jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 658
Total words: 658
Neat things: "Fish and fishfolk circled below her." Questionable, unstable, and possibly-explosive technology.

New project, from a scrap of an idea I wrote down years ago (thanks to Vesper for being a note-taking app that's a delight to use, even though I'm only using the barest minimum of its functionality).

I have a setting, a Spunky Young Protagonist, and a general sense of brightly-colored fast-paced action. I know the next couple of scenes, and beyond that I have no idea whatsoever where this thing is going, or even how long it wants to be. To paraphrase Vincent "Apocalpyse World" Baker, Write to find out.

Eventually I'm going to need a title, but that can come with the plot.



"Weren't you writing something else?" Yep. New project is a result of stalling out on "Blood On Her Hands And A Stone At Her Throat," partly because I am unsure of the proper capitalisation for the honking long title but mostly because I can't come up with a plot climax to fit the emotional climax I want. This may be a case of being kneedeep in a story and thinking it's terrible (step 3, or possibly 4, of Marcus Romer's six steps of the creative process) but I'm pretty sure it's more than just that. It Does Not Work on a fundamental level and I just can't get it to work.

My options include "write it anyway," which I am not thrilled by, "rip the middle of the story apart again and rewrite it," which I am not thrilled by, and "set it aside for awhile and come back to it later," which I am not thrilled by but which at least doesn't make me want to tear my hair out. Hence, new project.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I am home, after literally twelve hours travelling. It would have been less but Delta's checkin system is incapable of understanding the concept of "permanent resident," and wouldn't check me in for a flight to Canada unless I could tell them when I'd be leaving Canada. I figured I'd better get there early in case their desk staff were as incompetent as their computer system. They weren't, so yay, except for the part where I sat around BWI for two and a half hours to go with the three-hour layover at JFK.

It's rainy and grey and just a bit chilly here. Feels like home. We got the obligatory couple of nice weeks in early May to lull us into complacency, and now Vancouver has said "FOOLED YOU!" and gone back to being miserable until the first of July.

I'm finding it easier to read printed books than ebooks. Not sure what's going on there; the physical item is just more attractive to me somehow. I may be objecting to the bright white "page" background? I dunno. But I blasted through a reread of Kavalier & Clay on the trip out, and am halfway through Jane Jacobs's Death & Life of Great American Cities after starting it in BWI around noon.

I'm finally getting around to reading the Jacobs because if I'm going to keep ranting about Robert Fucking Moses and the terrible things urban planning has done, I should at least know a little of what I'm talking about. (At dinner with Megan I went on a bit of a tirade. Apparently I have Opinions about cities, and automobiles, and urban development in general. Who knew?) The book is really interesting, by which I mostly mean "confirms many of my prejudices and preferences," but also feels very dated in parts. Like the bit where she's horrified, and expects the reader to be horrified, by the woman who won't let her kids, between the ages of eight and fourteen, go down and play "in the street" (on the sidewalk) outside their New York apartment.

Reading the book makes me think that the living environment I want is "New York, specifically Greenwich Village, in the late fifties." Which is going to be difficult. I am pretty sure there are neighborhoods in Vancouver that can sort of replicate that feeling: Commercial, Mt Pleasant. They'll just take some effort to find.

Meanwhile I need to unpack and sort and generally fall back into a normal yet useful rhythm. Today, I think, is a wash as far as scheduling and Doing Things (other than viola practice, which Must Happen) go. Tomorrow will be better.

thud

May. 23rd, 2015 11:03 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Coming back from the beach we hit traffic on 95 north at about four o'clock, and I was just completely Done. I'd been planning on meeting up with Megan J-- and getting a lift to either the metro station or BWI, picking up a rental car at BWI, driving to Hunt Valley wherever that is, being wildly sociable for about four hours possibly more, then falling over on an air mattress in a hotel only to wake up the next morning and drive back to BWI to fly home. But I was exhausted, and headachey, and the prospect of fighting through DC traffic, even light DC traffic, seemed suddenly just too much to take.

