August 29, 2003
Subtext is everything...
Okay, so here's my object lesson on the importance of the subtext an individual reader/viewer brings with them to a book/story/show.
I've been watching The West Wing on Bravo. Missed it when it first came on, so it's neat to have a second chance to watch it from the beginning. I love this show. Love it. In the episode I saw today, the President is getting ready for his first State of the Union speech. One of the subplots involved picking someone to stay behind in case something happened at the Capitol so the government would continue to run, blah blah blah. The last scene of the episode is the President talking to the guy they picked, who was like the Secretary of Agriculture or something.
It's a nice scene. Ties together some of the major plot threads of the episode, has some nice character touches. The agriculture secretary guy gets a short briefing on what to do should he find himself as acting President, and he gives the president a gift--a copy of the Constitution translated into Latin.
But the whole time I was watching it, I felt uneasy and creeped out. I kept thinking, "No! Don't believe him! The agriculture secretary is evil! Don't read that book, it'll steal your soul!" Why did I think this? The agriculture secretary was played by Harry Groener, also known as Mayor Richard Wilkins from Buffy. Even though consciously I recognize that actors play roles and they aren't their characters, blah blah blah, my subconscious heard his voice and went, "AHHHHH! Evil!"
Now I understand how actors get typecast. I also understand now how I have absolutely no control over the strange places some of my readers might go when reading my stuff. Doesn't mean I should worry about it ahead of time or that I should change something that gives a reader a weird cross-association, any more than it means Harry Groener should never get work again.
I needed to hear that, because honestly, I've changed a lot of things for exactly that reason, either to avoid it or because it happened. Just something for me to keep in mind on a gloomy afternoon.
(On even more of a totally bizarre tangent: Harry Groener was in the original Broadway cast of Cats. Couldn't picture it until I saw it.)
August 28, 2003
Despite the Them!-like horror of
Despite the Them!-like horror of yesterday and the computer issues, I'm having a remarkable week. I've already written more this week than any other full week this month (nearly 7,000 words so far), and I've managed to go for a walk the past two mornings in a row. Granted, they're very short walks, but I can tell a difference in how I feel already.
I love weeks like this. I feel very with it and pulled together and in control of my life. I'd love to start having them more regularly--but then I suppose I'd lose my basis for comparison, huh? Not, of course, that my weeks have been crappy lately or anything, but this one's been especially good.
August 27, 2003
And I just did a web search on the "cyclic redundancy check" error. No fewer than three sites say, "This issue may occur if your hard disk is damaged or corrupted." Excuse me while I go back up everything I have on my laptop. Grar.
(Edited later to add: Ran check disk on the hard drive. It found some bad sectors but seems to have repaired them. My fingers are crossed.)
Bugs, organic and otherwise
I should have known things were too good to last. It's been an incredible week here. Happy, productive, energetic. Today, since my library books were due back anyway, I decided to take them back and spend some time writing in the library. I took my laptop, the disk with all my novel-related files on it, and of course, my library books.
Aside from the construction going on practically on my doorstep, the drive over was nice and soothing. The local library is kind of small by Ann Arbor standards, but is very new and very picturesque. I turned in my books, found a movie I wanted to borrow for the weekend (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and then found a nice sunlit spot to work. Not too warm, facing the beautiful garden behind the library.
That's when it all went bad.
My first indication of trouble was when my laptop still hadn't opened up my novel document after five minutes. I did an end task on it, opened my other files, no problem. Tried the novel again. Same thing. The floppy drive made horrible ratcheting noises and Word locked up. Tried copying the file onto the laptop directory. Got a mysterious error message about a "cyclic redundancy check". So I ran check disk on the disk. No error, but check disk wouldn't work. Great. Must be a bad disk. I tried to open it one more time. Word told me "This file caused a serious error last time. Do you still want to open it?" After a moment's consideration, I said no.
Fortunately, I have my novel backed up in at least three places, not to mention a huge chunk of it printed out. So I didn't panic. Much. As I was ignoring the insidious little voice in the back of my head that suggested perhaps all the copies of my novel doc were corrupted, I decided to try once more on the library computer, in case my laptop was just being moronic--it's been prone to that lately. Alas, either the file really was the problem or my laptop broke the file, because it still wouldn't open.
