Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call Me Lancelot

So there's this scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the guard at Castle Swampy spots Sir Lancelot running toward him at a distance. He looks away, looks back: Lancelot is still running, about as far away. Looks away, looks back, still running in the distance. Looks away - gah! Lancelot is on top of him, hacking away.

The cliff scene is like that. This is the second day this week I haven't gotten to it, instead doing a lot of pacing and arranging and making lists of actions with approximate times and writing up toward. So far this is the unchasiest chase ever. At the moment it looks like tomorrow, for sure. But yesterday at this time, it looked like tomorrow for sure, too.

Actually the ends of all my books are like that. I'm working working working and the end is out there somewhere and then one day poof! I'm finished. So I'm not worried about this. It's just a bit frustrating.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: Runaway Clones

So there's this woman, a biologist, Cynthia, who is asexual and a little narcissistic but wants children and is really interested in reproductive science. So she clones herself.

This is illegal, but she has the resources to disguise it as a normal birth. She doesn't have a partner, but her company has good day care. When Diana, the kid, is about five she has advanced enough in her research and learned enough from raising her first child that she decides to have a second one, with modifications. Another five or six years on, she gets really ambitious and decides she's figured out how to clone herself but have a son. This time, perhaps because suspicions have been aroused at her company, perhaps because she's gotten overconfident, she is detected.

At this point she vanishes from the story, either going into hiding with her newly-implanted fetus or arrested and forced to abort. Officials arrive to take Diana and Selena into custody - their existence is illegal and they are to be used as evidence against their mother. But Diana realizes in time what's going down and escapes with her little sister.

What does she do now?

The sheer amount of world-building I'd have to do to write this intimidates me. It's one thing to build a fantasy world from scratch - I do that all the time - but a science fiction one has to be grounded in more hard science than I've ever absorbed. Light switches work by magic for all of me. I've read how Carbon 14 and Potassium-argon dating work dozens of time and there's a basic level at which I still don't understand them. Plus, this is the kind of plot it would be easy to take down the blockbuster road and turn into the sort of movie that bores me to tears.

But the characters intrigue me. In what ways are Cynthia, Diana, and Selena similar and in what ways are they different? How does Diana feel about being the "beta version" and how does this affect her relationship with the little sister she has to protect?

Is there, in this world, any such thing as a safe place for them? I think it's most interesting if it's relatively recent future and the girls' legal status is up for grabs; if there's a sizable portion of the population that considers them soulless abominations that can and should be put down. Even if not, if the act that led to your existence is illegal, how can society afford to make a place for you?

But the world-building involved - no, I can't face it. And I'm basically not in sympathy with anybody who wants to come up with new ways and means by which the world can be overpopulated, so I have a problem with Cynthia to begin with.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you doing online? Go be with your family!

What, me? I have to be here. Thai wants her morning laptime. It's this or play Sims.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Okay, Got It

I've been creeping up on the hard part of this book for awhile now. It wasn't making sense and it wasn't fitting together and what about this factor and that factor and no it wasn't going to work. But I kept writing, the next part and the next part and the next part, and Len kept riding, the next leg and the next leg and the next leg, and today I wrote myself up to the wall and then I stopped and stared at it.

And then I went and looked in some reference books.

And then I came back to the keyboard and laid it out how it was all going to happen. Once I took the dogs out, the logic began to work and I began to see it.

It'll still take me the rest of the week or longer to write it all and there are still bits I can't see, but that's okay. I'll see them when I need them. It won't be a big deal. And after that there's only the bits I've always known, the fate of the money belt and the secret sharing and the resolution. I could have this book drafted by the end of the year. I'll certainly be done before the end of January.

That's the thing about problems. Perspective works differently on them than on physical objects. If you keep coming steadily at them, they get smaller and smaller and smaller, until by the time you reach them, they're the right size to handle.

