Dereliction of Duty

The following was written just before I left on Christmas vacation. The fact that I’m posting it three weeks later I think says something about the very point I was making in the article … so I’m going to let it stand as I wrote it the day that it happened. Here goes …

So, my cat died in my lap today, and while I didn’t kill it, I made it happen.

I’d love to say I have a lot of feelings about that.

The truth is, for me, departures leave a void. I don’t know what to feel, or don’t feel anything. Our precious little fraidy cat Caesar is gone, just gone, and the event passed without the reactions that movies and literature tell me happen when people go through life-changing events.

And this is a change, make no mistake. Almost twelve years ago, I and my wife agreed to adopt two rescue cats, Nero (the big black butch one) and Caesar (the skinny Holstein-cow one afraid of crinkling paper). They’d been turned out onto the street by a couple who got on drugs, and were being fostered by one of our bridesmaids, who already had three tiny, frail, elderly cats, and was forced to keep both cats in a bathroom. We had Nero and Caesar shipped from the East Coast to the West, and made them a part of our lives.

Nero’s long gone, victim of coyotes, but Caesar, with a different behavioral inheritance, survived and thrived, until a few years ago thyroid problems caused him to start to lose weight. He wasted away from twelve pounds to seven over the years, but we were mostly able to control it with medication, even when we ultimately had to put Caesar outside when, in his old age, he decided it was just fine to pee, like, wherever, because he’d reached the age where he didn’t have to give a damn anymore.

Bay Area winters are, of course, as brutal as cream puffs, but we nonetheless set up a huge gazebo enclosure in the back yard, where a tarp, pillows, heating pads and collection of chairs, tables and cat condos gave him a comfy throne for over a year.

But then he started wheezing. At first it was a cute little cooing-dove purr, and we thought he was just becoming more vocal. But it developed into a whistling, ticking sound as he labored for breath. Never comfortable on trips to the vet—always scared and panting, frequently pooping in the carrier even when in the best of health—on his last trip he was so freaked out they had to put him on oxygen. Tweaks to his medication and a cortisone shot helped for a while, but soon he was back where he started, with the recommendation of the vet that we make him comfortable.

And we did—or, mostly, my wife did.

She constantly reworked the outer area to make it a luxurious throne. A night owl herself, she fed him at all hours as, despite his decreasing weight of six and a half pounds, he became our most ravenous cat. And she stayed with him to brush him or sit with him or make him happy.

And me? I’m the one who dragged us out to the Bay Area to work for a search engine company, and I’m the one who has to work long hours keeping the lights on now that I’ve transitioned from search to robotics. I’m the one who chose to take on a huge writing project at which I’m barely started, and I’m the one who chose to take on helping found a small press. I seemingly can’t say no to projects, not because I want to do so many projects, but because that’s the only way I have found to make the projects that I do work on into successes—constantly seeking other avenues, other points of connections that make the work that I do more valuable. So now I find myself with an enormous stack of responsibilities that I can’t easily unwind.

For a variety of reasons, this has become even worse in the last six months, right when Caesar began his decline. Weekend after weekend I planned to spend time sitting in the back yard with the cats, and weekend after weekend I found myself working late at work or putting out fires at the small press. And week after week, I saw Caesar continue to decline.

I even knew this was likely to happen, and took a picture intending to blog about caring for elderly cats. But life intervened, and Caesar has now passed without me ever posting that post about his decline. I can’t look at those pictures without thinking about dereliction of duty.

Finally, I had enough, and started to arrange time to spend more time with Caesar. But it was too late. He’d grown too frail to clean himself, but no longer enjoyed brushing, pulling away from me when I tried to clean out his fur. He’d grown too scattershot to properly drink from poured water, but no longer enjoyed suckling my knuckle, making a few halfhearted attempts at the gesture that had calmed him so much as a young cat before wobbling away. I’d sit in the Adirondack chair in the back yard, hoping he’d come up and sit in my lap, and for a while he did, scrabbling his way up on me, getting a scratch, then shakily hop down and walk away. I eventually tried picking him up to put him in my lap, but he just wanted down. By the end, he barely tolerated a scratch behind the ears, and would quickly give up or walk away.

