The geese are coming!

The geese are coming! The geese are coming!

There are two large Canadian Geese waddling around outside my office window. I went out onto the patio to try and shoo them away – they tend to leave little green messes if you don’t – but they started to hiss at me.

Things brad likes today

1) my slick new $20 haircut

2) a spicy curry for dinner

3) a big mug of hot chocolate

4) sitting in a cafe pondering existence

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about this whole writing concept. The problem is this: In order to be a serious writer, one needs to write – virtually – continually. I think this is a relatively simple concept. When you wake up in the morning, what do you do? You write. When you are walking down the street, what do you do? You write? When you are sitting in a cafe drinking a big cup of hot chocolate, what do you do? You write? When you are watching television, what do you do? No, you turn the damn thing off, and then YOU WRITE.

Simple, really.

Thus, as I now have a keyboard attached to my fingers most of the day, I am finding fewer and fewer excuses not to write. The words that show up in this blog are – literally – a fraction of the words I am typing out day after day. What I am forcing here, is the idea that without pushing myself into an unbreakable routine of filling digital pages with words – no matter how pointless those words might be – I will never obtain greatness as might be seen in the likes of Adams, Pratchett, Stephenson, or the like.

Here is an analogy: Carolyn, a woman who works at my office, has a son who is going to be an Olympic athlete someday. I say “going to” because – barring some tragic fluke – he is unequivocably devoted to running. He is at his very core a runner: he runs, practices, trains, and races for a minimum of 30 hours a week. That’s on top of going to high school fulltime, working a part time job (at an atheltic equipment store) and trying to pretend to be a 15 year old kid. That – undeniably – is full-out and absolute dedication.

While there is no such thing as olympic writing, the idea is the same. You cannot be good enough at anything, including writing, without full-out and absoulte dedication to that thing: in other words, writing a few pages a month will not a writer make.

Furthermore, I have come to a very gradual realization that no one can actually teach you about: It is a thought that needs to ferment in your head, and with proper care, and nurturing grow into a wonderfuly intoxicating mental brew. You need to realize that every word that you write, no matter how “pulitzer” or how “recycle-bin-now-please” is like a step on the road to the olympics, and no matter how many times you stumble along the way, you will never reach your goal if you let critisism (internal or external) get the better of you.

It sounds like a lame Oprah moment, but even I am allowed a certain number of those per year.

So here I am: I expose my ramblings to the world, not as some sort of glamourous and self-indulgent exercise in wordplay. Rather, I expose myself to the world as a forum – read or unread – on the essence of my own training. This is it: here it is completely. I am writing for me: not for you. So if you are reading this, and thinking Brad sure is putting in a lot of effort for something that hardly anyone will ever read… think again. I write it for myself. If you want to stand on the sidelines and cheer me on, then your comments are more than welcome. But, don’t think for one second that any of this is part of the real race.

We now resume our normal programming…

One point zero

Focus to ocean shot and cue announcer:

“Welcome to the Vancouver Colonies. For the next thirty minutes I will be your guide through the breathtaking underwater scenery of this unique and vibrant aquatic community. Please remember to keep your arms and legs inside the static membrane at all times, and on behalf of Stoic Systems Incorporated, welcome aboard.”

“Folks, you are going to feel a gentle shudder of the vehicle as we begin moving and start our decent into the colony’s basin. While some of the structures that make up the colony do reside above the surface, most of the habitable structures are located below water-level, with many as deep as one-hundred meters.”

“If you look to the left side of the vehicle, we are quickly approaching the remains of the infamous Lion’s Gate Bridge. In the early part of this century a large scale restoration of this structure was undertaken by the former residents of the city. Unfortunately, only years after repairs were completed, the entire land mass supporting the bridge was washed into the ocean.”

“Now folks, if you will look to our right side you will see not one, but two complete coastal reef systems. While reefs are considered living things that feed from nutrients available in the ocean waters, the foundation of these two reefs is actually built up over an original organic layer – or what used to be old-growth forests. If anyone has ever heard of something called Stanley Park, you will be interested to know that this is all that remains of that once-popular locale.”

“Now as we approach the colony-proper the vehicle will make a wide circle around the south tip of the amphibious structures. On your left side you should be able to see that the pressurized living units are highly compartmentalized, and in fact supported by the re-enfored ruins of the city of old-Vancouver. Due to the vast amounts of stress that these original buildings encountered during the primary collapse of the land mass supporting them, double-holded titre alloy beams were placed as a completed scaffold throughout the basin to maintain stability of the colony. It is also important for me to note, folks, that while the city of old-Vancouver did in fact sink into the ocean, recent studies assure us that no such thing could ever happen again.”

