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.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wash of a Weekend

Friday: No writing due to date night with hubby. Writing time was sacrificed very willingly. Dinner (at Roy's in Chandler) was fabulous. My mango mojito divine. My outifit killer (shoes included; I've never been so excited to wear a pair of shoes, especially because I paid less than $30 for them).

Saturday: Drove down to Tucson to attend memorial service for a writing friend, the woman who resurrected the Tucson RWA chapter and is primarily responsible for the awesome writing community I found there. Writing time afterwards was sacrificed to go swimming with family and run what should have been a quick errand while Drewbie and Mark continued to swim. Said quick errand stretched from fifteen minutes to an hour and fifteen, and I was stuck at a grocery store with nothing to do. So I browsed the book section, intending to just see what was there and grab a magazine to while away the time. Found the latest of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, and that auto-buy reflex could not be stopped. Nor could the auto-read and auto-finish reflexes. Stayed up until 4AM to finish book.

Sunday: Writing time was sacrificed for sleep. Brain is not quite coherent, but I will take it out for a test run on THUMB as soon as the Drew Monster is out. My hopes are not very big. Am rethinking my July 7 deadline because time management and free-time discipline are skills of my past, apparently.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Children's Media Edition

Now that I work at home--and part-time at that--I've been exposed to a great deal more children's television and movies and books than previously. And when one is not all that interested in the story or the moving pictures, one will start to look at patterns and subtle details and subtext and other such things. I have therefore compiled a list of "Things That Make You Go 'Hmmm'" from my many many viewings and readings of children's media. I'll start with the merely interesting/surprising and finish with the mind-numbing, what-were-they-thinking.

1. Joss Whedon had a hand in writing Toy Story. I did a double-take when his name caught my eye in the intro credits (scroll down to #11).

2. Joseph Mallozzi of Stargate fame wrote an episode of Little Bear, but I can't find it in his IMDB page. Another moment of catching the name in the opening credits.

3. I was reading in a recent issue of Parents magazine that TV-watching has been "linked to" a host of Bad Things, including eating disorders, drug use, smoking, and "sexual risks." My first thought after reading that was, "So has high school."

4. There's an episode of The Backyardigans--a show I usually love because it brings singing and dancing into great stroy-spinning in imaginative play--that triggers my subtext alarms. It features the two female members of the backyard group as mermaids, singing about how they are protecting their garden from intruders. Maybe it's just that Springsteen song that makes my mind wander in directions likely not intended, but still.

5. For the crowning WTF moment, though, I must make mention of a book. I will not name the book nor the author. We got this book as a present back before Drew was even born, I think, and I'm pretty sure that whoever gave us the book didn't read beyond the first page or two. Because it starts out very sweet and quickly descends into very scary. The story is about a mother with her newborn baby boy, cataloging his traits before she recites a sweet poem while he's fast asleep. Next the boy has grown into a toddler, and the mother catalogs his Terrible Twos but still steals into his room when he's asleep, holds him and recites her poem. Then the boy turns six. At this point, when Mark and I were reading this to a very young Drew for the first time, we exchanged worried glances. Sure enough, the mother sneaks into her older kid's room to scoop him up into a hug while he sleeps and recite this poem. This continues until the kid is grown up and moved out of the house and the mother--I wish I were kidding--straps a ladder to the top of her car, drives across town, sneaks into that boy's room (on the second floor, hence the ladder), snuggles him into her arms and recites the poem.

Mark and I were horrified at this point, but that deer-in-headlights thing forced us to keep going. Could it get worse?

Well, the next page shows how the mother is too old, near death, so the son picks her up and either recites the poem or just tells her he loves her or something. It would've been sweet were it not for the dreadful episode of stalking her grown son. But, Mark and I think we may have hit the worst and the book will finish well. Then the last page is the son, after his mother's death (obliquely referenced), going to his newborn daughter's room, taking her into his arms and repeating the poem.

Mark and I, round-eyed, slack-jawed, stared at each other over Drew's head. "The cycle repeats!" one of us whispered. We don't have the heart to "lose" this book as it was a gift from a relative, and I feel the need to keep it as evidence that, no shit, a whole list of people didn't find anything in the least bit chilling or creepy or stalker-ific about this book.

