Day 8 the one where a short story happened

2018: Day 8 of 365 writing 3,000 words per day
Word count 20,392 of 1,000,000

Dear Reader,

Last week fell a little bit short of my writing goal. The week did include 33 single spaced pages, 96,374 characters, and about 16,843 words. All of that was saved in one Google Doc on the cloud. To catch up this week I’m going to have to increase my daily writing target to 3,500 words per day. That target will be a little bit harder to achieve. Playing catch up for a week is reasonable, but having to play catch up week over week will make achieving my writing goal impossible. After one week of marching toward writing 1,000,000 words in a year things seem to be going ok. Even a fight with some wild allergies or maybe some type of cold did not stop my writing output. It did slow it down and that is what we are working to recover from this year. To get back on track today will need to include at least 3,500 words in this weblog post.

That may very well require digging in and writing a short story. Something has to give. This is week two of my 3,000 words per day writing efforts and the door is now open to both fiction and non-fiction efforts. I’m sure some type of mixed model writing exists that mixes fiction and non-fiction. Off the top of my head I would guess a mixed model would involve either a based on a true story thriller or a highly exaggerated autobiography. Neither of those types of efforts appeal to me at the moment. My efforts generally go one way or the other. A few years ago I was producing a ton of fiction chapters, short stories, and other novella type prose. At some point that all just sort of stopped and my recent efforts have mostly been non-fiction based. I really wanted the first week of my efforts to be pure exposition. That seemed to have happened. At some point this year I am forecasting an outburst of fiction type writing.

Clear signposting will let you know when a short story starts and stops within my weblog post writing format. It will be clear enough to ensure that no confusion exists. I do plan on using different posts for different types of formats instead of trying to fit all the content into one post per day. During the course of writing 1,000,000 words in the same year I’m sure some confusion will be caused, but it hopefully will not be from writing structures or signposting. One thing I do find confusing is the naming conventions of the Nespresso Originalline coffee pod capsules. Seriously, I have a ton of sleeves of coffee capsules and I never know until making a beverage what exactly is going to happen. My Starbucks Verismo system always had very clear naming for all of its coffee pods. Most of them were clearly marked. My other initial observation about Nespresso is that the machine are everywhere. You can buy one at a variety of stores all over, but you cannot get any pods for them. The only boutique store near me in Denver is over an hour away.

You may have noticed the awesome snapshot taken as the thumbnail for this weblog post. It is a picture of Captain Pickles the dog looking out the window. That is something that Captain Pickles really enjoys doing. My efforts to take great photographs on a daily basis should benefit from having a Google Pixel 2 XL camera. As smartphones go the Pixel 2 XL has a very good camera. It even manages to take good photos of the very quick and illusive Captain Pickles. Google Photos has been making stylized versions of my photos. Oddly enough I consider it to be a good sign when the algorithm modifies my photos. That probably means they rated fairly high on the interestingness scale.

Short Story: “The Knock” revisited and reimagined

Back in 2013 or 2014 I started writing a novel called “The Knock” one chapter at a time. All of the characters were sketched out and I was ready to produce a whole novel. For some reason back on September 17, 2014 I shared a preview of some chapters. That preview included about 2,583 words. Today I’m going to revisit that preview and extend from that initial cut at things to write a short story. It is possible that in the middle of that in typical Nels fashion I will write something entirely different. That happens far more than you can imagine. Those three chapters set a pretty solid foundation for the novel I was thinking about writing at the time. Given that I do not want to cut and paste something written in 2013 or 2014 into this writing challenge something is going to have to give here. My initial thought is to rewrite the 3 chapters after years of improving as as writer. That might be a good idea to get the ball rolling or I could start to work out what would have been the 2nd novel in the series.

Ok, I may have come up with a hybrid approach. Maybe I should just start writing chapter 4 and flash back into better rewrites of the content that was in chapters 1, 2, and 3 from my original 2013 and 2014 writing efforts. This may be the best approach. In the future people who pick up the novel in paperback format or some e-reader might wonder why it starts at chapter 4, but that is a problem for future Nels to explain. However, it seems like a wave of procrastination has kicked off and I’m cleaning up my office vs. writing a short story. Maybe this is a part of the idea percolation process. Maybe just maybe this little bit of procrastination is a good thing.

Short Story: Chapter 4 of The Knock: A Novel from the Robert Heart Series

The Knock: A Novel from the Robert Heart Series
Chapter 4 (Preview)
Aspen, Colorado

Weather could get pretty extreme in Aspen, Colorado. Winter had started early this year with a few light snow falls. Things had leveled out to an unusual warm period. Most of the folks in the area wished for a healthy amount of winter snowfall. The mail stop near the condo unit had a bunch of letters for Walter K. Wilburton. Selling people timeshare condominiums near ski resorts was sure fire way to get on all sorts of mailing lists. Once people start sending you mailers they rarely stop even if you never respond. People in the area knew that Walter traveled all the time for business and it might be some time before letters got picked up. Some pine needles had built up on the edge of the Trex deck, but that would not hurt anything. Not this time of year.