If more people understood this, they'd be less annoying to discuss problems with.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: November Story

I used to get a certain mood in November in West Texas. For those of you who have never lived there - i.e. most people in the world - West Texas is what is known as a "semi-arid" landscape. This means that it's not the Mojave, Sahara, or Saudi Peninsula, we have vegetation year-round most places, and that our droughts are about 7 years long. San Angelo, where I lived from the time I was ten till I left for college, bills itself as "the wool capitol of the world," but if anybody of my generation recognizes the name, it will be from receiving Laugh-In's Fickle Finger of Fate Award when its reservoir caught fire.

If rain falls, it will probably be in May or October, causing floods. But all the same, most of the Novembers I spent there were misty, humidity hovering in the chilly air that came down from the Arctic (there being nothing between San Angelo and the North Pole but a bobwire fence, and I hear that fence is down) without ever precipitating. The hard, bright sun of summer hides behind solid cloud banks that never, ever rain. The leaves are off the scrubby trees, except for the dull green cedar and live oak. Looking out from - well, from anywhere - you can see the curvature of the earth, dun grass fading into blue-gray sky spattered with restless flocks of black birds, grackles mostly. The perpetual West Texas wind doesn't fail, but when its not dragging clouds of dust down from the Panhandle and Oklahoma, it creeps along at a melancholy pace, and it smells wrong. Hunting season starts, and you're likely to encounter a quiescent lump of deer on your way to the icehouse for a candy bar. (Also, I get really awful sinus problems, so I'm drugged to the gills to begin with.)

I made endless attempts during my eight-year tenure there to write something that would convey the emotional state of November to somebody else. But I haven't much use for mood writing, and emotional states are awkward to plot. Here's one I started writing and couldn't finish, though I knew exactly how it should read.

Marion Jabot lives in what my Mom called a "crackerbox" house next door to the local cat lady's bungalow. She was an unspecified school age, probably junior high or high school (I think I tried to write this when I was twelve), she has an Airedale named Bobo, and she hates cats. She teaches Bobo to chase them, because she thinks they're sly and evil and up to something. Even after the cat lady (Annie Wise; I don't know why these names stay with me so well) dies and the cats are all hauled away, the bungalow standing empty, she sees cats gathering there in huge numbers, night after night. Bobo sees them, too. Bobo is afraid of them. But no one else notices anything unusual.

I no longer remember - perhaps this is a plot point I never solved - how she and Bobo were to get trapped, alone, overnight in the bungalow. It would be a November night, and the cats would corner her, led by a huge tortoiseshell with glowing eyes, who she identifies with Annie Wise; perhaps as her reincarnation, perhaps as her witch's familiar, for Annie Wise is patently a witch figure. They would be everywhere, all glowing eyes and silent movement and savage claws and teeth. She and Bobo would try to attack, but they melt away in one part only to surround them more closely in another, until they give up and huddle together in a circle of cats, all night. The tortoiseshell would walk all over them, make eye contact. And when the sun rose, they would all go away, leaving Marian and her dog exhausted, bewildered, and unharmed; beyond the knowledge that the cats she hated, who certainly could have killed her if they'd cared to, didn't care to and weren't malevolent at all. Her idea of cats had nothing to do with the reality of cats, and everything to do with who she was, herself.

And that would be what November feels like in West Texas.

Naw, I didn't think you'd get it. Maybe you could if Ray Bradbury wrote it, or August Derleth, on a good day, like when he wrote "The Lonesome Place." But it was way more than I could do when I was twelve, and I've gone in entirely different directions since then.

And November in San Antonio doesn't feel that way at all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Common With Greatness

Ursula LeGuin's Lavinia is so good I didn't even feel my mind being blown until afterward. LeGuin does that to me sometimes. But that's not what I came to talk to you about.

