Rumours of My Demise are Somewhat Premature

OK, so this is a bit of a cheat blog. I usually manage a blog post every month, so in the interests of maintaining my record – which only I actually care about – here we go. I don’t have a lot to say or enlighten you with, at least as I start to write this. I also don’t have an apology. I’ve been writing. A lot. And not as much as I’d like. It’s also been oriented too much towards science fact and not nearly enough science fiction. I’ve also not been “spending” quite so much time on social media, which is a bit of shame because there are actually a lot of interesting people and things happening there. So, why?

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, flying cars, drones, public transport

Why? More specifically, why am I spending more time writing and less time telling people about it? Sometimes you have those revelations as a writer, actually in any endeavour, when you realise that you’re not that good. I was editing a lot at the beginning of the year while I tried to put some short stories into presentable, publishable, shape. My conclusion? Conceptually, I liked, actually I still like, my stories. I have a few in the closet and they cover quite a diverse range of ideas and styles. Perhaps more importantly, my writing was lazy. I am not sure whether my science education helps in being able to take a step back and judge my own work without prejudice. Well, at least not too much.

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Reflections In

I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions, but the end of the year, and a few days holiday, do give one the time to reflect. So reflecting I am. This year I complained a lot about time, specifically, the lack of it. Sorry. In the interests of full disclosure, I have been reliably informed that 2016 will not be coming with more time. Nor will time expander packs be available. More’s the pity.Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Life Balance,

It would appear that the only solution is to do fewer things. Which is exactly NOT what I am going to do. Seriously, I don’t respond well to “slow down”, “take it easy” or “don’t do so much” and similar expletives.

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Writing is like walking

Put one word in front of the other and keep on going until you get to the end.

Of course, some people walk better than others. And really, that is probably where the analogy finishes. Actually, I probably should have stopped before this whole thing got out of hand.

Stop Here, harry tuttle, modern cave dweller

But I won’t.

Something I learnt as a scientist is knowing when to stop. At some point you need to admit to yourself that this is as far, or as good, as it is going to get. Maybe you won’t win the Nobel prize. Maybe you won’t write some literary masterpiece. This is the perfectionist’s dilemma. On the other end of the scale, there is the danger that you stop too soon. In science you can see this in a paper that lacks perspective and presents what is often referred to as an “epsilon” paper. Espilon being the greek letter usually used for an extremely small quantity in maths. Therefore, the paper is seen as a making a very small step forward. They stopped too soon in having the vision to do something really important; big. They also stopped too early in terms of writing and the lack of depth in the writer’s perspective gives them away.

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Every Day I Write The BookS

After the last cathartic post on why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, not to mention the constant whining about not writing, I have actually been writing a lot.

I currently have three novels on the go, and as of last week another new story; so new it doesn’t even have a working title. I’m only at the beginning, 1000 words down and some planning, but it feels like it could be the start of a series, maybe shorts, not sure yet, it’s a bit of a new style for me… And that’s the thing. After not writing for a while, I’m having an absolutely wondrous time, experimenting. Experimenting with different formats and lengths, with stories spanning hard core space opera, dystopian earth-like civilisations, earth- and space-based, human- and alien-like characters, imagining technologies of the future, their evolution and impact on “humanity”. It is brilliant!

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, SciFi, Science Fiction, Space

I started this month well, trying out a new time management idea – writing every morning; I had been getting too tired to write in the evenings. It worked well for a week or so, but the real world (work) interrupted, so I have reverted to writing wherever and whenever I can. I’d like to try this morning regime again if/when my day job calms down a little. It was an excellent way to start the day. Whilst I complain a bit (ok, maybe a lot) about the day job, I am writing a lot there and really trying to up the quality. I’ve written at least 10000 words this month, not counting emails… on some cool science and technology (I’m trying to avoid counting but it was a good month). I think that the fiction and non-fiction writing are helping one another – after all, it’s all writing.

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World building: Reality vs Fiction

There are times in life when it all hangs in the balance. Now, is one of them, at least for me. As the blurb says, I write science fact to science fiction, however, these two worlds do not always find a peaceful way to coexist. In life we always have choices even if some of them don’t seem like it at the time. And so it is that I find myself here, at one of those decisive moments. Concentrate on the scientist, or concentrate on the writer. Let’s be clear, science is what puts food on the table, while writing is a passionate pastime that is very much in its infancy.

Balance, Science, Writer, Harry Tuttle, MCD, Modern Cave Dweller

So on the science fact front I face an uncertain future. In six months time I might be out of a job OR I might be spearheading an initiative that will take most of my time for the next 15 years. There are a lot of “ifs” to fall into place for the latter. So it appears, at least for the next 6-12 months, that the “decision” is not so hard, or at least not so complicated – I need to concentrate on the science. My apologies but this will have to remain cryptically anonymous for the moment.

