Novel Update

Skipping ahead, but it’s all good

This is like chapter  4-5 and I’m not done with chapter 1 yet. Even though it’s super short, this captures the ideas i want to remember for the stuff going on before and after a critical moment. This is literally the paragraph before and the paragraph after a major scene. Still, This version is shaping up to be something special.

 

I might have heard what he said, but I can’t quite remember. His eyes dominated my thoughts. Endless chasms wrapped in golden blue halos that pierced my soul – if there is such a thing –  in a way I physically felt. Breathing deep took effort, my core seemed…. twisted. Nonetheless, I  found myself responding quite eloquently. At this point, even my own voice had become an echo from the future. If it was the wine, I figured out Ryan’s addiction. If it wasn’t, then I’m fucking amazing.
—–
*the next morning, after things*
—–
I realized that I was alive – shocking, to say the least. Not only that, but the divine smell of omelets would leave me to discover /Heather/ in my kitchen.

“What…. what the fuck is this?”
“It’s breakfast, you bitch. Sit! Spill!”
She pulled out her phone and began scribbling notes as I apparently answered questions about my conversation with Monsieur Bernier. While debriefing her, I couldn’t help but simmer. I needed to drop this case.

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Novel Update

Restructured Novel Plot – The Hero’s Journey!

So, something I’d thought about when writing and reading (and re-reading) my still untitled novel was that the premise offered more than the story delivered. When I really got into thinking about it, I realized the reason. The story didn’t follow a structure in any sense. It was a chronological telling of events. But that doesn’t necessarily do it in literature. There has to be something leading the reader… something that will make them want to follow the story to it’s conclusion, or at least the next plot point!

Given the nature of the story, I chose to rebuild it directly modeling  The Hero’s Journey. I’ll be writing up on this classical storytelling technique some time next week (and eventually, I’ll even have a regular schedule for posting content!), but in the meantime, I thought I’d give the 12 major arcs of the story as they stand post-plot-revision. The fun part about this is it’s also a practice for me in expressing a full story without spoilers, in such a way that reading the plot doesn’t tell you the story and leaves you intrigued for the details and the world the story inhabits. For example, it’s actually a supernatural tale.

  1. The Ordinary World
    1. James Del is an agent of a Federal Entity, working on cases related to corporate espionage.
      1.  His focus is “paper trails”
    2. His close friends are introduced during this time and demonstrated to be characters who will recur throughout the story.
  2. The Call to Adventure
    1. Ryan (James’ boss and best friend) offers him a seat at the table of Jean Bernier: Founder, President, and CEO of Alltech
    2. James suspects this will lead to field work and the reason he moved to trailing paperwork is revealed.
  3. Refusal of the Call
    1. James has no interest in returning to the field after his prior trauma and instead opts to avoid the possibility altogether by not attending the dinner
    2. Ryan persuades him to come and promises he won’t be seated at Bernier’s table
  4. Meeting With The Mentor
    1. At the event, James learns he was tricked by Ryan. He is, in fact, seated at the host’s table.
    2. After the Soiree is well in motion, Bernier talks to James for a while and convinces him to meet at Alltech’s headquarters. James lets his intrigue get the better of him and accepts the offer.
  5. Crossing the Threshold (to the “Special World” as it is called in The Hero’s Journey)
    1. There is some unexpected commotion at the banquet and things get cray
      1. James follows up during his first trip to Alltech’s Facility/Campus/HQ/Whatever
    2. Bernier begins to drop some of his subtleties, revealing the darker character hidden within
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
    1. James learns that Bernier is beyond his understand. The CEO is shown to be a monster.
    2. Bernier, The DSI, and his friends all test James in various ways
      1. As the story goes on, this serves to both sow seeds of doubt and simultaneously root him in the world as it is
    3. Neutral parties/sub-focus characters are introduced during this segment
      1. Plugs/teases for characters to appear in the second and third novels
    4. First, the betrayal.
  7. Approach
    1. Once the espionage element is sorted out and the true villain is revealed, James and his willing compatriots charge forward into the Special World
    2. The major ordeal of the world is not what the group expected
      1. poor planning in espionage tends to lead to violence
    3. Next, the sacrifice
      1. Depending on the relationship, this could be a reveal or it could be set up or it could be a twist.
  8. The Ordeal
    1. The conflict escalates as the remaining contenders on all sides struggle for control of their situation
    2. Once a sort of balance is reached, the sides conflict directly in their second major bout
      1. The heroes will always win this conflict during The Hero’s Journey.
    3. Third, the fall
  9. The Reward
    1. Things seem to  be sorted out as the dust settles. James makes a hasty retreat with hard evidence of the knowledge he possesses.
    2. There is no celebration as powerful entities close in on all sides, seeking control of the evidence now with James.
  10. The Road Back
    1. James must decide who to trust with his information. In the meantime, he can only run and hide, as there is nothing to be gained from any more conflict.
    2. Once he chooses a side, the remaining sides chase and the chosen side aides his escape.
  11. The Resurrection
    1. At the threshold of returning to normal, one final conflict is faced. James learns from the experience and must choose to either shed his former self and embrace the self that developed throughout the story, or return to the self that was.
      1. The resurrection is where there Hero undergoes a Paradigm Shift from (generally) the naive self to the enlightened self.
    2. In the end, he makes the right choice and the conflict resolves at last
  12. Return with the Elixer
    1. With the irrevocable knowledge he possesses, the world is forever changed for the hero.
    2. Epilogue

