Tuesday, November 30, 2004
So here’s the wrap-up I promised.
Every year I want to do something different for National Novel Writing Month.
This year I wanted the NaNoWriMo experience of writing crap. In the sense that I had not idea what I was going to do, I was just going to write. And of course, I did write crap. Probably more crap per paragraph than I’ve written before. I just sat down on November 7th with a scant notion of an idea and just wrote. With no plan and no expectations.
What’s good that came out of it? There’s a good idea there. It’s actually an idea that might make a good play, so I’ll try to work on that.
For those who don’t care to download the PDF (and who can blame you), here’s a brief synopsis of what the story might be:
Okay, the plot could use some work. But that’s what I wrote.
Next year I think I’m going to do a bit more work, maybe start over again with a tried and true plot. Maybe an adaptation.
Equally interesting are the stats:
Finally, amount of time to write: 30.5 hours. No wonder it reads at less than a fifth grade level!
Monday, November 29, 2004
This evening’s writing session was not really much about writing. After all, I needed a scant 994 words.
What I needed to do was find a way to bring the story to a close. Of course there’s the old standby where everyone dies. Which I’ve used in two different novels before (okay, well in one of them it was absolutely appropriate seeing how it was the story of a martyr). But this one needed to be somehow motivated.
So I motivated my character to stop what she was doing and take a different path.
The session took place in my bed upstairs, since it was close and comfy and away from the distraction of the TV. My brother called in the middle, so that explains the lousy count for that one block.
I’ll have a better wrap up later, but there it is, the final tally.
The whole thing took 30 1/2 hours to complete. One of these days I’m gonna write a better novel in about the same amount of time. Maybe that’s one of these months.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Eek! So close to 50K, yet so far from the end of the novel. Well, the title “novel” is debatable as well.
I started my day where I started my novel. I started my first day of novel writing three weeks ago at Espresso Mi Cultura.
Then I headed down for some mano-a-nano with Russ at Panera near the airport (I always think the sight of landing planes is so cool - the cross Sepulveda Blvd. there at a scant few hundred feet above the road).
So I’m two days away from the deadline and a scant 1,000 words. I’ll make it, probably sometime tomorrow evening my blue wordcount bar will never even turn green, but go straight to purple on the NaNoWriMo forums.
I have no idea about what to do about the fact that my novel is going nowhere. There is no plot. There’s a story, perhaps, but the themes aren’t heavy enough to carry it. Ah well, it’s another experiment for me.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Today I did a little writing warm-up before my writing out session. I headed over to The Coffee Table for about 90 minutes of writing before heading up to Vromans:
I had a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant. I didn’t really want the croissant. I wasn’t hungry. I had a nice breakfast of leftover baked yam with some spiced brown sugar butter.
Then at Vroman’s we sat as some sort of display of novel writing activity - like the people who pull taffy in the front window at the boardwalk or the donuts at Krispy Kreme. This is how novels are made:
I had a cup of bad gunpowder green tea. And I also brought along a little baggie of chocolate which included some mixed milk and dark Wilbur buds and some organic chocolate that my sister-in-law brought for Thanksgiving.
The total for the day was 6,933. I should have gone for a squared off 7K, but I figured I got to 42,000 and it was raining and I only paid for four hours on the meter, so I headed home.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Today, instead of writing in one of those places made for drinking coffee, I went and wrote in one of those places designed to hold books (not a bookshelf). Fellow wrimo (and yinzer), Ron, set up a write-out at the Valley Plaza branch of the LA Public Library. It’s a brand spankin’ new building with a swell little meeting room where they let us have coffee (home-made).
I got about 4K in for the day, so I’m in a pretty good position. You can check the full status spreadsheet on the left if you’re really curious. I need 15K more and my calculations say that I need about 10 more hours of work in order to achieve that. I figure I’ll do about 3 or 4 hours on Saturday in Pasadena and then maybe sneak out on Sunday to write out by myself for a bit (not a public event) so I can knock back 5-8K. Then it’ll be a matter of tying up the story with a neat bow on Monday or Tuesday. My saving grace is that I don’t have class on Tuesday night.
