In other news, I didn’t hit my writing goal for August — only 12.5 hours instead of 30. Yipes. September was headed the same way, but I’ve gotten back to work in the mornings, and given that I have a few handy deadlines this month (the kind that involve another people) I’ll probably make it. Or at least get closer than August.
I’m making the transition from Go! Go! Write-a-thon! back to regular old writing-in-the-morning, and I have to admit I’ve been a bit of a slacker — adding up the 20- and 30-minute scraps, I’ve got 2 hours in for August so far, mostly because the Snooze button and I have gotten reacquainted. This morning was better than yesterday, and I expect tomorrow will be better still.
By every measure but one I hit my Write-a-thon goals. I wrote for 42 hours (and 15 minutes). And since I didn’t realize the Write-a-thon spanned only 41 days, I had a bonus hour from the beginning. I revised and submitted a short story, and while I didn’t do a complete draft of a new story, I wrote 3,000 words split evenly across two new outlines. One already has the final scene (knowing the final scene and being able to write toward it is always a huge help). The other is a sequel to the story I’ve got coming out in Asimov’s soon.
Of course, the goal I didn’t meet was the biggie: I didn’t finish the novel revision, alas. I did, however, outline all the new scenes and add 4,000 new words, and thus discovered that doing the revision properly was a bigger job than I’d estimated. But I spent a fair amount of time making sure the new stuff didn’t feel extraneous to what I had originally, and I’m happy with the new structure.
I also discovered an embarrassing factual glitch at the very beginning of the novel, in the bit I excerpted on my Write-a-thon page:
The books whisper to me. They want to know who I am.
Goddess of Shelving, I say, or Goddess of Barcodes. Goddess of Taxonomy. Goddess of the Library of Congress — even this run-down county library uses their system.
B for Philosophy, Psychology, Religion. BL for Religions, Mythology, Rationalism. And the numbers, one after another, dripping a pattern on a map. BL290: the Soul. BL300-325: the Myth. BL500-547: the End of the World.
The books aren’t satisfied. They want more. Books like their stories.
Goddess of Alphabetical Order.
They’d lean forward if they could. They sense the truth hanging in the air with the dust motes.
Order, they echo, and suspect I had some relationship with chaos.
I slip the books back on their shelves, quietly counting each one as I push it into its place.
Why, yes, it is true that a county library would be far more likely to use the Dewey Decimal classification system, while the Library of Congress method would probably be found in an academic library. And since Dewey doesn’t offer the eschatological resonances I’m looking for, I’ve moved the opening scene to an “underfunded community college library”.
So, new target: finish the revision, really truly, this month.
The project management contract that I started right around the time I posted the last entry is still going strong. I don’t see any changes in the near future, which is keen because for the first time in a long while I’ve been able to keep up with my writing while bringing home the smoked pork product. I’ve been getting up early to write before work, and that, too, has been going well. Shocking.
I’m not writing as much as I’d like to, of course, but I’ve been managing to average an hour a day for the last eight weeks. Five plus of those weeks have served a double purpose: I’ve been doing the Clarion West Write-a-thon. I’ve tried it twice before, but I’ve never actually finished. This year, however, I’ve set an easier-to-track goal. I’ve committed to writing an hour every day, or forty-two hours over the course of six weeks. With two days left I’ve got forty hours in and two to go.
So this year will be different. This year I will finish, dammit.
What all three years have had in common, though, is support from superexcellent sponsors, who have made with the cheering, or the cash, or both. I appreciate it all, and I know Clarion West does, too.
And by the way, this daily writing business doesn’t end with the Write-a-thon. This third-time charm has been like my first NaNoWriMo — it’s offered a big ol’ bushel of I Can Do This. Which means I’m setting a goal of thirty hours of writing a month minimum while I’m in my current job.
In other news, my reading of Kij Johnson’s haunting “The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change” is up on Podcastle.
Back on December 31st I declared not resolutions but my big to-do list for the first part of 2009. In my head that was by March 31st, so by that measure practice is, as usual, running behind ambition. But if we take “the first part of 2009” to mean “before June 30th”, then I’m ahead of schedule. So let’s do that.
Here is the list, in order of completion:
Find a new flat
Found the flat in January, moved at the beginning of February. Well settled in now. And my flatmate rocks.
Finish the 78-page application to extend my UK visa
Done in March, and approved in April for three more years under Tier 1 of the points-based system, meaning I’m not reliant on a UK employer for residency under a work permit. And speaking of UK employers…
Find a new job
Done, as of yesterday, and in the whirlwind fashion that still surprises me even though my last few jobs turned up like this. Maybe it’s the profession — maybe “Quick, someone call a project manager!” isn’t just for wacky comic strips. (For the record, I do not wear a cape to work, and I hate taking anything but computer-related activities “offline”. I have, however, been known to use heat vision to break bottlenecks.)
