Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What I've been up to

Not much.

Okay, seriously, not much. Things at work are progressing. I still don't see much in the way of a positive solution, but I'm at peace with whatever change occurs. It's going to be difficult no matter how it goes, though I've been through worst stuff. Most people have.

I started doing something new with the book. Last couple times around I had trouble keeping track of the narrative flow. What had happened when, how the tempo was progressing, stuff like that. I'd have to stop writing and go back and read, and that interrupted my creative process, or I'd get mired in making petty changes to old text, or something. It was awkward. No more! I now have a chapter summary that I update when I'm done with the chapter. Summarizing the chapter lets me see glaring gaps in the narrative logic, it makes an easy touchpoint for later work...it's just a good thing. Allow me to demonstrate.

Chapter One – 5432 (that's a word count)


Jacob Burn – Just returning from a job.

Valentine – Jacob’s sometimes boss and smuggler. Puzzlebox.

Teromi – Composer, mentioned briefly

OverMate Higgins – Storyteller on the Glory of Day.

Ensign Tehr – Security personnel. Shot dead defending the captain.

Hunter Sloane – Briefly appears, just long enough to jump off the zep.

Marcus – Old friend of Jacob’s and a whole world of trouble


FCL (Flight of the City’s Line) Glory of Day –Hestes Class zepliner

Havreach – Frontier town on the coast of the Cusp Sea, Downfalls. Veridon’s first colony and common stop for tourists and smugglers

Veridon – You know. Shining City of Cog, all that

Arrabarra Rare – The Grassplains of the Guarana

Red Simmons, BonnerWell - frontier towns deep downfalls

Cusp Sea – The sea formed by the Reine at the foot of the Breaking Wall

Breaking Wall – The waterfall created by the Reine

Groups –

Cogswell Chain – rival criminal organization

Summary – Jacob Burn is returning from a job in Havreach via zepliner. Just as the Glory reaches the foot of the Breaking Wall, Jacob recognizes an old friend of his. He’s unable to talk to him, losing him in the crowd. As they begin their ascent to Veridon, the zep is sabotaged. Jacob and one of the crew discover that the pilot has been killed. They re-establish some modicum of control, and plan to set the ship down in the waters just outside Veridon. Shortly thereafter, the glideboats are released, apparently empty. Jacob finds Marcus on the glideboat deck, dying of a belly wound. Marcus gives him a strange artifact-cog, insisting that Jacob take it to Veridon. Marcus then admits to killing the Pilot in an attempt to escape some unnamed pursuer. Jacob kills Marcus, to spare him the crash and perhaps with a little bit of anger. They clear the falls and start to limp towards Veridon. A mysterious man (Sloane) appears on the deck and jumps off the ship. The Glory crashes.

And there you have chapter one. Thrilling. But when the chapters get more complex, it's a world of good. When did Jacob give Emily the Cog? Ah, here it is, chapter three. What was the name of the guy waiting for Jacob in his room? Oh, and what was that street where Jacob gets picked up by Valentine's boys?

It's a great tool. I recommend it. I also recommend brie on crackers.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How much is twenty dollars?

A friend of mine's dad died last week. I want to be careful about this, because I don't want anyone to think I'm being disrespectful. Painful time for the family, because it was both sudden and not sudden. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer some months ago, and the decline was rapid and horrible to watch. These are friends I haven't had much contact with since childhood, but we were think once. Him dying got me to think about, well, him. What I remembered.

What do you remember about your friends' dads? This was a military family. They moved around a lot, and he would dip out of the service for periods of time, move back to NC, then re-up and they would go away. That's how a lot of my friends were. Military and Missionary. See them for a summer, or a year, or a week, then they're gone, then they're back. You get a real sense of change in the individual. At some point the interruptions get longer and longer, and finally they become permenant. That's how it is, with all my friends. The people I don't see anymore.

Anyway. A military family. Big guy, strong, the chiseled head. Exactly what you'd expect from a soldier, what you assume every soldier is. This is something I didn't understand, but he apparently suffered some kind of throat wound in Vietnam, so he could never get his voice above a whisper. Do you know how frightening that is? I only knew him as some other kid's father, and he was so far outside of the paradigm of what I understood as "father" that he seemed almost alien.

I have two distinct memories related to this guy. The first was at my house, one summer. I must have been in the fourth or fifth grade. Maybe younger. He came over and waxed my parent's car, a blue oldsmobile cutlass supreme, with those fuzzy bench seats, front and back. They paid him $20. I was amazed, twenty dollars! That was a lot of money, in my mind. I asked if I could get paid $20 for washing the car, since I did it all the time for free. I didn't understand the look on his face when I asked that, not until later. But he took the money and he nodded to my parents and smiled and said thanks in that strange whisper of his. The second memory is when I realized that it wasn't a lot of money, that he was doing it just to scrape by, that he was dirt god damn poor and he was depending on the charity of others to make it by. I had always known they had money trouble, but I didn't understand what that meant.

The look on his face. That's what it meant.

That's what I remember about this guy, and now he's dead. He was a good man, a good father, and he raised a good family. He did what he had to, when he had to, even when it hurt.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Things fall down. Literally. That's not a metaphor, it's fucking gravity

This is the picture my wife emailed me at work yesterday. That's my driveway. That's part of my tree. They're buddies now. It's a little hard to get perspective on that, but the branch is probably, what...thirty feet long? And it's ten inches at the base. Pretty heavy. So the first thing I got to do when I got home yesterday was man up and saw off a couple of the limbs that were holding it in place, then drag the branches and twist so the whole thing would come free and fall. I didn't even crush the flowerbed by the driveway. Pretty awesome. I felt cocktastic afterwards. SPARTA!

And then apparently there were a bunch of tornadoes and drenching rains and baseball sized hail, but where I was it didn't even rain.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Just a Hairpic

Wil Wheaton fascinates me. I've been listening to the audiobook version of his book, Just a Geek, for the past couple of days. It's interesting. The negotiation that exists between his current career and the looming behemoth that is Wesley Crusher, and how he pretty much bottomed out professionally and rebuilt himself with html and force of will. With two els. Keen stuff. And while I was never a big Star Trek guy, the series has cultural momentum, especially in my genre. Sounds like Hollywood works the same way New York works, and whatever success Wil has from this point forward will be on the back of some third way. That third way interests me, a kind of distributed success.

Oh, btw. Hair.

Monday, June 04, 2007

This is how I feel about The Transformers, and other things. My complicated toys.

What's it like to grow up? I mean, really. When you come in contact with the things of your past life, what does that feel like. And when you look at something, a place or an activity, that you held close to your heart and realize that it's not there for you anymore, that feeling, that affection. Is that pain? Is it just nostalgia, and is that any different. When you put something away, maybe for the last time, to be hauled around in boxes from house to house, closet to closet, for the rest of your life. Is that stubborn? To think that this used to be important to me, so I'll just carry it around forever, even if it isn't important any more?