One of the biggest problems with writing are not about grammar, spelling etcetera. As far as I am concerned the biggest issue is lower back pain. Most of my problems arising from poor posture for long periods, like sitting the wrong way in the wrong chair at the wrong height for hours at a time while writing. Which is an occupational hazard for anyone involved in the craft.
When you’re ‘in the zone’ and focussed on your work, it’s easy not to notice what you’re doing to yourself. Nothing matters but the web of ideas you’re spinning and the fact that your own hip and back muscles are about to turn traitor is immaterial. You leave sensible at the office door and spend long hours twisted and cramped into the wrong posture. Which is the source of my problem.
Now I’m not talking about some relatively mild discomfort you can shrug off with a good nights sleep or a couple of painkillers, this is the real deal. Pain like someone’s sticking a butchers blade into the top of your pelvis. Pain to almost make you cry. You can’t put weight on the afflicted limb. The discomfort is so acute it locks down your lower spine, making it impossible to bend, turn, stretch, walk up, or even down a short flight of stairs. Pain over the counter painkillers hardly make a dent in. A relaxing nights sleep becomes a stranger and every waking step becomes a purgatory in microcosm. It’s also depressing. When our new Canadian passports arrived on Friday I didn’t much feel like celebrating.
For the last two nights I’ve been tied in knots, hardly able to sleep and unable to get out of the house to visit a doctor. Now I’m fine. For a given value of ‘much better’.
The simple little video below came as a complete revelation. A lacrosse ball under the buttock? Who knew the answer to my problem was so simple? My relief was almost immediate, and a succession of cold packs further tamed the fierceness of my lower back’s agony to make it jump through flaming hoops.
Which is not to say that the pain is completely gone, simply reduced to manageable proportions where the painkillers work and I can actually function again. Fabulous.
Update January 3rd; Pain is gone. Completely. Last painkillers were taken 6pm 2nd January. Remarkable. Work chair has been changed for something a little more sensible.
I’m old enough (Don’t remind me) to actually remember the ‘world wide web’ being ‘born’ in 1994. At the time I was trying to be a Business Development Executive, writing PR pieces for an IT consultancy amongst other things. Wrote a few trade piece articles, did a couple of local radio interviews. I do so hope they no longer exist. Cringe. I might be lucky as these low points of my career predated even the Wayback Machine. Everyone was trying to work out how to use the Internet to sell stuff and apply old business models to new technologies. Which still happens.
Back in the mid 90’s I recall penning a piece called “The Cybermarket, the future of retailing?” about how virtual 3D shops might work on line if sufficient bandwidth was available. Forget where I managed to place it. Didn’t foresee the rise of Amazon, Craigslist or eBay of course, but you can only get so much into five hundred words. With today’s big plasma screens and cable connections, creating virtual stores like in Second Life would be relatively easy. Think of an HD shopping channel connected to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts so you could gossip with friends while doing the weekly shop. Cruise along behind your virtual shopping cart and not block the aisles for those with more pressing needs on their mind. No unruly children or other people’s personal issues. No waiting in line at the checkouts. Virtual shop assistants.
There is both an upside and downside of course. You couldn’t choose exactly what Oranges or Avocados to buy or do a first hand check for freshness. Unless there’s a real time arrangement where a robot arm and camera can physically pick and test the exact fruit / vegetable selected. Which is now possible. Delivered directly to your door by Drone. Fewer jobs in the retail sector as the need for physical supermarket premises shrink. More employment in non-public contact jobs like in legal departments thrashing out customer disputes. At first only available to the rich or avid early adopters, then as costs reduce over time available to the rest of the population. Should they want it. Rather like Amazon, eBay or Craigslist.
I’m sitting in our front room, looking out towards the islands, watching a very fine first snow fall. Tiny, uncertain flakes wending their way to the ground. Wandering with air currents, mostly down, sometimes up, but down they come, settling in small crystalline spots, lining up like migrating birds on top of the deck rail, blanketing windscreens in translucent white, but as yet not braving the ground.
Our local Ravens don’t seem to mind the extra crowded air. They sit on the wires as if critically examining each flake, discussing the merits of each ghostly crystal. “That one settle?”, “Nah, won’t last long.” before arguing and clumsily flapping off to some new perch.
So here I sit, dog at my feet, watching the visibility crowd slowly in, daydreaming of sunnier times before I finish my tea and start work.
Watching the sun rise this morning, I was observing the crepuscular light shedding angular dusty beams on the Eastern horizon. One beam of light was shining vertically through the clouds like some massive laser. Which made me think about alien invasion movies like ‘Independence Day’ where the invaders come zooming into Earth’s atmosphere with massive energy weapons, blowing up everything in sight. Thinking about it, why bother with Star Warsy / Trekkie type energy weapons? All very sparkly, all very pretty, but mostly all heat and fury with very little knockdown power. Comparatively speaking.