Which leaves only one thing to do…
Finish the revision of the novel
So I’d better get to work.
Well, I was under the impression I was updating here, but it turns out it was just Twitter and Facebook. Yipes. A few quick highlights:
- I spent last weekend in Bradford at Eastercon. It was delightful and a good kick in the “write more!” pants, as cons usually are. Norwescon took place the same weekend in Seattle, and I did imagine it would be supernifty if they could be magically combined into one giant event. Yes, Nor’eastercon. Yellow slicker and Maine accent optional.
- I turned in my application to extend my UK visa, and am now waiting for the outcome. Should be any day now…
- I had a birthday! It was swell.
- Also swell: I sold two stories, “The Prettiest Crayon in the Box” to GUD, and “Where the Time Goes” to Asimov’s. I submitted the first (unfinished) draft of “Where the Time Goes” during week six at Clarion West 2005, but just came up with an ending during revisions this fall.
“Prettiest Crayon” started out as part of a mainstream novel, and the science in it isn’t speculative, so I’m very pleased GUD is giving it a home. If you happened to have attended the Broad Universe Rapidfire Reading at World Fantasy in Calgary last year, it was the one with the beets…
Tonight I made a lamb and mixed vegetable curry using the leftover leg of lamb A roasted for dinner on Sunday (the roast was fabulous, and the lamb a lovely housewarming gift from A’s mother). I also threw in:
- the remaining carrots and onion he roasted with it
- the leftover peas we had on the side
- whatever broccoli I didn’t use satisfying the broccoli-and-cheese baked potato craving I had earlier this week
- a sweet pepper I didn’t use in Friday’s pico de gallo
- the Turkish pepperoncini that didn’t make it into same
- ditto some of the fresh cilantro
- carrot sticks that survived my snacking
- celery not destined for tuna salad
- and the rest of the mushrooms from the giant pack I bought for the chicken, mushroom, and asparagus risotto I made last night.
Also an onion, four cloves of garlic, and two cans of chopped tomatoes.
Oh, and I worked that spice drawer, baby.
It’s been about a week since A and I moved to the new place, and the list of things to do is less daunting than it was before the weekend. We’re about a week away from regular internet access, so if you haven’t heard from me, that would be why (as opposed to the other, less concrete things that make me an e-mail slacker).
I’ve got another few hours of sorting and clearing, but my desk is set up and I’m looking forward to a productive afternoon. Happy sigh.
Now it’s just job, novel, visa.
Yesterday Eric sent me a link to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith coming out in April. Eric wasn’t sure how zombies could be wedged into P&P, but I gotta say I don’t think any wedging is required — P&P practically begs to be redone with zombies. I have no idea what the actual content of Grahame-Smith’s book is, but here’s how I would do it:
You can pretty much stick with the original plot until Jane takes ill at Netherfield. She is, of course, ill with a slow-manifesting zombie virus so she can infect everyone at the Netherfield ball via the Bingley’s. How’d she get it? Oh, let’s say she pricks her finger on strange, imported hat decoration while browsing at the milliner’s.
Jane survives the illness and becomes a non-zombie carrier of the now-airborne virus, so she also takes it with her on her trip to London. In fact, all the Bennet sisters are NZCs, and Lydia spreads it to Brighton.
Note: once people start turning into zombies, all Bennet sisters successfully fight them off, except for Mary, who gets eaten. And maybe also Kitty.
Oh, and when the Bennet sisters are discovered to be NZC, there must be blame-oriented fuss between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, more or less reflective of the “Why Is Lydia a Spoiled Slut?” part of P&P.
Of course, Elizabeth ends up with Zombie Darcy, who, because he was so terribly terribly buttoned up to begin with, shows his zombie condition not by feasting on flesh of the living but by chilling out and professing his love to Elizabeth (he is still attracted to brains). She then struggles with but eventually overcomes her prejudice against zombies (“Mr. Darcy, you astonish me! I am in the habit of shooting zombies, not marrying them.”) when she discovers she is a non-zombie carrier and all her potential partners would become zombies anyway, and thus Zombie Darcy starts to look pretty good.
And then they live happily ever after in a zombie-devastated Britain. The end.
All of that seemed pretty straightforward to me, and I got to wondering how well other classics would convert to zombie stories. And that’s when I realized that Pride and Prejudice was special — it mapped to the zombie apocalypse better than anything I else I could think of. The only thing that came close was Zombie Hamlet:
Before the action of the play Claudius kills Hamlet’s father with an exotic poison which, yes, turns Hamlet Sr. into a zombie. Marcellus and Bernardo see Zombie Hamlet Sr. wandering aimlessly below the battlements, freak out, tell Horatio, and the play proceeds as before, except that when Zombie Hamlet Sr. confronts/attacks his son, Hamlet (uninjured) pushes him into a wardrobe and locks him in. Play continues as in original, only Hamlet’s madness is a little less faked, what with keeping his zombie father in a closet. When Hamlet returns from England he opens the closet, as Hamlet Sr. has gone quiet and Hamlet has convinced himself that he imagined the whole thing. Of course, Zombie Hamlet Sr. jumps out and gets a good bite in before his son lops off his zombie head.
