Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I could make lots of excuses for why I disappeared for the month of October -- I actually have a few good reasons, including a couple of fun projects that took up some brain space and writing energy. I'm working on a presentation about self-publishing for my dad's computer club, which ought to be fun if I can pull all my thoughts together. I'm also editing and formatting my son's paternal grandfather's memoirs, which I thought would be a little project, but requires some serious thinking in order to respect his voice and story while still making sensible edits.

And I started some Doctor Who fanfiction, which has been fun but gives me an excuse for lots of research. Bacon cost 38 cents per pound in 1938, which sounds faked, because of the 38-38 repetition, but was actually from a site about prices in 1938. I spent quite a while wavering over whether a made-up price -- 39 cents? 37 cents? 42 cents? -- would sound more realistic than the real price. Plus, of course, the research into Doctor Who itself, which means watching episodes -- where was River in prison? When was River in prison? (Stormcage, 51st century). Who arrested her? Back to the television!

And, of course, I'm still struggling with rewriting A Gift of Time. I've done the first chapter so many times now, so many different ways. My new plan is to NaNoWriMo it -- just write, write, write, get the idea down, and move on. I did this analysis of my current writing process with a friend today:

Line: Half the town filled Maggie's place.
Thought: That's terrible. Well, rewrite it. Get the idea across in a better way.
Line: Maggie's place was packed.
Thought: Is that passive? Is it dull? Sentences with "was" are boring. I should change that.
Line: Half the town packed into Maggie's place.
Thought: Okay, that's just stupid. You're talking about people, not the town. A town can't fit into a restaurant.
Line: People packed Maggie's place.
Thought: Ugh, that alliteration is like bad poetry. And could 'people' possibly be a duller word choice?

And twenty minutes later, I have accomplished nothing. And all I wanted to do was to say that the darn restaurant was crowded!

Mostly, though, my disappearance has been due to none of that. Actually, I've been living in Azeroth. If you've ever played WoW, the Pandaria expansion is really fun. It combines so many good qualities of play and story, humor and tension and excitement and gratification. The makers have put serious work into finding out what makes a game fun and satisfying and trying to build in aspects of the game that will make it enjoyable for everyone. The only problem, of course, is that in order to get to Panda-land, you've got to work your characters through all of the other levels. Huge, huge time sink. I suppose when we're starving because I haven't found a job (<--hyperbole, highly unlikely to happen) I will regret the hours spent immersed in someone else's imaginary worlds, but honestly, I've really enjoyed this past month there.

That said, I'm going to try to cut way back in November in order to spend more time in my own imaginary worlds. And I'll be giving the 50,000 words in a month thing a try. I probably won't do the official NaNoWriMo, because I want to work on Time, of course, and since I've been working on it for, ulp, three or four months already, it doesn't fit within their rules. But in principle, I'll be trying the crazy writing schedule for a month. Anyone else doing the same?

PS The number on the Halloween candy is because it's for a scavenger hunt for Project Team Beta. Welcome, Project Team Beta folks! Good luck with the hunt! And Happy Halloween!

PPS A Gift of Ghosts and A Gift of Thought are both free on Amazon on October 31, from midnight to midnight Pacific Standard Time. If you're reading this, you've probably read them already, but if you have friends who might like a free ghost story or two on Halloween, please spread the word!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Malware and motivation

My computer has become infested with malware, making the internet essentially unusable. I've tried a variety of things to fix it, but every time, either I get frustrated after an hour or two and decide to try again later (fast-forward another week or ten days before I'm willing to tackle it again) or I think I have it fixed only to discover a day or two later that I'm wrong, wrong, wrong. By unusable, I mean that when I'm typing, it may take seconds between letters. When I'm browsing, clicking links takes me to random sites, not related to the sites I've clicked on. Filling out forms is simply impossible, and I'm not willing to go to any secure site (ie banking or business related) in case a keylogger is waiting to steal my password. In other words, unusable.

I have to fix it. I know I have to fix it. I know that I'm the only person who's going to fix it. But somehow, I'm just stuck. It's so much easier to turn the computer off and play Sudoku on my iPad. It's a problem at exactly the wrong level of serious annoyance but not quite completely incapacitating.

But there is hope. I've been following a site called Unfuck Your Habitat . . .

You know, I got exactly this far in writing this post, and then I heard the voice of Ms. UFYH in my head and it was saying, "Excuses are boring." It was a nice voice. Friendly, maybe a little tiny bit southern, in that way that some southerners can pull off of saying something mean in such a way that it sounds gentle, even though it's not. But firm, very firm. So away I went and now, four and half hours later, my computer is reformatted and I'm online again and my most important software (Word, so that I can keep writing) and my most important files (the Time files, of course!) are all back online.

Not only that, the two most recent boxes of stuff from my mom's house are unpacked and somewhat put away, and the kitchen cupboards are reorganized so that some of the china can fit into the kitchen, making it far more usable than if it were stuck in a box in a closet somewhere. And the coffee plus coffee supplies are actually next to the coffee maker. If the camera battery was charged, I'd go take pictures.

I've needed to fix my computer since July. It's October.

Typing at full speed. Checking my email in seconds instead of tedious minutes. Clicking on a link and having it go where I want it to go...It wasn't 20 minutes. But I'm so, so, so glad that I finally just stopped making excuses and got it done!

Thank you, #ufyh!