As Christmas approached, I worried that he wouldn’t be here when I got back from visiting my folks—but last night, we noticed vomit on his pillow. Today he wasn’t sitting in his throne, and I found him lying against the fence in the back yard, muzzle covered in vomit, drooling on his paws, unable to muster the energy to eat and unwilling to tolerate my touch.

I called in at work, woke up my wife, and we started calling for home pet euthanasia services. After half a dozen calls, we had an appointment arranged, and in the mid afternoon, a kindly veterinarian came by. Caesar had slid even further, with a soft, plaintive mew, and the vet gave him a sedative to help him sleep, and soon he was breathing easy for the first time in weeks.

Five minutes later, I was sitting on the porch, with Caesar in my lap. The vet shaved a small patch of fur on his leg to get to his vein, and injected the final shot. I put my hand on his chest as he breathed his last, and the vet listened until his tiny heart stopped. The vet left us an impressed paw print in clay and a tiny bundle of fur, and took our cat, wrapped up in a basket, looking more comfortable than he had in six months. Then Caesar was gone.

I wasn’t there when my dad died. I knew he was going, I even quit work so that I could be there for him while he was dying in Greenville, South Carolina, but for some reason at the time I felt like I had to periodically go back to my home town, Atlanta, Georgia, for what, I don’t remember now, to keep up the condo, or for my karate classes, or whatever, and on one of my returns to Greenville Dad passed while I was finding a parking space in the Greenville Memorial parking lot. Mom stood straight, but was in tears, and I knew what had happened; Dad’s body lay there, his eyes open, half lidded, his head turned partially aside, not rightable, the human body’s unconscious processes of self-stabilization and homeostasis finally ceased. So Dad was gone.

I wasn’t there when my grandmother died. She’d been in the nursing home for a while, and the doctors warned us that she’d had a sharp slide. We came out to see her. Mom, strangely, didn’t want to go into the room, seeming somehow semi-estranged from her, despite being about as good to her as she could have been. I went see Grandma; she was holding her hands tight, her eyes half-lidded, barely registering my presence. We waited a long time, then returned the next day, and waited again. Finally we went for a late lunch, and when we returned, it was over. And Grandma was gone.

I wasn’t there when my Aunt Kitty died. She’d been in decent health, despite a painful hip problem, and was jogging at the gym one day when she had a heart attack and fell off the treadmill. I was already on my way to Greenville for other reasons, but when I arrived, she again was barely holding on, each of her organs struggling to keep up, offloading their problems onto another. I parsed the jargon the doctors were saying and re-uttered the words to the family in words they understood, and they seemed comforted. She lay there, writhing a little; once her eyes, half-lidded, seemed to recognize me. But the family told me to leave, and after a few days, I flew back to the Bay Area. She passed the next day, and I flew back for the funeral. But Aunt Kitty was gone.

I wasn’t there when Gray Cat died. He was a feral who stayed in the yard, and we slowly started the process of trying to tame him. I was the only one who could feed him. I was the only one who could pet him, and I did it with gloves. But we had started to play together, and he started to warm—then got in through the cat door and attacked my wife. She had to fight him off with a broom, and we ultimately decided that he was dangerous enough that we had to put him to sleep. But it was my wife who took him to the pound. And Gray Cat was gone.

I wasn’t there when Caesar’s brother Nero died; as I said, he was taken by coyotes. He was an active outdoor cat, and we could even take him on walks without a leash. But that expanded his range, and he loved hunting on the watershed hill near our home. One night went out late at night, shortly before we heard the coyotes howl. He never came back. We posted flyers and walked the neighborhood, and checked shelters, but none of that mattered; we knew what happened the very next morning. And Nero was gone.

Nero’s death came without warning. I knew Caesar’s end was coming. I was determined to not let him die alone and afraid the way Nero did. So I kept close watch on him. I thought through the scenarios he might encounter and decided what I was and was not willing to put him through. The ultimate criteria, I decided, was if he could not breathe, if he could not eat, or if he could not get up; today, two of those three happened. So we acted.

I was there when Caesar died. We let him lie where he had chosen until the drugs put him into a peaceful sleep, and then I held him in my lap until he passed. And after he was gone, I asked my wife to go for a walk, and I unloaded to her about how I wanted to have been there more.

“No,” she said. “We are a team, and I was there for him, several times, every day, while you worked. While you spent your love on the cats that still wanted affection, I focused instead on Ceasar and gave him all the attention he needed. We gave him everything we could.”

