Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stage III Has Begun

Old meets What Will be Renewed
Renovations are in hand, despite the rain. Again. Showers.

Thirteen concrete pads with steel stirrups for timbers were poured today. The backyard is a swamp due to all the to-ing and fro-ing with a filled wheelbarrow. I stand on the back step to look at it all.

The old part of the house sits, and will continue to do so, unfastened on its stumps, as shown. Builder tells me that come a cyclone I'll be safer in the new annex than anywhere. We're joking of course. The annex will have one wall mostly of glass.

Writing today was at breakfast, in my scrapbbok. A scrap of the work in progress. And now, this blog post.

The rest of the day went in admiring the progress and the process, bits of cleaning up, bits of knitting, sorting stuff to keep, stuff to be tossed, stuff to be taken to the opportunity shops ...

There will be sorting forever, probably.

And now this is being typed with one finger, due to a large cat claiming a lap, the laptop relegated to the footstool.

The aforesaid cat, Maggy by name, Baggy-Maggy, and a variety of other endearments, has not coped well with the changes around her. Her black tail is sweeping and when I remove her paw from the computer, she thinks because I am typing she should be able to type also, she jumps away.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Writing Science Fiction: A Strategy

Diatribe: what I started to write about the craft of writing but deleted. Started again. See previous post.

Making strange a cactus by renaming it:
Shark Tooth Cactus
We will look at the word without referring to the actual meaning. 'Dia' when it is part of dialogue means a conversation between two people. 'Tribe' could refer to the whole lot of us, our tribe. Therefore 'diatribe' could mean a conversation among the whole lot of us.

What I just did was to make up a new meaning for the word. This is a favourite strategy of some writers. Science fiction writers more often than others but I will always remember the combination of such a rejigging, and its combination with a cliche in Vernon God Little by DCB Pierre. One of my all time favourite books.

In that novel 'a paradigm shift' became a 'power-dime' the ability to change powerfully through being able to use a powerfully-turning dime (ten cent coin) to turn on.

Online dictionaries gave me these meanings:

Paradigm shift:
a change in basic assumptions

a harangue, a criticism

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Learning the Craft of Writing

Machine Crafted, Hand Detailed Chair
Someone asked me the other day how long it could possibly take to learn to write, in that tone of voice which said it should really not be taking you (that's me) as long as it has.

What could I say? That it takes as long as it takes? That I was late getting started and am slow getting along? That it will take me for the rest of my life? That I got good at essays but I'm still learning to write fiction?

All the above and some more. Learning to write probably takes about ten years. The same amount of time as in former times it took an apprentice builder, carpenter, knitter or weaver to get to journeyman/woman stage.

Ten years -- a long apprenticeship followed by four or so years working for a boss before the craftsperson got their ticket and could set up shop for themselves.

Learning to write well takes practicing your craft everyday for the rest of your life.

But crafts have been downgraded. We think we can press a lifetime of experience into one year. We think we can learn everything from books and or the internet -- as I used to before I took up Tai Chi. We think machine-work is pretty good and use it for the basics.

The chair above was made by pre-computerized men (I'm guessing the chair is at least sixty years old)) using pre-computerized machine-tools. the carving on the back of the chair is too regular to have been done by hand. Parts of it, for example the cane sides and backs, were woven by hand and must be repaired by hand. The panels were set in by hand, after the chair carcass was completed. I gather this from the slight off-centredness of the panels.

The cushions were re-upholstered by a person with the help of a sewing machine. The beading around the cushions, though a feature on industrial sewing machines, takes skill and experience in the easing around corners in the stiff cloth.

Even these days (early 21st Century) we would expect a person able to produce such a chair to have had a more than a few years of training. Some of us think we can write when we can put pen to paper (a rare bird, these days) or peck out a pattern of words on a computer. Writing continues to be intractably hands-on, where the hands is the metaphor for the mind.

Writing can't be automated.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Renovations Are in Hand ...

...but everything else is slipping through my fingers. This blog for instance. All week and all month I think of interesting topics, titles and fragments of ideas to blog. But I'm not near the computer. I might have my putty knife in hand to 'pack' (that is the term, I believe) imperfect seams between new upright interior timbers and old once-exterior chamfered weatherboards. 

Shower corner, tiled and painted. Good to go. 
Or I might be stripping back a door. This one used to be the door between my living room and latticed verandah. It will be the door from the hall into the new bathroom. It is a non-literary work in progress.

Door in process of being stripped of five coats of paint. 

 I'm going to be trying something new (to me). Writing a couple of posts at the time and having blogger feed them out to preset dates. We'll see how that works.