Monday, December 15, 2008

Isn't It Romantic?

Today marks the eighth anniversary of our first date. Eight years ago today, Mark and I went to see What Women Want (and, ironically, Mark completely failed at catching my signals in the world-renowned art of Movie Theater Armrest Touching) and afterwards confessed that we had some sort of thing for each other and maybe we should, you know, become a couple officially so all of our friends can finally treat us as such though we've clearly been acting like a couple for a few weeks.

So this morning, knowing that Mark and I usually do something a little special for each other on this day, particularly since the Drew Monster stole some of our wedding anniversary thunder by being born the day before, I woke up to the sultry sound of my husband....

....hurling in the toilet?

Every now and then, I swear I hear that 80s PSA guy intoning over a background sizzling noise, "This is your life. This is your life as a parent. Any questions?"

Happy Anniversary, Mark. Sorry you spent it shuffling between the bathroom and the bed, but, hey, at least it was unique! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It occurs to me that I never did post the requisite update about my MRI. It was "normal" per my doctor. That's all she said. Normal. Oh, and she tossed in a line about taking that last prescription she gave me. No mention of how there wasn't bursitis and there wasn't anything to indicate why I was in severe pain during the MRI and what the next steps might be other than "Here, have some more drugs."

Also, it's a very good thing I got a copy of the radiologist's report on my own as my doctor didn't think it worth mentioning that I had several benign ovarian cysts that need a follow-up via ultrasound in 3-6 months to make sure they remain benign.

Needless to say, I'll be cancelling my follow-up with this particular doctor and investigating other options for addressing whatever the hell is going on with my joints.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Murphy's Law, Toddler Interpretation #342

Drew's inner monolog, 7PM, on the drive home:

Hmm. Let's see. Looking around the car I see no diaper bag. That means nothing to change me into if something unfortunate should happen to these clothes or this diaper I'm wearing. That's very interesting.

Wow. It's really dark out. Can't see anything unless it's got headlights attached. That's very dark.

Hey, we just drove under Riggs Road. That means there's no exit for ten miles, and that's just for a solitary gas station. Home's another ten minutes beyond that. That's very isolated.

You know, dinner isn't sitting very well with me. Hasn't been for a while. But this seems like the perfect time to deal with that particular problem.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jury's Still Out

My spidey-sense told me that I should have asked for a copy of the radiologist's report of my MRI in addition to picking up a copy of the films, which I was told my doctor would need. I was also told that a copy of said report would be faxed to my doctor, so all would be revealed at today's visit. The doc would help me understand the report and point out the relevant images on the films. This is how it's worked before with another doctor.

Yeah. Not so much with this one.

So I still don't know exactly what's going on. I've taken a look at the films (well, duh; I can't just sit on something like that and NOT peek), but the bright lines that I suspect are significant may turn out to be noise or something.

One thing I know for certain. Tomorrow I will be requesting a copy of my own from the radiologist. I am not going to sit around and wait for my doctor's office to get their copy and call me with the results.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What I've Been Up To

Work's been crazy lately as we packed up our old facility and moved to the new one this week (actually, the move happened today, and I missed out on that fun; they didn't want too many hands in the pot, and it seemed silly to drive 55 miles only to get in the way; I did, however, pull a twelve hour day on Thursday to help get everything packed up).

On top of the regular work I'm doing to get a couple of studies caught up and into a reasonable steady state, I've been diving into a project that hasn't been touched for all of 2008 and even some of 2007, and there's a deadline of Nov 24 for all that data that hasn't been entered yet. And, of course, Drew's brought home the next in a line of bugs from school and has lovingly passed it on to me (Mark seems to be immune).

Add to that the MRI from hell last weekend (over an hour with my legs taped together in an extremely painful position; I sobbed throughout the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the experience; the only positive is that my head wasn't into the tube as I had to go in feet first and they focused on my pelvis). More on this Monday when I have an appointment with the rheumatologist and she tells me the verdict.

I was supposed to buckle down and get back to work on PPR revisions today, but see above referenced bug gifted from Drewbie. So instead I'm using the limited brain function I've got tonight to get some work done for my RWA chapter. Tomorrow I'm hoping the bug won't be harrassing me as much, and I'll get back to my writing. I've had to take a break from it for too long. I'm getting cranky.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

PPR's Theme, Apparently

Seeing as how I can't stop listening to this song as I work through several key scenes from this story in mind, I guess I've found a main title song for my soundtrack.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Scalzi is Smart

What he said. (And here is is, pointing out the obvious. Really, no matter how you voted or what your politics, this link is essential, especially if you could use a laugh at the election's expense.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Imbibing in a Comelatory Drink

I offer into the English language a new word: comelatory. It's an amalgamation of "comiserating" and "celebratory" in that I need a drink to watch all this talk of statistics and political commentary. But with only 30-40% of precincts nationwide reporting and no one yet projected to have the necessary 270 votes, I have no idea whether my drink is supposed to be drowning my sorrows or toasting my preferred candidate's success.

The drink in question is my second attempt to recreate The Vixen. If I may say, the second time's the charm.

Also, Comedy Central has the most entertaining election coverage by far.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Armageddon Eve

God willing, this time tomorrow night a clear winner will be emerging and there will not be a trace of the shenanigans of 2000 and 2004 to muddle things for days or weeks afterwards. I'm ready to know who's going to be leading this country for the next four years and get on with making my peace on that score (a task which will be infinitely easier should my preferred candidate win).

I've kept mostly silent about politics on my blog and at work. In fact, I've only really hashed this election out with Mark, and he's been in leaning my way for a while. This is mostly because I don't seem to find myself around people who are undecided and whom I might offer information or an informed opinion that might help them. Mostly I find myself frequenting strongly opinionated blogs and in the company of firm believers of one strip or another. If there's one thing the internet's taught me, it's that "debate" is just a way to try to lord it over the other guy (sometimes with impeccable logic, sometimes not), not to actually do any sort of persuading. I've developed an ear for those who are actively seeking an opinion to educate themselves, but mostly I'm just hearing those who are already convinced and want to remain convinced.

It's allowed me to sit back and just watch the narratives fly.

Human beings tell stories to make sense of what's happening around them. This is well and good and vastly entertaining and helpful for things like empathy and, well, just dragging yourself out of bed each day. It's also good for creating something of a fever pitch over tomorrow's results. On the one hand, you have the possibility of Caribou Barbie being one seventy-two year old man's heartbeat away from the Oval Office. On the other hand, you have the possibility of welcoming our new socialist overlord on January 20th. While this has all been very entertaining, I can't say I'll miss it much. Such dramatics can be oh-so-tiring.

If you do happen to be undecided, look past the theatrics, get to your polling place, bring a coin to flip if you must, and vote. Help us get on with reality and life as usual again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Things I Accomplished This Weekend Other Than What I Intended

Saturday was pegged for locking myself in my office and devoting many uninterrupted hours to PPR revisions as Muse has been cranky with my piddly half-hour lunch breaks devoted to same recently. (Usually I take an hour, but work be crazy.) Sunday I had slotted to blaze through this month's newsletter for my RWA chapter so I could go back to the proper writing focus the rest of the week.

Drew intervened by waking up every other hour Friday night and Saturday morning and demolishing any chance I had of catching up on a woeful lack of sleep from the past two weeks. Add in a mild but still mostly debilitating gastorintestinal bug, and I spent Saturday trying to recover some semblance of humanity. Sunday I just decided to kick away responsibility and just be Mom. So here's what I did manage to do:

1. Start and finish Charles Stross's The Family Trade, Book One of the Merchant Princes series. Fabulous fun book that while not being fluffy was a quick and engaging read. Of course, it ended on cliffhanger so now I'm eyeing my TBR pile and budget and wondering just when I can get to the rest of the books. I know at least four are out in the series, a fifth has either recently come out or will be out shortly, and he's just starting writing the sixth. I have my work cut out for me.

2. I tried my hand at a home-made version of The Vixen, my new fave drink last sampled in Vegas. Overall, it was a decent effort, though I think I had just a touch too much vermouth. Experimenting in this fashion is fun, though, so expect another report next weekend.

3. Found two perfect birthday cards on my first try this morning: one for my brother and one for my mother's Significant Other. This to go along with appreciated gifts, a wonderful dinner and great company made for a fantastic evening at my mom's.

4. Cheered (via watching an internet feed) my brother-in-law to his personal best marathon time, an obscene two hours, fifty-three minutes and change.

5. And...well...hmmm. I think that's it. Mostly my biggest accomplishment was unplugging the "must do this, must do that" cord and letting myself be a slug. Maybe now that I've gotten the lazy weekend out of the way, I won't need to indulge in one again until 2009. Ha.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

Everyone survived the first parental trip without the munchkin. Momma and Daddy didn't ruin a vacation by worrying and guilt-tripping. We kept our calls to two a day and half the time Drew didn't want to talk to us (he's out of the phone phase, apparently). Drew was perfectly happy to be hanging out with Gramma and Grampa instead of Momma and Daddy. He did miss us, but he never got too bent out of shape about it. And Gramma and Grampa had a blast with Drew, though they were still very happy to hand him back to us upon our return.

As for Vegas itself, it was a great trip. We even learned a few lessons:

1. Generic less drowsy dramamine is not nearly as less drowsy as the real thing. Thus I had to take a nap just two hours into our time in Vegas.

2. Spending $12 or $13 on a drink is well worth it, apparently. I've never had a drink so well mixed. In fact, I've got a new favorite drink. It's called the Vixen: Glenlivet 12, vermouth, sweet & sour, and honey. Yummy.

