I haven’t been writing about writing much lately, have I?
Maybe we’ll fix that today since I want to share an experiment I’ve been trying.
I haven’t been getting a lot of writing in during the past couple of weeks as I try to line up the ducks for the next phase of my life. While the first row was lined up about a week ago, I’ve got the second row lined up now and I’m jumping into things starting tomorrow. (For reference, I’m now registered in that TEFL course I mentioned, having picked the one I want and built a schedule to get it done in the time frame I want. Everything is cleared and the course is live. If it weren’t for vet appointments, it would be the rest of my week.)
But the writing I have gotten in has been a sort of experiment on the fiction side. Every night, I’m trying to add 250 words to a story longhand. The next day, I’m transferring those words to a Word document and adding to them or modifying them as I see fit. In some cases, those modifications are fairly extensive, and once or twice there’s been a side trip to expand a very short scene. Today, I decided to get the long hand work in early. With a gap of a couple of hours, I did the typing as well, so I sort of finished the first and second draft of a story on the same day.
Going strictly by the long hand version, the story is 6010 words long, but the word document says 8158 words. That’s a bigger difference than I normally get between first and second draft. Between first and final, really, but I think it’s gotten a lot of the editing that would have happened both making changes and tidying things up. I’ll be interested to see how much of a difference in word count there is between this and the third draft. I’m not expecting much.
It’s a fanfiction story, by the way, the first of the TOS Batch 3 stories, starring a freshly-promoted Vincent DeSalle suddenly in command of a destroyer that should have been scrapped but was fixed up instead and is now off to patrol the Romulan border. Not a lot of action, but a good bit of character exploration, and I think I’m going to come back to this ship in the future. I already like most of the crew members I’ve introduced.
More immediately, I’m going to try this experiment again but working in a universe of my own this time to see how it works out, and I’ve already got the opening scene in my head. Well, the opening of the opening scene, anyway.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
I’ve run across variations on certain a meme a few times now. Text only, it goes something like, “I grew up hearing and learning racist, sexist, and homophobic things. Eventually, I learned to think for myself and unlearned it. You were raised that way? Unlearn it. It’s 2020 and there’s no excuse for it.”
Another variant: “You are not responsible for the programming you received in childhood. But as an adult, you are 100% responsible for fixing it.”
Or, to borrow from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I grew up in the 1970s and 80s. There was plenty of racist, sexist, and homophobic crap in popular culture and daily interactions, even if we didn’t always realize it at the time. I did learn to think for myself as a teenager, but also came to the conclusion that most of the people around me didn’t or couldn’t, so I mostly kept my mouth shut except in close company with certain friends who’d also learned to think for themselves. Not everyone had. That’s still the case.
And generally speaking, it’s still very much the case. I don’t know if I should be disturbed or alarmed at how polarized so much of our society is becoming, about how easy it is for people to surrender their own thoughts to ideas without merit just because it’s easier. It’s probably something in our basic psychological makeup as a species, but it worries me.
I’m not sure how old I was when I moved beyond just thinking and reasoning for myself into the territory of questioning what I thought and believed. I do know that I’ve managed to make it a fairly constant cycle that probably pushes its way into overthinking territory now and then, but why should that be unusual in my life?
How do you actually know if you’re right if you don’t question it and figure out why you think that way? I feel very strongly that if you don’t continually question your own beliefs and thinking then you’ll only grow inside an echo chamber, and it might be one you make for yourself rather than one you’ve found.
And that’s not growth at all.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
Back in the first few weeks of the COVID shutdown, back when I still thought I’d be back at work in 8-10 weeks, I did a couple of blog posts about old TV SF, covering my childhood, my teen years, and my 20s. There was nostalgia, there was wistfulness, there was a stirring of the idea to go and visit some of these old friends again.
Well, I’ve recently spent some time tracking down some of those old friends, along with discovering a couple of new ones. Unsurprisingly, I’m a little scattered and eclectic about it. I’ve managed to OD on binge-watching things in the past (and my definition of binge-watching probably isn’t the same as yours), so I’m slowly consuming a number of shows, and I’m going to list them in the order of the season I’m currently watching, from oldest to newest.
