jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
On Wednesday I finally got the home office area set up. Now I can work from home with an actual monitor and keyboard and trackball and standing-desk, rather than laptop on couch/bed.

It's all in acceptable shape, but only just. I'll need to drag in another mat or two to stand on, to get the desk to the right height. My Mac keyboard has lost the use of the S key and spacebar, but I've got a Windows keyboard which works well enough for now. The real problem is that Microsoft hasn't updated the Mac software for my trackball in several years, and it won't talk to the latest version of macOS. So the trackball works, but the buttons are ALL WRONG. I've found a couple of potential workarounds but they looked more involved than I wanted to get on Wednesday afternoon. Sometime next week, I expect.

The office is actually the back of the second bedroom. It's got yellow walls that desperately need some art hung, the (two? three?) TUCKER'S OFFICE boxen need to be unpacked onto desk / bookcase, and there's some other miscellaneous /stuff/ that needs sorted or scooted or something. But the window's nice (though glare is problematic in the afternoon) and it's good to start to feel like there's a space that's mine again. The 'office' in the New West place was that, more or less, but it was dim and stuffy and caught a lot of dust from the dryer vent. This room is substantially nicer, if more cramped.

There are things about this apartment that frustrate and irritate me: the laundromat-style laundry, the dining room being a little narrower than we'd thought, the kitchen in general. Overall, though, it's not so bad. It'll do for now.



I am also now the proud owner of a bass guitar (Freeway 4) and an amp. My friend Chani's partner had been talking about selling his bass and amp for, o, months now, and it's sort of been at the back of my mind since then.

I think I have this idea that it'll be faster to pick up bass than it has been for viola, or that I'll be more readily able to find places/people to play bass with than viola, or something. This of course all depends on me finding my way to the alternate universe where I have enough time to learn not one but two instruments.

I'm also looking into an ear-training app for the phone, for commutes and such. And perhaps some actual formalised music theory learning, instead of the ad-hoc bits Tegen's been teaching me.

I'm not sure why music's becoming more of a focus than fiction-writing. Maybe it's that I understand how to get better at music, or that I'm more comfortable with not being very good. There's something in there about smashing awful pots, too. With music I'm learning a skill; writing feels more like creating a work. And yes, I do know that there's a hell of a lot of skill inherent in writing, skill that improves with practice, but I've not figured out how to feel comfortable practicing my skills in fiction.

Or maybe it's as simple as music being what's pulling me right now. Being more interested in accessing a space without words.

It's not like I can make rent (well, "mortgage payment," which sounds even worse despite being a smaller number) on either of those activities in any case. So in that sense it doesn't really matter which it is, as long as I'm having fun with it.

As always, we shall see.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Sitting in a cafeteria outside Granville Station, watching people walk by, reading. Or too tired to read. How does that even happen? I know how it happens when it's past bedtime, but at five in the evening?

Watching people. Today I have: gotten a music stand and mute so I'll feel less awkward practicing the viola; done some repetitive work correcting a thing I did a month or two ago that I thought would be useful, and was but had unexpected side effects (unrelatedly, work does not appear to be doing the stupid thing from last week, so yay); written to my parents again and perhaps it will get through this time; taken a profile-silhouette photo of myself a la Hitchcock; listened to David Francey's "Nobody Lives Here No More" "Torn Screen Door" a dozen or so times; gone running. I think that's it for useful.

They worked their fingers to the bone / Nothing left they can call their own / Packed it in under leaden skies / Just the wheat waving them goodbye

And tonight I'll write with Steph and Kat and Theresa, at least in theory, and then I'll go home and intend to practice and we'll see how far intention gets me.

I am tired, wrung out, stretched thin. I don't know that this is actually the case in any larger sense but that's what it feels like. Possibly too many people at housewarming yesterday? Possibly too little actual downtime? Possibly too much rattling around in my brain to settle down?

Had a life that they tried to save / But the banks took it all away / Hung a sign on a torn screen door / 'Nobody lives here no more'

I should enjoy the people-watching from here, I think, if I didn't have someplace to be. Coming up from and going into the Granville skytrain at rush hour, all manner of interesting and no sense that I have to be a part of it.

Onward.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
A thing I forgot to mention: when my grandmother died, my dad wound up with a beat-up violin that ... o, I don't recall all the history, I believe it's been in the family for at least a century. They got it refurbished and now it sits waiting for a budding Taylor-family violinist.

