Recent Posts

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Easy Monday

Did very little last night, besides cook dinner, organize my office (a little), and work on my novel (a little). Felt good to chill some. Watched "24", which was not their best episode, but still was a good hour of television.

I really only watch a few shows -- about 3 hours(ish) a week. I watch "24", and "Heroes" (on tape); and "My Name is Earl" and "The Office". That's pretty much it.

I'm hoping to do very little tonight, too. Good to have a plan.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I am feeling good, though, about the stupid novel.

I finished the re-write on the last important chapter last night. All that's left to re-write is a short ending chapter and an epilogue. Combined, they're about 20 pages or the rate I've been working, they might be done this week.

Then I'm going to do the following:

1) Start from page 1, and polish/re-write all the dialogue.

2) Re-incorporate some nice writing that I pulled out. There were whole sections of the book that didn't work, and I yanked 'em...but there were some paragraphs/lines/descriptions in there that are worthy of a spot in the book, so I'm gonna incorporate them.

3) Read the whole thing as a whole, without red-lining anything....just to feel the book holistically.

4) Read and red-line it on paper.

5) Incorporate all the red-lines; do any other re-writing necessary.....

6) Send it to an agent.

Here's the thing...most of these steps aren't that daunting, individually. I really think I can have it completed by summer at the worst (although once I start directing the play, things will slow down a bit). Still, I'm optimistic.

Stuff on Stuff


Busy busy.

Talk about the highs and lows of parenting....this weekend, I had occasion (and reason) to look at my daughter's MySpace profile. On the profile, she listed me as her best friend...and she had a picture of the two of us, with the caption "I just love my dad". From a 15-year-old girl, this is amazing. To still care for me and admit as much to everyone is diamond-rare.

Made me (and makes me) feel pretty special.

On the other hand -- and why the hell does there always have to be another hand? -- the reason we were looking at her profile was to check on her, because on Friday night we caught her in a pre-planned and egregious lie. She slept over at Hannah's. Saturday morning, we called over there to talk to her, and Hannah's mom said "Um, they're sleeping at your place....aren't they?"

Turns out they spun a story to both sets of parents, and they spent the night at a boy's house. Now, I don't actually think they did anything, per se -- sex or drugs or alcohol -- but I don't know anything for sure.

I told her (and it was my soul's truth) that I wasn't even angry. Just disappointed. Very, very disappointed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gettin' There

I've been diligently working on my novel. It's going well.....I'm coming up on the two final chapters (both vitally important); and the epilogue (which I am quite certain is pretty bad -- I remember that I thought it wasn't very good even as I was writing it). I suspect the going will be a lot slower in the coming days, but if I keep head down and brain hot on it, I should still get it done no problem.

And actually, the clock is ticking on it, because come the first Sunday in March, I'm going to be directing a play. That will take 8 solid weeks of every single night work -- especially since I'm also designing and building the set. So it behooves me (which sounds faintly bovine, but ain't) to get the thing done (or at least as far done as is practical) by the end of February. So far, so good on that.

Last night I only got about a page and a half done, but at least I did something on it. Considering the heat of the migraine I was cooking up, that's not too bad.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Last night, I started the lawn mower and leaf blower and let 'em both run all night. Same with all three of my cars. Tonight I'm going to burn all the plastic I can find.

Bring on global warming, I say.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I've been really focusing on my novel, and the re-write is continuing apace. My goal is to work on it every single day, and while I haven't quite made that, I've been close, and it's really moving. I'm pretty sure -- actually, I'm quite certain -- that I will finish with this pass of the re-write by the end of February. Probably, frankly, much sooner than that.

Then I'm going to immediately plunge into the next pass. I'm afraid -- hell, I know -- that if I allow myself a little break when this pass is complete, I'll probably just laze myself into another ignore-it stupor.

It's been interesting the past several pages, though: the writing doesn't suck. At least in my opinion.

I have noticed two tendencies as a writer, though, which I hope to correct in the re-write (and in any subsequent writing). I tend to run long in sentences, but short in transitions. I'm not a guy who likes to write (or read) long descriptions of the room, the clothing, the radio in the background, so forth. But often, instead of a phrase like "He noticed her sad face", I will write something like "He noticed her sad and unmoored face". When I'm writing something like that, I like the idea of that image. When I'm reading it, though, it reads exactly like what it is -- the overwrought prose of a guy who likes images like that. So most of this re-write has been to identify and cut the fat (while still trying to keep the imagery that does work).

The other bad (horrible) habit I have is not to let the scene breathe. Sometimes I find myself leaping from the beginning of a scene to the transition; and from the apex to the ending, without letting the reader walk with me. I don't like chubby, drawn-out scenes, but sometimes you simply have to let the dough rise, you know?

Anyway, here's the point. I have written a novel that sucks. I am now taking that novel and, one hopes, making it not suck. And that pleases me.

It is Monday, after all

Outside my window, it looks like the inside of a dog -- it's ridiculously dark. And wet.

It feels like it's been raining for a month. It hasn't, I don't suppose, but it feels like it. There's been a real surfeit of sunshine lately. This must be what it feels like to be reincarnated as a grayscale printer -- life running the full gamut from, um, gray to slate.

And -- yay -- the rain (which has utterly saturated the ground, and has swollen the rivers to their breaking point) is going to change to freezing rain and snow for the drive home tonight. Yay.

's probably gonna take me 2 hours to get home.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


My daughter has to take final exams next Monday. She's never taken finals before. I've promised to help her study, which I've been doing the past 3 nights.

