Monday, December 2, 2013

Less than half of a book

November was national novel writing month. Also known as NaNoWriMo. (The camel humps always confuse me, so that took about a minute to type correctly.)

Information can be found on the website, but to keep it short, the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. This requires an average of about 1700 words per day. For me, this takes about 2 hours.

I'd tried to do nanowrimo in 2011 and 2012. In '11, I got maybe 9 days in and stopped. '12 I did maybe 5 days. Total word production from both years was less than 10,000 words (in 14 days, it "should' have been closer to 25,000.)

The first year, I was thrilled to do it. Last year, I was also quite driven to succeed. This year, I kinda stumbled into it. I only remembered it was nanowrimo about 2 days ahead of time. Also, I worked more in early November, and am in school, which I was not for the past two years. With less preparation, less time, and less enthusiasm, how did I do?

This year, I managed to write 56,000 words in only 29 days. I was at about 30,000 words on day 10. What was the difference? How did I get 3x as many words in 1/3 less time?

Sprints. Which is to say, support. I got involved with other people doing nanowrimo. Seeing them write kept me writing. Seeing someone say "lets write 400 words in the next 15 minutes" and then doing it overcame my writing fatigue.

I wrote them words good I done did. Funny, because I already knew a community was key to writing. I've experienced that when I had more support.

Nanowrimo taught me a bit about how to write a bunch of words. Good advice has showed me how I might write even more. But I'm thinking I need to find a writing group, because clearly people are the best way to keep going in this world.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A little sun

I think I'll go outside for a while. Maybe officiate some soccer games.
Oh, hello Sun. Lovely to see you.
Yes, I miss you in winter too. But it's months like these that keep the relationship strong, right?
Hah. Yes, I suppose gravity might be involved too.
It's quite warm out, don't you think?
Well no, yes, I realize it will be warmer later.
I think 95 degrees is the high? That's about 310.
No, I realize-
Well I couldn't-
Oh, really. 5,500 degrees at the surface. Hmm. Why I'd never heard that before.
Oh, fusion? Very impressive.
No, I'm sorry. I'll try to refrain from sarcasm.
Well. I'm going to referee two soccer games.
I'm not sure. I think boys, then a girls game.
Me too. One trip, and it's pretty close, so it won't take too long.
I know. But the Earth's magnetic field protects me from that. Would be a bit hotter than 300 if we were getting hammered by all that, don't you think?
Yes, I know it penetrates the field.
Yes, and the atmosphere. I'm wearing sun screen too.
Well, I'm at the game. I'll talk to you later Sun.


Well Sun, that was fun. The wind was nice, or it'd have been quite hot.
Well, I am made of mostly water.
Di-hydrogen oxide.
Yes, quite low, on a relative scale. About 400 K.
No, I'm using the metric system.
Kelvin IS metric.
Don't worry, it's a common misconception.
Planet? I'm on Earth. The third one.
Sometimes I forget too.
But do they even play soccer on Venus?
That many?
Who knew?
I need to get some gas. I'm going inside again.

(a little later)

Hey Sun, I got a look at my skin in the bathroom. I'm turning beet red.
It's a small, water bearing root vegetable.
We eat them. For nutrition. It's like...well, they help me stay alive.
It's the color you might be in a few billion years.
No I'm not calling you old. Just...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you.
Ok. I didn't realize it bothered you.
Sounds good.
My point was, I'm in some pain.
Yes, I did wear protective oil. It should have kept the UV rays out of me.
In summer, maybe 300, give or take.
My temperature is close to 310 though.
I vent heat into the air, through my skin.
Yep. 310 in the air. The atmosphere.
It was pretty toasty.
A few ways. At that temperature, mostly by excreting salty water through glands on our skin. The water evaporates, cooling us.
I suppose it might wash off the sun screen.
Maybe an hour or two?


Sunday, August 25, 2013

But I DID pay my bill!