The Vancouver Public Library is

The Vancouver Public Library is a neat place. Of course there are a number of branches scattered all over the lower mainland. I have been to a couple of those branches, but at the moment I am sitting on the fifth floor of the main branch, right beside the newspaper section, typing away at my own cool little desk. I hopped the bus down here about half an hour ago, picked up right in front of my apartment, and dropped off fifteen steps from the library’s front door. From this current vantage there is not much to see other than rows of books – I can see one about ducks at the moment – and lots of windows with the glare of the inside lights. If you are ever in Vancouver – and by some coincidence are bored enough that you want to visit a library – this is the place to see. From the outside it looks like a re-creation of the Roman Coloseum. The inside: other than the fact that it is grandiose (and I don’t use the word lightly) there are lots of very niftly little walkways, cubby hole, bridges, and windows to look out of. Of course, there are books too.

I have just spent the last thirty (give or take) minutes furiously typing words into this silly little computer thing. I’m going to call it a computer thing, for lack of a better name, because PDA sounds stupid, as does visor. And clearly it is no longer either. (A short balding man just walked by and stared at me typing. I guess he had never seen something like this before.) I am going to have to give this machine a name so I can actually refer to it as something consistent: suggestions?

Alas, I have again been sidetracked. I was going to write that I was here doing some writing. I know I drone on and on about this whole writing thing. But – surprisingly – that is what I am usually thinking about as I am writing, and hense, what I tend to write about. I was writing some fiction: I promised myself that as soon as I got a keyboard for Mr.V here, I would use it as much as possible, and type furiously day and night – until my fingers fell off – or I ran out of things to write about. Clearly, neither has happened yet, so this is the result: I come to the library to type crazy stories and even crazier entries into my webpage. Did you know that they call this “blogging?” It stems from the root “blog” which is a shortening of the word “weblog” or “web log” the term used to describe the practice of journalling on the internet. If you don’t think it is popular, hold your mouse over the “linked” dates at the bottom of each entry. There is a number that will appear in the bottom of your browser window: that is the message ID code, and is some crazy number over 10 million. That is how many entries have been made using THIS service by all its customers since it came online about a year and some ago.

I am not the only crazy one.

As I was trying to convey: I was doing some writing after, on my walk home from work, listening to some particularly upbeat music, I realized that sometimes words need to be just like that music: and I wondered if it was actually possible to write something that conveyed the energy, emotion, and driving force of some really pounding beated-trance. I am not just talking about ideas and thoughts – but the actual words make you feel like you are listening to a pound beat, driving the words forward like little thought bullets – energy as words.

So I was sitting here: pounding. Typing. I was trying to put that thought into bytes on my little grey/green screen – and I know what the problem is: it’s not that the whole idea of putting those emotions into words is impossible – rather – putting those words is completely possible. However, and this is a BIG however, one needs to be in the same state as the words: I’m talking about mind, soul, and energy. You need to be feeling like you are falling down an elevator shaft in order to express yourself that way. And I don’t know if any writer will ever admit it, but there is no way of writing anything without putting yourself into the essence of the words.

In this case, the library may not be the best place to write a high action – pulsing – driving novel. It’s just too slow.

Once again…

Once again it is lunch time and I thought I would spend it the only way that seemed sensible on a day like this: sitting in the park typing some more mindless slush for my rantings-page. Speaking of which, I stopped at Macs and picked up a Coke Froster to help me enjoy this wonderful weather.

I think I will continue to write about the craftiest ideas I have been pondering. The problem with working all day at job that partly involves stuff that you want to do anyhow (ie. writing) is that you never entirely get to write what you want. That isn’t to say I don’t add my own flare to the things I am explaining: I think that is mostly responsible for the kudos I’ve been receiving on the ‘freshness’ of my style. However, I look back at what I write for work and what I write for self, and they are on entirely different playing fields. What I write for work has meaning and purpose. Self: well, less so, but in a completely internal and self-gratifying way.

So therein lies the problem: I want to write something fun – intense – so when you are reading it you sit back and go, wow. Something that is slick: sort of like the feeling you get from slamming your head in a door a few dozen times. What I get to write all day long is this: sit back and learn, folks….

This is not a complaint, or a vent, or anything like that. I love my job, and the very fact that I AM writing is soooo cool. But when you mix your hobby and your profession – as I am trying to illustrate – things get lost in the translation and sometimes you just need to take a minute to refocus. For example: I sit in the park writing nonsense into a Visor – of all times but on my lunch BREAK from that exact thing – rather than doing something even more pointless like browsing in Chapters or the like. I do it not to amuse the world, but to get a grasp on self, and – for all intents and purposes – satisfy that urge so I don’t do this while I am supposed to be working.

It makes sense to me.

But now the sun has disappeared behind a cloud, and the temperature has dropped to just barely bearable, so I’m giving up this pointless pursuit – for the moment. Until next time amuse yourself by clicking the theme to Gilligan’s Island with your mouse buttons.


Work: (werk) noun: 1. Where I am right now and where I should be doing things-productive. 2. Where I technically am doing things-productive, but after having spent the last 2 hours plugging away on an article for the next issue of our newsletter I am finding my brain spinning around and needing a bit of a rest. 3. Where the advantages of having a really big monitor, are outweighed by the disadvantages of having a small desk.

I’ll figure things out eventually – don’t you worry.