Monthly Archives: November 2010

Well, Finally

So, about five minutes ago, I crossed the finish line. (I’ve had 50k up on my NaNo profile for weeks now, but that was still when I hoped that I might get to work on two stories in the month).  I’ve not going to validate for now, because it’s far from finished and I’d like to continue working on it.

Aside from that, I’m going to leave my general thoughts/comments about this month until after it’s over. It’s probably going to be a pretty lengthy post (though as I’ve not planned it out, that could turn out to be a total lie), and I’d not waste my not-writing time on that instead of extending this as far as I can. If I have an exceptional next few days that are totally unlike the entire rest of the month, I might get as high as 75k. But I’m not banking on, or expecting, it.

For all those NaNoers out there in NaNoland who are racing tirelessly to the finish (and who have probably spent a considerably greater amount of time on it than I have this month), you have my total support. I know you can do it!


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No, Dear Lurkers

I’m not dead.

For honest reals.

Work has continued to be frustrating, difficult, and kooky. (Seriously – when I started there, there were 10 people, including me. At the end of the month there will be 8. And not really because of firings, per se. And almost everyone is looking for their next job. And not because the doors are about to close.) I have had another handful of late nights since my last post, all but one because of the same damn case that I’ve been working on. It would have been worse – and I might well have quit by now – if one of the attorneys wasn’t super-awesome.  Despite this not actually having been his case (until it was seen that he was helping me, and then it was thrown at him), he has helped me tremendously in the past couple of weeks, and commiserated with my lack of basic training thanks to the fkupitude of the office. Last week, he also took almost the whole office out for pizza and drinks, his treat.

Monday looks like it might prove another late night (unless we can get the thing we want at a reasonable hour; something that seems to be impossible based on past history). In addition to that, I need to compress probably the best part of 4 or 5 hours of other (non-billable) work into maximum one or two, so that I can do the kooky actually-billable stuff (which, because of the massive size of it, tends to take a couple of hours to do what would, in another case, probably not take quite an hour). Plus help another paralegal with something, which is probably at least two or three hours of work. It might prove interesting.

So, moving onto writing. It’s now, according to my calendar, the 20th. Since my last post, I have written approximately 2,000 words. That puts me 3,000 words away from winning free and clear with my crack story. So I have decided that that’s the path I’m going to tread. After I hit the 50k, I’m going to continue with the story through the end of the month. My lack of focus is hardly commendable, but as people have pointed out (quite wisely), my life has just sort-of upended itself. And while I appreciate that any first job is going to be difficult simply because it’s a first job, it is the solid consensus of everyone in my office that they would see this as one of the worst first jobs. But I’ll tough it out. I’m a big girl now.

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The Problem

Well, Thursday, Friday, and yesterday were total massive fking fail at work – I was late home from work every single one of those days (not home until 9-ish on Thursday, between 6-7 the other two), and they were major stressors for me. I have a very low frustration tolerance, and I’m not good with idiots or idiotic instructions or instructions which I feel are idiotic. Consequently, when I got home from work, there was nothing I wanted to do less than throw myself into another stressful situation (namely, writing).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to write. I’ve been doing it for over a decade and I hope to continue doing it for a good long while. I hope that one day I’ll end up published. But that doesn’t mean writing isn’t stressful, that it isn’t something I have to actually turn my brain on for. And after 12 hours of bullshit, my brain just wants to go to sleep for the night. Because of the stress at work, and because of my own fking laziness (I’m willing to take my fair share of the blame here).

On the mornings where I can convince myself to get up early (like today), I just fking procrastinate like I have all the time in the world to get shit done. Which is funny, really, because I don’t. It’s a real shame that my self doesn’t seem to realize that, and thinks it’s totally cool to play fifty games of Freecell before work, and a couple dozen sudokus.  I’ve always been a procrastinator, I bitch about it every year, but this is the one year where I really can’t afford it.

