A fascination with everything

“What Fascinates You?” A simple enough question I found in a forum on Goodreads. But context is everything, isn’t it? In the context of being a writer, what fascinates me is no different to what fascinates me as a human.

“Almost everything has the capacity to fascinate me .. even politics. I’m a writer of hard science fiction, so I need to know as much about science and technology as possible, and they are my two most beloved topics, above all else.

However, the heart of any topic — that intangible thing that makes it fascinating — is the human story; the motivations, the trials, the tribulations, the expectations, the adversities, and perhaps defeat and death.”

I have a distraction…

Aside from Octane, my own business, to keep me occupied, I have several personal projects, such as writing and aspiring to be an author of some renown. But I also have a dream, and it’s proving to be a distraction.

However, the ironic thing is, this dream — which is a rather large personal project — I’m working on is proving to be a distraction from the paying work, when the project itself is designed to make me more efficient at doing.

Under Cloud

I have a dream, and it’s name is Under Cloud, which some think is a negative, but I like it. It’s aim is to make “serendipity reproducible, day after day.”

As you can imagine, as a programmer, designer, and writer, I do a lot of research. Saving bookmarks in a web browser doesn’t cut it. Saving scraps of ideas in Evernote is only a partial fix. So I’ve written something (and by that I mean I’ve written code) that just about solves that particular problem.

So, if — by sheer chance — anyone other than my girlfriend was wondering why I had gone silent, the Under Cloud is the reason why.

Also, if you’re curious as to how the Under Cloud might help you, send me a message and we can discuss it further.

A continuum of ideas

One of my earliest memories of writing was wondering how to spell the name of a planet I’d just made up. So, as any child would do, I asked my dad.

“You can spell it how you want.”

And there, at that moment, was a sense of unbounded creative license, let loose. I realised that the normal rules applicable to factual writing really didn’t apply. Or at least some of them didn’t.

About three years ago, after a near twenty year hiatus, I took up pen and paper once more and began plotting Ascending Angels, remembering that formative moment from my childhood and what it meant.

As an adult, I’d found that my ideas could finally stand on their own, with their feet planted firmly on the foundations only an adult could build; hard earned experience, observational knowledge, the lessons of failure, and those fleeting moments of success, pleasure, and joy that punctuate our lives.

Shortly after writing Earth Day, I found myself feeling like that child once more, wondering if more rules could be bent, broken, or discarded entirely.

A series of serials. Seriously?

It became apparent to me that Earth Day had potential beyond itself and its own novella confines. A kind of potential I’d stumbled upon not quite by chance but by “idle” imagining, though few thoughts that appear in the mind of the creative are truly idle.

I’d written Earth Day while awaiting feedback from friends for an advanced draft of Ascending Angels. And it’s more than likely that the context of that novel was the seed for the idea I had.

Much of what takes place in Earth Day has a correlation with Ascending Angels, and by extension the events of two other novels I had planned as part of a series; Perdition’s End, and Gods of War. However, the idea of extending this series in such a way made little sense to me; Earth Day, which is a novella, would need to surrounded by those other novels. Bookended, no less. I found the idea weird.

But then I began thinking about those other novels and novellas I had in the works, and it became apparent that they too, in their own way, fit within this “universe” I was building.

“What, like the Marvel Universe?”

Soon, the idea of a series of novels was less appealing to me than the prospect of creating a constellation of novels and novellas, each connected to another in some way — be it a technology, a character, a company, an event, place, or alien race. I had found something that truly appealed to my sense of grand design.

Imagine, every single story connected to another in some way, weaving a thread through space and time, with each story revealing something else, something perhaps trivial, or maybe deep and provocative, but each incrementally building upon the one before.

“What, like the Marvel Universe?” Christy said, without a hint of sarcasm.

Yes, I suppose so! But if I were to abandon an idea just because someone else had gotten there first — having created their own universe, of all things — then there’s not much hope for anyone else.

2 for the price of 1

But why stop with one universe when I could have two? Again, not entirely by design, but I have ended up with two universes (sadly, no spoilers), which forces upon me at least one restriction, in that rather than fumble over the plural form of universes, which just sounds clumsy, I have elected for continuum, which — while perhaps a little pretentious — it makes infinitely more sense, both literally and figuratively.

Project Status — Perdition’s End

Perdition’s End is taking significantly longer to develop than I’d anticipated (for a number of reasons), but it is progressing.

In between puzzling over action sequences and continuity, I decided to learn how to touch type, which has helped ease the physical pain of writing. And I’m learning Spanish, again!


So you’re an author. And?

Just in case anyone was wondering why their talents aren’t attracting the successes they imagined. It’s a topic I’ve often considered myself, and I had a theory, which in the last few years I’ve managed to validate.

In essence, success — be it financial, commercial, or fame, or a rich mixture of the three combined — relies on three things:

  1. an array of influential family, friends, and colleagues;
  2. extreme good fortune, or at least the ability to act upon fortuitousness moments, and;
  3. talent.

No, talent alone really isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid. How do I know this? I’m a business owner of some thirteen years, and I have a propensity to observe. What successes I’ve had are wrought from many years of hard work, mostly not in the glare but the shadow of friends and fortune.

And if I were to have presented the aforementioned three ingredients proportionally, the third would be visualised as some tiny speck, while first and second would have planetary proportions.

Ah, the one-hit-wonder

Consider the endless succession of one-hit-wonders in art, literature, and business. Clearly they had little talent, or they would have enjoyed more than one hit, surely? But since they’re no longer around, we can assume — with some degree of latitude —that they didn’t have the necessary talent to ride the initial wave and keep their success going.

The amount of times I’ve read some autobiographical comment by some previously lionised entrepreneur, singer, writer — whatever or whoever — discussing their ascension to success, only for them to just drop in the fact that some relative or friend or colleague happened to mention what they were doing to someone of an unparalleled and unrivalled connection to the very thing that would thrust them forward like a rocket sled.

Know thyself!

Most of the time, these people don’t even realise the deeply serendipitous nature of their success, or how that without both friends and / or chance, they would be toiling away to this day, just like the rest of us.

Talent take-away

So what can we learn from this?

  1. Firstly, don’t allow the reality of your predicament to undermine your faith.
  2. Surround yourself with influential people and be useful to them in some way without being sycophant.
  3. Adopt a mercenary attitude towards chance and be both predatory and opportunistic.

Anything else and you really are leaving your fortunes (such that they are) to chance.