Happy Exerversary

PJ phoned me today, “Happy Exerversary!”

Seventeen years ago we walked down the aisle. Though we are now divorced, I consider marrying her one of the best decisions I ever made. I wandered through my 20’s with her. Made a beautiful little girl with her. Learned much about myself with her. Gained many priceless memories.

From my vantage point, outside my Toronto bachelor pad next to Bacia’s table, with four decades’ worth of experiences under my belt, it feels like a lifetime ago now. I think back to those days, and I barely recognize myself. I had a house, a garage, a yard, a sister-in-law living in the basement, and ‘couples things’ to do.

Sometimes you can look back on the past and gain insight into the future. I’m not sure I want to make those kinds of extractions for myself. A condo in The Beaches would be nice. Seeing Jazzy whenever I want would be outstanding. But a  wife? A family?

I have things to do first.

In some ways I have a lot in common with my past. Just as I was at 23 years of age, I am now, starting my life anew. I find myself listening to myself better now, taking my career in a different direction, in a very different city. Where once I sought complexity and the trappings of importance, I now live for the solitude of simplicity – which I’m still getting a handle on.

PJ also finds herself beginning life anew. She’s moving back to Vancouver with Jazzy and Kieran to finish her PhD. She’s still figuring things out with Deni. Where she winds up a year from now is anyone’s guess. I don’t think she’s in a great hurry to figure that out.

I could say the same for myself.

Too Much Time to Think about Patio Table Philosophies

Yup. I’m nesting. At least the guy equivalent to that.

I welcomed Bacia’s old patio table to my apartment. Set it out on the patio space in front. I next caught myself looking at planters online. I figure a couple of big pots out front would define the space without turning into a major investment of time, money and upkeep.

The weather’s been cold, grey and rainy these past couple days. I don’t mind so much, but it has crept into the time I was hoping to dedicate towards enjoying Bacia’s table. It’s given me time to think about the space. Too much time perhaps.

Bacia’s table comes with no chairs – which generally isn’t a problem because I have a lawn chair that I pull out and sit in every morning. Problem is, my lawn chair sits lower than Bacia’s table permits. Suddenly I’m looking at adding more elements to this orbit around my headspace.

I dislike accumulating things for my apartment. More clutter. More things to store and take up space. This is why I like my lawn chair so much. It’s comfortable and it folds up when I’m done with it. Can I live with Bacia’s table coming up to my chest when I sit at it?

Perhaps I could, but then, what would the neighbours think?

Less important, how stubborn am I being by not accepting the fact that Bacia’s table demands proper chairs be placed next to it? The whole set needs to match somewhat too, otherwise it will look, ‘unmatchy’.

Again, what will the neighbours think?

Perhaps I should just get rid of the neighbours and keep my lawn chair.

Laundering My Productivity

The day sort of got away from me yesterday.  I felt it in my brain as I drank my morning coffee.  Couldn’t bring myself to focus on what I wanted to accomplish over the next few hours.  Laundry.  Groceries.  Backgammon.

Nobel and much needed pursuits, but not exactly what I signed up for in my career.  I was thinking of something more in the order of writing, researching, or follow-up with potential clients.  I’ll have to make up for that lack of progress today methinks.  That will make me feel better about myself.

I was downtown on Tuesday.  Meant to be finishing that novel I’ve been reading.  Instead I left my book at home.  Wound up finding the series bible for BSG on an online script database.  I’ve read scripts before.  Dozens of them.  Never seen a series bible though – especially one for a series I’m intimately familiar with.  To say the least, pouring over 59 pages of what makes BSG, BSG – was much better than finishing some half-assed book.

Today has follow-up with potential clients on the plate, along with finishing up some half-assed book.  I may also clip my fingernails – an endevor which could be two or three massive blog entries all on its own.

A World Painted by Words

I’m about 620 pages into an 858 page novel I checked out of the library on Thursday.

Though I’ve been studying and practicing the craft of story for years now, and though the principles of good story telling remain universal, the genres and forms have different conventions.  In writing my own novel, I felt questions bubbling up.  It was with those questions in mind that I picked up this particular novel at the library.

The book was written by a best selling author.  Didn’t bother reading the plot summary.  I’ve seen movies that were made from his novels, and I have a good idea for what to expect.

My novel is a sci-fi comedy.  His genre is military political thriller.  Very different, but I felt I would learn more from reading him, rather than from someone in my same genre.  Of course, I could always read a second book after completing this first one, but I’m feeling the clock ticking.  I want to get writing!

The novel has introduced more that three-dozen characters – all of them virtually identical to each other.   All of them are action heroes or villains who dive fearlessly into conflict.  They’re all CIA, foreign intelligence and/or Special Forces types with superior combat training.  Diving into conflict is what they do.  They care deeply for what is right or wrong, and though these are admirable traits, NONE of these characters are really ever tested.  They never have to choose between the better of two evils, or the better of two goods.  This makes them all rather one-dimensional.

While most movies (screenplays) feature two or three main stories, this novel has over ten.  As individual stand-alone stories they would be completely cliched and uninteresting.  Many of the scenes are pure exposition without conflict.  There are so many threads intertwined, that the inciting incident of the primary plot doesn’t occur until page 400 or so.

The exactness of the world created in this novel is incredible.  At times I felt like I was reading Discovery Channel.  Military equipment and weaponry are described in great detail.  Same goes for the intelligence gathering as it relates to global conflict.  This is the saving grace of this otherwise terrible book.  It also happens to be where I have the most to learn.

In my own work, I often rush passed the details in order to get the story structure, conflict, and character choices down.  There are other artists and technicians involved in the creation of a movie, TV show, or play, so unless something is significant to the story, I am happy to defer to others for those choices.

A novel is a very different experience for a reader than a play or movie is for an audience.  Plays and movies are meant to be seen.  Details of the set or wardrobe in the script are intended for those who would be part of a production.  Audiences never ‘read’ details of the set.

Novels are worlds unto themselves, and these worlds are painted with words.  The voice of the author is the vessel by which a reader travels through the story.  Words are meant to stand alone as words, and not simply as a means to an end.

This distinction is taking some getting used to, but I’m on board.  One more day and I should be done the book.  After that, I’m back to my own novel.  Exciting!