Now if it were me, I’d drop half a dozen or so hundred metre asteroids on the planet well before sending in ground troops. Any detonations, even within a kilometre or five of the surface would do enough damage to a major cities infrastructure to paralyse everything. Then leave for a year before hitting with another quick barrage of about ten Tunguska sized masses. Wait another solar year while all the humans run around shooting each other and running out of supplies before sending in my very expensive, and hard to fix number of terminator ‘droids. Minimal damage to the biosphere and game over for all those pesky humans. And some very nice living space on a des res planet once the meteoric dust has settled and things have warmed up again. Just send in the scrap scavengers.
Fortunately it’s all fiction. Because if any other species is smart enough and capable of crossing interstellar space en masse with hostile intent; basically, humanity is screwed.
Update: as opposed to airbursts, what if the asteroids were dropped in the seas near major coastal conurbations? A big enough water explosion a hundred and fifty klicks away would mess up LA, San Francisco and San Diego with Tsunamis. South and East of New York to push a wall of water up the Chesapeake. One in the Northern Caribbean would paralyse Florida and all of coastal Texas, as well as sending a massive tidal bore up the Mississippi. Polish off with a hit in Lake Michigan. Europe could be paralysed with three hits. One in the Northern English Channel, Eastern Baltic and central Mediterranean. Western Indian Ocean about equidistant between the Persian Gulf and Mumbai. The last reserved for somewhere in the Philippines. Residual tidal surges would at least severely damage every sea port everywhere in the world. Two years of solid rainfall from all the atmospheric water vapour would do the rest. Result: one freshly laundered planet ready for colonisation. Scary.
This is purely anecdotal I know, but since the Snowden / NSA scandal broke, with all the revelations about surveillance, I’ve noticed a significant decline in online activity. Not this site, because it’s always been pretty low activity. Really, what is less interesting than a self publishing writer in a niche market talking about writing and self publishing in a niche market? On various forums I read, once active posters seem to have dropped off the web, and I’m wondering if this is symptomatic of an overall decline which probably impacts on online sales. I mean for everyone.
I know that Internet use ebbs and flows like the tide, but one time enthusiastic users seem to be less enthusiastic than usual right now. This is nothing I can pin down, and seeing as it’s a developing situation there are few real resources. Alexa.com shows that Google search use basically fell off a cliff in early June after six months of increase. Facebook is 11% down in search activity. Yahoo also suffered a sharp decline in June. Bing a small increase. This could of course be due to the holidays, as the majority of Internet use is driven by a younger audience, and will no doubt be back up in September when school restarts. On the other hand I find myself concerned that we’re seeing the start of an ‘Internet recession’. An overall decline in Internet use as people drop ‘off grid’ in an attempt to avoid everything they say and do being logged and recorded.
Like I say, there are few reliable sources of immediate information, but I liken it to watching a change in the clouds a day before a storm rolls in. The harbingers are there. Once hyperactive users have gone silent. Companies are talking about taking their online business ‘offshore’ and even the antivirus company I use is doing deals on VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections. I’m halfway inclined to configure my router to anonymise web access like in this tutorial, but it’s such a pain to reconfig if something untoward happens at the other end (Loss of proxy, things like that).
For those of us who have bet the farm on a ‘web only’ eBook strategy, this apparent decline does not bode well.
Apropos of nothing; during a rainstorm over Dodd Narrows yesterday evening around 7:30pm, I was privileged to witness exactly what is at the end of the rainbow. On a full arc double bow.
Original image. No photoshop. This is what actually lies at the end of the rainbow.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So it seems is my promised output. ‘Falling’ is in final check and format phase. The eBook will slip, probably unnoticed, onto the market within the next couple of weeks while I’m in the UK. Link will be on the ‘published works’ page. ‘Darkness’ is a long way off completion.
A while back I said I was working on a collection of short supernatural and science fiction stories, and still am. My issue here is that I have a problem; too much inspiration, too many distractions. No sooner have I set my foot on one narrative path, than another crops up. And another. And another. My ‘recent documents’ tab fills up regularly with titles like ‘Blink’, ‘Quantum stumbling’, and ‘Infection’. Some of which belong in the Stars timeline, others in the Cerberus, and a whole bunch of others in no category whatsoever, they’re just stories inspired by random conversations or observations in day to day life. Some are almost finished, others need a rewrite, but there’s only so many hours in the day. Editing and checking of the main work is dull and time consuming, but it must be done repeatedly.
On the ‘Published Works’ page, I’ve listed what’s available, and what is up and coming with status and availability. No idea if anyone outside of my test readers will like them, but there they will be. Shortly. Maybe. I hope.