The Avengers, Series 4 (1966)
Steed and Mrs. Peel. I discovered The Avengers on TVO as a teenager and loved it, though they only seemed to play from the introduction of Mrs. Peel on. I’ve chosen to start there and see where the journey takes me, likely looping back around to watch the first two series (which I’ve never seen). I remember having a hard time when Steed started wearing brown suits in Series 7 after Mrs. Peel left. It just seemed wrong somehow.
Dr. Who, Series 11 (1974)
And here I’m starting with the very last 3rd Doctor story arc in order to watch the introduction of the 4th Doctor, the one I grew up with, Tom Baker. Then we’ll see. I like several of the other Doctors in the early years, and there are a couple I never watched much of. There are 26 series of Classic Doctor who, though a couple of the earliest seasons no longer exist fully, and 12 now of the modern. The modern show is hour-length where the classics were only half an hour, but you also got fewer commercials in those days, so it isn’t quite twice as long, but comes close to balancing the same overall length in a season. I’ll contend that the writing was mostly better in the older series, though.
The point is, there’s lots to watch here, enough to keep me busy for a long time.
Battlestar Galactica, Season 1 (1978)
Seems a little silly to say Season 1 of a show there was only one season of, but there it is. I started a re-watch of this a couple of years ago, but only got half a dozen episodes in. It’s recent enough that I remember things fairly well, so I’ve picked up where I left off. I remember watching the original movie as we drove across Canada to Dad’s new posting in BC, which means this show has some specific childhood memories associated with it, including time spent acting out episodes and scenarios with lego constructs with a childhood friend. The show itself, pretty cheesy, but full-orchestra, epic theme music brings it all back.
Soul Music, Series 1 (1997)
Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors and I’ve been enjoying the Discworld series since I was about 20. A few of the books have been adapted into either cartoon or live action, and Soul Music is one of my favourites. Actually, most of the books where Death features as a prominent character are among my favourites, though I’ve never met a Discworld novel I didn’t at least like. There are only seven episodes, so this might not take long, but there’s a little more to follow at least.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6 (1997)
One of the two shows I’m slowly working my way through with my oldest daughter (she’s doing X-Files with mom). Well, one of the two genre shows. We share a similar sense of humour in a lot of ways, so there are other things we’ll watch or that she’ll watch and I’ll join her for. We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus here while she works her way back around, but I’ve promised not to watch ahead without her even though we’re in territory where I’ve only seen about half the episodes. I had a hard time with DS9 first run, dropping it after about a season and a half, and picking it up again during the Dominion War and to the end of the series, but not consistently. Just enough to keep up with the overall story and root for the good guys when appropriate.
Farscape, Season 4 (2002)
The other show I’m watching with her. We’re half a dozen episodes into the last season and can feel the end coming from here. Well, by episode count. There’s no reason to suspect it while watching the show at this point. I’ll have to come up with the mini-series that ties together the loose threads sometime soon.
Stargate SG-1, Season 7 (2003)
The first show I ever really OD’d on. When we finally introduced high speed internet to our house, it opened up a variety of entertainment possibilities and I used to watch an episode before going to bed after getting home from work at 4 or 5 in the morning most days. Since no one else was up, I usually did it while eating “dinner”. But I got a few episodes into Season 7 and just couldn’t anymore. Too much, too fast. And so I stopped watching.
But I kind of want to know how things turned out, so I’ve picked up Season 7, done some plot reviews and watched a couple of key earlier episodes to re-establish the characters in my head, and I’m ready to dip a toe back into the SG water.
Stan Against Evil, Season 1 (2016)
I forget how I actually discovered this one, but since it promised comedic horror (the only kind of horror I’ll watch willingly), and starred the actor who played my favourite character on Scrubs(John C. McGinley), I decide it was worth checking out. And it was. Well, I’m only three episodes in. I suppose I might still change my mind.
The Expanse, Season 3 (2018)
I have no idea why I never got around to the third season (and now there’s a fourth) of The Expanse. Loved the first two seasons. Loved the books; still waiting for the last one. Seems like I should have hunted it down when it moved. Well, I am now.
Star Trek: Lower Decks, Season 1 (2020)
The only other current show I’m actually watching, and my favourite by far of the recent Star Trek offerings (the only one, as far as I’m concerned, that’s actually being true to the heart of Star Trek, but we can fight about that another day).
