Dang it.

James Howe is not Lemony Snickett. Daniel Handler is Lemony Snickett.

Aaaaauugh. That theory blown. On the other hand, reading an interview with him, his other, adult books seem very interesting. The interview contains swearing, I note for your edification.

Daniel Handler seems like the kind of author that small-minded parents everywhere should ban from their libraries. Cool.
Hm. I could have sworn I posted something since last time. Eh.

Ray isn't feeling well. One minute, I followed her into the kitchen to put her jammies on for an early bedtime, the next, I'm saving said jammies from a pool of vomit.

Ironically, this morning the cat had barfed all over those jammies anyway. Or karmaically, however you spell it.


Class. Every once in a while, I think up hypothetical English classes for college that I wish I'd had. My favorite has been "How not to write," in which the class dissects great works of literature that they've always hated. Or Danielle Steele, I'm not sure yet. Maybe a smattering of classics and popular fiction both. --The point being that "What I hate about this book" is the real class that's going on behind the professor's back. Might as well use the angle to deliver the technique, I say.

Today's hypothetical class is "Writers' Writers." I'd start out with Don Quixote, move to a couple of Borges short stories (the one about Don Quixote and the one about the infinite library), continue to The Name of the Rose. The Don Quixote section would be about including the reaction to one's writing in the writing itself, as well as contextual criticism. The Library section would be about the purposes of books, the act of writing versus the work itself, that kind of thing. There's a third section, too, but I'm not sure how to present it. I'd like to use a Foucault essay, "Preface to Transgression," and The Illuminatus! Trilogy, but I think I might send someone to the emergency room from brain hemorage. The third section would be about the differences between descriptive, metaphorical, and programming language--does the language describe reality, does the language give ideas about reality, or does the language try to influence reality (or one's perception of it) itself?

Probably not a freshman-level course.
Thinking about writing. I just do that.

I don't know. Probably nobody's going to come up with the ideas that I have. I realised yesterday that what I like most about people's writing--including the things I consider masterpieces--is the writer's style. Incidentally, the people who like what I write say they like the style. I went back through the stuff that Lee read, fleshed out the information he wanted, and let it have some style.

Much pleased with the result. Dunno if it'll ever sell, but there you go.


Words back on the review. So Lee finally walked me through the first eight pages or so of the beginning of my novel. He doesn't like it yet. The current problem in his opinion: not enough information. When you're building a world, you can't afford to...not build your world. Also, he said something about the characters that are going to be significant through the book need to be realized more quickly. Hm. Anyway, he liked the main character (which is a relief, since it was a major overhaul), and I got the impression that he was interested but too frustrated to enjoy reading it.

So. Finish the rest of this first section, go through the first eight pages again to include more information (and possibly develop the main character as well as a couple of the more important side characters), then beg him to read it some more.

Good review. Got my guts ripped out, but I don't feel discouraged at all.


It must just be that time of life. Warning: Self-pity disguised as...well, pretty much just not disguised.

(Tangent: Today, the new manager of the department walked up to me and asked me how I was feeling. Thinking somehow he'd known I've had a gawdawful sinus cold and sounded like I was going to die yesterday with all the hacking and snorting, I said, "I feel a lot better, you know, the sinuses are no longer dripping snot down the back of my throat. Ugh." He gave me this look and said, "De, thanks for keeping it real." I just have to mention that he's black, and he laid it on a little thick for a second there. All right. The guy's not quite the stuffed shirt I'd feared. He'll do.)

It's too early to be menopausal, so it must just be that I'm approaching...twenty nine.

I was in the process of having a bad day and getting over it when suddenly Lee asked me, "But what do you want to do?" and I broke down. For the last couple of days, Jeff (Joe's buddy from Iowa) had been staying with us, so on top of every other damn thing I had to pretend to be a semi-sociable person. Admittedly, Jeff's a charmer, so it wasn't hard--nevertheless, being in the house was equivalent to having no private time to recharge. And, since the guys stayed up all night playing Magic, having no romantical time to get down, either.

What I want doesn't matter.

--That's not to say that what I want doesn't matter to the people around me. And that's not to say that I never do what I want. What I want doesn't matter to me.

Here I am, twenty-eight, reviewing my life subconsciously, I guess, and toting it up, I've accomplished miracles in areas I have no talent for. I have a good marriage to someone I love like destiny, and I have a joyful daughter that reciprocally delights me.

