Just Thinking 1: Why Write

In the Fields embroidered by Rita de Heer

It’s useless to be thinking about the future when you are starting out, on anything. You start your working life putting up signs, you have no clue that one day you might be working on high rises installing in glass walls with the help of a robot.

People starting out as writers are the same. I started with writing poetry. I had no idea then that one day I’d take on an sf trilogy.

Nearly everybody here in the Discord’s Writing Cartel has a world/universe that they are either writing into or using as scene setting for any number of creative projects. Yesterday I watched a short film on Youtube, there are people developing games, writing novels, short stories, you name it, it’s being written.

Every one of these worlds/galaxies/universes are huge. Many of us have spent every spare moment of our boring work lives thinking up detail. There will always be areas in any of these worlds that will stay private to their creator, and other areas that will see heavy traffic of stories.

We’re all doing it for the love of it. World building is one of the most satisfying mind games we all engage in, relaxing and psychologically uplifting. Next comes the harder thing. Convincing other people to put their own worlds aside for an hour, and engage with us in ours. So we write stories, develop adventure games, produce visuals, film about our worlds.

The Discord Writing Cartel community is all about sticking our toes in the waters of our worlds, writing though the shallows, and finally committing ourselves to writing fully fledged stories to share first with each other, then with the world.

Only then, with that last word, can you start thinking about how much money you might make.
Though, of course, these are just my own thoughts. Take them well salted.

Art: #huevember2019, 2

Big fish cruising

This began as a piece of paper I used for practicing leaf shapes with a new brush, using indigo with a bit of yellow top and bottom.

Then, doing this project, I’m recycling paper as I go since everything I do is trial and error.

So, when trying phthalo blue over indigo and mopping out the centres of shapes–another thing to practice–that fish became a thing when I added its eye.

I realize that it is only through the corrugations formed by leaf shapes that I have a shaped mouth, and that I’ll probably never be able to reproduce it.

Bat out of Hell, Nov 17

This pic began with red. Bush-fires have burnt out large swathes of forest and hundreds of animals have died, four humans among them.

Red mixed with indigo and phthalo blue gave me the fire-ground. Indigo for the bat with a touch of orange for its eyes. The blue touches contrasted and made the clouds. Made it realistic, in fact.

After the Fire, Nov 19

After the fire when dead trees stand smoking and still aglow. The sun still shines, an angry ball. This little scene was to give me shades in indigo, but as usual I get carried away by the content.

Real Life: Bush Fire Emergency

Hugh and Nan Nicholson’s rainforest burning

Those of us in my region living in towns feel ourselves fairly safe in this emergency. So far. People from out of town have been evacuated and are staying with us. Others ask us to store their precious goods. I’m hosting four musical instruments and three large containers with photos and documents.

Recharging batteries is another thing we can do for people who no longer have electricity laid on. Whose power lines and generator sheds have been burned. In two cases I heard of today, the fire was stopped only a few meters from the main house.

The bushfire season began early this year. We’ve been burning since September, and the fires are getting worse, if that’s possible. Hotter, faster, and more destructive. In the past, diligent back-burning and fuel reduction in winter reduced your chances of being burnt out in summer. Now there’s hardly time. Winters are shorter and we’ve had less than half the rain we had last year when we already had a third less than in 2017.

It’s possible for a fire-ground to be burnt twice in two months. This despite the traditional view that rain-forest plantings, in contrast to Eucalyptus forest, will protect your property. No such thing now. Fires burn so hot that rainforests don’t stand a chance and they don’t grow back the way eucalyptus trees recover.

How will we live in a forever-blackened landscape?

Catherine Ingram’s article Facing Extinction, about the state of the world and humanity’s chances of surviving, is more a prescription for coping with the grief than a wake up call. It’s too late, she says, to try and save our Nature.

The way my countryside is burning, it certainly feels too late. I’m with Landcare. We plant trees. What if no trees survive either? It’s difficult to plan how to live now, when there’s said to be no future.