This one, I’m forced to wait for each Thursday for the new episode, so there’s no possibility of my binging it out of my interest zone, even if there were going to be enough episodes to get me there.
Considering what I have left to watch out of these puts me well over 300 episodes of varying lengths, I should be good for a while. But just in case, I have the original Batman, Space 1999, Blake’s 7, Buck Rogers, Red Dwarf, and Star Trek: Enterprise teed up and ready to go when I am.
What’s everyone else watching?
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
The first line of ducks are in a row. Future lines require the success of the first line. However, the first line up is cause for me to announce the Plan.
The short, short version: I’m going back to school.
The short version: I’m returning to Post-Secondary education effective January 11th 2021.
The longer version that doesn’t go into excessive detail: the essential plan is that I intend to achieve a Math and Science degree followed by a B.Ed. and spend the remainder of my professional career as a high school math and/or science teacher. January 11th, because that’s the first day of the next term and even if I’d sent my initial queries the same day, I’d missed all the deadlines to start in Fall term. Plus, due to my ancient academic status being both ancient and not very good, I have to first prove that I can be a good student, so it will take several steps to get back to being a full-time student. In the meantime, the space between now and January will allow me to do some appropriate review towards what I want as well as exploring the option of a solid TEFL certification. Not only will this open up some potential employment possibilities to go with my part-time student status while I’m working my way towards full time, it also opens things up more to potentially teaching overseas for a year here and there, which has also been a dream for a long time.
I’ve wanted to go back to school for a really long time and I’ve been talking about this basic version of it as the dream for more than a decade, to the point where it was almost the first thing my wife said to me when we learned the company was buying me out. She decided it might be possible almost before I’d started to think about what my reboot might look like. Pretty amazing woman.
So there’s the news. Higher education. I’m going back to it.
Don’t wish me luck, remind me I need good study habits because I never built those in my youth. I do better these days, but now they need to get applied at a higher level.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
So most of this on the page I have dedicated to it, but keeping the Star Trek Sunday trend going, I thought it might be fun to list all of the TOS fanfic I’ve produced so far. There’s a decent amount of it, especially in terms of raw word count, but not a flood. Yet. Give me time. Eventually, all of the ideas I have will turn into stories.
I’m not going to link to the individual stories that I’ve released, but rather to the dedicated page on this site and to the basic search string on Wattpad that will give you the full list of what’s currently available.
Breaking things out into groups:
Fractured Unity: The Enterprise returns to Cestus 3 more than three years after the events of “Arena” where a peace treaty is about to be signed between the Federation and the Gorn Hegemony. At the moment of signing, both the ceremony and planet are attacked, and the senior ambassadors of both sides taken hostage. The Enterprise is the only ship in a position to pursue, and Kirk is politically forced to accept assistance from his former enemy. A little short of 47,000 words.
A Matter of Honour: bored during a 6-week stop at Starbase 67 while the Enterprise undergoes major computer system upgrades, Lt. Chekov enrolls in an Advanced Ground Tactics course to further his education and pass the time. When it’s complete, he’s approached for a short-term mission of galactic importance. 46,000 words and change.
The First Batch of Shorter Stories
Now collected into a single ebook for your TOS reading pleasure.
Between a Rock and a Klingon: Separated from the landing party in an alien nature reserve, Chekov finds himself stuck between the isolationist native sapient species and a group of angry Klingons. 21,000 words.
“Breath Control”: Set between the end of TOS and the beginning of TMP, Christine Chapel, serving a short tour on the USS Yorktown with a fresh MD and Starfleet Doctor certification, beams down to a colony to find a mysterious disease has all of the colonists unconscious and dying. 6800 words.
“Career Aspirations”: faced with months of accumulated leave or a new assignment, Lieutenant Commander Sulu decides to take some time off to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his career. He makes a bucket list of places he wants to see on Earth and tries to enjoy a long, and long-deserved, vacation. Unexpectedly, or maybe unsurprisingly, he runs into someone who needs his help. 11,000 words.
“Design for Conspiracy”: Commander Montgomery Scott is assigned as the Chief Engineer overseeing the Enterprise’s overhaul before the events of TMP. He’s alarmed at the signs of sabotage he’s seeing during the process and enlists the aid of a young Captain Decker to get to the bottom of things. 4200 words.