I still don’t know what I feel about this. I must feel something: I’ve been prompted to write two thousand words on it. But the feeling is that of a void. An uncertainty of how I should react or how I should feel. The only thing I know is that I made sure I was there when Caesar died.

Epilogue: Caesar is gone. Now one of our other cats, Lenora, has erupted in tiny bumps and larger lesions, along with two big lumps in her abdomen. Is it cancer, and she’s soon to be gone? Is it simply cowpox, and she’ll be fine in a month or two? I don’t know. But I do know I am making a special effort to be with her, and with my wife, and my friends and family, while they are alive.

-the Centaur

Learning to Drive … by Learning Where You Can Drive

I often say “I teach robots to learn,” but what does that mean, exactly? Well, now that one of the projects that I’ve worked on has been announced – and I mean, not just on arXiv, the public access scientific repository where all the hottest reinforcement learning papers are shared, but actually, accepted into the ICRA 2018 conference – I  can tell you all about it!

When I’m not roaming the corridors hammering infrastructure bugs, I’m trying to teach robots to roam those corridors – a problem we call robot navigation. Our team’s latest idea combines “traditional planning,” where the robot tries to navigate based on an explicit model of its surroundings, with “reinforcement learning,” where the robot learns from feedback on its performance.

For those not in the know, “traditional” robotic planners use structures like graphs to plan routes, much in the same way that a GPS uses a roadmap. One of the more popular methods for long-range planning are probabilistic roadmaps, which build a long-range graph by picking random points and attempting to connect them by a simpler “local planner” that knows how to navigate shorter distances. It’s a little like how you learn to drive in your neighborhood – starting from landmarks you know, you navigate to nearby points, gradually building up a map in your head of what connects to what.

But for that to work, you have to know how to drive, and that’s where the local planner comes in. Building a local planner is simple in theory – you can write one for a toy world in a few dozen lines of code – but difficult in practice, and making one that works on a real robot is quite the challenge. These software systems are called “navigation stacks” and can contain dozens of components – and in my experience they’re hard to get working and even when you do, they’re often brittle, requiring many engineer-months to transfer to new domains or even just to new buildings.

People are much more flexible, learning from their mistakes, and the science of making robots learn from their mistakes is reinforcement learning, in which an agent learns a policy for choosing actions by simply trying them, favoring actions that lead to success and suppressing ones that lead to failure. Our team built a deep reinforcement learning approach to local planning, using a state-of-the art algorithm called DDPG (Deep Deterministic Policy Gradients) pioneered by DeepMind to learn a navigation system that could successfully travel several meters in office-like environments.

But there’s a further wrinkle: the so-called “reality gap“. By necessity, the local planner used by a probablistic roadmap is simulated – attempting to connect points on a map. That simulated local planner isn’t identical to the real-world navigation stack running on the robot, so sometimes the robot thinks it can go somewhere on a map which it can’t navigate safely in the real world. This can have disastrous consequences – causing robots to tumble down stairs, or, worse, when people follow their GPSes too closely without looking where they’re going, causing cars to tumble off the end of a bridge.

Our approach, PRM-RL, directly combats the reality gap by combining probabilistic roadmaps with deep reinforcement learning. By necessity, reinforcement learning navigation systems are trained in simulation and tested in the real world. PRM-RL uses a deep reinforcement learning system as both the probabilistic roadmap’s local planner and the robot’s navigation system. Because links are added to the roadmap only if the reinforcement learning local controller can traverse them, the agent has a better chance of attempting to execute its plans in the real world.

In simulation, our agent could traverse hundreds of meters using the PRM-RL approach, doing much better than a “straight-line” local planner which was our default alternative. While I didn’t happen to have in my back pocket a hundred-meter-wide building instrumented with a mocap rig for our experiments, we were able to test a real robot on a smaller rig and showed that it worked well (no pictures, but you can see the map and the actual trajectories below; while the robot’s behavior wasn’t as good as we hoped, we debugged that to a networking issue that was adding a delay to commands sent to the robot, and not in our code itself; we’ll fix this in a subsequent round).