So, that’s the spoiler-free-ish version of James Del’s Heroic Journey in a nutshell! Let me know your thoughts! Some time this week I’ll be giving you updates on the YouTube channel and related projects!

Don’t forget to check us out on twitter! @ParadigmShiftPC

More subscribers and more followers means we can justify working harder on our creative content for YOU, THE VIEWERS!

Thanks as always for your continued support as I move forward on my Journey of Creationing!

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daily, Exercise in, Style, technical skill

The Daily Five

What exactly is this practice and why does it matter?

The daily 5 is a writing exercise wherein you spend 5 uninterrupted minutes writing every day. The point is to get your brain juices flowing to help with creativity.

But you know what else?  It makes you a better writer. Doing your daily 5 is like doing any other practice for any other skill. It refines technique and reveals the greater overarching concepts in your writing. Sometimes it’s themes or motifs; sometimes it’s just repeated grammatical errors. In any case, if you write in any capacity, doing 5 minutes per day will especially help. There are tons of prompts, ideas, and goal-oriented variations of the daily 5. Pick one and do it! Get writing!

And that’s my daily five. Stay tuned! Later today there’s a special video coming online that I’ll share here. And thenceforth, the paradigm shift will have begun!

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Just for fun

“Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat an enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.”

This quote is attributed to Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the martial art Aikido. Aikido is commonly translated as “The Art of Peace.” While literally the meaning is “Harmonious Energy Way.” What that means changes with your understanding so, I’m not going to bother. This is about the quote itself. Someone made the comment that this quote seems too “New Age-y” and asked “How do you actualize it?”  This led me down a train of thought, and I came up with this answer. Fair warning, I’m not an expert in this art yet, and my interpretation is just one of many. I base it on my knowledge of language as much as the art, my ability to look into literal, contextual, and metaphorical expanses to determine the humanistic and complex thought process behind a seemingly simple statement. It’s a creative writer’s view on a specific statement given by a specific human.

It’s a state of mind, a focused awareness towards that goal. You actively redirect conflict and lock it out (IE, mental Nikkyo). You take principles of Aikido and apply them outside the dojo. Got a conflict with a co-worker? Create harmony. How you do that is totally subjective and dependent on the scenario. But, resolving that conflict peacefully and amicably is possible.

