My NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

How long has it been? I’ve been between jobs, in and out of financial trouble, invited to join a band, and recently left a temp job that left me working every day for almost a month, and yet I’m still out here in the ether, writing and being the underdog (even if it hasn’t left much time for either of my blogs).

I hope NaNoWriMo is going well for the participants. I’m taking a short break in today’s writing to shout out to everyone and wish you the best of luck as we wade through week two. I’m not much of a pep talker, but I’ll say this. If you can take the time to read this, you can take the time to write. (Hell, I should take my own advice here.)

I know that there’s always something going on, and there’s never enough time to do it, so I just want you all to know that outside of NaNo, I do most of my writing between Midnight and 2:30 AM, even if I have to get up at 6:30 the next day. Make the most of your time, and when in doubt sit down and play some Donkey Kong. Writing is like Donkey Kong. You are the villain, throwing barrels into your hero’s path to his goal. Be like the great Kong, and withhold your hero’s desire until he/she has truly earned it.

~Underdog

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New places to go and see

Hey guys! I still intend to use this blog as a forum for writing, and talking about writing, but I’d like you to know that a few friends of mine and I have started up a second blog where we can be weird, sometimes assholes, and just talk about stuff. If you’re interested, please come check it out! If you hate what you see, are offended, or otherwise dislike weird posts and discussions of deeper thought… well, tough. That’s what it’s there for.

http://drunkenphilosophies.wordpress.com/


Just an Update…

Nothing else to see here… Move along…

Still here? Really?

Well, if you insist…

While Writing Underdog is meant to talk about writing, and my experiences with it, and literature, and a few fun things in between, I’m wondering if I might be able to do something more. I know I haven’t been posting much recently, but I have ideas, and they may be coming together.

Stay tuned and keep writing.

~Underdog


Time for the Writing Confessional…

… or those times I ventured beyond the clear blue waters.

As someone who enjoys writing, I’ve come across the need to include characters. Sure a portrait of a landscape can tell a thousand words, maybe more, but even then, the place becomes a sort of character in its own right, not that I want to elaborate on that until I can process the thought there. It’s a spur of the moment comparison, you see, and if I rambled off like this every time I made such a comment, I’d never get anything done.

Anyway, back to characters. Confession 1:

With writing characters, I often find the need to venture beyond the male gender. Sure, I know what it’s like to be a guy, and most people say write what you know, but unless I’m writing pre-women’s rights war novels (and I’m not) there’s going to be some facet of female presence. So now I have to get in a woman’s head. Where can I draw on for that? Fortunately I have friends and family for that on very different ends of the spectrum. I know the fluffy pink girls, the power hungry and manipulative kind, the ones that snap under pressure, the tomboys, gamers, etc… So, I think I can write these people. Sure those are generalizations, but I feel that aside from anatomical and certain mental instincts, we’re mostly the same. I know girls who want sex more than their boyfriends, and guys who can have deep philosophical conversations. They exist.

What’s the confession? I still feel that my female characters aren’t quite up to snuff, and I’m never sure how to ask for advice. Truth be told, I don’t know any female writers very well, and this is tough to just ask a friend, since friends like to be supportive.

Confession 2:

LGBT characters exist, just like people. In fact, in today’s societies, particularly those with more tendencies to equality, they are becoming more and more common. In games, movies, TV, etc… The characters exist. I admit that I’ve never tried my hand at much of it, but I have written a small number of homosexual characters in my time, drawing as much as I could from those I’ve met in their respective lifestyles.

My one big mistake? To be honest, I’ve barely done the plight justice. (Though I’ve never tried my hand at writing the T side of the LGBT) A lot of times, it’s sort of just accepted, partly because of how I view society. On another end, I have written the character that has to hide their feelings from the general public, and dealt with the fallout of being found out, but it’s all just sort of worked out. I feel like I can’t do them the right justice, but again, from the people I’ve met, I find it hard to see them as anything other than normal people with different tastes, like everyone else.

