 words, 23 pages, and lots of work to be done in revision phase.”

January 30th 2015: FB status “68k. Chapter 13 is moving again.”

February 10th 2015: FB status “70k words. Chapter 13 is 80% done content.”

February 13th 2015: FB status “Chapter 13 done. ~72k words. Detailed outline for 14, 15 done. 5 days to deadline. yikes!”

February 15th 2015: FB status “Big dent in ch.14 73.6K”

February 16th 2015: FB status “75k”

I start these updates off by usually wondering who even reads them. It’s you, obviously, by this point. Though– I have to admit, I feel like I write these updates for myself more than anyone. However, I still plague myself with thinking and over thinking about the wording I’ve used; if I’ve been too ‘casual’ in my dialect. As a writer, I feel like, people are going to, and well, they should, judge me on my ability to string words together. But, it’s not always about just stringing the words together, it’s about stringing them together so the reader likes them. That, in my mind is the most difficult expectation to live up to, since I have no idea what sounds or looks good to other people, only myself. Time and time again in my life I’ve experienced how my own interpretations of a string of words can be very different from someone else’s.

As far as development in the book goes, the manuscript draft is done. That sounds like a big step, a huge accomplishment on the outside. Internally, I view it as the beginning of an even more difficult phase of the process; marketing. What I mean by marketing is in a broad-sense, everything I need to do in order to get my book and my series known and desired. This is most effectively done before you even publish your first book. Why? Because publishers will want to know what the market base for your product is before they get their feet wet. So, while I try to figure out how to do this entire process of becoming a successful artist, that isn’t starving, I’m also trying to figure out how to be my own agent and publicist. It’s not easy by any means, and I find that I strive best when I’m tackling one categorical problem at a time. I typically don’t program or write code while I’m writing narrative for a story. I typically don’t write much narrative when I’m working on developing something like the . I’m not working on most anything else when I’m trying to create rudimentary brand images for the series to increase recognizably and image. And so far, I haven’t had more than a cursory opportunity to dive into the individual chapter edits for the novel itself. I was thinking last night that I should really start putting words in order to begin the next book of the series. So, while from the outside looking in, it may seem because I have no master that I don’t work and I’m lazy, from the inside looking out, it seems like I’m flooded in work, diligently chipping away at it, and ultimately faithful that my work will eventually pay off.

I can say with complete sincerity, that, although I can’t pay myself very well for the work I do, I’d rather do this work than anything else. I’d rather spend my time and life carving worlds out of words and displaying them for the world to see and hopefully admire, than to alienate myself by simply being a cog in an otherwise mechanized production line or corporate machine. It’s not an easy choice. Many people wouldn’t thrive this way. I don’t thrive this way, but I strive this way, I contrive this way.

For now, that is all I’ll leave you with. I’ve been noticing on my web analytics that I’ve been receiving quite the array of international visitors to the site. To anyone new, or just stopping by, or checking it out for the first time, I recommend the short story, The Krill, the link is at the top of this page, and the wiki that was cited earlier in the article. If you like what you see, please, like and follow the . Thanks for stopping by and reading!

This week I’m launching a new methodology of updating. I call it the Tuesday-Thursday approach. Each week, I will construct and format two updates a week to the Titan 3030 development blog until the novel has reached a state of completion and has secured publication. With that being said, welcome to the first ever Tuesday installment.

In this week of development, a lot of work has already gone into the process of editing, however as of yet this week, the editing being done is not for me, but for others. Why, you might be wondering? Well, even though I have an 80k+ word manuscript of my own that needs a tremendous amount of TLC in order to reach a level worthy of print, there are others out there in the same situation as I am with no one to help them edit or critique their work.

I’ve signed up and loosely established myself, thus far, in an online writing group. The website they have is password protected and the system in place is designed so that one must edit before they can post to be edited. In this way, they ensure everyone has an opportunity of exposure and to get feedback. After doing a few critiques of my own, I feel an incremental increase in confidence of my own writing abilities and the skill I have at manipulating language. That being said, I have since posted the first half of The Krill short story to be subjected to site-member’s scrutiny. The reviews I have received so far are all categorically the same. There are some painfully obvious (now) things I can do to the story to make it more digestible by the reader and I hope to apply some of those changes once the entire piece has had a chance to be reviewed.