What about the rest of my life? I work at a bank. If that doesn't say it all, here's some more: most days, I don't feel like bouncing off the walls or saying something stupid just to mess with somebody's sense of reality.

Seriously, the only thing that keeps me from dying inside is the writing, and...it honestly doesn't matter whether I ever finish this book. The accomplishments, the accolades, the appreciation, the respect of success and everything that goes along with it, I may never have. Even if I quit writing and try to do something else. Which I really don't want to do, but for all my brains, I'm a housewife and quality checker for data entry at a bank.

I am so not satisfied.

And on a daily basis, it seems like a lot of my time is dedicated to making someone else happy, whether they appreciate it or not. I can trace this back to my Midwestern upbringing: I feel like I've been brainwashed into thinking that assertive behavior towards people I care about--or even people in polite contact--is selfish, low, and rude. My job is to take care of the house and the kids, my job is to support my spouse in whatever he does, my job is to just automatically, without comment, give up the things I want that conflict with my duties. It drove my mother crazy for many years, and it's a burden on me now. Brains, in a woman, are of no importance. Creativity, outside of craft projects, was a glitch. The eighties didn't help--having good grades was a stigma.

So it's hard to have faith in the things I want to do and the things I'm good at.

Well, I'm tired of listening to myself whine, and I'm starting to trigger guilty feelings about letting it out again (because that's selfish, you know, to express your real feelings when you're upset. Go, Midwest!). Enough for now.



Do you remember the Bunnicula books? A friend of mine at work lent me the first three books in the new series, written by Howie (not the original dog, but a wirehaired daschund puppy). They have nothing to do with Bunnicula. Instead, they have everything to do with...writing.

Very cool. You get the story itself, interspersed with Howie's writing journal.

The books are illustrated by the same guy (Brett Helquist) that does the Series of Unfortunate Events, and written in the same style, but for younger readers. You gotta wonder. The author's name is James Howe...not Lemony Snickett, but there you go. I'd say they're books for readers about five to nine, skip fifteen years, and finally you have enough of a sense of humor to enjoy them again.

Wow. I just checked out the recommended reading level at Borders. 9-12. No waaaaaaaay. Maybe I just know too many smart kids.

The third book (haven't read yet) is supposed to be a parody of Harry Potter...Howie goes to Dogwiz academy...
Recommended reading list. I'm putting this up here mostly for my own benefit.

Ladies and Gentlemen...may I present:

The Locus Reading list.


La vache! La vache! I don't know why, but this floats through my head:

When I took my semester of Spanish in Chamberlain, SoDak, of which I remember a great deal more than I remember my two years of German in Flandreau, I tried to make a joke about my mother's age.

This is an important life lesson: don't try to make jokes in Spanish. I tried to say--don't ask my how to do it now--"My mother is twenty-nine, as she has been for the last ten years."

I may not have said it right, because the teacher (fresh out of college) exclaimed, "She can-not have been twelve years old when she had you." Breaking her rule of never speaking English in class, you see. I explained what I was trying to say, and she refused to translate it for me.

French, however, is a different matter. I had a friend with a similar temperament with whom I traded many witty jokes, such as, "You cow needs a lobotomy." If I could remember how to say "need" in French, I'd translate it for you.
Plot. One of the bestest parts of taking a day off of writing in order to plot is that you can delight yourself with the details. The first time I forged through the section currently in front of me, the people at the farmhouse were mindless zombies. Now, I've met them, I know where they live, and I know who they remind me of. Cool. I have to throw in something about the...jeez. What do you call those things?

It's a big refridgerator unit, full of earthworms on one side and fish on the other. Bait machine. Bait unit. Bait something.

Tangent: I went to a training class on customer service for work. Customer service is the big focus of W.F. in 2003, you know. (The focus of 2002 was positive change, i.e., surviving chaos. W.F., among other things, introduced the first new equity product in twenty years. The new revolution is a home refinance process that doesn't suck ass. It'll be a miracle.) Anyway. Besides listening to a woman with an English accent (Norwich) all day, I was also amused by an exercise in which we were interviewed and had to lie about one thing during our interviews. I stuck in factual but fantastic-sounding information: I went to a country school in the middle of nowhere; we had no running water. None of the Americans could believe it, but the English woman said that I certainly didn't have two children. Boing!

