Friday, February 27, 2009

Beautiful veins and bloodshot eyes

Recap of the week, in part to remind myself where the hell it went:

Monday: Untangled several tangled scenes in the next section of Crowmaker. Wrote down a few more lines of the creepy buffalo story. (Which really doesn't feature buffalo at all, oddly enough.)

Tuesday: More scene untangling in Crowmaker. Finished a really rough draft of creepy buffalo story and sent it off to my beloved first readers. The oldest son compared it to something from a Tad Williams' story--"You know, one of the parts where it's from the point of view of some really crazy person." Also spent 1.5 hours picking up a group of juniors from the closest Catholic high school and bringing them to our school for a presentation. Went back to school later for a tutoring session.

Wednesday: Did some research into a couple of markets I'd noticed in passing a while back, which do podcasts of previously published stories. Dug up a couple of my previously pubbed fictions, gussied up the formatting to suit the markets, and submitted them. Sighed heavily when one came back with a rejection less than 6 hours later. Yay for prompt replies? Also carted boys back and forth to their programming class.

Thursday: Spent more time than I should have pouting over the latest rejection and playing the "I'll never be published again" mind game. Caught up on reading the latest short fiction at some of my favorite ezines. Pouted more because either a) that story is so much better than anything I'll ever write so I may as well just give up now or b) my stuff is so much better than that I can't believe they bought that one and not mine. Remembered with fond nostalgia the good old days when I could just read a story and either liked it or not and didn't spend an hour or longer picking it apart later. Also put in an hour on my last tutoring session.

Friday: Caught up on more reading, convinced myself to pick up on Crowmaker again next week, and spent 4 hours subbing at the school's extended care. Crashed in my big comfy chair for a 20 minute catnap when we got home, because preschoolers, while adorable and wonderful and really a pretty good bunch of kids, still drain my brain. Did a blog entry listing my accomplishments for the week in order to convince myself that the week was not a complete waste. Ignored the husband who came in and started talking to me, completely oblivious to the fact that I was pretty obviously in the middle of something, give me a sec to finish it up, mm'kay?

Saturday: Will drive my oldest and a couple of other middle schoolers to the local Catholic high school for an academic competition involving (so near as I can tell) mostly written testing and which lasts over 4 hours. Will pack my Sudoku books and a handful of pencils and find a book to take along.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Creepy buffalo

First draft of the flash fiction is done and resting quietly for a week or so before I give it another looking-over and decide if it's genius or garbage. I also got through a scene of Crowmaker this morning, following the weekly grocery shopping.

Much of the rest of today will be taken up by non-writing but still important activities, but then tomorrow should be free and clear to write to my little heart's content.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Warm yourself by the fire, son, and the morning will come soon

I typed the above line into my Gtalk status message one day about a week and a half ago. It's from one of Joe's favorite songs, "Prayer of the Refugee," by his favorite band, Rise Against. It's a catchy enough tune that I have it on my mp3 player, and it happened to come on just when I happened to be casting about for something for my status message. And then the line got stuck in my head--not the song message as a whole, just that one line. And then later, another line got stuck in my head--again, not with the in-context meaning attached, just the line itself: "We've been pulling out the nails that hold up everything you've known." And then later, a line from the Foos' "Everlong" attached itself: "Come down and waste away with me, down with me." Add in a couple of creepy images of animals with human eyes, and you've got the seeds of the flash fic I've been growing for the last several days. I open it up every day, read through what I have, and wait to see what else wants to be added that day. So far I haven't forced anything, I've just waited for it to tell me what to write. It's kind of a creepy story, and maybe some of the eerie nature arises from the fact that I don't feel so much like I'm writing as like I'm just transcribing it.

Side note: The image of animals with human eyes came to me as I was putting away a CD that has a buffalo picture on it. After I made a note of the image, my mind meandered over and remembered how the new cow-people in the latest World of Warcraft expansion creeped me out, because the male faces look like flat buffalo masks instead of faces. I find it entirely possible that my subconscious saw the buffalo, made the connection without me knowing about it, and leaped to the image of animals with human eyes, and my conscious self didn't catch on until later. I also have a dim recollection of reading a very haunting short story several years ago in which buffalo figured prominently. I don't recall the plot of the story, but the image of creepy buffalo made me think of that, too.

I should probably go back and count how many times I used some variation of "creepy" in the last two paragraphs and use synonyms for some variety. But I'm lazy today, so I won't.

In other news, I waded through a really sloppy section of Crowmaker this week. Not a lot of tangible progress (I actually took away from the word count instead of adding to it), but the section actually makes sense now and leads where it should instead of wandering aimlessly here and there. It still needs some as-yet-unwritten scenes to fill in the gaps, but it's not bad.

The boys have been taking a Python programming class for the last month or so. Michael needed help figuring out how to do something, and I was clueless on how to help him. So I've been sitting down with the chapters they've studied and started learning it myself. Actually, not a bad idea anyhow. New knowledge is never a bad thing. And maybe I won't break out in hives whenever my computer genius buddies start spouting shop talk if I start to have a vague idea what they're talking about. (As if being haunted by creepy buffalo is somehow less scary than computer tech talk?)

