Random flow of words

There’s a new way to write that I’m not familiar with yet. That’s right . . . I have a new keyboard. The new keyboard is slightly different from the older one, primarily in the fact that the keys are not backlit.

I should note that this post is one of them letting-the-mind-roam-free posts; basically, I have no purpose other than to get used to my new keyboard, and the best way to do that is to use it. Read this warning to mean “this could be boring” . . . I’ll throw in a few random photos to keep readers from nodding off, but really, unless you’re a fan of my rambling thoughts, you can stop reading right here. 

Anyway, I do like keyboard keys that are backlit because I’m not a touch typist and I look at the keyboard when I type and I do a fair amount of typing at night when the only illumination is from the desk lamp and my 30″ screen.

The reason that I switched keyboards is that the old one — the one with the backlit keys — started having trouble with double-strikes and some sort of lag in the reaction of the keys to my striking them. That resulted in the last letter of one word ending up as the first letter of the next word. Not all the time, obviously, but frequently enough that correcting it took up some of my time. I suspect this to have been the fault of some keys reacting slower to the key-press than the Space Bar.

Of course, it could also be a sign of a disturbing deterioration of my fine motor skills, a precursor to some debilitating neurological disease that I’ll deal with once it becomes more pronounced.

Also, the CAPS LOCK key no longer worked. It’s not that I use it a lot (I don’t scream much online) but it is inconvenient for some things I type on a regular basis.

The new keyboard is slightly larger with slightly larger and more spaced out keys . . . no, wait . . . I just checked, and the keys look pretty much the same. Funny that; they feel larger.

The keyboard, however, does have a larger footprint because it incorporates a wrist/palm rest. That’s something I don’t use because my hands actually move as my fingers hunt and peck their way around the keys and as such, I don’t rest my wrist/palms on anything; it’s my forearms, near the elbow, that rest on the edge of the desk. They don’t make keyboards with forearm rests. 

You know what? So far, no mistyped words and double letters or letters running into the next word. This should speed up my writing a bit.

How fast do I type? Well, I don’t know. When I’m discussing stuff online with others, I appear to type my responses a lot faster — even when (usually) giving longer responses — than most people reply, but that could also be because my brain works so fast. Not accurately, mind you; just fast.

I kid about the brain part.

One of the difficulties with determining my typing speed is that most (all) typing tests I’ve seen involve the timed transcription of words or sections of articles. For me, that means I have to look at the words, then look down to type them, then look at the next group of words, and so on because I look at the keyboard when I type so that I can direct my two to four fingers to the appropriate keys.

I never transcribe anything from one place to another — that’s why FSM invented the Cntl-C and Cntl-V keys combinations — so those tests are (in my opinion) antiquated and irrelevant; a throwback to when office workers transcribed stuff.

All I know is that I can keep up with the words forming in my brain, be they opinions, fiction, or scathing condemnations of political parties and/or religious leaders.

Anyway, let me muse about writing as in the craft and not so much as in the mechanical devices used by the writer.

No particular reason other than I want to touch on a few things about writing. For one, I want to reshare a post I wrote years ago regarding the different approaches to creating fiction (HERE).

The piece is called The Architect and the Composer and I came across it in the course of exchanging e-mails with another writer. 

I guess not much has changed since I wrote it (other than I could now do a better job of writing it). I still write the same way I describe in that post. Sometimes I have an idea, sometimes not, but the first step is to start writing a scene or a character and see where that takes me.

The blog A Side of Writing — where that piece appeared — went away after a while, and I lost touch with Conrad. We used to exchange emails and, at some point, I stopped getting answers; when I think about it, that happens a lot. Deeper thinkers would ponder why people feel so threatened by me that they take refuge in the shadows. Or, they might postulate I’m more of a jerk than I realize; take your pick.

Anyway, while A Side of Writing was up and running, I often responded to his writing prompts. Those prompts were the genesis of many flash pieces (some summarized HERE). There were a few duds (I used to write at work as I ate my lunch) but for the most part, I think they were good writing exercises that produced decent results. That summary only covers my writing through 2014.

Since then, I’ve used prompts from other sources to occasionally produce decent stuff. Stuff like my linked second person POV stories (HERE and HERE),  and a few pieces that I like to reread (HERE, HERE, HERE, and — of course — HERE). Those will eventually make their way into whatever self-published anthology I put together.

Speaking of which, how am I doing on the rejection front?

Well, as of today, I’m at 48 rejection. At this rate, I will likely be dead before I reach the magical number of 837. I’ve stopped sending my second novel to agents . . . I think I tried something like 20 agents.

I know what you are thinking . . . those are paltry numbers, Disperser; you need to submit until you drop.  

Here’s the thing . . . those are rejections from places where I wouldn’t mind seeing my stuff published and from agents that I wouldn’t mind representing my work. Now, people (don’t ask who; it’s just people) will tell you that you need to exhaust all the avenues you can think of before giving up.

Imagine you want a tattoo. It’s a tattoo of a wolf head, and you want it on your cheek where everyone can see it. Why a wolf head? Perhaps you are a diehard fan of this blog. Or, you admire the cold-blooded and efficient way wolves dispatch their prey. Whatever the reason, you want this tattoo.