Conclusion:

I’m leaving this for the readers to judge, but I’m wondering if I’m doing the characters in these confessions more or less justice this way. The plights and understandings in their entirety are beyond me, I admit. However, in that same breath, I have to consider that such equalities are desired by these very different people. In writing them the way I do, perhaps it’s more justice to the cause that someone can put the plights and differences out of mind. Perhaps, in regards to the second confession, it would take a more center stage in a character’s life depending on the story.

I just wanted to put these thoughts out there, and maybe see if anyone has some confessions of their own to air out.

Time for the Writing Confessional


Mythology and Comic Books

Talekeeper

It is often said that our modern day comic book characters such as Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman are the “new mythological heroes” and in many ways this sentiment is true. However in others there simply cannot be a comparison, at least not at this point. Amongst the feathers of my odd upbringing is the tidbit that, despite my ongoing admiration of silver-screen superheroes, I never really got into reading comic books as a child. Instead of reading the latest edition of Spider-Man I enjoyed reading stories from the classical world, stories such as Jason and the Argonauts, The Twelve Labors of Heracles, and my personal favorite The Odyssey. Here I will identify the common threads between these brands of heroes and discern the differences that to this day keep them apart.

OdysseyAlthough to some it may sound bizarre to me to find commonality between Jason of Ioikos and Peter…

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Precognition: The Science of Divination

This is where I got the inspiration to write my post on Divination…

Talekeeper

Allow me to share a personal story with you all.

For the longest time I once suspected that I might have had mental problems when I was younger. It was nothing overtly serious such as split-personality disorder or being overly violent (although I did have a reputation for having a short fuse!), rather I began to notice that I hardly ever dreamed whenever I slept. In fact I would say I had an extremely vague dream every four or five months at most, and would always dream about a specific event that was neither fantastical or implausible as most people recall their dreams being. It was always a set location I had never visited or a conversation with a person I could either not remember or could not discern a voice for.

DSC01050When I was about eight or nine years old I remember having a very vivid dream of myself…

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The Writer’s Job – The Jaded Perspective

As much as I enjoy writing, and video games, and music, movies, etc… the problem I have with media is that it’s very repetitive. There are only so many ways to portray characters, because despite how unique we are as human beings, it always seems as though we only have a few characters. The way they interact is how the story is made. So, besides the job to tell a story, and to give out the best story we can, we have the added job of trying to tell a story in a fresh new way. The band 3 has a song called All that Remains that has a line “The same old story, but the names have all been changed,” that hits very close to home when I write.

While I’m sure the world is filled with amazing writers, I can’t help but worry if I can pass the test of telling a story in a new way, or to come up with that new character. As opposed to my usual thoughts and support, this is my off my chest moment for the day. It’s short, but I needed to say it. Thanks for reading!


Divination and Your World

How many fantasy books start with a Prophecy? I capitalized prophecy, because it is always the prophecy. It’s something about the future that has been divined and set in motion, and will happen. Sure others have been made, but there’s one that is central to the fate of the world. That seems to be the kind we are most familiar with at any rate, unless you played something like D&D or in my case the many D&D based games such as Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale, etc… In those games, divination allows us to see some aspect of the near future, or some sort of method to locate things and people based on some connection. These great prophets are usually killed or maybe they survived, but no one took them seriously, or whatever. So what’s my point?

To be honest, I suppose I just wanted to talk about divination to some extent. It’s an interesting plot device to be sure, but in what ways can it be used?

I guess I’ll start by pointing out the Alex Verus novels. (Book 4 is coming out in August and I can’t wait!) In the series, the main character is a magic user, but his only power is over divination. He can see into the future indefinitely, but the problem is that there is no guaranteed future. Thus he has to work everything out based on probability, and which are the more likely futures, and even those can be wrong. Has it been done before? Maybe. I couldn’t say for certain, but I can say that it is a refreshing look at Divination.