This work includes both our group working on office robot navigation – including Alexandra Faust, Oscar Ramirez, Marek Fiser, Kenneth Oslund, me, and James Davidson – and Alexandra’s collaborator Lydia Tapia, with whom she worked on the aerial navigation also reported in the paper.  Until the ICRA version comes out, you can find the preliminary version on arXiv:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.03937
PRM-RL: Long-range Robotic Navigation Tasks by Combining Reinforcement Learning and Sampling-based Planning

We present PRM-RL, a hierarchical method for long-range navigation task completion that combines sampling-based path planning with reinforcement learning (RL) agents. The RL agents learn short-range, point-to-point navigation policies that capture robot dynamics and task constraints without knowledge of the large-scale topology, while the sampling-based planners provide an approximate map of the space of possible configurations of the robot from which collision-free trajectories feasible for the RL agents can be identified. The same RL agents are used to control the robot under the direction of the planning, enabling long-range navigation. We use the Probabilistic Roadmaps (PRMs) for the sampling-based planner. The RL agents are constructed using feature-based and deep neural net policies in continuous state and action spaces. We evaluate PRM-RL on two navigation tasks with non-trivial robot dynamics: end-to-end differential drive indoor navigation in office environments, and aerial cargo delivery in urban environments with load displacement constraints. These evaluations included both simulated environments and on-robot tests. Our results show improvement in navigation task completion over both RL agents on their own and traditional sampling-based planners. In the indoor navigation task, PRM-RL successfully completes up to 215 meters long trajectories under noisy sensor conditions, and the aerial cargo delivery completes flights over 1000 meters without violating the task constraints in an environment 63 million times larger than used in training.

 

So, when I say “I teach robots to learn” … that’s what I do.

-the Centaur

The Yearly Reboot

So one of the things I like to do each year, as part of my traditional visit to family over the holidays, is to drop in on a Panera Bread, pull out my notebook, review my plans for the previous year, and make plans for the new one.

As of the 7th of January, I still haven’t done this yet.

Shit happened last year. Good shit, such as really getting serious about teaching robots to learn; bad shit, such as serious illnesses in the pets in our family; and ugly shit which I’m not going to talk about until the final contracts are signed and everyone agrees everything is hunky and dory. And much of this went down just before the holidays, and once the holidays started, I cared a lot more about spending time with family and friends than sitting by myself in a Panera. (In all fairness, the holidays were easier when I lived in Atlanta and came up to see family many times a year, as opposed to only occasionally).

But I can recommend trying to do a yearly review. One year I decided to list what I wanted to do, both in the immediate future, in the coming year, in the coming 5 years, and in my life; and the next year, almost by chance, I sat down in the same Panera to review it. That served me well for more than a decade, and I find that even trying to do it helps me feel more focused and refreshed.

And so that’s precisely what I tried to do yesterday. I didn’t accomplish it – I still haven’t managed to “clear the thickets” of my TODO lists to get to the actual yearly plan, and I miss being able to take a whole afternoon at Panera doing this – but I did the next best thing, sitting myself down to a nice “reboot” dinner and treating myself to a showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

As someone said (a reference I read recently, but have been unable to find) the very act of doing something daily centers the mind.

Here’s to that.

-Anthony

75K

I was going to write “And from his labors, he rested” but that’s entirely to uncomfortably Messianic for me, so here’s the scoop: on the last day of Nano, I have stopped at 75,282 words.

This somehow all magically happened because I never lost my momentum after the Night of Writing Dangerously, oh, and because this is Cinnamon Frost, and she’s awesome!

This is the most I’ve ever written in Nano, by a long shot – almost 10,000 words more. Not quite, and I’m not super motivated to make it exactly 10,000 words more. If I think of more words tonight, eh maybe.

Oh yes, the traditional excerpt:

The first challenge was easy—spirit. Awareness. Being aware of faerie.

The second challenge was harder—mind. Intellect. Learnin’ the logic of faerie.

The third challenge was the hardest of all. Body. Emotion. Feeling faerie in your bones.

A huge cacklin’ thing bursts out of the water. Its head is as big as Krishna’s, a huge green dripping thing under a mass of hair, its wide smooth but mottled nose remindin’ me of a diseased muppet. We can’t see the thing’s eyes, but its arms loom around us. Ben and Surrey screams.

Do you care?” it screams, openin’ a maw filled with giant teeth the size of playing cards. I think it could swallow any of us whole. “Do you care if you diieie?”

“Aaaah!” Benjamin and Surrey screams. “We care! We care!”

