Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

11/29/2013

DIY eBook Cover

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, at this point, you should be just about done with your novel for NaNoWriMo.

If you’ve kept pace, in the next 24 to 48 hours, you should be wrapping up your 50,000+ pages and breathing a giant sigh of relief.
You’ll want to step away from the writing tools of your choice and take a break before editing your fledgling star into something that people will want to not only read, but tell their friends about having read.  But, first, you’re…
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11/22/2013

Virtual Characters

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, and you’re reading this post, you’re either so far along on your book that you have time to burn, or you’ve given up.
Please, don’t give up.

In 2011, John Scalzi wrote about “being fictional”, which was his take on Elizabeth Bear’s post regarding how she is, in the minds of fans who have not met her, essentially, a fictional person.  It’s an interesting thought, I think, that someone can think they know us so well…
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11/15/2013

Turkey City Lexicon

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The infamous science-fiction workshop lexicon of “things to not do”.

Over the years, so much has been written about what to do and what NOT to do in fiction that it’s a little overwhelming sometimes.
Personally, when I write, I’m almost always trying to write fantasy or science-fiction, or what is sometimes referred to as “speculative fiction”.  On the surface, that seems easier, since, essentially, a writer can make up virtually every and any aspect of their fictional universe, but, good speculative…
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11/8/2013

5 Random Writing Tools

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,NaNoWriMo,PERL — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

So, in support of NaNoWriMo, this month, I’ve decided to serve up nothing but writing-related links.

At a week into the process of writing your novel, you should be well on your way.  But, maybe there are some back-story details you’d like to fill in.  Maybe a character who needs an odd name, or who’s pockets you need to fill with random stuff.  Maybe you need a fictional timeline for a fictional nation.  Or, maybe you need a wacky science-fiction invention…
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11/1/2013

Let the writing begin!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

NaNoWriMo starts today, but I won’t be participating this year.

Maybe next year, after my life is just a little more settled and I’ve spent a year getting my writing chops back.
Writing here, or any non-fiction, is relatively easy for me these days, but writing fiction is another kettle of fish.  I used to write all the time and, especially right after college, it flowed easily and well.  I would say, in my own estimation, that I was writing fiction at…
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11/23/2012

Rules for Writing

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fiction,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The first rule is to WRITE!

No, seriously, in honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d link to things about writing and inspiration this month and, even though, I’m no great fan of rules, especially about writing, some people are.  So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share the Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.
They asked several authors, some of whom I am more familiar than others, and got each of them to list their “10 Rules for Writing”.  Some are funny, and some are a little too truthful, but one of them may help you break out of writer’s block, or just whatever writing rut you may have worked yourself into this month.
My favorite of the bunch, outside of all ten of Leonard Elmore’s rules, is “The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.”  That comes from Anne Enright, who I confess I have not heard of before, but who is entire correct.
So, get back to writing, okay?

Well, get back to writing after you click the link and read the other rules they have there.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
   --Mark Twain

11/16/2012

Generate Story Ideas

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Are you stuck for ideas?

It may be a little late for those people attempting NaNoWriMo this month, but it’s never too late for the rest of us to come up with some great story ideas.
IO9 gave these as “10 Tips for Generating Killer Science Fiction Story Ideas“, but some of them are just interesting ways to bump up some conflict and aren’t limited to science-fiction at all.  Here’s the short list of them, before I go into details on a couple:

  1. Look at the big unanswered questions
  2. Imagine a new scientific or technological discovery — and then imagine it ruining your life
  3. Take your biggest fear about the future and take it to an extreme
  4. Instead of speculating about science, try sociology or philosophy or theology
  5. Think of an act you would never approve of, then imagine a sympathetic character doing that act
  6. Why can’t you just go and get what you want, in real life?
  7. Get into a fight with a famous science fiction author
  8. State the obvious
  9. Come up with five non-obvious consequences of a technological or scientific breakthrough, and focus on one of them
  10. Think about something you used to believe, and then imagine what if it was true

Now, first, a quick note about Number 7 there.  Don’t go hit a famous author!  What they mean, is decide how wrong one is and write your story to disprove the conclusions they made (*cough* Ayn Rand *cough*).
But, look at that list.  The article on IO9.com is focused on killer science-fiction ideas because they’re a science-fiction website, but, outside of Numbers 2 and 9, really, you could take out the sci-fi element and still have a good story.

