Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shen and Shid, it's Tuesday!


Excuse my Simelan invective! Translations: it doesn't translate, but these two words refer to the psychological and physical damage done by an interrupted transfer of selyn. Such language is not used in polite company.

Linnea related her traffic accident woes, and at the same time that was happening to her, "stuff" was happening to me, too.

I'm going to relate some of that story simply on the theory that there could be readers here who want to be professional writers but think that those who write professionally "have time" that others don't.

"Real life" does sit heavily on writers of all types.

My mundane story de jour is simply a rusted out hot water heater that splushed and revealed a design flaw in my house.

The builder did indeed follow code and put the gas water heater up on a platform so the ignition wouldn't set off an explosion if fumes from the cars (it's in the garage) etc. collected near the floor.

But the builder cheaped out and made that platform LOOK like a block of cement -- but it wasn't. It's a hollow cube made by some lumber at the corners, connecting lumber, and a top.

It does hold the 50 gallon tank, but what if I had bought the 65 gallon tank I really wanted? It would have fit the space, but been much heavier. But it was out of stock and I needed that new water heater NOW.

So I got the 50 gallon one.

We discovered the disaster about 4:30 on Sunday -- shut off the water and gas -- called Sears -- bought the new heater and put in the work order for installation the next day.

After several games of phone tag, we got the installer over at 3:30PM on Monday (President's Day) -- by 4, the true extent of the water damage was apparent and we had a Water Damage expert arrive by 5:30 -- laying a cost of thousands upon us.

If the builder had correctly designed the water tank installation, there would have been no damage.

My husband went to Home Depot and got an aluminum tray they sell to make up for this chronic mis-design by builders. Ever wonder why Home Depot isn't in the house building business?

We have yet to get a plumber to hook that tray up to drain to the outdoors, so this won't happen again.

Meanwhile, as the water damage expert sat and waited, we got a house insurance claim number, then filled out the work order. The claims adjuster is supposed to come by on Thursday to inspect the old heater (which we had to have returned because the nice installer took it away so it wouldn't cost extra for the city to haul it away.)

The water damage guy is due here any moment for a follow-up visit.

Silly me, when laying out my work schedule to ramp up for ConDor I forgot to include busted water heater, just as Linnea forgot to include traffic accident in her course planning.

But meanwhile, I have recommended her online course on torturing characters to one of my writing students! Great course title!!!

Now, all those who want to get their writing up to selling -- remember, "life" doesn't stop knocking you over, down, and sideways even when you have contracts arears, or a burning urge to get something on the market now!

And those following my sequence of World Building posts -- these two incidents in two writer's lives are the sum and substance of where we get our worldbuilding ideas. It's how you learn to think like a hero. It's where those questions arise that lead to whole new alien worlds.

What would happen if a house builder from Earth tried to set up a business on some far off planet in some other solar system -- with people who were far from human?

What would happen to a house builder from Earth using these kinds of business practices who tried to set up a business on Vulcan?

What planets are there out there where a builder from Earth could actually do better than he/she was doing on Earth?

And how about fantasy? How would Harry Dresden's world deal with the problem of elevating a gas water heater? Harry can heat water with magic, but it's expensive. His presence has a negative effect on the laws of physics (they haven't brought that out yet in the TV series and I don't know if they will).

And what about all the laws of traffic accidents among aliens? What a way to meet the hunk-of-your-life! How do you cope with whiplash while falling in love?

THAT is how writers do worldbuilding -- by noticing the story potential in everyday events.

That is where we get all our crazy ideas -- from the boring, mundane, distractions from writing.

Live Long and Prosper,
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. Quite right, Jacqueline! The appeal of science fiction is in taking reality and turning it on its ear, in my opinion. A writer needs to experience reality and have a thorough knowledge of how human beings cope with it in order to accomplish that, I think.

    For example, it's not enough to give a female alien an extra boob. Anyone can do that. But, what if the female of her species grow a new breast for each new baby and what if her three babies died? What if the hero doesn't know that and can't understand why she doesn't respond to his romantic advances? Then, we've got reality turned on its ear. Lots of humans crash on the road to love because of previous heart-wrecks.