Australia!

My family and I just returned from holiday in Australia. Traveling so far and being so far out-of-time with our friends and family in the Northern Hemisphere was a dramatic experience and I have no doubt my family will remember for the rest of their lives

We were fortunate to have “missed” the terrible fires that have been ravaging the country, but such fortune is not to be celebrated. Go follow https://www.instagram.com/ausfires/ and see some of the devastation and heartbreak for yourself.

Horrendous fires seem to follow my travels. In October, I traveled to Napa Valley to run a massive relay run Ragnar Napa Valley 2019 but the race was canceled because a massive wildfire broke out on the course. Google it. It fucking happened. California wildfires are a matchstick compared to the Australia wildfires and I do not mean to downplay any of the tragedy of the California fires. Those are terrible. It’s just the Australia ones are on a far larger scale.

The lesson for me here is that the trip was a blessing and something I dare not take for granted. We had a wonderful time as a family. My heart goes out to all of the beautiful Australians who’ve suffered losing their homes, or worse, losing ones they love.

Here is a link to donate to support the fire brigades in Australia. Peace!

https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade

And on the brighter side, here are some photos from my trip:

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Magic.

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Wow

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The Australian White Ibis

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Peace my friends.

Back to writing

harvester-hand-full
A very old concept drawing, with my old title

After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back to writing my novel, The Harvester, although this time around I have the working title, The Spacetime Gambit.

The process is more or less the same. Write a crappy first draft, one chapter at a time. Endlessly massage the pros like I’m kneading dough when I’m stuck on moving forward, then move forward until the next time I’m stuck and start making pizza again. This process worked to get me five drafts of my 120k novel the first time so why not give it another go.

The rewrite is seeing me spending a lot more time on the characters and the outline for the story. This is a contrast to the first go where I just started writing and was forced to spend months cleaning up plot holes (which eventually were cleaned). I see this time around as my attempt to write the book with the final mindset I developed after five drafts of the first one. Because my idea of what the book was going to be changed drastically over that time period, leaving me with some inconsistencies I didn’t like.

So here I am, another round. Wish me luck!

Rewrite Planning

I’ve been doing a lot of “planning” ever since I decided to rewrite my book from scratch. This planning falls into these broad development categories:

  • Characters
  • Themes
  • Plots

I also have a large number of “notes” that I take throughout the day, either audio voice notes, written notes, emails, or bits I tell Siri or Alexa to remind me about. All of this data can be quite overwhelming so I’ve been working on ways to bring order to chaos.

Ulysses

I use Ulysses for all of my writing. I use it for many reasons:

  • It’s well-written
  • It works on Mac and iOS and seamlessly synchronizes via iCloud
  • I like the easy and future-proof open format used for writing, Markdown
  • It allows me to organize all of my projects in a hierarchical manner
  • The “sheet” mechanism and the way collections of sheets can be grouped in the hierarchy and “glued” together offers me a lot of organizational flexibility

So, all of my ideas eventually funnel down into Ulysses. The voice notes I take are reviewed and typed out and sometimes hilarious especially when I am drunk or high or both. The e-mails I send myself from work with some game-changing idea are pasted into my notes sheet periodically. But then it comes time to tease it all into a structure. When I wait too long, the number of ideas can accumulate and be daunting to reason through.

To begin, I start to organize these ideas into broad themes and categories. When I ‘m done, I have a list of themes/categories and the associated notes organized beneath each.

The number of notes can still be a lot so I like to go through a reduction phase where I remove redundancy and draw out the more important ideas and simplify or outright remove the less important ideas. This is easier once the notes are organized into themes.

Mac OS Mechanics

I use MacOS for all of my work so I do my best to take advantage of any organizational features it offers. Here are some of my favorites:

Command-` (backtick) allows you to switch between different windows in the same application. I use this when I have two “windows” open in Ulysses. To switch between two different applications, you’d use Command-tab.

You can also tile the windows, which is useful when I’m transferring notes directly into my outline. For this I use a cheap and well-written utility called Magnet since it expands on some of the basic window layout commands built into the Mac. On Windows, you can dock a window using Windows+arrow keys, but the Mac doesn’t have that exact behavior built-in.

Lots more keyboard shortcuts here.

I am back-posting this post since I wrote it a while ago and have already started writing!