Monday, May 27, 2013

Experiments in Dictation

I am always looking for new and interesting ways with which to my work. Currently I am attempting to work with dictation. Even this blog post is dictated. I don't know how I will like it but I am always in need of new experiences to augment my writing process. It is slow going at first; you have to do a great deal of training, calibrating, and correction just to get anything done. But I do believe that eventually with enough patience, speed and accuracy can be increased enough to increase the volume of work.

So far I have had a good deal of success in getting words out accurately and clearly, but the hardest thing has certainly been dictating punctuation. Getting used to saying allowed things like period, comma, and exclamation point are difficult to say the least.

I am excited to try this out on some of the more free thought experiments. Things like new paragraphs that spring to mind, ideas that aren't fully fleshed out, or dialogue between characters in a scene I have yet to write.

Only the future will tell what's this technology will add or if it's just a passing fad, but I'm enjoying at this current moment, but it must be noted that my cat is certainly pleased with this new technology as it were these my hands free to scratch him while I am writing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shouting into the Abyss

"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you".
Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

Sometimes I like to wax existential. It is a bad habit and one I have tried to break, but you know how bad habits can be.

But that is a post for another time.

I struggle a lot with my blogging because sometimes I feel like I am shouting into a void. That my words, no matter their potency, fall not on deaf ears, but no ears at all. It can be really daunting to type anything out when that Dread rears its head and stares at you from the blank white Abyss of an empty page.

It can feel the same way with my normal writing as well.

But like the quote above, each of us who stands before this Abyss is not actually looking at an empty page, we are looking in ourselves to find something to fill it with. It is something that when we shout into it, something eventually shouts back. This is one of the only things that keeps my fingers moving as they hammer the keyboard in the hopes of telling someone something.

So keep shouting Internet, I think its working.

A thank you to Greta

This puts into words something that I have struggled getting people to understand about depression:

Greta is a fantastic writer (who I missed when she was at UNT! Literally in my back yard!) who I have been reading for years. If you are depressed or know someone who is and are trying to understand why they prioritize weird things, this will explain it.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

A story

There once was a boy who loved to dig holes, for in these holes he found the secrets of the world. He would dig and dig everyday until he found the bottom of something and the would promptly move on to the next hole.
One day, a storm blew in while he was digging and he grew concerned. As the rain began to fall he feared that the drops would fill up his work and wash it away. Or worse still that he would not escape and would drown.

He was so close to the bottom though that he dug faster towards what lay beneath.If he could make it before the storm grew too bad he would at least have the secret that he had worked so hard to find. But the storm grew worse and his prize elusive. As with all secrets of the world it was buried deep from the reach of people.

When the storm was at its peak he found that the hole, contrary to what he thought would happen, had protected him from the rain and thunder. He was elated to find that this hole had revealed to him two secrets about the world, despite how far he had to dig.

So the boy continued to hunt for the secrets of the world and when a storm would come he would simply dig a deep hole and would hunt until the rain had passed.

Eventually, as boys are want to do, he became a man. Still he hunted the secrets of the world deep under the earth, and still when storms came he found shelter among those secrets.

One day, when he was still a young man, a storm unlike any other came. It was terrible and violent and so the man dug deep into the earth to escape its fury. He dug and dug, but still the storms pounding followed him. Finally he found the bottom, but instead of a secret he could return to the surface, it was instead a glistening cave.

The cave sang and glistened with secrets and lore of the world and did much to drown out the fury of the clouds above. He spent a great while here, exploring and listening and soon he lost track of the time. The storm raged and raged, but he was able to shut it out and saw nothing but the cave.

It came to pass that the man found himself lost in this cave of wonders, but did not care to fix it. He was as happy as he could be underground, and the secrets he found brought him joy and knowledge. Soon after though he began to grow hungry, and to wonder what had happened to his home. As he walked down the corridors nothing seemed familiar. No post or sign pointed him back to the entrance of the cave.

He became frantic and ran through the tunnels looking for a way out.

The storm still raged above and mocked his efforts to be free.

He despaired at the thought of being locked in this darkness forever.

There was a rushing sound ahead of him and he ran headlong to meet it. There he found a waterfall, beautiful and glittering even in the dark. It ran from a hole in the ceiling and fell into a great pond below him. The water of the pond was clear and at the bottom the man saw his shovel that he had lost so long ago.

He dove into the pond and swam to the waterfall, choking on the salty ruinous water. He fought the force of the falling water and scaled the cavern wall towards the hole that had led him here. His skin burned from the water scouring him and his eyes were near blinded by it, but he put one hand in front of the next.

The thought occurred to him that he could let go and just fall back into the pond. The cave below still had many secrets for him to find, but he continued anyway.

He felt the wind first as his head came up out of the hole. It was cold and terrible against his skin and made him wish again for the warmth of the cave.

The man opened his eyes and saw naught but devastation wrought by the storm in his absence. Gone were the lush trees and soft grasses. Even his home was all but washed away.

Despair threatened to consume him as he walked to his battered door. He swung it open on its rusty hinges and was welcomed by a warm fire in his hearth, his desk still sat as he had left it.

