July 15, 2019, 09:32:02 PM

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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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16
Thinking of you John. Be well and be strong.

17
General Discussion / Re: Member birthday calendar
« on: March 16, 2019, 07:35:21 PM »
Thanks everyone!

The sixteenth of the third month is quite a day a for me,
Once a day of presents, cake and jubilee
Many days have come and gone and some have left their trace,
They grayed my hair and bent my back, left lines upon my face

The sixteenth of the third month is quite a day it's true,
Many things I’ve said and seen on the path to 52:
Quiet days and busy ones, and days that didn't end,
Crowded days and gloomy ones, with rules that wouldn't bend,
Weighty days of import, of risk and draining trials,
Days of rest and meaning, of laughter love and smiles.

The sixteenth of the third month is quite a day for me,
The end of my beginning’s gone - where did the swift time flee?
Just where my middle starts and stops I won’t know til the end,
When final fading moments close with no more left to spend.

The sixteenth of the third month, is quite a day a for me,
My mind it likes to wander down paths that cannot be,
My eyes have ever seen the world not as it is but could be,
My heart has loved what was and is and isn’t now – but should be.

18
@JMack For whatever it might be worth, I respect your strength and stoicism as you ask the hard questions and ponder their answers. Perhaps your father will recover, and we all hope this comes to pass.

I was in a similar situation with my grandfather, who was returned to his home to hospice when I arrived. He died in the deep night, with only myself holding his hand and caressing his brow. He left the world with a kiss on his forehead and my tears on his arm. So far as I have seen, this is as good an ending as anyone can hope for, and better than most by a good way. This stands tall in my memory - my best service to him. And he taught me how to pass with dignity and humor - his best service to me. My point, if I have one, is that on the far side of this pain and doubt there is wisdom and solace. Until you get there, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you strength.

19
Hi @JMack ,
I am so sorry to hear of your family's difficulties and losses. I wish you strength and resilience going through this period, and on the far side, peace and solace.

There's a line in that old astronaut movie The Right Stuff when someone is comparing astronauts to the monkeys, and Chuck Yeager says that the difference is the monkey doesn't know all the things that can go wrong. I kind of think of us being in that position - knowing how things will end but ultimately unable to do anything about it. Being human is a helluva thing. Peace and strength brother, in equal measure to you and yours.

20
I'm seeing @The Gem Cutter posting!
Are you back?
Are you going to start entering the monthly contest again?
Are you doing well?
 :)

I pop in once in awhile, but find I have run out of things to say - imagine that. Been busy and have a cold. But I am well - thanks for asking :)

21
Surely in a world as diverse as SW, people must be studying all kinds of biology-related issues - ways to adapt alien proteins and organs and hormones for all kinds of purposes. And of course, the diversity of the environments, diets, and biology of the differing species leads to all kinds of medical issues.

22
Apparently, people who are raised in highly repressive environments never get a chance to fully evolve their emotional sensitivity - meaning that they have a hard time identifying just what emotion they're having. The result is that strong, specific emotions (fear, loathing, etc.) are experienced as fatigue and depression-like sadness. Not sure if that applies to anyone here, but perhaps some explorations will lead to enlightenment. Knowing that there's a rock in your shoe doesn't take away the pain, but it does stop you from thinking that the pain reflects something wrong with your foot. So to speak :)

23
Writers' Corner / Re: Unreliable narrator
« on: February 04, 2019, 03:27:11 AM »
I have studied this somewhat, and here are my thoughts.

A narrator can be unreliable in several, meaningful ways that a writer can use to surprise the audience, introduce twists, and otherwise influence both the way the plot proceeds and the way the story is experienced. There are several forms this 'unreliability' can take. Here are some with examples and a bit about their dynamics.

Internally unreliable narrator (my own term) - the narrator doesn't know they're unreliable, often due to memory loss, mental illness, drugs, etc.Shutter Island and Fight Club are great examples in film.

Externally unreliable narrator (again, my term) - the narrator is reliable, but their perceptions are not. The core of their being is intact and their motivations pure, but there's something else wrong. This is a subtle distinction others might not agree with. A man reports he heard no gunshot - forgetting his hearing aid batteries were dead. Someone believes they cannot be pregnant/father a child because of a procedure that was done - but it wasn't, or not correctly.

Combined - Memento and Inception are good examples of reliability twists laid upon reliability twists... known and (perhaps) unknown by the narrator. Ambiguity rules in these examples, and this requires a masterful hand.

