Creative Journey: Going to Hit the Writing Gym

Creative Journal #5 Chapter 2: Struggle

I started Chapter 2 after taking a few days off from writing and I think that was a mistake. I’ve learned some lessons over the last couple days.

  1. Generalize some plot points for future use
  2. Need a plan to build my “writing stamina”
  3. Dialogue is difficult
  4. Limit time away from the story

My plan has always been to have multiple stories and give them common points of reference in time. One character in a story seeing another character while they are in their own story. I want to give readers attachment points from one story line to the next. I think this is going to be difficult, especially for a new writer but my theory is that the dividends paid by this kind of world building will have long term benefits to Luxe System stories. Lesson 1 this weekend has taught me that I need to generalize points in my story so I can easily reference them in the future. For example, there will be a ceremony on the Trade Moon later in the story. I need to give this ceremony a name or an event which will make it unique in time. In my head, I have been trying to make these common points specific to a character and what they are doing, rather than making a common point a global event. This means I will have to cross reference one character’s timeline to another character’s when using these common points, in order to avoid plot holes, but again, dividends.

Lesson 2 is all about getting myself used to writing for long periods. I took time off this week for life, capacity and schedule reasons. Life happens, but I’ve been sitting down today (Sunday), trying to make progress and I’m having a hard time getting through 1200 words. In attempting to diagnose the problem, well……I am unsure what the problem is. I do know Lesson 3, writing dialogue is part of the problem. Dialogue is hard. I take for granted how easy it is to talk. That sounds weird to me, but writing dialogue requires me to have to switch from one character’s POV to another and think about how they will respond, how they speak and what words they use. AND……I’m not even writing complicated dialogue with complicated characters. This is basic what I’m working on, but writing my first major conversation took a lot out of me. I think this will get better because I am not used to these characters yet. I think the solution is, over time I will get into the head of these characters and will be able to reference their motivations as quickly as I reference my own IRL.

Lesson 4 taught me that I need to spend less time away from the story. As I’ve said, I took some time off from writing this week and I’ve paid the price this weekend. I think the progress I made last weekend was great, but gave me a false sense of security. I would take a day and think “I can get a lot done on the weekend”……NOPE! However, I did get a nice surprise, when I did come back to the story on Saturday, I was not entirely sure where I was going so I pulled up my outline and I was able to get back on track instantly. I am already off script as far as the outline goes, but I am using the outline as a way to reference where the story needs to be in terms of landmarks in the time line, which is perfect.

Those are the big lessons I learned this weekend. In looking for ways to improve this process for myself. I need to look at how to handle the struggle points along the way. Today is a struggle, as the sub-title says. I’m facing the struggle as a writer, Chapter 2 doesn’t really have a struggle. The biggest problem at this point is, if I hit a part in the main story I’m working on, I will get bogged down. I need to have side projects I can work on so when the main project hits a wall, I can leave and come back. This is how I work when I design games and I think this is the way I need to work when I’m writing.

Speaking of, I think I want to start working on a new game this week. Even if it is in outline form but I’m feeling the game design. I know I said that in a previous post but I’ve written this down in my weekly notebook to actually work on a game.

Before I drop Chapter 1 in here……this is a good example of lesson 2. This post is roughly 800 words and I’ve been able to get this down with little issue. Writing these posts is definitely part of building up the writing muscle. I think I will start working on other outlines as well, but only in very high level views and probably do some more world building around the Luxe System itself. I have a lot of the bones built but there is a lot of meat to be put on these bones. That is enough for now, here is chapter 1…..enjoy!

Chapter 1:

note: this is unedited & unformatted, includes notes to myself, may have spoilers, open to your feedback, thank you for coming along on the ride!!!

Sarah spent a lot of her free time looking at the Moons of Luxe through her telescope. One of the Moons was a smaller, oblong satellite captured by the planet long ago when the system was forming. The other moon, The Trade Moon, shone bright in the night sky. The Trade Moon used to go by the name “ “ but now that space exploration was a real possibility, referring to “[name]“ as “The Trade Moon” was quickly becoming the norm. Citizens of [the place Sarah lives] had a serious case of space fever.

