Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

Life got nuts after my glorious Saturday. Budgets were mutilated and created anew. DDJ projects were ignored and conquered. Time was wasted and multi-managed. Parts of the house were cleaned and allowed to wallow in filth. Movies were praised and disparaged (the nuclear blast sequence in Indiana Jones was one of the most visceral images of warfare I've seen in a long while but, when pressed, I realized that the movie itself wasn't about plot, character, or action so much as it seemed to be an amalgam of all three that at least entertained more than it didn't). The Boy progressed and regressed (several new words have been added to the vocab, but he seems to be exploring the joys of frequent poopy diapers again). And...I've run out of "best of times, worst of times" ways to explain my hiatus from blogging.

I haven't written since Friday night, though the outlining and general focus on writing on Saturday makes me OK giving that missed day a pass. It's not that I'm blocked as the outline demonstrates. It's just that life got in the way. On the plus side, the reason I didn't write tonight is that I was busy tinkering with my various files and external harddrives and computer configurations to boost storage and music availability. I'm starting to get twitchy about not having written more this past three-day weekend, though, as I look at the looming deadline for my RWA chapter's June newsletter. So much for writing during Drew's naps this weekend. That's OK, though, as I would have used that time to revise PPR, but I'm not yet sure of how I want to proceed with the revisions. So the longer break from that project should serve me well. As for THUMB, I'm finishing the one chapter that's been dangling for a bit tomorrow night, come hell or high water.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

V. Good Day

6:22 Wake to The Boy handing me my blanket by shoving it in my face. First coherent thought: Nice of him to let us all sleep in this late.

7:30 Eat delicious bacon, egg & cheese bagel prepared by husband while I showered and dressed.

8:00 Grab a tall mint mocha chip frappucino just off the interstate. Keep the cool air flowing in and shiver a little in the dark gray 60 degree weather, but it feels like heaven.

8:55 Gas up in Tucson, Home of the Cheapest Gas in the US. Get ten extra cents off the gallon because of our grocery loyalty program thing. Feel ecstatic to be getting $3.49/gal. Beginning to think I rock.

9:10 Arrive at RWA meeting venue. Next to nobody there yet. Help get everything set up for the day.

10:35 Listen to excellent presentation on revising from a chapter member who writes in a similar "First Draft from Hell" organic fashion. Look forward to implementing some strategies while revising PPR in the near future.

11:07 Am crowned Queen of BIAW, our monthly program to boost output by reporting daily page counts to particpating members. Do the elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist wave and someone catches it on camera.

12:53 Listen to another excellent presentation by the 2008 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award winner Vicki Lewis Thompson (who is also a member of our chapter) on Dwight Swain's motivation-reaction unit. Am unsure of its appropriateness for drafting my novels, but think of using it to pick apart turning point scenes and such in upcoming revision of PPR.

2:00 Wander over to B&N with a few others for Gabfest. And gab. Feel human again in presence of like-minded adults. Revel.

3:45 Still gabbing.

5:45 Get call from Mark, not to hurry me home but to make sure I'm OK as he had expected to hear from me. Am stunned to learn of the time. Ask if it's OK to hang around for a few more hours yet. Mark proves he is Best Husband Eva by saying, "Have fun." Gab fest continues.

6:45 Move Gabfest to Macaroni Grill for dinner and more gabbing.

8:30 Part ways from fellow gabbers and begin The Voyage Home.

9:03 While driving again with cool desert-in-the-rain breeze blowing and listening to Aes Dana: Aftermath, figure out how the last eight chapters of THUMB will go in terms of who will be the POV char and what the overall story element will be for each. Am vague on details, but feel amazingly organized and ready to tear through Acts 3 & 4 to meet my June 30 deadline.

10:08 Arrive home and give Best Husband Eva a v. nice kiss before running back to writing room to jot down the v. vague outline of last eight chapters. Also blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reprieve? Or Foil?

A lovely storm system blew it's way in yesterday and today, dropping temps into the 60s and 50s and making for an absolutely glorious cool for us folks in the Valley of the Sun in late May. But for those Phoenicians looking to hike, camp, boat, or otherwise be outdoorsy this weekend, there's the problem of a nasty Friday and Saturday (and potentially Sunday) in the forecast. Monday should be perfect, just in time for people to pack back up and head home.