“OCS Bound”: Crewman Kyle is on his way to Officer Candidate School when the aging destroyer he and a number of other cadets are being transported on is attacked by Nausicaan Pirates. 4200 words.
“Sub-Solar Whispers”: Serving as interim Head of Alpha Shift Communications on Starbase 1, Lieutenant Commander Uhura is offered the short-term command of the science vessel Niels Bohr. Her mission: to investigate the apparently intelligent radio communications coming from deep inside the atmosphere of a Brown Dwarf. 14,000.
“Wolves and Sheepdogs”: Abused and abandoned by a Romulan agent while on shore leave, Lieutenant Leslie has to find his way out of a deep canyon on an alien planet if he hopes to be rescued. Oh, and he’s being stalked by a local apex predator. 5300 Words.
The Second Batch of Shorter Stories
Since I’m very early in the editing process for these right now and due to life events that process may get stretched out quite a bit, I’m not going to put estimated word counts on them, just the length classification of novelette or short novel (novella).
Interrupted Shore Leave. While the Enterprise is docked at a Starbase 23 for a week’s worth of shore leave for the entire crew, the Romulans test a new experimental weapon in the system. Short novel.
Pride of Andor. The Enterprise discovers the USS Pride of Andor, a ship crewed almost entirely by Andorians, dead in space, her crew apparently dead as well lined up neatly in the shuttle bay. Lieutenant Commander Endilev, Doctor McCoy, and Lieutenant Chekov take a boarding party to solve the mystery of what happened to the ship. Short novel.
“Smog Alert”. With Sulu in command while Kirk and Spock are at a conference, the Enterprise intercepts a planetary alert from nearby New Aberdeen, finding a strange alien ship in orbit dumping huge quantities of pollutants into the atmosphere. Novelette.
“Tholian Rescue”. The Enterprise responds to a distress call to find a small Tholian vessel with injured crew and failing life support, and just barely in neutral space. Doctor McCoy has some new biology to figure out to keep them alive. Novelette.
The Third Batch of Shorter Stories
This group isn’t written yet. Or even plotted. There’s a logline of an idea for each story, but I’m unlikely to start drafting them until next year.
So, secrets, but I’m going to branch out to look in on other occasional or supporting characters including Janice Rand, Dr. M’Benga, Lieutenant Commander DeSalle, and others.
But it’s going to be a little while before you get to see these. Hope I can keep you entertained in the meantime.
Live long and prosper.by
When I bought the Xbox One a couple of years ago, I specifically got the Halo edition because it came with Halo 5 and I’ve been a fan of the series since I discovered it in 2003, a couple of years after the first one came out. The new console also came with the Master Chief Collection, which puts the first six games into an integrated collection.
When STO (my primary gaming entertainment for the last year or two) was having its recent update snafu and I couldn’t play for a couple of days, I happened to notice the Collection was still installed, though I’d never actually booted it up. Perhaps it was time to visit an old friend. I played the first two missions and have played four more since, enjoying it like a comfortable re-read.
But it’s just the campaign aspects of the games I’m interested in; it’s all about the story for me. I’ve never been a PVP fan, though I enjoy cooperative play if it’s done well. When the kids were younger (and all three of mine played some version of Halo at some point), I’d play with them to have some extra time with them, and they were into the multiplayer experience. I never got good at it, but I got good enough that they weren’t leaving me too far behind, and we had fun together. Left to my own devices, though, if we aren’t working together to achieve an objective, I’ve got no interest. So I probably won’t be looking at the online play much, if that’s even still a viable thing with the release of the most recent game five years in the past.
If I keep enjoying it, there are six more games to replay between now and the release of Halo Infinite, whenever that happens to be.
Of course, it’s not lost on me that I’m making he discovery at a time when my life is changing and I’ll need to be very, very focused on other things if it works out (more on that next week, really).
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by
While some of us in Canada may have celebrated on Sunday, myself included, as far as CBS in particular is concerned (and since they own Star Trek, their opinion is paramount, pun intended), the date of the anniversary of the first airing in the US is the official Star Trek Day.