Sarah’s interest in the trade moon was to become a worker on the trade moon. She has spent much of her youth working on the bots in her Uncle’s workshop. She never had a manual to work with and she preferred it that way. From a young age, she wanted to figure things out on her own and the more she knew about “the right way” to do things, the less she wanted to do things as expected. She had plenty of friends in school and she spent a normal amount of time getting into trouble, spending time with her friends and working hard enough in school to not get noticed for good or bad grades. What she did differently compared to her peers was; when she wasn’t doing the things normal kids do, she was in the workshop playing with the new bots or helping her cousin build planet-bots.

All of this bot tinkering worked out for her cousin Darren, as he was accepted in the most recent recruiting program for Trade Moon workers. When he got the word he was accepted, they worked furiously to get his bot fleet ready for the trip. They didn’t know what would be best for the conditions and the job the bots would be performing on the moon, so they tried to build a two or three bots for each situation they could think of. They knew the jobs could range from inspections to repairs and there would for sure by cargo movement jobs. What they didn’t know were the one off jobs which would inevitably come up. These jobs would require different connector ports, used by the bot to interact with ships and cargo on a physical and electrical basis. Being they could plan for anything, Sarah spent a great deal of time writing the programs which would allow for bot’s hardware to be updated on the fly and cut down on the downtime which came along with these kind of situations.

Darren’s strengths were on the hardware side of things, he always relied on out of the box programs or had Sarah modify the code for the bots build in the shop. This system was fine for earth-bots as the out of the box programs were pretty robust on their own. Once the word came Darren, was going to be working on the Trade Moon, he asked Sarah for her help.

Darren experimented with the physical limits of the bots. He had built in connection ports so multiple small bots could connect to each other and act as a larger bot. While the larger bots would be better for the job, when the large bots were down, he could plan on having the smaller bots work together. When a smaller bot was out of commission, he could replace it with another smaller bot. They were also cheaper and expendable. Being able to get a replacement on the trade moon would be difficult at first, but a dead small bot was parts for the other small bots.

Darren had been working on the Trade Moon for [length of time]. Today was the day Sarah and her Uncle were going to take a trip to the Planetary Hub and see if there were any jobs she could take on the Trade Moon.

“Are you ready to go?”, Her Uncle Daryl asked

“Yes, is there anything missing from the parts list?”

Uncle Daryl reviewed the list she’d put together….

“How many pulse drives do you have for the mini-bots”

“We’ve got three brand new drives, two which need repairs which I think I can handle and one I need you to look at. I can’t get the fuel flow to read correctly. The display reads as normal but the engine output is 40% of normal.”

“Bring it with us, we can drop it off at a shop in the hub. I’d work on it here but we’re going to be at the hub for a few hours. May as well show you were to go in the Hub to get these sorts of things fixed. If we can’t get you a job on the Trade Moon, we should look at getting you work in the Hub itself.

Sarah was so focused on working on the Trade Moon, she had never thought about a back up plan. She always appreciated this about her Uncle Daryl, he was thinking about backup plans and looking out for her best interests.

Daryl could see her shoulder slump as she realized there had to be a backup plan.

She kept up a facade and replied, “let me get the broken pulse drive and I’m ready to go.”

 

*     * *

 

As they arrived at the hub, a message arrived on Sarah’s comm-pad ::DARREN: Hey Cuz, good luck at the Hub today. Hope you’re able to find something [sender not currently on network]:: ::Thanks Cuz, I’ll update you when we’re on our way home::

First stop at the hub was the bot shop to drop off the pulse engine. This was not the first time Sarah had been to the hub, nor was it the first time she had been to the shop. What she had never received before was a guided tour of sorts from her Uncle. Daryl had been one of the labor pioneers of the Planetary Hub and the Trade Moon. Daryl had worked on constructing the Planetary Hub and when the Trade Moon was being built up, he was a worker advocate and adviser during the alpha recruitment process. The connections he’d had from the early days of the Trade Moon kept him updated on who owned what docks, current events and the occasional happyness update from the workers themselves. He was not sure if this was going to help get Sarah a dock on the Trade Moon and he didn’t want to get her hopes up, even though she was aware of his history.

