Blog: How to Model a Life


This week’s subject is modelling but I simply couldn’t find a well-known movie with the word ‘Model’ in the title. Hence the break in tradition for the blog’s title.

Sneak Preview
This week it is from a section called Monk in Lotus. This is the penultimate chapter of the book so I am not far from completing the first draft.

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

At the eleventh hour of the day, my duties in the dairy being completed for the morning, I was, as usual, in contemplation. Kneeling in the third pew back of the main Abbey Chapel, I watched the glossed back of the black ant. Reflecting the pillar of holy light shafting through the stained-glass window, the tiny ant’s carapace dipped up and down as it negotiated the uneven surface of the bible rail. This was my favourite time of day.
But this day in particular, something was different. Deep inside me, in the nebulous area where dreams of the night before are placated by the ambitions of the day ahead, something surprising was lurking. Malignant, and hard, like a vinegar-boiled conker, it just wouldn’t be shifted. Not a memory, or an idea, however it was more like a memory. This was the more surprising since my memory had never been good. Indeed I could barely remember my childhood and relied on others for details.
With all the teaching that the ancients, such as Aristotle, and our more modern thinkers like Bernard of Clairveaux had imparted to me, you would think I could rid myself of unwanted thoughts. But they traipsed through my mind like miscreants on the average village street.
Suddenly the full horror of the thought expanded in my mind into an image I could not contemplate or articulate. I shuddered, closed my eyes and prayed for all I was worth. Slowly, so very slowly, the thought subsided and shrank back into the depths of my soul.

How to Model a Life
I had a strange dream last night wherein I was in a toy-shop which had just about everything I ever wanted as a little boy: every train set and accessory you could imagine; Scalextric sets off all kinds and every plastic aircraft model kit that was ever made. I could have anything I wanted! Of course it was like being in Heaven. Of course they are all models.
When we are children it’s very natural for us to model things; girls model using dolls and dolls houses, boys model using toy trains, cars and planes and even kittens model using balls of string. Modelling is how we eventually build an image of the Universe that will allow us to exist and either thrive or fail within it. We each of us hope we have the correct model but it is subject to change.
Gurdjieff said that many of us lose the ability or will to remodel as we get older – usually around the age of 30. I think this is the norm but many of us continue to try and re-model even in very old age.
For me writing allows me to do this continually. Each character, every location I attempt to describe, I do so using the utmost of ability to replicate what I see in the real world. And each relationships is just as I perceive it.
Writing is the best form of modelling ever! It’s the most fun too! You get to create worlds, societies, people, even vehicles if you so desire. You can recreate moments in history or invent moments in the future. I recommend it to anybody who loves modelling. Another answer to the old question “Where does your inspiration come from?” is probably the fun of modelling.

Another is invention. When writing science fiction this is a particularly necessary skill. Inventing something is not simply a case of thinking of something and mentioning it; it has to feel real.
In the case of nano-generators in my Iron Series, I wanted something about the size of a microwave oven that can reproduce anything small enough to fit inside.
I had read about the theoretical possibility of nano-generators some years ago so I already had the facts at my disposal: nano-bots which take organic or non organic material (and in the case of my generators; plasma cubes) and copy any real object either by scanning it or working to a 3-d plan. Scientists are expecting that these generators will be the size of microwave ovens within the next 100-200 years. That part is simple enough.
Next I wanted a term for them that would immediately show how they had been absorbed into culture as every-day objects. In the real world, we tend to anthropomophise everything around us so we make cars that have fronts resembling faces and we also make technical names sound more friendly. Refrigerators have become fridges and vacuum-cleaners Hoovers. It does not always involve a simultaneous shortening of the name but usually does. Hence my nano-generators first became Trion Nano-generator Mark Is and then simply n-gens. Who is really going to care what model they are if they work properly.
Finally you simply invest the object with quirks – such as the plasma tabs left over in Jake’s flute and also have your humans use them for unconventional purposes and then they will seem real.

Edge-manship in Writing
I wrote my first article a few weeks ago the creative part of the writing process. My second article – in the form of a video blog, was about Serendipity in the writing process. Another aspect is Edge-manship. Perhaps a better term might be ‘being out there’ or ‘being on the edge’.
There are times when one cannot seem to find the words. You are nervous about putting pen to paper or finger to key in case you write something mediocre. These are moments when you simply have to ‘jump’. By that I mean that you have to put yourself on the edge, out into the unknown where you have no sentence in mind, no image or scene. You simply put finger to key in good faith that the right word will come. I have found that if you have faith enough and a good creative urge in general, something surprising will happen. Words will come and they will often take you in unexpected directions. Sometimes they will actually represent some thought or feeling much deeper than you would normally have managed to express. An example would be the snake dream in The Painter section of Esche’r Staircase. I was out of ideas at the time and beginning to think I should take a short break from writing. I had this image in my mind of a snake in an oasis and it seemed completely irrelevant to the story so I ignored it. But nothing would come for several hours when I tried to write. In frustration I just started writing a sentence and the word ‘snake’ ended up in the sentence and then I was off. At first I felt slightly uncomfortable with the idea because it seemed like a complete break with the previous story line but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it added another dimension to the story. So simply taking a deep breath and leaping into the abyss in good faith can work.

Other News
I hardly need to mention it again do I? Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be free from 30 August-3 September on Amazon so tell everyone, their dogs, their friends and their dog’s best friends!
The new cover for The Devil’s Own Dice is now available on the paperback. I anticipate Attack Hitler’s Bunker! will be available in the next month; it is long overdue and I apologize for the delay but it has to be right before I let it go.

Further to my thoughts on a private company policing nations rather than the UN, what if all nations sign a treaty to allow only this private company to have nuclear weapons. This would only be an extension to such as the SALT treaty and would seem to me to solve two problems: how to present the greatest danger to threatening dictators and how to maintain a nuclear arsenal (which can hardly be forgotten) without individual nations getting their hands on them.


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