Monday, October 20, 2014

Obligatory Cat Photo

Tired.  Today's been a sick day.  Here, have a cat photo.

Pumpkin Designs

Halloween ideas...

Sunday was pretty slow.  We were going to go to a local corn maze, but some of us picked up a stomach bug.  I haven't been drawing or drafting much lately, so I worked on pumpkin designs.

This one's pretty freaky.  I like the way the eyes came out.  Not sure sure about the mouth, though.  It's got a Psychic Fish God feel to it.

I tried another ghost design using a similar line of intertwined circles, but it started to look like a spell caster instead of a ghost, and by the time I was finished, it looked like a corporate logo for three-armed mutants...

So I drew a skeleton design.

And now it's my turn to have the stomach bug.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Brown Bowl of Wistfulness

The other week we went to the Portland Art Museum to see sculptures from France.  Afterward, we visited the silver collection.

I love traipsing through this room and imagining that I'm having a tea--or chocolate--out of the silver services there, and writing longhand using a quill dipped into the silver and cobalt inkwells.

This picture is a wood bowl with a metal rim:  a high end version of the brown bowl featured in all those nipperkin and wassailing songs from Merry Olde England.   I particularly enjoy the engraved triangular work along the top and bottom of the metal.

And now I want some hot spiced apple cider.

It would be fun to gather around a big bowl like this one, filled with steaming cider, and pass it along by star and candlelight.  Hmm.  Maybe this Halloween...

Journal: Oct 15-17

Wednesday morning was a post-revelry Wordos morning, and also Smokey was Extra Frisky during the Hour of Scampering, so I didn't get up until 6:15.  I did some maintenance stuff, like posting a manuscript for critique next week.

On the dream front, I did dream stuff, but what I remember the best was the part where I was not quite in control of a mini electric car I was driving.  I want to say that I was driving to Astoria.  A one point, the car wasn't completely powered, and I rolled backward down a hill and into a cafe while slamming on the breaks the entire way and trying to steer.  Not too hard to figure out that dream.

Thursday morning I finished a 860 word flash piece over about 90 minutes.  In the afternoon I sent it to the Penn Cove Contest.  We'll see how it goes.   Spent a little over an hour critiquing a Wordos manuscript.

Friday morning is another slow morning.  I'm writing a blog entry to try to wake up.  I have some printed manuscripts, and I should work on those (proving yet again that setting up what I'm going to do the night before is more efficient than trying to use higher executive functions before 5:30 AM).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Journal: Oct 14

Writing:  Continuing to finish up current short story.  I think the dialog at the end sounds like a bad soap opera.   About 300 words (I think) written.  I printed a draft copy and it's coming in at 1500 words (with a weak ending).

Just before Wordos, as I was copying manuscripts for handout, I got the world's deepest paper-cut on my left index finger.  Luckily, it's not on the fingertip, but it's close enough to make typing a novel experience.

Writing vs Parenting

This morning was a little difficult writing wise.  I didn't force myself up until 5:15 and got a late start actually typing words into a manuscript.   Subsequently, I was sitting in the living-room writing and The Child woke up a little earlier than usual and  came right up to me about twenty-five minutes to seven, which pulled me out of the scene I was writing, and asked me if he could go get a fragile book to read.  I told him we could read it later and retreated to the Writing Closet (which is in The Child's bedroom).  I was both annoyed for getting pulled out of the scene, and felt like the Arty Neglectful Parent.   I did reassure him that we'd read the book, Macaulay's Motel of the Mysteries, later.

In terms of writing, I was writing what I realized I was writing a "Beautiful Woman Too Beautiful for Her Own Good" Story.  It's a story I started a few months ago and want to finis.   It's supposed to be a lightly humorous piece, but it's coming out sexist.  I thought about switching the genders of all the characters, but that wouldn't fix the "women can't help being vixens / women can't not give in to carnal desires" vibe.  I thought about making everyone gay--which seemed like a cop-out.  So, I'm clumsily writing dialog and keeping an eye on the "Talking Heads" meter.  Uh... 200 words and editing?

Work-out:  1.9Kcal on the bike.  Plus a slightly new routine with free weights; one of the trainers suggested switching from The Machines to free weights on the theory that one-size doesn't fit all.  I think she's right.  Also, I'm focusing on contracting my scapula when I do stuff so my shoulders don't drift forward and strain the stratus (or whatever it's called) muscle connecting my neck to my shoulders.

On the local wildlife front:  last Saturday, I watched a doe and her two fauns browse their way from the back neighbor's carport, around the corner of our yard, and walk between our and the west neighbor's houses.  They were looking into our windows.  I'd expect this sort of thing at my parents' much more rural house than our city house.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Photos with Pat Kight

The other month the very talented Pat Kight came over and we had a photo shoot.  I forget how many photos she took (I want to say about 300).  We had a lot of fun playing with various poses, shots, and the shadows in the back yard.