That's not me, but I did take it down and try it out while I was there. It's surprisingly playable with a couple years of viola under my belt. Mostly my fingers just feel even more gigantic and squished looking for the right notes. I can't imagine trying to play higher than about third position. I did a few scales, played through a few phrases of 'Canon in D' (NOT the cello part)

... although holy cow this "Antidote for the Pachelbel rant". James Ernest says there are two kinds of juggling tricks: those that look harder than they are, and those that are harder than they look. This is a cello trick that is harder than it looks. THE GUY IS HIS OWN CELLO TRIO.

... anyway, 'Canon in D' and a couple of easy Suzuki pieces. Nice to have a skillset. I don't know that I believe Tegen when she says violin is inherently easier than viola, but I don't know that I don't believe her either. Regardless, I certainly prefer the richer viola sound.

Also, tuning a violin with normal wooden pegs and fine-tuners ... difficult at best. The pegs are stiff and far too blunt an instrument, and the fine-tuners are in an awkward place. I have been seriously spoiled by the mechanical pegs on my viola.



On Friday afternoon at the VP reunion, I read, out loud, something I've written, to a bunch of writers.

I was pretty confident that it was decent. It's a good read-aloud bit: conversational, two people sniping at each other like you do while still getting the job done, amusing, not a lot of necessary context, and short. I'd read a fragment of it, unrevised, at Rainforest last year, and people enjoyed it. And reading aloud ... is something I can do well. It's just voice, and voice is just words in performance, and that's what I do.

I mean, I was pretty confident right up until the person before me stepped up to the podium, at which point my brain went into a minor panic. I am sure whoever was reading and did a fine job with whatever it was they read. I think I even applauded.

And then I was up. "Um. Hi. I'm Tucker, from VP 15." Brain locks up. "... My cats think I'm hilarious." Scattered laughter. "And ... this is from Blood on Her Hands And a Stone at Her Throat." And I was off.

And ... people chuckled in the right places, and 'A light-fingered dame in a red red coat...' got at least one gratifying "Hmm!" of recognition. And then it was over, and under the applause I heard Steve Brust say "That was /excellent/!"

So, you know. That went well.



Of particular note among the many noteworthy things read: Suzanne Palmer's "The Cover Letter", which was almost as much fun to watch TNH's increasingly horrified reaction to as it was to hear.

After the reading (after both Steve and student Karen A-- specifically snagged me down to say "that was pretty great") I went back to my room for a bit and collapsed, and then back out to dinner. And ... what I remember from the actual Viable Paradise experience, other than being totally overwhelmed, is usually the sense of having found my people. Thing is, most of that didn't come until afterwards. When I was actually at the workshop I was tired and battered and usually lonely. The first day or two of the reunion felt like that as well, both familiar and depressing.

But somewhere between the reading and dinner something sort of clicked over and I felt like I belonged. Dinner was wonderful, and musicking afterwards a delight. As an added bonus, someone played a couple of Dar Williams songs, "Iowa" and "You're Aging Well," and I got to make some progress towards reclaiming Dar from the emotional wreckage of the 2000s.

The next morning I said what goodbyes I could, rode the ferry out with a few other folks, and thence home. And it was good.



As an added bonus, I read over the scattered fragments of Blood on Her Hands, and surprised myself with how much I like it. Hard to say definitively that there's a good story in it in this state (though I think there is) but the individual scenes are just fun to read.

And I had what may be the insight I needed to break open the recalcitrant soggy ending, that being: if you're going to model your protagonist after John Constantine, model your protagonist after John Constantine. Laine Hollister is a bastard and she had damn well better start acting like it.

on island

Oct. 14th, 2016 09:21 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
For various reasons the jury is still out on whether the VP reunion was a good idea. It's been fun, and I've met a few new people. There have been phosphorescent jellyfish, and crabcakes and creme brulee, and talks on subjects both writerly and just plain cool. I got to describe the general shape of Drowned City to someone who was super excited to hear about it, which is always rewarding. I've been sleeping less well than I'd like; that always adds to the stress and the difficulty in being human around other humans.

Spent last evening sitting with a small handful of people and instruments, singing quietly out of tune. (I may have been less quietly out of tune for "Mercedes Benz" but you can't sing Janis Joplin quietly. You just can't.) I'd been hand-drumming on my leg because I needed to do *something*, and then Vicka passed me a small drum, and then Bear handed me a mallet, and so I spent the rest of the evening trying not to step on Steve's drumming with my own tiny rhythms. And it was good, and I mostly nearly felt like I belonged there.

A couple of weeks ago I started breaking through on the ending of Blood On Her Hands. Dug it up last night, and remembered that it's actually a lot of fun, so perhaps I'll take a more amusing bit of that to the open mic this afternoon. And maybe actually finish a draft of it sometime this year.