You research all the available parlors in town, and you rank them. You then start visiting each one in turn, from the ones with the best reputations and going down the line toward the guy that will ink you in a back alley with a used syringe he found in a dumpster.

How far would you go down that list before you said: “hmm; you know what? Maybe I don’t want it that badly after all.”

Granted, if you’re an author who has to put food on the table for a spouse, three children, a dog, and a pet raccoon they rescued from the sewer, you will sell to anyone who will pay, and you’ll aggressively search for anyone who will pay.

That’s because, as a professional, it behooves you to sell everything you write otherwise  — in effect — your hourly pay takes a hit. If something doesn’t sell, the time you spent writing it would have been more financially productive slinging fries at a fast food joint.

Now, understand, I’m not giving myself the airs of an elitist . . . the opposite, in fact. I’m saying that what I submitted to date is not good enough to make the grade at the places where I would like to see my work published.

I’m saying that I need to improve my writing until those places accept what I write.

That’s not to say that what I wrote is crap, but it’s also true that I don’t absolutely need to sell those works. I will happily save stuff that doesn’t sell for when I get around to publish it myself. Meanwhile, I need to send fresh material and set my current stuff aside.

Where do I get ideas? Well, sometimes I write stuff like THIS (it goes back some). Note the flow of ideas encompasses anything from a flash fiction piece to a short story to a space opera/saga that could span multiple volumes. That little write-up contains many stories that could be told; it’s an ideas generator.

Part of this retrospective was because the aforementioned email exchange pushed me to examine the novels I’d written and looking back at what I had written about the process at the end of each of them (HERE, HERE, and HERE).

For me, as a reader, the First Novel is the most fun to read because I was having fun as a writer and used a fair amount of humor. I also think I managed to balance the humor and drama in the story pretty well. So, yes, it has drama but I would call this a “light” read.

The other two are pretty close in terms of favorites, but if pressed, I would pick the Second Novel over the Third Novel because there are more characters interaction and chemistry in addition to action scenes and what I think is a decent plot. I say that as a reader but, like for all speculative science fiction, you can easily pick apart some of the premises. 

The Third Novel is more action than character development (how I view mystery and suspense writing; not so much an exploration of the characters but the characters reacting to events) and that makes it my go-to novel to fulfill that need in me. This is the novel I read after having read detective and mystery novels that leave me wanting more.

Yes, all three are NaNoWriMo novels and the last NaNoWriMo novel (Gin’s War — I finally named it) seems to be the more marketable of the three. 

Why do I say that? Well,  above I said something that struck a chord. Something that I knew but that I’d not dwelled on.

In mystery/action writing, you’re not so much growing a character (although you can) as having that character react to the events that drive the plot.

Why is that important? Because it may be that’s the kind of writing I’m suited for and it’s my estimation (I could be wrong) that the SF&F genre is drifting toward not only entertaining but also to being a positive force to drive social and personal growth.

Lofty goals those, but I, on the other hand, write strictly to entertain. Or, I try and write to entertain. Perhaps I’m actually writing to bore, and I don’t know it. Regardless, murder mystery readers — in my estimation — want excitement over deep life lessons, action over introspection, and fast-paced plots as opposed to drawn-out sagas (the current trend in SF&F).  

Mind you, you can have characters react to events in SF&F as well, and many successful books have such characters. They’re called iconic characters. In that, they don’t so much have a narrative arc as they are agents in the development of the plot. 

Take, for instance, Tarzan . . . Tarzan’s main attraction as a character is who he is as a person. Readers don’t expect him to eventually become a banker wearing Armani suits, and if he does, they expect him to revert to his wild persona.

Same for Aragorn, in Lord of the Rings; we know he is a King, and the journey we take with him is to see his destiny fulfilled. Contrast that to Frodo who grows as a character and ends up a very different person than when he started out.

That’s why I really didn’t care too much about Frodo’s but liked the Aragorn story arc.

In mysteries, the iconic detective reacts to events, investigates clues, but seldom undergoes significant personal growth. At least, that’s my expectation and what I’ve seen in books I’ve read. It used to be my expectation when reading SF&F books.

Unfortunately, per my estimation, these days are not those days. Mind you, I’m not speaking about readers . . . I’m referring to editors and agents and people in publishing. At least the SF&F ones I’m somewhat familiar with — and heard in interviews — expect less adventure and more social and interpersonal development. I could be wrong . . . as I often am. 

Crap! I need to do a disclaimer, don’t I? *sigh* . . . Okay:

Nothing I’ve written above is to be construed as me complaining, claiming any kind of victimhood, or cursing the Universe for having been born at the wrong time and on the wrong continent. Just collating thoughts, is all. 

Anyway, I’m hitting just a shade over 2,000 words and I have only one more photo ready to go, so I should wrap this up.

Plus, I’m now at the point where I don’t notice that it’s a new keyboard; I guess I’m pretty much used to it. You know, I’ve had much fewer typing mistakes so I’m hopeful my previous issues were more to do with the old keyboard and less to do with a debilitating neurological misfiring of brain signals to my fingers. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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