There's even a snow advisory in effect up around Flagstaff, which means the folks heading up to the Grand Canyon are in for something really different. I wouldn't be surprised if Mt Lemmon, the highest peak in Tucson's Catalina mountains and a very popular Memorial Weekend getaway spot, got a decent dusting of the white stuff. Same with the Chiracahuas and the eastern higher elevations. Lake Havasu might have escaped the worst of the weather, though, but it's going to be insanely crowded regardless.

My big plans for the weekend? Saturday I'm going down to Tucson for my RWA meeting, after which I shall congregate with some of the RWAers at a nearby Barnes & Noble for a gabfest. Sunday evening, Mark and I have booked my mom to baby-sit Drew after he's down for the night so we can catch a late showing of Indiana Jones. Any other time not accounted for above will be split between family time and writing time. I'm hoping to get some more good words for THUMB (I've made progress to the tune of 3500 words that I haven't reported) and do a read-through of the new and improved PPR (for which I wrote about 3000 words earlier this week to fix a broken sequence in the previous draft).

Oh, and I'm going to have the windows open wide each night and bask in the cool weather during the day as much as possible. Maybe we'll go for a family stroll around the mini-lakes in our development, something I wouldn't have thought we could get away with this late in May. I'm feeling a bit spoiled with this delay in the heat's onslaughtonset. It might make me a wee bit cranky come mid-July.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mixed Reading Signals

On the reading front, I made a bit of a vow to be better about actually working my way through my 85+ book To Be Read pile. I'm doing a decent job of it, I'd say, given my past performances in this area. I've only bought 6 books for myself this year, three of which I read within weeks of buying, thus only contributing 3 books to the TBR pile. Of the 16 books I've read so far this year, 9 were for a contest, 3 were the new-and-read-immediately I mentioned, and 4 have been taken from the TBR stack. Not quite the big numbers I was hoping for, but it's better than getting that TBR pile past 100, as the trends from previous years indicated I would do. Go me.

The current book I am reading is another selection from the TBR pile. It's the original uncut version of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land that my father gave me for my birthday last year (and I will finish it before my birthday this year, mark my words). I was somewhat concerned upon starting this book for two reasons: 1) my previous attempt at a Heinlein novel was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and the patois and story-telling style defeated me within five pages, and 2) most editorial cuts I am familiar with are made for very good reasons and most authors that want to see the original uncut make the light of day are too enamored with their precious babies stories to realize that the editorial cuts vastly improved the work. But I'm nearly 100 pages into the book with no problems as to patois and story-telling style, and the preface of this version indicated that most of the editorial cuts were for printing/economy reasons or toning down the shock-value. So far, so good. My biggest comment about the story so far is that it sure is inviting a lot of comparisons to Brave New World in my mind. And it's fascinating to read a book that envisions a future in which cameras are not omnipresent to the point where a high security/risk subject could be vanished from his hospital room without someone watching the rescue attempt live on closed-circuit. Seems almost quaint.

I've also been working through another selection from the TBR pile: a not-quite-recent Year's Best anthology that I picked up several years ago during a Book Warehouse liquidation sale. The first story of this antho was heralded as an instant hard SF classic complete with fast-paced action, remarkable characterization, good&plenty technospeak, and vivid imagery. So imagine my surprise when the story started out with a flashback in a flashback embedded with infodumping, characterization by telling rather than or in addition to showing ("X was a greedy man" immediately preceeding or following words or actions that clearly demonstrate such greed), technobabble that would never be heard between peers in a particular discipline to the point where it sounded an awful lot like "As you know, Bob", and vivid imagery. I do not have high hopes for this antho. Good thing it's in the bathroom.

But the oddest mixed signal I got arrived in the mail yesterday. It was the 85th Anniversary edition of Weird Tales. I could think of a couple of ways in which this managed to get to me, seeing as how I didn't order it nor am I a past subscriber (thought I've been interested in picking up a copy at the bookstore). The mag's distributer/parent company (I really should figure out how these things work), Wildside Press is also the company responsible for Fantasy magazine, for which I did buy a subscription in late 2006 but never received an issue (I tried to rectify this once or twice via email, but didn't get a response; not sure if I had a bad email addy or what), but that likely would've put me in a customer database for promotions such as this (I'm assuming it's a promotion to send out extras of the special Weird Tales as the mag is still rather new in its reincarnation; word of mouth, you understand). I believe I also bought a book via Wildside Press (Carnival, if I'm not mistaken), so they could have me in a customer database that way as well. Still, I'm quite happy to have received the magazine as it's one I've actually been interested in picking up--unlike the other two mags Mark and I recently received gratis.

