Shadow of a Story

It is something like a shadow
    that goes everywhere with me,
Cast by the light of distant lamps
    that I shall never see.
For some, it is a chain I bear.
    For others, it is I.
It fades faint when I am busy,
    and it thickens when I cry.

Each morning, you’d a shadow-road
    that rolled out from your feet,
And fell on places you should go
    and people you should meet.
Then at dusk, your shadow trailed
    from your feet back to the dawn,
And its fingers picked out places
    where you had — or hadn’t — gone.

From afar, my shadow crossed your path,
    and whispered to your mind.
In due course, our shadows mingled,
    sharing face, and shape, and mind.
For our daughter, they stretched stronger,
    showing all that she could prove.
Since we parted, each has faded
    to a shadow of our love.

When I saw your shadow frozen,
    cast alone upon the ground,
And I could not find you near it,
    though your thoughts lay all around,
Then I knew that you had left us
    for a life without decay,
Under light that casts no shadows
    — so your shadow had to stay.

Icarus the Innocent

Who said the sun was life, and grace, and green?
That fire, so attractive from afar,
Burns fierce; and fiercer when from closer seen,
Blinds lying eyes, that hid what fools we are.

You melt beneath the pain of layers lorn
When light peels back your face, and then your skull.
To bare, beneath your bones, the words that warn:
“This ship rots from the captain, not the hull.”

An instant in that hot, actinic glare
Brings clarity monks vow their lives to learn,
Then terror at a broken world. Despair.

Then all is white,
And there is no return.

Looking back on Q4 of 2016

You can’t see either end of the corridor.

Whoever had the torch has ducked into a side room, and the only light is the flickering reflection of the doorway on the opposite wall.

Sounds echo out of the darkness. The drip of water. A skittering of claws on stone. A drawn-out creak ends with a thud, and you are suddenly aware of the weight of the mountain above you.

Air moves on the back of your neck. You turn around, but see nothing.

Someone points and yells. Other convicts rush towards, then past you. A hand grabs your arm, and you are part of the charge before you know what you are charging at.

Aside from writing that (just now), what did I do over the holidays?

Caught up with my family, cooked, travelled, and various other things that weren’t part of my goals. In retrospect, I probably should have realised those two weeks of leave weren’t going to mean lots of work on projects.

That said, I did get a decent amount done on each of my five goals:

Finish collecting data for my Mary Sue project

I got sick of all this scoring fairly early in the piece, so I’ve got seven comics still to score. I’d like to finish all of them by January; but for now, I’m focusing on doing a little each day, to avoid pushing myself any harder than necessary.

Add editing of doors to Aeldardin Rooms.

This is half-way done. I did get back to it over New Year’s, but I spent all my time editing old code and didn’t program in anything new.

Write a couple of things a week

Again, about 50% successful; I wrote about one thing a week, although a lot of it was half-formed ideas that didn’t get very far.

Keep posting updates

Nope.

Finish my roleplaying project (added mid-December)

I’m counting this as a success. I managed to collect all the rules I needed, write up a scenario, and then actually run the game (on New Year’s Eve, just creeping in before the end of the quarter). That’s what inspired the snippet above.

What I’ve got is still very much a draft, but now I know where to focus next. Step one: plan monsters in advance. Step two: remember to print everything out.


I’m also looking at joining another writing group, but I don’t think it will show up in my goals until mid-February or so.

Good luck and happy writing!

Echoes of an Ideal

These are the oaths a paladin would keep:
To do with honour what can thus be done;
To shield the threatened, comfort those who weep,
And then move on, once pain its course has run.

To neither scorn, nor be a slave to laws,
But do what’s right, then give the law its due.
To fight — but only in a holy cause,
And once a plea for peace has been refused.

To be a beacon, shining coast to coast:
A force for change that none need ever fear;
A friend to lost souls when they need it most,
Who does not need to say what deeds make clear.

To be a soldier with no martial heirs,
Who leaves, to souls of peace, a world that’s theirs.

Q4 Week 7.5: Come What May

Last week went well. This week, not so much.

