Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Doing the Work

Montana sunset by JFulford June 2023

If you wanna be a fiction writer, you gotta do the work. It doesn't really matter where you work, like from a gorgeous spot out in the Montana wilderness, but you gotta dedicate the time and the headspace. You'll need uninterrupted stretches to: 

--Think about your story, AKA plotting

--Write, write, write

--Re-read and check your inner critic. Revisions come after the draft. (Are you editing while you're drafting? Ahhh, I see, you're one of those.)

--Capture thoughts about changes (I do this in a spiral notebook.)

--Think some more, AKA plotting

--Wonder what the hell you're doing

--Keep writing

--Resist, resist, resist major editing (Unless you're one of those.)

--Finish a draft

A draft is the newborn phase of your story's life. You don't have anything without a draft – a complete draft with a beginning, middle, and end.

All the other stuff, pacing, voice, character development, world building, proper spelling/grammar, dreams of fame, those can be tackled in the editing phase. Don't get me wrong, editing is essential. But getting the draft down comes first. Everything else can be fixed.

Whatcha waiting for?

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Wait, What? AI and Writing

Since my last post in 2022, lots of life has happened. I traveled to Iceland, Canada, Spain and several U.S. locations; I've moved (same city); I've switched jobs then decided to basically take a sabbatical from full-time work. Here we go, sliding into 2023 with a little determination to relax.

How was all that activity on my literary output? A big fat rotten goose egg. But doesn't the saying go, If you can't write something worth reading, then do something worth writing about? I've been thinking about finishing the draft of my new novella, but the old butt-in-seat-hands-on-keyboard method has failed me of late. Part of it has to do with the relaxing part. My job had me spending so much time in front of a computer, the last thing I wanted (or want) to do was (is) spend even more time in front of a screen, even if it was (is) doing something I enjoyed. It's okay. In fact, it might be good timing now that technology has sped up. My next novel includes artificial intelligence (AI) in the storyline, and so much has happened on that front lately.

ChatGPT has become a thing. If you haven't given it a spin, stop reading this and try it. It is an online web portal to pose questions to a computer that is trained to answer like a human. Ask it anything, and it'll give you an intelligible answer. It can even write a book. People are using AI to write just about everything now, including marketing copy. I'm waffling between thinking this is incredibly cool and also thinking of my career as dust. (Ha! Even the notion that I have a career is a little comical.)

Here's the answer ChatGPT gives when I ask it: What kind of voice do you use when asked to write a novel?

As an AI language model, I don't have a personal voice, but rather can adopt to different styles and tones...

And for another five paragraphs, it gives an explanation of how that can happen. Weird? Yes, and a little wonderful. 

Will it replace you and me, the writers of the world? No, I don't think a computer will ever fully capture the human experience. Google's tried to crack the code of our behavior for years (to sell us stuff), and the one underlying bump is that humans are just too fickle. We change our minds a lot, we do things uncharacteristically, veer from our habits. That and the fact that we actually LIVE isn't something that a computer can duplicate. It won't know what it feels like to sit on a beach, watch the sunrise, drink coffee with a friend, be cramped in a stale airplane, witness war, fall in love. Or at least, not yet.

Two cups of hot drinks in white coffee cups

Saturday, June 25, 2022

In This Lifetime: You Can, So Do

Bicycle with text "You can, so do."
If you can make a donation, send it out.

If you can canvas a neighborhood, bring a friend.

If you can talk with conviction, speak your mind.

If you can find your voice, write a letter to a politician.

If you can march in the streets, go forth with conviction.

If you can make a statement on social media, don't be afraid.

If you can assist a person in need, give them a hand.

If you can run for office, be yourself and tell it like it is.

If you can debunk a myth, correct the record.

If you can read and educate yourself, seek enlightenment.

If you can offer a shoulder for someone hurting, offer your kindness.

If you can write a treatise and publish it, get busy.

If you can listen, find your compassion.

If you can open your mind and heart, understand the perspective of someone other than yourself.

If you can be receptive, learn something you didn't know. 

If you have a patch of land, put a sign on it.

If you can sing, give it your all.

If you can shed your fear and hardness, fall in love with all the possibilities of this life.

There's always hope and a way to instigate change.

If you seize your potential, others will be inspired, too.

Hopelessness shelters in inaction. You can make a difference, so do. I believe in you.