SciFridays: Machinarium

That little "click here" just can't be denied

So, last night, my husband stuck his baby (aka, iPad2) on my lap, and queued up his latest obsession: Machinarium. Now, I like video games as well as the next nerd, but I was really tired from my (looooong) day, and needed what remained of my eyesight to do things like read, and possibly write.*

Well, wouldn’t you know it, despite my effort to ignore the atmospheric music (and the poor little robot waiting to be put together), curiosity won out**, and I started playing. And, of course, I loved it, and became addicted to solving all the little problems, and moving on to the next scenes. (My hubs knows me so well.)

Anyway, what I love about this game is that it focuses on puzzles and problem-solving, without the death and dismemberment of little robot if you make the wrong move. Since the whole killing thing is not an issue, you’re encouraged to explore the world and figure out how to get from point A to point B. (Plus, little robot is really cute when he dances after solving something.) And, after you solve it, you get to know more about the story and little robot’s world.

Little Robot giving hints about possible next steps

If you happen to own an iPad2, I would encourage getting this little game. I’ve only started, so I’m about a third of the way through this world. Each stage gets increasingly challenging, but that’s part of the fun. You can unlock cheats by playing a little spider game (which kind of reminds me of those Atari games from back in the day) but don’t do it too often. It’s not fun when someone tells you how to do something. I mean, the purpose of the game is to figure things out for yourself, after all, and since you can’t die, there’s no punishment for taking extra time to solve a problem.

Have you played this game yet? How do you like it?

Even if you haven’t played, isn’t Little Robot cute?? 😀

[*There was one part involving a Rubik’s cube type puzzle that completely triggered my motion sickness. I FINALLY got it sorted out, but I earned myself a headache and slight nausea doing it. For those in the know, it’s that red/green puzzle in the prison cell. Needless to say, I didn’t do much reading after that.]

[**Looking at the junkyard scene overwhelmed my curiosity mostly because it had the same landscape that I envisioned for my current work-in-progress, Scrap Metal.]

Simplify. Focus. The Author I Want To Be

Brand Image

“Real is just a matter of perception.” Peter Bishop, Fringe

It’s not a big secret that I work in retail as a Store Manager.  Part of my role/responsibility is to ensure that my team upholds The Brand’s image.  Consistency is important for customer loyalty and overall satisfaction, not only for The Brand (as a company of over 1700 stores across the country), but also for My Specific Store.  You see, not only do I want my customers to receive the level of service that they expect from The Brand, I want them to have the “Fun Personalized Service” that I’m cultivating in my store team to deliver.  Fun Personalized Service is what I want my customers to expect whenever they come to My Store.

Just as I want my customers to expect a Fun Personalized Service experience when they enter my store, I want future readers of my books to expect a certain kind of story from me as an author.

The Author I Want to Be

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. “
C. S. Lewis

I said last week that the Story I Want to Write was tied to the Author that I Want to Be; the brand image of the Writer, so to speak.  And, I decided that the Author I want to be needed to be Fun.  Not the “life is always happy and fluffy, cue the smiling flowers and woodland creatures” Fun, but more lighthearted, hopeful, and dare I say, entertaining fun.  The type of fun that I deliver in my store.  The type of fun that allows my customers to relax and enjoy themselves and forget their busyness for a moment.

I want to write the story that readers will seek out to remember that life is beautiful, and yes, you are invited to rest here for a time, and after doing so, you will feel refreshed and ready to face more of life.  In Dean Koontz’s novels, he would refer to this kind of respite as “moments of grace” (and if you’ve read what he puts his characters through, you would understand the beauty of those moments).  I would like to be able to say that my books can be your Moments of Grace in the midst of storms.  High expectations for me to deliver, but things worth pursuing are rarely easy to accomplish.  Finding Fun in the Challenge is my outlook on this journey.

Stop Thinking About Problems

“You can’t solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created it.” Einstein

“You can either make excuses or get results, but you can’t do both.” Tom Venuto

So, what prompted all this self-analysis?  Well, it all started with Tom Venuto’s The Body Fat Solution, which introduced  neuro linguistic programming in basic terms as a way to overcome mental roadblocks to achieving successful body recomposition.

I’m not an expert at all the nitty-gritty, but I will just say that I have been able to face down more challenges this year alone based on the principle that the words I use reflect a subconscious perception of my problem, creating limiting beliefs.  Months ago, I brainstormed many of my limiting beliefs that were blocking me from truly embracing the title of “Writer” and “Author.”  One of those beliefs was that I needed to be Serious and Deep to have any sort of chance to be a Published Author.  (I won’t analyze why I thought this, I just know that it was there, and I had to create solutions around that obstacle.)

You can imagine how (un)productive I was in my writing, believing that being an Author came with the admission price of being Serious, and knowing that deep down,  I’m not Serious at all (of course, I can be serious; don’t worry I act with appropriate decorum at weddings and funerals).  Of course, I’ve since set myself up to enable me to work through those limiting beliefs (though the feelings of inadequacy will likely stay with me for, oh, ever). I was able to realize and accept that having fun can (and should!) be part of the writing process…and the floodgates of creativity spilled forth as an answering reward.  I didn’t necessarily change any resulting behavior, I just changed my perception of my obstacle; the behaviors just ended up being more enjoyable.