So I hung out with Megan for a while and got dinner at a decent Mexican place near Springfield Mall Towne Centre, and now I'm at my parents' place for the night.

I have had a good-but-lonely time at the beach, playing games and seeing people I don't see nearly often enough. On Friday I went out and dozed in the sand for half an hour or so, because if you aren't sunburnt then no one will believe you were really at the beach. And talking with Megan was pleasant as always, and my folks and my niephlings are decent company, and I am very tired.

I am also very far behind on my internet reading. Anticipated catchup: mid next week, or possibly never.

(But probably mid next week.)
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
At the beach with boardgamers, like I do. It's been good for the most part: good games, decent company, sunshine, conditioned air. Feeling a bit more disconnected than usual this year. Partly this is because [personal profile] uilos isn't here, because "end of the school year" is a terrible time for an assistant instructor to try and take a week-long vacation. Other likely culprits include a sharp lack of time to introvert (the wifi downstairs is sketchy at best), and the fact that vacations feel less like vacations when they're a vacation from an unstructured life.

(The lack of structure is starting to seriously get to me, I think. When I get back I will have to a) restructure my life a bit more cleanly and, well, usefully, and b) start looking for work. These things are at least more or less complementary.)

For the first time in six years I'm not going to Wiscon. This is weird. I'm gonna miss the smart panels and conversations and the company, and downtown Madison. I am almost certainly going to stick my head in at Balticon, where I can at least get some of the smart conversations and good (if different) company.

Having writing thoughts, which is not at all the same as actually writing. Those ... may gel into a post later this week.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
(xposting here from elseweb, with expansions / clarifications)

I'll be in Seattle tomorrow (Friday) from roughly noon (train arrives in Chinatown) 'til nine (need to be at Seatac to catch a flight east). My current plan involves wandering Pike Place Market and environs while dragging a suitcase, and maybe finding a place to sit and write.

From there I fly to Norfolk for a week in the Outer Banks with the Arlington Board Gamers.

After that I'm in the DC area from about two pm Saturday (that's the 23rd) until oneish on Sunday, since I need to catch a flight from BWI at two. I have no real plans for that twenty-three-hour period.

However! I'd thought Balticon was the weekend after that but it turns out it's that weekend. So I may go up to Hunt Valley and hang out there for awhile? I dunno.
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
I'm not writing much here these days. This... is probably not a good sign.



Weekend before last my parents were in town. We had quite a good visit: hit the Maritime Museum and Granville Island, wandered arond Queen Elizabeth Park (a large hill in the middle of the city that used to be a quarry, so it's got some very neat planned-gardens and waterfalls and such, and also a domed conservatory with lots of birds), and ate much tasty food. Dad and I got our "portraits" done in magic marker on cardboard, by an itinerant artiste while we were loitering in Gastown.

They left very early on Tuesday morning, and I was thinking "it would have been nice if they'd stayed another day or so." I think this means that the visit was exactly as long as it should have been.



My viola finally arrived yesterday. Stupid Long & McQuade. It is in fact black and not green, as I'd requested, and the electric pickup seems to work, and in general it looks quite nice. And maybe sounds as well, at least when someone who knows what they're doing is playing it.

That is clearly not me. I feel like between the Gathering and my parents' visit I have lost most of whatever skill I'd developed and have been fumbling worse than usual trying to get it back.

It'll come. I keep telling myself that. I think I'm now past the point where any jumpstart I had from cello is doing me any good, and am having to learn the hard way like anyone else. Frustrating. Practice, practice, practice.



That may be part of my problem, honestly. I'm not really doing much of anything that I'm *good* at. Rather, the things I'm good at are either not things that I want to be doing (tech writing) or of very little use (boardgames). I'm a beginning violist with all that that implies, and a fiction writer with limited experience. And doing those things is how one gets better at them, but it's really annoying to spend my days feeling like I'm terrible at everything I try.

