Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Thursday, February 28, 2008

And for my next trick...

I just sent the first half of my book in. That's exciting. This is the first time I've sat down with this draft of the book and read it straight through, without any kind of mental editing or anything. Just reading. I was worried because it's been written in bits and pieces, and I wasn't sure if the plot held together, or if the voice changed dramatically. I think it did okay. I'm sure there are things I missed, and rough patches that will need to be smoothed over, but I'm content.

Now to sit back for a day or two and recover. Well. Maybe just the rest of today. Maybe I'll wait until after dinner at least.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And taxes too, of course.

Got my first advance check for Heart of Veridon today. Hooray! And that can go directly to the bank, to pay for the new roof for the garage. Though I may take myself out for dinner tonight.

I want to finish the first half of the book by end of week. Only one chapter to go, then I'm going to review the whole thing, do some retooling and send it off. Completely possible. I'm totally on schedule. It's horrifying.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I've been reading up on the health insurance plans offered by the potential nominees. I'm in the strange position of preferring McCain's current plan. Strange.

Update: My wife and I were talking about this, and the best example we could come up with was car insurance. Here in the US your car insurance is pretty directly tied to your driving record, and you're required by law to have insurance. My insurance is low because I haven't had a ticket or been in an accident in almost 20 years. My co-worker has astronomical rates because she has about a dozen "moving violations" on her record.

Move this to health. Stay healthy, don't pay much insurance. Get sick, pay more. If you're chronically ill? Well, I don't know how you keep up on the payments. How do you structure that? Would insurance cover preventative maintenance?

Overall it strikes me as a selfish position. I'm healthy, why should I pay for your illness? But what if they did this to auto insurance? Should I cover my co-worker's driving habits? For that matter, should I cover her eating habits and smoke breaks?

The most important thing about this plan, from my perspective, is that it frees insurance from the business realm. Good for small business and the self-employed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I wear big boots, for a job like this

So after much snow, we're having heavy rain and warm temperatures today. My driveway is flooding. There's probably four inches out there, held in place by the natural depression of my lot, plus the walls of snow on either side from the multiple shovelings. So I just got finished digging out a drainage canal through my yard. We'll see how that goes.

This is at least in part due to the new houses across the street. Replacing ranches with McMansions (w/9' basements) and no drainage ditches will do that to you. I can watch the water cascade down their massive driveway, pool in the road, and then waterfall into my driveway. Lovely.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Taking America seriously

Pretty good day. Sold a story to an anthology, and settled on a title for my book. It's going to be Heart of Veridon and the whole series will be using Veridon in the title. As you can tell, we're playing up the fantasy aspects of the story. Marketing decisions. There are other aspects of the project that have the editorial staff very excited, but I can't talk about them yet. You know why.

One of the things that will keep me in this job for a long time is health insurance. Even if my royalties and advances stack up to something resembling an income, I'll have to stick here for the insurance. I have two thoughts about this. Well, three thoughts, but the first is "Fuck the Man." And that's hardly productive. So, my other two thoughts.

1) The current insurance system is bad for business. Corporations have to push an enormous amount of money into health insurance for their employees. That cost gets moved on to the consumer. This is literally why Starbucks coffee costs so much. Starbucks has some of the best insurance of any retail outlet, and they pay for it through high prices. Maybe I could get a job at starbucks...Hm. Anyway.

2) The current insurance system discourages entrepreneurship. You pretty much have to tie your wagon to a big company for the benefits. Small companies have trouble starting up, and they have trouble attracting quality employees because they can't offer the benefits. And if they do offer the benefits, they kill their own margin and debt load. It's unamerican. I don't use that term lightly.

Okay, those are my republican reasons for supporting socialized medicine. We'll need a better name for it, because my red friends hear 'socialized' and they think 'socialist' and that's just not productive. Now, my democratic reasons for socialized medicine.

1) This is America, people. Folks shouldn't die because they couldn't afford to go to the dentist for their abscess.

2) Health isn't a luxury, and it shouldn't be packaged as a product. Hospitals should not have to consider the bottom line, and insurance companies shouldn't be overruling doctors.

I could go on. Here's the thing. I *know* these aren't new arguments. I know I'm not adding anything to the conversation here. Just sometimes I have to say these things, to keep my head from exploding.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh, look. Snow.

I haven't posted much because my life has settled into a pretty consistent cycle, and it's just not very exciting. Work, make dinner, write, glass of wine, bed. Chicago is getting a couple inches of snow every two to three days, and has been for a couple weeks now. So that adds pushing the shovel around the driveway, either by getting up an hour early or doing it when I get home. It also makes driving to and from work slow, because the municipalities have run out of salt. It's so damn cold that even an inch of snow accumulates on the roads, and without salt the roads get kind of bad and stay that way. It's not terrible, it just means a slow drive to and from work. And whenever you walk outside, you have to do that loose-kneed hobble or you fall. I know this because I fell in the parking lot at work last week, and my wrist still hurts.

Work itself has been slow. Cycles, again. Not having a lot to do doesn't mean my coworkers are getting their work done, it just means everyone has more time to spend at espn.com. Priorities, people. But it does mean that I can write at work, which is more difficult that you'd think. This building is almost designed to channel away creative thought.

I've mentioned my displeasure in working for a junk mail provider. One of the things we do is mortgage advertising, which has always been especially distasteful. We recently did a mailing to mortgage brokers, advertising our services, and now we have an employing calling all the people to whom we mailed. Cold calling, basically. It's horrible to listen to, the simpering wilt of her voice, the goddamn trick questions you have to ask to keep them from hanging up on you. I hate sales. I hate salespeople. I hate having to listen to this woman whine her way into voicemail.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't bother reading this.

I like it when these lists come out, because it reminds me that "you're nobody motherfucker. We don't even see you." Just for reference. We like making lists. I keep telling myself that it doesn't bother me, but who are we fucking here? I think well of my work. Combine it with the day I'm having at work? Priceless.

I really wish this business wasn't soaked in the grimy sweat of hungry desperation that seems to drip from its every pore. I wish it was something where we could be content with whatever success we found, perhaps take a little joy in the work itself. I wish it wasn't so tightly linked to social circles and convention circuits, and whose friend's editor's agent is on the selection committee. I'm being overly vitriolic about this, but I don't think anything works. I don't think anyone is right.

Anyway. Insert rant about gatekeepers and meritocracy and the problem with art as commercial product. Reference what's important to you, and what you would do if you were doing what you wanted. Ask yourself why you're not happy, and be happy.

I'm just saying. Why am I sitting here?