3. Apparently the Venetian took seriously their theme and made the hotel float on pretension. At least, that's the vibe we got at the restaurant we selected for dinner. It takes a decent sized pair to bill a restaurant as fine dining and then try to cram seating for 80 into a room barely bigger than our living room and kitchen combined. It's also remarkably crass to interpret a reservation for "as secluded a table as possible" into "here's a seat less than a foot away from another occupied table when there's only three other couples in the entire albeit cramped room." I ordered the cheapest meal on the menu. We ordered only two glasses of wine, and we declined desert. The service was great and the food was good, so we didn't stiff on the tip. But we certainly won't be recommending Valentino's to anyone. Not that they care as we and our circle are most decidedly too middle class for that establishment, apparently.

4. On the other hand, the Luxor seems designed for folks more from our walk of life who want to live it up a bit and have budgeted their vacation accordingly. Mark and I can't stop talking about the fabulous experience we had at Fusia. Sure, a meal with appetizers, entrees, desert, and drinks will set you back at least $200, but man is it worth it. Everything was delicious. The service was superb. The manager was making the rounds and chatting with everyone eating there. Sure, we had people sitting all around us, but this place had maximized their space and there was plenty of room to feel like we weren't sitting on top of our neighbors. If you are in the mood for some high quality food the next time you're in Vegas, go to Fusia. The only downside this place has is that it's closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

5. Drew's birthdate (the 4th) is our luckiest number at the roulette table. Paid off three times, including once when I had on a whim told Mark to put a second chip on it.

6. Slots aren't nearly as much fun as I used to think. And I'm just not all that into the table games either. Guess I'll be gravitating more toward the shows on our future trips. My age. It shows.

7. The casinos are in the timeshare business. We were accosted several times in several casinos by folks wanting to give away gambling money and discounted show tickets if you'd just take a look-see at this lesser known property of theirs on the south end of the strip. These folks were awful. Anyone they saw that looked to be a married couple over 21 was a target. It got so bad that Mark and I couldn't walk around holding hands or even just side by side in certain areas.

So, a great trip, no trauma to be seen on the part of either the 'rents or the kid, and tips for future such trips. When can we do it again? :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

State of the Blog

I do want to continue blogging, I just haven't figured out how to fit it in to my schedule now that I'm working full-time and commuting three hours each day. Any time left in the evenings is either spent focused on my writing or resting a fried mind in front of the TV or with some internet surfing. My lunch hour (when I can take it) is also focused on writing. And I'll eventually have to divvy up the evening time and lunch hour into attending my future duties as the Vice President of Programs for my RWA chapter.

So, essentially, I may not have time to blog but once or twice a week, and the entries may be rather short. I might start blogging my writing progress again, as those posts go fast and still give me a chance to provide a line or two of entertaining content in addition to the stats those writing geeks out there love.

Don't expect any changes in the blogging department this week, though, as Mark's parents arrive tomorrow evening and Mark and I jet out on our own for a three-day belated anniversary trip to Las Vegas. So any free time I usually have? Definitely won't have it until next Sunday. Given the reasons for not having said time, however, I do not mind this circumstance in the slightest.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Six Years Ago Today...

...Mark and I said "I do" and took lots of fabulous pictures on a beautiful if a touch windy day. So many of our family and friends were there to share in our special day and celebrate joyfully with us. If ever we develop technology that lets us relive our memories, that day would be a frequent choice for me. Thank you to everyone for making it such a wonderful moment in Mark's and my life together.

And, Mark, these six years (and the eight we've been together in any fashion) have been great. Great is such a small word, really. And even "supercallifragilisticexpeallidocious" is too small (also too silly). Maybe in another six years I'll have a better adjective to describe how much I have loved/love/and will always love our time together.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Three Years Ago Today...

...Drew got stuck on his way out into the world, and the doctors had to cut me open to get him out. He still shows absolutely no signs of this trauma, and I doubt he ever will. Instead, he's ahead of his years kinesthetically, making up for lost time in the talking and potty-training department, and having a blast at school. Thankfully, he still enjoys snuggling up to Momma and Daddy just after he wakes up. Mark and I both know those days are numbered.

So, Happy Third Birthday, Drew. We're having a lot of fun living these years with you and watching you experience life and the world. We can't wait to see what you're up to in another year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Nice Night

I'm making an effort not to jinx anything, but I did want to report that Drew had a very good night tonight, free of the fits he's been throwing just about every other night since I started the new job. It's amazing how energized and good Mark and I feel when the night ends peacefully with Drew. Of course, then I went and used all that energy to get caught up with a college buddy on the phone instead of writing, but I certainly don't mind that.

I'm not going to hope or cross my fingers or anything like that, just reiterate again that this evening was very nice indeed. It was a joy to share time with Happy Drew instead of Fussy Drew.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Back in Daycare Crud

We knew it was going to happen. We knew it would likely happen at least once a year. We didn't expect it to happen at the end of Drew's very first week back in daycare.

While suffering from only some minor congestion himself, Drew has lovingly passed on some sort of cold/flu ickiness to Momma and Daddy. Daddy is congested with a sore throat and mostly feeling lousy. Momma felt listless earlier today (and napped for an hour and a half to make the feeling that much more authentic) and has a sore throat.

This means that, since I'm in a probationary trial thingamajig at work, I can't take time off (and I'm already pushing that by demanding as a condition of my acception their employment offer three days off in October due to a pre-existing trip to Vegas planned and booked) and Mark generally isn't able to take time off due to being like one of two people who has to manage and care for (translation: actually, you're better off not knowing what my cruel cruel husband has to do to the dear sweet things) the mice, that the chances of my resuming regular blogging this week are slim to none. Better luck next week.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh, Lookee! A Learning Curve!

The brain is fried. Not only did I force it to work a full eight hours today, I also forced it to concentrate through an hour and a half commute each way. Then there's the learning curve. Clinical research is not a new thing to me and, theoretically, neither is cancer research. The technicalities of oncology as a medical field of study is a realm of new with tantalizingly familiar vistas. So short story: love the new job, will love it even more once I find my groove and get jiggy with the jargon.

Short story for Drew: Five to ten minutes of meltdown when we dropped him off at daycare, the sounds of which haunted me throughout the rest of the drive. But, true to Drew Monster style, he got over it a couple of minutes after we left and was a happy and eager kid the rest of the day. Definitely excited about going back tomorrow; we'll see how he handles it when he remembers that school involves large chunks of time w/o the 'rents.

Longer stories (or at least longer musings) to follow as I get the hang of this working full-time thing again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Tomorrow starts a new phase for Drew and me. Drew goes to "school" full-time, and I go to work out of the home full-time. We haven't been here in nearly two years. We're both more than a little giddy anticipating these changes.

My giddiness was mostly expressed in the glee and speed with which I unceremoniously dumped all of my previous DDJ files and laptop and such off at the UPS Store for mailing on Friday. No kidding: I wasted only fifteen minutes between when I shut down for the last time from my the old job to when I loaded up the car with everything to return it. This is not to say the old DDJ was terrible or really horrible or anything. It wasn't. But my projects involved a lot more contact with the customers rather than with my colleagues, so I hadn't felt integrated or connected with my team in a while. Plus, I'm really stoked about my new job and coworkers.

Drew's giddiness is expressed in different ways. He felt big boy enough to use his potty a bodily function not involving pee for the very first time. When he saw me stacking up the stuff we need to bring with him for his first official day tomorrow, he carried his dinner from the kitchen table to where I was at the dining room table so he could watch and direct the flow of items into proper stacks. Then he danced and screeched his way into his shower with Daddy.

I guess you could say we're both more than a little excited. I'm sure by next weekend, though, Drew and I will be a bit clingy with each other as it sinks in that all the time we've had together for these past two years has changed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Saturday

1. Jimmy Clausen doesn't really work with long hair. But, thankfully and much more importantly, he works much better with an offensive line that actually, you know, protects him long enough to do anything with the ball. Go Irish!

2. It really hurts to cheer on USC even if doing so means they slaughter OSU. I whimpered after every positive, encouraging thing I said about USC in that game.

3. I'm getting sick of store rewards programs that require you to print out coupons for benefits that are inextricably linked to the reward program card itself. We are immersed in the digital age, people. Please bring your business models into alignment with this fact.

4. I never discussed the free samples BPAL sent with the last order. The first is "Blood Kiss" which overwhelmingly smells like honey when I open the sample and first apply it. Then it mellows into this sweet musk that is just divine. Me rikey. The second is "Loup Garou" which reeks of pine extremely when the sample is open but almost immediately mellows upon application. It reminds me of the Bath & Body Works holiday fragrance "Winterberry" and this is a good thing. Once you get over the eye-watering pine bit.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Perils of a Geek Marriage

Mark and I were up until 1 AM last night having a heated argument. It wasn't about the bills or the house or the chores or the car or whatever the Greatest Hits of matrimonial dischord are. No, we were duking it out over, essentially, what the Grand Unified Theory will do about the logic dichotomy of classical physics vs quantum mechanics. The reason this got so heated is that I was approaching the discussion from a philosophical, follow-the-bouncing-ball-of-logic position (which, given my background in biochemistry, is clearly rigidly locked with classical physics and Can See No Other Way) while Mark was actually, you know, arguing from the current body of scientific evidence that quantum mechanics has produced.

This spat may well have unseated the previous Geek Marriage Moment of 03 when Mark and I went at it over dolphin and monkey intelligence metrics.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just Another Day, Apparently

Had I needed to write down the date or heard it aloud on the radio or something, it likely would've sunk into this thick skull of mine that today is another Sept 11. But without those cues, today is just the day that I have to juggle transitioning my current DDJ responsibilities to colleagues with jetting up to Mesa with toddler in tow for a date with a rheumatologist.