For the past several months, I've been receiving Field & Stream. I have no idea how I got this subscription as I certainly never signed up for it, nor do I think most of my family and friends who might give me a free subscription would think I might be expanding my hobbies to include hunting and fishing. It had me a bit creeped out, honestly, when I first found it in my mailbox, wondering just who or what corporate entity had my info to use in such a fashion. I mean, as far as stalkerish things go, I'd take subscriptions to every single magazine under the sun over personalized letters or phone calls or close encounters of the crazy kind. But, still...*squirms*. The other magazine we recently received free was an issue of the brand-new Go from Outside, which is a mag we used to get so I'm not worried about how it came to us. I flipped through it and dubbed it a mag for the metrosexual who wants to play at being rugged and outdoorsy. Mark flipped through it and said, "Gah! At least with Field & Stream, I can learn something useful in case society collapses."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh, My Internets! How I Delight in Thee!

I read the blogs of editors not just because they are entertaining and wise in the ways of writing and genre, but also because they provide lessons in things that I manage to do right with respect to this whole publishing thing. Those lessons come in the form of demonstrating how other writers are making any goof I have committed seem about as significant as wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Nick Mamatas, editor for Clarkesworld Magazine, often shares cringe-inducing tales of Authors Behaving Badly, usually because they try to argue with his rejections.

In the perusal of the latest specimen, I managed to not only bask in the glory of having not stooped that low or screwed up that bad, but I also learned a new pretentious word (démésure) and discovered a great acoustic band:

That's three for the price of one. The internet, as they say, is full of things.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Splish Splash

It was a wet weekend for the Drew Monster. Saturday we took him up to the Arizona Science Museum in downtown Phoenix not two blocks from where Mark used to work. Drew had a blast running through all the exhibits designed specifically for little hands to manipulate. He pressed every button, fipped every switch, and never stopped smiling. We walked to the nearby Arizona Center for lunch, hanging out in the shade created by a gorgeous garden and eating pizza while El Boyo Diablo played in the wide open fountain with thirty or forty small water spouts. At first he just enjoyed moving through the water. Then he started to kick the water. Then, when he realized his shorts were soaked through, he bent over and attacked the water with his hands. As we didn't have a change of clothes in the diaper bag (silly parents, never thinking these things through), Drew rode home in just a diaper.

Sunday we sampled my mother's pool for the first dip of the season. At a refreshing 80degrees, the water was still a tad too chilly for Drew to feel much like venturing beyond the top step into the pool, but he had a blast on that step. Tuckered Momma and Daddy right out along with him and worked up the biggest appetite we've seen in quite some time. Boy didn't stop eating once we got him into the car after our swim.

So while the weekend was wet, it was intentionally so, and a gallon of fun. An excellent way to deal with the first wave of highs breaking 100 degrees.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Flaw in the Blue=Boy, Pink=Girl Societal Rule

Before meeting up for dinner with Daddy, Drew and I were wandering around the mall, taking in the sights. Drew had a great time gasping with wonder and glee at all the store windows, no matter what he actually found therein. Anytime he saw something blue and pink, he would label the blue item "Mine!" and the pink item "Your!" Usually only shoes or sunglasses or such endured such labeling. However, this quirk of my son's proved entertaining when we came across one of those formal dresswear stores having a prom dress blowout. In one display sat two frilly, satiny, sequiny dresses, one in neon pink, the other in bright sky blue. Drew happily pointed to the blue one and said, "Mine!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Progress: What a Day

I knew the day was going to be different when I woke up at 5AM for the usual potty break and quick snack before the alarm goes off and found my son snoozing on a pile of blankets on the automan in the living room. He crawled back into bed with me for about 15 minutes, then wandered back to his room (refusing to let me escort him) to doze until closer to 6:30. My son, he is odd. Gets it from his father. See the amusing tidbit, though, for the other oddness of the day (regrettably, I can't foist this one off on Daddy).