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Phase One Complete – Bring on 2015!

I claim to write science facts to science fiction and beyond. I have been, for some time now, more focused on the facts than the fiction. This remains the case – this year I have published or submitted around 10 scientific papers, which is an incredibly good year no matter how you look at it. So if we look at the fiction side of things, I’m still taking baby steps, but this is a long game and this was always the plan.

Tazio Bettin, Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Writing, ScifiThis year the goal was to read and write as much as I could, without worrying too much about what it was. In a sense, it was a quest to find my style, and more importantly, improve how I write. The only way to do that is to write. I now have first or second drafts of a handful of flash fiction, two and half shorts as well as two novels – one about the third done and the other a bit less, but both are fully planned.

What have I been writing? I would say SciFi, but if you’re after space cruisers and alien battles, there is not much here for you yet. Trust me, this to will come. Currently, there is a heavy dystopian influence in a lot of the work – possibly too much, but it is what it is and it is more symptomatic of where I have been coming from lately and where I am heading.

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A French Proverb That Could Save a Writer’s Soul

Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid is a french proverb that dates back to 1835 (dictionaire de l’Académie). A more or less literal translation would be: little by little the bird makes its nest. In daily speech, the lazy things that we are, this is often shortened to “petit à petit”. As in: “How is it going?” … “Petit à petit” – little by little.  It is extremely useful in a wide variety of situations, for example, when you really don’t want to go into detail about what you’re doing. More often though, it is an admission that you’re probably struggling to make progress at all today and you just want it (the day) to end  so you can start fresh tomorrow.writer quote, de niro, modern cave dweller

So it was that this made me think of the life of a writer. We run around collecting all sorts of bits and pieces of ideas, text, pictures and weave them like threads into ideas until, eventually,  some form starts to appear.  A story. A nest. I’ll leave the metaphor there for the moment, but leave it as an exercise for the class – yes you – to run with that metaphor and see where you find yourself!

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Short and Flashy

Time is against me. Ok, it’s against all of us. I blame society … I’ve been trying to catch up on reading/living this year and have revisited or been reading some classic scifi. Which is good. But someone pulled me up on a list of books I posted on Ello the other day and asked, what about something more contemporary? My argument was that some of them were contemporary … when I read them … Anyway, the end result is that I now have a nice list of books to read and authors to discover.

Harry Tuttle, Modern Cave Dweller, Scifi, Flash fiction, Short storiesThat is not to say that I haven’t been reading contemporaries. So, while I’m distracted, here are a few things that really rocked my reading world in the last few weeks. Immersion, by Aliette de Bodard (on Clarkesworld) is possibly the best thing I have read in a long time. Also on Clarkesworld, A.C. Wise’s The Children of Main Street – actually, I’m not going to say anything. It’s a short. Read it in 10 minutes and be immensely satisfied. Somewhere in between Flash and Short story is Lacarant Plainer‘s “space opera flash fiction” serial Mission Impossible. Currently up to episode 10 and cruising along wonderfully. Okay, where was I? So that’s reading, what about writing?

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Change of Address – Long Live Harry Tuttle

Harry Tuttle, the Modern Cave Dweller.

Harry Tuttle MCDFor those that had noticed, or had been around here before, there have been a few things changing. In particular, on my journey to being an author it was brought to my attention that it might be useful if people could easily find me… Like all people, there seems to always be a namesake out there who is more famous. And so it is that I say ciao to the Modern Cave Dweller moniker for the web site. Well mostly. Given how popular my name is, obviously the domain name that goes with it is taken – although for sale at a ludicrous price. So by way of unique-afying my site, you must now all address me as

HarryTuttleMCD.com

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Passionate on the inside

I always considered myself a committed person, more than a passionate one. If I tell you I am going to do something, I will try and do it even if it kills me. So why do I baulk at passionate? I tend to associate passion with excitement. We all know people that can’t sit still and want to shout out to everyone that they love what they are doing. I’m not sure I have ever been like that but I love people that are. It is infectious and I am always looking for these people. Personally, I tend not to be passionate about one particular thing – things come and go. I am more interested by ideas and sometimes I think that these can be too big to be passionate about.

passion, modern cave dweller

I am committed to making a difference. The problem with trying to make a difference is that it is vague. When people at parties ask you what you do, you do not respond with – “oh, me, I make a difference”. Apart from sounding monstrously pretentious, it just doesn’t mean anything.  Anyway, vague … When you are targeting something vague it is very easy to get distracted doing all sorts of things as a means to an end. Imagine the scientists that now spend half their time asking for money to do science rather than sciencing, or the writer spending so much time on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ building their network/following that they forget to write. They spend so much time talking about what they want to do, or doing something they feel will help in the long run, that they lose sight of their passion. I sit guilty as charged on all counts.

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