In the Afterward, she talks about research. Other things, too, but mostly research. She describes how her puzzlement over the geography of the Aeneid was relieved when a friend of hers, described as a "geomancer," showed her maps from the Grande Carte Stradale d'Italia on which she could find her way around it in the modern world. "There, in large scale, near Croce di Solferato, is Vergil's Albunea, properly convenient to Laurentium; and there it is, Rio Torto, the river that must have been Numicus...It was deeply touching to me to find these places of legend on a highway map of the Touring Club Italiano. On the map and in the myth, they are real." She also geeks out over a book published in the 1930s, Vergil's Latium, by Bertha Tilly, who took a walking tour of relevant sites with a Brownie camera.

And I said: "Yes." I am not in LeGuin's league and won't pretend to be, but we have this in common, the indescribable orgasmic sweetness of doing the research and diving into the real world and finding the story incarnated there, organic, interdependent and now all you have to do is write the thing.

I have no patience with people who say "It's only a story" and just make things up, taking the easy way. They're cheating themselves out of joy.

Worse, they're cheating the story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Quiche from Yuggoth

Here you go: The Lowish-sodium Quiche From Yuggoth!

The tentacles broke off, but you can see one where I propped it up. I was surprised and pleased at how tasty it was. Too bad more people aren't going to get to eat it, but if you want to try it for yourself, here's how:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Pastry for one 9-inch pie:
1 cup white flour
about 10 TBSP/1/3 cup Fat of Choice (I used unsalted butter)
1 tsp curry powder
3-4 TBSP cold water. I just put some water and ice in a measuring cup and kept dipping till the dough came right

Cut fat into flour and curry powder till you have roughly pea-sized bits. Add water, one spoon at a time, tossing in between, till all flour is moistened, pastry almost cleans side of bowl, and you can form it into a ball, then flatten the ball, without it falling apart. There'll probably be a little loose floury stuff in the bottom; if so, set that aside. Roll out dough nice and thin on floured surface, fit carefully into pan, trim edges. Roll trimmings between palms to make tentacles or other desired substances to extrude from filling, arrange artistically according to your talents. Place pie plate on top of cookie sheet, set aside.

4-5 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
dollop of olive oil
3-4 green red onions, sliced, as far up as the leaves remain firm
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms of choice - I just used the cheap white button ones
1 small red pepper, chopped fine
2-3 sprigs fresh oregano or TBSP dried
dash ground yellow mustard
4-6 eggs depending on whether you're using small, medium, large, or jumbo.
3-4 TBSP skim milk
blue food coloring

Spread cheese in pie shell. Saute onions, pepper, mushrooms, and oregano in olive oil until mushrooms are properly grayish brown and shriveled. Don't let the chives and oregano burn. Spread this mixture on top of cheese.

In the bowl in which you mixed the pie shell, beat mustard, eggs, food coloring, and milk together with the leftover floury bits; if you're so good at making pie crust you don't have any, add in a TBSP or so of flour or cornstarch for thickener. The thickener will probably clump a bit, so break it up as well as you can, but but small clumps won't hurt anything. When it's a good consistency for scrambled eggs and a reasonably even shade of green, pour mixture into shell.

Shell will be very full indeed; this is why you already have it on a cookie sheet. It's easier to put into the oven without spilling if you're handling the cookie sheet instead of the pie pan. Bake 40 minutes or till set. The olive oil may ooze a bit and mislead you into thinking the eggs are still sloppy, so stick a knife into the center to be sure. The top will be puffed up as it comes out of the oven but will relax as it cools.

Serve hot. Reheats well in microwave at 2:00 minutes on high for one slice, makes a nice breakfast with fried potatoes. For lunch and supper, side dishes of greens and potatoes are recommended.

