Totality Awesome

Hey Everybody, I’m back. Ran down to South Carolina (Greenville area) last month to experience the solar eclipse…Actually to experience totality which is a totally (sorry!) different thing. It was mind-blowing. It is one of the few times when I have felt words don’t really do an event justice. Just look at it:

A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

If you find yourself near an eclipse again, I recommend getting to the totality zone so you can fully experience it. I was very suspicious/cynical before driving eight hours and spending two nights in a (meh) hotel room for an event scheduled to last two minutes. But as totality (that moment when the moon completely blocks the sun) started I began clapping and cheering. I couldn’t help myself. It was that incredible.

There are many stages to reaching totality. First, you see the crescent of the sun get smaller and smaller (the start of the eclipse). Eventually, the temperature starts to drop (in Greenville it dropped about 10 degrees Farenheit), the night animals/insects start to make noise and the sky starts to acquire a strange twilight glow. Then, the light from the sliver of sun becomes white (not yellow or orange) and there is a strange diamond ring effect. And boom! The Sun is gone and only the aurora is left. It’s a fantastical scene. Everything appears monochrome above (see the picture) and the stars begin to appear in the night sky. There is a twilight or sunset around 360 degrees on the horizon and you can hear all the crickets/cicadas thundering along at this point. It lasts for only a couple of minutes—but is sublime. Then, there is a second diamond ring effect and the sun is back. Color starts to come back and the twilight comes back as the stars fade.

It’s one of nature’s great events and this post hardly does it justice. Like I said, it is one of those few times when I feel words truly fail me. You must simply experience it.

So, next time there’s an eclipse, see if there will also be a totality. Then, book a room and grab a car/train/ship and get there for the big moment. You won’t regret it.

See you next time,

Darius

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Where My Writing Is Going in 2017

It’s a little late for resolutions, but I wanted to post this before 2017 gets too far away from us. writing headphones

First, let me say I’m pretty pleased with where my writing is at. So, these are more like adjustments than “resolutions.” Overall, I’m keeping disciplined and writing “what I know and love.” So, all’s pretty good. But I was noodling on what to change and these three things came up. So, here are my writing resolutions for 2017.

1. No More Novellas
Well, well, well. Here’s the deal: I love writing novellas. I’ve never been comfortable writing short stories: I always feel things are just starting to get good when I get to about 5,000-7,500 words—the upper limit for a short piece. So, I always feel like I have to stop just when things are getting going. It’s very, very frustrating.

On the other hand, novellas are fine, but they have one big problem. BIG  PROBLEM. No one wants to publish them. Well, I can’t say no one. But I can say there are far, far fewer markets for novellas than short stories or novels. And it’s really tough finding just the right market for just the right stories. (If you think I’m wrong about this, please reply in the comment section, I’d love to learn about more novella markets).

So, this year I’m going to concentrate on NOT writing novellas. I’m going to go short/long this year. NO MORE NOVELLAS.

2. Listen to My Music While I Write
Back in the day, I used to write with music on. I mean I would ALWAYS write with my music playing in my apartment. Nowadays, I write at a café and  listen to whatever they’re playing. And this can be distracting or annoying, especially when the music doesn’t fit the  mood of the scene you’re writing. I think it can also overpower your brain if it’s too loud or too complex. For some reason free-form jazz seems to be quite distracting for me—and  that’s a fairly common genre for cafes to play.

So, I’m going to try something different this year. I’m going to buy some headphones and plug those in. Then, I can select the music I need to write by. This usually means instrumental music or something sung in a language I don’t know. I’m interested to see if this will help or hurt productivity. But hey, this  is part of the experimentation I talked about, the tweaks you need to make to see if they help or hurt your writing.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

3. Go to One Con
I have messed up this one  again and  again. It feels  I haven’t gone to a Con in ages. I need to change that now. So, here’s my commitment to go to ONE Con this year. I think I should be able to do one.

I’m looking for a mid-size Con with a good writing track. You know, one with lots of workshops and seminars on writing. Maybe with some filking on the side. I’m thinking about going to BaltiCon in May, but haven’t decided yet. I’ll keep you posted.


So, that’s it. Three easy pieces. Going to start making this happen right now. See you out there, fellow writers. And best luck to all of you in 2017!!!! Let’s do this!

,DJ