Monday, November 22, 2004
I admit, I start my Christmas shopping in the sale section. Today I was browsing Amazon apparel. I was not only suprised by what they carry, but also the excellent values!
I guess I hadn’t really considered looking at tacky lingere on Amazon, and further, checking out the reviews. But hey, where else are you going to get the straight poop about the comfort of Fishnet Suspender Pantyhose with 3 Openings - by Leg Avenue hailed by user A.N. Roman, “I wear these panties. Every day. And I’m a guy. Whenever I walk around with these on, I go up to a mirror, go “That’s hot”, and eat pumpkin pie while watching The Goonies. You should join me. But only if you wear these too.”
Of course if you like those stockings, you might also want to consider (as Amazon recommends) the Sexy Open Bust and Open Crotch Fishnet Bodystocking - by Leg Avenue. The reviews all hail the great access to the crotch and breasts.
It’s not all whore-wear in the sale section, of course, there is Lace Trim Plaid Flannel Gown which sadly has no reviews.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
There’s no point in me racing other people. Because this is a personal challenge.
So, here’s how I was doing in the past:
For the record, I’m at 31,161.
This morning was Downtown Day. We met up at Philippe’s down on Alameda and Ord.
If you live in LA (hell, even if you just visit here) you should probably go there at least once. I got a turkey dip, some apple pie and a nine cent cup of coffee. All good things. I didn’t each much of the sandwich, but my problem yesterday was that I didn’t have anything to eat all day, not until I got to Pasadena, and I do believe that Chris Baty is right to stress in his book that breakfast is a writer’s most important meal.
It’s another 5K so I’m that much closer to the goal. Of course I still need another 19K and the trick is to figure out how to do that in the next nine days. I think I can do 5K on each day next weekend - so that leaves 9K left unattributed to any particular session. I’m planning to write on Wednesday afternoon/night. Then a couple of days of family goodness (menu to come). I suppose the rest will have to be done in the evenings as best I can manage. I hope I can figure how to bring my story to a close. I actually hadn’t really consider that before this moment.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Today was another day in the car - though I didn’t travel as far as the Antelope Valley, I went to two different valleys.
I started with a drive to Canoga Park to the Borders there to meet up with some other far-flung wrimos. When I arrived at ten, the parking lot was nearly empty. I walked around, a little worried that I didn’t see anyone in the place and no big comfy chairs placed anywhere (as some Borders do have, or maybe I’m getting them confused with Barnes & Noble). I went upstairs and found the cafe. I ended up asking another fellow toting a laptop if he was a wrimo and realized quickly when he said “a what?” that he wasn’t.
I got a cup of drip coffee (from a guy who I don’t think has ever sold a cup of coffee before) and walked around for another ten minutes or so and then settled down at a table next to an outlet. Soon my intended wrimo prey joined me and we talked for a while and then I settled in for some wordage.
Then I packed up my things, and took off to Pasadena, stopping to get gas first as I knew I had another twenty or so miles to go and my gas tank gauge was flashing “add fuel” all week.
Up in Pasadena I found the Vroman’s gang already in full swing with their write-out and the Vroman’s staff absolutely wonderful in checking up on us. The set up was the table used for in-store events - so there are a series of chair set up as an audience for us. Several patrons actually sat there, probably just to rest or chat for a moment, but it made the noveling feel like a spectator sport. I wish we could have gotten them to do the wave.
It was a huge group, so there was lots of chatting, but I got my 5K for the day, so I was pretty pleased with that. I had to leave in a timely fashion, as I had dinner plans later.
The other cool thing is that I’m over the mid-way hump. I’m telling a story, though the plot leaves a little to be desired.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
I’ll probably start this subject as a thread on the NaNoWriMo boards. One of the advantages of keeping such copious notes about my writing habits in November, is that I have a historical record of them.
