Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Thursday, May 31, 2007

He becomes I, and words pile up.

I was browsing my local Barnes and Noble the other day when I found, to my unending surprise, a copy of Interzone on the magazine racks. It was 209, and they were asking $11.75 for it. After shipping, that's actually pretty reasonable, which is why I don't much give it a chance in the States. Always hopeful, though. Anyway, I took it up to the info desk and explained how this magazine loves me. It loves me very much. They're going to contact me when the next issue comes in, so I can sign their copies. For what that's worth. It's worth nothing, because they probably don't want some random punk dripping sharpie all over their nice and glossies. But I'll do the promotion I can. Irrelevance makes me tired.

Here's the evolution of my book: I started in the third week of February, 2006. I took a week off work and wrote that first chapter, reeling text out of an image I had in my head, then spent most of the week decided what it was about and where it would go from there. I spent some time diagramming plot structure, characters, background. About halfway through that process I calved off two plotlines and just stuck with the central line, cuz there was too much going on. I'm not sure when the actual writing started, but it was sometime in March that year. I wrote until November. I accumulated 17 chapters...nearly 50,000 words. I was utterly stuck, and had been grinding along since around 30k, not really feeling the story at all but sticking to my plan and hoping the magic would kick off again. Never happened. I handed what I had over to my writing group at the top of November, they got the review back to me mid-December. I took the rest of the year thinking about what had been said and began...

Phase Two: This was a partial rewrite. I was creating new blocks of text and fitting in material from the old stuff, trying to fix the problems with the materials I had, trying to save the eight months of work, using as much of it as possible. New prologue, first couple chapters pretty much cut and paste, then new text from about chapter three on. I got to chapter eight, just over 20k words. From chapter 5 on, I had no idea what I was doing. My mistake was your classic error of sunk profits. I had put a lot into those original 50k words, and I was trying to make that struggle worth something. And there were scenes that I loved, and if I arranged the plot too much, those scenes would have to go. I was bashing the nail with a broken hammer, so I switched to a bag of broken hammers. Couple this with some pretty serious RL depression and I was just...spinning. Enter...

Phase Three: I think two things happened. One was a fairly prescient commentary from Colin. Thanks, Colin. That sparked some back channel discussion with Sean, and I remembered why I did the DC in the first place. Talented boys. The things that were wrong were...deeper than could be fixed with "scenes" and "character study." So I started again, much to my despair. Am I ever going to get all the way through the first draft? But I started again, because the tools were broken, and I needed new tools. Changed some plot elements, changed the POV (first person now) and pretty much threw out everything I'd done for the last year. That was at the start of this month, and here we are at the end. I'm at about 12k words, all of it new, all of it good. So I think that's the point. I even started naming chapters, just because it feels right. I don't name chapters, like, ever. And they might not even be chapters, they might be sections. Point is, things are going well.

To review:

February - October, 2006 = 50k
January - April, 2007 = 20k
Last three weeks of May = 12k

I think that's good. And it's not like I'm in some fever-dream of continuity or anything. The words have been hard, and I have to push myself ever time I sit down to get it done. But at the end of the night I close my pen and there are another thousand or two words that didn't use to be there. That's kinda nice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why content sometimes has to die

I feel like I should explain why I deleted that last post. I'm not so concerned with burning bridges, to be honest. I'm past the point of worrying what people here think of me. I'm polite to them, but that's all. No, I deleted it because my boss wasn't supposed to say anything to me, and there were legal implications. Any kind of tampering with personnel leading up to or during the buyout negotiations could lead to lawsuits. If K had told me he was buying Z out, and I quit because of that...much trouble. And there was concern that if Z found out K *had* told me (along with some others) the lawsuits might roll anyway. That's the kind of situation it is. But now people know who knew what and when, so I'm free to discuss. Not that I think people at work read this space, but I'm a safer than sorrier kind of guy.

Some thoughts about the situation. Mostly I'm concerned because there's really no way to win this exchange. No matter which of them takes control of the company, things are going to get worse. And they're both making a play for ownership, so it's going to come down to credit ratings and financial negotiations. A messy divorce where neither parent has enough income to stay above the poverty line. It's bad mojo.

My own escape plans are necessarily limited. My skillset has evolved into a very narrow band. I can do direct mail. The knowledge doesn't translate well, because the industry uses legacy systems. The reports I produce can't even be printed out, dig. I have to manually set the characters per line, lines per page, and then type mailreport.rpt > lpt1. You understand?