And further, I've taken baths in my grandmother's tin bathtub.
Some days...

One of the reasons I look forward to coming home from work is that I never know.

For instance, the other day when I came home, Lee'd turned on VH1 (we have dish network now, a la Joe) and was watching a classic videos program with Ray. She was dancing around madly.

He said, "You should have seen her a little bit ago. Her favorite song so far has been the Sisters of Mercy's "Black Planet." She just shook her head back and forth. Every once in a while, she'd look up, and then she'd just start shaking her head again."

You know how it is. Some days you look at your child and you blame the father. Some days you only have yourself to blame.


Ray. Want to know what Ray looks like with her bangs trimmed? Not quite as much cleavage, though.


Don't go to Jade Palace, Colorado Springs, Co.

Next door is a storefront, "Jade Palace Gifts." Hours are by appointment only. The glass door and all the windows of this storefront are completely--floor to ceiling--covered by venetian blinds. The paint on the outside of both buildings is suspiciously old, slightly flaking, unkempt.

The interior doesn't match the exterior. Or it does. Too much money has been put into tacky decorations that haven't been cleaned in a while.

The service was prompt but too familiar. My entire meal was a distraction, with both waitresses sitting at my booth and attempting to feed Ray, who doesn't take food from strangers.

The food was bad. Not disgusting, but poor. Ironically, with my waitresses having difficulty with English, the cook was latino.

One of the diners behind us said, "This soup doesn't taste like it used to."


Film at Eleven.

No offense, but I'm going to say something offsensive.

I'm sick of a certain type of news commentary that's a response to original news commentary, specifically, the derivative news commentary that states that the original news commentary is bullshit, and here's why, with quotes so extensive I should be paying royalties. OK. It's not news. Not everyone can report the news. That's what you have the AP for. So...you write commentaries. You give the news some spin.

Now, everyone descends on your commentary, and adds commentary to that. And so on. And so forth.

I'm not talking about posts that refer me from one website to another, for the purpose of reading original commentary. I'm talking about people who have to rant about other people's rants--er, commentary. I'd rather read an original commentary, even if I don't agree with it, thanks. Or maybe even some news. Original content, I mean, content you came up with all by yourself, I like that.

I'd like to say that the irony of writing this has passed me by. Fine.

The irony of writing this post has passed me by.

It must just be the time of year. Usually, people have something insightful to say about their own lives and environments--including the media news. Sheer, dumb burnout. It's stuff like this that makes people like me start using non-sequiteurs in conversation as a desperation ploy to change the subject.



You and I
we've seen it all
chasing our heart's desires
but we go on pretending
stories like ours
have happy endings...



First dream. Well, it starts out as one of those fantasy dreams whose details I won't divulge, but I start crying because all of a sudden I don't know where I am, and then I start crying harder because I do realize where I am, and that's not where I started the dream.

Second dream. I'm working my way through a college-level chemistry class. All sorts of Frankenstein details, and there's no room. I'm crawling on my knees. I recognize the professor as my high school chemistry teacher, who's the picture of the mad scientist and called, of all things, Mr. Burns (I also had a junior high English teacher called Miss Word, but that's beside the point). All of a sudden, I have to pee, and there's a bathroom just to the side of the podium. I go in. I have to hold the door shut. Some woman throws open the door, and there's a whole room full of people that don't stare at me, but there you go. Lee's there. I pull myself together and start terrorizing the woman. I threaten to kill her while Lee laughs cruelly. "What kind of motel are you running, anyway?" he asks.

Third dream. I'm the caretaker of an infant in a weird test experiment. There's about twenty of the kids paired with caretakers, and for some reason, we love them all passionately, as if they were our own children. The babies are all deformed, but that's because--they're developing. The feeling of assurance that we're involved with a valuable project is overwhelming. I can feel the weight of the baby. One day, while the caretakers are at their meeting, all the babies are removed. We'll never see them again. I wish, and I wish, and I wish, and the dream changes. The experimenters come to me and tell me that I'm ruining the experiment by changing reality to fit my desires. I tell them I won't stop, because we all love the babies, and they're babies, no matter what else they may become.

I woke up.