Art: #Huevember, 1

As well as tripping over imagery while researching online, I use photos and any images I may have produced in the past and present, as inspiration for my writing.

Though inspiration may not be the exact word.

Often I need to describe something so that it resembles reality. Landscapes are easy. Find a photo of a landscape and describe how your MC operates in it. Old calendars are great, although they do get cliched, almost always using the same Disney-esque castle in Bavaria, for example. Travel photos, my own and anyone else’s, are my next resource. But, of course, sometimes I’ll want a landscape not on Earth.

And this year I tripped over #huevember. “Make one painting every day of the week, using the appropriate color on the color wheel as the main color for that day.”

I could do that, I thought. If I was painting. [I hadn’t painted for over 6 months when I thought that.]

But, once you do start thinking that way, it’s hard not to get excited by something like #huevember. So. I fell for the dark orange dedicated to November 7, got my paints out and continued the journey of learning to paint with watercolors.

Main color is dark orange, November 7

Here I painted over the top of an uninteresting yellow scene. Turned out pretty impressive and got me over my initial will-I-won’t-I-commit doubts.

Burnt orange mediated by grainy paper, November 8

I painted this one over an uninteresting pink scene and didn’t get the desired burn-orange hue. May do it again sometime …

Scarlet for November 9

Scarlet … I don’t have a cool red tubepaint, or watercolor crayon. Had to dig out some old aquarelle pencils. This is an experimental animal-look pattern that might work for a shaman’s cloak.

A Cat’s Story Ends

Miss Maggy-bag

A sad thing to report … Miss Maggy-bag was euthanased this morning due to tick paralysis. She was eleven years old and the most intrepid cat I’ve ever had the pleasure of guesting.

Intrepid because though she was too swaggy and inept to climb trees, she ran up walls after Asian House geckos, up fences to see off intruding felines and up the shade-cloth shed to sneer at the neighbor’s dogs.

She lost every collar with bells she was forced to wear as well as every flea collar. Under the house there will be a place where all these things lie, a testimony to a smart cat.

She was missing for sixteen hours. When I called her I only heard that squashed-frog sound, that frogs make when they are stuck in the drainpipes and it’s raining.

Finally found her at the bottom of the steps, cold, wet and unable to move. That noise was her, even her vocal chords were paralyzed.

I could’ve taken out a loan and gone through all the rigmarole of seeing if she’d make it with the antivenin, but she was 8x smaller than my dog who got a tick the same size and barely made it.

So I have her at home, swaddled in a towel, dead on my lap. It’s easy to imagine she is still alive because she is lying against me and I am breathing, she with me. It’s raining at the present, softening the ground. Later I’ll go out and dig a hole.

Maggy, wishful thinking. She tore off her toe on a fence and she could not go outside

Ideas Mash-Up

First, being in a state of nit-picking doubt about my novel Meld, I re-read about the need for micro tension at sentence level. The novel’s so far milky pale sentences paraded in front of my mind’s eyes. I wondered where or when to start. Continue writing pale and milky? Start writing micro tension when I’m about half way? I haven’t even finished the first draft?

That was last week.

I started writing micro tension in Zebe’s POV chapter—where my head was at that moment—but soon hit a place where Zebe’s mood needed to be able to play off a moment of micro-tension that should’ve been written several chapters earlier.

Writing is a lot like sketching. For me, anyway. Sketching, I make a mark on my paper. Another mark alongside it, or continuing from it. If I make a mark in what proves to be a wrong place, I’ll erase it, and redraw it in a better place, or draw over the top of it.

Getting a story down, if I change direction, I can’t just keep writing into the now incorrect direction. I need to go back and change where that direction is coming from, to be able to remember it correctly for the next swag of material to be fitted into place.

And so I decided I need to start again, again. Bring the manuscript up to scratch before continuing.

BUT the day I present the Fungi Walk-and-Talk is approaching. Saturday 21 at 1 pm I’ll be out in Brunswick Valley Heritage Park trailing twenty keen-to-learn-all-about-fungi learners. Gone are Zebe and her problems. Because this week I’ve needed to refresh my mind on all things fungi. The novel is on the back-burner of the writing stove again.