Things start moving pretty quickly now:
Infected Hamlet goes to Gertrude’s chamber and turns zombie while berating her for marrying Claudius. Polonius gets attacked while attempting to save her. She runs off. Zombie Hamlet wanders the castle. Horatio sees him and goes for help. Wandering Zombie Hamlet attacks Ophelia before finding Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius together.
Laertes tries to protect his king and queen from Zombie Hamlet, but of course his sword is a) useless and b) carrying the zombie virus after a few good thrusts through ZH. During the struggle Laertes accidentally cuts himself with his own sword and flees. Zombie Hamlet makes short work of Gertrude and Claudius.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern escape hanging in England and return to Elsinore, where they are eaten by Zombie Polonius, Zombie Ophelia, and Zombie Laertes.
Horatio returns with Fortinbras and his army, and together they behead the zombie Danes. Goodnight, sweet prince.
Up next: Zombie Mill on the Floss.
I didn’t realize how much spam had integrated itself into my life until it was suddenly…gone.*
The first spam of the day usually comes via my phone, since I have a quick look at my primary e-mail account when I wake up. Every morning I expect to see the NYT headline summary e-mail, a Yahoo groups digest, a few personal e-mails, and at least four pieces of spam.
This morning there were a couple of lovely personal emails, but no NYT, no Yahoo group digest, and, strangest of all, no spam. Wha? Nothing but communications from people I actually know? Did I wake up in 1993? If I turn on the TV will I find hot, young Bruce Campbell astride a horse? Alas, no, since I don’t have a TV, as it still 2009 and I get all my televisual entertainment through my laptop.
Also spam. My secondary e-mail account is the older, more spamtractive one, and I haven’t bothered to set it up one the phone. But it also has more active filtering, so it usual yields only the occasional personal e-mail and a designated folder full of offers from Amazon (since I bought several volumes of Sandman, a bathroom rug, and a Cinnabar Fiestaware butter dish, I must need The Watchmen, Tangerine Fiestaware salt and pepper shakers, and of course yet another bathroom rug. Because you can’t have too many bathroom rugs). This is also where the Classmates.com e-mails go. Basically anything that I *could* unsubscribe from, but for whatever reason, don’t.
No spam in the secondary account this morning, either. The weirdness continues.
I had a theory that the primary account ISP had gotten Tough on Spam without my knowledge, and had caught the NYT and Yahoo e-mails in a new, tighter net, but the NYT turned up in my inbox when I fired up my laptop…it was just late. And when I logged in to Yahoo, and it turns out that my group had just gone quiet yesterday. Also, there were no changes to the spam sittings on my account. Maybe they implemented something across the board.
Now the third spam channel I shut down myself yesterday, when I finally upgraded to WordPress 2.7 and installed Akismet. I tried to use comment spam filters on the old version, but they had an unfortunate tendency to lock me out of administration. So I was in the habit of scanning over the comments, approving the rare actual first-time commenter, and then Deleting All. The problem is that All was working out to about 1,500 a day. So when my excellent ISP sent me a completely appropriate UPGRADE OR DIE!!! e-mail yesterday, the only proper response was to bow meekly and say, “Yes, ma’am, sorry ma’am” and spend a day upgrading.
It wasn’t too bad — the database upgrade went swimmingly, no problems with admin access or functionality. I did wrestle with the White Screen of Death for the blog itself, but that turned out to be file corruption during the upload. I just did another upload and all was well. I even got lucky and didn’t have to replace the old theme, although I see a couple of weirdnesses that need fixing, and I’m tempted by some of the new toys.
Having to stop and take a day to do the upgrade might have been a problem, since A and I were supposed to move on Friday and I have packing to do, but yesterday afternoon I found out that the new flat’s kitchen roof fell in, so we’re not moving until Monday. Handy, huh?
(I’m sorry. I take perverse pleasure in burying the lede.)
Yep, the kitchen roof “fell in”. I’m not sure how big a hole we’re talking about — yesterday’s reconnaissance attempt yielded no useful information. We’re taking a “these things happen” approach, since the flat is otherwise ideal. It’s also newly refurbished, so if the walls start to crumble, at least they’ve had a nice coat of paint.
* Yeah, CJ Roberts, that’s a split infinitive…just like in the Constitution, baby.