Yes, even Number 3, “Take your biggest fear about the future and take it to an extreme” can make compelling fiction in pretty much any genre, including literary fiction, if you handle it right.  And, if you’re stuck, maybe it’s time to try writing outside your normal genre anyway.  I mean, what if that’s the whole problem in the first place, right?

So, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, these are great ways to generate ideas for stories.
And, either way, it’s Friday and you’re clearly slacking if you’re reading this, so you might as well click that link up there and have some fun.
Happy weekend and happy writing!

11/2/2012

Opensource Writing Tool

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft,NaNoWriMo,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

In honor of the first Friday of NaNoWriMo, I’m bringing you a free writing tool and not from my usual main site.

This week, I’m originating my regular Friday Fun Post from JKHoffman.com, where I hope to move most of my more creative work, instead of my regular Diary of a Network Geek.
If you’ve given serious thought to writing, you have probably heard of both National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo, and a writer’s program called Scrivener.  Personally, I’ve done most…
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11/1/2009

Creative Focus

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I have some focus problems.

Forgive me, dear readers, I know it’s been weeks since I’ve had a decent week of real news, commentary or updates.  It’s the season.  Fall always slows me down and throws me off balance.  October and November are always crazy, hectic, chaotic months for me.  Set aside the fact that everything seems to be family oriented, which serves as a reminder that it was August of 2005 when my divorce was final, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2004 when The Queen of the Damned hopped on her broomstick and flew off cackling, leaving me quite effectively without family right before the holidays.

No, set that aside, because, clearly, it doesn’t effect me at all.
Forget, too, that it was the Fall of 2006 when I started coming down with pneumonia that turned into a football sized tumor.  Or that it was August of 2007 when I finished chemotherapy and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a walking corpse, a living ghost.
Because, as much as I’d like to blame the slump on all that, it really has little to do with it.  What’s more true is that I get endlessly, uselessly busy in October, getting ready for the social obligations of November.  Oddly, December has far fewer social obligations than November and I look forward to the relative peace of December, even without snow, and the joy of Christmas, the rebirth of light into the world.

Sadly, I’ve done far too little so far to prepare for November’s fun and games, and I’ve been a little paralyzed with the Herculean task of clearing the clutter in my house.  That, along with an impending visit from my parents, and my usual Thanksgiving party, which is being a little displaced this year, is why I’m not even going to pretend to try my hand at NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s also partly why I’ve been so long between any real updates.
I have been working quite a bit the last two weeks, often working late, sometimes far too late, to try and get things accomplished at work.  Also, I’ve been working out.  Yes, I know, I was doing that before, some, but now I’m doing it more.  Not only in the morning, but, when I can manage it, a second, lighter, workout in the evening.  I’ve been using those iPhone apps I reviewed not too long ago, FoodScan and DailyBurn, to track my inputs and outputs and discovered that I hadn’t been working enough to burn off breakfast!  So, I stepped it up a bit.  I think the results are showing, too.  I’ve dropped a little over 10 pounds in two months, which seems pretty sustainable to me.  More importantly, I feel better physically and, I think, look better, too.
But, that takes time, dear readers, and, while the extra exercise has been helping me sleep, it’s also been putting me out earlier, which means less writing time!

But, it’s not all grim!
I’ve also been busy because I’ve been reading more.  Some fiction, but a little bit more non-fiction, like The Dip and Think And Grow Rich.  I’ve also started to work my way through the backlog of photography books I’ve been accumulating.  Most recently, I’ve been reading The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally, and I’ll read his other book on photography, The Hot Shoe Diaries, next in my non-fiction queue.  (Who knew that the advice of not bothering to light your subject’s feet would produce a visibly better photo for me?)  Also, I got these two books because this coming weekend, November 7th and 8th, I have signed up for a two-day lighting and portraiture seminar taught by Mr. McNally.  And, to say that I am looking forward to it is beyond understatement.  I recognize that the only way to improve my photography is to take some kind of instruction, and, of course, get out shooting more, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to work on those meager skills.  The class shouldn’t be more than 200 people, so I’m not sure how “hands on” this will be, but, from everything I’ve heard, McNally is a fantastic teacher, so I’m sure I’ll learn something that makes the more than reasonable $150 fee money well spent.  After all, just reading a few pages of The Moment It Clicks has visibly improved my self-portraits, I think.

