…and another day at the grindstone and not an inch closer to where I want to be.
I haven’t written any new words on Mirror, Mirror. I’m not entirely confident that I’ll have a first draft ready for group next week. Several things have contributed to the lack of output, including a flu and a six-block power outage that knowed out the lights (and servers) at work yesterday that kept me here several hours longer than I’d planned. Having battery backups to keep servers running in case of a short outage is one thing. Keepign servers up during a two+ hour outage is another. I suspect we’ll be investing in a generator of some kind soon.
I have slowly been cutting on Shaken, not Stired, finally getting it closer to a marketable word length. I’m starting on a its rewrite now. I should make some decent progress coming soon.
This weekend I’ll be attending Penguicon in Warren, Michigan. It’s a combonation Science Fiction convention and Linux expo. I’ll even be sitting on a panel about blogging, along with Rob Malda of Slashdot fame and Jorge Castro, a buddy from Ars Technica’s irc server. Terry Pratchett is going to be one of the Guests of Honor. I hope I have the chance to meet him.
I’ll be leaving for Michigan on Friday afternoon, and I’ll have wireless internet access from my room, if all goes well at the con. I’m going to do a bit of writing while I’m out, since I morph into a insomniac when I’m travelling. Hopefully I’ll even get some pictures from the con posted while I’m there.
Last night was the postponed critique of my short story, Shaken, not Stirred. The group had great feedback. I was unsure which direction I wanted to take the story. In its current form, it was too long for what it is. My options are to make it longer and more serious, or cut it shorter and get to the punchline quicker. I’ve decided to cut it short and keep the original intent of the story intact. I took out the editorial knife this morning and started chopping. Thanks to Raechel I also have a market to send it to. Planet Relish is an ezine that accepts what they call “feghoots”, which they describe as not just a short-short story with a joke at the end, but “a short-short story that ends in a very groan-worthy pun.” Once I trim out the fat, that will describe this story very aptly.
Trey mentioned the Turkey City Lexicon in a recent journal entry. The lexicon is a primer for SF workshops, but should be a must-read for any speculative fiction writer. I read through it before group last night, and noticed a few things that I do wrong. In truth, I’ve been noticing them more lately and have been working on them. There are two in particular that are vexing me.
The first is “Ing Disease”, with sentences such as “Having opened the door, Adam walked through it.” This is a common problem among beginning writers and I think I know why. In my case, I was trying to correct my use of active versus passive verbs. The other thing I’ve been struggling with is the proper use of possessive pronouns. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab has come in handy researching proper grammar. Take the example "The ships original blue…" from my story last night. It should have been "The ship’s original blue…". If I had turned it around "of the…", it would have read "The original blue of the ship", which would have told me that I needed to make "ship’s" possessive.
The key to learning is recognizing your mistakes. As long as you can do that there’s no limit to what you can do.
I’ve made some good progress this week. I’m on deadline with some side work I’ve been doing, and I’ve been steadly pounding out words for my current work in progress. I was up at five this morning and managed 200 words before it was time to get ready for work. Lunch today was a wash, but I will have some time before group tonight to write. If I can manage to get up early every day, with lunch and whatever extra time I can steal at night, I should be able to manage a few hundred words a day. Sure, it’s no thousand words a day, but it’s positive momentum.
Tonight my short story Shaken, not Stirred is up for review. It’s the first science fiction story I’ve written in a while. It’s not a very serious story, but it was fun to write. I’m not even sure what a good market for it would be, but I’m sure I can get some suggestions from the group on that. I also need to start researching markets for cyberpunk short stories. I know that I’ve seen some stories in Asimov’s that I would consider cyberpunk (to some degree). That seems to be my kick recently, and I want to get some stories sent out soon.
We dug up sod and planted the garden this weekend. It’s much larger than the small patch we had at our old townhouse. This year Dena is planting potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomatoes. The old garden only had room to plant a couple tomatoe plants. We should have a good yield this year, as long as the gophers don’t dig everything up.
We’re about halfway done with our landscaping projects for the spring. I need to get some of the decorative bricks that they sell at Home Depot to line around some of the flower beds and garden. A few more weekends and we should be finished.
I managed to get in some writing today, despite the landscaping and holiday. I wrote a few more paragraphs, but more importantly working on revisions as I go, cleaning up the first page of the story. I have a solid idea of the course the story is taking now. I’m working through the first draft now, and should be ready to submit it to group on the May 8th meeting. There, I’ve done it. I’ve set a deadline. It’s not an unrealistic one. Two and a half weeks to write a few thousand words. I need to finish what I start, finish my revisions, and start submitting things. My stories won’t publish themselves.
It’s not pretty but it is effective. I’ve added a Word Stats table to the right, like I mentioned yesterday. It’s only current as of this week. I could go back and total up the other stories I’ve written so far this year, but I don’t know that its worth the effort. I’ll try to update that number daily, to reflect the previous days efforts.