A fun story about health care and the post office:

This month, I was supposed to make a payment on the 18th, but it was a Sunday, and they don't accept weekend payments. However, being a government program, they generously move the due date backward, which means I was supposed to make my payment on the Monday the 19th, not Friday the 16th.

I made my payment early on Monday, without trouble. Tuesday passed as normally as Tuesdays do.

On Wednesday, I get a letter telling me to ignore the letter canceling my insurance. I had not received any such letter, and suspected I should not receive one, since I had paid on time. Nonplussed, I threw this letter away.

On Thursday I received a letter telling me I had made my payment on time, and my next payment was due the 19th in September. As expected.

On Friday, I received a letter that said I was late with my payments, and needed to pay for next month AND the month after, before the end of the month, or else my insurance would be canceled.

On Saturday, I received three letters in two envelopes. The first letter told me that my insurance had been canceled, because I had failed to make correct payments before the end of the month. Which was still a week away. Not saying "It will be canceled IF I didn't pay," but that because I failed to pay this month (which was blatantly wrong,) my coverage would be canceled at the end of the month. The second letter kindly informed me that because I had paid on time (which directly contradicted the other one,) my insurance would be reinstated at the beginning of the next. A final letter in the same envelope reminded me that my insurance continued through the end of the month, and that there would be no termination of coverage. Which, I feel, makes it hard to reinstate, given that it is continuing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Writing Tips: Name choice

If you're writing fiction, you can name people anything you want to. You get to pick! So, unless you have a very good reason to, choose names that are easy to read, easy to say, and easy to write.

Too often I see people picking names that they like, without considering the reader, or even their own work.

Arghein'davaerious might sound exotic, but how is that actually said?

(Note, I just made that name up. Similarities to anyone's work is unintentional.)

There's a ton of problems with that name, not as a name, but as a word chosen by the writer.

How is the “gh” said? And how is ghein said? How is the apostrophe said after the “in” or “ein”? How is the “er” or “ious” or “aerious” said?

Forcing your reader to decipher anything is usually bad. And I even used rather straight forward spelling. If I start replacing letters or throwing in stray “h”s and “y”s, it becomes a nightmare.

Go buy yourself a baby name book, find one that tells you the origin of the name, or sorts then by language and region. That'll lend cohesiveness to the names.

You can change them a little if you like, but it might be good to have a couple friends see if they can pronounce your changes before you submit anything like Khys-tougih'jhoffa. (Eh? Guess what that says. I'll tell you if you're correct.)

Also. Double also. Avoid style rules that upset people. (I'll write more on style later.) If you can pick James or Jesse, please, avoid the ES ending. Because, while most of us were taught in high school and college to use James' for James possessive, there aren't real “rules” for these things, and some people prefer one form over the other.

(Also, I once stopped read a story because there were a pair of characters named James and I couldn't decipher what the author was talking about.)

Strunk and White, for example, recommend the 's (resulting in James's, Jesus's, and Alli Baba's) for any singular possessive. And while some people's brain alarms are certainly ringing right now, I feel it safe to claim that the Elements of Style is more of an authority than you, your high school teacher, or your college professor.

Assuming none of these are world renowned editors or grammar geniuses of course. If one or all of these is world known, feel free to cite the well circulated style guide as comparison.

Professional productions almost certainly use a style guide, so use their preference. Otherwise, you get to pick. 

If you're a freelancer writer, you're likely to be subjected to the style guide preferences of anywhere you submit your work. If they like the opposite of what you used, do you really want to go through and change them all?

Save yourself the headache and name your characters things like Alexander Shaw or Xjian Moliko.

(Yes, people might not know how to say the Xji, but that's only one stumbling block, and certainly no one is forcing you to use east asian names.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Scent Assault

I was nearly driven out of Caribou by a woman wearing 9 gallons of perfume. The smell nauseated me so badly that I had to retreat to the bathroom to recover.

Thankfully, scent receptors fatigue pretty quickly. When I returned, I couldn't smell it unless I took a deep breath.

So here's a note folks: Use the least scent possible. One spritz near your head/neck will be plenty.