Sick Human, Sick Computer

On Sunday, I scored the two comics I needed to catch up on the Mary Sue project; I’m now back to a steady goal of two comics per week.

On Monday, I collapsed with a headache, the fruit of a cold that had been growing all weekend.

The cold was under control by Tuesday, but my computer wouldn’t start — I did eventually get it working, but I suspect the hard drive is starting to give up the ghost.

I suspect I need to spend some time looking after everyday things.

That “side” project

Technically, you are under sentence of death.

The law of the Six Cities states this point very clearly. As clearly, in fact, as it forbids executing citizens for your crimes.

Sadly, the courts are not obliged to release you when they realise this.

Instead, they offer you a pardon — but one with strings attached: If you serve one of the great Lords on the frontier, and work hard and faithfully for seven years, you will be allowed to go free.

If you refuse to serve, you will be left on the Hulks until the slime and the sea claim you.

Eventually, even the Black Mountain seems a better choice than that.

(Source on conditional pardons)

This Australia-inspired roleplaying scenario continues to haunt my spare time. At this point, I think it’s well and truly replaced the programming project I was working on.

But it is also getting closer to “finished” — as much as a game can be without meeting players, anyway.

In light of that, I’m putting my programming goal on the back burner for now. The roleplaying stuff needs to be finished by the 17th, so I’ll try and switch back to programming over the Christmas holidays.

Updated Goals

These are my new goals for the next few weeks:

  • Assemble rules and treasure lists for my roleplaying project (by December 17th).
  • Continue scoring two webcomics per week for Mary Sues.
  • Write two short pieces (or for two evenings) each week.
  • Decide what to replace my computer with (by December 5th).
  • Hold off on working on these for the next couple of days so I can start to recover from the cold.

Good luck and happy writing!

Q4 Week 6: Press On

For this week and the coming week, my goal is to catch up on Mary-Sue scoring, and do a bit of writing if possible.

While I did write two sonnets, I still haven’t finished scoring the comic I was stuck on, The World in Deeper Inspection.

However, I am almost there. With any luck, I should finish that comic tonight. If I can manage two more later in the week, I’ll be back on track: 6 weeks to score 12 comics.

Last week was busy enough to tire me out, which will hopefully keep the side project out of my thoughts while I catch up.

Good luck and happy writing!

Q4 Week 5:

My focus this week was my new roleplaying project — or more accurately, on preparing to work on my roleplaying project.

The Side Project Grows

I spent the better part of two days’ holiday trying to buy a non-reproducible blue pencil, which I thought would be handy to make notes on paper maps.

Maybe it would be, but I couldn’t find a shop that had one to sell.

When I finally admitted defeat and sat down to work on the dungeon, I realised I had no idea how to structure something like this. I’ve written adventures before, but this one is build on very different principles to those.

That meant several evenings reading blogs and rulebooks to get my ideas to crystallise.

Then I decided I needed an adventure analysis program to check my work against these new principles.

Today, I finally got a couple of hours work in on the dungeon itself.

That was enough to realise that this is actually a substantial project. I thought I was cutting out a lot by just doing the first level, but even that might take a whole week’s worth of spare time to finish.

Progress

While I did write a couple of sonnets amongst all that, I did next to nothing on the Mary-Sue project. Aeldardin Rooms got nothing at all (although the tools I did write are a step towards my long-term goals for Rooms).

Goals For Next Week

Given how big my roleplaying project is turning out to be, doing it in bits and bobs of spare time isn’t going to work. It needs serious focus, and I can’t give it that without taking the time away from the webcomic Mary Sue project.

And while I’m getting bored of scoring webcomics, I really don’t want to abandon what I’ve done. Not only is the way to finishing it relatively clear (unlike my half-finished stories), I suspect giving up will compromise what little scientific integrity the project has.

If I don’t finish this, I’ll always wonder what the results might have been; and if I look into Mary Sue tests further, I’ll have to ask myself whether I’d have found different conclusions if I had finished the first time around.

For that reason, my goal for the next two weeks is to catch up with Mary-Sue scoring. I’d still like to do some writing, but I’m happy to let programming slide if it will get the Mary-Sue work done.

Good luck and happy writing!