Monthly Archives: February 2010

Waiting for the Lightning Strike

So, you know a while back I talked about that writing contest.

Well, I won.

This is a huge deal for me. I know it’s not like winning a major writing award, but by god, to someone as largely incompetent as myself, it feels like it might as well have been

Read the story here

(And also see a picture of me looking like a happy little pudgy mutant zombie. God I hate taking pictures of myself)

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Happy birthday!

So, my computer turns 1 today. Yesterday, I went through the grueling process to update my antivirus software (I only had a 1-yr license). For 99.99% (I’m sure), the reinstall goes without a hitch. I’m always the 0.01%. About a million and a half restarts later, we finally found the problem – parts of the old software hadn’t been deleted and so were fking with the install process. After they were removed, it all went off fine, and I’ve got my shiny new software.

All this proves to me is one thing: my computer is alive and knows how to push my buttons. And so I will begin its second year of life by anthropomorphizing it. My mom reckons that three years is a decent life for a laptop. That means that, comparatively, by the time my computer is a year old, it’s a teenager. Great.

I’ve already been through the terrible twos – when my computer decided that it wanted to uninstall MS Office for no reason other than it wanted to (seriously, I swear).

And I’ve been through the wilfull stubbornness of a little kid when it decided that it wanted to stop installing Microsoft updates.

What do its grumpy teenage years have to throw at me? God only knows.

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Another flashback to NaNo

So, back on day 1 of this past November, I wrote my first 50,000 words in 24.5 hours (compressed into a single day thanks to the clock change). I was fairly proud of it when I finished; I’ve done this (50k days) a couple of times in the past as well, and I was never all that thrilled by what came out of it.  Mostly, they tended to be strange and very rambling.  So despite the fact that I felt pretty good about it at 11-whatever it was that I wrote the last word, it was with some trepidation that I printed it out yesterday and sat down to give it a quick read. The first thing I noticed was that I did actually use fewer contractions than I remembered, and that makes it read a bit awkwardly (that’s not to say there aren’t any, because there are, and they tend to show up more in the second half).  The pacing is a bit uneven; a year passes in the space of a few thousand words and then a few days take ten thousand. I still think, as I did when I finished writing it, that the ending is a bit contrived and on the heavy side of illogical, but I don’t think that it’s unfixable. The characterization isn’t very good, but I get a sense of personality from at least a couple of characters. And there are few very grammar/typo goofs, which pleases me. The worst is usually that I forgot a space or omitted a letter from a 2-letter word.  I think it helped that I had a pretty decent outline going in and a helluva lot of determination. Time to put this project officially onto the burner – it’s going to need a complete rewrite, as it’s too short, and I need to figure out how to make best use of the subplots that I callously tossed aside mid-story because I didn’t want to think about them. I think it might even be publishable (someday, naturally). A standalone fantasy, even! (it really does wrap up well; I’d have to stretch pretty hard to find a way to come up with a sequel)

In other news, it’s snowing again. This has been a super winter: biggest storm ever in December, biggest storm ever in February (this past Saturday), and the snowiest winter on record. My alma mater is, for the first time in at least 5 years, closed tomorrow. We’re looking at another 18-24 inches to go on top of the 15 we got on Saturday, and it’s not really been warm enough to melt much of it away in the intervening four days. And my arms and back were just starting to get better from shoveling on Saturday. Bah humbug. (Plus, this much snow pisses my cat off big time. He’s an outdoor cat and when he doesn’t get exercise running around out there, he gets a bit hyperactive and starts going for the other cats)

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The Superbowl

Now, it may come down to the simple fact that we’re immigrants. We moved here from the UK in August of 1994, leaving me old enough to remember scraps of my life over there. My dad (despite his being the reason for the move) has never properly accepted himself as American. We’ve all still got our green cards (which are pinkish, btw) and none of us has applied for citizenship yet. With a green card you only lose two privileges of being a citizen – you can’t vote and you can’t serve on a jury*. Other than that, you’re as good as a citizen. Anyway, my dad still refers to himself as Scottish and you get the distinct feeling that if he could have the same job in Scotland (I don’t think he could) that he’d move back in a heartbeat. Mom’s a different story; she’s accepted this place.

Regardless, we’re immigrants. First-generation immigrants.

And I don’t have anyone in the family who played high-school football. My little brother just hit his growth spurt and he’s almost all the way to a lofty five feet. Did I mention he started ninth grade this year? Yeah. He’s also about 80 pounds. We joke that he should go out for the football team – as the ball. My dad obviously never played American football over in the UK. (Funny enough, my little sister plays Powder Puff football at her university and she IS a rabid football fan).

I seem to be rambling. What I was getting at is that the Superbowl, for us, tends to be just that one Sunday when nothing else is on except the football. We’re from Philly, so we’re basically obligated to be rabid Eagles fans, and to an extent, we are. But the Eagles aren’t in this year (come on, seriously, it has got to be our fking time eventually) and we’ve got no personal stake in the Colts or Saints.

George R R Martin blogged about the superbowl today (and it’s essentially the reason that I’m blogging right now), and said, “Forget Independence Day. SuperBowl Sunday is America’s real national holiday.”

Does that make us not Americans? 😦

(*Oh, yeah, there’s one more thing that you can’t do with a green card: work for the federal government. As someone with a degree in political science, that’s pretty much the first route to go. And I can’t work for the British government, either – they’ve got a residency requirement of five years. And that’s assuming I could pass a background check.)

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Too many projects?

Well, first, I changed the theme. I don’t know if I like it or not yet, but late at night that black and white made my eyes go all blurry-feeling, so I thought I’d give this a go and see if I like it. If not, I’ll just switch it back. You can also subscribe to the blog, dear lurkers! Just scroll down there and look to your right and you’ll see a nifty little button! (unless you’re getting updates on new posts some other way, which I know several of you are).

My story for the contest I talked about previously is coming along nicely. The current version comes in at 978 words, but I’m not going to be submitting it for at least another few days and go over it another few times with a fine-toothed comb. I don’t know what the competition will be like, but I’m a competitive person by nature. I don’t want to send anything that isn’t the best work I’m capable of producing.

I’m also debating how many projects I can work on at once and not sacrifice quality in all of them. For one, I’m still actually looking for a job and I do have to devote time to that every day (I’m in the process of filling out an application for Target right now and knowing my luck, won’t get hired for that, either. *sigh*). Then there’s this story, which is provisionally called “The End of History”, which is in its final edits.  I’m struggling through worldbuilding for the squids and humanoids for This is How it Ends.  I’m starting a rewrite of an old NaNo, Burning Eden. They’re all at different stages of being-ness, and it keeps me busy to work on multiple things, and my brain is keeping up with it so far. We’ll have to see how long it lasts. How many projects do you attempt to work on at once, lurky readers?

Also, more snow is expected tomorrow, anywhere from six inches to a foot (which means, realistically, anything from a dusting to ten feet given the quality of the local meteorologists). And last time I had to shovel, my left arm was out of commission for days. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

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