I’ve learned to brainstorm better, to choose writing environments to support my writing, and turn off my self-editor so that I can “get over myself” and finish the story.  I’m under no illusions: my current WIP may never see the light of publication, but the knowledge that I will finish this story will enable more productivity.  One success, one win, fuels more success, and ever increasing challenges.  And you know what?  Because my mindset is prepared, I’m ready to meet and accept these challenges.

Focus on Solutions

“You have to know who you are before you decide how to be.” Twitter user, @IZTAES

So, I reflected on the person I am in order to realize the Author I Want to Be, the Story I Want to Write, and basically, commit myself to be labeled under the genre of Young Adult Literature (yes, a teaser of next week’s blog post).  I needed to be able to LOVE what I’m writing, and be proud that my name is associated with That Story.  And, I know it may seem insignificant, but for me, mindset is SO important to enable change.  It’s the strategic step that I needed to make before I was able to make any significant progress anywhere, because I needed to know Who I Was, and Who I Wanted To Be, before I could even make goals, let alone action steps toward that goal.

I know this process is a little foundational, but I hope I’ve been able to help someone who is struggling with their limiting beliefs over their own writing (or fillintheblank) journey/goal.  I’m obviously methodical and analytical, and have to follow certain processes; that’s just how I roll.  Thankfully, I also embrace change pretty well, and can course-correct easily. 😉


I Discovered I Really Hate Coming Up With Titles to Blog Posts

So, I discovered lots of things today!  So many things, that I should probably list them for ease of reading.  (Plus, I feel like I’ve been more productive on my day off from my paythebills job when I see it in list form…especially since I have the Friends’ influenced urge to say “check!” after naming each point in the list, thus further emphasizing how truly productive I am).  In no particular order of importance, relevance, or chronology here are Today’s Discoveries! (Exclamation points and Capitalization also imply things of Great Importance and Prominence.) (!)

1. I discovered that I find lots of Important Things to busy myself with in the mornings rather than write.  On an unrelated note, Twitter is shiny.

2. I discovered that I can’t write dialogue worth crap—argh!  [Excuse me, let me take the moment to write a positive affirmation: I write fantastic dialogue!  The dialogue is natural, smooth, and sounds just like two people having a real conversation in my living room.] * eye roll *

3. I discovered a little extra protein in the form of a grub in my would-have-been spaghetti squash lunch. (You can imagine me throwing up a little in my mouth right…here.  I also promptly threw it away right about…now.)

4. I discovered that 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, dried garlic and other seasonings can really jazz up regular spaghetti (the aforementioned seasonings were my original toppings for the spaghetti squash; not as healthy, but I was having spaghetti one way or another!)

5. I discovered that I CAN tell someone about my Work in Progress!  I did it in email form, but it really helped me to sit down and think about it, and I’m so happy!  That’s like, half a query letter right there, see productive, ha!

6. I discovered that I found a great method of plotting out my story that I can stick with …but I have way too much procrastinating to do before I sit back down and play with said story.

7. I discovered that it’s hard to write about the bleak and depressing parts of the novel when I’m too goofy to settle down and compose my own thoughts.

8. I discovered that even though I’m a really goofy, silly person who can laugh at anything, when I sit down to write, I have a weird librarian voice going on in my head.  What’s up with that?

9. I discovered that coffee is such a joy and comfort to me in the mornings.  I already knew that but it’s always worth mentioning things I’m grateful for. (Is it ludicrous that I automatically edited in my head: “…for which I’m grateful.”  Really?)

10. I discovered that quite possibly the number one reason that I’m so distracted, and kinda goofy is the fact that I’m not listening to any music right now.

So, after getting myself another cup, I’ll flick on the Pandora Radio, and get back to The Novel!

Polihale beach

Out, Out!

So, as I was typing out some of my pages from my notebook, I realized that the story that I was dreaming of last year came surging back like an all-consuming tidal wave.

Instead of increasing the storyline of the one I was working on for the last few weeks, I started from a different point of view on last year’s story.  (The one I lost interest in because I basically plotted my way through the whole story.)  I still have my notes and history and verbiage from that story, too.  It’s kind of cool, because I remembered the lingo so well, that the words came out very naturally.  Of course, that means I basically start from scratch, but I think since I have a bigger view of this story, and the end is basically in sight (albeit, 95,000 words away), I can plod on like a little workhorse and power through the loose outline that I have.

My goal right now is to finish a story, and get all these clamoring voices out of my head before anyone can suspect me of being a little off (though, it’s too late for my hubby!  He’s stuck with me as is!).  That would be an indicator of success for me.  I understand that my first, second, etc, novels may never get published, and so with each story, I would hope that my novel-writing skills would improve.  I won’t even begin to worry about my (lack of) publishing status until I have at least 3 stories finished.

I think Stephen King said that you had to write about a million words of crap before you can start to write well.  In Outliers, the magic number was 10,000 hours of practice to get to perfect.  Well, my current journey is trying to get those 10,000 hours in and 1 million words out.