If you're desperate to cover body funk (and are opposed to showers or deodorant,) you can apply one to a hand and kinda rub your wrists together or something. Do not apply more often than once every 12 hours without taking a shower between applications.

Quick defense: Yes, I realize some perfume/cologne is more pungent than others. From across a table, my eyes were watering from the evaporating chemicals. I refuse to believe this happens with a single spritz of anything short of bleach.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Music!. ?. !!. Ish. !

Based on several (rather popular) songs I've heard recently, I'm pretty sure I could create successful music using the following process:

1) Write down some seemingly coherent lyrics. Do not edit these lyrics. The original "flavor" is desirable. Typos are ideal.

2)Randomly select several notes, then randomly assign them note lengths, sufficient to fill 2-5 minutes.

3) From a music book (why think when I can use a book?)  randomly select chords based on some of those notes, and then, randomly intersperse them in place of some notes.

4) "Hire" a 3 year old to bang on pots and pants for the desired duration. Insert product as drums.

5) Omit bass entirely. Apparently harmony is overrated.

6) Generate vocal line by randomly select which notes on the melody to sing, while replacing the other notes with more randomly selected notes and chords.

7) Hire Con some overly enthusiastic college music major into singing my nonsensical lyrics according to generated system.

8) ?

9) Profit.

Don't give away my system. This type of methodical analysis takes intense time and effort.

Grapple plaster.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


You have lived another year.
You have not been shot, poisoned, or crushed by a train.
Despite the increasing rate of fatalities due to tragic accidents, you have survived.
May wonders never cease.
You have not been burned to death in a fire caused by the fuel free falling from a collapsing airplane. Or automobile. The difference is maybe not as important as it seems.
I cannot say this entire thing has a point.
Life, or this article, take it as you will.
Whatever the case, you wake up in the morning, see the sun or maybe not the sun, because it could be dark when you wake up in the morning, or you could wake up not in the morning, but still see the sun, in which case despite seeing the sun, my statement is incorrect, and either way you wake up.
Maybe you have nothing to do, or maybe you have everything to do, and maybe you're going to stay at home in your stale pajamas all day long, not eating a single meal, but drinking three cases of beer, and lose 2 pounds in the process, because that is what happens when you do not eat.
It is a new year, and you made some goals, or maybe you have not made goals, or maybe decided to make goals but have not decided what the goals themselves will be, but the goal was made, and that is more important than having a purpose to the goal.
You have lived another year.
It is quite the accomplishment.
As of reading this, you have access to the Internet, and are still alive. Doing nothing in particular, you have accomplished more than everyone who has ever died before you. For that matter, you have accomplished more than the people who do not have access to Internet, but are still alive, or will ever live, but not have access to the Internet.
We are all very impressed.
No really, Congratulations!
I hope in the coming year, you will accomplish something that you have always wanted to accomplish, but always been held back, probably by someone else, definitely not having anything to do with yourself, and this year, you will find a way to remove that someone else.
Possibly a sniper will help.
I hear you have been promoted. I hear you have become engaged. I hear you got married. I hear you got divorced.
To the attractive girl I have always wanted to ask out, I hear you are in a relationship. That is too bad.
I mean, congratulations.
I hear you had a child. I see your child moved out. I hear your child graduated from college. I hear you finish paying off your child's student loans. I hear your child miraculously managed to create a piano masterpiece.
Whatever the case, you are still alive. Most people seem to have a problem with that the long run. Currently you are beating all of those people. You have plenty of time to perfect, or perpetrate, crimes against humanity, or perhaps something greater.
I am sure this will be wonderful year. Very different from all the other years before this. You will manage to save more money than you spend. You will impress your coworkers. You will impress your husband/wife, or perhaps the best friend of your wife/husband, or perhaps the spouse of that best friend, whom you always secretly had a crush on but have never really been willing to engage in.
Debauchery ensues.
I am not sure how to go on after this. Debauchery is usually the end of things in my writing.
This is the end!