Please note that in order for this to remain a lowish-sodium dish, homemade pie shells and Swiss cheese are recommended. The curry powder replaces the salt in the pie crust. You could also try garlic or onion powder, but I found the faint curry flavor just right for a light, flaky crust. Swiss cheese has half or less sodium than almost every other cheese. If sodium isn't an issue, any medium cheese can be made to work, but vary your spices accordingly; ditto on the vegetables. A good swiss-mushroom-spinach quiche is a joy if you add dashes of nutmeg and black pepper. I know the nutmeg sounds weird but trust me, you want it in all your spinach dishes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: Best Unholy Ritual

Yesterday evening we were supposed to go to the postponed Frightful Food Feast mentioned a few weeks ago. I made a successful Quiche from Yuggoth (pictures and recipe to come), and then we couldn't go because poor Damon had too many symptoms. He's mostly all right now and we had a successful game day with him DMing, so don't worry about it. I only bring it up because making the Quiche reminded me of a Garage Sale Idea that's been bopping around in my head for awhile now.

I'm not sure how long. I came up with it during the period when I was still writing, and semi-regularly selling, short stories to the SF/fantasy magazines, before shrinkage set in and the number of paying markets grew so small that it wasn't worth the attention diverted from book-length work that I can't sell either but pays off well if I do sell it. So, any time between 1986 (when I made my first sale to Twilight Zone Magazine) and the late 90s.

It's a straightforward TZ sort of story. It'd be called "The Testimony of So-and-so," some ordinary middle-class white lady name, and would consist of a statement to the police concerning the disappearance of a guest from her Halloween party. Her circle of gamers and fans had come over in horror-appropriate costumes for a meal not unlike the Frightful Food Feast, to be followed by party games, with prizes for things like Best Unholy Ritual. It would be a typical Fen group, with the hostess and her husband a little older than most of the guests, the stable married core around which the rest of the group coalesces, with recognizable types like the Fatbeard, the Munchkin, and the guy - for whom, oddly, there is no word - who seems a little off even to other Fen, but is included because he meets the base criteria of common interest.

This guy is at best only a semi-participant in the proceedings, whatever the group does, and never seems to be in the same conversation as anybody else. Everybody else looks down on him a little and feels a bit virtuous for not freezing him out, even the hostess, who regards him like the stray cats on her compost heap and always defends him when other people are laughing at him behind his back.

Tonight his dissonance is centered around the competition for Best Unholy Ritual. These things, he says, are not funny, they are dangerous. It's one thing to play Call of Cthulhu and make jokes about not using Hastur's name in conversation, and another to put together even mock rituals invoking the inimical powers of the universe. He messes with people's props, interrupts nonsense invocations, and generally pisses off everybody, till even the hostess has had enough and removes him from the proceedings to the kitchen, which is where they are when he is proved right and one of the play rituals does in fact open an interdimensional gate in the living room which threatens to bring through Something Nasty.

Fortunately kitchens are full of ritual objects and, being Fen, neither Hostess nor Loser waste any time not believing what's happening. Loser, who has been expecting this all along, is prepared, throws together what's needed, and closes the gate - but the only way to seal it is with a human life, which, as the only person who understands what's going on, he does, stepping into the portal himself and never coming out again.

Somebody, possibly a neighbor, has already called the police, and the hostess makes her statement as straightforwardly as possible, prefacing it with the statement that she doesn't know what happened, only what she saw, and she doesn't expect the police to accept that what seemed to her to be happening really was. No doubt he's somewhere, and possibly when he's found there'll be a mundane explanation for everything. It's not up to her to interpret what really happened, only to be honest about it. Meantime, she and her friends are in the uncomfortable position of having been saved by someone they don't respect or quite like, and who never quite seemed to like any of them, but sacrificed himself for them, anyway.

I never did write this. It's a little too patly a TZ sort of story, I think; and the skill with which the characters would have to be written, in order for them to be both recognizable types and characters, rather than the caricatures one sees so often in media, was intimidating. Also, I couldn't work out what kind of ritual I wanted.