I didn't particularly have to pee.
Raynews. Ray had her fifteen-month checkup yesterday. The verdict is "the picture of health."

The doctor subscribes to a whole-life treatment view of medicine, so we're always getting these weird questions, like, "How do you discipline your child?" which shoots me off on a discussion.

Ray doesn't respond to spanking. I've tried it on those occaisions when she's putting herself in danger (like pulling out the vaccuum cleaner cord for the nth time). Pop on the bum, and no behavior change. Yelling does little. The louder I holler her name, the more she ignores me. So we're going with the go to your room philosophy. I told this to the doc, and she said, "It usually takes about a minute per year to get your point across."


Sometimes it takes more than a minute for me to calm down, though. Food for thought.

If you know Colors, I'm a green. If you know Meyers-Briggs, that means NT. Among other things, it means that that strange and wonderful art known as "tact" is not only one that I am unable to create but one that leaves me as mystified as most people are about Kandinsky.

I finally finished Doyce's novel from NaNoWriMo, Hidden Things. I wrote up my comments pour l'auteur, click, and zzzt.

Nope, Doyce says, didn't get 'em.


The Perfect Gift.

The thing about people people is that they think the gesture is everything. "It's the thought that counts."

The thing about analytical people, like me, is that we think the gesture is diddly squat.

It's the stuff that counts.

It isn't the timing--fuck birthdays--it's the essence. Casual conversation will lead us on quests for that perfect gift, quests that'll last years. If necessary.

When I see it, it's like the thing itself has a voice.

Pistachios. Once a year or so we buy pistachios.

There is no forseeable point to this story; you can skip it.

Not some pistachios, but a bulk of pistachios. I will avoid chewing off my fingernails for a couple of day so I can pick them open. This year was a "wreath" of dyed pistachios, red and green. Usually it's a plastic mesh bag the size of my skull.

I am tolerably long-headed, you know.

I don't remember who said it, or where: "You never learn how to write novels. You learn how to write this particular novel." The thing about writing this particular novel is that I don't follow my rules that I use for short stories. In the first chapter (anticipating 40-50 pages), I have eleven characters to handle, as well as all the other details that you have to handle when you're writing a fantasy of any type--you have to define the rules.

First rule: don't rewrite your first draft until you're done with it.

I can't handle that many details at one time. It's still mostly action and dialogue at this point.

That's enough rules. Rachel has thrown all the empty pistachio shells on the floor with squeals of delight. "Mmmm!"

She also likes to eat the nuts.
Afternoon off. Used bookstore in town called "Author Author," run by two women writers. They had Bridge of Birds and Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart.

"Barry Hughart," one of them said. "Any good? 'A novel of an ancient China that never was.'"

I was dumbfounded for about three or four seconds. What do you say?

"He quit writing after the third book," I said. "Couldn't stand the publishing industry. People cried."

"The publishing industry isn't so bad," she started-- Writerly types. What-ever.

I mumbled something about shy, retiring types, and left. Next door was a sushi restaurant, so I went there. The waitress wasn't a native English speaker, and after I stared at the menu for a few minutes right before lunch ended, offered to bring me the special of the day. I have no idea what I ordered, but it turned out to be tasty. If I had to write the hick-midwest version of the name of the dish, I'd call it "Shrimp log with rice and god-damn if that isn't some kind of raw fish on top. With, uh, teriyaki sauce involved in there somewhere." And miso soup.

I could eat miso soup for breakfast. Not every day, mind you, but I could. The bottom of the bill was printed with tipping guidelines. I went to the coffeeshop down the road, avoided all the tea-type products, and ordered a triple decaf cappacchino. I wanted cheesecake, but they didn't have any.

"My surname is Li my personal name is Kao and there is a slight flaw in my character."


The Writing.

So a couple of good ideas came my way. The ones I'm using: A laptop fund jar -- don't write, a dollar out. Write, a dollar an hour.

Write before bedtime. Get mucho help from spouse if bebe is still up.

Result: progressing at the average rate of a page a day, as desired.

I'm going to give the first set of pages (about nine) to Lee and see what he thinks. Er, the last time he read the first draft of this, he thought it wasn't any good. To paraphrase. Anyway. A good kick in the (insert tender area of choice), and necessary.