She is going to fail spectacularly....which is, certainly, a failure on my part, too.

She has this tendency -- this terrible, self-destructive tendency -- to completely shut her brain down when she doesn't get something. Which not only kills her chance to actually comprehend it, it causes her to stop remembering and applying what she already knows. She checks out, and studying and learning are done.

I don't know what to do with her. I've already promised her that if she flunks those finals, her internet, her digital camera, and her cell phone will be taken away. I don't want to keep harping on that, for fear of freaking her out and scaring her worse, but I also want her to know I'm serious about it. I don't want to "parent via threat", but I also want her to feel an incentive to succeed that she doesn't normally feel.

So I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I do NOT feel good about it.

The thing is this: she's almost exactly like me, in a lot of ways. I was a very good student, because it all came easily to me. I was mostly A's with some B's throughout High School and most of college...and, honestly, I don't think I spent more than a few minutes TOTAL studying. I did my homework and I listened (more or less) in class, but I didn't study or even review the material outside of class. Didn't need to. This will sound like boasting (although it's not meant to), but I have no doubt whatsoever that with the teensiest amount of effort, I could have gotten straight A' fact, I honestly believe that, had I actually cared about pushing myself (instead of bopping around like the ultimately lazybones that I am) I could have gotten every single question right throughout my educational career. Yet, I didn't...because it didn't much matter to me. I never wanted to fail, but I never had any kind of drive to be above-the-crowd-successful, either.

That same tendency has, usually, sabotaged me at work, too. I know I could be much better at my career, but I never was much interested. Sad and (somewhat) embarassing to admit, but wholly true.

The way in which she resembles me is that I, too, avoid those things that are hard for me. I pretend they don't even exist, and I let 'em fester until they're beyond hope and help. So I understand exactly what her brain is doing; and if she's like me on the inside, the pressure and stress of this is eating her up inside even while she doesn't show it. I feel for her. I do.

Yet I need to find a way to motivate her to get beyond this, so she doesn't end up with so much regret in her life (like I have).


Thursday, January 04, 2007

That's Two

I won't count down each day that I actually work on my novel -- that would be weird and annoying. Not that I have anything against "weird and annoying" -- just ask my kids.

But I did work on my novel last night -- re-wrote 4 pages. They weren't very good to begin with, but they weren't quite so excremental as some of the earlier pages, so that made the job easier.

Yesterday was fairly productive (and semi-enjoyable), actually. Released a major system enhancement during the day, which went smoothly and was very well received. In the evening, I worked on my novel, wrote some music, took my family out to dinner, looked at the moon through my telescope, and finished reading the book I was working on. The only thing I didn't do (that I meant to) was take the dog for a walk. Luckily, she's a dog, so she has the memory of a, well, she didn't yell at me too much about it.

I'm going geocaching at lunch. There's a cache near work in a cemetery, and I want to find it. Yeah, I'm so a nerd.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That's One

I want my novel in the hands of a publisher this year. That'll require, first, the complete re-write that is in process (it's a first pass re-write whose sole purpose is to de-suck the thing).

The novel is about 400 pages long; and as of yesterday, I had completed 250 pages of desuckifying. Re-writing is infinitely faster than writing, though (especially since it mostly consists of taking crap out, as opposed to creatively generating new crap). I can do, give or take, 4 or 5 pages of re-write in an evening. At that rate -- if I actually keep my lazy ass in gear -- I can finish in a couple of months, tops.

That would be awesome, just to have a workable, largely decrapped draft.

That will be awesome, 'cause I'm gonna do it (he said, with only the slightest tinge of irony coloring his words). Last night I got through 6 pages. My goal is to force myself to touch it every single day. That's how I got it written in the first place -- working on it every single day. I did it then; I can do it now.

The next trick is to make sure I keep my whole goal in sight, and not to set a goal of only a first pass re-write. I will need -- at a minimum -- to rework it twice. After the de-icking process, I want to go through the entire thing concentrating solely on dialogue. I hate poorly written dialogue.

After the dialogue fix, I will go back one more time (hopefully that'll be the last fix) and give it a spit and polish. All of that seems infinitely do-able this year, and that's my toppest majorest goal.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Well, I'm not much of a much for making resolutions, and last year I made two, one of which I summarily busted....that being to finish the re-write of my novel.

For years, I always felt like a failure for not having written the novel (or novels, God willing) I have inside me. Finally, about 5 years ago, I buckled down and did it. Took me almost 13 months, but I finished writing my novel. Roughly 80,000 words worth.

Then I put it aside for a month, to allow my brain to let it go. Then I read it with (seemingly) fresh eyes.

And it sucked.

I don't say this to inspire anyone to tell me "Oh, I'm sure it was fine", or any such encouragement. It actually did suck. All of the writing that had felt literate and poetic and deep (when I was writing it) felt like a guy TRYING to be literate and poetic and deep. Yeah, it sucked....and the feeling I had as I realized that a year's worth of work sucked is hard to put into words. Made me want to give up any and all aspirations of artisty of any kind. Awful.

I picked it up again a while later, and tried to re-read some of it, and I realized it was salvageable (I think, anyway). Beneath the overwrought imagery and too-too precious language was some decent writing, telling (I think) a worthwhile story. Basically, I needed to machete the kudzu out of it, so the trees weren't so damn overgrown.

I worked on that some last year -- and I think the results have some promise -- but I didn't do enough. This year, I really need to finish the re-writing and get it into an agent's hands. I honestly won't be too devastated if it never gets picked up, but I WILL be devastated if I never have the stones to finish the thing.