So, once again, happy Star Trek Day, everyone!
I’m a little surprised at how much they have set up for streaming specifically for this date considering how well recent anniversaries have been marked so far as I could tell, but I’m happier this time. The planned stream includes:
- The pilot episode of every series (although in a weird order) except TOS, weather they were double-length or not.
- Someone’s favourite episodic (i.e. standalone) episodes, a list somehow containing only one episode every series except Picard (TAS makes the cut here), but three from TNG including the two-part “Best of Both Worlds”, plus seven of the web serial Short Treks,
- And a set of eight short panels covering a bunch of series and topics.
The last are what primarily interest me. I have easy access to all of the series and my oldest daughter and I are deep into Season 6 of a DS9 run right now. It’s not like I’m going to watch no Star Trek over the next little while. Really, it’s not ever like that.
While I’m happy to have the extra content available and access to a service that will let me watch them, I haven’t decided how much I’m going to participate. Probably not at all in real time. There’s still a lot to get done today and I’m trying to stay on top of a few things. This evening, when I get to relax a bit.
But that’s not all that’s going on in the world of Star Trek right now. CBS has been making a big deal out of “23 weeks of new Star Trek”, though I’m seeing that big deal through secondary sources. Of course, thirteen of those weeks will feature a new episode of Discovery that I’m not going to watch, and we’re half way through Lower Decks (which I am enjoying) already. STO, after a bit of weirdness on the weekend, is releasing the next batch of content to consoles today (I play on Xbox), which is nice, maybe. It looks like it somehow features both new Klingons and traditional ones. I know who I’m rooting for.
But beyond that, if I want any new Trek, I need to make it myself, or go out and find some other good fan-made Star Trek, leaning towards TOS and TNG, and no surprise there.
Live long and prosper.by
So while I’m still not ready to announce the big change in life direction that I’m working towards, there are a couple of little things that are going to have visible adjustments. One of those is the basic blogging strategy I’ve been pursuing.
Up to now, this year I’ve been trying to slowly ramp up with the long-term goal being to be adding something to the blog every day. I’m not sure that’s practical with the changes coming, and I was thinking that before those changes were even possible, before the company I worked for made the decision that my job wouldn’t be necessary going forward.
I’ve been thinking about adjusting certain things about my writing goals for a while now. I’ve talked before about how there’s an overall plan broken down into a variety of phases, I’ve been looking at adjusting some of those. Blogging keeps coming to the top of that list with the primary question being, is it taking time away from other things I could be accomplishing?
A blog post takes a little time, and while it doesn’t go through the same four drafts that my fiction does, it does have two: drafting and editing/tweaking. A little bit of time to pick categories and tags, a little more to find an image to go with it if it needs one, the actual posting and posting to Facebook, and oh, does it need to be tweeted? It does add up, probably coming in at a half hour for every 500 words worth of post, which is about my average post in the last couple of months (of course I keep track). Then there are the various static page updates that need to be done on a regular basis.
The question then becomes, am I spending too much time on blog-related activities? The answer I’ve come up with is a qualified yes. I like being open about some of what I’m up to, and it’s a nice outlet, but is the blog really the right expenditure of energy to further my writing? If so, is it at the level I’ve been working towards? I think here needs to be a different balance.
I’m also going to try not stressing too hard about how many posts I’m getting up each week, although I’ve got a basic plan. Having a plan means I also need to learn to not worry if I happen to miss a day, but the basic idea is regular posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve still got a few Star Trek Sundays planned, so they’ll go ahead, and there will certainly be other special events here and there, but I’m hoping a regular schedule will likely help keep me focused more and may also make sure that there aren’t any large gaps here and there, which have sometimes still happened since COVID.
This is Monday’s post for this week. I’ll have something fun for Wednesday, and there may be a little something for the official Star Trek Day tomorrow, too.
In the meantime, stay safe and be well, everyone.by
What’s that you say? I’m two days early?
Well, yes. Officially, I suppose. But from a Canadian perspective, most of the world is two days late.
Common wisdom suggests that the first broadcast of Star Trek was the 8th of September, 1966 on NBC in the United States. Therefore, September 8th is Star Trek day and we should all celebrate.
I agree with the last four words in that sentence, but the rest… not as much.
