Thursday, October 30, 2014

Late October Rejection

Probably not the best writing session this morning, for various early-morning reasons.  I made the mistake of checking my e-mail before wrting, and sitting in my inbox was a story rejection.  While I appreciate the slush reader took some time to give feedback, at 5:30 before tea it came across as one of the more harsh critiques I've ever received.  Three hours and two cups of tea later, it's not quite so harsh, and I'm consoling myself with the recollection that previous feedback I've gotten from other slush readers was much more encouraging.  Luck of the slush pile, I guess--and I should do a quick re-read for any obvious confusing parts.  

And... yeah.... rejections like this can make me wonder if I'm a mediocre writer who will always struggle to be a B-list author.  An old B-list author.  I think it's time to sing "Smelly Cat" now. 

Word-count:  350 words in 80 minutes.  Plus some editing.  On the plus side, the story (a ghost story based on a photo prompt) has gone from a Very Very Rough Draft to a Very Rough Draft.

Work-out:  Still recovering from whatever GI-track thing is going on.  I will need to do some at-home weight maintenance stuff before my muscles turn to jelly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pre-Halloween Musings

Yesterday, I needed to make a run to the store.  It looked pretty rainy, and I thought, what the heck, I'll wear the ankle-length, purple-and-black cloak.  Man, you'd think folks around here would be used to theatrically dressed people; I got more odd stares in three blocks than I have since I don't know when.  I guess it's good to know that "freaking the mundanes" is still possible in Eugene... but, sheesh, if I wore tye-die, hippy beads, and hemp clothing no one here would bat an eye.

Writing: 610 words in 80 minutes.   I'm testing out a new writing app to track time better.   I do wish it would work in landscape mode, but it's stuck in portrait mode.  Other than that, it seems servicable so far.  On the down side it only tracks one project at a time until I pay to unlock it.

Working-out:  The stomach bug continues to quash my work-out routine.  I'm not sure I'll go in today, which means I have to figure out something for Saturday.  

On the plus side, the bug has forced me on a crash fast of sorts, and I don't feel like eating too much Halloween candy.  

I missed the Wordos Halloween reading, which is a bummer; I've managed to be at it for almost the last twelve years.  

The stormy weather has returned to the valley, and it's looking like October 31st will be a very wet Halloween.  I'm hoping that it clears up some so it's not too horrible.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dream: Underwear Theatre

Gah. Another Sunday (and Monday) kaboshed by some kind of stomach bug.

At least there was an entertaining dream segment.   A older woman in a very full blue "old lady" dress hopped off of a chair, walked a short distance and stood (or sat) on her head.  The folds of the dress fell and hid the upper part of her body.  Underneath her skirts, her underwear was divided into two fields, and there were two faces looking at each other.  The older woman's legs were covered in striped hose, and became the two figure's two arms (and then through the magic of dreams, the arms had hands instead of feet).  A kind of puppet show followed (don't ask me how the figures could talk, they just could).

It was very Muppet-esque.  Or like those old folk-dolls where if the dress falls one way, it's Red Riding Hood, and if it falls the other way, it's Granny.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dream: Eleanor Rigby on the Beach

Dream:  I was on the coast.  Someone's house was also a shop of some sort where they sold crystals or books or tiles or art objects.  I remember a sliding glass door, and a mom and two daughters.  The father was kind of old and crusty in a 1980's gruff-but-friendly neighbor kind of way.

The father and I left the house.  He started to climb up the sandy cliff (dotted with tufts of sand grass) surrounding the house.  I was flying, but this seemed normal.  We were singing and trying to remember the words to "Eleanor Rigby" and were focused on the "Eleanor Rigby / Died in the church and was buried along with her name / nobody came. / Father McKenzie / Wiping the dirt from his hands  as he walks from the grave / no one was saved" part, although "Father McKenzie / writing the words to a sermon that no one will hear" is in my head, too.

And there was something about a tour of old ladies in a train of old metal rain barrels turned into a "cow-train," only I think these were mooses.

Journal: Oct 24 Slow Day

Got out of bed around 5:15, was writing by 5:30.  Slow morning, only about 400 words for a fantasy short story in about a ninety minute period.  Partially, just felt tired.  I realized that I was writing mostly eye-candy without much characterization, but I figured I could go back and insert the eye-kicks into the manuscript.   And 400 words is better than zero words.

Not much in the dream department, just vague recollections and things I'd rather not share.

In the reading department, I'm re-reading the Foundation Trilogy.  I'm only into the first few chapters, but what strikes me is some of the passive sentence construction,  how much action is happening off-stage and how some of the technology (the time vault especially) feels a little "yesterday's tomorrow."  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Journal: Oct 23 Writing.

Enchanté.  This morning's writing session was not the best.  I did get out of bed at (I think) 5:15, but I must have gotten the wrong amount of sleep, becuase I wasn't very awake.  I think I was typing by 5:30, but I was in a "I'm trying to write, but nothing's happening," space, so I transcribed a dream instead.  I'm not sure why I would be singing the last lines of "Eleanor Rigby" with a grumpy-but-nice 1970's sit-com type of dad while we climbed the grass-tuffed dunes surrounding his coastal home, but at least I was flying.   And then external distractions happened.  600 words, probably 250 of which were actual useful short story ones.