As it was, the date didn't click until I read this brief but excellent post by Scalzi. In fact, it didn't click until I got a few comments in. I read Scalzi's post and figured it was a clever and sarcastic reference to some goings-on in the science fiction community that I, in my infinite lameness, had completely managed to miss. Being slightly more nice to myself, I also thought it might be one of Scalzi's random posts to serve as a way to get silly comments about imaginary events and such. Then my brain finally came around to the big picture.

Every now and then I'm surprised by how much humanity, while decrying the daily grind, seeks to get right back to the status quo at least in the space of our own minds.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If Only I Could Fit This in Attractive, Cutesy Print on a Door Hanging

Dear Solicitor/Salesman/Proselytizer:

I am sorry that your vocation requires you to schlep around in this Arizona heat, but you will not find anything more than a polite dismissal at this house. If ever I should wish to partake of your services, product, or faith, I will find you and inquire further.

To forestall any follow-up concerns: If you do not have a website with which I can easily find your company or church, then I will likely never be interested in your services, product, or faith. If you have a spectacular deal on your service or product that is only available for the duration of your visit to this house, then you should not be upset that my potentially choosing to purchase your service or product at a later date will result in more money for you.

The Family Residence

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Retreat for Advancement

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went on a writing retreat this weekend. This was different from my retreat in March in that I went with about a dozen of my writer pals from my RWA chapter. We trekked down to Bisbee, a beautiful little tourist town leftover from the mining boom of the late 1800s. The drive down was gorgeous--maybe one day Arizona will cease to amaze me in the many different ways it can be beautiful, but I'm not sure I want that day to come any time soon.

(Driving aside: For a stretch of about twenty miles, lots of tarantulas were trying to cross the road to varying degrees of success. I wasn't quite sure what manner of creepy-crawly it was I saw crawling its way across the pavement until Sunday on the joureny back home. Then the sun happened to strike the nasty spider just right as I came up on it. I clippled one of the icky things with a wheel and sent it thunking up into the car's undercarriage. Ah, desert driving.)

We broke up into groups for chunks of time on Saturday to brainstorm our books in whatever fashion the groups chose. My group, thankfully, was less about novel structure (in terms of acts and turning points and beats and scenes and such) and more about characters and the best conflict we could create to force the most dramatic arc. It was exactly what I needed to confirm I had a good revised outline for PPR and to sketch out the central premise and characters of Books 2 and 3 in the PPR universe. That's right, dear blog readers, I actually have more of a vague outline for two novels than I've ever had before--and I haven't written a single word of draft for either story yet. I don't know if this means my overall process is adjusting or if this set of stories is lending itself better to pre-planned writing than my others. I guess I'll find out if PPR sells next year.

It was a fabulous weekend that revitalized my writing plans for PPR and also gave me ample time to relax and revel in a whole boatload of extended adult conversation about all manner of things. Plus I got to know my fellow chapter members better and had a blast brainstorming other stories besides mine. I hope those books sell as well, because it would be fun to read elements that unfolded right before my eyes this weekend.

Sigh. I love this state, I adore my chapter (both the members and its continual focus on advancing our writing skills and careers), and I can't wait to see where all the ideas I fleshed out this weekend take me over the course of the next year or two. Yup. Life is good, and that's how you know it was a very successful retreat.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Find My 'Cool

I'm not sure what manner of divine inspiration visited Mark and me when we started talking to Drew about going to daycare, but inspired we were. Instead of calling it daycare, Mark and I called it school (this is not a lie; the service is more a preschool/daycare hybrid than anything else). Drew found the entire concept of school extremely exciting and is eager to go. Of course, he can't quite say "school" and calls it "cool" instead, but really drags out the "oo".

He had his first taste of school last Friday. We had a free trial day at the facility and took advantage of it so I could leave as early as possible for a writing retreat this weekend. Drew had a blast. He happily waved good-bye to Daddy and got busy playing. Granted, he noticed about five minutes in that Daddy wasn't coming back and he was alone and this was not exactly OK by him. But after a couple minutes of crying, he shook off the disappointment because school was just that exciting for him.

He's in a room with other kids who aren't quite on the potty training ball yet, so as to keep their little minds collectively focused on moving forward in that area. Here's hoping peer pressure succeeds where stickers have failed. At any rate, he's looking forward to going back, which is nice.

On the other hand, he does seem to understand that going to school means the end of spending his days at home with Momma. So he's foregoing his nap. And climbing all over me while I work. And generally making a nuisance of himself as I try to transition my current DDJ responsibilities to my coworkers. While that is annoying, it is still sweet in its own way.

It's exciting, though, to see how happy he is about this change and how quickly he's taking to it. It's something a relief to me, too, that trained professionals in child education will be guiding his daily learning rather than me. One thing the past two years have taught me is that my skill set in education certainly does not involve any age under 14.

Friday, August 29, 2008

LONG Overdue Update

Um. Yeah. So the Month of Short Fiction has turned into the Month of Totally Slacking Off. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I've been doing some work on writing, particularly mapping out a better way to write PPR, though it means taking it from about 30K words to something more like 70K or more. I'm still trying to decide what to do about that and if I should focus my writing attention on that project rather than hunker down and fix THUMB. There are a couple of factors that have emerged this month to make this decision more difficult.

First and foremost, I can now explain the one or two vague references to potential changes. I am moving on from the current DDJ to a new DDJ. The current DDJ was looking to be gone come January, so I've been trying to find something else to bring in the specific amount of dough required. The new DDJ does than and then some, though it also comes with the requirement of working full-time up in the Phoenix 'burbs. Drew will be attending a daycare/preschool hybrid (one of two we'll be touring today, in fact), and the commute will actually be something of a family experience, seeing as how my new job is only fifteen minutes beyond Mark's. A fun way to carpool.

Secondly, I accepted a request to take on arguably the most challenging leadership position in my RWA chapter next year. No, I will not be doing this and the newsletter--I'm not completely stupid. I'll be responsible for arranging all of our speakers for next year's meetings. In addition to serving my chapter (something that I really really like doing as it keeps me involved in a wonderful writing community), this means I might well be dripping in editor and agent contacts in the romance genre by this time next year. This has led me to consider revising PPR into the novel it so wants to be as the more pressing of my two writing projects. I mean, what good are genre contacts if you have a novel that most of the folks you'll be chatting with don't actually represent?

Finally, PPR served as an excellent window into my writing process as I struggled through parts of THUMB last year. I'm thinking it might not be a bad idea to use that story in a similar fashion so I can tackle THUMB with some better understanding of what it is I'm doing.

So, yeah, time to sit down and ponder ponder contemplate the writing goals as the basic structure of my life goes through a shake-up. Mark and I have already done a fairly good job of figuring out how to weather that shake-up (theoretically at least) in other areas, and it helps knowing that the changes actually mean we'll be spending more time together (though it'll be in rush hour traffic, so the quality of said time may be lacking). I'm very excited about my new job (it's much closer to my scientific background than my current job) and really enjoyed meeting my future coworkers during my interview. Also, Drew really needs more interaction with kids his age and is ready for more structured learning and activities than I can provide while working at home.

That's the update: approaching a big change in lifestyle and looking at the other bits and pieces of my life that I need to adjust to make that change work and still maintain my sanity. If this blog descends into gibberish as the months wear on, you'll know why.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Overdue Update

Hrm. I didn't mean to stay silent for well over a week. And I have no excuse other than the general feeling of "meh" when it comes to exerting myself beyond what needs to be done. Something big happened last week that might mean changes real soon depending on what happens this week, but I can't talk about that just yet. And in writing news, I went through a microscale version of my Crazy with trying to map out revisions to PPR and use it as the base model for my participation in a synopsis class. Mark gave the experience two thumbs in his ears. And just to add to the general whackiness is the sudden realization that PPR would actually work much better and be infinitely more saleable as a novel. Meaning I have two extensive revision projects to juggle.

Maybe next week I'll shake the ennui and get back with the blogging.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Big Boy Journey

Drew gave up the crib for his Big Boy bed pretty easily. True, he did sleep up against the door and in his rocking chair for several nights in the first couple of weeks of the transition, but it mostly went off without a hitch. Same with ditching the bottle and eating sandwiches instead of mashed banana. Recently we cut him off the binky, cold turkey, and he asked after it once the following night but hasn't mentioned it since and hasn't had any issue falling asleep without it.

Enter Sunday morning. We had told him Saturday night that because he's getting to be such a big boy we were going to turn off the baby monitor; if he needed our help during the night, he knew how to come and get us. He didn't have a problem with this idea in theory. In practice, he woke up unhappy Sunday morning and, when we didn't come to his aid, he went to his door, opened it and cried loudly into the hall, eschewing his usual practice of coming to get us in the mornings.

I bolted upright out of my deep sleep and went running to him, maternal instinct firing on all cylinders as I tried to make sense of the situation. Then I picked him up and gave him some cuddle time and explained that he didn't need the monitor, that he could get us if he wakes up in the middle of the night because he's such a big boy. He shook his head, huddled closer to me and said in a very small and shaky voice, "My ba-ee." (I'm a baby.) What's a parent to say to that? I assured him we'd keep the monitor up for another week and try again next weekend.

The other big adventure in Drew's Growing Up Saga is potty training. The boy clearly knows how to use his potty. He clearly understands what it's for. He just has never seemed interested beyond the occasional foray into the world of potty training once every month or so. Until this morning. He came into our room, naked from the waist down, holding his diaper aloft, and amenable to using his potty. Momma was in the shower, so Daddy got the honor of overseeing this excursion. Drew got a sticker for his grand accomplishment.

