Messy and Parenthetical

8 May 2002

Well, Tom was the only person to express an opinion to me yesterday, and it kind of confirmed my own leanings, so off I went on the memory implant/copyright story. Outline and coupla thousand words. I'll get another couple of thousand out today, and that'll be that. It'll be...well, I hope eventually it'll be good, although the right and wrong sides are somewhat more clear than I generally prefer them. It'll at least be readable by the time the writing group people get it, which should be within 24 hours.

This is why I don't do writing dares: because this is my job, and I can knock off a short story in 24 hours whenever I want to, as long as I'm reasonably healthy and don't have major plans, and still get novel work done. So when people are talking about their word counts or writing time counts, and they have day jobs and all sorts of other things, I feel like it would be a bit obnoxious for me to pop up on their dare webpage and say, "Oh, hi, I had another 4000 word day, but you guys are doing great at 500!" I would really mean it, but it would just look wrong.

Also, it seems like often the goal of a dare is to motivate, and I don't have a lot of problem with that. And also, especially in novel-writing dares, I think a lot of people do them because they want to Finish A Novel. And they can worry about editing it later. But I want to Write A Good Novel, and edit it now. I don't want to burn myself out writing an inferior version of something that I personally won't have a problem writing under other circumstances. I know that dares work for some people that way. They're just not for me.

I need a new Waterman. I really, really do. I dropped my old one on its point last year, and it just hasn't written the same since, and now it stutters. I have to go back and fill in strokes of most of the words I write. This is not conducive to writing, especially not conducive to freewriting. So I've been using the pen Mark's brother Matt gave us (an official Calvin College pen!), but it's just not the same. I'm really, really not used to un-fountain pens. And I have a $5 Schaeffer fountain pen, but it's so scratchy. If it was my old Schaeffer, I'd be fine, but it's the new one I never broke in all the way. So I'll make do until then, but for my birthday, I definitely want a new Waterman. Also a new Leatherman since I lost mine in airport security last time. (I dug around in my backpack for fifteen minutes or more trying to make sure I had already taken it out. I couldn't find it anywhere. But the x-ray machine, of course, had no such trouble.)

I've cleaned my old Waterman. I shake it down a lot (which makes it good that it's a Waterman, because if you shook down a cheaper fountain pen, there would be ink everywhere, and yes, I did check to make sure it wasn't broken that way before shaking it). Sometimes I think about getting the needlenose pliers back out (which would be a lot easier if my Leatherman hadn't been impounded, much less poking around in the toolbox) and trying to see if I can do anything else to the tip to make it work. I just don't want to break it off completely. I mean, that's my pen. It may be an invalid just now, nearing retirement, but it's my pen. Doesn't mean I can't use other pens. Just means I don't want to break it.

Right now, I feel like Barenaked Ladies' "Pinch Me" is particularly apropos: "I feel fine enough, I guess -- consid'ring everything's a mess." Everyone who lives here is totally swamped under, and while there is an end in sight, it's not immediately forthcoming, nor is it easy to get there from here. I've worked most of the way out from under the frenetic catch-up pace I had after C.J. left, but things still feel piled up on me, and I can only work out from under a few at a time. It's not even so much me -- although I do have plenty to do, as always. It's that everybody is busy all at once.

It doesn't help when I do silly things, like yesterday afternoon. I was running a bit calorie-short -- hmm. Other people don't seem to experience three different kinds of hungry all that often. I sometimes get empty-tummy hungry, sometimes low-blood-sugar hungry (that's the hypoglycemic kind that sometimes makes me pass out), and calorie-short hungry (when I haven't had quite enough food for several days running and it's catching up with me -- I get more easily cold and tired, and the other kinds of hungry hit me harder). Anyway. I ran myself calorie-short and took a (figurative) nose-dive in the middle of preparing dinner. So we had roasted asparagus (which was excellent) and, um, mac 'n' cheese. Sometimes you deal with what you can deal with, and this was one of those times. The asparagus was really good and really easy -- wash them, cut the woody bits off the bottoms, drizzle with olive oil and minced or pressed garlic, 12 minutes at 450. Delightful. (Sorry, Ceej, I don't mean to gross you out, if you're reading this.) The mac 'n' cheese was, um, mac 'n' cheese.

