Kelmid ja Kangelased maailma mõtisklusi vol 1

(kirjutet peale rasket töönädalat klaasi veini saatel... kuid ehk siiski miski mõttega)

Seitsmekümnendate Ameerika. Kung-Fu on vallutanud kino, televisiooni, raamatud ning südamed. Seda tuleb nii uksest kui aknast. Isegi raadios lauldakse "Everybody is Kung-Fu fighting".
Tegemist on meelelahutusega, mitte kultuuri ajaloolise tutsvustusega ning olgugi, et kusagil on peidus ka kung-fu tegelikud juured, tekib selle ümber justkui omamoodi müstika. Inimestel tekib arusaam võitlusmunkadest ning selle ümber olevast maailmast, mis on täiesti fiktsionaalne - väljamõeldis.



Ometigi oli see äge ning kes ei tahaks rohkem ägedust oma ellu. Nii pistsidki laua-rollimängude loojad ka võitlusmunga oma reeglitesse olgugi, et selle seos Sõrmuste Isanda, keskaja Euroopa ja mütoloogiaga, millel too mäng enamuses baseerus, oli ilmselgelt... väiksem kui olematu.

Siiski, mitmeid generatsioone hiljem tunduks Dungeons and Dragons ilma Munk klassita lausa imelik - see on muutunud kuidagi selle maailma osaks.

Ma ei ütle, et antud teekond on olnud lihtne. Dungeons and Dragons 5e reeglite põhine munk on hetkel vast kõige paremini välja tulnud ning selleks läks 40 aastat. On seda korduvalt nimetatud kõige hullemaks klassiks terves mängu ajaloos.
Kuid ometi on selles algusest saati olnud midagi...
Hoolimata sellest, et tihti võitluses ebapraktiline...
Hoolimata sellest et baseerub kellegi muljel kultuurist, mida pole kunagi sellisel moel eksisteerinud...
Kuidagi on see ikkagi 40 aastat vastu pidanud ja arenenud.
Miks? Sest mõte ise on äge. Ja kes meist ei tahaks rohkem ägedust oma ellu? Hoolimata sellest, et esialgu võib tunduda, et see kohe mitte kuidagi konteksti ei sobi...

Kõike annab kuidagi sobitada. Põhiline, et äge oleks.

Kui ma sügisel hakkasin mõtlema sellele, kuidas Eesti mütoloogial baseeruvat rollimängu teha ning peas juba vaikselt maailma kokku panin, ei olnud ma mitte kuidagi valmistunud esimese mängija esimese küsimuse jaoks.

"Nii et Tabaxi rassi selles maailmas ei ole jah?" küsis ta.
"Ega vist..." vastasin tookord, sest olgem ausad, toppida Eesti mütoloogia keskele leopard-inimesed ning need ka kuidagi ära põhjendada... ei ole just lihtne ülesanne. Mingit analoogiat kah kuskilt võtta polnud.

Ometi jäi see mõte mul ajusoppi ketrama. Kõutslased rassinimena oleks ju ise-enesest nunnu, aga kuidas ma neid põhjendan? Tahtsin ma ju, et kõik siiski vähemalt mingil määral meie mütoloogiaga seotud oleks.

Kass-inimesi meil mütoloogias ei ole (vähemalt mina pole leidnud), ainult koer-inimesed. Küll aga käib kass läbi mitmest tekstist. Võib selle kuju võtta nii luupainaja kui ka katk. Kassi kahte pimeduses heledavat silma on kasutatud kollide kirjeldamiseks.
Eisen ütleb, et tondid päeval kassidena ringi käisid:

"Tondi meelitamiseks viidi majarahva poolt tihti ohvrid. Need ohvrid olid tavalisesti puder, piim ja muud road. Neid kanti mõnes kohas iga nädal korra lakka ehk laudile tontide jaoks. Viijad rõemustasid, kui kassid tontidena roa ära olid söönud."

Sellele lisaks on veel hunnikus ebausku, mis selle loomaga koos käib. Küll ennustab ta ilma, lapse või kasulapse tulekut, tüli, tulevat külalist, õnne kui ka õnnetust. 

"Hobuseõnne kaotab kassi vihkaja või kassipoja uputaja; ka öeldakse niisugune isik vaeseks jäävat. Kassi vihkav tüdruk ei saa mehele, aga ka mitte liialt armastav."

Saa nüüd aru mida selle kassiga täpselt tegema pidi? Tappa ai tasunud, vihata kah mitte, kuid ka mitte liialt armastada.

Ilmselgelt on kasside puhul tegemist liigiga, mis on oma käitumise ja olekuga on tekitanud omamoodi müstika enda ümber ning seda kasutamata jätta oleks ilmselge patt. Ei ole me ka ainsad, kes leiavad, et kassis miskit peidus on. Vaadakem kasvõi Jaapani poole.