I followed this up by asking whenever I took a break from the DDJ if Drew needed a trip to the potty. Over the course of the morning, he went two more times after I asked if he needed to. Both times, his diaper had already gotten a bit of action, though, so it's clear that Drew isn't quite on top of telling me when he has to go before he actually goes. But three times in one morning is monumental progress. I have high hopes for this afternoon. The stickers as inducement ploy seems to be working well all of a sudden.

Or maybe this is just his way of compromising with us to keep that monitor safety net in his room longer. I'll gladly keep that monitor on for another couple of months if it means he'll get on the potty training ball.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Post-novel Ennui: The Fun that Keeps on Giving

So while finishing my novel didn't feel like a momentous occasion when it happened, or even for the two days following, it's certainly been affecting my life since then. For a while there, I had a hard time summoning up the energy to care about anything that didn't involve me doing nothing. I pushed working on my newsletter until Wednesday evening, which really made today and yesterday fun to get it finished. I'm saved from feeling fully guilty about that, though, as I just got the last thing I needed to put in the newsletter today, so even if I had been on top of the ball, the thing wouldn't have been finished until today.

So that's why things have been so silent around here. They may continue to be, I don't know. As it is, all I can provide right now is a link, but it's a good one.

In case you've missed it, Paris Hilton smacks down McCain as she announces her "candidacy" and even presents her platform (a smart energy plan and painting the White House pink). Too bad she's too young; we could've had a woman prez next year after all.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Just Chillin'

I've been on break since I finished the draft on Thursday. Well, not really. I had to work for over six hours on Friday, which is the day I usually take off. And there's the usual errands and house chores to tend to on any given weekend. But in the writing sphere, I've taken a grand total of thirty minutes to do my outline-after-the-fact of the last two chapters I wrote as well as sketch out the various topics I want to read up on in this downtime along with the potential problem areas that jump out at me. I'm still too close to really get good info for either of those last two points. In mid-August, I'll review my after-the-fact outline and my sketch of how I think the first part should go and kick start my brain. Mostly I just want to get a good overview of this book as a whole so the subconscious can kick some ideas around in the latter part of my break from the book.

But this means I've avoided the computer except to check email. Thus, no blogging. That's something that might hold for August as most of my short fiction work is revising paper copies, not a lot of sitting in front of the computer work.

Besides, it's nice to give myself a break, not be forced to take one becuase my health is in the gutter or default into a break because I'm procrastinating. Plus, gave me a chance to see The Dark Knight with Mark last night. Fantastic movie that I'm really digging on a writing level in addition to it just being a good movie. I'm already starting to pull out neat themes and arcs that tie in nearly flawlessly with the first movie, and I know more's going to click after I see TDK again (which will likely have to wait until the DVD).

In fact, I'm so digging this break concept, that I haven't even started working on the RWA newsletter like I had originally promised myself I would do this weekend. Kind of gave up on that idea this morning and just acknowledged that I needed to give myself some true downtime to just goof off. So I played more Final Fantasy X. Feels good to goof off.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Deadline, I Have Defeated It

At approximately 106.5 K words, I now declare the first draft of THUMB complete. To say that I am proud of myself is a vast understatement. I wrote 3,191 words tonight to finish this draft. I wrote 16 K over the course of the past two weeks to meet this deadline. I pushed myself through severe joint pain and fatigue, through an arm that liked to go numb, and the more standard laziness and procrastination. I got sick of letting my health rule me, and so I ruled it and am not the worse for the wear, though I am going to sleep very, very well tonight.

As a treat, I'm going to order a full bottle of Namaste from BPAL and have fun with whatever samples they send me. And also the Month of Short Fiction will be a welcome change of writing scenery in which I hope to ready a minimum of three pieces for submission. The problem of THUMB will camp out in my brain somewhere and start picking apart all the tangles and knots and sort through the general mess that is this first draft. I will leave this camp alone and let it do its thing.

It feels very good to have now two complete novels to my name.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From the School of "Consider the Audience"

Via John Scalzi, I read Orscon Scott Card's latest screed against gay marriage. It should be noted that I have never read any of OSC's books, and that the manner in which I hear his name these days goes something like this: "Great writer, pity about the politics." (With varying degrees for "great" and "pity" and all manner of descriptors for "politics.") Through all of the mentions of the politics, though, it never sunk in that OSC is LDS. Boy howdy, it's sunk in now.

From the portion of his rant in which he decries the deplorable state of marriage today (admittedly as created by heterosexuals themselves):
Men routinely discard wives and children to follow the nearly universal male biological desire for diversity in mating. Adultery is now openly expected of men, even if faithful wives deplore it.

While there was much in the way of head-scratchery and eye-rolling and whatnot in the text, I actually did a double-take at this point. Didya see how it's all apologetic about male infidelity? Kinda excusing it whilst railing against it? I suppose that's the sort of comment one can expect in a cultural niche still rooting out the last vestiges of its once widely accepted and encouraged practice of polygamy.

Then OSC really ramps up the rhetoric and gives a foamy take on "them's fightin' words" that is so over the top that it makes me wonder if perhaps he's writing for an audience of Mormon separatists living on a stretch of land in Montana. I skimmed over it mostly because the rant had gone on just a tick too long for me to keep my "This wrong-headedness is so wrong as to be laughable" attitude. But I paid enough attention to catch this gem:
Biological imperatives trump laws.

Another double-take. Particularly as that previous quote was still fresh in my mind. I asked myself, "Did I really just read someone lay down the groundwork to re-establish polygamy? Even as he decried adultery as destructive of marriage, a sacred union between one man and one woman?" But as I considered the whole further, it strikes me more as another apologist stance toward polygamy itself. As in, yeah, sure, we can't do it anymore by our own church's teachings, but, hey, it wasn't really all that wrong in the first place; can't fight biological desires/imperatives.

Good thing OSC offered a quick parenthetical dismissing all of the current research demonstrating that sexual preference has a rather significant basis in genetics.

This logic, 'tis all twisty. I think I'll stop trying to follow it now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Process Examination #23: Lights, Camera....Uh, Where's the Set?

Last week I threw my writing skills against a chapter for what felt like an eternity. Every night I would sit down and tell myself that I would finish the thing. And every night I would shut down the computer after having written another 4 pages that extended the chapter instead of bringing me to the concluding action sequence. It drove me nuts and made me wonder what the heck I wasn't getting right.

At first I thought it was a problem with writing action. This seemed a very plausible theory. Writing action requires a detailed knowledge and understanding of your characters, the story so far, and the setting. Plus, I wanted to get the action as right as possible for this draft because it would be hard to know if a sequence that essentially went "and then this happened, then that, then this other thing..." actually served the story I was writing or just served the purpose of finishing the friggin draft.

So I gave myself a pep rally, reminded the left and right brains that I can write crap, and plunked myself down Sunday afternoon, determined to finish a chapter that was already long at over 4K. And I discovered that as soon as my MC described the room she was in, the rest of the chapter flowed very very well. Turns out visualizing the surroundings was holding me back. Wrote 2K in two hours to round out the chapter at a shocking 6.5K. Yeah, probably will need to break that into two chapters in revisions, assuming it stays in the book in any recognizable form.

To further prove the point, yesterday my vague outlines for the next chapter featuring the MC crystallized once I sketched out the area of the antagonist's ship in which it occurred. Now the only thing holding me back is plot and backstory details, knowing what three characters were doing before the MC busts into the room with a goon hot on her trail. I know essentially how I want those three characters to interact once my MC is in the room, but I want to know what they have to transition from to get there. That will certainly make it easier to start writing this next chapter.

By the way, I have only the denouement to write after this chapter, and that's already well sketched. I'm thinking I'll definitely meet my July 31st deadline. Go me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Drew's Current Concept of a Higher Power

It started several months ago. Drew took notice of the air conditioner and heating vents in the ceiling of our house and in various buildings. This in and of itself is not strange. The fact that he, in one particularly memorable visit to the doctor for him, thinks that there's a dog trapped in the ventilation that he needs to help is fairly singular.

"Help brah." He said it over and over again, pointing to the vent in the little exam room we were in. I tried to reason this by saying there wasn't a dog up there. He persisted. I tried to explain that someone else was going to help the dog, that we couldn't do it from there. This mollified him, but he kept a decent amount of attention on that vent.

A week or so after that, he grew fascinated with the vents in our house, and Momma had to help the dog in our ventilation system by touching the vent with a vacuum cleaner attachment that Drew likes to use as a sword. Drew's favorite game for a couple of days was ordering me around the house, pointing to each vent, and saying, "Help brah!"

I didn't think much of this beyond labeling it quirky until Drew started consistently saying that a dog was going to stop the rain or the wind or the clouds. "Brah stop sound."

We don't have a dog. He sees dogs on a regular basis because my mother and my brother have dogs. But these dogs do not accomplish amazing feats such as controlling the weather. I really have no idea where he got the idea or how he formed the concept that a dog is wandering through ventilation systems, managing the weather. It's very unique, aside from all that joke about the dyslexic agnostic pondering the existence of a dog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gary Stu Transcendent and the Question of Fiction Categories

Based on anecdotal evidence1, the vast majority of Americans, when they do manage to pick up a book, read for the pleasures of escapism, to live vicariously another life. But they are looking for a specific set of qualities in that other life: power, success, confidence, vast intelligence, admired by all, attractive to the opposite sex2, and single-handedly saving the day (or playing the most substantial role in a set of people saving the day). There is a character that serves this purpose in spades: Mary Sue, assuming she's written "well." When written poorly, the Mary Sue experience is best described by Teresa Nielsen Hayden as follows:
A Mary Sue story is the literary equivalent of opening a package that you thought would be the new jacket you ordered on eBay, only it turns out to contain a poorly-constructed fairy princess costume made of some lurid and sleazy material. It’s tailored to fit a human-size Barbie doll, not you; and when you hold it up to the light, you can see the picked-out stitchmarks where someone else’s name used to be embroidered across the bodice. The dress has been used but not cleaned, and appears to have last been worn during a rather sloppy romantic interlude.

