Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brief Update

Hey Everyone,

My apologies for being a little slow posting here lately. I've been working on a few different things outside of what I normally write. So here's a brief update. (beneath the Update I've included some light reading. Five Observations (from the news and world in general) .

Writing Update

1) Continued work on the novel. Despite having written 145,000 words of Bracing the Darkness, I am once again world building in even greater detail. The Guide to the Cursh Empire is now 30,000 words long on its own, and I need at least another two weeks before I set foot in the actual novel again. There's just no getting around the detail work to produce a good epic fantasy. That includes the creation of every province and country, complete with a brief history, the religious history, local politics, clothing and physical characteristics, gender issues, sex and sexuality norms, family structure, cosmology, language, economics, geography, arts and education, recreation, war, cooking, architecture/trades, and societal structure.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the big fantasy novels have incorporated this kind of detail, as they should. What's fascinating is the sheer volume of reading necessary to even begin to grasp just some of the intricacies of how people group themselves. I'll be honest I can't wait to get back to the story itself.

2) A short story called This Old House. I originally wrote this about four years ago, dusted it off, and suddenly liked it again. That didn't prevent me from editing it quite a bit, but I'm hoping to send it out to some literary magazines in the next two weeks. It's not quite done, but I'm almost there, I think.

3) New From the Archive feature for this site: In light of the stories coming out this week, I'll probably redux my old blog on Gays and the Church. Some of you might be uncomfortable with it, and I am sure that some will be angry, but we'll see.

4) A newspaper article, Why I Wish I Was Gay. And yes, it's satire. And no, it's not what you think. Some of the stories concerning the suicides this past month have been VERY disturbing.

5) A post on Following your Fears, for this site. Some exciting ideas I've been working through the past month. You'll like this one.

6) A new Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. For now, let me just say that it was tremendous.

7) A new Movie Review: Still taking recommendations. Let me know what you want reviewed. I review almost everything I watch, so I'll take the recommendations, but they will be passed through Bethany (my wife) as we usually watch them together.

Those are the current projects, along with a minimum of two hours research everyday, and at least an hour or two of other reading. (Anyone care to know about the Visigoths?) Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, but I have no idea how writers work forty hours and still produce good material. That amazes me.

Five Observations

1. I hate stereotypes. I mean, as a rule, I hate them. Too often they categorize people unfairly into large groupings that often don't make sense. And yet, some things are simply not stereotypes.

I live in Toronto, the biggest city in Canada. It is a metropolis, unlike, say, Dallas, Texas, where the buildings are spaced so widely that their "downtown" is about a block and a half. Toronto is more like Chicago, with massive buildings and a densely packed population. If you drive an LUV, one of those huge Luxury Utility Vehicles originally designed for the military, then you are clearly compensating for something. I understand that families like the smaller SUV's, especially with kids, and I have no problem with that. But if you live in a metropolis, and feel the need to drive a massive vehicle (like a Suburban or a Hummer) designed as a troop carrier, than you have severe 'status' issues. And driving one of said vehicles does not give you the right, EVER, to park in the wider handicap spots. Your personal, mental handicap doesn't count. (And you can't just park along the curb outside the mall either. Show some respect, dammit.)

2. Toronto is about to have its municipal election. We have a budget of about eleven billion dollars (I think) and we're on the verge of electing the dark, twisted version of Chris Farley, Rob Ford. Before you cast your vote, please go to YouTube and watch this man in action. That the police were called to his house for a domestic dispute, though no charges were laid, says a lot. And anyone who says "well, there were no charges", I want you to think about it. Did your spouse ever call the police because they were worried/afraid of you physically? And no, I don't like George Smitherman much either. He seems like a prick. He's a competent administrator though, and has experience in the provincial cabinet. Please don't elect this guy!

3. I am struck, as always, by the fanaticism, the loud screeching, that seems to occupy every debate when it comes to religion. I don't want to be one of those people who predicate everything by "it's getting so much worse than it was in my day", because it's still my day, I think. But there is something to the internet that leads people to spew vitriol and hatred. When I head to some Christian sites and read the comments, I am amazed that these people consider themselves people of faith. Whatever you believe about Jesus, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be thrilled at the stuff on there. It almost feels as if we are continuing to dissociate ourselves even more, in regards to our online self and our physical self. That is troublesome.

4. One more thought about religion, and this includes me. No single person or group knows everything. Now, that may not sound like an audacious statement, but in many of today's religious models, apparently telling someone that you're not sure that you agree with them is outrageous. Why else do I end up in these debates with Christians who feel safe to assure me that "Their position is God's position"? Really? Isn't that, I don't know, pretty freakin' arrogant? Good grief, you mean to tell me that your position isn't simply something you think is true, or that it's something you've come to believe in, but that you know what God thinks on the issue without a doubt? When I suggest that it might be arrogant to think that way, I usually receive a condescending response along the lines of "Oh, you're a postmodernist, so I guess everything is true." No, not everything is true. What I do know is that a) I'm not God b) that faith does not exist without doubt. If you have no doubts, you have no faith, by definition, and c) that the Kingdom of God is not predicated on the perfection of any one doctrine. Of course, I could be wrong.

On a more positive note...

5. It's amazing to see what happens when you look (and smile) at the people you run into during the day. I know that we're usually in a hurry, but take some time this week to open the door for the person behind you or smile and ask the cashier how he or she is doing. It's easy to go through the entire day without looking at anyone but your family or colleagues, but take a few extra minutes to notice the other people, and watch what a difference it makes. I bumped into a particularly grumpy cashier this week, but I figured she'd been dealing with some rude customers throughout the day. So instead of taking it personally (as I've done in the past) I smiled and made a couple of jokes after asking her how she was doing. By the end, she had a smile on her face. It doesn't take much, you know, to remind us that we're human. And sometimes that's all we need to put a little extra bounce in our step.

Blessings, everyone. Enjoy the fall colours this week. Hopefully I'll have regular post up soon.