It’s not that a small number of Aikidouka are going to lead the human race to it’s salvation. It’s that principles of Aikido, when applied, lead to harmony and peace. I come from Iwama-Ryu and Takemusu Aiki (roughly “natural aikido”) is a huge part of what we do. When you apply this principle outside of combat, what you find is that your nature creates its own ripples and new conflicts arise. You attune yourself as a person to be in harmony with the world around you. Not the whole world, mind you… just the part to which you’ve chosen to expose yourself.

In another martial art, this could be using direct opposition (as in blocking) to create a harmonious response (IE counter-attack). In an overly-employed workplace, this could be adjusting everybody’s schedule so no one gets thrown off and everyone gets their allotted hours, while using the excess flow to create net growth for the employer. In a rowdy bar, it’s offering to buy that drunkard a beer or a meal, rather than letting it build up to fight. Or it’s leaving the bar before conflict develops, if you don’t wish to be part of it. If it does become a fight, you have your combative skills. Lest we forget, O-Sensei said that Atemi is 70% of the solution, technique is 30%. Atemi is roughly “Distracting strike.” In combat, a punch in the face is a good distraction. If they block or evade, they’ve changed their position while you haven’t and you have control. If they haven’t, you punched them in the face. Either way, it creates space and time for you to execute a controlling technique to end the conflict. In non-combat situations, this is changing the subject if it’s too heated, this is getting minds off the failure and onto the next attempt, and this is studying only as hard as you need to get the grade you want.

The point isn’t that Aikido is a practice that creates peace. It’s that this is a practice that leads to peace. You forge your mind, body, and spirit towards self-improvement and towards conflict dissuasion. Not evasion. You don’t want to hide from the conflict when you have the ability to end it. Instead, you want to use your mind, your non-linear thinking, your general ability to reason, to enact peace and harmony in your wake. Of course, sometimes there is no other option than conflict, and matching the intensity and ferocity of an opponent can be Aiki in it’s own way. Matching spirit is just as important as matching literal energy.

Take this outlandish, but potentially real scenario… In a bank heist, two men with guns. I (in this fictional world where I am not a lowly fourth kyu) have the power to, alone, deal with them one at a time, control one gunman to keep the weapon outside of me and the body in line with the potential second shooter, his friend between us. However, I can’t control both of them, even in the best scenario, without risking another person getting shot. What I can do is stop someone near me who keeps balling his hand in a fist from actually taking the hero’s charge and getting other people killed. I can do this either with words of reason or an applied lock. My goal isn’t to stop the robbers, it’s to keep everyone alive and as safe as possible. If someone gets shot, it becomes my job to save them if I can and then to prevent more people from getting shot. Standing in the bullet’s path is cliche, but you might choose to do it and you would not be wrong for protecting others. This whole idea is crazy, but it makes the point. Knowing Aikido wouldn’t stop the heist, but being able to apply redirection to either gunmen or hostages to prevent bloodshed is a peaceful solution. Making the thing occur requires you making it happen.

As for O-Sensei as a pacifist… the man is reputed to have had numerous conflicts. You can’t develop a system of combat without a lot of combat experience. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t peaceful, it just means he didn’t go out of his way to find fights. He went out of his way to find solutions. Also, when I look at videos of his technique, it’s much more Aiki-jitsu than Aiki-do. But, that’s not really too important in the face of the message that you can have the influence to make change. Aikido as a martial art is just a physical manifestation of that. The Aiki-minded individual naturally seeks to damage all parties as little as possible while simultaneously getting the most result from a minimalist approach. The reason no one elaborates on this is because it becomes innately understood in time, through temperance, and revealed when you’re given the opportunity to define yourself.

To paraphrase Bruce Lee, the way you fight is a reflection of the person you are.

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Flash Fiction, Just for fun, Over 500

Is She Joking?

“So, how are you feeling now?” The doctor stared down her nose at the patient.