It was lots of fun, and, for once, I pretty much wore the same outfit throughout (although there was that series with the veil...).

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Novel Ephiphany

Oof.  I left my iPad at work.  It's interesting to see how often I check it for social media.

I worked on story planning this morning since I didn't have ready access to a word processor.  A few weeks ago, I wrote some scenes based on a photo swap. Last night I printed out what I had and this morning I worked on outlining a story.  I'm using the term "outlining" in a very lose fashion, because all I really did was write down a character's birthday, the birth of the couple's child, and various holidays on an agenda.   The next step is to write things like "growing anxiety" and "morning sickness."  And I should come up with a threat that is exterior so this doesn't turn into 9000 words of brooding.

I also drew the floorplan for the characters' house, which will require a re-write of the blocking; but this is a good thing as the characters lived in an apartment when I started writing the scenes and upgraded to a house by the end.

And then I stared at the agenda, which covers ten months, and started to look at each month in terms of word count and just ho long a piece was a I writing?

I like this story idea and I'm toying with turning it into a novel; on one hand I need to start writing novels if ... well ... actually -- I need to start writing novels to see if I like writing novels, not to secure an old writer's pension (although that would be really nice, too).  ...Yeah; the reason I don't want to turn this idea (which I really like) into a novel isn't because first novels are almost always bad, the reason (which I've just discovered) is because I don't want the focus on product-product-product to suck all the joy out of writing a novel, and then make me disappointed with it at the end when I've written a bad first novel chock full of John Things(tm)  which confuse everyone (and are unmarketable) and no one buys.

Whew.  OK.  Worked that out.  Time to get cracking.

But first, the Day Jobbe.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Rejections and Fatigue

One of my writing acquaintances, Daniel Lowd, put up a site called "Quoth the Raven" which offers 100 percent manuscript rejections.  I laughed and laughed when I read the submission guidelines, submitted something, and had it promptly rejected.  The site is using an auto-reply to send form rejections.

I got a real-life rejection for the piece I've been working on.  In all honesty, I'd strayed a little from the premise, and it was pegged right at the upper word limit, so I'm not all that surprised at the rejection--although I had hoped that it was good enough and still within the bounds.   Oh well; I'll run it through Wordos, polish, and send out.  

I think I'm feeling better today--at least my hands and feet don't feel so achey, and I don't feel as tired and foggy as I did yesterday.  The more I think about it, the more I think I must be fighting off a cold or something.  Luckily I haven't developed a runny nose or fever, but I've been doing all sorts of stupid fatigue tricks, like misplacing things and locking myself out of my office.  I kind of skipped the lunar eclipse; I saw the beginning at 3 AM when I got up, and the very very end at 5:30-ish.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Journal: Oct 7

Really dragging this morning.  Woke up at 5:30, stumbled around, and put some finishing touches on critiques for tonight.

I don't know why I feel so tired -- I got enough sleep (a solid 8 hours) and slept fairly soundly (the cat wasn't let in last night, so he couldn't wake us with 4:30 shenanigans).   The weather is clear, although a little cold, and yesterday I went kind of easy on the workout, so I'm not sure why my feet and hands are a little sore.  Maybe I'm fighting off a cold or something.  

Project-wise, I've got a pile of manuscripts that need polishing (or abandoning) and then need to be sent out.  I need to choose one.

Working out:  200 calories in about 20 minutes.  Did a dumbbell set waiting for the rowing machine.  The gym owner suggested I try the spin bike, saying that working the glutes would burn more calories. I like the rowing machine because it works my upper body (which Mark likes) but maybe the spin bike will melt off more unwanted body fat.  

Monday, October 06, 2014

Productivity ?

Ugh. Had a bad Dr. Who nightmare so bad it woke me up.  I think it was mostly caused by too many covers on the bed and a slightly unsettled stomach.  Mark blames the Farscape marathon I had over the weekend; I blame too much ebola coverage.   I suppose the interesting twist on the Dr. Who dream was that The Doctor had been a hobbit (possibly Bilbo Bagins) before the main events of the dream.

This weekend was pretty much a recovery weekend from last week -- I don't know why the first week of classes this time around was so draining.  Mark and Arthur went to the beach.  I elected to stay home, partially because I was tired, and partially because I wanted to catch a movie the Anthropology channel was showing (and had planned to see for about two weeks).  

So, this weekend was also Getting Lost Weekend.  I got to the theatre for the movie about five minutes before it was to start, only to discover that I was at the wrong theatre.  Sigh.  Insert frenzied search for parking during a First Friday Art Walk and a zillion new students in the Titan Court area.  After about fifteen minutes, I decided that I'd only see the last 25 minuts or so of the movie and drove home.