For the last few years Walter had been working out of both Aspen and Breckenridge. Selling condos was a great way network with folks while staying below the radar for any government service. Walter was not fond of social networks or anything where people shared photos or videos. Walter lived a very spartan existence. Everything that Walter did was designed to allow the outside world to accept and move on. Walter had to make very hard choices and live with the consequences and uncertainty.

Sometimes people shout out revolutionary ideas at bars or write about them online. These days both are happening with a great frequency. The knock as a recruitment technique is hard to explain. It is the kind of chance that comes only once in lifetime for a chosen few. Walter had been a part of making those choices for more than 20 years. It is easy to say that modern society has faced a decline of civility. In response, to this decline a few renegade individuals had decided to adopt an older way. A large number of philosophies exist. The way of the samurai has survived centuries and technologies advance. None of that really motivated Walter. It was a simple belief in service and the duty associated with it that helped Walter push forward every day.

Walter woke up every day and used an iPad with a data plan from AT&T to send emails and work with people who wanted to either buy, sell, or rent a condo. That part of the day only explained part of what Walter did on a daily basis. That job allowed Walter to meet interesting people who had a history of traveling. Assets had to have and maintaining a legitimate history of travel. That was one of the most important parts of the process. Equally important to having natural travel patterns was a certain spark. It was something that Walter could identify better than anybody else on the planet. Approaching an asset was always a delicate matter. Walter handled it the same way every time. It happened with a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

Walter would make sure they were along and start the same conversation that always happened with different people. It was something that Walter did a couple times a year. Bringing somebody in to the fold was challenging. One false move and things could go very sideways in the digital age. Recruitment had been getting harder and harder over the years. Managing a decentralized network of assets completely off the grid was a skill that not very many people possessed. Only having face to face conversations and only working with trusted people is a different model of managing things.

This is the end of Chapter 4

The chapter I wrote today felt a little bit forced and is probably a false start. Instead of jumping into a chapter style format it probably would have been smarter to just try to write a tight self contained short story. Something that opens and closes during the same writing session. Trying to go back to the well and expand on an existing set of chapters was a little bit ambitious. It may have been worth it to get things moving, but it was not my best work. That chapter will probably need to be rewritten at some point. Most chapters in thriller or mystery books could not stand along. They are not written to be stand alone short stories.

Topic 1: Repacking some of my old videos for YouTube with commentary

One of the things I have spent some time thinking about is maybe repackaging some of my old videos for YouTube with commentary. They are not the highest quality video efforts. Most of them are on tapes. I know right… they are on actual magnetic tapes. Some of them are digital on tape and some of them are classic analog tape based video creations. That collection of work includes two movies that were filled a long time ago, but were never fully edited together. It might be fun to work on editing them together. With my new writing endeavor making the team to edit video that is more than decade old is probably just an indulgent project vs. something that would push things forward.

Format changes have really made huge changes in digital content. My original Sony camcorder recorded on Hi8 tapes or something analog. I’m not entirely sure that those original tapes can even be played back these days. A Sony camcorder is sitting on the top shelf of my bookshelf. To the best of my recollection that camcorder plays digital tapes. Maybe this week I will find a few minutes to figure that one out for sure. I vaguely remember having to hook up a firewire card to pull content off my digital camcorder. That will probably require both finding a firewire card and locating a firewire cable. My 4K Storm Stryker system does not really have or use firewire. That standard has not been a part of my computer setup in years.

It turned out that 2 camcorders are sitting on the shelf. They were really high up in the air and getting to them is going to require carrying the ladder inside from the garage. It is possible based on the video quality of smartphones that those are the last camcorders that I will ever purchase. I took a couple of minutes and searched for camcorders online. It seems most people are actually using cameras to take video. It seems that vlogger have started using DSLR with and without mirrors to take 4K video. Maybe things will get shaken up again and 4K will go to 8K or maybe even 10K video quality this year.

During the end of 2017 I really did start to see people buying 4K televisions from places like Best Buy, Costco, and other box stores. It is generally pretty obvious that people are buying televisions. The current ones being sold are over 60 inches. That type of television size requires a little bit of planning to move around from the store to home.

Topic 2: Season 11 of the X-Files

At some point last year, I know season 10 of the X-Files happened or something to that effect. After watching the first episode of season 11 of the X-Files I’m not entirely sure that I remember watching the last season. It must have been on in the background and it was not memorable or I don’t exactly remember it. The first episode of season 11 was a little jarring. Things have certainly changed from season one to season 11.

Topic 3: Today has enough time for one more major writing session

My routines have changed in some meaningful ways in the last week. Pretty much every spare moment that I have has spent writing. Last week my writing output should have been much longer, but some things slowed me down. I read an article about a writer that uses a dictation program instead of a keyboard to increase writing output. That is something that I tried a couple years ago. At the time the Dragon dictation software was not accurate enough to make the speed increase worth it. So many transcription errors occurred that it took me forever to edit the content back into a presentable form. Writing on keyboard produces decent prose from the first pass. Most of the editing that has to be done is just cosmetic grammar errors.