Yet another interesting experiment to keep my motivation in check.
It’s an interesting genre. I’ve found myself reading more and more cyberpunk lately, most notibly William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson. I find it not only facinating but ripe with potential. I think that my current work in progress (and at least one other on the back burner) can be classified as cyberpunk. But what exactly is cyberpunk?
According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, cyberpunk is a “term used to describe a school of sf writing that developed and became popular during the 1980s.”
The word is believed to have been coined by author Bruce Bethke in his short story Cyberpunk, which appeared in Amazing Stories in 1983. It was subsequently picked up by writer and editor Gardner Dozois and used to describe a literary movement sparked by writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
That explains the start of the cyberpunk movement, but how about what it is. Like many speculative genre’s, there is no one specific, clear cut definition. To me, cyberpunk is a genre that explores the interaction of technology and man (in the generic sense of the word) in a not so distant future. This could be the measurement of the effect of technology not just singularly, but on a larger scale, such as a society. In fact, I think that both views are required for a cyberpunk story to be believable. Ironically, technology has changed so rapidly in the past decade that stories written in 80′s and early 90′s are now outdated, with many of the ideas explored come true.
Cyberpunk today is a prediction of tomorrow. That’s what makes it fun.
I’ve decided I need to start tracking my daily word counts. Setting specific goals is fine and dandy, but if I don’t write every day I slip, and my goals quickly are forgotten. I may stick some sort of table to the left with the running total.
As of today, I have 100 words on a new story tentatively called Mirror, Mirror. The hour or so of writing I get in at lunch isn’t doing much to satisfy my creative palette. There are simply too many distractions at work. Phone calls, meetings and bosses have little distinction between work and lunch when you’re at your desk.
I haven’t decided when I’ll post my daily word count, but I’m leaning towards end of day, just before bed. I’m going to get up an hour earlier, with the hour at lunch, and potentially another hour at night, depending on my contract schedule. A few hundred words a day, while not as much as some can produce, adds up if done consistently. And isn’t that the key to writing, after all? Consistency?
Well, I royally screwed up yesterday. I was preparing to configure journalling (w/ext3) on some servers at work. Unfortunately, my mind seemed to have switched on autopilot and forgot to notify me.
mediamaster:/# df 0h
df: `0h’: No such file or directory
mediamaster:/# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda10 1.5G 1.3G 135M 91% /
/dev/sda9 2.0G 1.4G 476M 75% /home
/dev/sda12 297M 39K 281M 1% /tmp
/dev/sda5 377G 172G 186G 49% /export
mediamaster:/# rm -rf * |more
(insert me frantically hitting Control-c)
bash: /bin/ls: No such file or directory
By the time I had stopped it, it had deleted /bin, /boot, /etc, and most of /dev. This is a Very Bad Thing™. This server happens to be my master media server (hence the name) at work. Luckily, it’s only used for replicating, and doesn’t actually serve any traffic itself. Still, replicating new images out to the other farms is important work, and not one that can be put on hold for any length of time.
So after a late night at work, restoring, reinstalling, and reconfiguring — with some help from Amit (Sophomore on #linux) the machine is now back in action without having to be fully reinstalled. One very important lesson learned: use sudo, not su.
The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. One after another, things happened that completely interferred with anything remotely related to fun. My day job moved to a new office last weekend. Physically, it is only a few hundred feet down the hall, but we had to move roughly thirty machines, three racks, and coordinate the transfer of 5 T1 lines, all with minimal downtime. The move took nearly twelve hours on Saturday, but it is finished. I even have my own office, to which I will be eternally grateful.
Dena’s car has been acting strangely lately. Despite new tires and breaks, there was still a persistent squeal whenever the car turned right. Then, late last week, the ignition froze up while Dena was running errands. After twenty minutes of trying to force the wheel to turn and free the ignition, it turned. With nearly 115,000 miles on it, we decided to call it quits and get a new car. Dena is now happily driving a 2003 Kia Optima SE V6. It’s a nice, classy-looking car. It’s more compact than her old Chrystler Sybring Convertible, and actually fits in the garage without me having to knock out a wall. I expect this one to last much longer than the previous vehicle.
To top things off, I had to miss my writers group meeting last Thursday. That was made worse by the fact that I had a story up for critique. That’s been postponed to the next meeting.
Taxes. Let’s not mention taxes, or the large checks we had to write yesterday.
Speaking of writing, I have two new stories on the burner. One in-group, and two more waiting for revision. I don’t have any set deadlines for when they’ll be finished, because I seem to miss every one I set. Instead I’m just going to keep plugging away at it, until I feel like one is ready enough to submit. I am starting to make more time for writing, now that things have settled back down again.
Some of you may have noticed (and a few have chided me) that I haven’t updated the blog recently. Things have been very frantic lately, and things have been neglected. This is just a quick note, since it seems the rest of the recent content has fallen off the front page. I’ll make a more detailed entry later today.