It may be that I’ve been pouring all my creative energy out either via photography or solving problems at work, but I sure don’t feel like I’ve had anything left to write at all, much less well.  Or, it may be that I’ve just gotten out of the habit of writing every chance I get and not worrying about the quality of the work.
In any case, you’ve just gotten a bit of an update on what I’ve been up to lately, so, I guess, that’s good enough.
For now.

11/30/2008

Lunch with Mark Flood, Famous Artist

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


MarkFloodPublicity

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I had lunch with my very-soon-to-be-very-famous artist friend Mark Flood today.

This month was National Novel Writing Month, but you notice that this is the first I’ve mentioned it. Notice, too, that I haven’t mentioned even a thought of participating this year. There’s a reason. Actually, there are a number of reasons, but most of them don’t matter much. Two, really, pushed me toward not bothering to try, though. First, November is the worst possible month to try and write a large volume of text on any subject, really. I mean, even if I hadn’t hosting Thanksgiving, I’d still have a lot of social obligations, not to mention the fact that I usually get snowed under with work in November, too. But, also, really, it’s been so long since I’ve written fiction regularly that going from zero to fifty in a month, well, let’s just say that fifty thousand words takes some working up to.

But, there are other things, too.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I have no talent drawing or painting, so, you know, art, at that point, becomes a bit of a challenge. That was probably about when I got interested in photography. I guess it seemed like an easier way to make something beautiful. Well, and there were more likely to be gorgeous women involved, too. Naturally, that’s always been right up there in importance with art. Women and art, almost the same to me, really. But, women are almost as much of a mystery as darkroom technique, so photography fell by the wayside, too. Not so much women, though, I probably should have chosen to do things in the other order based on how things worked out later. Hindsight is 20-20, right?
In any case, along the way, there was always writing. I always had writing. Until, one fine day, I grew up. I embraced the fact that I was a professional network plumber. I owned the idea that what I was really good at was making networks and servers run, talk to each other and do tricks. In short, as the title says, I am a network geek. And, that particularly lucrative pursuit slowly replaced my writing time.

Now, I’m not crying, okay? I mean, it paid the bills and it paid a lot of bills toward a pretty comfortable lifestyle, so I’m not knocking it. But, I do miss that dream of being an artist, or writer, or at least a photographer. Well, the more time I spend with Mark, soaking up the bits and pieces of his artist’s life, the more I hunger for that old dream, that time before I was a network geek when I was just a guy trying to pay the bills while I wrote. In a way, I’ve come full circle. Back to art and women. Well, full circle in that I desire both, but have neither. And, yeah, it seems like there’s a story in there somewhere.
Part of my problem with writing is that I’ve got it in my head that I should be writing science-fiction or fantasy, but when it comes out it comes out something entirely different. I’ve never set a story in the far future, or even the near future. Only once or twice, a couple truly horrible attempts, did I set something in the past, or a fantasy past where the rules were significantly different from now. I’m not sure what that all means, except, of course, my choices of subject matter seem to limit my output. I suppose the obvious answer is to write a different kind of story, but, then, obvious answers have never been my forte. I suppose that explains a lot of my problems with women, too.

I was thinking about all this after lunch with Mark today, because of a tribute article I read about Bob Carlos Clarke. He was a photographer and he took a lot of provocative photos, but he also had a number of famous friends, most that he met through his photography, many of whom he used as subjects for his work. Of course, he also took a lot of pictures of very attractive women, which has been, naturally, a dream of mine since, well, since about the beginning of puberty. So, yeah, portraits and black-and-white pictures and lights and lenses and art and famous friends and women and all that has been swirling in my head. Somehow, the photography is easier for me than the writing right now, so I pursue that.
I have no illusions about “making it big” or ever even selling my work, to be honest, but when I watch Mark, I see the obsession with getting the message right, with having to produce his work and I recognize that with my own obsessiveness around photos. I can only imagine what I must seem like to an observer while I’m setting a shot. And, of course, when I show someone a shot, there are almost always at least a dozen more that are slightly different that I discard.

Look, I don’t know what it all means. In the words of some poor slob in some movie that I can’t remember, we’re all just delivering pizzas. Or in my case, I’m just unclogging network plumbing. I love art, but I’m just doing a job like everyone else.
And, some days, that’s just not good enough anymore.

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