Sunday, September 21, 2014

Laughter, the best medicine

My doctor's office routinely leaves me sitting for an hour in the reception before they even put me in one of those little special rooms. So me and maybe 15 other people all sat there, bored because phones just aren't interesting enough. Another person came in, and the receptionist asked for her health card and then asked why she was there to see the doctor today.
"I'm sick!" the woman yelled.
We all repressed our laughter.
Eventually I got taken into my grim little private room, and the receptionist asked why I was there, and I told her, and said "it won't take that long," with great confidence.
"Oh, you know how it is around here," the receptionist said. And she left me in my chair with nothing but posters to read, and shut the door.
But I could plainly hear her through the wall say "I wish I was dead."

Not the sort of thing the Reader's Digest page would post, is it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Like word association games, but books with music

Today I am listening to "Bimbling" by Martha Tilston. This is the CD I associate with "Some Kind of Fairy Tale" by Graham Joyce. It's on my list to read the rest of his books. So sad there won't be more.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

In process -- August 2014

First Draft

Limering”. Around 81,000 words. I am ready for this to be done.


The first day of “Editing Something Else Month” went to hell when I spent an hour looking for the printout of the story I wanted to read.

“As light as a bird”. (short story) What I had wasn’t really a draft as much as a pile of notes typed up in chronological order. I knew this before I started to read it. But I didn’t realize that the last three pages were missing about five scenes. On the second day of working on this story, I added almost 5 pages of content, and that wasn’t even at the end. I’d started with just shy of 4300 words, and the second draft ballooned up to 7181 (jesus! I went back to check for writing this, and I didn’t realize it had swelled so much. I thought like 6200 or something). That was the plot revision draft. Then I started doing the scenes draft.

So, back in 2010 or thereabouts Karl Schroeder was the Writer-in-residence at the Merrill Collection of Toronto Public Library. He read one of my stories and drew me a revision cycle chart that I still have that goes something like “Plot – Scenes – Character/Setting – Copy edit” and I noted myself not to do this more than twice. I guess the implication was I might be pecking my stories to death with endless unfocused revisions. Since then I have *meant* to do this but perhaps not been as fastidious in the actuality as I thought.

Having just finished the “plot fixing” draft of WWS, I thought I would do a “scene fixing” draft of this, but I didn’t really have a clue where to start. Last September or October I bought a book about scenes (also, Nancy Kress said in Locus that the point where her writing really started to take off was when she got a handle on writing in scenes) and I decided to read that book (finally) and put its concepts into practice with this short story, as a warm-up before tackling the novel.

I read about four chapters and opened a printout of my story, and tried to mark where my scenes started and ended, and the problem became apparent at once.

Here’s what might be a personal failing of mine: whenever I read a book or a blog post or whatever about improving my writing, I always think to myself, “sure, I could do that but it would stifle my creativity” and so I ignore it and don’t improve. And that’s stupid. I have mocked this thought process in others, who think perhaps that behaving like an adult and paying bills and suchlike would somehow ruin their genius, and so they continue to, you know, fuck up their lives endlessly even though they’re like 45 and should stop living like that. And yet, here I was saying it myself.

And then I decided, none of those rules apply to first drafts.

Not that it would be bad if my first drafts weren’t better. But that’s not the way I roll, man.

And if somehow learning to craft scenes with starts and ends rather than 7100 words of stream-of-consciousness rambling that sort of gets to an end makes my first drafts better, I suppose it’s not a bad thing. I did a third draft and started a fourth. I need a better title.

“Selkie Girls are Easy”. I carried this one around but didn’t really do anything except think. 

"Lucky Kate". After reading Make a Scene, I realized what was wrong with the middle of this story and wrote some notes.  Maybe when Limering is done I will give a week of "new words" time to fixing it.






“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Half done the first sleeve, and I’m liking the colors again. 
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). Seven inches of body. This is a good travelling project.
Octopodes socks from Knitty Spring 2014. Finished.
Rick socks from Sock Innovation. First started.

I also finished sewing the skirt I started last month. It goes with Kaffeklatsch, but it’s too warm to wear that yet. Fortunately, I have some brown tank tops. In all, I have about eight tops that this goes with, so win!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

What I read -- August 2014

“Heir to the Empire” by Timothy Zahn. This is book one of the Thawn trilogy, apparently. There are a bunch of these Star Wars books lying around the house. People say he’s like god’s gift to the Star Wars extended universe, so I thought I’d give one a try. Wow. I haven’t read many tie-in books lately, and I was always more of a Star Trek person than a Star Wars one, but wow. He really caught the quirks and nuances of Star Wars. I could really hear Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher delivering this dialog, and I loved how he used the various catch phrases. Though I felt like he didn’t know much about being a pregnant woman, especially after reading that Elizabeth Bear book last month.

 “Make a Scene” by Jordan Rosenfeld. I bought this last year with my Ride for Heart gift certificate, and finally read it so I could do the next draft of WWS. I’d read maybe five chapters and then decided to check out the Amazon reviews, just out of curiosity. The 1-star reviews are always my favorite, except some of the reviewers were more bashing me for needing this book than were actually bashing the book.

I found it useful. I hope it helps.

“Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wursch. This biography was targeted at young adults, and the writing was a bit condescending. It could have been considered good, if the author was a precocious 15-year-old, but for actual adults the sentence structure and quotes were not really impressive. Nevertheless, the subject matter was well-handled.

“Dark Force Rising” by Timothy Zahn. Book two of the Thrawn trilogy.