 

Olgugi et Kemonomimi (inime, kel on miski looma kõrvad, vahel ka saba) on populaarne, ei saa me üle ega ümber, et seda esindab peamiselt ikkagi nekomimi - enamasti noor neiu, kel kassi kõrvad ja saba ning ka mõned kassi käitumismustrid. Sellest on saanud omamoodi anime sümbol.

Jaapani ajaloolistes tekstides aga on kassidel samamoodi negatiivne varjund, kui meil. Kui kass elas kaua sai temast deemon-kass ning temas tärkas maagiline vägi. Sellised deemon kassid suutsid käia tagajalgadel, rääkida inimkeeli ning muuta end välimuselt ka inimese sarnaseks.

Aga kuidas siis?

Dungeons and Dragons on juba algusest saati olnud erinevate mõtete, mütoloogiate ja ideede segu - täielik mixing pot - kus esialgsest müütilisest olevusest või ideest on tihtilugu alles vaid nimi, muu aga mängu loojate enda fantaasia.Munk on selle hea, olgugi et ekstreemne, näide.  Eks looming ju baseerugi sellel, et sa võtad erinevaid juppe siit ja sealt ning siis lased need ühiselt mahlapressist läbi. Põhiline on see, et oleks äge, nii loomingus kui mängus.

Kõutslane, kes päeval võib võtta nii kassikõrvadega inimese kui ka kassi enda kuju (kuid siiski vajadusel inimkeeli rääkida suudab), öösiti aga pigem deemoni või kolliga sarnaneb oleks ju päris äge, eksole? Ehk võitleks oma kassilike instinktidega ning ka miski pimedama poolega. 

Oleks samas ka mingil määral mütoloogiaga seotud ja põhjendatud (eriti Kelmid ja Kangelased maailmas, kus üks hetk ootamatu kogus väge laia ilma laiali paisati - see aga igasugu imetrikke tegema hakkas).

Nüüd vaja lihtsalt numbrid ette võtta ja valmis vorpida. 

Ehk ei toimi kohe, aga ilma proovimata ei tea - enamik dragonsist on nii tehtud, miks ei võiks me samamoodi jätkata ja seda kodustada. 

How to write like an improviser

This year I finished my first book and the next one is already 55k words in. Not too shabby, eh?

It does not, however, mean that I know what I’m doing. As I teenager I wanted to be a writer, but then at some point, I gave up on that dream. Why? Because it was too huge and too scary.


I’m not saying that it is less scary now, but at least now I have the skillset to deal with it – the skill set of an improviser. So, without further ado, here are some improv tips to keep in mind that could help you in writing and possibly in any creative activity.

1. Just do it


It can feel scary and intimidating, but if you do not take this step, nothing will happen. So, be there and do something. It does not have to perfect and it cannot be – especially when you have never done it before. But before this step, there is no growth. You will not become good at something by just hoping that you will get good at it. You have to do it. It is as simple as that.

2. Enjoy what you do


Imagine that you write a book but no-one buys or likes it. Pretty bad, eh? Now imagine that you hated writing it and spent several years of your time on it. Sound terrible, right?
The least you can do it is enjoy it yourself and even if the world does not need it later, you had already your fair share, and that is good enough.

3. Discover


I’m always curious to see where the story goes. Shouldn’t I know it as a writer? Maybe, but it would not be as fun if I did. Knowing too much ahead could even hinder the writing. Especially if everything is super detailed and well thought through in the movie that you see in your head. How could you ever put all that perfection into words? Well, obviously, you can’t. At least not like that. You could get it pretty close, but it will never be exactly as you have it imagined - the writing process changes the outcome, whether you want it or not. 
However, that is not a bad thing. You discover something new and maybe even better.

4. Ask 'What comes next'


The main thing is to know what comes next. And then you will see what comes after that. Step by step.

Some things will come naturally when you start looking at the situation through the eyes of the characters. What would this character do in that situation? Well, you know the answer. Also, why not add some challenges to the characters? Enforce them with hurdles and joys. Have fun with them.

5. Be aware of what happened before


Sure, you might say, I'll just write something down with your neat trick of 'what comes next', but it will not be a good story. Well, have you seen a good long-form improv show? The actors do not know where they are going with all that but somehow it still works. Why? Because they are aware of what was already there before and can then link it all together. 

Keith Johnstone (one the grandfathers of modern improv) compared long-form improv with a man who walked backwards - still moving ahead but always aware of what he had already passed.

It is a skill that can be trained.


