Saturday, December 3, 2011

Marathon running and writing

I did the marathon on 30th October.  4hrs 16 minutes!  The last 50 metres I was carrying Hayley across the finish line and I got some great photos of that through the official event photographers.  Not sure if I'll pay to get decent un-watermarked versions though - the tiny jpeg ones are enough for me in terms of the memory, and I am still a bit weird about having photos around the house of me running, doing triathlon etc etc.

Then, as a way to swing the pendulum completely the other way, I did no running at all in the month of November, instead devoting any spare time I had to Nanowrimo.  It's a great concept and I worked hard toward the word target, smashing it just past mid November and getting to almost 80,000 words by the end of Nov.  By the second of December I was up to about 83,000 words and I have now finished my entire first draft!

I can't explain how good that feels. I have had this story concept in my mind for literally years.  Writing for me is one of those things that truly represent the stasis in my life.  It is not a conceit to say I'm a decent writer - I like my own writing but also I know other people like my writing as well.  I have always felt I have books "in me" and at some point in my life I will publish a number of novels that are reasonably well-received.  Well, I'm 35 now - shit's starting to get real.  Time to step up and challenge myself for these types of things.

What types of things?

Well, I outlined the novel in detail before Nanowrimo, following the rules to not write one word of the actual story until the first of November (as I said, this was easy considering my mind was full of marathon prep).  The book has gone better than I thought, but as I kind of expected the story is a lot more intricate than I expected, and the problem with near future science fiction is that real life often comes up with so much more in the here and now than you first imagine.  I'm talking specifically here about the sudden rise of the Occupy movements from September as well as the use of social media to coordinate protest and riot activity.  It's something I have been planning to write about for years now, but now I have to rethink a lot of my concepts.  Not only do I need to find out in detail all about this subject (as well as all the other details in the story, like relationships between different tribal groups in sub-sahara, the role of the pancreas in amylase production, the kind of rooftop accommodation in a Dubai skyscraper, the carrying and landing capabilities of a Hercules plane, the relationship between aid workers and security personnel in a large refugee camp etc etc etc)... but I also have to take the concepts one step further ten or fifteen years in the future.

Second, I want to do another marathon.  No, I need to do another marathon.  This time I'll let it all hang out.  I want to test my limits again.  I need to do a solid buildup to a marathon this time, not take time off (although I didn't have much of a choice this time with the burglary and Hayley being sick.  But I want to do one in under four hours.

And I want to have a go at MMA.  There, I said it.  Yes, I want to try it.  Why not huh.  I've never ever ever been in a proper fight - not even as a kid as fights at that age are more about intimidation with or without one or two punches, rather than pitting yourself physically against someone else.  So, lets do it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Placebo pills

I have been sick for about a week now - I put it down to food poisoning due to an unfortunate experiment making feijoa chutney.  Anyway, I've been thinking about the placebo effect.  Here's the idea.

Create a website with information about the placebo effect.  Include links to medical journal articles, stuff about positive thinking, anything peer reviewed and factual rather than woo.

Next, come up with a line of pills.  Package them in real pill bottles with classy logos and designs.  Even better, find some way to put funky designs and colours (I was thinking either organic tracery or bold red/blue/green coloured bands) on the pills themselves.

"Placebo Pills" - market them as having NO active ingredient at all, but "harness the power of placebo"

Completely honest marketing, don't make any false promises.  Refer people to the science about the effect of placebos being as great or greater than some marketed drugs (and of course homeopathy, acupuncture, etc etc).

Watch here for an example.

Short story - (unemotional/objective tone) 'The Last Number'

Here's a writing exercise for myself.  First of some of my recent stories that I'll post on this site, and funnily enough the theme for this one is 'stasis'.  Cryostasis this time.

This is a story told in a sequence of computer log readouts.  I didn't want to make the computer sentient, the aim was just to make it as intelligent as possible without consciousness.

The story is fundamentally an action/drama and I think it would be a good story idea to write in a traditional third person style at some stage.  But my aim was to write in the 'dryest' possible style here, while still trying to tell a compelling story.