So here it is, this weeks report of this day in history:
Today I passed through three area codes to write. (323, 818 & 661)
I went up to Palmdale to the Starbucks there. You say, Palmdale? Why Palmdale. Ah, this Starbucks has a drive-thru.
Really, I went up there for a write-out with the surprisingly vibrant wrimo group.
They had some great tables (with powerstrips mounted in the center) and I hunkered down for a long winter’s write. What I lacked in hourly rate, I made up for with keeping my ass in the chair until I got some wordcount.
My total for the day? 4,231. Not the 5K I wanted, but after yesterday’s poor showing by my uncooperative body, I should be grateful that I got up and about today.
I actually enjoyed the drive. It gave me time to think. I listened to music, sang along. And the views were amazing as I passed by Vasquez Rocks.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Off to Priscilla’s in Burbank bright and early. I got a late start, actually, and traffic on the 5 was oddly congested, so I was a little late. I didn’t really get started until 10 AM. But I had a good latte at my side and a small but very good pecan bar.
The table was wobbly and my abdomen has been hurting pretty bad lately, so I was very uncomfortable most of the time I was there.
And here’s some fun, I ran Word’s auto summarize feature. So instead of bothering with that messy 17,000 word PDF over there, here’s what’s going on:
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Tonight I went over to CyberJava to meet with other wrimos. I don’t count on a lot of wordcount on the evening writeouts. Nightwriting is not really my thing after a day at work. I can do it on weekends, but weekdays are just too taxing. So excuse the pitiful count and the text that just treaded water in the plot.
It was rather cold too. Spent the first hour outside, then as we got more folks and I couldn’t stand it any longer, we moved inside where the music was more annoying.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
So I’m sitting here at my desk and I get a phone call, which in and of itself is odd. I can go a week without getting a call at the office. For a while I got wrong numbers.
Today I got another one.
This one with a twist.
This one was a text message being read aloud to me by an operator. It’s called CapTel Relay. The operator comes on, explains what it is and then tells you to repeat how you answered the phone. I did and then she typed that (clickety-click) to the person on the other end. Then I waited. They typed, and they typed and finally she read it aloud. “I’d like to book a set of two ...” a long pause “seats for a red-eye” a long pause “flight.”
I replied, “This is not the travel department.” (clickety-click) “You’ll need to call the main line. (I gave the number.)” (clickety-click) and I thanked the typist/reader and hung up. What a job! To sit around and be the intermediary for conversations. I wonder if they have to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Now I’m thinking that this needs to go in my novel. Sounds like a huge wordcount booster.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Technically I’m behind, but I need to remind myself that I’m always behind in NaNoWriMo. There’s no pressure without behind.
But here’s a little taste of history, here’s where I was each of the other years (you can go back and read the archives too, if you’re really curious).
November 7th Wordcount
Oh yeah, I might be behind this year, but I’ve come back from far worse.
Of course in 2003 we were blessed with 10 weekend days. This year we have only eight. And I already squandered one of them (the sixth). But I figured all I need is four more like yesterday and I’m sitting pretty. Of course a plot would help, too.
I’ll try to post a PDF of the sucker later on tonight and fill out my status sheet, which is kind of boring when you look at only six days that actual writing gets done.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Yes, I know, everyone else has already started and I haven’t. But I went out bright and early (okay, drizzly and kind of midmorning) and got some writing done.
As usual, I found out that I am a freaking writing machine. I’m averaging about 2,500 words per hour. No, really.
Then I packed up, cuz I’d made my 5K and I was cold and I headed over to Espresso Mi Cultura on Hollywood, just a piece down the pike. There I got warmed up with some Mexican mocha. I found a roomy table in the back and dug in for some major typetivity:
Of course I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. I’ve got a character now and a situation and she’s just kind of talking. I’m 20% into the thing, so I think I’ve ended this session on a pretty good note, with my main character flipping out.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Maybe I’ve been a little scared of throwing myself back into writing again.