6, Make mistakes


I'm not saying that you should do them intentionally, but at least don't be afraid to do them. I know my English is not perfect, it is not my native language, but I will not first go take all the possible English classes before I try writing in it. Mistakes happen. Sometimes I create words. Sometimes I have to use google translate or synonym generator to find the right expression. This writing would not exist if I would be afraid to make mistakes.
Just do the best you can with the current tools and skills you have and that is good enough.

7. Be ready to let go of your ideas


There are some ideas that are not too great and even if you write them down, they will not work. Still, try to finish them, and then just go on. No-one has to see them or even know that they existed. It's like in improv - sometimes you create crap. The aim is to get your skill to the level so high that even your bad show is good enough. The same should be true with writing.

So, be ready to let go of your ideas, even if they can feel the best ideas ever at the time. Just write then down with the skills and words you have and then tuck them away. You can always revisit them some months or years later. Maybe you just did not have the skills to make it work yet? Or maybe the idea just was not good enough. In any case, you will know it later. But now, let this one go, and take the next project.

8. Make clear choices to move the story forward


Writing a book can sometimes feel like an improv show. You go on the stage with a great idea and then someone comes with an even better one. Only this someone is also you. Well, one of you has to let go of the idea, obviously. But which idea should you go with? If you have not decided it after a day or two, just pick one and stick to it - even if it was not the best choice, it is better than being stuck and not doing anything.

Also, if it is writing, you can correct it later if you want to.

What should be the name of the drunk character who limps around in the palace? Who cares. What we actually care about is why is he limping around in the palace or why is he drunk.
Several of my characters have been called just a single letter at one time, only because I knew I had to get the part written down and I could always come back later to add a proper name. And even if I added a name later, I was not 100% sure about it, but at least it was better than a single letter. The single-letter thing worked only for Mr.T.

9. Tell the story you would like to hear


Would you in a different universe, who has never written a book, pick this book up, read it and give it a positive review? If not, why? You don't have to love it before you show it to others, but it should be at least something you would like to read. As they say, to love others you first have to love yourself. So, to please others you first have to...

10. Use what you have


Do you know how to create the best lasagna? Use that for a character. Not that you have to share your mother's secret recipe, but what you can share is the feeling of making a good lasagna. You have that experience in you, and you can just give it to any made-up character. Just add your experiences to the blender, mix them up and then use them where needed to the tell the story you would like to tell.
There is no shame in using your own stuff. Instead, you can add surprising credibility to your characters with it.

Also, if you are into improv, theatre, live-action roleplay or dungeons and dragons you already know how to create characters. Do that if you need a character for your writing.
Use whatever you have at your disposal.


So, this was my two cents! Hopefully, you will find these ideas just as helpful as I did. 
May your creativity fly.

A small announcement

So, this happened: This week I sold my first book!

Wait! What?

No, it does not mean that I am a door to door salesman now. Neither have any publishers picked up my manuscript. However, I did decide to put it up on Amazon as Kindle ebook (hail the cover style that makes you think of the 90s).

[update on 28th of August: Now also available as a paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1688683372 ]

Just look at that dope 90s feeling

Wait! You wrote a book? How did that happen?

Well, to tell you the truth... it was an accident.

It all started in the summer of 2015. I was down with fever and reading Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett and as we all know, it is not wise to read when you are high (around 38 degrees).
After finishing the book, I had the urge to write something (also my feverish eyes could not stand any additional reading). So I started to write... and not even in my native language.
I know, it still makes no sense.

Anyways, after a few weeks, I had a finished short story that was fun and all, but the ending did not quite work. I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I sent it to some friends. After positive feedback and encouragement (insert a Personal Thank You here if you were one of these people) I continued working on it.

Soon I had a novella, that was also extremely funny, but that too was not enough.



And then it turned into a novel. But the ending still did not work, so I rewrote it... and then I rewrote it again.

I did get it to work finally and liked the characters and the story, there were obviously some other issues in it that I had missed before. So I tinkered with it some more. Then I sent it out for test reading to several friends and colleagues (I bow to all the test readers who assisted me in this step).
I fixed the mentioned bits and sent it to some competitions.

And... did not win.

To be honest, I would have been surprised if I did. It was my first ever writing in that length. I'm still surprised I wrote it and still have no idea what I'm doing when I write, but I did even less so when I started.
And after 4 years, here we are.
I decided to put it out there and focus on my next piece.

So, are you saying that it is not good? Well, that's not a wise sales pitch, mate.

No, I'm not saying that. However,  take the first book of any author and then take the last one. You see the difference. I'm not saying that I will be any good innit, but...
There are certainly people who would call my first book Pratchett fanfic and I cannot disagree. This is where my language skills and love for books came from.  Developing your own style takes time and practice and I feel the second book (that is already over 50k - I plan to finish it next year) already has its own vibe that seems more genuine.

So, you are rich and famous now?