This list does not include the standard fare of icky themes I'm finding in a lot of movies and books, but that's another post all together and might be reliant on oversensitivity on my part--I'm still sorting it out. Anyway, I hope this brief look at some of the fascinating things I see on a regular basis has been entertaining.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Days, They Are So Long

Ugh. Barely managed to bleed 238 words out of myself tonight. I have either been wiped out physically or out of sorts mentally this entire week by the time evening comes around. Tuesday I so needed a break from being a functioning member of my family that I booked out shortly after Mark came home to grab dinner and a showing of Iron Man (pretty good flick, but not so good in this viewer's opinion so as to warrant all the geeky fuss I've seen about it). Last night I stared blankly at the computer for a half hour before I realized I needed to get to bed. And tonight, I figured out another chunk of this scene, but then my brain said, "Stop. Full stop."

Gah. On the plus side, the last few chapters are fleshing out in my mind more and more to the point where the writing of them should be fast. I'm figuring out another level of my process here, so expect a post on that soon. And I've got a couple of other posts knocking around in my head that should be more entertaining than my usual fare. So watch this space!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Collection of Random Tidbits from Our Trip

Rather than a rambling narrative of "first we did this, then we did that" or a forced thread that might twist the events of our trip into fiction for the sake of maintaining said thread, I figured I'd just provide a list of some of the notable occurances from our trip to Canyon de Chelly this weekend.

  • Fossilized dinosaur mud prints reduced the men in my family to gleeful jibberings and scamperings. While I shared in the general sense of coolness, I was more happy to find a sodalite necklace. Yes, la, I am so fem. (Less cool about that brief stop was the tour guide singling me out when I was separated from Mark to hit me up for more "tip" money after Mark had already paid.)

  • An unmarked, way off-road, severe minor canyon makes a perfect spot for lunch, once you factor out the gale-force winds that took both Drew's hat and mine. In both cases, the hats tumbled and glided and snagged almost miraculously in the last possible spot Mark could shimmy down and reach. Both hats bore Notre Dame logos. Coincidence?

  • Both the Navajo and Hopi reservations featured gorgeous scenery and a propensity towards flashing electric billboards by any building of significance.

  • Drew learned to fear ants after sitting on a rock swarming with them. I think he only got bit once or twice before we came to the rescue, but quite a few managed to crawl all over his legs at once, and Drew didn't seem to care for the sensation.

  • I have searched grocery stores high and low for another bag of the new mint crisp M&Ms after sampling my first taste in the wave of promotion for the new Indy movie. My searches were all in vain until we walked into the Bashas in Chinle, AZ. I was speechless with delight. I managed to let the bag last until we got home, but I finished it Monday. Mint and chocolate. Mmmmmm....

  • We hiked the sole free route down to the base of Canyon de Chelly to get a close look at one set of ruins. The trek was 2.5 to 3 miles (there was a conflict in the signage) and covered a change in elevation of 600ft. In high 80s, low 90s with no cloud-cover to be seen. Drew blazed the trail on the descent, got us down that 600ft drop (over about 3/4s of a mile, mostly in switchbacks one on top of another) in less than thirty minutes. He requested Daddy carry him back up to the top of the trail afterwards, and Momma led the way up, this time clocking in at 40 minutes. Go team us!

  • On a related note, most folks who passed me on their way down took one look at me and said, "No need to say anything. I can tell it's going to be harder on the way up." Curse my fair skin and body chemistry that flushes my face to tomato read at the least provocation!

  • The best Mexican food I have tasted can be found just off Hwy 60 in Show Low, high up in the eastern mountains of AZ. They also boasted the best margaritas in the state, but we had to drive back home yet and thought it best not to imbibe. Mark and I will have to make a weekend getaway up there for an anniversary celebration and test this restaurant's claim.

  • We kept current on the NBA Finals while on our drip thanks to a billboard at a Church's Chinle. The restaurant owners were clearly Celtics fans.

I'll post more if my brain shakes anything else loose. It was a great trip, full of amazing views and quirky geology and fascinating history. I love me my adopted home state.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Go. Read Little Brother Now. If You're Curious As To Why, Read This Post First

I just finished Cory Doctorow's YA novel Little Brother. I already knew by page 91 that this book was Important--the rest was just gravy. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that there's a wee bit of theme-bludgeoning, but it's not the horrid, grafted-on, authorial voice intrusions that Battlestar Galactica often perpetrates. Instead it's fully organic to the plot and characters--it makes sense for Marcus to be spouting off about these ideas and to espouse them in the first place (with the possible exception of the RIAA swipe, but I'll spot Doctorow that in a heartbeat).