Which may be part of why I've been hiding. I don't know.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 429
Total words: 5,043
Neat things: A standoff that won't end the way the guy with the wand expects it will. And Everywhere the light fell I saw more forgotten sculptures and paintings, tax write-off donations from rich heirs who wanted the stuff even less than the museum did.

Been tapping away at this off and on. I think I may be at the point where there's more plot in my head than on the page. Which means I need to write the scenes that I know will be in there, and then figure out how to stitch it all together.

One of these days I will remember that this is how my process works and that when I know what a scene is I ought to go ahead and write it. Especially if I'm stuck on how the plot hangs together in the middle.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I went out for dinner with a couple of writer-type friends yesterday. There was a huge brown cloud hanging over downtown, soaking up all the light. It looked decidedly thunderstorm-y, which is not a look we get often out here. I picked up the pace and got indoors before any precipitation actually started.

Steph and Kat showed up about ten minutes later, with umbrellas out.

"It's decided to precipitate, then?"

"It is *hailing*," Kat said.

Today about an hour ago we had an actual thunderclap (just the one). Right now there's pinging off the window behind me which is most likely just rain, but could be tiny hail pellets. Chaos, who's sitting next to me, is a little perturbed by all the Weird Noises.

Stupid weather. Bad timing for my parents coming to visit this weekend, too.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I'm at the Gathering again this year, spending a week-plus playing games and hanging out with people. Financially it was likely an unwise decision to go... but I found a roommate, and a cheapish flight to/from the vicinity, and darnit, it just seemed like fun.

It feels different this year. I went last year and had a blast, but it was all sort of overwhelming. It's a lot calmer-seeming now. I'm used to it, I guess, or maybe I'm just in a better place myself. [personal profile] uilos didn't make it due to some work shenanigans plus the general hazard of being on an academic schedule, that's a pretty big shift as well.

I'm rooming with Christine who I met once when we first moved out to Vancouver. She's an excellent roommate and a fine person, but she's very much an extrovert. I have not had this much conversation in the mornings in a very very long time.

Been getting up pretty much every morning to play 18xx games. I have consistently come in last or next-to-last in every one so far. No great surprise considering that a lot of these guys have been playing since well before I started doing any serious gaming at all. It's been really excellent regardless: I've learned a bit, and I've had a lot of fun.

Hard to believe it's nearly over. Not sure if I'm coming back next year; it's not easy to justify the expense when I'm not making a stupid amount of money. But it *is* a very very good trip. Eh. I don't know.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Ice Balls: "That Saturday morning I saw our CEO glowing with ego and it occurred to me that maybe testosterone wasn’t that cute of a look. Maybe the estrogen my body makes naturally was what kept me from doing dumb shit like paying 50 people for 3 hours of San Francisco minimum wage so that someone would look at my wedding album."

David Bowie Writing New Musical Based on The Man Who Fell to Earth: "Inspired by the novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, Lazarus features a host of new Bowie songs, as well as new arrangements of previously recorded tunes."

The curious case of the disappearing Polish S: "This is a story of how four incidental ingredients spanning decades (if not centuries) came together to cause the most curious of bugs."

The Mystery of Lê From Hop Sing Laundromat: "Later, I would reach out and talk to Lê's friends, his regulars, some of his former employees. I'd ask each of them the same question: What do you know about this guy? And, invariably, the answer would be the same: Nothing."

Making Sense Of Maple Syrup: notable for a) a change in the syrup grading system, which makes me sad because now the uninformed will no longer buy "grade A"/"#1" thinking it's superior to grade B/#2 and leave the good stuff for me, and b) "Grade B is part of a popular cleanse with cayenne pepper and now we ship all of our Grade B to California because of that." *sigh*

Do not mess with the animal kingdom:

Angry badger shuts down luxury Stockholm hotel, forces police to intervene: "It remains unclear why the badger was angry."

