Last week I read a fascinating post about what happened when the power went out across and entire state for a number of hours and it struck me a wonderful source of information for anyone writing about some kind of large scale disaster. Below is my favourite bit, but click through to read the whole thing over at my friend Natalie’s blog:
Traffic ground to a halt as traffic lights went off, trains and trams coasted to a stop wherever their momentum could get them to, while our diesel trains had to stop because they didn’t have the electricity to run fans to remove the toxic fumes. People got trapped in lifts which either failed to execute their safety features, or had never been upgraded to include them.
We were warned to conserve our phone batteries, but what we didn’t expect was for the mobile phone towers to stop working after a few hours, most having only a 4-hour battery back-up, some obviously much less because two networks went off within a few hours. So the mobile phones we were saving battery on were useful then only as torches.
Kind of cool and also very scary.
I’ve realised that I should be grateful for my day-to-day exposure to the corporate world, because it is such a fertile ground for language abuse. Seriously. My favourite thing is walking around office buildings reading the various signs that tell you what to do and not to do. Trust me, they almost invariably sport such terrible grammar, malapropisms and ambiguity that you can’t tear your eyes away.
And then there is software. Ever since software designers realised they needed to improve the usability of their products and got chatty in their communications, it has been a buffet of misuse. Though I will cut the software people some slack in that many of them are operating in multiple languages.
So, to my favourite of the week… This was the conversational way that an online service introduced their help functionality: Sometimes we all need help.
My writing daemon is a bit put out at the moment. In fact both he and my craft daemon are giving me the frown. See they just don’t like this earning a living malarkey if it doesn’t involve them.
To their credit, they have gotten pretty good recently at time-sharing my attention. Gone are the days when one would lure the other into a holding cell and lock the door to stake out a few weeks or months of dominance. They do however, still resent the day-job and the part of my brain that likes what it gets to do at work.
It’s not like I’m completely neglecting them. Weaving is happening after hours and editing during lunch breaks, so I think they’re being churlish.
Today, I was strolling around the children’s area of a department store. It was all very shiny and they have an animatronic dinosaur I’d happily hire a crane to steal, but overall it was one of the most depressing places I’ve been in a while. Everything was the opposite of what childhood seems like it should be (to me).
I mean I grew up with a bunch of friends who had every brand name doll, every brand name truck and some toys that were book or TV inspired, but this place was literally wall-to-wall “you’ve seen the movie, now buy the toys”. There was almost nothing there that didn’t have its own TV show or movie.
What I wondered as I moved from branded shelf to branded shelf, was whether there were any toys there that inspired kids to use their own imaginations and not just piggy-back off something some adult wrote. Does that actually inhibit kids from developing their own stories? Or do they just use it as a jumping off point for their imaginations?
I don’t know. I think about my space-alien-necklaces and figure that you probably couldn’t dent the imagination of a kid like me, but I don’t worry about those like me. I worry about the kids who don’t have an over-abundance of story in them. I worry that, between all this pre-packaged stuff they’re fed and the way virtual is replacing real in their lives, they might be the poorer for it.
It actually disturbed me more than seeing a Harley Quinn costume for a pre-teen girl. (Who in their right mind thinks a tween should dress as a character who is a hyper-sexualised victim of domestic violence? There’s a role model for you. Though, in fairness, the costume itself wasn’t at all sexy.)
I have been trying to get an opening working and so far I’ve written five versions. It’s almost there now, which is a relief, but it’s been one of those iterative processes of going ‘oops logic hole/fix logic hole, missing info/add info, oops new logic hole/fix logic hole…’ (Note to self: please stop writing books set in space.)
This, I should point out, is my usual approach to openings. Usually it works a bit better. Well, faster – not so many versions.
I think I got a bit caught up in the mechanics of space, so I then took my eye off what I was getting my protagonist to do. She kept trying to tell me she wasn’t like that – wouldn’t think that etc – but I wasn’t really listening. Now I think we’re back on the same page, so to speak.
So now I’m going to drawer opening 5 for a bit and get on with the rest of the edit! We’ll see how it holds up in a couple of weeks/months time.
In the next chapter I get to introduce the somewhat dog-like pet I was angsting about a while back. Its name is Scuffa and no, it will not die.
I took myself off to a cafe to write today and decided I’d have pancakes with bacon and eggs. I like the yolk to have somewhere to go other than the plate and, after placing my eggs onto the pancakes for this reason, I looked down and thought my breakfast looks surprised.
You can decide for yourself if you agree…
I went on to write 1,000 words after my food. Sadly I also deleted 1,000 words so kind of came out even for the day!
Lightning sometimes shocks people because it just doesn’t know how to conduct itself.