The actual first broadcast of the show happened two days earlier and in Canada. Never heard this before? Well, I promise I’m not just making it up and I offer you the first paragraph in the Memory Alpha article on TOS, the fourth of the Wikipedia article, and the scan of Page 36 of the Montreal Gazette for September 6, 1966 (middle column, two ads from the bottom).
So while I’ll probably note it on the apparently semi-official day on Tuesday as well, I’ll be celebrating today with a larger than normal number of unveiled Star Trek references with everyone I talk to, a couple of as yet unchosen episodes of Kirk, Spock, and the gang, possibly a movie, extra memes, and with the release of my next piece of fan fiction, A Matter of Honour, starring a still-young Lieutenant Chekov and a variety of characters of my own devising in the Star Trek prime universe. (Novel length, though a shorter one, coming in at 46.5 thousand words. It’s serializing on Wattpad starting this morning, or you can download the whole story here, and I’ve already posted the link to that first chapter.)
Live long and prosper.by
A while back, I noted that I have certain reading preferences when it comes to genre. I identified what I consider to be the eleven basic genres and then broke out where I spend most of my reading time and where I didn’t (and why). There are some differences when it comes to my non-reading entertainment. The same basic genres exist, but then there are extra things that find there way into entertainment that I wouldn’t call fiction when we’re talking about that. (Hmm. I never did get to non-fiction reading, did I? Another time.)
Once again in alphabetical order, but this time putting the breakdown in the list itself. Opinions will be obvious. Breaking things out into sixteen basic genres.
- Adventure/Thriller. Occasional. The writing needs to be good, or it needs to give me some nostalgia for movies I watched growing up. Otherwise, I’m probably not going to stay engaged.
- Crime & Related. Pass, and almost a hard pass. Too many of the things happen in crime dramas that I don’t want to see in my fiction.
- Documentary. On a subject that interests me or one that’s presented in a way that I’ll find interesting, I love a good documentary. Emphasis on good. Like anything else, there are hits and misses.
- Fantasy. When it’s good and when I can get it. Like I’ll note in a couple of other spots, the quality of the FX take a back seat to the writing and acting.
- Historical. Mainly in those eras that interest me. A lot of the ancient world, the two World Wars, the Napoleonic period. There’s less than you think.
- Horror. Hard pass here, and for the same reason I don’t read it. There are enough disturbing things in reality, so I don’t want that in my entertainment.
- Literary/Contemporary. This is where I live, and I want my entertainment to stretch or challenge me. Most of what fits in this box doesn’t, so it’s tough to get me to engage.
- Mystery. I probably could put this in with Crime dramas above, but sometimes it’s nice to try to figure out the puzzle along with the hero.
- News/Journalism. In some respects, I’m a news junkie, but most of what I consume is in podcast form while driving or doing housework.
- Reality TV, as distinct from Documentaries, because Reality TV is fictionalized or dressed up and scripted a lot of the time. Not interested, though if you want to put game shows in this bucket, who doesn’t enjoy an episode of Jeopardy now and then?
- Romance. In and of itself, no. Built organically into something I’m enjoying, I’m all for it. Boy should get girl, or boy, or amorphous alien life form, or whatever makes sense in context. The reverse is also true.
- Science Fiction. Where I live most of the time, and I’ve got a broad definition of what makes SF. I’m far more likely to want to sit down for something in this genre than just about anything else.
- Sports. I’m not a sports guy, for which my wife is eternally grateful, I think, unless my children are involved. But I do watch a little bit of Martial Arts presentations and competitions now and then.
- Star Trek. Peeling this out from SF. Put good Trek next to almost any SF and the choice is easy. But not all Trek is good Trek, and some of the recent stuff doesn’t work for me (though some does, and very well).
- Suspense. Built into something I’m already watching, great. On it’s own, probably not.
- Western. There are a couple of exceptions here, but not a lot or modern westerns interest me. Looking back into the early careers of a couple of my favourite actors, though, and that’s something different.
And there you have it. Remembering that there are a few things that make me walk away from something, regardless of genre, you can probably guess from this list how likely I am to enjoy any randomly selected movie or television show. Just like with reading and writing, I appear to lean heavily towards speculative genres, leaving out horror. And that’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by