Insert Marathon Farscape Binge here.

Saturday was laundry day and a departmental picnic.  The address in the invitation was for 1234 Adams Blvd, but the actual address should have been for Adams Court.  Insert 20 minutes of driving around in the 2300 block, wondering where the hell 1234 was.  Luckily, I recognized a co-worker walking toward Adams Court as I was fuming my way home.   

Had a fun time at the picnic, and went home with the intent of going to the gym to work out... except that because I'd been late, I'd stayed late, and then mis-remembered the gym's Saturday hours... so... more Marathon Farscape Binging!

Sunday I dragged myself to the gym right when it opened.  Then it was (more) laundry day.  It was pretty much all wash, dried and folded by the time the family got home.   Between the two days, I managed to get manuscripts in the mail, and I went through my in-progress manuscripts.  I have way too many unfinished manuscripts that I need to just focus on and finish over the next few weeks.

Monday morning I was still pretty tired, especially after waking up from the nightmare, so I didn't get a whole lot of writing done.  I did write up the Dr. Who dream; I wish I knew what triggered them because they're almost always unpleasant. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Running the Numbers

Whew.  I managed to submit a 5000 word story Thursday night.  I've been chipping away on it since September 18th,  Here and there, a quick and dirty estimation is that I spent 25 hours on it.  If it sells, I could get one hundred dollars for it, which would work out to two cents per word.

I got carried away and should have kept it at 1000 to 2000 words, which would have been closer to the the more professional pay rate of five cents a word.     Using two cents per word as a starting point, I was writing about 500 fairly usuable words per hour.  Hmmm.  That doesn't exactly include editing, but I'm going to gloss over that for now.  But if I get paid for this story (and that's an if) what would mean (500 words/hour times 2 cents/word)  ten dollars per hour.    Something's wrong there, because if I spent 25 hours on the piece, getting paid a hundred dollars works out to four dollars per hour.   

Once again, Ursula LeGuin is vindicated and "writing to get rich is a damn fool idea."

And... yeah; if having a library of book royalties is going to ease my golden years, I'm going to have to actually write a book.

The Road Goes Ever On...

Crazy week.  Between the Shellshock vulnerability, all the new students, and general start-of-the-term craziness, and Actually Getting A Story Done, the blog posting has fallen off.

Here's a picture from a hike two weekends ago.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Journal: Scheduling Problems

The beginning of the term has made my schedule crazier lately:  I keep getting home about a half hour later than usual, with the result that my writing, critique and gym sessions have been shorter than I'd like.   Oh well.

Wednesday morning I dragged myself out of bed way too late to get a writing session in.  And, alas, I had a dental appointment that pushed my schedule around still more.

Project:  OTP "Property" story.  I printed out a hard copy, took out a red pen, and did a syntax edit; I find problems more easily when the manuscript is printed out.  This Thursday morning I edited the Scrivener version of the story... so I could technically send it out today, but I think I'll do one more paper pass to clean things up.

Workout: Watched a Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) video segment that was pretty info-light.  Sounds like I have to eat chicken, steak, and steamed vegetables to the exclusion of everything else (chocolate, alcohol, bread, rice) and work out two hours every day for the next three years if I want to look like Hugh Jackman.   Oh well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Festival and Old Friends

Over the weekend we went to the Fall Festival in Corvallis.  It's a two day craft fair where folks sell paintings, hats, ceramics, jewelry, kaleidoscopes, and women's hemp apparel.  It's very much like the Eugene Saturday Market, only with less (and cleaner) hippies and almost no tie-dye.

Near the end of our visit, I was looking at a man when something clicked in my head and I realized that I was looking at an old high school friend I hadn't seen since 1996.  It was kind of odd because when I think about him, I see the high school kid.   I'd seen him with a beard (I think he grew one for a production of "The Crucible.") but the one he had now was fuller and lighter.    I said his name and he turned and I introduced myself; it took him a second to recognize me, I think (I've always had longish hair, but my beard may have been new to him, and I'm definitely much grayer than I was even ten years ago).

His wife--they got married in 1984, I think--was shopping near-by, and we all started talking about other high-school friends, and how they've demolished the old high school and what people were doing.  M is still a grass seed farmer, but he's expanded to squash; T doesn't play the violin as much as she used to, but her daughter performs harp at the U of O.  

At one point, T commented that I had the same mannerisms that I did in school.  I'll take that as a compliment.   I introduced them to Mark and Arthur, and then it was time to leave the Fall Festival.  

Project:  OTP "Property" Challenge.  Polishing.  It's mostly done.  I should print out a paper copy for stupid typos and trim back mercilessly.

Weight-training (Monday):  120 calories in 10 minutes.  I got out of work late (first day of classes), and so I had to cut a few corners clinking weights.