Dream. So I'm wandering through this museum looking for someone. The harder I look, the harder it becomes to look, and the more I need to find this person, until I'm walking on a hanging bridge about a foot wide without handholds, and whoever it is I'm looking for (I don't know) is going to die unless I find him or her soon.


Saga of the Weight Bench.

Once upon a time, there was a man who lost the bar to his weights. God knows where it went; probably it disappeared during his recent move across town. Possibly the bar was abducted by aliens, who unsuccessfully attempted to get ransom from the new residents of the apartment, who spoke Spainish and were unable to give them (the aliens) a forwarding address. Also, his weight bench was damaged, although the damage was suffered prior to the move.

In the interests of his continuing health and mental stability, the man went on a quest.

Hither and yon he searched. The not-so-soft side of Sears had a sale on. Woo Hoo! However, the weight benches on display in the store were the only weight benches available in the store, or any in town. Kmart had crap. The man's child wept, and his wife gnash-ed her teeth. But Lo! There was a Gart's Superstore, shining in the darkness, and they indeed did have a good supply of weight benches.

This did not solve the matter of the bar.

For no-one sells a bar without the damn weights, even if you don't want the damn weights. Except for maybe those one guys on the east side of town, eh, what are they called anyway?

The man drove home with the weight bench, prepared to delay until another day. And then a miracle occurred! His wife, much-beloved but not normally the most observant of wenches, noticed an excercise equipment store but a few blocks away from their home. A quick phone-call confirmed that they did, indeed, sell bars solo, without the damn weights.

And then he realised he had no clamps.

And he said, "I'm sick of driving around today."

And so the faithful wife said, "Hell, I was going to go to Target anyway. I'll look around." She wandered around Target, viewing the many post-holiday sale items with glee, but did not find any weight clamps. But she did buy a tree base for a buck fifty, so it wasn't a total waste.

Then she drove up to Gart Sports, looking for weight clamps. She asked for assistance and was assisted. Voila! Two sizes of weight clamps! She tried to remember the size of the weight bar previously used, and selected the clamps accordingly.


They were the wrong size!

And Lo! She was wroth! But managed to keep her mouth shut. Damn not tell me two sizes bars...mrrph mrrph...wrong size...driving around in the dark...mrrph mrrph..."Thanks for trying"...mrrph mrrph...

And that night, she went to bed, and dreamed that the cops had pulled her over for running stop signs. She got up, went to work, and returned home.

"Guess what?" sayethed her spouse.

"What?" sayethed the wife.

"There were clamps in the box with the bench," he sayethed. "Now all I need is a four-inch bolt. The one they packaged in the box wasn't long enough..."

And truly she was a good wife, for she did not scream.
Kiwi-birds and Hobbits.

New Zealand, if you didn't know, is where they filmed The Lord of the Rings. SCA, if you didn't know, is the Society of Creative Anachronisms, a group of like-minded folks who try to recreate the more tasteful parts of the middle ages (not enough shit for accuracy).

I have a friend at work who's a SCA-buff. She's the only person I know that's sexually attracted to Elijah Wood. (Except Joe, but that doesn't count. Hi, Joe!) Her sister's working in New Zealand.

So, of course, that's where she went for Christmas.

She had little to say about the state of the short folk there, but did mention that NZ children do not eat--and find disgusting the idea of--peanut butter sandwhiches. In fact, for breakfast, they eat a kind of salty meat spread on toast. Drug use and cigarette use are shrugged off, but the commercials for "drink" driving are so grotesque that everyone screams, "Turn it off!" One of them involves a pregnant woman who's rear-ended by a drunk. Ugh.

The roads have few stoplights and many roundabouts. There are lots of Asian people who, according to a friend of the sister's, "can't drive." Apparently, emergency vehicles have terrible problems getting around because none of the immigrants know to pull over when they see the flashing lights.

She brought back a chocolate banana marshmallow fish for Lee.

He said to say, "Thanks."


Brain Yoga. Not only is philosophy a comfort through the vissictitudes (did I spell that right?) of life, but it's also...Brain Yoga!!! I should design a Discovery Store package. But no Plato. I hate that m@#@&&$%. Sure, one side of his mouth is all about platonic friendships, but you check ou the other side of his Republic-an (heyyyyyy...) mouth, and it's all "brainwash the children in order to make good citizens."

Read no more if you value linear order.