In addition to editing, I’m attempting to utilize my membership at this site as an additional social platform to increase exposure of my work and attempt to build a regular user/reader base. I have also established Shades of Samsara on Twitter and can be followed @shadesofsamsara. The Facebook page is at a staggering 13 likes at the moment, so if you haven’t yet, please like the series on Facebook. The larger the viewing base, the more effective my campaign for attention will be.

If you’re someone who’s all about the facts and numbers, then this paragraph is for you. Novel stands at Draft 1 complete, edits are started, but no complete chapters. The second novel, codename/working title Sundogs and Foxfire is 766 words into chapter One. It has been refreshing to write new characters, in new scenes, in the same universe. In addition to having two novels started, and not completed, I’ve also broke ground (881 words) on a new short story that I’m aiming for magazine submission. Unfortunately, in one sense, posting The Krill here on my site has created a problem with first electronic publication rights to that story, since I already published it. But- the fortunate thing, in a sense, is that you, the reader, have an entire short story (of novelette proportions) to feed on, while you patiently, and impatiently, wait for more content! Lucky you, right?

As far as back-end business news go, the internet traffic on Titan3030.com and Shadesofsamsara.com have responded well to my minute public-relations tactics. Titan3030 has now had well over 1000 page views since I began tracking data a while back. The Wikipedia is well seeded at the moment with over 100 pages of content already or in progress of being completed. Almost an additional 300 links need pages created. The wiki is an enormous project and I feel its best tackled in waves then trying to drown in it all at once. Some of you may have noticed the site now includes advertisements. If this does not, over a test period of several months, result in actual income, then I will remove them for everyone’s benefit. Working for free every day is not easy. Working for myself, for free, is what makes it tolerable. That being said, if you’re more secure than I am in your finances and you like what you see I’m doing here, and you feel you want to support this project, support me, then I encourage you to consider using the Donate button on the site. The first $150 I receive in either advertising or through donations is needed to maintain this online enterprise for a year’s time. This is the first and last time I’ll explicitly mention the donate button, but it shall remain available on the site indefinitely.

The only other update to mention at this moment is that I’ve been playing around a little with some excellent open-source graphic editing programs like GIMP and Scribus. The new Facebook and Twitter banners are a product of that play. And if you have any feedback or suggestions for logo / branding / images please feel free to leave a message on FB or Twitter, or email directly at info@shadesofsamsara.com.

Once again, and as always, thanks for reading. See you Thursday.

In the spirit of April Fools (we being the fools), I felt like it would be appropriate for me to cover some current events. You might be thinking, oh, some regurgitated news. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It’s unfortunate because what I want to touch on in this article, is not only relevant to all of us as individual people, and as individual interests groups, but as free thinking people whose inalienable right it is to have and hold beliefs that are different than those of the oppressive established power structure and its oligarchical ruling class.

Yesterday, early in the morning, a discussion was held to discuss the vision of the U.S. Army in future operations, and the role they would play. Aside from making a vague reference to the Pacific Theatre when discussing future campaigns, the Undersecretary of the Army Brad Carson made some rather potent and alarming comments about what he called the ‘metaphysical’ questions the army faced.

(A link to the full video is here. )

In the first clip below, the Undersecretary makes a comment addressing the polarity between the “rooting” of globalization with the increased interest in what he called “primitive identity formation”. It seems in the Undersecretary’s view, this “primitive” ideology is the primordial opposite to globalization. Here a fundamental problem is seen. A difference in ideology is not the problem. People can, and have, coexist with different, oppositional beliefs. What is happening in this grand-scale idle talk about the ‘Us Vs. Them’ mentality, is that people—like me, and like all of you out there— are being deceived that there is only one fundamental thing at play, namely ‘Globalization’.