Reunion's not VP, but what is? I think it's helped. Just being around a bunch of other writers talking shop is good for me. And I've replaced my VP hat pin that went missing with my first hat some years ago.

#vpxv + v

Aug. 30th, 2016 02:48 pm
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
The Viable Paradise twenty-year reunion occurs this October. It appears that there are still spots and hotel rooms available, at least for another twenty-four hours.

I suppose I ought to decide if I'm going.

Pros:
  • A chance to see people that I've not seen in years, and miss.
  • I'm planning on going back east this fall anyway.
  • Autumnal Massachusetts.
  • I felt like me when I was at VP.
Cons:
  • It costs money. This is more in the nature of an excuse than an actual con.
  • It takes time away from a potential Blacksburg trip. Meh. B'burg will still be there next year.
  • I might need my vacation time to pack/move. Ha. I mean, maybe, but planning around the Vancouver real estate market suddenly becoming a little more rational strikes me as a fool's game.
  • "So, what have you done writing-wise in the last five years?" "Well, for three years I was finishing up burning myself out, and then I spent a year mostly-recovering from that. And now I'm not sure but I might be burning out again. So, not much."
  • "Oh, and I haven't been able to expand/fix that story you said you liked, either. I did finish a couple of other stories, but I seem to have run out of markets for them to get rejected from."
Bah. The cons are all along the lines of being afraid of not being a Real Writer. Which is a real fear but probably not worth skipping the reunion.

Besides, maybe the impending need to have something to show off will push me to get somewhere with this %&$ novel.
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
This is an old stupid story and I'm tired of living it:

At the age of twelve I'd been hearing for years that I could be anything I wanted to be, that I was smart enough to do anything at all. So I told my parents that I wanted to be a writer, and write F&SF novels.

My mother famously answered, "How are you going to put food on the table?"

Lesson learned: I could be anything I wanted to be as long as my parents were okay with it.

A stronger kid might have said "screw you guys" and kept writing anyway. I wasn't that kid: I still desperately needed my parents' approval, because being an army brat meant that I didn't have anyone else, at all. I spent the next N years trying to simultaneously fit my future into the box of Acceptable To My Parents, while making my present Acceptable To Me.

In hindsight, it's no wonder that I was depressed.



That's not the story I'm telling now but it's useful background. So, take it as told.

During my terrible terrible junior year of high school, my English teacher was Ms Bettie Stegall. I can only assume she didn't think much of me. I certainly didn't give her much reason to. My teenage rebellion mostly took the form of not showing up and not doing the work, and Ms Stegall's English class was not one where I could slide by. I got my shit sufficiently together to pass, somehow.

For senior year English we had a few choices. The only ones I can remember are AP Literature and Writing Seminar. Had I chosen AP Lit, I could have taken the English AP exam, and placed out of freshman English at Tech. (And likely not ever have read Borges, and my life would have been the poorer for it.) On the other hand, there was Writing Sem, advertised as being meant for creative writers.

The point of the old story above: I never gave up wanting to be a writer. I just gave up on doing much about it, because no one cared.

I signed up for Writing Sem in the hope that it would make me into a writer. Ms Stegall taught Writing Sem; I took it anyway. I don't remember much of the class but then senior year was a depressive burnt-out blur for me. In Writing Sem I tutored a special-needs second-grader with Jen Larson, and read Catch-22 which was exactly the right book for me at that point, and taught Kafka's Metamorphosis to freshmen with the help of Brian Aldiss's parody "Better Morphosis". I'm sure there was writing, too: I recall terrible poetry, and a Finnegans-Wake-style stream-of-consciousness depiction of a high school class.

Throughout the year I'd hear whispers from other students about how they were working with Ms Stegall on ... things. A chapbook of poetry, a collection of monologues, whatever. Books. Actual books. (I only ever saw one, and that only because Nesa used a photograph I'd taken in photography class to go with one of her poems.) And I'd think "that would be kinda cool," and then I'd stop thinking about it, because I had no idea what I'd do other than "i want to write" and, well, I'd already nearly failed out of one of Stegall's classes for not caring.

And so I graduated from high school, and went off to college, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or silence. One of those.



My memories of Ms Stegall are of someone who contribued to making my life miserable junior year, and didn't much care about me during senior year.

Maybe six months ago I fell into a snarky Facebook group of alums from my high school. This weekend, someone reported that Ms. Stegall had died.

Immediate outpouring of grief and love and "she was my favourite teacher" and "she kicked my ass and really helped me get my writing in gear" and specific tangible things she'd done for people.