Deadline: June 30, 2008
Today's Words: 970
Total words: 67,311 (24,311)
Musical stylings: More ambient stuff
Munchies: More cheddar rice cakes

Mean Things: Threatening to bring in the lawyers, more pompous patronizing BS, lashing out at friends because you can't thrash the one who deserves it
Placeholder of the day: More vague words about policy this and SOP that

Amusing Tidbit from Kellie's Day: I neglected to blog about this, but several weeks ago, I managed to lock Drew in the car in the Safeway parking lot in the 80 sunshine. I had tossed the keys into the diaper bag after shutting off the car and, on my way to get Drewbie out, I hit the powerlock on the driver door in what I can only explain was a brief flashback to the days when I drove around by myself and would lock the car on my way out the door. I flagged someone down to call the cops so they could either open the door themselves or dispatch a locksmith posthaste. I managed to keep my cool, and Drew seemed to be having a blast despite the car getting up into the high 90s (he kept saying "stuck!" over and over and laughing). Being surrounded by people willing to help and then the cops understanding the situation helped immensely. It was quick work getting the door open and, of course, once Drew was unbuckled, he wanted to run around and play inside the car for a bit as if the whole ordeal had been fun of the first order. I hugged him and laughed the thing off as best I could, making big plans to get spare keys made and so on.

Then today, it happened again, only in much less worrisome circumstances. And, of course, both Drew and I handled it worse. This time, though, it really was Drew's fault. We were getting into the car to go to my mom's for some swimming. Drew decided it would be fun to play in the car. He even got the keys in the ignition and started the car with a little help from me. AC on, music playing, I kept the door by his car seat open as he flicked the power locks on and off and pretended to drive. Eventually I got him into his seat and buckled in. I shut the door and went to the driver's side, only to find the door locked. And that's when it hit me: he had last power locked the doors before I corralled him, and now the car was sealed up tight with the diaper bag (read: my phone, and we only have cell phones, no LAN lines).

Feeling like ten times an idiot, I trotted across the street to get help, and had a grand ol' self-effacing time explaining what had happened, and that, silly me, six years of higher education never come in handy when you need it most, and you can only fight the blonde so much before it wins and so on. They lent me a phone and I called the same locksmith who got me out of this mess the first time.

Then the monster dust storm hit. Drew was fine, of course, sealed up in the car. With the car running, however, I had to keep the garage door open and deal with sand and grit blasting me. I would've ducked into the house, only Drew was very upset at being stuck in his car seat and listening to Tori Amos instead of watching Finding Nemo.

Well, suffice to say that, first thing tomorrow morning (well, not quite; running the car for a half hour without going anywhere and cranking the AC used up more gas than I had thought), Drew and I will wander to said locksmith and make several spares of this damn car key: one for the house, one for my mother, one for Daddy. This WILL NOT happen again. It's one thing to feel inadequate as a parent because of my own insecurities and issues with perfectionism. It's quite another to have evidence shoved under your nose twice in two months.

Physical therapy contortions: Still to come.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Progress: Three Updates in One!!!

I've neglected to post my progress for a few days, mostly because I was fall-over-tired by the end of each night's run. So here it all is in one chunk.

Deadline: June 30, 2008
Today's Words: 450 (+ 39 yesterday + 642 on Monday)
Total words: 66,341 (23,341)
Musical stylings: Various dark ambient music recently gathered from iTunes and Webbed Hand Records.
Munchies: Cheddar Rice Cakes

Researched via Quickie Wiki or the Google Boogie: Hawaiian names
Mean Things: An adminstrator with a stick up his butt getting called on it, and corrected in front of his direct reports
Placeholder of the day: "by docking with Hamilton Station, you agreed to abide by the Space Council's policies concerning departure procedures" That needs to be reworked to sound much more official and pompous and boring and legal-rific, so I will have to hunt down analogues in today's world at a later date.

Amusing Tidbit from Kellie's Day: Drew is all about band-aids lately (he calls them "help" for his "ows") and, unless I lock the bathroom door, will climb onto the counter and dig them out of the medicine cabinet. This means it's not unusual to find band-aids in unlikely places before I remember that said door is unlocked and rectify the situation. Apparently today Drew decided that a stain on the floor translated into an "ow" and necessitated a band-aid.