Hell no!
But if I am lucky, people will like the book, get some smiles and laughs (it's still funny, but also serious - these are not opposites), and maybe even give me enough money for it so I could buy myself a cup of coffee at the end of the month. :) And I will definitely continue writing.
This is not the end. This is a milestone.

How long is it again?

Well, well... oh, you mean the writing?
In MS Word it was around 300 pages, but I also use a lot of spaces to keep the structure more clear. Kindle puts it somewhere around 218 pages, but it might not take into consideration the millions of footnotes.

The journey continues. 

In hindsight, it is obvious that I wrote the first book in the scrum framework - short story, novella, novel, all of them were finished products. I did not even know I had a book in me. Currently, I'm writing knowing that it will be a book. This will make a difference.

Also, I can already hint that it will be in the same world and have many of the same characters (think in style of 5 years later)

When I start thinking about it, the last 4 years of my life have been quite crazy. There have been ups  (for example getting new cats) and downs (... why do you think we needed new cats?) and I feel writing has helped me to survive it. There have been several days like this:


But I'm still kicking, alive and writing.

As Neil Gaiman put it in a speech in 2012

"Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too."

And I must agree.

Though, I'm not sure how good it is yet. This is for You to decide.
Cheers!

Kirjuta luuletus...

... ütles Tegude kalender. Ma siis mõtlesin, et kirjutan - sai ju kunagi palju neid sõnu ritta seatud. Selline ta siis tuli ja las ta siis on.


Tüdruk, kes vaatas tähti
Me olime ja vaatasime tähti
Küll hoones sees, kuid puudus aken, uks.
Sein pragunev ning laeks ainult lehti
võis näha: Miskit jäänud oli poolikuks.

Sest kohast sai mu hingerahu tempel.
Hõrk pelgupaik, kus puhata sai meel.
Ei teesklust, maske, argipäeva tempe.
Oh kuidas otsin seda tunnet veel.

On läinud koht ning nii ka läinud sina.
Veel tähistaevas tunnen ära meid.
Miks sünnime me nõnda hapratena?
Oh kallis sõber... soovin sul häid teid.

To my dear friend

It's been close to half a year since we last spoke. 

Though this is not out of the ordinary when I look back to recent years of our friendship. We met up once or twice per year, if lucky, and contacted each other when we felt like it. 
Sometimes there was even less than an email in a month. 

And this was fine. 

Our friendship was strong - we knew each other more than half of our lifetimes.
There was never any pressure or urgency. The knowledge that you had a friend on your side, even if you did not see this friend too often, was enough. You could reach out, sure, but often the knowledge that you could was good enough. 

Maybe because you had been there so many times before, during times that I'm rather surprised that I survived - just listening, without any judgement, and guiding with your kind words. 

I felt that I got more than I gave and that I was a burden. Not that you ever said anything like it, you never would have, even if you felt this way (though I hope you didn't) ... 
You know this inner voice. You had it too. 
Asking for help was and is hard. 

It took me 13 years before I understood that I needed help and could collect myself enough to go see a therapist, but before that, you were my main source of help. I kid you not when I say that I would not be here without you. 
But you did not see that. What you saw was me being strong and handling my depression and PTSD. 

But you just cannot be strong alone... it does not work that way.

It's been eight years since I had my first therapy session and it was obviously not the last. Things have changed. I do not have regular visits anymore, but I try to check in when I'm not sure about something in my soul and need an honest reflection. 

I live and am still sometimes surprised how well it all has turned out. I have a family, loving wife, a steady job, a flat, two cats and deep connections with people. Next to that, I even have a hobby that people pay me for... really, how amazing is that? 

True, there is a voice in my head, that will most likely stay there for the rest of my life, saying that I do not deserve it. The same voice that tries to stop me from doing anything, saying that I will fail. The voice that says that I will disappoint people and that at some point I will be arrested for "trying to behave like a normal human". I have learned to live with it now.

The fact is that I'm not normal, if there ever was such a thing, and that is fine. It's just been a bloody painful journey to get to this point and understanding... and the journey goes on. I consider myself extremely lucky to have met so many amazing people on the way and I even have a proper safety net for times when things get tough.

But there was a time when you were the only one I had. The only one who made it safe for me to open up and also the one whom I knew could handle it. 

Nothing or no-one can replace that.




I remember how we once talked about love. You had just read the book "Veronika decides to die" and liked the idea of love healing people. Knowing the story, I understand why it popped into my mind now.

I remember being sceptical about this concept at the time. Maybe because I had no idea of love back then, all I knew was the ooey-gooey stuff from books and movies. Now, I would define it differently: Love is the attention and time we give to something or someone - the shared moments of connection.
And this does heal.

Even if the connection is no longer there, there have been plenty of shared moments. 

I will be forever grateful for the ones we had.

I miss you, my dear friend.