As for the book's positives...where to start? I can't fully appreciate a lot of them as they are computer geek, hacker-oriented. (My geek badge is of the scientific branch, specifically the biochemical division. The codes I'm interested in hacking are pertain to the central dogma: DNA, RNA, and protein.) But there's a ton on living in a fear-focused society, dealing with homeland security's antiterroism measures, and moving on after a terrorist attack that resonated so well, I finally hacked another level of my brain and realized my own post 9/11 stupidities.

There's a subtheme winding its way through this novel that is sufficient in and of itself to make this book required reading for every single American who thought even for a second that privacy wasn't as important as the post 9/11 security measures. I was one such person. Hell, I even defended the measures at a grad student party in the months following the attack. The only extenuating circumstance I can call to my defense is that there were specific people there to whom I wanted to rub in their faces that I had nothing to hide--not because they did have something to hide, but because they thought I did. However, most of my outgassing at that party was fueled fully by fear and a sense of the familiar from my life as a military dependent in Germany at the downfall of the Iron Curtain. The latter is fodder for an entirely different blog post and completely unrelated to Little Brother. The former, however, was a role played by Drew, the main character's father.

He swallowed every annoying, inconvenient, and invasive DHS measure as a patriotic duty to be endured in order to Find the Bad Guys. He swallowed it because he had lived in fear for several days that the terrorist attack in the book had killed his son. Most of America reacted in the same way in the days and weeks and months and even years after 9/11. We were all terrified because the attacks involved two things the majority of us know and see on a regular basis: planes and prominent/important buildings. This wasn't a bombing or biological warfare or some other scary yet distanced from our daily lives attack on our country. This was a frightening twist on elements as common to the majority of Americans as televisions and phones. There was no easy way for our brains to process the attacks as something separate. No quick-fix of "boy, that couldn't happen every day" so we could digest what had happened and figure out a rational method of dealing with it. No, it warped distressingly familiar fixtures and triggered that intense fight-or-flight, a constant pain of "please, make it stop, make us safe." So we swallowed every single thing the government threw at us to prevent it from happening again. We hand-delivered our freedoms and privacy in exchange for the laudunum of assurances that it would make us safer.

At that grad student party, I clashed with two fairly conservative Republicans about this issue, advocating the security measures, brushing aside their concerns that the government wouldn't be so willing to return the rights and privileges we were ceding them. I probably offered just about every variety of argument the pro-DHS and DHS folks themselves used in Little Brother to justify making San Francisco a police state. I doubt I'm the only one, and I doubt I'm the only one who would see the parallels and find them chilling and sobering. I think I shook off the last of my 9/11 fear while reading this book.

Indeed, I finally realized that the overwhelming bit of my 9/11 fear was brought on by accepting the blissful state of an arrogant America, secure in freedoms and peace from domestic harm, surrounded by the false comfort that we export such things, so we are untouchable. We police the world, stop the bad things from happening to others. It is very alluring, the concept that we're so cool, nothing can hurt us, nothing can bring us down. 9/11 showed us that it's an allusion, and most of us would rather pull the wool back over our eyes as fast as possible. Who wants to live with the knowledge that we're all vulnerable to anything? There are no free passes when it comes to living in this world. And, what's even worse, the predators aren't going to helpfully expose themselves by twirling a mustache and going, "Mwa-ha-ha!" Even more distressing, most predators approach the hunt as if they are prey trying to protect their own damn selves. Evil is as seductive a lie as invincibility.

Doctorow doesn't try to completely idolize main character, though. Marcus has to face up to the unintended consequences in his fight to bring down DHS, to the point where the book even ends with Marcus actually accepting the fact that what he did was terrorism. This isn't explored as fully as it could be as DHS is portrayed in very negative terms and not given any sympathetic moments to the point where its shown to be an evil machine (see the last comment in the graf above as to why I think this is a problem). But it's hinted at often enough that I came away from the book understanding the Doctorow doesn't seem to be advocating anarchy and electronic terrorism as means to maintaining privacy and freedoms. Rather, the theme seems to be more that an open discourse, a friendly environment for debate and dissent must be maintained. I can get behind that.

It's telling that Marcus quotes a particular passage from the Declaration of Independence on several occasions. (It's also ironic, given that Doctorow, I believe, is Canadian.)

Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Government should fear its people, not the other way around. That seems to be the central tenet of this book. Not a bad concept for the youth of America to be exposed to right about now.