Fine. I thought, "I'll just go home and work."
I got into the car to see a grasshopper the size of New Hampshire sitting on my windshield, staring back at me. Now, aside from the occasional shudder at a spider, I'm not that squicked by bugs (unless they're on my body, then all bets are off). But this one was staring at me. Have you ever seen a grasshopper's face? From across the width of a car? He was on the far passenger side windshield, and I could still make out every detail of its face. That's how big this sucker was. It almost looked like it was smiling, as if to say, "Hi! Welcome to life in the country, where the air is clear, things are peaceful, and the bugs are bigger than your head!"
Then again, maybe it was just smirking.
It stayed on my car about halfway home, periodically turning this way and that as if trying to get comfortable--it looked as if it planned to hang around for a while. Then, unexpectedly, it pooped on my car and jumped off. Yes, you read that right. The grasshopper pooped on my car. Now, you may have seen a bug's face before, for that matter, maybe I have, but have you ever seen bug shit? I can safely say I have never seen a bug big enough to leave behind a visible dropping before. It's disturbing.
The good news is, all of the other backups of my novel seem just fine, and I was able to run check disk on the floppy with my desktop--there were some bad sectors on the disk. I still think I might back up the novel in a couple more places. Just in case.
And I should definitely go get my car washed.
Apparently my whole life has been scary slash and I didn't even know it. Explains a lot though.
August 26, 2003
Knew there was a reason I loved this band...
I always listen to music when I write, and every so often there's this perfect synthesis of the music I happen to be listening to and the scene I'm writing. Like right now. Perfect song for this scene, perfect song for Elizabeth, Alex's mother.
Hooray for melodramatic music!
August 25, 2003
I finally broke down and left the house to work today. I have to face the fact that I'd developed some bad habits over the past couple weeks (definitely reflected in my progress writing). I'd write a sentence or two, sit and stare out the window, check my email. Check some journals, then half an hour later, write another sentence or two. I tried all sorts of things, from making deals with myself ("200 words then you can go check your friends page") to out and out unplugging the cable modem from my computer.
So this afternoon I packed up my laptop and headed to the nearest Borders, in Brighton. I dunno if it was the change of scenery, the lack of distractions, or just the scene I was writing, but bam! I didn't write; I flew. It was a nice feeling. I'm thinking tomorrow afternoon I'm going to try the library, since I have to take some books back anyway.
Interestingly, I think I saw someone I went to high school with working at Borders. He didn't see me, which is kind of a good thing, cause I used to have a crush on him and that would've just been awkward.
Congratulations, you're New Orleans, the wild city.
What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.
This was kind of a nifty quiz
Season Three - A lot of people say that you're the
best, and who could really argue - you're
pretty, witty, and you've got one of Buffy's
best adversaries: the Mayor. Pound for pound,
you're why so many people love Buffy.
Which Season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
August 23, 2003
Today was a blissfully, relaxingly, completely lazy day. I spent most of the day organizing my MP3 collection and ripping CDs to store them on my MP3 player. When I wasn't doing that, I was reading or cooking (I made chicken lo mein for dinner and it was yummy). This is the first day in a long time that I've been lazy all day without feeling guilty or like I should be writing. It was perfectly lovely.
I had a chance to rediscover some music I love that I'd forgotten about, mostly my classical collection. It's not precisely classical, but I'd forgotten how much I love Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. It's always frustrating for me to not be able to describe how I feel about something, but I can't describe how that piece makes me feel. Just... good. It makes me think of Manhattan for some reason.
Anyway, I'm off to continue the evil NASCAR habit my mother has hooked me onto.
August 21, 2003
Before I go to bed...
...apparently the rainstorms here have kept the morons glued to their computers, and they're all IMing me.
talldarkhandsom: write me a story abou t u ad me
talldarkhandsom: meeting in the thundrstorm
maegara: Are you planning to pay me professional freelance rates for this? Most places pay between 5 and 10 cents a word.