Physical therapy contortions: My joints are unhappy with me and my neck is kinked. I might give myself a pass tonight so I can sleep without whimpering.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Process Examination #20: Research is for Revisions

One of the points of entry for the vast amount of suck in my first draft of THUMB is the lack of research I've done for the book. Sure, I've looked up a thing or two here and there. I've spent a small amount of time getting to know the current thought and research regarding ion propulsion, but it's not nearly enough to do anything more than put vague references to things that could happen in the draft. And it's going to have to stay that way until I have a completed draft. Same goes for interior design, small business planning, medical technologies of various stripes, intellectual property laws, non-profit org formations, and so on. The draft is just going to have to keep on sucking as my characters talk in generalities and my narrative skips important details to get from Point A to Point B. I have accepted this.

Why would I knowingly commit Suckitude? Given the way I learn and given the way I write, trying to research the topics I need for the draft would mean I'd be researching for years. I am so eager to study new topics and really dig into them that I wouldn't be able to stop when I got the information I needed, mostly because I wouldn't know if I needed this piece or that piece or both, so better to understand fully each. I need to research from a less general "hmm, what about ion propulsion?" point and from a more specific "my ship needs to get from this station to that station in this amount of time and have this sort of problem that this character can fix" point. It's the same reason why I haven't pegged down whether the communicators my characters use are external cell phones, garment buttons a la Star Trek, or bio implants. I have a general sense of needing communication technology that is omnipresent, but the methodology is not integral to the story at the moment, and I don't want to waste three months poring over details about the feasibility of implanted cell phone tech if it turns out it's not necessary for the needs of the story and/or distracts from the story.

This first draft is all about getting the right brain and the left brain communicating. The draft is the only common language these two sides of me have at the moment for this story. While the left brain would love to hammer out all of the details for how the ship works and the nitty gritty of each character's daily grind, the right brain knows that such details may not be important or might need to change. And if there's one thing that the left brain understands loud and clear, it's someone pointing out an avenue of inefficiency.

What I'm trying to do, though, is log what I think I need to research as I go, indicating where knowing X detail would be great to insert it into page Y for a better story. This method also strikes me a as a great way to cut back on telling and maintain the effectiveness in showing, mostly because I don't have a glut of details to insert into a story as I create it. Instead, I'll have a bunch of patches to make and holes to fill in the story with specific details I will hunt down later. Much easier to keep the research organic this way. Or, at least, that's the impression I'm getting.

Stay tuned for the Process Examination post likely to come later this year when I start doing all this research. I wonder what I'll be saying about "research is for revisions" when I'm actually revising.

Monday, May 12, 2008

4 Drew Tidbits Make a Post

El Boyo Diablo has had a busy Monday so far.
  1. Drew decided today would be a great day to climb using stools and small chairs when Momma removed the standard stair-step devices he had been using. He demonstrated his prowess by taking a few pieces of my china down from a cupboard he usually avoids. Thankfully, Momma intervened before anything crashed to the floor.

  2. After realizing poking through Momma's dishes wasn't going to win him praise, Drew turned his attention to stacking his kiddie furniture in neat ways and at odd angles on the automan and proceeded to climb atop the unstable pile. Again, Momma intervened before catastrophe hit.

  3. While playing in his room when he should've been napping, Drew figured it would be neat to try a new trick with his dresser. He's been climbing on top of the thing to play with his monitor for a while now, but apparently that was just so boring today. He opened the top drawer of the dresser (all with extreme stealth so Momma didn't hear anything through the monitor) and sat in said drawer. Given that he is no longer a lightweight, the dresser pitched forward. A robust rocking chair blocked the path of descent at about a 20 degree angle and saved the day this time, leaving Momma to hurry into the room when she heard the Drew Monster crying softly (again, the dresser had made no untoward sounds).

  4. Given all of this, when we had a brief power outage not too long after the Dresser Incident, I decided to check on Drewbie to make sure he hadn't gone and done something really crazy like investigate an electrical socket and caused that outage. The monitor revealed nothing but steady breathing, so I wasn't too worried, but this kid hadn't done much for my peace of mind at that point. I eased open the door and found Drew half-in, half-out of his bed asleep. And when I say "half-in," I mean that his torso and head were sprawled on the mattress, but he was bent over the edge at the waist, leaving his legs dangling. He gets this ability to sleep in any position anywhere from his father, most certainly.