Like I’ve said, I’m frantically flinging narrative mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. My name is Martyn Kinsella-Jones; I’m a workaholic and proud of it.
Literary horror is dramatic. It makes for good copy. I often watch the close ups on shows like CSI and think; “Oo, that’s good make-up, almost like the real thing.” or “No, eyes should be dilated at this point.” For extra material I watch programmes like the video below, attending lectures when and where possible, and read pathology texts, as well as relying on my own observations taken from real life. The section on ice weapons came as a surprise. I too thought that was simply an urban legend.
My only problem with writing such sequences is this; sometimes the nightmares pay me a return visit. Not that often, but commonly enough to occasionally rob me of sleep and good temper. I’ve been like this for the past week or so while writing the refugee camp sequence for ‘A falling of Angels’. My over active imagination has overflowed into night time unpleasantness with serious 3D realism and smellyvision. You’d think that the act of writing everything down would purge the anxieties, lay the ghosts. In practice this is not entirely true. It just triggers other responses. Almost as if my glib subconscious is cheerfully waving from the background of psyche, saying; “You missed a bit!” and helpfully pointing out the more unpleasant gaps I’d rather have avoided.
Angie’s vaguely annoyed at me because I’ve been waking up and performing my usual trick of going from sound asleep to fully alert in the early hours. As the dream hits crisis, I’m out of bed and on my feet, looking for trouble in half a second. It’s an old reflex, and one that hasn’t dulled with age. Not entirely sure where it comes from. That said I can sleep through most things. Storms, roadworks outside the house, marching bands, noisy teenagers. Yet if someone tries to be stealthy anywhere close to, I’m instantly up and alert. Whether I want to be or not. All on the back of a bad dream.
Day off from the day job yesterday, and for a change took my laptop with me on our tour around town to the Museum, Angie’s Pilates class and the best coffee shop in town. Putting the earbuds in and playing some of my favourite tunes meant I could pound the keypad to my hearts content undisturbed, managing to almost crack the 2000 word mark in the latest Cerberus story “A falling of Angels”.
The current storyline has my mind reading hero hunting down a child molester in the middle of a massive refugee camp on the site of Bristols old Avonmouth docks. He is also looking for a lead to a cold blooded murder and the source of a menace which could bring mayhem to the streets. It’s coming along nicely.
One of the themes I constantly find myself returning to within the Cerberus series is exploring the nature of human consciousness, and putting forward the postulation that our minds have a Quantum level effect upon our surroundings. Not physically, but at the level of phantasms, shadows on the background of space / time. Back in 1972 there was an early TV play written by Nigel Neale called ‘The Stone tape‘ which was generated on the premise of strong emotional events imprinting themselves upon physical objects, like stone. My take on the theme is this; in the process of existence we imprint our minds / memories / desires upon the very fabric of the universe, which is where my notion of the supernatural comes from. Strong baseline emotional events, fear, love etc leave the longest lasting impressions, like the victims of nuclear explosions leaving shadows on walls and ground. Even certain strong personality types leave a mark. Some are merely images, others like GIFs, some like computer games. All depend upon how driven the individual was who left the marks.
Is this concept true or false? Some say that because stories of the psychic world are purely subjective, the answer has to be a firm and unequivocal no. For myself I have no idea, but that doesn’t stop me exploring the concepts and mud wrestling with them. If nothing else it’s provided me with much good material.
With the recent discovery of two moonlike objects around ‘not quite a planet’ Pluto, there’s an online poll to name the new worldlets via this link. Personally I’d have selected Scylla and Charybdis, but those weren’t on the list of twelve options, so I voted for Cerberus (But of course) and Orpheus, the mythological hero who had to pass said legendary guardian of the underworld in a failed bid to recover his lost love, Eurydice.
For some odd reason I wondered whether some of the names were already taken, like Persephone, but apparently not. I’m normally a lot sharper than this, but since that bout of gastric upset the other week, I’ve been feeling rather post-viral. Rather run down and tired all the time. Friends tell me this is the aftermath of the Norovirus, and can last up to three weeks. Oh joy.
Yesterday afternoon I went in for my evening shift, and as I was driving up the parkway from Duke point, was treated to the sight of two perfect little squarish chunks of rainbow twenty two degrees on either side of the setting sun. No parhelic circle, just two small bite size chunks of rainbow. As the sun disappeared behind the tree clad mass of Mount Benson, the two sundogs could clearly be seen, perched cheekily on the shoulders of the mountain as though taking a breather.
Last night was also a good one for a moon halo. As I stepped out of the car after work I was treated to a good one, A perfect ring of iron around the full moon. If the weather holds, we may see the same again tonight.