Go. Read Little Brother now. Pass it on.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back In Time for a Milestone

Yesterday was my last day of answering the question "How old are you?" with something that began with twenty. I am actually quite happy to be rolling the odometer into the thirties. It's adding distance to the silliness of my youth in a concrete fashion. I probably won't think in those terms once the big four-oh draws near, of course, but three-oh tain't nearly so big or imposing. It's a bit of a relief, a marker to many that I'm a real, honest-to-goodness, no foolin' adult.

I added to the notoriety of the day by acknowledging my body is indeed another year older: I bought an ergonomic mouse, wrist pad, and medicine-ball-as-desk-chair. All this because, at the tender age of 30, my body likes to pretend it's 50. Also, just to further drive in the point that I am now a serious adult, we puttered around the big RV dealership this afternoon, edumacatin' ourselves on costs, types, features, financing, engines, etc. Not that we're anywhere near ready or able to buy one, but it's part of our once Drew's out of the nest/retirement plans, so it don't hurt to learn up as early as possible.

And, as has happened at least once before but I think maybe twice, I share my birthday with Father's Day, which made for some fun passing the buck of who got to sleep in this morning between me and Mark. And, because we're just that sweet, we were arguing not about wanting it for our own self, but about letting the other have it. (We compromised: Mark slept in until just after 8, then got up to relieve me so I could nap until just after 9.)

So, now I am a thirtysomething. Most of the twenties were fun, and I was even able to get mostly over myself before they ended. The decade started with me in college, wondering just how in the heck my mother could have possibly gotten married as young as I felt. The decade ended with me in a completely different career track than I had anticipated, married with a toddler, and living in our own home. My last day as a twentysomething was spent driving back from Canyon de Chelly (featuring the ruins of an ancient civilization), taking the long way through Arizona's east central high plains and mountains, twisting and turning my way down the elevation to get back home, drinking in the amazing scenery of this beautiful state that claimed me at the age of 18 and waited patiently for ten years until I was able to return for good.

Not a bad way to end what society considers the last cusp of my youth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quick Update

I managed to write 1,074 words today during my usual work hours. I won't get anymore done tonight as we have to clean the house a bit and pack up for going camping until Sunday afternoon. Of course, the words I wrote today finished half of a new chapter I realized I needed to add, so I still need to write 7.5 chapters to get to the end of the draft. July 7 is still very feasible to finish, though.

We're heading out to Canyon de Chelly tomorrow morning, with various stops along the way. The weather's a tad cooler up there, so we'll come back refreshed and ready for another round of 100+ heat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Progress: Green, Growing Things

I decided to push my deadline back to give me Independence Day weekend for more writing. I think it's do-able, though my progress yesterday (0) and today (not too shabby) aren't exactly inspiring me. We're going camping Thursday through Sunday, so I took off work this week to give me time to write when I'd usually log my hours. Not happening so much. I actually had to work anyway yesterday, and one last battle with the RWA newsletter occupied most of my morning today. Sigh.

Deadline: July 7, 2008
Today's Words: 1,214
Total words: 77,717 (34,717)

Musical stylings: Aes Dana
Munchies: Mmmmm...chocolate

Mean Things: Lost in thought in hydroponics; Dude, the computer knows what's up with your will and you don't
Placeholder of the day: I did a hand-wavey "we've been underway for several days" bit that, while OK for a character's inner dialog, was used solely because I had lost all sense of the timeline

Amusing Tidbit from Kellie's Day: Drew loves to sneak in some nekkid time after he emerges from my mother's pool and we strip off his Li'l Swimmers in preparation for dressing him. It's especially cute because Dakota, my brother's Belgian Malinois (sp?), thinks this is the perfect opportunity to do a little butt sniffing. Drew doesn't find the experience very pleasant.

Physical therapy contortions: Hip is throbbing, wrist is hurting to the point where I can't really sign my name so well anymore. I may need to rethink my computer ergonomics and PT stretches a wee bit.

Monday, June 09, 2008

My Do!

Drew's been asserting his independence from inside the womb, and now that he's expanding his vocabulary, he's telling us he's independent. The first version of this was to tell us "No!" as one of his first words. Now, when there's a task to be done that he either wants to do by himself or participate along with Momma or Daddy, he'll say, "My do!" It really is one of the cutest phrases he's got at the moment.

Of the things he's insisted on doing himself or making Momma or Daddy shove aside so he can try his turn: trimming his fingernails, washing the dishes, cutting vegetables, putting on his shirt, putting on a bandaid, starting the car, closing the garage, and (in one very entertaining moment) changing his diaper.