The thing looms further forward. “Then flee, mortals, or you may perish here!

“Don’t flee,” I murmurs. “Or you may perish elsewhere—”

“We—we will not flee,” Surrey cries.

“For we may perish elsewhere,” Benjamin says with sudden insight. Did he hear me?

But stay here, and death will be certain, mortals!” the thing cries, loomin’ over them.

“Stay anywhere, and death is certain, for mortals!” Benjamin cries.

“And you don’t care if you die,” I murmurs into Surrey’s ear.

“And we don’t care if we die,” Surrey says. “What? Ci—”

“Surely death comes to all mortals,” Benjamin says. “Why should we care?”

I could make death hurt,” the thing cries, stretchin’ its arms out like a giant Muppet.

“Or we could die in our sleep,” I murmurs. “But I can make death hurt him more.”

I actually have practically finished BOT NET,  so next up is Cinnamon Frost #3, ROOT USER! Oh, and editing Dakota Frost #4, SPECTRAL IRON! Due in about 4-5 months. Aaaaaaa!

Onward!

-the Centaur

Ludicrous Speed

If I keep up the pace that I’ve been keeping …

I won’t just beat my best record ever (which I already have) …

… I’ll hit the somewhat ludicrous amount of 75,000 words in a month, beyond the 70,000 I’ve already hit.

4,648 words to hit that goal … less than I did yesterday or even today. Let’s get cracking.

-the Centaur

Nanowrimo, Challenge Mode

If I write 11,293 words by the end of the month …

~2900 words a day, not counting today …

I will beat my all time Nanowrimo record of 65,995 words:

Sounds like a worthier goal than spending the same words responding to everyone who’s wrong on the Internet.

Onward!

-the Centaur

How to Get Published, in Ninety Words

Hoisted from Facebook:

Q. How should I start looking into getting published?
A. T
he most important thing is writing. The next most important thing is finishing. The next next most important thing is researching markets and sending things out. If you are doing all that, there are two other great force multipliers: not waiting to start your next piece while the previous ones are out, and networking – going where other authors are: cons, writing conferences, writing workshops. If you are doing all that, get yourself an agent – it is the next big multiplier.

And that’s it, in 95 words! Paraphrasing Robert Heinlein, to get published, you’ve got to write, you’ve got to finish what you write, you’ve got to send out what you write until it gets sold. But if you really want to get published, you can’t wait on that first piece to succeed; you need to go ahead and start the next one. And you can’t rely on your own ability to find opportunities and markets; you’ve got to find other writers and editors to help you find the right home for your work. And if you’re doing all that, you’re on the path to having interesting enough work to attract an agent, so you might as well start looking.

-the Centaur

The Way to Succeed at Nano is to Put Nano First

Hey gang, now that I’ve succeeded at National Novel Writing Month nineteen times, I thought I’d take a little time out to tell you that my secret to National Novel Writing Month success is to put Nano first.

Now, that seems obvious – almost, like, too obvious to be advice – but I want to put it into perspective by first asking you a few questions.

  1. Do you care about finishing what you write?
    If you don’t, don’t worry about the above advice. Write what you want, how you want it, when you want it. Again, this seems obvious, but I want to make sure you understand whether this advice applies to you. I started to write “Do you care about writing success?” but then I realized everyone has their own definition of writing success, whether they realize it or not. A beloved friend, Jan, just died, and I will never again hear her read her stories at our local writing group – and you’re never likely to read them, as she was more into having fun writing than she ever was about getting her stories published. She was a success at writing without ever needing publication, or even necessarily to to finish everything she wrote. We’ll miss you, Jan, but we’ll never worry about whether you were having fun: that was obvious.
  2. Do you care about completing Nanowrimo?
    Again, I almost wrote “Do you care about succeeding at Nano” as I did in the title of this essay, but every word is a victory in National Novel Writing Month. It doesn’t really matter whether you wrote one word or a hundred thousand if Nano helped you write it. But, again, if you don’t care whether you hit that magic 50K, then don’t worry about the advice in this article.
  3. Do you care more about finishing Nanowrimo than doing the comfortable things that you’ve always done?
    This is the most important part. Some people need to wait for their muse. Some need to plan ahead. Some need to do other things that seem so important to them. Maybe they are. But given my writing style, those things don’t seem so important to me, and given my obsessive-compulsive personality, I’m not going to take on a challenge unless I intend to finish it. But maybe that’s not you: you need your outline or your muse or your whatever in your life to make writing possible. That’s OK! I know great writers like that. They don’t generally take on Nanowrimo, that’s all, as Nanowrimo doesn’t work for them.