Really the thing I liked best about the story was the hostess's menu, which I never got far with, though I knew it would include Fungi from Yuggoth (mushroom) Soup and Roast Dark Young of Shub-Nigguruth the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young (cabrito). If you spend all your time working on the menu that would inevitably be cut for length rather than the plot, you're not enough into the story to write it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Excuse me if I don't sound coherent today. I'm trying to articulate concepts about the functioning of backbrain processes, which are delegated to the backbrain for reasons.

One of the crucial false dichotomies writers deal with is that of plot vs. character. If an author's obvious strong suit is plot, her characters are likely to be called "cardboard." I'm looking at Agatha Christie here. If you assume that her characters are all puppets at the mercy of her plots, read Endless Night and Crooked House. Hell, read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and pay attention to exactly why it is fair and why so many people have insisted it's not. I dare you.

The flip side of this is the assumption that characterization interferes with plot. If the internal workings of the character are featured prominently, we hear complaints of dullness, or that nothing happens. Yeah, nothing whatever interesting happens in The Berlin Stories, does it? Just a series of character sketches. No plot in Little Women, or Jane Eyre, no action in Pride and Prejudice.

The character is an emergent quality of the plot, and vice versa. Some of us find one entry into the story easier than others, some stories require greater emphasis on one element or other, and even skillful authors create imperfect books, but there's no essential conflict here. How much more deeply could we know Poirot, and enjoy puzzling our wits with the ghastly evils he encounters? How much action could Lizzie Bennett endure and still remain the focus of our attention?

I always start with character. I have a knack for it. No, I have an uncontrollable compulsion for it. One of the reasons I love RPGs is that by the time I've arranged a few randomly generated numbers in the necessary order and chosen a role in the party, a brand new person has spontaneously generated in my head and needs exploring. Sophia the perfectionist patrician priestess, Bucky the ugly rogue with the chip on her shoulder, Erulisse the bard whose powerful charisma is based on the urge to make those around her feel good about themselves - don't worry, I'm not going to burden you with character stories, but the point is I didn't go through any conscious process of making them up, but they come to me full-blown while other people are still min-maxing* their stats. It takes me a little longer to project a persona into a computer-generated figure like the Sims2 characters I'm 'shippy for, because of the layers of graphics and computer code between me and them, but by the time I've played them a few times I "know" all sorts of things that aren't covered by the rules. The primary difference between a gaming character and a character in a book is that they develop past their concepts in response to the action of the game and the interactions of characters run by other people (or a machine) rather than in response to actions wholly within my own brain.

It beats me how the reading of August Santleben's memoirs and a wildly biased history on Reconstruction Texas generated a pragmatic cross-dresser with a deadpan sense of humor, but she's here, she's queer, I've got to do the best I can with her. I had to research a bunch of topics radiating out from Len before I could write this book. I can't describe how this works. I never wrote a bio of her, or listed what was in her pockets, or interviewed her. I could, but I never had to. She's not hiding from me. For someone who spends her life in such a drastic disguise, she's surprisingly transparent. The remaining characters, alas, are correspondingly opaque. It is on me as an author to know what they're doing, but Len only knows what they do and say around her, and though she's not stupid, on certain subjects she is ignorant.

And of course, this is all nonsense. If I succeed, Len may appear real to a reader, but she will never be real; not even, in one sense, as real as my RPG characters, who at least interact, through me, with other entities independent of both of us. And the character who seems real to a reader will not be identical to the character I'm dealing with now, but an amazing replica created in the context of another's brain. Her face will be different; her voice will not sound the same; she will even have subtle differences in her motivations based on the reader's experience of human beings.

But the possibility exists that she will continue to seem real to people decades, even (why not go whole hog, here?) centuries after I'm dead; when I am no more real than she is in the sense that I will have no physical substance, no brain to think with, no voice to speak. When I am at most a character in a biography, at once mysterious and familiar, as all people are to our fellow creatures. Who seems more real to you: Sherlock Holmes or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

I can't worry about that right now, as such character immortality is always an accident. Nor can I draw any conclusions.

This is just the kind of thing that's on my mind. In my mind. Whatever.