I'm not always good at gauging what's reasonable to expect of myself, physically, emotionally, or mentally. That doesn't help, to be sure.

(Several people are now laughing hysterically at the hedge-word "always." Yes, I can hear you, and yes, I know it's you.)

(Aheh. On that note, Tom was looking for the entry where I listed my short story ideas. Ah, hahahahaha! Silly Tom. There is no such book-length entry. And I think it'd bore you silly if there was. No? If no, let me know.)

It's not that anything is wrong per se, at least not anything new. It's just that much of it is messy. Consuming of time and energy. Etc.

"And finally, I think I'm getting brain-fried!" Yeah, "Real Genius" once again rears its head. But I'm not really getting brain-fried. Nor even more tired. I'm just remaining tired, and that's not entirely a good thing. We'll see what I manage to do when I finish this story, whether I write the children's and the YA stories for theme issues with deadlines in the next week, or whether I just Let It Be.

And when I say "Let It Be," of course, I mean, "work frenetically at something else." Naturally.

Part of the problem is the Not The Moose Book. I think Timprov is right: it's going to feel like I've barely made a dent in it until it's done. Because it's so big. Not just length-wise, but conceptually. And it occupies a pretty big spot on my mental landscape right now, and it has for awhile. I'm nowhere near finishing it, which is good: I'm nowhere near ready to be finished with it. But even when I am, I still think "Real Genius" will rear its head on me, and my loved ones will have to be Laszlo to my Chris Knight: "I'm happy and sad for you."

It's amazing how many characters in that movie I can identify with. It's not just Jordan.

Ahhh, masterpieces of cinema.

Anyway. I finished Agent of Chaos, which read like Doc Smith if he'd been worse at prose. I said that to Mark, and he paused. "I didn't know Doc Smith was known for his prose." Exactly. But at least if it was nasty and brutish, it was also short. And I read The Drackenberg Adventure, which was lovely and fun, and I only have one more left in that series in my possession, so I'll have to hunt for The Philadelphia Adventure in used bookstores. And I'm still chipping away at the Naipaul, although I'm liking this most recent chunk of it better than the stuff yesterday. I finally figured out who the wife's family reminds me of (my Sioux Falls relatives, only Hindu), so that's a nice foothold.

(Also, it's amusing to imagine my mother's reaction to the phrase "my Sioux Falls relatives, only Hindu.")

It's funny what I learn from other online journals. The latest thing is that I've been trying to get a handle on fanfic. Not trying very hard, of course, just incidentally. Zak has been writing stuff related to the fantasy computer game he's been playing, and Wendi has gotten into Smallville fanfic big time. And I've been interested in what they've had to say before they were doing fiction in other people's worlds, so instead of going, "Oh, whatever, Superman chick," I've tried to see what it is that draws Wendi into this world. (Part of it is that she's an aspiring script-writer, I think, so that dealing with other people's characters in previously conceived series is more immediate and natural.) Same with Zak. I still don't entirely get it -- whenever I tried to write fanfic when I was in junior high, it took such an extreme left turn out of the world I had aimed at that a lot of it involved desert islands so that only one aspect of the books could be dealt with, along with other stuff I felt like doing on my own. This is not a natural way for me to think. But it's interesting to see how other people do it. Most of the journals I read deal with stuff a lot closer to what I find natural for work habits and creative interests. These two have been interesting in that they haven't been, in the last few days. I still don't think it takes all kinds. But it certainly takes many kinds. (The puppy-stomping kind, for example, we can live without.)

I'm going to work on finishing this story. Further adventures in tomorrow's installment.

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