Of course, as is the case with most of his vocabulary, he's intent on sharing the experience--or just turning the tables to make Momma and Daddy do something on his terms (yeah, like that's something that never happens). After trying his hand at something and either not wanting to do it anymore or thinking it looks like fun that he has to share, he'll say to Momma or Daddy, "Your do!"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Progress: Finally, A Crazy Action Scene

Deadline: June 30, 2008??
Today's words: 2,592
Total words: 76,503 (33,503)

Musical stylings: Aes Dana and Collide
Munchies: Cranberries and chipotle-lime cashews

Researched via Quickie Wiki or the Google Boogie: I used my internets for good, old-fashioned procrastinating today
Mean Things: Lying computers, arguing with a stranger in front of friends, leading friends to believe you're about to commit suicide when you'll do no such thing
Placeholder of the day: Pretty much all of the last 1000 words is based on information that I realized 500 words in that I hadn't yet introduced, so I'm going to have to retcon that; not really a placeholder, but in that same vein

Physical therapy contortions: My right wrist has been in agony all day despite the bundling, and now my left hip is screaming. I migth forego the contortions today.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Progress: Good Couple of Days

I've missed posting the last bit of my progress a couple of weeks ago, so you'll just have to take my word for it that my wordcount below is accurate. I got a lot done last night and this afternoon, but my energy petered out after dinner, so I didn't get to finish the chapter I started today as I had hoped to do. I'm sure I'll be able to do so tomorrow, assuming my wrists take the night to ease up on their claims of aggrieved status. I'm going to need to buy another wrap and bundle 'em both up until this bout of joint whininess passes.

Deadline: June 30, 2008??
Today's Words: 2,028 today (1,298 yesterday)
Total words: 73,911 (30,911)

Musical stylings: Aes Dana, Cult of the Hidden Nerve, The Nature of Light, and Atlas Plus
Munchies: A square of a yummy "exotic" chocolate bar

Researched via Quickie Wiki or the Google Boogie: Pound to Kilo conversion, but I didn't use it
Mean Things: Forcing the love/hate issue, solar flare emergency
Placeholder of the day: "But we're all safe, surrounded by [X tons?] of water,"

Physical therapy contortions: I'll work on those while I watch Transformers.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Getting Back on the Ball

OK, so the past two weeks have really been kicking my butt, particularly where the little details are concerned. Nothing major, although it did culminate yesterday at the Book Warehouse with Drew locking the car doors and me forgetting about it until he was snug in his seat with the AC on and Ratatouille playing. This time, I called my mom (thankfully she's listed in the phone book as sill cell phone speed dial renders my memory blank on her number), and waited for the calvary to arrive. It would've arrived faster but, while I did get the spares made, I hadn't yet given her one, so she had to trek to my house and then get to us--at least 15 minutes of back-tracking involved.

Sigh. Might as well call this blog "The Epic Failure of Kellie Hazell" some days.

The RWA newsletter is as done as I can get it at the moment, so I'm going to block it from my mind until Sunday evening so as to devote myself entirely to my writing until then. The computer gadgetry improvements are complete, though I've got a software issue that is leaving me in a bit of a Catch-22 due to DRM shit in a product I own (and am trying to reinstall on my replacement computer a second time only to find out that my serial number is no longer good--it's only the third download and all for one user) and same company charging $20 for tech support calls. I'm inclined to let that problem molder for a while longer yet.

But, as I said, it's all little stuff. Just a decent amount of it hitting at once to make me feel like I can't get on top of it and start riding the wave instead of getting pushed around by it. That changes this weekend. I shall emerge victorious! Or, at least, better equipped to deal with the small stuff without sweating it. It's funny: it's really all my fault as I really mismanaged my time last week and weekend. Had I not procrastinated and played last week, I wouldn't be floundering right now. Life always knows just when to mess with you.

I'm hoping that getting back into the swing of THUMB tonight will help me figure out if it's even remotely possible to still meet my June 30 deadline for a draft. I hope so, but the lure of the three-day Independence Day weekend not too far after June 30 is tempting for a slight pushback on the deadline. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Taming my Knee-jerk Feminist, or Thoughts on Stranger in a Strange Land

I wandered into the world of science fiction when I was 22 and didn't start with the Grand Old Men of the genre, picking out without realizing it predominantly female authors and books that portrayed strong female heroines. I'm not sure how I managed it as that doesn't exactly describe the majority of the books in that genre. Ever since I got into reading and writing SF, though, I've wanted to make up for my lack its history and read the masters--or at least try them. Hence my initial foray into Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress that lasted all of five pages. I also picked up a copy of The Number of the Beast at a used bookstore a while ago, but it has sat forlornly in my TBR pile ever since, the memory of TMIAHM making me skittish.