Reading Foucalt's Language, counter-memory, and practice, I'm about to get my brain fried. So back up a little...Nietszche is like reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy. One big mind-fuck, designed to erase the programming society's laid on you--for its own benefit, not yours. Fine. I get that. Foucalt, Christ, I don't get it. I finished the first essay again. I've read this essay maybe four times in the years that I've had this book. It means something different every time I read it. Do the words change when I'm not looking? I don't remember any of this at all--and I know I've read this essay four times.

I'm going to sum up. Maybe someday, after reading the essay again, I'll come back and read my little summation and realize that the aliens have been spiking my jellybeans again.

Texts used to have authors. The author came up with the ideas, wrote them down, and had them published. People read them. Wow, what an outdated concept. Texts, from our perspective, don't have authors. Authors have texts: it isn't so much a process of giving births as a kind of disease. (This is my own metaphor, by the way.) Something, perhaps Jung's collective unconscious (again, just a guess by me), has the idea. The idea finds its way to a suitable target, i.e., author. The author produces the text as if in a state of possession. Her eyes do not, themselves, see. They roll up in her head (this is from Foucalt), seeing only darkness. But wait! There's another eye behind that eye, and that eye is less material and more the process/state of vision itself. That eye, too, rolls up and sees nothing--the more it tries to examine itself, the less it can see. Again, in a recursion of eyes, each eye that tries to examine itself 1) rolls up in its head, sees nothing; 2) is seen by a more visual, less material eye. Finally, there isn't a see-er at all, no material eye, but only a state of vision, of see-ing. This is what happened to the author. The more the author examines her ideas (through the process of post-modernism, perhaps? Stepping outside the text (often to make fun of it, like the two geezers/critics in The Muppet Show), the text analyzing itself, etc.) the less the author the author, herself, exists with relation to a text, and the more the writing process itself comes to dominate: possession. The sign of the times writes its own billboards.

But wait! If that's not confusing enough...

Language is about limits and boudaries: what can we say? There are limits placed on ideas by language itself, and limits placed on language by the ideas we have about the world. One of the most telling areas about this is sex. We can only say about sex 1) what the language itself permits us to say, and 2) what our ideas permit us to use language to say about it. Foucalt then gets to the point (ha! Too tricky to have a, that is, if you limit yourself to the idea of a, that is, if you limit yourself to the idea of numbers, lists, organization, a, that is, a point) by saying that (and he presents it as if this were a logical progression, mind you) now that God is dead, the only thing that remains that tests the limits of language is sex. Take Sade. The point is not that he transgresses the limits of sexuality, thus destroying the limits, but that his transgression of the limits of sexuality (though language) defines those limits. Foucalt uses the example of a bolt of lightning: here and gone again, but boy, does it light things up for a minute.

After Sade came Freud. Freud defined another limitation. I'm not sure how--I missed that. Anyway, now we talk about sex as if there were nothing limited, nothing forbidden about it: as if it were a natural thing. The sin of sex itself has been destroyed, just as God has been killed.

But here's the thing, stuck in the middle of a paragraph: You can't destroy God any more than you can destroy sex. What's left when everything is "normal" and easily explained away is a void. What's a void? Limitlessness. --And maybe Foucalt's just using a trick of language here to make his point. Mabye Void and Limitlessness don't mean the same thing, which might be the, a, whatever, point of the essay, buried under all the other stuff. Anyway...limitlessness. To cross from the limited (normal) definitions into the limitless (transgressive) places...I don't know. But what is limitlessness? God.

Without destroying God, we've destroyed God.
Without destroying sex by normalizing it to death, there is no sex.
Without destroying the author of a text, there is no author.

--The rules build up until everything permissible is compulsary, until someone comes along and transgresses, sins, crosses the borders into limitlessness.

Foucalt points out that Nietszche went mad, as did several other persons I've never read. Language broke down, limits broke down, and he went into the limitlessness and didn't come back.


I don't think Foucalt is meant to be read as straight philosophy. He's also meant to be read as a programming/deprogramming tool. To what point, and do I trust him, I don't know. But I don't feel so blindly involved with the world: there are ideas out there, just waiting to be thunk.

And the thunking to be thunk about.

What if...?

Short story ideas suck right now. Hey. Why does my brain flood with these things now, when I'm trying to write a freakin' novel?