Globalization in its self is a useful thing to anybody. It is the idea that the world is connected. That is a humbling and peaceful idea on the surface, but what people like the Undersecretary mean when they say globalization is really Imperial Capitalism. The negative aspects of the secretive and invasive, policies and institutions, that are at the heart of Imperial Capitalism are what those who wish to oppose globalization in a broad sense can readily identify with. Technology, science, and innovation are not dependent on an overarching ideology of “westernization”. Westernization is not the only component to a globalization movement. In a global society, we, as the west, are but one part of a conglomerate of ideas, cultures, traditions and beliefs. The way we police the world is under a premise that “our way” is the “only way”, but many of us don’t even agree with what “our way” Is supposed to be like. Our theory is certainly better than our practice. “Primitive” ideology is used as a blanket statement for anyone who does not conform to what the western empire believes to be true. There is no reasoning for mutual coexistence with those who champion “western globalization”. It would seem force, rather than diplomacy, or rationality, is the champion of western civilization.

In the following clip, the Undersecretary makes an assessment of the modern state of the army’s infrastructure as it compared to a time period of the Civil War, war was conducted much differently today as it was then.

He emphasizes the fact that now, there are systems in place, and systems upon systems and subsystems, and specialists for all of them. He erroneously concludes that in a framework such as this, “…rules of thumb, or heuristics…” need to be put in place in order to make decisions regarding intellectual problems. These ‘heuristics’ enable the effective flow of information between the increasingly dense system structure that operates our government, and consequently, the army. He makes important note that these ‘rules’, if made in error can result in “…terrible, even tragic decisions.” The message I received from the analysis that he provided of the structure of systems and specialists, leads me to believe that there is likely no place for critical human decision making on a case by case basis with a majority of the problems they encounter. If there were, less decisions might be recklessly made in error due to a computational or statistical error, or simply ‘going by the book’.
One would imagine that the use of such a power that is the U.S. Army would only be used after the most deliberation and care had been exhausted, and only then, used with surgical precision. That is, of course, evidently not how they do things. He goes on to say how the Army is facing a “new world” and how it needs to find its place in it.

In the following clip, the Undersecretary began speaking about a now-obsolete-60-year-plan the Army had developed and extensively revised, and the strategy that was being developed to replace it.

He mentions they sat down to discuss how to face “the real obstacles” they now face as part of their new plan, in a “new world”. Building up to his conclusion, the Undersecretary justifies the current state of disinterest the public has in the need for ground force as essentially a fad, like as if it will simply pass, as it has in his numerous Post WWII examples.

The key thing to realize here is the Army has an active interest in maintaining perpetual state of war and conflict. Even as the war in Iraq winds down, they operate under the expectation that war will inevitably cycle back and they will be needed. But what does the world really look like now, in a post-war-on-terror setting? The enemies of the state are no longer other state entities or sovereign nations, they’re just people. People with ideas. Now before you get radically upset with my train of thought, I do realize there are some bad people out there with bad ideas and some of them act on them and do bad things. I’m not disputing that. I’m not arguing someone shouldn’t try to stop them. I do suggest you consider that at any moment, your ideas might become a target. Your beliefs. It’s one short step away. This doesn’t matter for people who don’t think for themselves and so only have the shared believe that is given to them.
But for you, and me, who can think for ourselves, this is rather frightening. Alarmingly, that’s not the worst of it. His face lights up when he begins to speak about useful the Army can be. He goes on to claim they can offer a service no one else can:

“We can make you change your mind, when you otherwise don’t want to. Other services can perhaps have offshore presence and through aviation bomb you, and perhaps make you change your mind, persuade you that the cost of this, is outweighing the benefit, but the army can kick in your door and make you stop doing what you want to do, when you would otherwise like to continue. And we can do that in a sustained, massive way. And there is no other service that can do that.”

Thankfully, there isn’t a competitive market for martial tyranny. Unfortunately, we run the monopoly on it. He reveals their major obstacle [immediately after clip] as being “how to explain” their behaviors and actions to an admittedly “fatigued” public, and rightfully so.

In the clip above, Undersecretary Carson makes the case that we need a large standing population of our ground forces “…because we use them.” He says at one point, rather indifferently. He earlier made a statement using some rather cold, sterile, terms when he said, “…to think about how rapidly we can consume U.S. Army forces…” He’s speaking about human lives in the most mathematical of terms here. It’s staggering the cognitive leap one can make about the value of lives they are claiming to protect and the very statistical way that they view the loss of the lives in the process.

In conclusion, I just thought you should know.