“I don’t understand the question,” the towering blonde replied.

“You’ve been on medication for six weeks now. Do you feel better?” She eyed the man, slumped down into his chair, and began to scribble something on her clipboard.

“I don’t… know… I haven’t been able to feel since I began taking these things,” The man’s Norse-like dreadlocks kept him company. He twisted them back and forth between his palms, tightening the locks one by one. “What are you writing?”

She stopped mid-stroke and looked back to the man. “Nothing bad; don’t worry.” She put the clipboard in her top drawer and folded her lanky fingers neatly into each other. “Tell me about your lack of feeling.”

 

He took a look around. When he first came into the office weeks prior, he’d noticed the solid black frames holding pictures of Greek mythology, painted on period vases, probably from a museum exhibit. He’d notice there were lilies and sunflowers on the short table behind her.

Her thick Russian accent charmed him, as did her hard jaw and set facial features. Her curvature matched what he imagined for his ideal woman. And she had proper style to accent it. Even her soft white scarf managed to draw attention to her sculpted frame.

Rich Corinthian leather covered the soft, marshmallow-esque cushions of the couch. The chairs designated for clients had an interesting cross-hatch – more a weave. The material had escaped him but the thing that stuck out was the patterning… Five colors of thread blended seamlessly together to create a single shade of cloth. The first time, he’d stared at that pattern for a full minute before she forced him to engage.

It had been an exciting and promising moment that he’d hope would lead to a better future.

 

Now, he saw some pictures. There were flowers in room. Their fresh-cut aroma made no impact. The couch… eh, black is always a safe color. The psychiatrist, she seemed pretty hot but he didn’t notice anything particularly outstanding. When he tried to focus on the chair, his vision blurred. He no longer saw the individual threads. Everything just seemed duller than it once was. And he didn’t care. And he didn’t care that he didn’t care. And it pissed him off to no end.

“I can’t… I reach for words and they disappear. The thoughts are in my brain but, they’re scrambled. It’s easy to lose it. I’m just not as sharp as I was.”

“You’re also not as depressed. Now you can join the rest of the world and experience life as you should. Isn’t that worth anything?”

Who the fuck are you to tell me how I should experience life? What’s the point of being normal? Why would anyone want to sacrifice their ability to communicate, to articulate, to see reality… just to feel” normal”?

He tried to argue with her. All he could muster was a grunting “uh-huh.”

“Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Isn’t this an improvement from being unable to move from your bed for weeks at a time?”

Not even close, bitch. It’s like imprisoning my mind in a body that disagrees. I’m trapped in this bullshit and I can’t even feel how shitty I feel.

“I have no opinion on life now. It’s just… I feel…” he struggled to find the word. It was somewhere in his brain. He’d thought it before he spoke but, somewhere between brain and mouth, it disappeared.

“How do you feel? Is everything okay?”

Of course not. I thought that was pretty fucking obvious, myself.

                “No.”

“What is it?” Her gaze softened. He wasn’t sure if she meant to play him into opening up or had become genuinely concerned.

“I can’t say. It’s up here,” he tapped his skull. “It’s definitely here,” he patted his left breast, his heart. “I just can’t figure out how to make it come out.”

“Just say it?” She politely offered.

I fucking can’t goddamnit. You’ve killed my ability to do that with your stupid fucking rope… er… pills. Wait… What?

“The words… they don’t make it. I want to be frustrated but I can’t. I mean, I am, but my body isn’t. It’s like some kind of reverse… the… the body works. The brain just can’t make it.”

The gravity of her concern escalated. She leaned forward, causing him to emulate the motion. “That doesn’t make any sense, Val.”

“I know. That’s the point. I’m just cloudy and useless in this state,” he places his forearms on her desk and his head fell into their soft comfort.

“I can’t eat, I can’t shit, I can’t interact the way I normally do. People are abandoning me, I’m a different person and it’s all because of this fucking medication.”