“Right, let’s go check the boards” Uncle Daryl said as they walked out of the bot shop

A group of students being given a tour were blocking the way between the bot shop and the Trade Moon Depot. The TMD, as it was referred to by those in the know, is where the work boards lived. Dock owners would post different jobs they needed filling. There were contract jobs, bot fleets required jobs, bot-less jobs and there were always recruitment jobs for the AA. Since the AA offices had yet to be built on the Planetary Hub, they would use these boards to recruit workers. If there were people looking to work off planet, this is where they would be looking.

The display was made of three vertical monitors with a list of dock locations by latitude and longitude, dock owner name, job type, duration and post date. This was not the first time Sarah had been in front of this board. It was however the first time she looked at it with intention to apply.

“Not him, not him, not him….” could be heard coming from Daryl as he checked the names of the different owners

Sarah knew there was a boys club mentality on the Trade Moon. Her Uncle was not proud of what the Trade Moon had become and quite honestly, he hadn’t thought about the boys club being a problem until the day he realized his niece would want to work on the Trade Moon.

“Are there any names I should look for?” She asked wanting to do more than just stare and wait.

“Tarik & Evans are co-owners of a small dock. Tarik is a good guy, he took on Darren after his recruitment assignment was completed. Fraco is the other name I’m hoping to see here.”

“Franco!” Sarah quietly exclaimed as soon as she heard the name “Oh…..3 month contract job, and it’s bot-less.”

Hearing the disappointment, Daryl added, “Well, sometimes you have to take was you can get. You want me to massage him?”

“It’s worth reaching out”

“I’ll message him while we eat. Let’s grab a bite.”

 

The food court was big and had all kinds of options. Daryl explained that the food court was built to give non-travellers a reason to come to the Hub and check it out. They food diversity was on purpose in the hope that people from all over the world would be passing through the hub. “It shows so real forethought” Daryl concluded as he took a bite from his sandwich.

 

Both of their data pads flashed with a notification. Franco had replied to Daryl’s message ::FRANCO: I have four interviews lined up already for that job. I’d be happy to take Sarah on, but I can’t risk having these four guys interview and not hire one of them [satellite connection]::

“That makes no sense. He is the owner. How does anyone know how many interviews he has?”

“They don’t” Daryl answered “but this might be an on-site interview. If it is, the guys interviewing will be seen and when Franco has a new hire and no one sees one of the four on the dock, they will start asking questions”

“Ugh”

“I know, I’m not proud it’s turned into that up there…..”

The conversation pulled the mood down like a gravity spike. Along with the message notification, Sarah got the notification the pulse engine was fixed and ready for pick up. Not wanting to dwell on the situation, they finished up their meals and made their way to the bot shop.

 

Having paid for the fixed engine, Daryl said, “let’s take one more look at the board. At least we can save the listings to our data pads and we’ll know for next time what we’ve already looked at. You can sign up for board notifications sent direct to your data pad as well.”

While she said nothing, her shoulders gave the “okay” shrug and they started off towards to the boards

“Tarik! A new posting!” Sarah exclaimed “And it’s a bot-controller job!”

“I’m sending the message now” ::Hi Tarik, I see you have a bot-controller position posted. Darren’s cousin is available, can we chat?:: “It looks like they just started their day cycle, we should hear back sooner rather than later. Regardless of how he responds, connect your data pad to the the Trade Moon and Hub boards ##I need to reference this earlier in the chapter## Set up the notifications and we can get the next train out of here.”

“Already done Uncle”

“Good, let’s get going”

 

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