If you think it will work for you – if you want to finish what you write, and you want to take on the Nanowrimo challenge to write 50,000 words and you want to finish it, and you are willing to do things differently in order to make that success happen – then here’s the secret:

Put completing National Novel Writing Month first.

Well, okay, yes, you gotta breathe, and you gotta eat, and don’t get fired – however. There are a lot of things that creative people do, and if you want to succeed at National Novel Writing Month, you may need to change them. For example:

  • Turn off your Internet. Frequently when writing, I hit a speedbump, go look something up, and dig into Wikipedia or TV Tropes or (no joke) find myself reading the city planning documents of a harbor community in Newfoundland to carefully craft some details that will only appear in a paragraph or two of a whole novel. That’s my process, and it’s produced a number of well-received novels of which I’m proud. During National Novel Writing Month, however, I frequently turn off the Internet on my laptop until I’ve gotten my magic 1,666 words per day.
  • Put off your Blogging. I like to blog, but it seems I don’t do a lot of it. The reason for this is that I’ve started doing Nano-like challenges three times per year – Camp Nano in April and July, plus Nano in November – and the rest of the time I focus on finishing manuscripts, editing them, or publishing other people’s manuscripts. I have dozens upon dozens of notes for blogposts written on scraps, stored in Scrivener files, even half-finished in Ecto; but during Nano, I put Nano first.
  • Research after you Write. So many times this month, a pile like the below was on my table, awaiting my perusal, only to be put back into the bookbag or tote bag after I finish my writing. There’s a problem in deep learning I’m trying to crack, and some mathematics I need to know to do it, and research for the Cinnamon Frost puzzle books; but I know from experience I can take my whole lunch break or even afternoon diving into mathematics or programming or research. During Nano,  I put the writing first. That forces me to go out into space in the story, even if sometimes I need reference when I edit the text.

  • Take Time off to Write. I am always an antisocial loner, having to force myself to go to lunch with my coworkers (rarely) or to dinner with my friends (equally rarely) or my writing peeps (less rarely, since I can excuse it to my brain as writing related). This isn’t because I don’t like the people that I like, but because I want to finish my books before I die. (I have a lot of books planned). During Nano, I’m even more jealous of my schedule, taking lunch breaks to write, sometimes bailing on group writing sessions to be alone, and, the big one, taking off Thanksgiving week to write. This year, for Night of Writing Dangerously, I got a hotel room, holed up in San Francisco after the Night, and wrote like mad. I almost finished BOT NET during this writing jag, and ended up finishing six days early because I took this time.
  • Reject your Comforting Illusions. This last one is the most dangerous advice which may not work for you or even apply to you, and it can be the hardest, but it is this: put getting the 1,666 words a day ahead of your imagination that you need to wait for your muse, or plot your story, or be in the mood, or anything else. Write crap if you have to. It counts (1 word). Write bla bla bla if you have to. It counts (3 words). 1,662 words to go. Feel that this isn’t working for you? Write “Nanowrimo isn’t working for me!” (5 words) or, even better, “National Novel Writing Month is not working for me!” (9 words). Feel this is a cheat and a sham? Write that down! (I guarantee explaining your feelings will get you  more than 9 words). Even better, write down what’s wrong with your story and why you can’t write any further and what you wish you were writing. That explanation in text will count as words … and, more importantly, will probably start turning into text. Put another way, feel free to work out your frustrations and even to outline in your manuscript. It will become true words on the next pass … and will put you ever closer to the end of your story. Once you have a path from beginning to end, believe me, you can revise it into a story that you will truly love.

So, that’s it: if you want to succeed at Nano, put Nano first. Turn off your Internet, tune back your blogging, put off your research, and take time off to write. Most importantly, throw off your comforting illusions, feel free to outline or even to vent in your manuscript, knowing that each word you write isn’t just getting you closer to success at Nanowrimo, it’s getting you closer to having a beginning-to-end path through your story … which you can then revise into a finished product.

And that’s how I succeed at Nano. Try it. It could work for you too.

-the Centaur