Work-out:  Did about 130 calories on the rowing machine in 13 minutes.  I'm continuing attempts to use the free-weights and an articulated work station with adjustable arms, which allows for some across-the-body motions which I think will be good for my lateral muscle groups.  Based on reactions at home, I'd say this whole clinking weights thing is working out nicely.

Today's the partial solar eclipse, but it looks like it's also the first Real Autumnal Rain, so I doubt it will be visible.  

Later... the rains obscured the sky, so no eclipse for us.  Got about 90 minutes worth of critiquing in and about 30 minutes of editing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Journal and Eclipse Dream

Writing:  weekend sickness threw a wrench into things.  So.  Let's see.  Last night I got a critique of a 5000 word story.  I can't believe some of the stupid clerical mistakes I made in the manuscript, but over all the story was well received.  This morning I remembered dreams, got up at 6AM, and wrote them down.   I've got a 1500 word story that is in Very Rough Draft form; I passed it to a beta reader who gave me some really good feedback.

Work-out:  My last work-out was seven days ago.  Sigh.  It was easier during the summer to go in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; but lately Friday's schedule has put a kabosh on that.  I guess I'm going to have to start going in the evenings instead of the afternoons.


I'd say that the majority of this dreaming was sparked by the solar eclipse coming up tomorrow (Thursday), a brief conversation about skydiving post-Wordos, and a discussion about ski trips past and future.  

Eclipse Dream

The recall begins at my parent's house.  It's dark and we're waiting for a lunar eclipse to begin.  There's some worry that the eclipse wont be visible because of light clouds.  We're looking east over the Willamette Valley, and then the clouds shift and there's a really huge moon, almost silvery white.  

As we watch, a black circular shadow passes in front of the moon.  It's too quick and small to be the Earth's umbra.  We  leave the house (I don't recall who was with me).  After a short investigation we discover that what we thought was the moon is really some kind of balloon with a light-show projector slung beneath it.  The "eclipse" is really some sort of college game entertainment.

I think my sister appeared at the moment and says something like, "I didn't think this was the real eclipse." or "I didn't think we'd be able to see the eclipse from the house."   I looked north, and there I saw the real moon, thin and pretty far advanced in the eclipse.  White wispy clouds passed in front of it.  We could see it because we were east of my folks' house, but the people inside would have a nearly impossible time siting the moon.  (In waking life, I'm realizing that the moon was in a part of the sky in the dream that it would never be able to reach).  I remember pointing at the crescent moon.

There's a break in the narrative, and the eclipsing moon is over an ocean at the coast.  A front is moving in, and where the ocean meets the shore, a layer of white clouds forms.  

I can see all this because I'm in an airplane on some sort of special tour, with a bunch of middle-aged (60-something?) ladies (there might be some men).  Mark may have been there, and the pilot was a guy.  The pilot was talking about the eclipse and the clouds, and we started climbing.  

I don't recall exactly what happened next.  Either the plane when into a dive, or the engine stopped working, or else this was a skydive tour.  I'm thinking the latter because we were suddenly in jump suits.   

Insert falling scene here, I guess, because we were on the beach.  I had traveled with my portable Stonehenge, which in the dream had transformed from a circular object into a rectangular track that was somehow a cross between a cribbage board and a mancala board.  In the fall, most of the pegs were lost, only the black descending moon's node peg was still in place.  I remarked on this, and then found a $20 bill in one of the mancala holes.  There were some other small trinkets (not possible to be there on the real board) in the mancala holes... things like novelty coins or Renaissance Fair necklaces and beads.  

There's another break.  I think Smokey the cat woke me up here or something.

I was on a airport or train tram with Mark.  We had parked a white rental van in a large dark parking structure.   A track ran straight through a parking lot that was about a block wide on either side.  I want to say that we parked in lot 184A or something like that (at some point in the dream I wrote the number down on a white sock, which subsequently got washed and the numbers ran).

I've got the sequence of events jumbled.

At some point I fell asleep on the train and woke up with it having passed my stop.

At some point I was in a convoy with Mark and possibly our friends, the Husbands.  I think I was driving a white truck.  I think I took a wrong turn and went a considerable distance the wrong way before another off ramp appeared.  And at some point I was in the back seat and no one was driving the car, and I had to reach over the car seat and press the break pedal with my hand to stop the truck before it went through the intersection.  

vaguely recall a bunch of us were staying in a guest house or an A-frame chalet.  

I may have been driving the truck through a visitors' center or mall.  And the truck may have turned into me just walking.  

I was in a kind of rustic alpine building.  Lots of cobblestone and dark wood beams.  There was a Saturday Market feel, because every three yards or so, there was someone with a booth selling something (like scarves), or handing out brochures.  There may have been someone like Manfred Fischbeck leading dance hikes.  

Behind a tall counter sat a late 20-something guy with two Siamese cats crouching on either side of him with their eyes closed.  "Are your cats friendly?" I asked.

"Well, give them a try; but they don't like just anyone."

I held up my index finger and presented it to one of the cats, who opened an orange eye and started rubbing its whiskers on it.  The other cat came over and they were rubbing their faces all over my hands.

"Wow, they really like you," the guy said.  "You must have a powerful aura."  He stood up, suddenly tall, and his eyes focused just behind me.  I think he said, "You have a lot of yellow in your aura." I recall he said, "You are lord of fire."

"Fire, huh?" I said, "People usually say I'm air."

For some reason I woke up with the name JJ Keek in my head.  There may be such a person with that name, but I have no idea who they could be.

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 Le Guin 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.