A lot of things have happened in the last year. I’m only 37 and it turns out that I’m not immortal. In fact, my body is quite fallible. The bronchitis that never ended earlier this year (and the torn intercostals that still bugged me until about six weeks ago), the operation and long recovery. It’s all too much, though it’s all ended well. I think I’ve been living in my body too much lately and I need to move back into my mind.
I had some wonderfully vivid dreams last night. I didn’t sleep well, not deeply.
In one of them I went to see my brother, who had just moved. He was working as the manager of an apartment complex and lived there with his family (I don’t know what kind of apartment complex has four bedroom apartments like that though). He was showing me around the place, and started to feed his dog, Bailey. As he did that, I played with his other dog, Abbey.
Abbey was a great dog, a huge lug - she was a cross between a German shepherd and a golden retriever. She was only eleven when she was put down earlier this year because of bone cancer. She also had diabetes and hip dysplasia. She had one of the great dog lives - living with other dogs and great humans. She was a damn happy pooch and I haven’t been back to visit my brother since she was put down earlier this year.
But in the dream as he fed Bailey, I gave Abbey a great big petting, down on the floor, full body rub, scratching ears and everything. My brother didn’t see her, and I knew she really wasn’t there. But I got to say goodbye, if only in my dreams.
I have no idea what that means. But I think some of it has to do with the dog actually being gone and some of it probably has to do with my surgery and a lot of it has to do with not feeling present for the noveling this year.
I haven’t started my novel yet. I will start my novel. I must start my novel.
I’m going to go start my novel.
Friday, November 05, 2004
In America, anybody can be president. Thatís one of the risks you take.
LA Insight from LABlogs.com’s topic of the week: Family Values.
1. How far do you live from you family?
They live in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I usually fly into Pittsburgh, as it’s pretty much equidistant from those in Southeast PA and those in Ohio and of course dead center for my brother in Pittsburgh.
2. How often do you see them?
I usually go home three times a year. Sometime in February or March, then August and Christmas/New Years. This year I’ve had a horrible time connecting with them and have not been home since Christmas. My sister did come out in May though. My mother comes out once every year or two. My brother hasn’t been back since he moved away in 2000.
3. Do you have a large or small family?
I think it’s small. I have an older sister who has two nearly grown children (no longer minors but still living at home) and a brother who two small children.
4. Are family gatherings something that you look forward to or dread?
Well, first, they read my blog. I look forward to them, actually. I have a good time, it’s not a vacation, it’s a visit. Sometimes we do cool things like one year we went down to Falling Water after Thanksgiving. Mostly we hang out around the house and eat a lot and make great recipes. There’s a lot of driving involved too and it sucks that the holidays come at such a bad time for driving and traveling in general. I don’t actually dread the visits, I dread the travel. I really never cared for flying and I like it even less now.
5. What kind of support to you get from your family?
Whoo! They’re the best. For my birthday two years ago my mother and sister came out for opening night of my play in Hollywood. They’ve travelled all over to see my plays (I had one production in West Virginia that my mom and sister came down to see) and short film (the film was shown at the Cleveland Film Festival so my mother came to that and then it was at the Harrisburg Film Festival and my sister and father came to that.) And that’s just support for my career and passions. There’s all the other talky support. We’re a pretty close family, really. But easy-going and pretty non-judgemental overall. We have tiffs, but I think that’s normal with people who love each other.
6. Have you adopted any local family, either because you or they or from out of town?
Well, I’m married. So I’ve got a wonderful family in-law. We go to see my in-folks once every two weeks down in The OC. Then there are visits from my brothers in law which come a few times a year. We host a huge Thanksgiving at our house every year with 10 people.
Jeeze. A lot of things. Like the difference between a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of salt is enough to ruin a recipe. That you can’t tie your self esteem up in another person or your job.
