simondlr #13 - "Earth Has Been Margin Called"

Hi everyone. Happy new year! Excited for 2020.

Since June 2018, I’ve been working on my first novel, “Hope Runners of Gridlock”. On December first, I completed draft zero, clocking in at roughly 54,000 words. As Terry Pratchett described it: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

This is the first time I’m writing a novel and discovering the creative process myself. In letting the book marinate, I went back and started re-drafting it into draft 1. I’m rewriting roughly 65-70% of the book: adding colour, slotting character motivations into place, adding chapters and removing some chapters. The speed is much faster however, since the broad story is still intact. It’s about halfway through draft 1.

Here you can see the graph of the writing process of draft 0. The big dip is me taking out the notes/summaries/etc into a separate document.

To compare draft 1 progress:

Draft 0:

Writing Days: 106

Average Words Per Day: 504

Draft 1:

Writing Days: 14

Average Words Per Day: 2135

So you can see that re-writing is substantially faster. After draft 1 is done, I plan to send it to friends, and people I regard to be target readers for feedback for judging broadly if it all makes sense before going into the editing process (of which I still need to find).

Sometimes the revision process feels like defragmenting a hard drive. With each pass, more of it falls into place. It’s like shaking a piece of rock and sand in a bucket, seeing the stones sink to the bottom, and the sand rise to the top.

Even in draft one, I have to contend with characters doing *new* things. Regardless, it’s an infinitely fun process.

I published chapter 1 of the book, online. I hope you enjoy:

All in all: I’m seriously enjoying it, and it has opened floodgates for more stories I want to tell. I’ve even been creating some moodboards from music I made for the world (visuals from @visualdon on Instagram).

And so, one such short story that came to me recently, is called: “Earth Has Been Margin Called”.

It deals with humanity’s predicament in discovering that Earth was used as collateral in a galactic trade gone wrong.

Really enjoyed writing this one.

Finally, something new I want to try with this newsletter: sharing some recent links that I enjoyed. This newsletter is still primarily an avenue to share with you all when I publish new content, but if it’s not something you would be particularly interested in as-is, there’s a lot of cool shit elsewhere.


Interviews with Cixin Liu of Three Body Problem fame:

I recently finished the ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past’ trilogy, and it was one of the most mind-bendingly amazing journeys. Understanding what goes on in his mind has been something I’ve been curious about. These two interviews give an amazing insight into his mind, and who he is.

GPT-2 Chess:

Following GPT-2 has been incredibly interesting, particularly in its capacity to act as a crude, minimal, general AI. It learns so well from text, that if you can transcribe things into text, it could learn it just from that. GPT-2 Chess is such an example:

AI Dungeon is another great example: I pondered on Twitter where else you can use AI Dungeon-like storytelling. It could be quite powerful: talking to God? co-creating fan-fiction for people who aren’t writers? co-creating a share universe together? Lots of possibilities.

Ostrom & DAOs:

In thinking about blockchain-based organisations, I can’t help but come back to Elinor Ostrom’s principles for commons management. Jeff Emmett and the Commons Stack team produced a great article explaining how those principles can be slotted into blockchain-based organisations:

Ethereum 1.x & Merkle Trees:

I find merkle trees to be such an incredibly fascinating data structure. It seems to have no bounds for interesting designs. A recent article from the Ethereum Foundation, explaining stateless Ethereum clients contains a great explanation on how Ethereum’s Patricia Merkle tree works in storing state effectively.

I’m currently trying to understand more of erasure coding, so I can understand new innovations such as coded merkle trees:

A Song a Day for 4000 Days:

I enjoy creative experiments where simple acts accumulate over time into a grand, meta creative experiment. Case in point is Jonathan Mann’s “Song a Day” experiment, where he has consecutively created songs now for 4,000 days.

He recently hit a viral success with a great, catchy hook of the beloved ‘Baby Yoda’:

It’s a great reminder that creativity *always* contains a dash of luck. It’s thus important to during the creative process to remain radically authentic.

Hope you enjoyed this bumper newsletter!

Remember: take time to enjoy a sunset.