Rogue owl caught after year-long reign of terror in Dutch town: "In one of the many assaults, two members of a local athletics clubs were attacked last month, with one runner requiring stitches for six head wounds caused by the nocturnal bird of prey's talons."

Squirrel blamed for car engine stuffed with nuts: "Evans says the driver recognized the nuts."
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
This A Softer World comic hits uncomfortably close to home, and would have reduced me to tears and speechlessness about five years ago.

Let's see.

Foot: still sore, still a little swollen. Going back to icing it today.

Viola: Went to pick it up on Monday. I am much less of a fan of the colour than I'd hoped: it's a lot flatter than anticipated, and it makes it look... cheap. More importantly, there was an inch-long crack next to the tailpiece. Looked like someone had dropped the package on its end and hit the tailpiece just right. So it's going back to the factory. I'll call the store today and see if I can talk to a human being and cancel the dye job, just get a glossy-black hybrid.

On the bright side, they loaned me the standard carbon-fibre viola they had in stock, and it sounds roughly a zillion times better than the $200 rental I had before. So there's that.

Writing: Been plinking away at this %&$ story. It looks like I'm going to have to do something I've never done before: write a scene or three from a different character's perspective so I can figure out what happens, even though I know for a fact I'm not going to use those scenes. Oh well. Going out to sit in a coffeeshop & write with Steph this evening, which will be pleasant.

Role-playing: reached a stopping point in the Lords of Gossamer & Shadow game last week. I made a rookie-GM mistake in the Big Fight Scene and had an NPC doing a lot of the actual fighting but apart from that it went reasonably well. We're now taking a break to play 13th Age, which appears to be "D&D with fewer rules and more cool storytelling tools."

There's also been some friction with the perennially difficult player, which might warrant its own post later. Or maybe not.

Boardgames: Forgot to mention that I spent much of last weekend at another boardgame convention thing. This one's run by a local wargame club, but they have a small contingent of 18xx players. It was decent: got in three games, and enjoyed the company alright. They have regular meetings one Friday a month, to which I may go.

I leave for the Gathering (ten-day gaming convention in Niagara) in eight and a half days. Based on the cost breakdown and the general state of finances this is probably a mild error in judgement, but it'll be fun.

Speaking of money, I'm also sorting through taxes, which are slightly complicated this year. That's why we pay Chris-the-accountant the small-to-medium bucks. On the "bright" side we're likely to get a small-to-medium refund depending on how some things get classified.

Cats: Are adorable. Chaos is a lot more mobile, and also a lot less steady on his feet than he wants to be, especially when jumping. But he *is* jumping, so that's a good sign. Mostly they both do a lot of sleeping, as is appropriate for elder kittens.

Overall things are good, I think.
jazzfish: Two guys with signs: THE END IS NIGH. . . time for tea. (time for tea)
At eight it seemed like a good idea to have a cup of the tea that Ed gave us for xmas. (It's a flavored tea whose name escapes me but is on the tin, and is rather tasty; so saith the person who normally dislikes flavored teas, so.) At half past midnight it's seeming like a less good idea.

E & I watched Ronin again this evening. I remember going to see it in the Lyric when it came out, probably on a 75cent Tuesday, with Mandy and Vond and whoever else, and thinking, "They made a movie of a Cyberpunk game session." It's also namechecked in Night's Black Agents (the role-playing game of spies versus vampires) as a direct inspiration for the kind of gameplay Ken Hite was going for. It holds up very very well: great car chases, fun but not overdone dialogue, Sean Bean getting ambushed by a cup of coffee. Recommended. (Do not ever watch the "alternate ending" on the DVD. It is terrible and will make you think less of the movie by its very existence.)