And sure, yeah. I hit 50k (though if I was calling it quits, I’d want to write another 5k, as that’s how much of my present wordcount is on the first FailStory). I could stop right now and just accept this win for this year. But Competitive Me whispers in my ear, “Yeah, but Kate. Think about it. You do still have several hours a day where you’re just sitting on your ass at home. You really should be writing. And what about those weekends? Are you really telling me that you can’t get some writing done then?”


If I can get anything written, I’ll post another excerpt from the crack story later. The document is open, calling to me…and here I am blogging.


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Ignore the fact that I was supposed to hit it on day 3, and that instead I hit it early in the morning of day 7. I’m just pleased that I hit it at all. I know I’m not going to catch up to where I should be for the 500k this weekend; I’m starting to doubt that I’m going to come anywhere close to that sort of number. I guess it depends what work is like and how many mornings I can convince myself to get up at 4am to write (which is not actually that fun, believe it or not). In any case, I’ve hit the milestone and will keep going. I’m still a little depressed at how behind I am, but at least I’m not as behind as I could be.

Oh, you wanted an excerpt from the crack story?

Once I was out of his room, I walked purposefully to Vasily’s office. This time, I didn’t bother to knock on the door.

Elena was in the room. I offered her the courtesy of a smile and said, “Elena, I’m not sure I want you to hear this, so if you could wait outside for ten minutes while I speak to Vasya, I’d appreciate it. I won’t be long. There’s not a lot I need to say.” I wasn’t sure how pleasant or polite my voice came over as, but I didn’t care how attracted to her I had been. There was a young man in a room a short while away who might have been permanently damaged by her husband, and he was my priority.

She nodded, and left without a word.

I turned to Vasily. “You’re a fucking heartless prick, and I have half a mind to kill you here and now. I can’t believe that you managed to brainwash my lover into doing something like this. Do you know what he’s doing right now? He’s lying in bed, because he can’t find it in him to do anything else. He didn’t want me to come here to talk to you because he didn’t want me to leave his side. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. That’s how much he’s fucked-up from what you asked him to do. That’s not going to quickly get better. Do you understand that? Do you understand fucking anything?” I laid both my hands down on his desk and leaned in close to him. “Do you know how close you are to dying right now?”

He didn’t look at all afraid. “You’re a bully,” he said calmly. “Gena took the job of his own free will, knowing what it entailed. He was taught how to shoot a gun and given all the information necessary to carry it out. That you’re not satisfied with it is none of my concern.”

“And you’re an idiot if you think that taking a life is as simple as just deciding to do it. We, as a species, are not wired well to deal with cold-blooded murder. I’ve known men to take their own life after doing it. I’ve known men who descend into addiction because of it. Given Gena’s history, I would be worried about that, if I were you. I’m back to stay, and I’ll keep an eye on him, but I know he will never be the same as the man I left a few months ago. I hold you personally responsible for it. There was a conversation I wanted to have with you about personal boundaries, but it’s going to be a substantially longer one than this, and I cannot afford to leave Gena alone for that long, not right now. He needs me more than I need to be angry with you. So now that I’ve said my piece, I’m going to leave. I’m going to go back to him and stay with him for as long as he needs. You aren’t going to come anywhere near him until I say so, and if you do, I swear I’ll fucking shoot you. You used to have my respect, but I can’t say you do anymore.”

I walked out after that; there wasn’t any need for a response on his part. Elena was waiting in the hallway outside. I’d not shouted at all, so I suspected she’d not heard much of what I’d said. I gave her a smile as I passed by, but I wasn’t going to stop and talk to her; I didn’t have time. I still needed to scrounge Gena and me up some food and get back to him before he started to panic.

There wasn’t a lot in the kitchen; knowing Vasily and Sergey as well as I did, that didn’t really surprise me. But I made a few sandwiches, threw them on a plate, and grabbed a bottle of soda and a bottle of rum – just in case he wanted to get drunk, which I wouldn’t stop – and headed back.