In order to write Mary Sue well, the serial numbers must be filed off just enough to serve a large chunk of the American book-buying population. The physical description of the character, while sufficient to make members of the opposite sex swoon, must be generic enough to be Everyman. The character's job or hobbies must be whatever popular culture considers vogue. The homelife must be supportive or, if there are problems, they must not be the character's fault, and the character must be doing everything humanly possible to resolve the problems. The conflict must always be external: Big Bads mucking things up for the hero. It is essential that the character not really be a character at all, but a flexible outfit that the reader can easily don and move around in without any chafing from rough seams or itchy tags.

In essence, to write a Mary Sue story well, one must transcend the entire purpose of the phenomenon and write not self-insertion stories, but reader-insertion: a choose-your-own-adventure story without the use of the 2nd person voice and conventions of choosing options. This is not exactly easy because human creatures are inherently selfish. We go right to the most cliched of Mary Sue stories when we first start writing: we are seeking that escapism, that world in which, by golly, we are the most important being. Our minds make us the heroes of our own life stories, so naturally we create stories that indulge that. And every slushpile and fanfiction archive groans under the weight of those smelly, used fairy princess costumes.

But we mock and deride Mary Sue. We laugh at her, at the obvious and often grotesque display of someone else's particular ego indulgences. For those of us who don't read for escapism (or at least, not solely for that), and for those of us who write for a story that doesn't serve only to launch ourselves out of our own daily grind and disappointing experiences, we find her in popular culture and roll our eyes. I'm beginning to think we shouldn't. We may be lumping the successful character suit with those soiled fairy princess outfits. The former serves a purpose that millions of Americans pay good money to experience. The latter is the amatuer conflating the experience with the purpose. It's important to sift through those lurid, well-worn costumes. Teresa gets at this herself:
(Someday, not today, I’ll tell the story of how, years ago, Joanna Russ and I used Star Trek fanfic as a sort of Rosetta Stone to decipher recurrent themes and motifs in fantasy and SF written by women. It’s often easier to see underlying patterns and mechanisms in amateur fiction than in slicker commercial work. This started when Joanna identified and described some recurrent narrative motifs she’d spotted in the Trek slash of the day, of which the inverse relationship between incidence of explicit sex and liebestod denouements was the most obvious and least important. There was much more to it. She laid out her entire description; and I, considering it, said “Which is not to say that The Left Hand of Darkness is a specimen of Star Trek slash fiction.” Joanna’s jaw dropped, and we stared at each other in wild surmise. The patterns not only fitted; they explained some otherwise inexplicable plot twists in that novel. We were on to something. And—hey! What about thus-and-such story by Zenna Henderson? And that one by Leigh Brackett? And so forth and so on, ever onward. For the next few weeks we were stoned on literary theory and the codebreaker’s buzz of seeing a seemingly knotty puzzle resolve into plaintext.)

There's a lot of festering humanity in Mary Sue stories. A treasure trove of psychological profiles and cultural trends. This is why they fail as written works, though. They are not stories with characters and conflict and arcs and resolution (genre fiction). They are not clever essays on language and human nature (literature). They are not plot routines for a character suit (popular fiction). They are little more than journals, generally of use only to the author for purposes of entertainment.

At this point, I almost feel compelled to apologize for every snide remark I ever made about Jack Ryan, popular fiction's most successful character suit, Gary Stu Transcendant. I held him in contempt because I decided to hold my reading needs as superior to those of others, while also discounting the purpose behind him. People need that safe haven to shed their existence and don someone else's and experience the euphoric rush of winning big against impossible odds. Some people prefer to fold that need in with other things. Some people don't want that need at all because they'd rather take all the lumps of their own life head-on.

So that is how I shall endeavor to look at book categories and Mary Sue stories. Popular fiction is not trying to tell a story, it's trying to provide the reader with a vicarious experience of another life. This is something that can happen in genre fiction, but is more often than not not the primary purpose. And literature attempts to examine language and humanity, often without the use of a story. Neither method of fiction is better than the other, they only serve different functions. However, within each function, you have a broad range of authorial ability to serve those functions, and some categories are more predisposed to publish the lesser examples than others. For example, a chafing Gary Stu suit is still likely to make a lot more money than a poorly realized genre story or a failed language experiment.

What brought on all of this philosophical musing? The experience of picking up what I expected to be a good space opera (genre fiction) and instead discovering I was being presented with a character suit and asked to dance around in it as the plot moved along. Yet this author is very popular and even escapes from the genre ghetto every now and then to the "validity" of the bestseller lists. This was a thing that made me go, "Hmmm." And, thus, a blog post was born.

1. What, you were expecting something more empirical? From a blog?
2. This is a reflection of the fact that the majority of Americans if not are then at least choose to identify as heterosexual.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Writing Lesson Mirrors Life Lesson

One of the first things I realized when I started examining my process was that I had to write down my musings, no matter how far from the mark they were. I also realized I needed to review said musings every now and then, keep the memory of those paths taken (or not taken) fresh to keep the story clear in my head.

Thus, I shouldn't have been surprised that, when I went to journal my recent "being a mom is HARD" frustrations, I found in the previous entry from two months ago analyses of the same insanity my mind is dishing out now along with affirmations to kick said insanity to the curb. Should've been reading my journal. Should've typed out those affirmations and kept them up for regular viewings (which is what I did upon seeing them again).

I'm sure this is not the only way in which the application of writing wisdom will be useful outside of writing. In fact, I should probably think about that some and maybe, I dunno, journal through the possibilities. Incidentally, the reason why I need to notebook explains why the concept of my journals as memoirs to be handed down or published drives me batty. My journals exist to remove all filters, to sort through the morass of stupidity that is my right brain and my left brain trying to find common ground. The handwriting is going to vary between neat and painful even to a doctor's eyes depending on the severity of the junk trying to purge itself. My journals are the worst of my rough drafts.

I don't really have a problem with someone reading these thoughts and musings, though I would prefer to be dead and gone should that happen (I'm much too steeped in my middle class/air force brat upbringing to want to shed all polite fictions of appearances as I live and breathe--right now, anyway). I have a problem with someone reading those journals as if they told a story with any sort of narrative thread. Because they don't. They never really pretend to. That's not to say that there aren't threads in there. They're just cut up into lots of pieces and scattered all over the place. I'm not sure I could go back and link things together, let alone an outside reader.

That's part of the reason why life can get so frustrating, though. It's such a bad rough draft, and we're creatures who crave coherent stories.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Process Examination #22: PLOT!

I am looking at anywhere from two to four chapters remaining in THUMB. My current word count is at about 93K. I could conceivably finish this draft this week, and by the end of the month looks imminently doable. Part of my brain is already trying to map out the bumps and scrapes that need to be smoothed and schelacked; the other part is hamster-wheeling these last few chapters to wring out as much plot as possible to tie it all up into a complete draft.

The vague ideas and hazy outlines of these chapters will no longer suffice. I have to get down to the details and step through a viable course that carries the characters to a resolution that I might have even set up in a chapter or two way back at the beginning. I'm tugging at all sorts of half-remembered threads from Act 1, retconning shamelessly some events in all previous acts, referring to things that I know will easily fit into previous chapters but aren't there as yet. Every trick I can muster to make the plot two-step its way to The End.

There is no discovering what happens as I write at the moment. No, now I'm discovering what happens as I notebook and block the scenes. The characters have had their chance to surprise me. Now they must submit. For the most part, they're cooperating. As I've said before, this process for me is all about finding a common language between the right and left brains to tell a story. The characters have been a part of that, they know that there's a lot of work to be done and that just finishing the simple "who does what next and how" quickly will get everybody fully on the same page so the real heart and soul of the story can get hashed out.

(As a very interesting aside, my brain kicked out the notion that this story isn't the flogging of family matters that I thought--or, at least, that's only the most obvious thing going on and may not be the most significant. Last night my brain started going off about the Singularity and how I think it's not going to create a world unfathomable to us. Rather, the Singularity is going to get absorbed the same way all technological advances have been and humanity will chug right along in much the same way, just with neat-o tools and tech because today's laws and economies aren't equipped to deal with humanity evolving past our current boundaries, even if the tech might one day exist to do so. Or something like that. Could be just a lazy way around explaining why my story can have tech that allows for cloning and consciousness transfer, but is just Big Business in Space. That's what the Month of Short Fiction is for, to let wacky ideas like that stew and fester and, you know, develop into something I can actually type coherently and with a straight face.)

It's actually rather nice to be able to look at various methods of accomplishing what needs to be accomplished for each scene in the notebook stage and having all the info at my fingertips to compare and contrast those methods. I think it's something that, for me, I can only accomplish after achieving familiarity with the story in the course of the draft. To do so before writing any words feels arbitrary to my process.

Still, I am taking notes on how I'm outlining these last few scenes, how I'm notebooking the various ways everything can shake down. It's very possible that I'll figure out a way to do more advance planning earlier in the draft game by paying attention to what I'm doing now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Everyone Needs a Blanket

Drew, like most kids, has a blanket that has been with him through thick and thin since he first got into the world. It's eased him to sleep, served as a familiar element in the new world of daycare, and comforted him when even Momma's kisses couldn't make a boo-boo vanish completely. He's gone through phases of needing this blanket in his grubby hands every single second of the day. He's also gone long stretches of time only looking for it when he sleeps. Regardless, it symbolizes instant comfort and peace.