*Min-Maxing. The behavior of juggling choices during character creation in order to maximize effectiveness within the rules of the game while minimizing the negative consequences of those choices. Min-maxers have reputations as lousy role-players, and often are; but it's also the method some people have to use in order to find out who they're playing. There's no wrong way to do this, in games or writing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sputtering Right Along

One of the few advantages a soul-sucking day job has is that writing, slotted into coffee breaks and lunch hours, becomes the treat you lure yourself through the day with. One of the few disadvantages of control of your own time is that writing becomes work. It is sometimes necessary to play mental tricks on yourself in order to get yourself to do what you in your heart wants to do.

I feel as if I'm writing veeeerrrrryyyyy slooooowly, but I'm not making bad time considering what I'm doing right now. Yesterday was the Sunday on which Di declared her atheism. I was not at all sure why I felt she had to do this, beyond my knowing it was an important part of her character; but she's normally so careful about revealing her true self. And I was puzzled about how Len, the Lutheran, would react to it. In real life, I'm agnostic and most of the people I love best are one flavor of Christian or another, so I did have some basis in experience for writing the scene, but I had to figure out the why and how of the characters. For Hebe, too, because she's there; she's right in the middle of most of their scenes together and the relationship has to grow up around her, so to speak.

So I did a bunch of tell-not-show in the morning and did housework and computer games and magazine reading in the afternoon, and when I sat down this morning I had it all straight in my head, did the whole thing with four-part harmony and feeling, and then realized that I was at the crux point of the confrontation with the Caves, on the action of which many, many future logistical points will rest. I had thought I was going to get the two groups face-to-face and then stop, but when I tried to write it I could see how far away John Cave could be seen on Sheikh, and realized that Len couldn't be with Di and Hebe at the moment of confrontation, so I had to set that up and then I saw that the morning was almost gone and the next bit was going to be noodling in a notebook trying out various scenarios anyway. So it might easily take me till the end of the week to do this.

Which, as I said, feels slow. If I were still in the day job, I would have been able to write straight through the atheism conversation; but it would have taken me all week. My habit, at soul-sucking day jobs, was to write longhand during lunch hours and input text onto the computer at night; so I would be writing two or three paragraphs a day, at most, and doing first revisions in the evening. My backbrain would have all afternoon, evening, night, and morning to work on the next two or three paragraphs. The stopping and starting were built into the routine and felt like something imposed from the outside on a smoothly running operation that otherwise could have proceeded apace.

Now the stopping and starting is revealed as a part of the writing process, but it feels like my brain sputtering along at half-speed. Never mind that I write more wordage in a bad day than I used to get through in a week.

I may need to draw myself a little map of the confrontation site. I will certainly have to make lists of things that must happen and note their consequences later in the story. Everyone, from Len to Hebe's mule, must behave in accordance with the internal logic of their characters and situations, not for my convenience.

Fortunately, I can do a lot of this while sanitizing the kitchen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Idea Garage Sale: Insomnia

Things get lodged in my head wrong sometimes. For instance, for a long time I could have sworn that Fitzgerald's statement "In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning" was "Insomnia is the state in which it is always three o'clock in the morning."

This illustrates why the teacher under whom you did your first research paper was such a stickler for footnotes even of common knowledge. Ideas, facts, and insights we get from exterior sources bounce around in our heads, making connections with our own experience, and transform into something that makes better sense in our contexts. My reformulation is a natural one, since the second version is an almost literal description of my experience of insomnia. The clock's ability to hang up indefinitely at or around three o'clock is a long-standing source of despair to someone like me. There's nothing random about three o'clock, either - it's the point of the sleep cycle at which most organisms hit a biological low, the real "witching hour" mediated by our material substance.