8. What did you learn from your dad?
That I should take good care of my cars (I didn’t necessarily learn that by example). I think the best thing I learned was don’t make things a problem until they are a problem. I remember once when I was sitting around with him at work one day there was a flurry of calls coming through (I think he was executive director of the Democratic State Committee at the time) about a flag burning amendment and some of the field people were calling in for advice. He asked them something like this, “When was the last time you heard of a flag being burned? Now, when was the last time you heard about a real crime, like robbery or embezzelment. Let’s not go legistlating for things that are the least of our worries. Maybe they wouldn’t want to burn the flag if they had something to eat.” I’d like to think I focus on the problems I can fix.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Oh, and this was pretty funny, too. Looks like this is going to be passive-aggressive four years.
I want the word liberal to be reclaimed. I want it to be a good thing. I want to be able to introduce a friend and nod to the other friend and say, he’s a liberal. And we’ll all nod and because it means that we accept each other. Why should I flinch away from being a loving, open, inclusive person? And why would I want a leader who does?
Here’s the disturbing news: It’s something that I suspected but had no first-hand knowledge of. There are people out there in this country who are not only preaching superiority and intolerance, they’re using national media to get their news across. CBS is fined because of an errant breast, but CBN is helping to promote this man’s hate-speech:
You know what? Every person on this planet has to practice tolerance on a daily basis. I have to tolerate the way everyone drives, my neighbor’s dog barking, pre-teen girls dressing like whores, meat eaters, misuse of the phrase “could care less,” the list goes on and on. Humans are not identical. We are all tolerant. Some are more tolerant than others and shame on those who preach intolerance. Intolerance does not make the world a better place.
You might want to check the Amazon comments on this book, as well.
Link found via BoingBoing.net.
Personally, I think Jesus would be very disappointed if he were on earth today. I also think he’d be on the no fly list.
I am returning to the actual smell of the day.
Today it was roasted chicken with green beans.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I’m looking at a list of movies and telefilms here at work and one caught my eye, that MOW from the early seventies called A House Without a Christmas Tree starring Jason Robards. I looked it up on IMDB, because I wanted to know who the girl was. I know they made a bunch of other holiday specials, so I scrolled to the bottom of the page for the “recommendations” figuring they’re pretty well related. Instead of being referred to the other telefilms The Holiday Treasure and The Easter Promise a different movie was suggested: The Godfather Trilogy.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Today’s smell shouldn’t surprise you.
It’s the smell of democracy.
What does that smell like, you ask? Well, at my polling place it smells like babies. Dunno why, but everyone (okay maybe about a quarter of them) at my polling place had a toddler in tow. I think it’s great.
The line was long, but only because everyone was trying to vote early. The line at our polling place a few hours later was practically non-existent.
I’m not one for looking at the results before they’re actually in. My current displeasure with the media started in 2000 with the last election and continues to this day. As Jon Stewart has said, “Stop hurting America.” I hope that we can just be informed, be aware and then wait for the results instead of second and third guessing everything from moment to moment. My life doesn’t change knowing who our new leaders will be in the slightest for knowing 12 hours later than I could have known. After all, the President doesn’t take office until January and the Electoral College doesn’t meet until December.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Are you here to see how my novel is going?
Well, I’ve decided I’m going to be an asshole and hang out in coffee houses and make fun of the little conformists that do their wordcount in 1667 word incremements every day and then write all of mine in the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Um, no, wait, that’s not what I’m going to do.
I’m not planning on starting my novel until I’ve finished a draft of a new play. Supposedly I was going to do that last month, but I’ve stalled a little bit on it. But The Man laid down an edict that I not write another novel until I finish a play, so here I am, in the midst of National Novel Writing Month trying to squeeze a draft of a play out.
Of course my standards for plays are vastly different than my standards for novels (thank God!). I want to write a good and coherent play. So, I’ll get that done, probably on Saturday morning and then be able to start the Novel in earnest. It’s not like I don’t already procrastinate. At least this time I’m doing it to good purpose.
During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.