Thus, the Drew Monster has decided he must share the amazing healing powers of blankets. We collected quite a stash of blankets over the course of Drew's time as an infant. They came in handy as the sustained cleanliness of a baby and surrounding apparel is a variable quality depending on several input/output factors. We've kept all his blankets folded neatly in the bottom drawer of his dresser, more for storage purposes than any real tendency to need them these days.

That changed a couple of months ago when Drew discovered how much fun it was to empty said drawer. But soon he wearied of simply strewing blankets everywhere. He decided to assign blankets to people. At first it was just Momma and Daddy who benefitted from Drew's Share the Blanket Love campaign. Now it's everyone he sees regularly. My mother has a blanket, as does my mother's boyfriend, as does my brother, as does my brother's dog. Drew doesn't feel the need to actually give the blankets to these folks. They stay in our house. But the blankets are labeled consistently to each person (or animal) and provide Drew with some extra measure of comfort that he is taking care of those who take care of him. It's a very interesting phenomenon to watch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not Dead Yet

The saga of my health is more frustrating than it is entertaining, but, hey, I don't want to neglect my blog. So here's an update on the exciting Medical Maladies of Kellie Hazell.

I did end up going to the doctor on Friday. I knew it was going to be a rough time when Drew refused to settle down at any point before my doctor actually came in. The roughness increased when I realized that my doctor was frazzled for reasons of her own and "interviewed" me and listened to my complaints by skimming through (out loud, at least, so I could try to interject more info) my history on the joint issues and the various reports from the orthopedic specialist and my physical therapist. Each time I took breath to interrupt her assertively and make her listen that I didn't think it was bursitis again (a diagnosis I think she might have made before she even opened the exam room door), Drew would act out and I would have to address him instead and the moment was gone.

The only really aware thing my doctor did was to forego a steroid injection in my shoulder as when they tried that with my hip back in January, my symptoms escalated to severe piriformis syndrome and a mildly numb leg. She gave me oral steroids instead and the same NSAID from the previous merry-go-round adventure in January. By that point, I was indifferent to the process and figured it'd be best to try out her preferred treatment and be able to rule out anything obvious. That was Friday night.

Saturday, I woke to worse joint pain than before and horrendously tightening muscles. I put up with it through the day, taking it easy as much as I could. On Sunday, I went looking for all sorts of information on the particular steroid I had been prescribed to examine all those fun side effects. Sure enough severe muscle tightening and joint pain were listed as major side effects. So I groaned a bit, but decided to troop through (as I had also discovered Sunday morning after delaying the next dose a couple of hours that going cold-turkey was going to give me severe headaches and other unpleasantness).

Then, last night, the right hip and shoulder pain (which had been non-existant before Friday) grew to levels almost too uncomfortable for sleep, and this morning became so severe that in order to just sit and work at the desk, I had to take the pain med. The pain med cut away the worst of the pain while leaving behind swelling in my knee that prevents me from straightening my leg and gives a nice tingling sensation below the knee. Oh, and have I mentioned the occasional shortness of breath and mild dizziness? So, yeah, going back to the doctor this afternoon. My doctor is out, though, so I'll have the benefit of starting fresh with someone new at the clinic. And I'll be leaving Drew to hang out in the pool with my mom so he doesn't distract the process.

I was trying to figure out what book I wanted to bring with me, as going anywhere by myself during the weekday is something of a novelty and a book would be useful. As much as I want to read anything by Robert Charles Wilson, the only book I have on hand is Blind Lake, which begins in the POV of a character who has snorted coke just to be polite over the course of a mostly anonymous one-night stand. I'm all for flawed, interesting characters and kicking someone to their lowest spots to watch them struggle to get beyond it, but I just don't have the patience for it right now. So I remembered I had Karin Lowachee's first book Warchild, and I thought that would be the perfect engaging read without presenting me with such a difficult POV right of the bat. Then I scanned the first few pages and saw they are in 2nd person POV (the "you went down a hall and someone shouted at you" variety). I went back to the TBR pile and snagged Kevin J. Anderson's Hidden Empire, which I had picked up when it was on sale for $2.99 (same way I picked up Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule). This is what I get for being a good reader and trying to cut through the TBR pile instead of buying new shiny books. I have nothing of reliable bubble gum (perhaps with surprising staying power) material on hand.

And, of course, it goes without saying that writing hasn't really been happening lately. Hard thing to do when your left arm has a tendency to go numb when kept in the typing position. No, my life has been reduced to a giddy anticipation for shopping in the brand new super grocery store that just opened this morning. I wish I were kidding, but I actually had moments of night-before-Christmas-squee last night while putting together a shopping list. I fear I have not kept my distance from the suburban mom mask. It has absorbed me. Beyond that, one of the highlights of the past few days has been listening to the audio commentaries of Psych Season 2 and anticipating the 3rd season beginning on Friday.

The glamour of my life: revel in it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Post-a-Rejection Friday

There was an internet skirmish involving someone posting a rejection to the 'net that got picked up for widespread outcry because it contained some objectionable language. This led to the author of said rejection letter complaining about the posting of said letter as poor nettiquette. Most of the SFnal writerly internet quarter took objection to this as the core of the substantive response to the outcry and made an effort to start a theme a la International Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch Day.

So, for purposes of solidarity, I post the sole rejection with feedback I have garnered. From Nick Mamatas of Clarkesworld:
Thanks for the story, but not for me. There was a lot of "top of mind" stuff in the early going: what would a politician watching tv drink except for Scotch? What would an engagement entail except for a huge diamond ring that had been passed down for generations? How could we not make out in an ol' Mustang? Where might one buy a bra but Victoria's Secret? As such, these characters don't live as anything other than cardboard cut-outs. Characters need to be individuated by their consumption patterns, their interests, their personalities. These figures are far too generic, and all the signifiers are generic as well.

Yeah, ouch, but not horribly so, not gratuitously so, and no evidence of a ethnic slur in sight. Plus, it got me thinking about the story and why I had used those signifiers. It's taken me about a year, but I finally figured out why I had that story set up the way I did. I hope I have the chops to pull off the revision (next month, after I finish THUMB) because it's a pretty fun thing I'm trying to do.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is That Full-grown Clone Option Viable Yet?

I hates my body. It hates me too. My left shoulder is in agony, and unless I hold my arm in a precise position, the damn thing gets all tingly, making typing a no-go (you wouldn't believe how long it's taken me to write this vs my normal speed). I can't even hold a book well to read, though I've managed a pillow prop set-up that seems to work.

And, of course, now that I've sat down at my desk, my left hip is bitching at me again.

I'm calling the doctor tomorrow to set up an appointment. This is ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chasing the Ghost

Ow. Very bad PT session today. My left arm feels mostly dead and my left leg is only slightly alive. Typing this hurts. So no writing for me tonight. And now, after trying to run down all the funky aches and pains in my body and some of them getting worse, I'm starting to think I need to go back to the doctor and make sure there's not something else going on that requires different treatment. The joint stuff is kind of scary, and it wasn't all that encouraging to hear my therapist today start asking me signs of stroke questions when I mentioned the regular left shoulder and hip weakness. Really, I do so enjoy seeking treatment for my various maladies. Nice to have my body's quirks addressed and resolved in so straightforward a fashion.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies, Andrew

We took the Drew Monster to see Wall-E last Thursday night. It was a bit of a last minute idea. We had originally planned to take him to a Sunday morning or early afternoon matinee in another week or two in order to get a less crowded showing that would give him the run of a whole row of seats for when he gets antsy. (No matter how engrossed he is with a movie, he simply can't sit still for the hour and a half of watching it. He has to find new vantage points, new positions to sit in, etc.) But the timing was right that Momma and Daddy needed a treat STAT, and Drewbie was amenable to a special treat as well, even if it meant keeping him a good two hours past his bedtime.

Drew's been to a grand total of three movies in the theaters, including Wall-E, but he still knew what building we were heading toward and what it meant. He was very excited to see a "rawb har tee!" (robot on the big TV). To the point where, after we swung by to pick up tickets before heading elsewhere in the shopping complex to grab dinner, he didn't want to leave the car. We were all set to go to Rubio's, his favorite restaurant (boy can devour their kid's quesedilla in five minutes flat), but Drew was so excited about the movie, that he didn't want to leave the car unless it meant going to the theater. So Daddy hopped out to buy dinner to go and we'd eat in the car.

The entire time Mark was gone getting dinner, Drew kept saying, "Daddy buy corn!" I hadn't heard him say "corn" before, and we haven't had a lot of corn with dinner lately, so I thought maybe he was talking about corn chips or corn tortillas, which were the only ways I could think he had hear the word recently. But after wolfing down dinner and heading into the theater, I went to get refill for free our popcorn bag from a previous outing, and darned if the Drew Monster didn't exclaim with delight that we were getting "corn!"

As for the movie itself, we all loved it. Mark and I won't mind letting the boy watch this one dozens of times in a row as soon as it's out on DVD. That seems to be the only way we can catch everything we miss by having one eye on Drew and one eye on the movie. We were disappointed not to see any sort of preview for Pixar's next movie (which might be Toy Story 3?) because of all the childrens movies we've watched, Pixar seems to be the only company consistently producing anything that can stand up under repeated viewings for adults as well as children. Shame, really. It shouldn't be that rare.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

4 Things on a Sunday's Eve

Felt like mixing things up instead of posting a routine progress summary (and I have nothing coherent to say for more than a few sentences at a gulp). Here's the odd smattering of thoughts as this week winds to a close.

1. Wrote 1,141 very painful words today, but at least I'm over the block of starting this big turning point chapter. My total word count is 86,865 (43,865). Chugging right along, no matter how much it hurts.