Divination – late 14c., from Old French divination (13c.), from Latin divinationem (nominative divinatio) “the power of foreseeing, prediction,” noun of action from past participle stem of divinare, literally “to be inspired by a god” – The Online Etymology Dictonary

In the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, and I would assume the sister series Novels of the Malazan Empire (by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont respectively), there is an interesting form of Tarot in the Dragon Decks. It’s a set of cards, and there’s a specific way to reading the cards. Only a few people are gifted enough to actually read them, and in the first book there are a couple of characters who can. When the Dragon Decks come out, it effectively predicts a chunk of the upcoming story, but it’s always vague, and you have to guess which characters correspond to which cards to figure it all out. Even if you have some idea, it doesn’t mean it’ll go the way you think. Card reading has always been a skill of interpretation after all, as I’ve learned first hand with actual Tarot decks.

The funny thing about divination and especially Tarot decks is how much you have to interpret, especially if you don’t know the person(s) you are reading very well. See, someone close to me is into the witchy crowd (not an I can throw fire at you kind, but a pagan, choose your gods and worship them kind) and has been doing Tarot and getting readings for some time. I’m not a part of that crowd. I used to do Tarot for fun with regular playing cards as a kid, and they convinced me to get a real deck once. Now, as a warning, I’m only as insane as a fantasy writer should be. Personal feelings aside, whatever I type after this, take it as you will.

As a personal experience, it’s interesting when you get into these witchcraft shops. Not because of the odd things for sale, but because there is a different energy there. I ended up sitting there for more than 20 minutes after deciding to buy a deck. You’re supposed to look at them, and choose one that’s right for you, based on the feeling you get from it. It turns out the deck I chose says something about me, because I ended up with a deck that brings a positive outlook to even the worst situations, much like myself. My second deck came as a purchase after three trips back to this store with friends, and picking it up each time before putting it down. I was encouraged to consider the deck, because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It wasn’t a replacement to the first one, because it had a different feel, as odd as it sounds. Turns out this deck reflects a different part of me. Unlike a traditional deck which has meanings with the cards, and the image often says much, this one was much more the opposite. The meanings behind each card are small phrases, and I’ve found the deck to be a bit of a wise-ass on the occasions I have used it, going so far as having it talk back to me in the cards I pull. Another interesting fact is that neither deck had a reverse meaning, so there’s only one vague light to look at the cards in.

Why would I bring this up? Well, because it’s a step in a good direction. Yeah sure, there are any number of stories with talking implements, or skulls and swords with personalities, however, how many people can say the universe actually has a good sense of humor with inanimate objects? I suppose there isn’t a lesson in here as much as an inspirational takeaway: The universe is weird.

Keep Writing!

~ Underdog


Be Like Water

As someone who studied some philosophy in college, I enjoyed this a lot. Particularly though, I enjoyed this from the perspective of applying writing to it.

The Renaissance Mind

Water can flow and it can crash.” – Bruce Lee

water drops

It is the liquid of life. One of the purest and most powerful forces ever created. When it wants to be, it can be a harbinger of danger and destruction.

But at its essence, the phenomenon of water is one of balance. And here is why everyone should emulate this powerful element.

Definite Purpose

From engaging in osmosis within your body, to flowing through lakes, streams, rivers, and eventually to the ocean, water is constantly moving – and it does so with definite purpose. It knows where its headed, and it lets nothing be an obstacle.

It’s fluid and malleable, which allows it to seep through the smallest cracks and gently flow over tiniest pebbles. It’s unified and persistent in its greater force, which allows it to wear down even the greatest mountains and create canyons…

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Overcoming a personal wall…

I have to admit that it took the blog post of a clever author to smack me out of my box so I could get around the writer’s block in my way. Just in case, I thought I’d share it with everyone. Normally, I’d make notes and summarize, but this is fantastic read for writers, and I think I couldn’t do it justice.

But, but, but – WHY does magic have to make sense?

Keep up, and feel free to share thoughts and comments on whether or not you feel magic needs rules or not!