My foot seems to be healing up from last weekend; it's just tight and a little sore across the front of the ankle. And my viola has come in at last, and I'll go and get it tomorrow. That will be good.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Jazz Fish)
On Saturday night I discovered that I tend to walk slightly on the blades of my feet. This is almost certainly doing terrible things for my posture.

cut for description of trauma, neither graphic nor permanent )
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
In early February I dropped a large sum of money on a viola. I ordered it through Long & McQuade, a Canadian music megastore, on the theory that they could a) get me a slightly better price than ordering direct from the manufacturer, and b) deal with any issues that I might happen to have. I was told it would likely arrive in late February.

In early March, when the viola hadn't yet arrived, I called L&M and left a message. I called them back a few days later, somewhat more irate, and got told that it would be here "hopefully by the end of next week." This sounded suspiciously like they hadn't bothered to even put the order in, but I let it go.

Today it's closer to the end of the week after that, and I've called them again.

It turns out that in fact they hadn't bothered to put the order in. There have been a large number of payment screwups in their head office, and mine was one of those affected. Not that anyone bothered to check this until I called to bug them.

So, I am told that the payment will definitely go through tonight, and the viola will ship directly to the Vancouver store instead of being routed through Toronto as was originally planned, and it'll be here in two weeks. Which probably means available for pickup the day after Easter Monday. And they'll give me a substantial discount on a bow as well.

Moral: do not purchase anything from Long & McQuade unless it is right there in front of you.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Two weekends ago, more or less, [personal profile] uilos and I went out to Harrison Hot Springs for a couple days of vacation. We soaked in a naturally heated pool and wandered around a small village and saw the source of the springs. We did not partake of the Spa Experience, as that costs ridiculous amounts of money, but we saw a bunch of people wandering around in white terrycloth robes. Also, it was spring break for the BC school system, and apparently people like to take their kids on spa vacations, so there were a ton of kids everywhere.

The rental company gave us a Big-Ass Truck instead of the compact we'd requested. Driving (and parking) that was an adventure in itself.

Overall it was alright. I don't know that I'd go back just-us but dragging a few other people along could be fun.



Last weekend saw the second annual Terminal City Tabletop Convention, a day-only Vancouver gaming con that an acquaintance of mine started up last year. That too was generally good. I played a number of games I'd been wanting to try for awhile, had some duds and some surprising hits (Red7 is sort of the lovechild of Fluxx and Uno, and fantastically chaotic fun).

Got in a game of 1889 with mostly-newish players on Sunday. I think I'm about done with 1889: it's 1830 with a different map and one less company, and the 'one less company' part makes a surprising difference in how aggressively the game runs. And the map isn't terribly exciting, either. Oh well, now I know.

Afterwards on Sunday we went out to a Thai place near Metrotown which makes a quite tasty pad thai. I keep thinking I ought to try other thai dishes, and I keep coming back to "but I really like the rice noodles in pad thai and can't get them anywhere else."



I also seem to have picked up an odd head-cold at TCTC. The last couple of days my nose has been stuffy & my throat sore (sinus drip), and I get out of breath and spacey in the mid-afternoon. This is making it difficult to get back up to speed after having E home for a week.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Hey, it's Wednesday again. Funny how that works.

What are you reading?

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, about coping when you're overly sensitive to stimuli. It's odd. I feel like I'm maybe borderline HSP at best, and then I read the stuff about growing up HSP and think "yep, that was me." Did I change / grow out of it? Did I talk myself out of it or let myself get talked out of it? Am I just not paying attention? Any of these are plausible.

What did you just finish reading?

The Zalozhniy Quartet by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. This is a set of adventures for Night's Black Agents, aka "Jason Bourne With Vampires: The RPG". It's exceedingly well-designed and well-written, and would make a fantastic HBO or BBC-TV series. I'd love to run it but I don't think I'll get the chance.

What do you think you'll read next?

The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford. Spies and Marlowe. I wasn't so impressed with this the previous time I read it; curious to see whether my opinion improves.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Because it's been a not-wholly-unproductive week.

Writing
Proceeds, or rather doesn't, as I seem to have hit a brick wall in plotting. I suspect that when the answer finally comes to me it will be utterly obvious and have been right all along, I just wasn't seeing it.