He looked relieved to see me. I closed the door and got on the bed. He cuddled in close to me, his head on my chest; it was clear that he had no interest in eating anything. Soon, I would force him to, but for now, there was nothing I wanted more than for him to just be here, in my arms.


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Steady Progress

Well, I’ve written 16,000 words today and it’s not quite noon. I’m feeling pretty good about the crack story. On the bad end, I still haven’t done any more planning for the other story, so we’ll have to see how things stand when this one ends. On the good end, I’m really good at dragging out my crack stories, so I might still have some time to get that done before I’m back in the same quandary I was before.

But I can take a breath now. I’m by no means even close to caught up, but I feel like I can actually write right now.

Anyway, another crack excerpt:

When it was time, I set out from the apartment, my bag over my shoulder, dressed in wholly nondescript clothes with a smile on my face. I drove across the city to where Vasily had once lived, and parked about half a mile away. Sitting in the dark car, I collected myself one final time and went through a breathing exercise. Once I was sure I was completely calm, I got out and broke back into their building. I remembered where their apartment was and took the stairs two at a time. I passed a handful of people on the stairs, but none of them seemed to even look at me, and I was fine with that. I kept my head down and kept moving.

I stood outside the door and tried to decide exactly how I wanted to play this. There was no pleasant way to start this off. But, as they were going to come with me one way or another, they wouldn’t have any need of their front door. So I put my shoulder hard into it and opened it, tearing the lock from the wall – I’ve never said I’m not a strong man, but I suspect that in this instance, it was just as much due to shoddy construction of everything in the building as my own strength.

I took out my gun, but held it loosely by my side. There would need to be some intimidation at first.

Elena appeared in one of the interior doorways. When she saw the gun, she screamed.
“Calm down,” I said, in my most neutral, calming voice. “I’m not here to hurt you. Quite the opposite. I’m here to take you to your husband. Your children as well. Please go and wake them up. The more calmly you follow my instructions, the easier this will be for everyone. Do you understand?”

She came at me; I don’t know what possessed her to attack an armed man at least two or three times her size. But I wasn’t going to hurt her; I grabbed her shoulder and kept her from inflicting anything but minimal damage on me, her fists against my chest weren’t going to do much to me.

“Calm down,” I repeated. “I was given significantly different instructions that involved considerably more intimidation and aggression. Because I won’t hurt or intentionally terrify women or children, I wanted to do it my way. I promise you that this is the easier way. Think back. You know me. We met a while back. I came to the door late at night, asking to speak to your husband. He was probably fairly angry when he came back in after speaking to me. I’m a friend of his.”

She paused, looked up at me. “But he was kidnapped. He’s probably dead by now.”

“I’m afraid that’s not the truth. I’ll explain everything to you later, but right now, I really need you to get the kids, and make sure they understand they’re going to see their father. Don’t pack anything, I’m supposed to be kidnapping you. A kidnapper wouldn’t allow his victims to pack a bag before they went. We can buy anything that you need later, and there are some things in the apartment where I’m going to take you.”

I think that my calmness was finally starting to rub off on her; that, and the news that her husband was still alive, which I don’t think she ever expected to hear. There was a tear rolling down her cheek; I consciously forced myself to not wipe it away. I was moderately attracted to the woman, as I’m attracted to women who look like her – my wife looks similar, if a bit prettier – but I couldn’t imagine anything worse in Vasily’s eyes than my even seeming to flirt with his wife.

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A Personal NaNo first, I think

So, yesterday, I didn’t write a single word. As mentioned in my morning post of yesterday, I didn’t wake up until 6:30, and so didn’t get anything written before work. And then at work, I ended up staying late – I didn’t get home until a bit past 9, and after the stress of working a 12-hour day, writing was the last thing I wanted to do.