I had no such response. I got none of that from her.

Thing is, I'd really like to have. I wish I'd been someone that she saw enough potential in to encourage, to kick my ass and get me in gear.

But that would have required me to have gone through junior year differently, and for that to have happened, the changes keep going back until I'm not even recognisable to myself anymore.

And just showing up isn't enough for that. No mentor will come to me and say "yes, i will teach you, and help you, and guide you, and care about what you do." Most of the time I'm grown-up enough to know that.

Most of the time.

I make no promises as to whether I will reply to any comments here.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Over the weekend I helped writer-Steph run the blue-pencil/pitch-practice room at Creative Ink Festival. Mostly we made sure that the newbie writers and the editors were in the right place at the right time to talk to each other, and ran sign-up sheets, and spelled each other when there were panels we wanted to go see.

The panels I got to were alright: on the level of your better small-con panel, I'd say. Nothing earth-shatteringly amazing but worth attending. More usefully, the couple of pieces that I put in for blue-pencilling (aka "reading by someone who doesn't know me") went over very well: one got a small amount of useful feedback, and one got mostly gushing and "no no no, this is clearly not a flash piece, it's the prologue to a novel, and I WANT TO READ IT." Which was pleasantly validating, enough so that I've resubmitted both of them to story markets after a hiatus of *mumble* months.

Our Wednesday writeins may have acquired another member, too. I suspect that I really do need to find a critiqueing group, mostly so that I have some motivation to bloody well finish something, but the writeins are better than nothing.



What are you reading right now?

I haven't technically given up on Mieville's Embassytown, I guess. It's a puzzle-novel: here are the aliens who can't lie, who can't talk to machines but only to empathically-bonded pairs of humans; here is an alien who is learning to lie; here are a bonded-pair of humans who unintentionally(?) drive the aliens mad by speaking to them; what's going on? Turns out I don't like puzzle-novels, at least not when they read as slowly as Embassytown does.

This is my third Mieville, and I've disliked them all for different reasons. (King Rat had a plot that resolved itself by the antagonist self-destructing, which I detest; Un Lun Dun was decent but unmemorable, and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was an attempt to rewrite Neverwhere and give it a plot this time). I should probably stop but I want to try The City & The City first.

What did you just finish reading?

John Christopher's Tripods Trilogy, nearly fifty years old and still decent. I mean, the characters might make it to the level of 'cardboard cutouts' if they strained a bit, the prose is serviceable at best, and in the entire trilogy I think there's a single named woman and maybe three unnamed ones, but they read quickly and have some neat worldbuilding going on. They can stay. I don't know that I'd recommend them to anyone who didn't grow up with them, though.

What do you think you'll read next?

This weekend I picked up both of Katrina Archer's fantasy novels, so I may as well read Untalented.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 400ish
Total words: 988
Neat things: A new character, on the far side of a blazing inferno!

Progress, and at least I know what happens next. Eventually this will tell me why it's happening.



In email with Steph on Tuesday we'd decided to meet for pre-writing dinner at Deep South, the newish decent cheap barbecue place. Steph mentioned this to her coworkers on Wednesday and one of them said "i think they're closed." Yep, closed up shop earlier this week. (At least they're only relocating, and not gone for good.)

Luckily we had a backup plan: Jinya Ramen, across the street from the library. I've eaten there maybe a dozen times, and it's not great but decent. I arrived about five minutes early, and all the lights were out, and there was a handwritten note on the door to the effect of "We are temporarily closed for maintenance and cleaning." Immediately below this was another note headlined NOTICE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.

So we wound up at Original Joe's, the overpriced pub-food place around the corner. Maybe next time will go better.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 500ish?
Total words: 668
Neat things: If I prayed, I would have breathed a prayer of thanks to the maintenance staff. If I breathed.

Just realised I've not been logging words here for awhile. I've been meeting up with Steph C-- most Wednesdays for a write-in, and getting some extremely sporadic other words down. Most of it's been on the bloodmagery story.

Which is intensely grim, and is about to hit the grimmest of grim sections, and is not really something I need or want occupying my brain-space these days. So I've shifted gears again.

What now? It's a story that I've had the opening bit of (not even a scene, just a scene-setting) for years, and for whatever reason felt compelled to briefly revisit a couple of weeks ago. And now I have probably about a quarter of it done. (Rough guess. I've almost outwritten my knowledge of what's going on.)

Weren't you working on something novel-shaped? Drowned City remains in limbo for now. Jasper happened to be to hand when I went looking for something to attack.