He eventually offered me $10, but that would've meant talking to him longer.
vneuro: interested in a single male
maegara: Well no. Generally my interests are far more specific than that.
vneuro: ok bye
maegara: *laugh* So are you saying the only thing you have to offer someone is the fact that you have a penis?
Silence there and nothing more.
Lewis Black, the Daily Show:
Lewis Black, the Daily Show:
"Wow. You survived the blackout. You're made of stronger stuff than... ice cream!"
"There's one way to make sure we never have another dark day: harness the power of idiots!"
I finally did what I'd
I finally did what I'd been planning to do for weeks: I got out of the house this morning and took a short walk. I can't remember the last time I went for a walk without goading from someone else, and this felt good. Just a quick little ten minute spin around the complex. I'd like to make it part of my morning routine--which might get tricky as I start being able to take longer walks. But for now, yay. I feel good.
August 20, 2003
More evidence of my productivity...
My LiveJournal Sitcom Living english muffins (TBS, 2:30): roane (Bill Mumy) bakes 500 cookies for a bake sale, but fairmer (Danny Trejo) eats them all. That same day, obsidianwings (Parker Posey) eats dungeoneer (Sally Field)'s raspberry cheesecake. Later that day, bronzemountain (Billy Bob Thornton) misinterprets an email from dgenerator (Will Ferrell) and tries to get into a playground for free. Upstairs, splash_the_cat (Charlie Sheen) wipes magiien (Jonathan Taylor Thomas)'s laptop. Nearby, roane (Bill Mumy) keeps accidentally stepping on iuliamentis (Ashley Judd)'s foot. Zany antics ensue. What's Your LiveJournal Sitcom? (by rfreebern)
|My LiveJournal Sitcom|
|All My roane (TBS, 2:30): roane (Bill Mumy) draws a picture on moongirli (Bill Cosby)'s forehead. On the other side of town, kathaleendee (Jared Leto) gets mad at gildedkitten (Peter MacNicol) and decides to join the Peace Corps. Upstairs, amezuki (Christopher Walken)'s new friend alienates elflingsmama (Jon Lovitz). The next day, noizangel (Gary Cole) can't open nocker (Cesar Romero)'s jar of pickles. Soon afterwards, dgenerator (Will Ferrell) gets in trouble with the law when tarq (Jennifer Jason Leigh) discusses computers with an undercover cop. Hilarity ensues.|
|What's Your LiveJournal Sitcom? (by rfreebern)|
Good news/bad news
The good news: Mer braved my last place of employment for me and picked up my belongings, including my MP3 jukebox. I have my MP3s back! And I figured out how to hook the jukebox up to my stereo.
The bad news: I figured out how to hook the jukebox up to my stereo. So much for productivity this morning.
August 19, 2003
I have to admit, he is the cutest...
Well okay, except for maybe Jai.
Kyan: Grooming Guru
Which Member from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is your type?
brought to you by Quizilla
Help me. Save me from my strange new fascination with gay men... I know I have a long history of going after the unattainable, but that's just getting ridiculous... ;)
August 18, 2003
Okay, so this afternoon was
Okay, so this afternoon was better. Things kicked back into gear, so I'm hoping tomorrow will start out much more smoothly. I think what was really bothering me this morning was not so much that the writing was hard and slow-going, but that the 'hard and slow-going' part was being caused by a giant lack of self-discipline on my part. Once I managed to buckle down and remove the distractions and work, things started to fall back into place.
I feel much better now.
Yes, I am ADD girl
Yes, I am ADD girl this morning. It's been slow going and rough, because it's like the second I let my guard down, I'm distracted and suddenly find myself surfing the web for twenty minutes to half an hour at a time. I managed 400 hard-won, stilted-feeling words this morning.
The drop in productivity lately has really hurt in one important way: I'm a little out of touch with story and characters, and it's incredibly hard to dive back in. I've made some progress though, and I'm really hoping this afternoon will be easier.