So one day I sat down to put the truth of insomnia into a short story. It was one of those moments that suggest possession as the source of creativity, when you sit down and the words pour out without forethought. My character is a middle-aged woman with two children, a husband, and a frustrating job who can't turn her brain off on an airless August night. She lies beside her husband, a champion sleeper, reviewing everything that's gone on; the computer her boss won't fix, the project she has to finish by noon anyway, the squabbles of her children, the broken air conditioner. She tries counting sheep, gets up to $103, recognizes the amount in the checkbook, worries about what to get her husband for his birthday, and realizes he's not breathing.

At this point, suddenly, I crashed. Because time has in fact stopped for her at three in the morning. She can't get past that point.

Which means she can't interact with anybody or anything. She can't prod her husband because movement is a function of time. She can't get up because how can she generate enough friction to lever herself off the sheets? I could not get past that hump, and therefore this story - which I would appear to be overqualified to write - stopped at page 2, without utilizing any of the brilliant vivid images I could see hovering past that point in the concept: the bat frozen in mid-air as it chased moths through the neighbor's security light, the long complaint of the air conditioner that produces more noise than air and now is stuck at a single unit of noise, the intense dark solitude of a sleeping house with one unsleeping person.

But no time = no movement, and no movement = no story. I can pose her question, but I can't solve her problem. Because I don't know how to solve it myself.

If you figure it out, let me know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sometimes Interruptions are Good

When I set goals, it's common for them to be disrupted by unexpected necessities. Normally I hate these. However, today I was interrupted by my husband telling me that the remaining balance on the porch work we did in 2008 (a two-week job that stretched to three months) was low enough to pay off. So off I trotted to the bank, wrote a check, and we now have a couple of weeks to enjoy owning our front porch before we take out the loan to fix the back, a much bigger job. Yay us.

And it didn't prevent my finishing revision of the last placeholder camel scene this morning or turning out and scrubbing the kitchen closet this afternoon, so even better. Currently the kitchen is strewn with stuff waiting for the interior to dry, because getting things clean always involves making a mess. There's a writing analogy in that somewhere.

There always is.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goals for the Week

I always have goals at the beginning of the week. I don't always fulfill them, but they give me a direction to head, anyway.

This week:
1. Vote. Accomplished.
2. Replace existing "placeholder" camel scenes with proper camel scenes while I still have all that fresh in my mind. Well begun, despite a certain lack of focus. I think that's an inevitable result of the way I've had to write this book - running ahead, falling behind, so I'm planning camel scenes and they get interrupted by love scenes and action scenes. Some of which will also be camel scenes (well, the action ones; not that camels aren't lovable). The main thing is, I'm working on it.
3. Begin Kitchen Sanitation Month by deliming the pots, cleaning the stove top to bottom, and starting on the ruthless turning out of cupboards. Um, no progress yet. There's reasons for that, but aren't there always? Tomorrow, I swear...

Kitchen Sanitation Month is an annual event for me since 2007. At the time I quit the day job, I was exhausted and had never gotten caught up on the jobs that the ball got dropped on during the Year from Hell two years before. So when I got up Monday morning, October 12, 2007 and told myself I was going to do exactly what I wanted to do from moment to moment for the entire week, I immediately threw myself into organizing my study. That took the rest of the month, and then I started in on the second most important room in the house, the kitchen. We won't talk about the scary stuff I found there, but it took the entire month of November, and I resolved never to let it get so bad again. However, in those kinds of moods I am a tough act to follow and I knew that the best will in the world, once the surge of freedom energy gave out, I wouldn't be able to actually maintain the kitchen at a satisfactory level, so - Kitchen Sanitation Month. If I turn out all the cupboards and scrub down all the surfaces at least once a year, at least I will never again be confronted by anything lodged in the back of the pantry that expired five years before.

November is actually a good month for this, as it's always better to have the kitchen pristine in time for Thanksgiving, so as not to give anyone food poisoning.

I'll check in later and see how I did with these goals. For today, have fun exercising the flab off your democracy and set some goals for yourself while you're at it. Let me know how you do.