I didn’t write a single fking word yesterday. I feel like I’m not even going to make fking 50k at this rate, let alone anything higher. I’m really counting on this weekend to get me back in the ballpark of where I need to be, but I’m not terribly optimistic about that.

Anyway, another excerpt. It obviously wasn’t written yesterday:

At the entrance of the building, I stood there helplessly for a few seconds as I begged my shattered mind to come up with the entrance code; I punched in six combinations before stumbling upon the right one, and I think that was accidental more than anything else. Fortunately, this was a dingy building, and there was no security desk, and no one loitering in the lobby. The elevator had never worked, as far back as we’d had the place – and we’d had it for years – and for the first time, I was truly regretful about it. Under ordinary circumstances, three flights of stairs was nothing. Now it was Mount Everest.

There was nothing to be done but begin. I had already made it so far, had been walking for countless hours, that the pain was starting to recede. That was when I started to really worry – that was hardly the best of signs. I had crossed some threshold, and now all I could do was hope that I could cross back over it.

Thinking about things like that helped to distract me somewhat from the difficulty of climbing stairs. But I was only making it one or two steps before I had to rest each time. At this rate, it was going to take me another two hours just to get up the stairs. My window of time was getting rapidly narrower, but there was nothing I could do about it; I couldn’t make myself go faster just for the wishing of it.

I heard movement on the stairs above me, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. I didn’t even look up, just continued to drag myself. At this point, I’d have probably been glad to be arrested, if only because there would be someone nearby when I died. They wouldn’t bother with getting me any medical attention, but at least I wouldn’t die alone. It’s one of my greatest fears.

And then there was someone directly above me, with hands steady on my shoulders. I looked up, my eyes filled with tears that I’d not allowed to fall in however many hours it had been since I was shot and hazy with impending death.

Of course it was him.

Vasily came down to my level, threw his arm around me, and began to help. Given that he’s a much smaller man than me, it wouldn’t normally have been substantial help. In this case, it was, and we moved much faster than I thought would have ever been possible on my own. At the same time, he was making a phone call; I didn’t care who it was to, or why; I clung to his voice to keep me conscious, because my vision was going dim at the edges and shaky everywhere else. I’d passed out enough times in the past to be able to recognize the signs of it.

We made it up to the apartment in another twenty minutes or so, and he laid me out on the couch. I closed my eyes.

“No,” he said, his voice hard. “Don’t close your eyes. I need you to stay awake, to stay with me, until the doctor gets here. I can’t have him revive a dead man.”

With effort, I opened them. “How long?”

“Since what? Since I’ve been here? Only about two hours. I can only get so much time out of the office right now. They think I’m tracking down a suspect. Which,” he grinned here, sitting on the table opposite me, “isn’t actually a lie. But I can’t stay more than another hour or two. Enough to make sure that you’re going to survive. Since the hit was carried out? About thirteen hours, give or take twenty minutes. He is dead, by the way, and if you ever do something that stupid again, I swear I will murder you myself. There were easier ways to do it, and you know that. Your pride got the best of you.” He caught himself there, obviously realizing that he was lecturing me, and his tone softened when he spoke next. “I was worried about you. Is there anything I can do?”

What I needed was to have my wounds cleaned, but I wasn’t going to ask him to undress me when there was a doctor on the way. Under the circumstances, he might have even been willing to do it, but I wasn’t willing, even then, to put him through that level of personal discomfort. “Water,” I said. “Food. Something easy.”  Getting some calories in me would do me some good, though it would be minimal.

He disappeared for about ten minutes and came back bearing a can of soup and some water. The soup was only lukewarm, but that made it easy to swallow down. The warmth of it filled me nicely. I drank the water, and he topped up my glass twice before I was sated.

“Gena?” I asked.

“He knows nothing. I haven’t called him yet, but I will after the doctor checks you out. I’m not calling to tell him that I’ve found you if…” he trailed off.