I'm really trying not to get discouraged here, but I've been in a slump for over a week now. It's getting difficult not to feel grouchy about the whole process.
August 16, 2003
How to survive the apocalypse in style
It's easy to get through a cessation of Life As We Know It (tm), even a temporary one, if you know what to do and where to go.
Here's what you need:
One (1) nearby town that still has all essential services, like power, water, cable tv, etc.
At least one (1) relative living in that town
One (1) enormous partially empty freezer in said relative's garage
Access to arguably the biggest non-commercial vegetable garden in said town
If you have these things, surviving the unthinkable is easy. Pack up the car with essentials like a laptop computer, a book, and all the perishables from your dead refrigerator. Drive to the above town. However, if all local media have been advertising for 12 hours the fact that said town is the only one in the area with things like power, gas, and food, be prepared to wait in traffic until you get through the panicked masses without relatives in town.
Once you've safely arrived at the home of your relatives, having pointed and laughed at the silly fools sitting outside gas stations that no longer have gas, unpack the perishables into the freezer, plug in the laptop to let it charge, and kick back in air conditioned comfort to watch CNN.
All that's left to do then is enjoy a meal or two of vegetables that had been busily growing outside until about five minutes before being tossed in a pot or chopped up, and wait for the power to be restored in your own home.
If you follow these simple instructions, you're guaranteed to turn a potential disaster into a lovely vacation day.
(Thank god for my aunt and uncle. And as a side note, I'll bet there isn't a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread to be had anywhere in Brighton this morning, thanks to the local media.)
August 14, 2003
It's the lazy apocalypse!
Or at least, that's what Julie thought I was saying on our very bad cellphone connection today. I actually said something about hoping we all survived this small apocalypse, but I think "lazy apocalypse" has a better ring to it. Although, I'm still fond of my description of Y2K as the Apocalypso.
No power in this part of the country. Thank god for laptops and dialup to keep me connected at least in the short term.
Where was I when the power went out? Sitting in a movie theatre for my third viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean. Fortunately, the power in Brighton was out for only about five minutes. Good thing too, or else the screaming teenyboppers in the front row might have caused a riot.
You think I'm kidding. When the final credits rolled, they literally, literally SCREAMED when Orlando Bloom's name came on the screen. And every time he had a close up, one of them kept making a very disturbing moaning sound. I mean, he's cute and all, but jeez. I am way too fixated on that movie. And not, I must protest, in a unhealthy slash-fic sort of way. I promise. I just love me some swashbuckling.
Anyway, Off to bed with me. Nothing else to do with no power. Here's hoping the apocalypse will be over tomorrow.
(Oh, and thanks to
August 13, 2003
Too much caffeine. I have definitely had too much caffeine. Even when I'm not typing on my manuscript, my fingers can't stop tapping on something, keyboard or no.
The good news is, I think my dialogue has a matching sort of rapid-fire patter, which at least fits the scene...
August 12, 2003
There is a new rule in my house. No Sims until after 7pm.
(Side note: Reinstalling everything seems to have done the trick, but most of the nifty items I've downloaded over the years seem to have vanished. I could've sworn I backed them all up, but apparently not. And since The Well-Dressed Sim changed to a pay site, I'm not likely to get most of them back either. Grumble.)
I made the mistake of firing it up yesterday afternoon while I was eating lunch. The result? I sat there playing until 5pm, and didn't write another word all day. So.. no Sims until after 7. I may actually keep up my productive streak today.
August 10, 2003
The Sims will be the death of me
All I wanted to do was play The Sims, after not touching it in ages. Well, apparently something I've done to my computer since the last time I played it is preventing me from playing. I get to the starting screens (where splines are reticulated and such) and then nothing happens. It just hangs there. The tech support page isn't doing a darn thing to help me. I'm breaking down and resorting to the tech support last ditch effort: uninstalling and reinstalling the program. If this doesn't work, I'm stumped.
This is quite possibly the strangest thing I have ever asked in my journal...
