Goodbye, 2010

Yes, it’s been a while. The end of 2010 flew past without even giving me a chance to properly say goodbye here. But it’s not too late.  I’m pretty sure I had made some writing goals for 2010…(digs around a bit and comes up with a dusty list)…yep, here they are:

1. Plan more structured writing time, if not daily then most days. Most of
the time I do a lot of procrastinating before I actually get down to
writing, and I know that’s a bad habit.

Result: I did get into a better writing schedule for at least part of the year.  I can’t give myself full marks for this one, but I made some progress.

2. Log my writing time for at least a month, so that I have an idea of how
much time I actually spend on writing.

Result: I kept these logs for a while, and decided that I did not spend nearly enough time actually writing, and too much time on writing-related-but-not-really-writing things.  However, I didn’t *fix* that problem as well as I might have.

1. By the end of January, finish the last pass of the novel edit that is
almost done, and get it to my first reader.

Result: Completed this goal, but it was in July, not January.

2. By the end of February, finish the two (or three?) short stories I have

Result: Sadly, I can’t remember precisely what stories I was talking about here, so I don’t know if I did it or not.  I’m thinking not.

3. Get some more stories back into submission.

Result: Again, I did make some subs, but did not complete this goal as fully as I would have liked.

1. By the end of the year, complete the novel I started this past NaNoWriMo
and get it submitted.

Result: Did not do this, but wrote the second half of this story during NaNoWriMo 2010.

2. Complete the second anthology Third Person Press is working on, with a
projected release date of October 1st, 2010.

Result: Full marks for this one.  We completed the anthology and released it on schedule.

I’ve already made some decisions on writing goals for 2011, but I haven’t put them into short, medium, and long-term form.  I’m going to think about that some more and include the new goals in my next post.

Aside from actual goals, I also had three short stories published in 2010 and got a third novel into submission, did some great school visits, gave some classes and readings in Second Life, and, I think, grew as a writer and editor.  So all in all I’d have to say it was a good writing year.

Who Do You Remember?

On the regional CBC noontime program today, they were asking listeners to call in and answer the question, “On this Remembrance Day, who do you remember?” I didn’t call in, but if I had, I would have talked about my great-uncle, John Hay, and his and my grandfather’s cousin, Alec.

My great-uncle John was a member of the Cape Breton Highlanders, who fought in the Second World War and came home with scars mental and physical and a drinking problem that eventually ended his life. In those days there was little help for those who came home broken and unable to adjust to what they had been a part of. He died when I was still a child, and I don’t remember much about him, to my regret. The only “war story” of his that I recall was of the time when, on the front lines, he knelt down to tie a bootlace that had come undone, and heard the bullet whistle over his head exactly where he had just been standing.

My grandfather’s cousin Alec went off to the First World War and sadly did not come home at all. We have a postcard that he (then around 18) sent to my grandfather, who was then 9 or 10 years old and worried about him. It’s very poignant to hold it and read it, and his assurances to his young cousin that he would be fine, and know that he would die shortly after writing it.

I didn’t get to the local service today, but I did listen to the services from Halifax and Ottawa on the radio, and was moved as usual by the strains of the Last Post and Piper’s Lament. I also made sure to listen to Terry Kelly’s moving song, “A Pittance of Time,” which you can find here.

So, if you are a Canadian observing Remembrance Day or anyone observing Poppy Day, Armistice Day, Veterans Day, or related days of remembrance, who do you remember?

Well, that felt good.

I just emailed a letter of complaint to the Staples company. I’m not including a link in this post, but they’re a business/stationery supply company and you’ve likely heard of them anyway.

For the last number of years, they’ve put forth a back-to-school media campaign featuring delighted parents stocking up on school supplies while snippets of the song “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” play in the background.

As a parent who enjoys having her children home for the summer, I have been and continue to be insulted by this, and I think it sends a terrible message to children.

And I just told them so. I’ll probably never hear anything back from them, but damn, it felt good to finally get it off my chest.