I can't tell if nothing I've come up with feels right because it's not right, or because it's going to take a decent amount of effort to make work. This is seriously frustrating. If I haven't cracked it by early next week I will put it aside and go back to the other piece that I have a decent start on.

Viola
Also proceeds, reasonably well I think. I'm working through the first Suzuki viola book, and am nearly to the Bach minuets. So, about two-thirds through, though it gets harder now.

Technically: I'm mostly pleased with my left-hand ability, and mostly frustrated by bowing techniques. I sound more or less in tune but not *good*, not by a long shot. I'll get there.

I strongly suspect that the music store didn't bother to actually order the viola I paid them for a month ago until I called earlier this week to bug them about it. Grr. It ought to be here sometime next week.

Sociable
For once I am doing some of this! I'm emailing people on a semiconsistent basis. I am not the greatest correspondent but I'm trying to keep up. It helps that the best way to get mail from neat people is to write to them myself, so there's sort of built-in motivation.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I am home from the Rainforest Writers Village retreat, where I coined a new-to-me word (thaumobabble, the urban fantasy equivalent of technobabble), saw some old friends and met some new ones, and generally had a good time.

The weekend is best summed up by this photo.

More seriously, I wrote some 2600 fiction words, interspersed with stream-of-consciousness plot noodling to figure out how I'm actually getting from point A (the opening) to points X, Y, and Z (the action/suspense climax, emotional climax, and aftermath), and whether any of those points will look at all like my original conception. (Spoiler: kind of but not a lot.) This is kind of a big deal: in the last three years I've noodled on a couple of stories but never got past the 'crap what happens now' point after the initial burst of inspiration. It'll be good to finish something and I think it's doable.

A couple of years ago I had the idea to start a story pendulum: write two, revise the first, write a third, revise the second, etc. At the time, with work etc, I'd thought a month for each swing would be reasonable. I'll start trying to get that but I'd really like to get it down to two weeks, or maybe three for writing and one for revising.



To do today-ish, in no particular order:
  • Write this post WIKTORY
  • Email: [personal profile] uilos, Karawynn, Sonya, others?
  • Deal with pile of mail
  • Call Long & McQuade re viola No sign of it yet. Bah. Should have ordered it myself direct from the manufacturer.
  • Writing: work out character motivations, which will I hope explicate plot & climax
  • Viola practice
  • Box game for shipping, get shipping quote
  • Sort through receipts from this weekend, wince at exchange rate
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 838
Total words: 2709
Neat things: I looked at her hands, still dripping from where she'd torn out poor Daltrey's throat. "I hadn't expected to take the riddle quite so literally." "We're a literal people."

Ack. I know what I want to have happen and how I want the ending to come off, and it involves the main character standing around spectating instead of doing something. Which means I now have to figure out what she's going to do and why.

... I think I know what she's going to do and I sort of know why, but not quite why it's necessary. And after I figure that out (and I think that's the last "what's the plot" I have to solve) I get to see whether it makes a story.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 775
Total words: 1675
Neat things: Opening scene now has twice as many snarky characters. Unexpected plot twist is unexpected. Old arguments about ritual ingredients, arguments that are themselves practically ritualized by now.

The real triumph isn't those 700-plus words, it's having sat down and worked through why it is I've been stuck on the plot and fixed at least some of the structural problems so that I'm capable of writing those 700-plus words, and more tonight / tomorrow, and having a better than even chance that they're more or less the right words.



Three years ago Rainforest got me a couple of good friends and a finished draft of Bookwyrms. At this writing that's still the last first draft I've finished, excluding the spontaneous writing contest at Wiscon. Since then I've revised, mm, call it three things worth the submitting, and come round to the Ideomancer editor's view that Bookwyrms is a cute idea with no plot and hence not really a story.

I have no expectations that I'll meet anyone who clicks as well as Karawynn this year. But if I get unblocked or unstuck or whatever, I'll happily take that.

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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