...but does anyone know of any herbs or plants that cause impotence in males, or at least have traditionally been thought to cause it? I know of a bunch that are supposed to help cure it, but not cause it. My web research has turned up naught, mostly because as soon as you include 'impotence' in a search you get all sorts of drek. Did you know that "over-masturbation" causes male pattern baldness? Neither did I!
Anyway, any herbalists out there have any ideas? Or you folklore people? Suffice to say, someone's a wee bit pissed at one of the male characters in my novel... ;)
August 08, 2003
Back in the saddle!
After struggling all week, I finally had a good writing morning! I didn't have to resist the urge to go to sleep, I didn't wind up staring blankly at the web for three hours, I actually wrote, managing to write a scene and a half and just over 1500 words. I'm going to see if I can keep the momentum going this afternoon, because there's not going to be a lot of writing time this weekend, I don't think. Definitely not tomorrow, at least.
I went to bed earlier last night and I can't help but wonder if that was part of it. I've been going to bed between midnight and 12:30, and getting up just before my alarm went off at 8. Last night I went to bed just after 11, and woke up at about 7:15 or so. Only about forty-five minutes more sleep, but it seems to have made a big difference. Either that, or the big cry I had while watching Buffy this morning made everything all better.
Buffy season finales, revisited
Okay, remember this poll? I'm not saying I'm changing my vote--I still have too much Xander-love for that--but I watched "Becoming, Part Two" this morning, and damn. I forgot how devastating it is. I'm still watery-eyed. Ironically, I bawled even harder when the little Mutant Enemy guy said, "I need a hug!"
There needs to be a mood icon for "weepy". ;) Why do we love watching movies and TV that wring us out like this?
I didn't expect this...
You are Eliza Bennett from Pride and
Prejudice! Yay, you! Perhaps the
brightest and best character in all of English
literature, you are intelligent, lively,
lovely-- in short, you are the best of company.
Your only foibles are that you stick with your
first impressions... and your family is quite
Which Jane Austen Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
I was more amused by the list of possible results than I was by the quiz itself, almost...
August 07, 2003
Five questions from
1. What's one story you'll never write?
That's easy. I'll never write the perfect story. However good I eventually get, I'll never manage to nail every single image, every single bit of dialogue and characterization. It's fun to keep trying though.
2. Where's your dream home?
Right now, it's exactly where I am. I'd like to be a little closer to Ann Arbor than I am, but I can deal with this.
3. Would you ever consider another domain name? What would it be?
Heh. I actually have another domain name, but there's nothing really there right now. It's for an eventual professional site. If something else occurred to me that suited me as well as selkie.net does, I'd think about it, but nothing seems to fit right now.
4. Do you ever drink Bell's beer? If so, what's your favorite? ;)
Alas, I'm not a beer drinker, although I have at least been taught to recognize good beer from bad beer. I can appreciate the difference and can even sometimes enjoy the good stuff, in small amounts. If I'm going to drink anything beer-like, I'll stick with hard cider.
5. If you had to enter the witness protection program and change your name, what name would you choose for yourself?
Well jeez, if I post it here and then have to go into the witness protection program, then I wouldn't be able to use it!
(Here's where I'm supposed to pass this meme on by giving instructions to y'all to tell me to ask questions and stuff, but I'm gonna be evil and not do it.)
August 06, 2003
Overheard at the movie theatre today:
"I haven't seen Gigli yet. Does that make me a bad person?"
"I'd say it makes you a lucky person."
When analysis goes too far...
I finally made it to the movies this afternoon. I saw Seabiscuit, which, aside from the two groups of exceptionally talkative old ladies and the low sound volume, was quite enjoyable. I confess, I cried, but that's getting to be like me saying, "I breathed."
But, while I was busy weeping over a red-haired Tobey Maguire, my brain was busy breaking things down. How was the story put together? Every time I made some sort of leap or realized some bit of information, I'd break down exactly how that information had been conveyed. I noticed there are some pretty sizable stretches of the movie that don't have any sort of dialogue at all (well, either that or the sound really WAS turned down too low). So while part of my brain was caught up in the story, the other part was busy figuring out WHY certain shots and certain images conveyed a particular emotion or thought.