Tuesday-

Welcome back (I assume you’ve been here before). So far the Tuesday-Thursday system is working well for me. So far it seems Tuesday is more of a content update day, and Thursday is more of education /freeform / news, with the option to update content. Twice a week, from me to you. This week for my Tuesday update, I’d like to spend a moment discussing some of the more non-literary elements to my story and universe.

Consequently enough, this is an area I’m most eager to update you all on, as it is one area of my project where I feel like I’m at my own limit for creative expression: Artwork. Now, don’t get me wrong. I doodle with the rest of them, but I have a tendency to also befriend the best of them. Some of my closest friends in my life have been extraordinarily talented in the composition of visual artwork. My friend M.D. from childhood, and college roommate, allowed me to turn a coffee table into a canvas for collaborative graffiti. My friend T.D. from high school used to be the visual artist behind some of my earliest attempts at web development and it’s likely you will see his work featured here, eventually, as well.

(missing graphic) Staff concept sketch – S.F.

But nothing is as exciting to me as what is in the works right now. Perhaps one of my oldest and closest friends, J.A. is working on an original piece for the Titan 3030 novel right now. The scene he is rendering is one that has special and significant meaning between me as the author, the symbol being used, and him as the artist bringing it to life. Together in our youth, we shared many interests, none of which was stronger than our shared love for PC adventure games in the 1990s. One of those games, and especially the series, Quest for Glory, was recommended to me by my good friend, and, in fact, the QfG series has had a significant influence on the Shades of Samsara world I have created. QfG borrowed heavily from regional and cultural myth and legend in their stories. From one of those stories came the idea to incorporate Dryads. No creature had ever been quite like it, a human, turned into a tree by a Djinn and later, the series would feature an entire grove of them who would then offer up a branch of their wood (after some questing, of course) to forge a wizard’s staff.

This motif of dryads resonated and fell in well with my own thoughts and ideas around alchemy and shamanism, and consequently, I made the dryad a key figure in my own series. Although their level of interaction with the rest of the world is minimum, their influence is paramount.

(missing graphic) Dryad Concept Sketch – S.F.

The dryad appears first in Titan 3030 when our protagonist Davrick is led through the cavernous tunnels through the underbelly of the city to the large open area of decayed, ruined, and overgrown vegetation deep underneath the city streets of Jalex. He first sees the Dryad then and is compelled by an unknown volition toward it. This is the scene I showed J.A. who then went on to produce the concept art and in production content you see below.

(missing graphic) Underbelly Sketch (Work In Progress) – J.A.

Needless to say, I’m excited, and in a genuine way that I haven’t felt for a while. There’s something about seeing your imagination come to life in the mind of another person who understands you well enough, and is gifted with communicating that imagination in a completely different form of media than you had communicated it to them in the first place. The complement of perspectives gives a sort of depth perception into a world that would otherwise simply remain in the lofty untamed realm of inexistence.

(missing graphic) Dryad Colors (Work In Progress) – J.A.

In addition to the graphic artwork being done to add illustration to the universe, other areas of content development have been the short story (2) and Sundogs and Foxfire.
So far, the short story, is at about 1k words. It’s a rough approximation. 830+ are typed and another full page of densely hand written content. The story is about the history of Walter in his old age. There’s another PoV but I can’t say who. It’s a peek into the timeframe that was so consequential and definitive for the future world of 3030. I’m actually not sure when this one will be released, which means it might get shelved soon for more immediate tasks, like edits.

Before I mention edits, I will just say, the S&F is at 1823 words. The interesting thing is that Short Story 2 and S&F share a setting, in completely different time-frames, and that has been an interesting thought to play with.

Edits—there is a lot of editing to be done. I’ve gone through the manuscript and isolated about 20 or so ‘holes’. Either I had left a note the transition was rough or it was missing completely. It was the price to pay to get from the start to the finish. So I need to go back through now and patch up that content. I have also posted The Krill to a writers’ group critique and will be revisiting that with vigor once both ‘halves’ of the story both receive a fair amount of feedback. So far the critiques I have written for the other writers have been well praised, so that is always nice to see.

So that’s like 900 words of updates, thanks for reading. Enjoy the Images!

 

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