I spotted Joe counting his allowance money on Friday. When I asked what he was saving for this time, I expected him to answer more Heroscape stuff or some new video game. His answer? "I've been thinking I'd like to learn to play guitar, too." (He's been busily teaching himself the drums and thinks he has a lead at school on where he can take lessons.) Michael Moneybags had also expressed an interest in guitar (I had it on a short list of ideas for a birthday gift), and I've thought it might be cool to try and learn, myself. (I play piano, too. Practice it every day. Yep. Uh huh.) So we agreed to go thirds on an acoustic guitar and some teaching software.

I shared the gorilla story from an earlier blog entry with the boys, and we had an impromptu discussion about where ideas come from. Joey's been writing out backstory and plot for his future video game ideas for years now, and apparently he's started stockpiling ideas for books, too. We are becoming quite the creative household these days.

Proud? You better believe it. It is cool beyond words to share living space with people who are actually interested in the same pursuits I am.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wow moment for the day (week, month, year?)

Under the category of things that make me feel less weird and alone and more like a perfectly sane person doing what I've been called to do:

Find 20 minutes when you can access Youtube. Then watch this. (Which I found via the awesome Shrinking Violets blog.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

No Man's Land

The first act of Crowmaker is in the no man's land somewhere between really rough first draft and really finished final draft which I call, in very broad terms, second draft. This should not be misunderstood to mean that I wrote it and then revised it once, meaning this is the actual second draft. It just means it's not the first draft and it's not the last one.

A very vivid series of images spawned over the weekend that seem to be coalescing into a story. This one feels like a flash. I jotted down a few notes about it, but mostly I'm just letting it hang around until it's ready to present itself more clearly.

On slate for the rest of the week, writing-wise, is dragging out act 2 of Crowmaker and seeing if I can start piecing it together into something that makes sense. I think the main pieces are there. I just need to shake out the little stuff that doesn't belong and add some little stuff that does belong and wash the dirt off the big pieces that need to stay. Easy for me to say.

In the meantime, I spent the morning filling in at the school's extended care. My sinuses now feel burn-y and my throat feels itchy, and I really hope a full-blown cold is not en route.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nobody here but us gorillas

Today's entry over at Science Fiction & Fantasy Novelists says it all.

I have officially given up on making a plan regarding what story I will write when, since I just wind up spending time I could spend writing on arguing with myself over the virtues of this story vs. that one. That being said, I have the second draft of act 1 of Crowmaker almost complete. Probably not today after all, Grizz. I realized I still have two completely unwritten scenes to work through, still. But soon! And after that... Well, after that I'll take a stab at sorting out act 2 and see what happens. If anyone else would like a peek at act 1 after I get through this second draft, poke me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Little pieces of the nothing that fall

Last Friday was the middle school's annual "Punk 'n' Rock," which is a lip sync show in which the 7th and 8th graders get to dress up in goofy costumes and ham it up as they present a little skit based on the song. Joe was less than thrilled that he had to be in a Miley Cyrus song, but when he and all the boys in his class leaped out from behind assorted furniture in fly costumes and buzzed around every time she sang "fly on the wall," it was pretty amusing. AND, he got to be the drummer in Guns 'n' Roses for a few minutes, as they did "Sweet Child o' Mine." Air drumming, yes, but the teacher let him do the final drum roll for real, which thrilled him to no end. (Which reminds me, I need to write a thank you email to her.) He was also Richie in their take on the Happy Days theme song.

We should have a dvd of the entire performance in the near future. I am so looking forward to watching it again--especially the songs during which I was mostly watching through my camera's viewfinder and may have missed things.

After the show, a bunch of the kids went to the local Mexican restaurant for a celebration, and I could tell Joe wasn't sure about going alone, so I tagged along. He took off with his buddies, so I reintroduced myself to a parent I'd met once and wound up sitting with her and her husband and another parent I had never met before. I got through over an hour of small talk with complete strangers and even managed to enjoy myself. Go-go, introvert girl.

Joe's guitar-playing buddy came over on Saturday. He brought his guitar. And his amp. It was just a little amp, and they wound up playing Heroscape most of the time instead of making music. But I overheard them discussing how when they get to high school, they might have an easier time finding a bassist and singer, and how the high school they want to go to together has an open mic/battle of the bands deal sometimes. I have the feeling I may wind up with a band in my basement someday. I may admit to being secretly tickled about that prospect. At least for now, while the still mostly imaginary band makes very little noise and doesn't risk getting the cops called on us.

More snow this week gave us a two hour delay, and a dentist appointment gave us another one. And then the school called to see if I would help them by covering for an extended care teacher who was out. (They keep the preschoolers during the time of the day when they're not actually in preschool.) For five hours. So I took a deep breath and said yes, and it didn't go badly at all. Maybe they'll call me again. Maybe I'll say yes again.

Highlight of my tutoring career thus far came last night. We were reviewing fractions, and one of the boys said, "We did this in class today, and I don't get it." And I said, "Let's talk about it some more and see if we can help you get it." So we did. And he did. He sat back in his chair with this most awesome expression on his face and flung his arms wide and shouted, "OH. I get it now!"

Oh yeah. You better believe I'm hooked now.

And in the midst of it all, I still managed to thrash out some more word count for Loki. I got another rejection for "Wings" on Friday, pouted about it over the weekend, and then sucked it up and sent it out again on Tuesday. I also found a couple of potential markets for "Pale Roses" and the motivation to revise it. I got it down to 10,000 words yesterday and sent it off to the first market last night.