Hm...that might make a decent short story, actually.
The Smoking Project.

So every day Lee makes it through without smoking, he puts three bucks in a jar to go towards computer equipment.

(I wonder if I could do that with writing? Well, sure. But--?)

And every day I ask him: How did you do today?
If he made it, I'll say, "Thank you."
If he didn't make it, I'll say, "I know you tried hard today. I know you'll try hard tomorrow."
Heh. All ye English majors, check out the Tolkein parodies here.

Here's an example:

Eowyn felt her heart flutter when she saw him. His raven hair flew in the breeze off the plain, and his piercing eyes caught her gaze as if by magic. He bore a kingly attitude; surely he was a prince. Her mind turned to forbidden things, things which would be forbidden to the King's niece, but surely allowed for a free shieldmaiden. She knew that she was made to love this ranger.
-Mark of the King, Danielle Steele


Down with the...bloooork! Lee had food poisoning over New Year's. Well. Turns out it's not food poisoning if your daughter has it, too, and she wasn't with you at the all-mite Nexican place. There are actually a couple of clean blankets left. No pillows, no sheets, but one lovely (and mostly naked) daughter who feels much better now. I meant to rent a wet-vac for the floor anyway. No problem.


Writing Stuff. Here's the resolution for the new year:

Finish the first draft on one (1) novel.
I know, this isn't too impressive for those who've finished their novels during the November NaNoWriMo project--one novel, one month (why November, I'll never know). Nevertheless. Hm...this ramble can wait. Something smells suspicious, and I'll bet you a dollar it's not the ham in the oven.

You know, when your child eats pieces of styrofoam, you get the nastiest poops this former nursing home CNA has seen.

Euuuuugh. Gross. Wait! Come back here...


Ok. So the goal is to finish the novel this year.

Problems: This is the first novel I've written, and I don't know how to do it.
Right now, I'm spending a lot of time analyzing everything I do, breaking it down into chapters, into parts of chapters. What do I want to accomplish now? How about now? I've made a map. I've done little character sketches.

I have two months of work in the damn thing already, and nine first-draft pages to show for it. But I'm excited about reading it, when I re-read it. That doesn't happen very often, for me. I hate re-reading what I've written.

Problems: I have trouble staying motivated over a long period of time doing anything except staying married and raising my bebe.
I need to average out a page a day to complete the novel. I can write a page a day. I don't write a page a day. I do planning, plotting, and research, take a break, and write three pages. I hope. I've asked Lee to help me stay motivated on other projects, but he sucks at staying motivated as well, so he isn't motivated enough to keep me motivated. I think.

Maybe the best way to keep myself hyped is to show what I've written to other people. If they're excited about it, want to read more, I get a huge lift. If they don't like it much, I'm discouraged but determined to re-write it so they do like it.

Maybe a calender, to mark off the days?
Maybe a reward? One spoil myself reward a month? Hm...I don't think that'll work. Rewards don't motivate me; they're just nice bonusus.
Maybe strict breakdowns of deadlines?
Maybe a certain time every day that I can set aside to write? --Maybe I have to stay up after the bebe's in bed and write until I'm done, if I haven't done my writing yet for the day.

Problems: I need a couple of objective voices to read this thing, so I know if what I'm doing is working.
As always, Lee is the prime guinea pig. On a very few occaisions, what I've written is good, but so outside his realm of enjoyment that it doesn't apply. Even on those occaisions, if it really is good, he'll say, "This isn't what I normally read, but I kinda liked it anyway." I wrote the first three chapters of this story once already, but he didn't like them. Bye, chapters. I'm still using the ideas, and the chapters were very useful to have written (I don't feel LOST), but--buh-bye.

I have a couple people at work that I'm going to hand the story off to, one's a writer-in-training like yrs. truly and the other's someone who likes fantasy novels and is SCA. I might be able to get Joe to read parts of it, but we'll see. I might ask a couple of other people to read it, but I'd like to save a couple of people for when I have the damn thing finished. Like Doyce. Heh. Not to mention my brothers...eh, you know what? I think I might ask Jackie later on, because this might be the sort of thing she likes better than Doyce would. Not that they're two sides of the same coin or anything.

"It's been a real preasure...it's been a real preasure and a pliviledge to work with these gentlemen..." Tom Waits.