Socially Unreliable Narrator - the character reports faithfully what they know or understand, but their sources were unreliable, perhaps nefariously so. I like this one, because you can highlight how a person is subject to the blindspots, assumptions, and ignorance of their group(s). In Dune, there is a lot of this surrounding the Doctor who betrays Duke Leto. The doctor's conditioning was supposed to make him immune to coercion - and this was stated many times by many characters. However the villain achieved this exception, and it is critical to the plot.

The issue with unreliable narrators that you should be aware of is that it doubles or even trebles the complexity of writing within that character's POV on multiple levels. Their actions and thoughts must be consistent with both the incorrect view (the audience's) as well as the correct one (whether known or unknown to the narrator). This is hard.

The biggest danger is that if not done well, the audience can feel cheated, lied to, etc. Which they are, of course. The trick is to get them to enjoy the twist so much they don't care you've been jerking them around.

Unreliable narrators are in the 'deception' section of the writer's toolbox, along with misdirection (Shawshank redemption has some amazingly subtle misdirection) and some other bits and bobs. It is a fine line between what we like to look at as a character element (narrator reliability) vs. a plot device (plot twist), but if you look hard enough, I believe you will see they are close cousins.

Hope this is helpful.

24
Writers' Corner / Re: Making villains pathetic
« on: January 30, 2019, 03:55:32 AM »
The bad guy in the Green Lantern movie was pathetic. There are a lot of things about Kylo Ren in SW that are pathetic. There were aspects of Loki that were pathetic in many ways/much of the time in several Thor films. There were many aspects of the emperor in the movie Gladiator that I found pathetic. So it can be done. Making a villain pitiable can be effective, I suppose, if you can craft a story where even the pitiable sometimes must be beaten.

25
General Discussion / Re: Fantasy Poetry
« on: January 28, 2019, 05:44:19 AM »
The Lays of Beleriand, written by Tolkein, are the only fantasy in verse I know of. They recount material/events depicted in the Silmarillion, which is decidedly not for everyone. They are beautiful in their way in many places, particularly when Luthien puts Morgoth to sleep.

26
That sounds like a very difficult moment Bea, sorry that happened to you. I will confess that my background has led me to similar moments, but I rarely betray any signs at the time. I will secret myself away and sometimes cry until I forgive myself for being what I am - a man, and nothing more.

27
General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: January 16, 2019, 07:02:00 PM »
Apparently Britain is brexiting brexit?  ;D

28
Just under a month until my next book goes to the editor, and a lovely cloud of winter depression has settled upon my mind. I find editing to be mentally exhausting (fun, but tiring) and, of course, depression compounds that. Worse when the people who should be supportive aren't even around.

What does everyone else do when they find themselves in these situations - especially with deadlines!? I was extremely lucky over the past three days to review/edit 10k words, but I was alone the entire time and could break up the work with housework. Not exactly sustainable!

At least I have a few years until the doctor recommends a colonoscopy!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive New Year!

My suggestions: exercise; long walks or short fast ones; set up some pleasant moments for yourself - whether it's a coffee at a specific place or a trip to the book store, or whatever you enjoy, get it on the schedule and think about it and look forward to it. Hope your mood lightens.

29
This past week for the first time I was treated to the adventure that is a colonoscopy. Good fricking times, that.

30
I want to share some observations that relate to your low flexibility score, Ms. Scarlet. My point is that this phenomenon is not a character flaw or indicative of a problem, strictly speaking.

When I got into special operations, I saw that there were generally two types of people: meticulous planners and highly adaptive improvisors. The first excelled at meticulous plans that took all kinds of things into account and set the team up for success. Their problem is that when things change and their plans become moot, they have to operate without one - and that is not their strong suit. Likewise, the improvisors would often fail to plan effectively and encounter situations that no amount of adaptability can overcome.

The key is to combine the two types of people - the number of people who excel at both is such a small percentage that it's not worth considering. So when you encounter your limits, I advise you forgive yourself for being what you are: organized, meticulous, etc., etc. These traits literally come at the cost of the flexibility you wish you had - but simply cannot.

It's the cost of doing business and you see it everywhere, even physics: hard things are always brittle; the sharper something is the more fragile it is; things that can be used to pull (rope, cables) cannot be used to push, etc., etc. Be happy you have strengths (even with the weaknesses they come with) and that you know what they are :)

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