And I really don't want to do direct mail anymore. It's boring. So this fall I'm going to start working on some sort of SQL certification. I love databases, and it seems like an applicable knowledge. But that's this Fall. Between now and then, we have to sit around and watch things fall apart. Cool.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I like days like this.

Dog's okay. We took her to a specialist today, had a very thorough ultrasound...all is well. Her spleen is a little big, but it's well within tolerances for a German Shepherd of her...ahem...maturity. Thanks for ye mojo, mes amis.

There's job news, too, but I can't really talk about it for a week or so. We'll see.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What'dya think? CogboyPunk? SteamNoir?

It's been a pretty good day. The first person rewrite is going well. Wrote something like 4000 words today, and the change in POV and some character and story elements I'm changing are working out very nicely. Progress feels good. Makes me remember what I like about writing, which is primarily the actual writing. This is something I could do...working on this stuff during the day in my little office space.

Dog stuff. Let's see, there was going to be a second ultrasound. Wait, what was the last thing I told you people? Biopsy, right? Let's start with the biopsy. There hasn't been one yet. Initially it was supposed to be Friday two weeks ago, but that got moved to Wednesday last. Then that got rescheduled to Thursday, because one of the doctors was recovering from bronchitis and they were stacked up with procedures. So we took her in on Thursday for an ultrasound, and while she was sedated they did a dental as well. Well, they got the dental accomplished, had to pull a tooth, but as they started the ultrasound the doctor decided that he wasn't too comfortable with the image he was getting.

This is complicated...how best to explain it. One doctor had done the initial ultrasound and declared there to be a tumor. A growth. Something. Now a second doctor has looked at it and he thought it was actually the spleen, imposed over (or behind) the liver so that it looked like a tumor, or growth, or something, but in fact wasn't anything but the spleen. The tricky bit here is that you can't just poke a spleen with a biopsy needle. That's bad. And if it is a spleen, well, the needle isn't necessary in the first place.

Now the doctor who made the initial call wasn't in on Thursday. Neither, in fact, was the head doctor of the clinic, but they were both going to be in on Friday. So we took her back on Friday, and after much hemming and hawing (shouldn't that be geeing and hawing? Isn't that the correct cultural reference?) they decided that whatever was in there was too far in there for them to figure out what it was, and we would be better off going to a specialist. So we're going to a specialist.

I suppose that's about as close to good news as we can get. My initial hope was for a simple "not malignant" but I'll take "not a lump at all" if I can get it. And it's nice to be handing this over to someone who does three or four of these a day, rather than the general practitioner. Not that they aren't great, they've been with us since Phae's first exam and they're really good at what they do. Save her life once already.

Anyway. That's all from me. Let life come to you, and expect nothing, and appreciate everything. The sky's nice today, and that's enough for me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

London Texting

I'm feeling surprisingly science-fictional. Though it hasn't been officially announced yet, IZ210 will be available for sale online. That's the plan, anyway. Andy contacted me to ask if I minded. I think the hardcopy will be shipping tomorrow, or maybe today. Anyway. Imminent.

On top of that, he paid me electro-pounds. So I have my payment, conveniently converted into US dollars, which is so much more science-fictional than, say, a check, or a checque, or a cheque.

So there you have it. Akers-quality content, beaming to you from a basement in London, the deed paid for in ones and zeroes. Or zeros. Electro-pounds!

Monday, May 07, 2007

What I haven't been talking about

I've kind of been building up to write this entry, because it makes me sad, and that's not something I need a lot of before it's too much. Point is, last monday during a fairly routine check up, the vet found a growth on my dog's liver. We're having a biopsy done this week. It might be nothing, but it might be something. It's been a very difficult week for me, for my wife. Our girl has been with us almost as long as we've been married. And my god, she still plays a great game of ball.

Anyway. You're my friends. You deserve to know.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The hair is writing this

The hair might have reached the necessary critical mass. I may be visiting a barber in the next week or so, just to hold it in place. Much longer and I'm going to start looking unpresentable in an office environment. Not that I care *that* much, but hey.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Something you'd read?

When an artifact of unknown origin and power falls into his hands, Jacob Burn, disgraced zeppelin pilot turned aristocrat-rogue, must learn the secret of its history and how it is tied to his own spiralling fall from honor. But will he succeed when a shadowy coalition of hunters intent on capturing both Jacob and the artifact drive him from his home and into the streets of Veridon, shining City of Cog.