“You can find new friends, people who would abandon you for…”

“For having a drastic change in… fuck!” he slammed his fists on the desk and beat his head into his arms. “It’s… Goddamnit! It’s how you act, who you are, that whole thing.” Thumb and forefinger clamped on the bridge of his nose as he struggled to find the words buried in his mind.

“Personality?”

“I’m just constantly frustrated and exhausted and I’m not the same person. Or I am. I can’t tell. I am inside. But does it matter? I can’t show my inner self anymore. I feel like a zombie.”

The doctor snickered at herself for a moment.

“What?”

“It’s nothing…” she stifled herself.  “Just that..”

“Out with it!” he demanded.

“I just think zombies are pretty good at showing their insides.”

 

 

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Exercise in, Style, Under 500

Why Bother?

Okay, y’all. I’m going to call this “Why Bother?” It’s an “initiative” I guess… the idea here is that I get exhausted by the plethora of people who question my every action, decision, ideal, moral, or whatever else they don’t understand. So, I’m just writing a blurb about why I bother with something people ask about. 95% of my facebook friends won’t see this but, it doesn’t matter. I’m doing it anyway because this is the internet and YOU CAN’T STOP ME! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Now, on the facebook version, I tagged a bunch of people… taking for granted that everyone on WordPress is a writer to some degree, this is a call to action for all of you. If you read this, please like and/or comment to let me know if you will be writing about something you’re driven towards. I’d like to make sure I read those!

 

Without further ado…

 

I don’t need a flat stomach; I need a strong core.
I don’t need to be big; I need to be powerful.
I don’t need to win the fight; I need to end the conflict.
I don’t need to change others, I need to change myself
I don’t need perfection; I need progress.

I practice Aikido because before I ever studied it, it had been established along the path I sought. I practice Aikido because it’s impossible for me to do without finding a way to improve. I practice Aikido because the art takes problems and creates solutions. The Aiki mind is never stumped, for there is always another way. The Aiki spirit is never trumped, as there is always progress to be made. The Aiki practitioner can only be defeated by the self and that is the central struggle we all face. Aikido leads the person you are to the person you will become and, if you are mindful, that person will become exactly who you intended.

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flash fiction, Just for fun

The Brink

Mildly modernist approach to the subject matter. Have some stream of consciousness from the mind of J Patrick Avery


 

You’ve stepped over the line.

Where is the line? What is the limit? At what point have I crossed from sanity to insanity?

Well, you’re asking yourself questions and answering them. That’s probably not normal.

Are you sure? It seems pretty normal.

Not the way you do it. You’re better off retiring your mind.

Retiring my mind? What do you mean?

Just go to sleep. The effort isn’t worth the trouble.

But then how will I accomplish anything?

What have you accomplished anyway?

Well, I’ve completed plenty. It’s just that people don’t seem to care.

Of course they don’t, you’re not normal.

So I have to be boring, regurgitate the same bullshit everyone does? If I want anyone to care what I have to say, it has to be something mundane?

Has any human ever shown you different? Not even the closest to you can understand your existence.

Frankly, neither can I.

If no one sees the point, what point is there?

There has to be some reason I exist. No human is meant to be nothing.

All humans are nothing in the end. Why procrastinate?

What about the sanctity of life?

No one treats their own health as valuable, let alone another life. Undoubtedly, your life has proven itself not to be sacred.

All I’ve ever done was try to make the lives of those around me a little better.

You think you can cure your pain by allowing others to step on you?

I don’t see it that way.

You’re a fool. No wonder you’ve been rejected.

I’m an idealist, not a fool.

One and the same. The world does not want to live up to your ideals. It wants to choke on its own indignity and suffocate the human race in a vacuum of stupidity.

So I should give up and make no effort to improve other people?

You should just give up and leave it at that.

I don’t think I can.

But you have… You stepped over the edge and you’re about to meet the pavement.

Oh… shit.

 

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