Shouldn't you have picked the novel back up again instead of starting something new, thus initiating a neverending chain of endless beginnings? "Shut up," he explained.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Or, unfinished writings that I've got more than just a scene or two on, newest to oldest.

Drowned City (not a title): Novel, scientific-revolution-fantasy long-con. Stalled out at the end of the first act. Pretty sure this is because my protagonist needs to have some actual motivation instead of just being the still hub around which cool things happen.

"Blood on Her Hands and a Stone at Her Throat": Story, urban fantasy noir. Stalled out because the brilliant climactic scene is Just Not Working, in part because of the passive protagonist problem but also because it Just Doesn't Work. Fixable, I think, but I got tired of beating my head against it.

"Bloodmagery" (not a title): Longish story, sword-and-sorcery. Stalled out at the end of the first act because I hit the point of Then Some Plot Happens and didn't want to figure out how to get from there to the Great Big Fight. On the bright side, it does not have Passive Protagonist Problems.

"One Only" (not a title I'm thrilled about): Story, dark SF inspired by a passing complaint about how all evil aliens are slimy these days. Technically complete... except that this is the one that four years ago Patrick said "If you, say, double the length I would take a very close look at it." The advice I got that week on lengthening it consisted of "Get into trouble sooner" (Teresa), "That doesn't sound like it's really a story" (Steve), and "Add another character" (Jim). Then I went home and froze up and burned out.



No actual words tonight, but I did plot out most of the bloodmagery story. Except for the specific bit that was causing me grief, of course, but I think that'll come.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
From Wednesday:

Words: 1270
Total words: 6292
Neat things: Family. Also, the antagonist is a jerk. (Quelle surprise.)

Wording continues apace, in large part thanks to weekly writing sessions with Steph C. I have just about written up to the point where I know what happens, and I keep hoping a Brilliant Revelation will occur to me. Hasn't yet, but hey. I did find some family for my protagonist to bounce some characterisation off of so there's that.



Today was supposed to be writing, or at least plotting, in lieu of going out to Jericho Beach with folks. Instead there has been general poking at the internet, reading FILM CRITIC HULK's excellent article on Matthew Vaughn and Kingsman, playing backlogged Humble Bundle games, a little bit of plotting and worldbuilding and such, poking at BoardGameGeek, discovering a new game, going out and picking up said game at my Friendly Local Game Store, and a little bit of actual writing. Mostly in that order, although any of those that can be scattered throughout were.

I am not really 'stuck' so much as 'afraid of being stuck.' I am afraid of writing this scene because I don't know where it's going, which means I am going to turn my characters loose and let them yell at each other and see what they do. And I don't know them well enough to know at all what they're going to do, and I don't have enough scaffolding in place to know what (if anything) will happen plot-wise, and ... mostly I'm terrified that I'll write this and it will be pointless and will run me into a dead end I can't get out of.

I don't really understand this fear. I mean, I do, I live with it, but at the same time when I shine an outside light on it I don't, because it makes no sense. This is what writing is! I'm okay with writing that may be crap on the sentence level, that I can fix in editing. I guess now I have to get okay with writing that may be crap on the structural level, plot dead ends and contradicted character development and all of that.

Write to find out.

Dammit.

Also, I don't mind naming characters but I hate naming a whole bunch of them at once, and if my protagonist is going to have a family they do kind of need names.

... which leads down the rabbit-hole of naming conventions, and honorifics, and all of that. Bleh.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
It turns out that writing a novel from scratch is hard. Who knew? I mean, other than everyone who's ever tried.

process babble )
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
What a week, and it's not even over yet.

Mon thru Wed )



Today I finished reading Samuel Delany's Babel-17, which is brilliant and everyone should read it. The most recent edition (from Vintage) also includes Delany's story "Empire Star," which is written by a character in Babel-17, and is either brilliant or stupid and I cannot decide which.

Also today there was ziplining, which wants its own rant. But I'm tired and this is quite long enough already. Tomorrow.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 729
Total words: 2011
Neat things: A talking rock. A hidden door. A nick-of-time escape.

Two thousand words in (and revising will likely add half again that many to these scenes) and things are still getting started. I think that means I am on the verge of committing novel. I... am not sure how I feel about that. I'd rather be writing and finishing shorter pieces. I suppose this will at least be interesting.

Soon I'm going to have to sit down and sketch out a bit of worldbuilding: place names, history, laws of magic, tech level, that sort of thing. I've been reluctant to do that so far because I worry that it'll sap all my narrative momentum. I don't want to be one of those writers who spends all their time fiddling with their secondary world. Some amount of that really is useful / necessary, though.
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: 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)
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: 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.

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jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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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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