I am somewhat concerned about what the rest of the day has in store.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Progress: Back After an Unplanned Break

I didn't think I was going to be able to get any writing done last night. I've been so tired lately and figured I'd hit the sack shortly after Drew went down for the night. But, true to form recently, I had just enough energy to guarantee I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, and not quite enough to do much more than play Final Fantasy X for a bit. Well, after getting my butt kicked in the game and losing about twenty minutes or so of playing time, I got irked enough that I jump-started my energy drive and decided to write a page or two to ease back into the thick of the story. Six pages later and two hours later, I finally had to crash. Hence I'm posting this after the fact.

Deadline: June 30, 2008
Today's Words: 1482
Total words: 65,210 (22,210)

Musical stylings: The Birthday Massacre (a current band that sounds like a more electronically polished female-led version of The Cure)
Munchies: Leftover boneless wings from our Chili's takeout dinner

Researched via Quickie Wiki or the Google Boogie: African names (I'm trying to demonstrate the multicultural feel of the world by using a different ethnicity whenever possible)

Mean Things: Name-calling among friends, arguing in public
Placeholder of the day: That grabbing a different ethnic name for secondary characters as they appear is good short-hand for the diversity of folks in space for my world, but probably not the most effective way to do things; yet another thing to keep in mind for the revisions

Physical therapy contortions: None as I fell into bed (only to take over an hour to fall asleep, dammit)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

They Don't Make It Easy

Last night's episode of BSG was the best in a while, and it's still unpacking itself in my head. But I had to keep ignoring a couple of worldbuilding elements that threatened to leech all enjoyment of the ep. It is so very hard for me to take their 20th century medicine in stride. An FTL-capable society has such bad medical tech that one of a wounded soldier's first concerns is whether or not he can keep his leg? As I tried to set that aside, a brand new worldbuilding WTF moment hit: A society whose religion is based on Greek mythology has no concept of a river one must traverse to get to the afterlife until Baltar babbles about the One True God as ferryman? Really?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Changing My Approach

Towards the end of Battlestar Gallactica's third season, I started to really not like the show. I had always griped about the brain-numbing dichotomy between the technology and medicine the show employs and also bemoaned the theme-bludgeoning. But toward the end of seaons three, it felt like characters I thought I understood suddenly started doing things solely for the sake of conflict and plot, acting out required roles to keep the story going forward rather than actually being themselves. I notices this first in that episode where Tyrol leads a workers strike. I just didn't believe that Tyrol, Adama, or Roslyn would've handled that situation in that fashion. It seemed to contradict the people we had been getting to know. By the time Starbuck died and we all knew that wasn't going to be real, I was really annoyed with the show. Then came the Trial of Baltar and Four Cylons Revealed Musical.


By the end of the third season, I knew I didn't like the show, and I was starting to figure out why. The overall impression I got from BSG by then was of a show throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me to keep ratcheting up the conflict. There didn't seem to be a pattern or method to the plot hurling and character twists. Big huge sweeping arcs of drama were tossed my way and discarded for the next shiny thing that caught the show's eye. So what about the cylon baby? Now we've got TWO, and no one seems to care anymore. The cylons have a plan, you say? All we determined it to be was annihilation of the human race, but the Plan was implied to be something more than that. But that dwindled into nothing by the time we got the four new models (which the other models aren't even supposed to think about), and suddenly the cylons are squabbling over equal rights for Toasters and killing each other because said Toaster aren't doing their job in the Big Plan that seems to be nothing more than killing humans. Then there's the whole God thing which seems more and more like it's really just the fanatic ravings of Caprica Six in Baltar's Head (and where the hell is Imprisoned Caprica Six's Gaius in Her Head?).

This show feels more and more like one of my first drafts from a few years ago when I understood that I needed to build tension and conflict on each page but didn't understand how to keep tension and conflict linked from one part of the story to the next, so I kept throwing new plot twists and challenges at the book without figuring out how the story I started might twist and turn on its own. Recognizing the "I don't know what I'm doing" technique just made me cranky everytime I sat down to watch the show because I know from experience that the odds are not good that this show is going to resolve in any logical fashion, let alone a satisfying one.

