Friday, May 10, 2024

I'm taking a blogging break for the rest of May. I shall see you in June for the IWSG post.

I'm taking the rest of May off from blogging. Life has gotten a bit stressful, and I have some roommate issues that keep cropping up (living with people is challenging but I did sign up for this...willingly I might add). So, I'm going to take a bit of a blog break and see you guys in June. Perhaps by then things will have returned to normal, and I can concentrate on plodding along in my life. Right now, it feels like a new hurricane of chaos lands about every week. That's part of the issue of living with someone who has severe ADHD I suppose.

I plan to return to blogging for the Insecure Writer's Support Group in June. See you then.

Monday, May 6, 2024

The FX Shogun series has ended and I really liked it a lot.

I finished watching FX's adaptation of James Clavell's Shogun, and I'm now ready to discuss it so here is your obligatory spoiler warning :).

First off, it was just really good throughout its narrative (one of the best shows I've ever watched). The first six episodes or so of its ten episode run hold closely to the material within the book. The last four deviate quite a bit from what Clavell wrote, but the spirit of his words is still there. The finale in particular hit some really solid notes for me, because it just was so beautiful. It was a perfect conclusion, really, to the story that the showrunners wanted to tell, and their attention and dedication to detail paid off in spades. Here's a few trivia tidbits that might interest you: 1) all of the kosodes used in the show were authentically recreated using period materials by 200 experts in kosode design, 2) the language spoken was faithful to the kind of language spoken from that era, and 3) the soundtrack took five years to make because they wanted to make sure that all compositions were faithful to the musical instruments that were available in Japan in 1600.

Maybe part of me wanted to see the Battle of Sekigahara (you don't see it). Looking back on this decision, I think it was the correct one to make. I think it would be difficult to justify a huge amount of money spent for our eyes to enjoy a battle that would have contributed nothing to the story except some gore. As Toranaga pointed out in the finale to Lord Yabushige before Yabu's seppuku moment, the outcome was inevitable. What the showrunners opted to do was offer a glimpse into Toranaga's mind, which (arguably) was the most intriguing aspect of the show. If I were to use a chess metaphor, Toranaga sacrificed his knight, his bishop, and his queen all so that he could achieve a checkmate from which his enemies could not escape. Additionally, Mariko was the definition of a brilliantly written female character, and a lot of kudos should go to James Clavell because she is equally this brilliant in the novel.

The most beautiful aspect of the finale for me was how Mariko's death touched dozens. She was the true heart of the story, transforming everyone through her life and her death. And she did the only thing that could be done in Toranaga's unique situation, moving the other regents to side with Toranaga against Ishido, or to make them withdraw the armies of the heir on the battlefield of Sekigahara (which delegitimized Ishido). Because of Mariko's sacrifice, Lady Ochiba (who ultimately made the decision regarding those armies) had no choice but to withhold them or lose family honor.

In the book, Toranaga is a man of great discipline and willingness to wait until his opponents make a crucial tactical error. In the show, Mariko ends up being the "Crimson Sky" event that hands Toranaga the Shogunate. In the book, "Crimson Sky" is an attack on Kyoto to control the Emperor and get him to declare him Shogun. It is not an attack on Osaka to defeat Ishido. But I think the important thing to understand from the way both of these events transpire is that the end result remains the same, and that the character of Blackthorne (Anjin) and that of Lord Toranaga are fundamentally cut from the same cloth. They are both unpredictable, because they are interested in all kinds of information and able to think and plan outside the context of their own cultures. This is then summed up when Anjin declares to Toranaga that rebellion is always dishonorable "unless you win."

Lord Yabu (easily one of the best characters in the show) asks Toranaga, "How does it feel to control the wind?" Toranaga replies, "I don't control the wind; I only study it." If you haven't given the television series a watch, I highly recommend that you do so.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

In today's Insecure Writer's post I answer a question about distractions and whether or not they bother me.

Hello and welcome to May 2024. Things are getting weird in the United States (or at least in Salt Lake City), but that is too big of a topic to tackle in a blog post or even a hundred blog posts. Instead, let's talk about the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and how today is a celebration of its continued endurance in what remains of the blogging sphere of social media.

What is the purpose of the IWSG?: That's a good question. It is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance, and you should consider it a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

When does the IWSG post?: The group posts on the first Wednesday of every month (unless you forget which is what I almost did). This day is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Ideas for those posts might include the following: 1) talking about your doubts and the fears you have conquered, 2) discussing your struggles and triumphs, and 3) offering a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

To be considered a good blog participant, you should plan to visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connection via networking. Be sure to link to their page and display their badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog. Without those breadcrumbs, it is difficult for others to locate your blog and comment back.

The IWSG has a motto. It is "Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!"

The X (formerly Twitter) handle is @TheIWSG and the hashtag everyone uses is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 1st posting of the IWSG are Victoria Marie Lees, Kim Lajevardi, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

Now, every month, the brain trust of the IWSG announces a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. If this is what you want to do, then go right ahead. But remember that the question is optional. Here is the May question, and yes, I'm going to answer it.

How do you deal with distractions when you are writing? Do they derail you?

I am not good at dealing with distractions. So yes, they do derail me. I think the key to this is to just draw boundaries and to shut the door. I have a specific example, but I'm not going to write it here in the off chance that they read it and become offended. I will say that some of the worst distractions I've ever come across are caused by people who talk incessantly about one thing for ten hours straight and just blather on and on and on, and this is usually a result of severe and unmedicated ADHD or something similar. Anyway, may that specific circumstance never find you when you are trying to write :)

Thank you for visiting, and I hope your May goes swimmingly.