Path through Brunswick Valley Heritage Park

Because, yes, there is what started as a little idea on the front burner. I asked myself, what could be a better way to practice writing micro-tension than with single, or at most two sentence stories? Of course I agreed. Who doesn’t, when they’re talking positivity at themselves?

Little stories they’ll be, part of larger stories of approximately 30 sentences and or 300 words. With that word count it could only be a kid’s book. Inevitably, I mashed that idea onto the Duplo story idea.

The Duplo people are tired of living in a box … They build a staircase for everyone to get up, and out…


[The staircase (previous post) is a MOC I learned, which is an acronym for My Own Creation.]

I’m using these sentences to learn my new version of Powerpoint, which is the only appropriate format I could find to publish a read-aloud book for toddlers. That, as well as another idea, is also a justification/rationalization to continue with this much more finishable project when I could working on my so far 77k sf manuscript.

At the same time as studying up on Fungi, of course.

Ideas … don’t ignore them

#ideas #Duplo #Duplofigs

Completely distracted today by an idea. My son is 34 and my grandson is 2. My son messages me with photos of fungi. I send my grandson photos of my cat, and of interesting stuff I’m doing.

So, the idea. I got my son’s Duplo down from the attic, built a staircase to get the Duplo figures out of their box, should they be bored in there, and took photos. Sent them.

Have yet to hear of the junior’s reaction, his parent sent me the usual.

Fungi: Parasite

Fungal parasite on a ‘waxy’ bracket

This is the 83rd fungus I have observed in Brunswick Valley Heritage Park, a white crust … type 13 … that apparently parasitizes the undersides of ‘waxy’ and ‘pikelet-like’ brackets.

My filing system is littered with labels like that. Crusts get a number. Polypores and Agarics get descriptive words if I don’t have any other clue.

Fungi have three main life-styles. They are parasitic, like the one above, living on other organisms; they are saprophytic, consuming dead wood … if we didn’t have saprophytic fungi we’d be neck-deep in wood; and they can be mycorrhizal in habit.

Mycorrhizal fungi help keep us alive, by helping to keep 95% of plants alive. They help plants to gain more nutrients and moisture when plants and trees themselves can’t reach, by extending plant roots with fungal mycelium.

You’ll Have Noticed…

…a dearth of anything. Am dealing with a bout of influenza. The doc said, go home two weeks in bed. This after I already spent eight days ailing, including an overnight stay in the local hospital.

All else is the fluttering of leaves in the wind.

Twin ink caps (fungi) that dried on the windowsill while I had my attention on other things

Hurdy-gurdy, the instrument

This hurdy-gurdy player from Joe’s Retirement Blog on Blogspot

A hurdy-gurdy features big time in Meld, the second book of the Doomed? series. The one pictured above is quite a historic instrument with its wooden keys stretching the six strings. Two strings either side of the bridge — I’m tempted to call it the superstructure it is so imposing — and two strings across the top. The wooden wheel at the right-hand-side acts as a bow, and strokes the strings, leading to the hurdy-gurdy also to be called a ‘wheel violin’.

Those of you into gleaning will feel right at home on this blog.

I’ve been writing this series for a such long time that when I googled hurdy-gurdies just now — to find the owner of the above pic — a website promoting its business of making hurdy-gurdies also came to the fore, http://www.altarwind.com

In Meld, the hurdy-gurdy is a hollowed-out electronic ‘modern’ (2150 +/- AD) version with the deeper box that will accommodate the rolled-up bane.

According to my trusty thesaurus, a bane is a ‘scourge, plague, curse, blight, pest, nuisance, headache, nightmare, trial, hardship, cross to bear, burden, thorn in one’s flesh/side, bitter pill, affliction, trouble, misery, woe, tribulation, misfortune, pain.’

The bane under consideration is all those, and more, to the much put-upon hero of the series. It’s possible to get started reading that series with Doomed? Book 1: Mongrel available now as an ebook, and in the not-too-distant future as POD paperback.