2. Found the squick in Carter's Sade essays. A quick bit of information that any parent of small children likely understands: most reading of shorter things like magazines and short stories is probably going to be happening whilst the parental unit is sitting in the dubious privacy of the bathroom, making use of the facilities. Thus, a discussion of how Sade's characters indulge in coprophagy is even more uncomfortable than it would be outside of said room. (For those of you not familiar with the term or rusty in your Latin, beware before wandering off to Google. The information you get could very well be NSFW.)

3. Found in the latest issue of Discover: evidence of the government's very twisted sense of humor. In the 50s, unwitting patrons of a particular west coast brothel were subjected to a secret governmental experiment involving LSD. The code name of this experiment? Midnight Climax.

4. And one last writing tidbit, I guess. I wrote a funny that probably won't make it to the final draft as it's tone is clearly grounded in this cultural moment and sounds out of place in a cultural moment 90+ years in the future: Barrett's charm could only be described as an acquired taste, but she found his current attitude on target for stupid awards the likes of which she'd never consider Barrett eligible. Hmm. Sorry if that was one of those "you had to be there" things.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Am Now Hooked on xkcd

I've enjoyed wandering through, found much of the webcomic entertaining. But I was waiting. Waiting for the panel that absolutely did me in. A few came close, but I wanted to be completely seduced.

Wish granted.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Progress: It's Bad, But It's a Chapter

Man, the draft is getting way rough in the end here. But it's still progress and I'm now well under 20K left to write. Definitely doable in this fine month of July. I'm rather bummed about it, but I had to push my deadline back to the end of July. I had hoped to make this month the Month of Short Fiction, but it looks like August is going to have to have that title. Oh well.

Deadline: July 31, 2008
Today's Words: 1,437
Total words: 83,917 (40,917) I think, anyway...forgot to write that down and the program is closed, too lazy to boot it back up

Musical stylings: Ion
Munchies: The remainder of my egg salad from lunch with crackers.

Mean Things: Cryptic messages from the MC's best friend; forcing said BFF to sit ship with her love interest to serve as bait (don't worry, they'll get over it in a hurry, but that's next chapter)
Placeholder of the day: Not quite a placeholder, but the chapter is really a lot of exposition of the "hey, let's all sit around and discuss the badguys next move and how we think we can avoid it" variety. Just talking heads. Will need to address this in revisions.

Amusing Tidbit from Kellie's Day: Drew is real keen on this concept of "fireworks." Little guy can even say the word very very well. He just doesn't quite get that he has to wait for the sun to go down.

Physical therapy contortions: I got The Lecture last week because I'm not doing my stretches and exercises at home. I'm trying to find a good time to do this that doesn't take away too much of my writing time, but it's hard, mostly because the best time is right before bed after I've done my writing, but that's usually when my body is protesting the most, thus making the idea of further straining the poor thing unwelcome. But things are actually getting worse than they were, so I obviously need to make an adjustment somewhere. Silly goofy joints.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Scattered Thoughts on Reading Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber

I've had this collection of Carter's short stories and her book Love in my TBR pile for a while. I picked up The Bloody Chamber when I was doing research on the Interstitial Arts Foundation, particularly to figure out if my writing would be a match for their anthology. (Boy, howdy, not only was Carson's Learning just an unbelievably bad product once I was finished revising, it was also dripping so horribly with commercial fiction's lesser points that I will be shocked, shocked I tell you, if I learn that the poor IAF anthology sub readers got past the first page.)

I enjoyed the collection, though some of the stories struck me with that depressingly familiar head-scratching confusion I often get when I read short fiction. Each story is a retelling/re-imagining of a fairy tale or folklore trope. I could follow and enjoy the fairy tales much better than the folklore, most often due to the focus on wolves and werewolves. I never did get interested in that much, so I found myself lost in some of those stories.

Regardless of this reader's unfortunate inability to parse everything she read, it was quite clear that Carter is a master wordsmith. In fact, I'll likely reread many of these stories just to get a sense of how she created everyday images in non-everyday terms as well as evoking the fantastic just as well. Also, the establishing of character voice in "Puss-in-Boots" is a very compelling reason for a reread. Lots to learn, oh yes.

I think my favorite story is "The Bloody Chamber," for which the collection is named. It's a retelling of the Blackbeard story, which I've somehow managed to read a few renditions of without really intending to do so. At its heart, the base story is about women being punished for their curiosity despite having been all but told to be curious by the punisher (if I'm remembering the various dissections and discussions right). The lightest reading of it I've found is an erotic twist in which Blackbeard subjects his wife to a dungeon scene for exploring his naughty room. There is no death and no real pain or fear in that one.

Carter's "The Bloody Chamber," however, is very different, but it still keeps the kernel of the myth at its heart: the role a woman plays at the whim of a powerful man, including relinquishing her life into his hands. One detail of this story that my brain keeps dragging out to examine and seek more from this story is that the woman, a pianist, eventually starts an affair with the piano tuner Blackbeard has hired. From the moment of the consummation of their affair, the woman (in narration and in dialog) no longer calls the man by his name, she only calls him "my lover." In fact, he is one of only two characters who is ever named outside of their title or their relationship to the narrator. I find this fascinating and a brilliant tie-in to the themes of roles and selfishness and self-discovery the story employs.

A juxtaposition that caught my eye and worked to the detriment of one story and the enhancement of the other was the order of the two Beauty & the Beast retellings. The first, "The Courtship of Mr. Lyons" was fine, and I enjoyed it well enough, particularly how it twists the tale in on itself and almost has Beauty trap the Beast as such and possibly doom herself to the same fight through the sins of self-absorption and narcissism, exactly what got the Beast in so much trouble himself. But then I read "The Tiger's Bride," and the manner of that retelling of the same tale was far and above the better of the two that I can't help but think of "Courtship" as a light, fluffy story that doesn't really do much beyond a clever writer's trick.

The collection became a challenge for me, though, once I started "The Erl-King." I couldn't place the parent text. And the last line just thoroughly confounds me. Maybe I'll read something later that will clue me in. And then came the Snow White story "The Snow Child." I could offer a couple of readings on it, but they are so inextricably linked with my own particular experiences and viewpoint that I'm not sure they even approach the authorial intent, let alone the accepted literary wisdom. (Note to self: actually read some Carter litcrit soon.) The collection ends in a series of stories that run vampire-werewolf-werewolf/Red Riding Hood-werewolf/vampire/Alice in Wonderland set that, as I mentioned above, gets decently far away from my interests and background knowledge for me to comment much beyond, "Yes, good story, that."

A couple of tiny details I picked up on that I hope were intentional, but if not were beautiful accidents: the heavy use of the word "somnambulism" and its kin, and the tie-back toward the end of the last story to the first story with the use of the phrase "the bloody chamber."

I'm working my way through my mother's copy of Carter's The Sadeian Woman, a collection of non-fiction about the Marquis de Sade (which manages to be scintillating instead of squicky), and there is that copy of Love still sitting in the TBR pile that I'm looking forward to reading. I'm not sure I get the "interstitial" label that the IAF in particular is keen to give Carter, but most of my reading since the CL debacle has informed me that my idea of insterstitial is far too heavily grounded in commericial fiction to mesh with theirs.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Finding the Tell

Satire is a tricky thing sometimes. It can be so subtle that otherwise intelligent people can't find the clue for the right reading and go a bit kookoo thinking that what they're reading (or watching) is meant to be serious.

I first encountered this phenonmenon with the movie True Lies. I was around 16 when I saw it, and watched the first fifteen or twenty minutes through a standard action movie with amusing sidekick moments filter. Thus I was a bit perplexed by Charlton Heston's over the top, eyepatched spy boss character. However, once Ahnold chases (on horseback) the Big Bad (on a motorcycle) up to the roof of a building, I was beginning to suspect that there was an eye wink I had missed. Then when the Governator tries to get his horse to jump from one rooftop to the next in pursuit of the badguy, I finally got the joke. True Lies is no standard action movie with big stunts and crazy special effects. It's a satire of same, designed specifically to show the rediculousness of the genre. I started paying attention to the feedback of the movie and realized that critics bemoaning the film's lack of believability so did not Get It.

Looking back on that experience, I realized that the first tell that the movie is satire can be found in the title: True Lies. The second was the parenthetical "perfect Arabic" in the subtitle explaining Arnold had escaped a guard's attention by claiming to be lost while desperately seeking a Water Closet. I was young, though, and not accustomed to a big-budget product being something other than its obvious packaging. But I was hooked on this concept ever since watching that movie, particularly when it comes to satirizing action movies, a mainstream flogging of the Gary Stu phenomenon that puts even the most inane self-insertion fanfiction to shame. (Don't get me started on the Jack Ryan movies, let alone the books.)

Some movies are going to be obvious, moving from satire into baldfaced parody (see all the Austin Powers movies). Some will, like True Lies provide early tells but front as the Real Deal. Finding those first few tells is vital (for Shoot 'Em Up, it was the protagonist killing a bad guy with a carrot to the jugular; for Wanted, it was the fact that a society of weavers--no shit, weavers--had formed a fraternity of assassins) for the best experience of the movie or book.

Then there are a subset of books and movies that are so exaggerated that you think it must be satire, that you've found tell after tell--only to realize that it's likely meant in all seriousness. For example, I'm still unsure about Independence Day as action satire because there are just enough moments in which the movie takes itself seriously to confuse the issue. Sometimes, over the course of a first exposure, you can determine without a doubt that you are not reading satire but Serious Genre Fiction. This was my experience with Ghost by John Ringo. I went into that book not knowing anything about the author or his previous books. I laughed my way through the first third of the first act, thinking it was superb satire to the pain of parody at points of a particular mindset. But when all the other characters played straight-faced along with the protagonist's thinking, I realized I wasn't reading satire, and I stopped laughing. (But I kept reading, mostly due to a "deer-in-headlights" way. See this review for more on this topic.)