He sat at his desk and picked up his pen and began to write.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Fighting

Any time someone is having a hard time, people always tell you to keep on fighting. This is especially common in dealing with adversity with regards to depression. People try and tell you to buck up, soldier on, and keep on keeping on (whatever the hell that means). 

What they fail to recognize is that people with depression HAVE been soldiering on. They have been fighting themselves every second of every. single. damn. minute. Depending on the severity, every word the hammer out on a keyboard, email they respond to, or time they open their eyes in the morning is a small victory that merits nothing short of a parade. But they don't ask for that because they know it is their own personal demons that they fight, and that they hardly need to fight an outside world that has a hard time sympathizing with a stubbed toe, let alone mental anguish. 

It is a quiet war happening in your office, school, favorite restaurant, church, and anaerobic basket weaving society. Someone there is dealing with it. 

What should you do when dealing with someone else who is depressed? That depends on the person and their level of suffering. And yes, I mean SUFFERING. Agony. All those fun words we like to throw around every time we are a little gassy after a burrito, but actually have real meanings. 

Some guide lines: 
1. Remember that they ARE NOT SAD! 
   People who are depressed are tired, weary, in pain. Sadness is a symptom, not a cause. It is the difference between the weather and the climate. Local weather trends are symptomatic of over all climate patterns, but are not a freak storm does not a climate make. Which brings me to point number...

2. Sometimes, people who are depressed, can seem happy and normal most of the time. 
  That is why some people are surprised when they find out someone is depressed. Never tell them they  were so happy yesterday, today, earlier, all the time.' They know how happy they have been. Depression is an intimate and vulnerable state. Many people who suffer from it have very happy looking defense mechanisms. It is to keep people from saying a lot of the things on this list and brings us to..

3. When they ask for space, give it. 
  Like I said, depression is an intimate and vulnerable state to find yourself in. If someone is depressed and they ask you for space/time/distance/silence, give it. It can take a few minutes to clear out the fog that depression puts in your head and severely skews your emotional responses. This means that when you push people, they can feel trapped, cornered and respond very.. poorly. This can range from open hostility and rage, to an enforced silence that could be permanent (towards you) if you are not careful. 
IMPORTANT: If someone with depression asks you for space, DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT YOU BY TAKING IT PERSONALLY. Of all the terrible things you can do, this can make things spiral out of control the fastest. 

I will have more on how to deal with depressed people later, but these three things can be damned hard on their own. Try them out and see what you think.

To The Living

It is hard, sometimes, to remember why we get up in the morning. Going to work, earning a paycheck, getting dinner, and then doing it again are enough for some people.

But it hasn't done much for me. It didn't do much when I had a job, and while the financial stability I miss, the  in and out I don't.

It gets so foggy, contentment. In good light it passes for happiness. In bad light it passes for fulfillment. In reality it is neither. It is comfort. A shell to wrap yourself in to stave off the insanity of every day living. A way to find something to point at and say "See, that's OK, right?"

But it isn't even close. It is complacency. It is the poison of good enough.

Car payments, loan settlements, bank trips... all in the pursuit of a future full of stuff. Of things that are nothings.Cars do not write stories and love. Nice toys glitter and dance, but they do not hold and they do not shed tears for our passing.

All of these things are dying without living. They take the place of what is really important so that we don't have to deal with them. We think that it makes things easier, because we do not want to do the hard work.

It is an illusion of safety in a world without any. A seat belt of wishes, crossed fingers, and whispered prayers.

But when the wreck comes, all that is left is The Dying. An empty thing without meaning.

So this is a toast to The Living. To filling one's cup with the things that will fulfill them. With stories and tastes and smells. With songs and loves. With strife and fear and joy and tears.

To those that build supports for the Living, instead of safety.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Piqued Curiosity

Yesterday was an amazing achievement for mankind. The landing of the Curiosity probe on Mars, without a hitch, is a testament for what we can achieve with science and as a people. It also has brought a bunch of folks out of the woodwork to complain about how much money was spent on the project. So in continuing what seems to be turning itself into a series of articles discussing waste, I want to talk about projects like this both as a writer and a scientist. 

First off, any money we spend gathering more knowledge about the universe is about as wasteful as using air to breathe or food to eat. While we could technically live our lives without understanding even our closest neighbors, the same could be said of antibiotics, air conditioning, and the Internet. But all of these things make life a whole hell of a lot better, and the technologies we garner from missions like this only improve life further. 

Now a word from my writer side. Speculative fiction, scifi, and hell even to a degree fantasy all rely on how much we know about the universe. All of these things draw on history at a minimum, and the more rich the history we can draw from, the more fuel that both the writer's imagination and the collective imaginations of your readership have at their disposal. Every mystery opened up by a probe like this, from the mundane instances of rock formation to paradigm shifting revelations about the origins of life are fair game for the writer to explore. 

All in all, achievements like this really show a positive and hopeful side of humanity that has is missing, especially in an election year. We hear all about how horrible our lives are and how X, Y, and Z are destroying life as we know it. But this, this is reality. This is a reminder that there are people out there who put this garbage in its place and accomplish something amazing.

It is difficult to see how anyone can think that such a thing is a waste without also ignoring everything such achievements have given us in the past. Remember that next time someone tries to sell you on how horrible and broken our species is.