I’m sure that dictation software has improved and maybe it is time to get it a shot again. Maybe at some point this year that is something that I will try out as part of my efforts to write 1,000,000 words in the same year. Maybe this is the post where I will take the time to write down my writing tips for getting the most of a writing session. The things that work for me may very well not work for anybody else. My primary method of writing involves sitting down in front of the keyboard and engaging in stream of consciousness type writing. Sharing some legitimate writing tips may be a subject to tackle for another day.

This effort to write 1,000,000 words is pretty much my, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.” Maybe my writing skills are not on par with Robert Pirsig, but my year long inquiry into values through writing 3,000 words per day could help me improve as a writer. Maybe that is the answer to any questions about why it would be a good idea to strive toward writing 1,000,000 words in a year. The answer would be as straightforward as my inquiry into values and examining the world around me. Maybe tonight after I finish writing 3,500 words for the day I’ll read a few pages of Zen. In terms of the books on my shelves Zen probably has the most wear and tear of any book I own. Maybe later I will snap a photo of that book and use it as a thumbnail for a weblog post. That post will probably include a ton of words about the book and what it has meant to me over the years. Right now I’m not producing a high enough quality of prose to tackle that incredibly meaningful subject.

Later however when it comes time to look back on this endeavor and where it ends up in terms of having a big writing year that last paragraph may end up being the cornerstone of everything that gets put together this year. I’m very curious to see how well this ASUS Flip Chromebook C101P holds up throughout my big year.

Topic 4: Writing that extra 500 words to catch up today

I’m thinking about getting a haircut tomorrow. At some point this week my regular YouTube broadcasts need to start up again. Live streaming was a regular part of my routine for several months last year. I’m going to try to engage in both creating videos and writing 3,000 words per day. However, if a choice has to be made, then that choice will be to error on the side of writing vs. creating video. Last year I spent some time trying to figure out how to vlog and how to live stream. It was a lot easier to live stream content at 4K quality than to create a daily vlog. Remembering to capture clips throughout the day and editing them all together was interesting, but it eventually got a little bit old and I moved to live streaming instead. Part of writing every day is about finding a voice and being willing to truly engage topics in a meaningful way. Some of it is just writing for the sake of writing and getting used to that type of sustained mental activity. The physical strain of writing for hours seems to be manageable. I try to stay in a relaxed position and avoid any type of strain. At the end of the year we will see how things are going. I’m assuming that this ASUS Chromebook C101P will give out before I cannot physically write anymore. After a week of mostly writing on this Chromebook it felt a little strange to go back to my Microsoft natural ergonomic keyboard 4000 for business. I have the wired model of the keyboard and it works just fine.

Topic 5: Mobile data rates are the worst

Technological advancements abound. We live in a time where the intersection of technology and modernity is rapidly approaching. Mobile data rates are still widely frustrating for millions of people. Advancements in wireless data transmission should begin to change the game. At some point, mobile data rates have to go from being the worst parts of wireless contracts to being a thing of the past. Maybe the internet is going to become increasingly costly, but I had hoped that it would keep becoming easier and easier to use and access. Most of the use cases related to streaming and using the internet like a television are highly data intensive. For the most part, my access to high speed internet has not changed in the last five years. I should probably learn more about the infrastructure reasons that was true.

Tonight John Paul managed to download a gigabyte of Netflix shows using a mobile network. Oddly enough this did not involve watching Netflix the shows were just downloading in the background to the phones memory. All of that happened due to somebody learning how to download shows to watch offline and thinking that was a fantastic thing to do. If it had happened over the home internet, then we probably would not have noticed. Having it happen over the mobile internet sent off some alarm bells in the form of mobile data alerts.

I’m closing in on writing 3,500 words today. That is both interesting and exciting. This type of writing output involved three different writing sessions. First, an early morning writing sessions that was not all that productive, but did kick off writing process. Second, a mid day writing session that happened to line up with the kids naptime. That second writing session is where the bulk of the writing occured. Third, this evening writing sessions while Kaylee is going to sleep seems to be just rounding out the day. I could sit and write for another hour or more, but sleep is probably inevitable at this point.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado
Written on my Storm Stryker Custom Build and ASUS Flip Chromebook C101P using Google Docs

P.S. Tomorrow may very well be the first day of the new year that my office will be clean. A lot of traveling around and being very busy have created a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up. Things have gotten piled all over the place and they need to be sorted out. Cleaning my office is not exactly something that happens on a regular basis. It happens on a semi-regular cycle that is spawned by a random series of unfortunate events. Most of the time a pile of some sort falls over and that triggers the cycle.

Upcoming 2018 Writing Topics:

— Recap of all the video camera equipment I have owned
— All the promise and failures of my first Sony camcorder
— That one with a roadtrip to Florida
— Applied AI: A use case based exploration
— My ode to minor league hockey
— Progress within general AI vs. specialized use cases
— My review of the ASUS C101P Chromebook
— On leadership and the modern workplace

Feel free to leave topic suggestions in the comment section.