As I mentioned before, I'm trying to whittle down said TBR pile, and the thought of a very nice edition of a Heinlein novel given as a gift continuing to linger in that pile just didn't sit well with me. So I shored myself up and dove in, trying to forget the discussion, however light, of said book that I happened to read shortly after receiving the book. I was prepared for the infamous Disposable Woman. Only I didn't find her. So I kept reading (yes, the story kept me engaged as well), looking, waiting to see which of the female characters was going to shortly meet her demise to allow the hero to embark on a quest to avenge her.

In this, the uncut version, she never appeared. Unless she's talking about the mother of the hero who died in childbirth. I might cede Kate Elliott that--except she was joined in death shortly thereafter by her lover and husband in a murder-suicide, and the other five people (three of them also women) with the woman in question also died not long after that. The event was not a motivator for the hero. In fact, the hero never so much as mentioned his parentage ever in the book, and no one discussed it with him. Now I've got to find the original version of the book and see what happened there.

That being said, reading this book was an exercise in shutting down my knee-jerk feminist reaction to how women were portrayed and how the men treated them in this novel. I kept reading, armed with the knowledge from Virginia Heinlein's preface that there was a reason for all the cut stuff which I presumed meant the free love. I just didn't know what it was. Whenever the casaul belittlement, objectification, and dismissal of women was employed, I focused on the craft. Heinlein is one of the beloved founders of the genre, there had to be a reason. So I quelled the urge to fling the book across the room and soldiered on.

From a craft perspective, I was astonished that a book that is in large part dialog to the point of near constant speechifying and preaching managed to keep my interest. Also that a coming of age story with no real stakes could hook me. Also, I found the 1940s/50s freezeframe of society sped forward into the future with the expected bulky electronic gadgetry fascinating. For all that science fiction writers seek to portray what life will be like, it is damn hard to weed out any retained flavor of the current era in which the work was written.

Then, finally, on about page 500 of 525, I realized the point of all the, to me, horribly blatant sexism. Most of it (there's aspects of how women are characterized and treated that go beyond this) are purposefully there. The hero comes to realize that what makes humans different from the Martians who raised him is expressly the duality of the genders, specifically the feminine nurturing vs masculine providing aspects. It's why homosexuality is given an awkward "well, OK if you want to do that, but it's not really what we're about" brush-off at several points in the novel. What made humanity unique was the give and take between the sexes, the polar nature of our genders, particularly with regards to sexual intercourse. Working together in our opposed yet complimentary ways yields the full understanding of the universe. There is both no equality and total equality between the sexes in this treatise of universal understanding--grokking. There is an acceptance of each other and the very different things we bring to life, which is both totally freeing and unbelievably limiting in the genders' appointed roles.

OK, so at least I understood why women were treated as objects, Other, less, and hyper-nurturing. I don't have to agree with it. I'm not sure Heinlein does, either, which begs the question of the point he was trying to make in employing such a thematic element. I'm going to reread this book a year or so down the road and see what else gels from it (there's a ton about religion only being good if it teaches true self-awareness and personal responsibility and rigidly requires adherence to those principles that I want to go back for).

While there was a payoff to suppressing the reactionary feminist in me, I'm not sure I could do this again with any other book. In other words, I pushed through the sexism because it was Heinlein. I doubt the novels of, say, Gor could provide any such motivation to stomach the misogyny therein.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Please Excuse This Girly and Shallow Moment

This pic of Wil Wheaton reminds me why I got all starry-eyed for the pre-Academy (and that one Academy ep) Wesley Crusher. I have a sudden urge to write very bad Mary-Sue-ridden TNG fanfic along the lines of the daydreams I had when Riker caught my eye as I got a little older and Wesley grew up and completed his arc in the show. Wesley with a toned-down Riker beard looking all svelt and coming back with shadows and danger in his eyes from wherever the show wrote him (I remember something about a pale guy in engineering and stripey invisibility stuff, but that's about it; my fannishness is so pure, yes).

OK, time to get back to the depth and purity of my regular blog entries.