That seems to be my focus lately, particularly when watching movies or TV: how do you show audience information, particularly stuff that will be important later? I think it's helped me figure out how to translate some of those techniques into my writing.
I half-wonder if I shouldn't try my hand at writing a screenplay. Working on The Exile's Daughter is such an intensely visual thing for me at times. I frame scenes in my head, camera angles and all. I think most novelists from our society approach things from a cinematic point of view, just because that's the medium we're most familiar with for long-form storytelling. It's hard not to, at least for me. It's sort of my default voice, I think.
Heh. Who knows? Maybe if I get a good movie idea I'll try it. Never mind that I don't know the first thing about writing a screenplay. Up until I tried it the first time, I didn't know the first thing about writing a novel either. (I think I may have learned the first thing by now. The first thing is that there are about 50,000 other things on the rest of the list...)
And you thought I was procrastinating BEFORE...
I came up with two new user icons, since I finally got my digital camera working once again. You can see them all here, including a new one for all my writing related posts. I'm pretty fond of this one of Rumpus though. The picture it was taken from is nearly perfect, and can be seen here.
It's funny, I spend one day out of my usual routine, and I'm having a horrid time getting back into it this morning. I'm at the computer, I have been since 9, but I haven't done much. I seem to have started breaking the block that hit me yesterday writing-wise. At least, I see the beginnings of a trail in front of me, which is always a good thing.
But I'm just kinda.... blah. Wanting to go back to bed but resisting, because that way madness lies. If I start napping during the day again I'll be back to staying up to 4 and 5 in the morning in no time. And I have to admit, I like having normal days again.
For that matter, I like having developed a little bit of self-discipline over the last month or so--although I guess it would be more accurate to say that I like having reached a mental state where self-discipline is possible. (Says she who should be working right now and isn't... but we won't examine that too closely.) It's funny, when I'm in the middle of the storm, all of my behavior seems to be perfectly reasonable and acceptable, or at least, it all seems to be justified. It's only after the storm passes that I look back at where I was and go, "Jesus. That was messed up." And everyone who knows me goes, "Uh, yeah. We were trying to tell you that."
I'm happy to report that even on my worst days lately, the skies are staying clear, no sign of a storm in sight.
Oddly, I was just talking about this movie today...
"You must remember this, a kiss is still a
kiss". Your romance is Casablanca. A
classic story of love in trying times, chock
full of both cynicism and hope. You obviously
believe in true love, but you're also
constantly aware of practicality and societal
expectations. That's not always fun, but at
least it's realistic. Try not to let the Nazis
get you down too much.
What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla
I go sleepy now.
August 04, 2003
This is too cute not to share.
This is a fun quiz from Turner Classic Movies--which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cable channels. It's one of those "which movie character are you most compatible with" quizzes, but it's not limited to Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean. ;) The first time I took it I got a Fred Astaire character, I forget which movie. The second time I got James Cagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (a movie I adore, btw). I kept hoping for Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain. Ah well. :)
Okay, back to work.
August 03, 2003
Do I spend the afternoon writing, or do I watch one of my most favorite movies ever, The Lion in Winter, on TV? I mean... I do have the movie on tape, somewhere, but there's just something neat about watching a favorite movie being broadcast...
(It's on Turner Movie Classics at 3:30 EST, for anybody else who's interested. ;))
So sleepy this morning. My gigantor mug of coffee doesn't seem to be doing much. My eyes are burny and I woke up with a headache that, thankfully, seems to be retreating. Writing is not so much fun this morning, but I seem to have gotten myself into a position where if I don't write in the mornings, I feel weird and out of sorts all day. This is not a bad thing. I just wish my brain felt a little bit clearer than pea soup at the moment.
Last night was a lot of fun. Mom asked to see Chamber of Secrets (since she's currently reading the book) so we watched it. I teased her that if she keeps this up, next I'll be showing her the Lord of the Rings movies--well, Fellowship, at least, since Two Towers isn't out yet (but soon, my precious, soon!) Before we make that jump though, I'm thinking maybe The Princess Bride next... ;)