This one took a couple of days to write.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing forum - writing practice & short stories

I found a good site a little while ago. is a fairly small forum with a reasonable turnover of members and a small core group.  The average writing age tends to be on the mid-to-late-teens side, so there is a fair amount of vampire fiction and zombie soldier stories, but the readers run the gamut of skill levels and age ranges.  That means it's a great way to get a range of feedback on your ideas or stories.

Better yet, there is a weekly short story 'competition' for bragging rights - the vote #s usually don't pass the half-century but there is usually up to about 10 entries with a handful of decent stories among them for good competition.

There is a 'blog' function on the site and I have been making blog posts under my username 'nzric'.  I am starting to write again, using the short story comps as motivation to get off my arse.  To mix things up I have been trying out different writing styles, some have been a hit and some have been dismal failures.  All in all it's great practice, especially at the moment when I don't have a novel-length idea to keep me occupied.

I will keep my stories on the blog in the writingforums site, but I'm planning to write a bit more detail about the stories in this blog.  If you don't want my spiel and just want to read some of my stuff, you can go straight to my blog at writingforums.  Make sure you put an entry in the weekly short story comp on the way.

Marathon man!

I signed up for the Auckland marathon a couple of weeks ago.  Event is on 30th October '11.  This will be my first marathon ever!  I'm currently clocking between 20-30km per week, and I have to get that up to 50km per week in the next six weeks.  That way I will have a good base for the actual marathon training which will be much harder!

I have consistently done half marathons at around 1:45:00 pace when I am feeling on form.  That means my goal is going to be 3:30:00 to 4:00:00 for the actual marathon.  Is 3:30 do-able?  Well, the marathon is 16km more than I have ever run at one time but I have 6 1/2 months to concentrate almost exclusively on my running fitness and build a good endurance base.

What can I expect?  I have done the Auckland Marathon for the last 3 years.  The first half has rolling hills and a couple of annoying (but not really tough) climbs.  If I get through that in under 1:50:00 I will try to switch to leg turnover mode and try to cruise the rest of the way at a good pace, maybe find someone to run with.  The last 25 km is dead flat, from the bridge turnaround to St Heliers and back, so the main thing is good form, minimising impact on the legs and enjoying the scenery ;-P.

Stay tuned.


noun \ˈstā-səs, ˈsta-\
plural sta·ses

1 : a slowing or stoppage of the normal flow of a bodily fluid or semifluid: as
a : slowing of the current of circulating blood
b : reduced motility of the intestines with retention of feces

a : a state of static balance or equilibrium : stagnationb : a sta
te or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs  


This is the definition of "stasis" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.  Similar to the Oxford dictionary definition of "a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium" (or "civil strife").

That is my idea of stasis, and why this blog is titled 'stasis removed'.  Although there will probably be a lot of reasons why 1b above may also be a valid description :)

What do I mean by stasis?  I mean that moment of inactivity, that period of inaction where momentum is stalled but almost unbearable.  Think about the giant boulder resting on a 'Buddha's hair' on top of a mountain, or the state of a huge crowd at the moment the first window breaks during a protest, or a group of bystanders waiting for the first inclination of action after watching a car crash.

Some people live in that moment.  Some people spend their whole lives there.  That boulder on top of the mountain may have huge potential energy but it may gather moss for thousands of years before having that simple push.

The fact is stasis is comfortable.  If I am in stasis I am bursting with potential energy, with potential.  I have all my options open to me and I have the confidence that there is only more momentum ahead.

And so... we don't move.  The common criticism is that change doesn't happen because people procrastinate.  That is not the way to think about it.  People procrastinate because they are in stasis.  Why launch yourself down the hill and find out how much momentum you have?  why commit yourself entirely?  why move from excited equilibrium?  It is more comfortable to stay in stasis - after all you can always say you "could have/should have/would have" if you wanted to.

So.  Stasis removed?  I don't care what the action is once the first push happens.  As long as you move out of stasis.