But then something happened as I watched the first few episodes of season 4. I can't remember what it was that triggered the click, but I finally realized that this show isn't SF or even a space opera so much that it's a soap opera set in space. And we're talking Days of Our Lives type stuff with Marlena getting possessed and Stefano mind-wiping and controlling people and aliens arriving in Salem. No wonder it feels like kitchen-sinking. That's not to say that soap operas are inferior shows, it's just that soap operas are not for me. They are often plot-heavy to get the characters into greater and greater scales of conflict and tension in ways that resemble the random insanity of life. This is not bad, but it is not what I'm looking for in my narratives at the moment.

This realization means that I need to go back through the whole show from the very first episode and watch it as if it were a soap opera and not anything else. I have a feeling I'll like it a whole lot more that way if only because I've changed my expectations of the show. And I might be able to figure out if the show is intentionally modelling itself off of soap operas for some clever purpose or if it's just a soap opera in space, which means I might enjoy it more watching it from that set of expectations, but I won't enjoy it as much as I could had it not been just a soap opera in space. Regardless, I'll see if looking at the thing like it's a soap opera enhances my viewing experience tonight.

Note to Self: Watch a soap opera if only to look at that genre of story-telling and make sure I understand it as well as I claim above

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Meh. Gah! ARRRGH!!!

So I haven't written in over a week. I've got a whole long list of excuses. Some of them are valid (had to get my RWA chapter's newsletter finished and distributed). Some of them are understandable (Drewbie was fighting a fever and rivers of snot Monday and Tuesday, and couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to crash on me or run around the house and tear it apart; hence I was a wee bit exhausted those two evenings). Some of them are of the standard lame procrastinating and issue avoidance stuff (on the upside, I did finish two excellent books).

To combat procrastination, I tried to schedule an off night each week that I could totally waste however I wished: farting around the internets, playing a video game, reading a book, channel surfing, whatever. Then I realized that procrastination wasn't my problem, it was the issue avoidance stuff. Truth be told, those books I finished were all about escaping my own thoughts for as long as I could be absorbed by those stories.

The issues I'm avoiding? Well, the first seems so simple that I know I can find a way to fix it. Drew is hitting a patch of Terrible Twos, and, unfortunately, I'm hitting a patch of extreme impatience and irritability. What makes the solution difficult here is that I'm fairly certain Drew's acting out would be resolved by having my undivided attention most of the time. Unfortunately, I have to work 25 hours every week, and he's up and active for all but eight of them. So he's always in my office, trying to get my attention, thus making it impossible for me to hold a thought, let alone keep a train of though on track while I'm trying to work. When he finally does something drastic to get my attention, I've already lost so much sanity trying to focus on my job that I react disproportionately to the trigger. I've got a couple of ideas here that I'll be mapping out tonight instead of writing. Essentially, I need to enter each day armed with alternate strategies and tactics for dealing with me before I deal with him.

That ties into the second issue I'm avoiding as well. I've been working from home for a year and a half now, and I've also seen a severe reduction in the amount of trips back to my company's office in the past eight months. This means that I am less connected with my colleagues. Plus the burden of working from home in a still new neighborhood in which I can't seem to find folks with whom I have more than an address and a child in common means I just don't interact with people as much as I used to, and I'm starting to feel sub-human. Add in that it seems society is more than happy to peg me as mother and homemaker before considering me (or treating me) as anything else, and I'm starting to feel very alone, sometimes even ignored. There are several solutions here as well, which I am investigating.

These aren't insurmountable problems, but when I'm constantly feeling like I can't maintain a thought or can't hold my temper or can't participate in society, well, I'd just rather that stuff go away, leave me 'lone, fix itself so I can get on with life. But the fixes are up to me, the attitude is mine alone to adjust. And I'm finally getting to the point where all the pieces are coming into place, so I'm sure I'll get back on the horse and actually maintain a consistent writing schedule that isn't prone to fits of escapism and moping--or at least said fits won't be as frequent. Then I can flex my time management skills and actually write the way I know I can. Well, that's the hope, at least. I'm determined to get a draft of THUMB done by the end of June. If a side effect of that is fixing a few more of my neurotic ticks, then swell.