But I could finish that sentence well enough. He didn’t want to call and tell Gena that I’d survived if I was going to be dead in a couple of hours. It was a smart move. “It’s okay,” I said. “How long until the doctor gets here?”

Vasily looked down at his watch. “Ten minutes, maybe. Why?”

I shook my head, closed my eyes.

“Open your eyes, Nicolaas.”

I couldn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. It was that I physically couldn’t. Couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, could hardly draw breath.

I felt his hands on my shoulders, shaking me as though I was just sleeping. “Open your fucking eyes,” he said, a note of desperation in his voice I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard before.

I wanted to. I really wanted to.

“For fuck’s sake, Nicolaas, open your fucking eyes right now.”

His voice faded away.



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The streak hits its end

And by streak, I mean the pitiful early-morning flailing that was keeping my word-count afloat.

Sooner or later, my body had to rebel and say “that’s it. No more getting up at 3am for you. We want to sleep until 6:30”.

Which leaves me very little time to write before work after I include important essentials like showering and other personal hygiene matters – which I think my coworkers would probably appreciate.

But, as my early morning posts tend to be samples, here’s a bit from the crack-piece:


I took a seat. Gena sat next to me and I put my arm loosely around my shoulder. I fished in my pocket and pulled out my cigarettes. Another bad habit, but this one did benefit from being legal. Gena didn’t mind that much – he bummed a couple from me a day, and refused to ever buy or carry his own – and Vasily would have had very little luck stopping me from smoking daily. “I thought you said that this had fuck-all to do with what you wanted to do? It sounds like you just don’t want to have a harder job down the line.” I smiled as I lit up and took a deep drag. I closed my eyes for a second; there was nothing like a smoke after coming down.

“Let’s start with this happy little arrangement, then,” said Vasily, the disdain dripping from every syllable. “He would cheerfully prosecute both of you as sodomites and throw you in prison for five years apiece. Possibly more.”

“So would you, if you didn’t like us and you could pin something else on one of us,” I said. As almost-head of the secret police, there was very little Vasily couldn’t do to someone he didn’t like; it was a power he occasionally abused, though usually in my favor. I was well aware, though, that if I ever went too far wrong of him, that I might end up in Siberia somewhere. Not that I couldn’t escape from such a place, but it would be a major inconvenience to me and a serious strain on our relationship. “Next?”

“Gena, you’ve never served in the army, and you’re young enough. Nicolaas, although your military records are painfully difficult to prove, they do still exist. How would both of you like to be drafted for three or four years?”

I could feel Gena tense up beside me. “First, I would be astonishingly surprised if anyone could both get my records and prove that they’re mine, and get enough of them unsealed to actually see that I did anything more than push paper.” I did considerably more than that – considerably – but most of them were so highly classified that god himself would have difficulty getting access without very good cause. “And I’d just take Gena away as soon as he got his notice. He’d never have to spend a day in uniform. We’d join the flood of deserters.”

“You’re just making excuses now. Have you ever read any of his position papers?”

I had glanced at a couple of them, as I tended to do each time an election neared. I couldn’t vote, and Gena never had, but I wouldn’t have in this country even if I’d been eligible to. As Vasily had said, it didn’t really matter who the populace voted for. “A couple,” I said. “I don’t find them very interesting.”

“You’re not that stupid…”

“I never said I was, just that politics is neither my forte, nor my interest. They’re yours. I imagine that you’ve read every position paper for every candidate.”

“I have. There were a couple of good candidates that I was forced to arrest.” He winced; it was one of the less pleasant parts of his job and I knew how hard it was for him to send men like himself to prison.  “What I’m saying, is that if you knew what he planned to do to the country in the next five, ten years, you’d be jumping for joy that I was giving you license to kill him.”

“You may not have noticed this about me, but I rarely jump for joy.” But he was winning me over – he usually did, and it was getting harder to find excuses.

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