Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All I Needed Was the Crazy

November dreaming
Laws-a-mercy, it's four days until November. Maybe it's just the pre-holiday malted milk balls talking, but I'm suddenly excited about this month. You may remember last week's self-pitying whinge about feeling preemptively blocked and bored of my story, or at least scared that it would turn into a month-long drudge instead of a celebration of free writing. I'm happy to say that the fear has evaporated, since I found the crazy.


Or rather, my main character did. Or will. Without tipping my hand, let's just say that my main character is pretty much doomed this year, in what could become a very bleak book. And I'm not very good at bleak, but the story seems to demand it. I've been trying to think of ways to throw a little leavening into the plot, a little lightness without going too far, and without making some kind of stock Comic Relief Wacky Neighbor type character. Nothing came to mind, and then it struck me. Unreliable narrator, whispered the muse, and suddenly all was made clear.

Holy Flare!

So yes, now the story is bleak, the main character is doomed, and he's very likely not on firm mental footing.

I couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fussing, and Making Do, and Moving the Hand

Pad, Pens, and Pipes
I'm re-reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones right now, having just wrapped up Chris Baty's No Plot, No Problem. If you've suffered through my endless posts of late, you know that having no plot is not a problem for me: I'm soaking in plot, so to speak. What I'm lacking right now, though, is excitement about the story I have in mind. It's probably pre-NaNo anxiety, so I'm trying to read Inspirational Writing-Type Books that won't necessarily make me love it, but will at least get me to relax about it and just let the words come. But of course I'm happiest when I'm fussing around and fretting and planning and plotting. And as hippy-trippy as Bones can be -- and it is -- Goldberg's mantra of keep your hand moving is a good one, and I'm trying to absorb it (again.)

I'm also fussing about the letters that are sitting on my desk, waiting to be replied to. In fact, I've got two letters from one person, which is throwing me completely off. Our home is in disarray right now thanks to a long-overdue remodeling project, and I'm still enjoying the last week and a half of lunchtime walks before they are sacrificed to NaNo, so my typing time has been reduced to nil. What I need to do, I've decided, is reply to these letters by hand to get past the angsty writing-block stew that I've brewed for myself. And that leads to fussing about stationery. Or finding some that says "middle-aged ordinary guy" not "Hello Kitty obsessed tweener" or worse yet, "Miss Havisham." Short version: there isn't much. Longer version: at least not reasonable for someone that expects to write more than a dozen letters in a year. So, I'm making do.

After some surreptitious testing in the store (ahem) I've picked up a drawing tablet by Canson, pictured above. And I think it will do. As Goldberg reminds us, it is the writing that is important, and I'm simply fussing too much right now to let myself do it. So if you're on the receiving end of one of my letters, you can expect a bit more rambliness than usual -- if you can even tell -- as I practice defussing with a moving hand.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dinner-Date with Death

A silly bit of short-fiction, inspired by seeing Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations together. Full disclosure: the more heinous typos were corrected digitally.

20101013 typecast pt1
20101013 typecast pt2

Typed on Norma Jean:
Underwood Touchmaster c. 1960, aka "Norma Jean"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading and Scanning

I've been throwing the bulk of my online energies into the relaunched NaNoWriMo forums, so I've got just a few musings here today:
  • The letter-exchange program trundles on. I've decided that getting real mail that's not a bill is one of the most honest pleasures one can get for $0.44 (the other being dark chocolate Reese's cups.) Though in this age of instant-twitchy-"like button" feedback, I usually start feeling guilty the moment I open the envelope, like I need to stop wasting time and reply. This isn't significant or profound, but just another shade of neurosis you can use to paint your mental picture of me.
  • The Typewriter Brigade is an enthusiastic bunch, and if you haven't signed on, you should, especially if you're waffling about whether or not you're going to participate. Even the young'uns in the group are well-spoken and classy. Seriously: what a nice group of people to write with. You should do it, too.
  • And related to that, I've wheeled The Beast into its writing home for the next two months. I am trying very hard to resist the Royal Empress that Jay Respler has offered up. Fairly easy, since he's on the other side of the country, and shipping that behemoth would be crazy expensive. But my God, I love the look of the thing. (That one's Olivander's.) It's like a hunk of functional Googie architecture... on your desk.
  • So the plan is: get published, get crazy rich, move to a bigger house, buy an SG-1 and an Empress to keep one another company. That's the plan. Yup. Starting... now!
  • Actually, that's not the plan. For a little perspective on writing, check out this post on dreams versus expectations, and keeping the one from turning into the other. Luckily for me, I'm still living in the dream world. Ha!
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves should be required reading for everyone on the Internet. It's ideal book for nitpicking neurotics like me who freak out about apostrophe mis-use. Lynne Truss is the patron saint of the fussy.
  • Yes, I read humorous punctuation guides for pleasure. This is a problem why?
  • Once fine point that Truss makes and that I just re-read last night is the difference between reading on a page, and reading on a screen. On the page, your eyes move across and down, across and down, across and down. On the screen, your eyes stay fixed, and the page moves across them. To me, it's the difference between reading and scanning, and that could be why I generally hate the experience of screen-reading so much; I'd sooner print out a multi-page document and read it at my desk than sit at that same desk and read off my monitor, even though I have a nice, bright, large screen that can adjust its type size to even my lousy vision. Reading on a screen feels different because it is different. Well, duh.
  • I mention this also because Staples appears to be selling the Kindle in their stores, and I was oddly compelled to pick up the sample model and hold it the other day. It sure is... pretty. So hard when the gadget-lust intersects with the reading-lust. Or in this case, partners up with it. And never mind that Amazon is generally behaving only a shade less evil than Apple when it comes to supported formats on their devices, and how they appear to be trying very, very hard to place themselves between readers and any title we may want to read... I was still tempted. Didn't give in, though. Not this time.
Edited to add:

To get on the mail-exchange list, send a note to typed (dot) letter (at) gmail (dot) com. First found out about this in February on Strikethru. Has it been that long already? Wow.

Friday, October 1, 2010