On-line essays are a real bear in the satire navigation department. With a book or a movie, you have a lot of extraneous information to provide supporting evidence of a tell or non-tell. In a blog post or comment, all you have are words. No soundtrack or scenery, no cover art or genre placement. Just words. So when someone goes on a tear about an issue, using heightened rhetoric and overstretched arguments and logical two-steps, it's hard to tell if it's real or satire. In these cases, reading becomes an exercise in finding the tell of truth rather than the tell of satire.

For example, the comment by John C Wingate in this round-up of opinions about the most recent gender bias in SF kerfuffle (you'll need to scroll down to the 7th commenter) had some very astute readers considering his words in a satirical light at first, only to headdesk when they realized, to Wright, truer words were never written. My satire radar is not very sophisticated when it comes to on-line essays and rants, so I read it at face-value only seeing their comments about potential satire afterward. Then I went back to see if I could find the tell of truth.

I thought it might be this:
For example, my writer-wife, L. Jagi Lamplighter, has not sold the same number of novels to date as have I. She took some years off to raise our children. I am also older than she, and started writing earlier. Likewise, if even a few woman authors take off a few years to tend to other duties, the statistical impact will be disproportionate. What can one do? Ask my very feminine and maternal wife, or women like her, not to like babies? Good luck with that.

That word "duties" made my AP English Rhetoric and Comp Spidey Sense tingle. It's hard for a feminist of any stripe to use such a word to describe child-rearing and housekeeping, even in jest. I thought "duties" would be a bit much for even the most subtle piece of satirical genius. But then that whole "not to like babies" bit is so over the top with rhetoric (and rife with the logical fallacy that, if women won't taking care of the babies, no one will), that I decided the piece could still be read as masterful satire at that point.

I settled on this as the tell:
There used to be a color barrier in baseball. But when Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, suddenly the managers of ball clubs found that they could no longer afford, could no longer financially afford, to exclude the pool of talent presented by the black athletes. A team who called upon a wider talent pool than its competition could, in the long run, outperform a team who restricted their talents to "whites-only."

So, I submit that there is a natural force in the free market, a profit motive, that makes prejudice of any kind too expensive to maintain in the long run. Talent will always prevail, eventually, because truly talented people never give up.

Because the example, if used and applied correctly--particularly in a stunning piece of satire--would then posit that, because we already have some women writers in the field, this prejudice (should it ever have existed) is already gone. We've broken the gender barrier. We've had our Brown v Board of Education moment and everything's now just a matter of talent. But he kind of skips that to go right for a "prejudice can't last in the free-market, because talent will out" mashup of logic that indicates to me he realized to so baldly state that any imbalance occurs because women just aren't as talented is impolitic, and changes his tactics to "well, dearies, iffin there is a problem, just be meek and humble and trust in the power of capitalism to set you free." That bit could be good satire, as well, but of a different sort than the one the original thread of logic was building on.

There comes a point, however, when faced with something so exaggerated yet genuine, that the piece becomes funny again. I couldn't get there with Ghost, but I got there with Wright's comments. The starving children in China homage ("In a world where women are stoned to death for wearing fingernail polish, complaints about lesser offenses sound shallow.") is particularly priceless.

(By the way, if you want some current numbers on gender representations in nearly every aspect of the SF field, look here.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Progress: I Has Some

Managed to squeeze 844 words out of me today on the new DDJ computer. It arrived yesterday, and I spent last night getting everything set according to my wants and needs. There's a couple of bugs trying to get worked out still, but it works and it's quicker than the last one. All signs point to better days in computer land.

I also managed some progress last week that I never posted, so my total word count is 81,957 for THUMB. This thing is nearly a finished draft. Go me. Oh, but the computer snarl set back my deadline again. Rather than run myself too ragged, I decided to hell with it and shoved the deadline back to July 31. I can do this. I WILL do this.

But now I must sleep.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Like a Fish Once Again

It took Drew a few trips to my mother's pool before he remembered how much he digs swimming. It was sad to see him stick to the first step into the pool and hurriedly hop out all together at the first mention of going in deeper. I was a bit concerned at this behavior as he loves his baths and has always enjoyed swimming before.

Within the past ten days, though Drew has regained his love of swimming. He's even experimenting with kicking his legs and moving his arms to motor around--though he has to have a grip on at least someone's finger despite the big floatie swimsuit thingy he wears.

Yesterday I was surprised at how eager he was to dunk his head fully under water. This was the limit of his swimming enjoyment last summer, so I didn't have hopes he would warm to it this summer, but he seems very insterested in going under. He doesn't like to do it often, but it's progress. Of course, nothing can top the glee he expresses when he bounds off of a ledge or step in the pool into someone's arms. That's his favorite water sport of the moment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The DDJ Computer Is Dead! Long Live the DDJ Computer!

The Dreaded Day Job-issued laptop was pronounced dead by my IT department at 0814 this morning. Turns out the funny clicking and beeping and buzzing I heard emanating from it yesterday, while it did not affect computer function appreciably at the time, was the harbinger of doom for the relic of a ThinkPad. The harddrive is kaput, the system can't find it anymore.

As was the case with my previous work laptop, I never stored anything on it for either work or writing, so nothing but some scenery pics I had kept forgetting to transfer to an external harddrive were lost. And I can access a decent amout of stuff via the web from our other home computer, so I'm not totally unable to work, more's the pity.

Of course, my bod took care of that by giving me some sort of funky inner ear issue last night that has finally worked its way past the dramamine I took this morning to deal with it. So I'm off to be anyway, grateful that Drew is napping, and that Mark should be home before El Boyo Diablo wakes up.

What a crappy day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Process Examination #21: The Home Stretch

I mentioned that, a few weeks ago, the last handful of chapters in THUMB popped out of my brain in a very vague outline. I was all set two weeks ago when I took time off from work to start the crazy dash to the finish line. And I did manage a good 5K words or more those few days. Then I seemed to lose a bit of steam. I think I've figured out my silly brain again.

Given that my first draft is all about finding a common language for my left and right brains on a particular story, it's unsurprising that the two halves of me will be in synch a bit more somewhere in the third act of the story (I use a four-act structure). That's about at 70K of story, and it makes sense that enough groundwork has been laid down in the draft that the left brain can finally understand a bit better the crazy talk my right brain is using to explain the story. The left-brain/right-brain dictionary (i.e. the first draft) is nearly done.

This is bliss for the left brain. At last, efficiency can take the lead and we can quickly finish the silly draft and start fixing the bloody thing to sell it and publish it and move that career forward, dammit.

The right brain is not as enthused. Afterall, the left brain is jumping ahead of her a bit. Sure, that control freak is getting it mostly the way she sees it, but she's not discovering the story any more and sharing it. And she can't start going through the rest of the draft to find threads that need polishing until the draft is finished because there's a chance something's still lurking there to surprise her, or that a particular way an event in the vague outline is set down will influence the best way to fix something earlier. In essence, the poor thing's bored.

Yes, my brain is so lovely. In the early part of writing a novel, the left brain is hyperfrustrated to the point that progress is often derailed to go back and make the opening "just right" or to stall a scene while researching precisely how ionic propulsion works or to grind forward momentum to a halt by asking logic questions regarding plot point feasibility and such. Meanwhile, the right brain keeps dragging the story along as best she can, working fast to deflect the left brain's issues and keep him engaged. In the later part of writing a novel, the right brain starts to lose interest while the left brain charges ahead with only the goal of "The End" driving him, not caring that he's leaving the creative half behind as he goes.

Just lovely.

(Brief aside: I wonder how much of my ruminations on my process are driven by being a Gemini. I've always tended to think of my self in terms of duality, just seems natural. Taking it to this extreme is a bit new, but still feels normal and not in any way crazy. Wonder what others less comfortable with Gemini's twin-nature think about this.)

The way to combat the early novel left-brain/right-brain combat was to convince the left-brain that the right-brain's way was more efficient in the long-run. To deal with the late novel battle phenomenon, I think I need to convince the right-brain that the left-brain is looking at the story from a completely different perspective that will probably surprise her (or at least entertain in its simplicity and/or ridiculousness). If she's waiting to see what the left-brain will do next with the story as vaguely outlined, she might be more willing to contribute her part to finishing the silly book.

I'm really looking forward to putting my revision process in terms of this left-brain/right-brain conflict. Now that they have a common language to use in discussing this story, nothing else can possibly go wrong, right? Heehee.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Veritable Verbal Volcano

El Boyo Diablo is more than making up for his tardiness in the speech department. Kid seems to add a word a day. Mark and I are constantly exchanging notes on words he surprised us with. Some words are very hard to understand, as Drew's pronunciation still leaves something to be desired, but most are quite clear. Regretably, he even played with two four-letter words while we were camping in one wince-inducing incident (he overheard them while Daddy struggled with a particularly frustrating step in the tent pitch process). Mark and I have been stepping up the awareness of our word use since then big time.

The Drew Monster is also having a blast with multiple word constructions. He's most comfortable in the two-word variety, but he's been doing three- and four-word combos more and more with occasional forays into the five-word constructions. The longer combos are usually along the lines of "No, my help goo (glue)!"

Of course, we still can't seem to get him to say "Please" or "Thank you." That combined with the fact that, for all his independence, he still has no further interest in potty training, leads me to belive that my son is a stinker who knows exactly what it is we ask of him and refuses because he thinks it's cute. Goofus.