Vacation Notes

As some of you may know, I’ve been on vacation all the past week. I brought along lots of things to keep me busy in case the Muse had an opportunity to visit, but the chances of that happening were severely curtailed when my laptop screen died the night before we left home. I brought it along anyway–since there was some work for Airborne that had to get done, vacation or no–and a small external monitor allowed me to use it. However, after consulting with my resident computer expert (hubby), we decided that probably it would be expedient for me to shop for a new laptop. With some trepidation, I did so, with the result that I’m typing this now on a new HP ProBook. I’ve spent quite a few hours copying and moving things from the old machine to the new one, and I think I’m pretty much there. It’s a nice fast machine with a pretty sweet keyboard, so I think I’m going to like it, although I wasn’t really ready to part with my old one.

In writing news, Airborne is done to the point that we’ve ordered the proof and it has been shipped, so if there are no problems with the proof when we get it, we’ll be ready to order copies. Whew! I feel a bit nervous calling it “done” until I’ve seen that proof, but it does feel like we’re almost there.

Two other writing notes–I’ve realized that one of the characters in the novel I’m writing requires a change of gender (not as part of the story; I mean I have to go back and rewrite him as a woman). And I’ll have more writing news come Monday. Stay tuned!

*Photo: Cavendish Beach, from Yes, I’m on Prince Edward Island. :)

Hunting Cthulhu

Another Famous Painting with an SF Title:

Hunting Cthulhu by Hokusai

As an observer will note, the hideous, gigantic, cosmic entity is nowhere to be seen in the actual painting, having disappeared below the whitecaps moments before, leaving the enormous wave in its wake.

One wonders what the intrepid hunters in the boats plan to do if they manage to catch the Great Old One. No doubt it will form the basis for a truly epic haiku.

(Of course it’s actually The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the famous woodblock printing by the Japanese artist Hokusai, created sometime between 1830 and 1833. But what else could be causing that wave that dwarfs Mount Fuji?)

Dante & Virgil Encounter the Shapeshifters

Continuing the exploration of Famous Paintings with SF titles, we discover:

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Dante & Virgil Encounter the Shapeshifters

In a little-known side adventure, the Italian poet Dante encounters three savage beasts deep in a forest. Dante then meets the ancient poet Virgil, who offers to be his guide through Purgatory and Hell. The beasts then reveal themselves to be aliens from the planet Zorg, who try to talk Dante out of this whole silly journey through Hell business, inviting him instead to come back to their mothership and join in the fun of buzzing primitive planets. Not trusting the aliens, eventually the poets ditch the shapeshifters by distracting them with raw meat and continue on their way.

(Okay, it’s actually just titled Dante & Virgil and was painted in 1859, but I think my story is better.)

I Write Like…

I saw some Facebook friends referencing this lately, so of course I had to try it:

Basically, you plug in an excerpt of your writing, it’s analyzed, and you get a result comparing your writing to that of a famous author. Sounds like fun!

So I plugged in the first excerpt (the instructions were to use at least a few paragraphs, so I went one better and pasted in about ten pages). The result? I write like…Dan Brown!


Okay, so I don’t think he’s the worst writer ever, and he has certainly made his writing work for him, from a fame and fortune point of view. Not such a bad thing. But…but…really?

So I chose another story (you can see where this is going, can’t you?) and plugged in ten pages of that. This time I was channeling David Foster Wallace, whom I am sorry to say I had to look up on Wikipedia. Okay, “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years” is pretty cool, but he wrote postmodern literature and hysterical realism (which I also had to look up) and ultimately committed suicide? Doesn’t really sound like me…

The next six attempts had me writing like H.P Lovecraft, Kurt Vonnegut, William Gibson, and Mark Twain, and a repeat each of Brown and Wallace. Now I was addicted. Another excerpt. Chuck Palahniuk. My two YA novel excerpts got Wallace again, then James Joyce.

James Joyce?

Okay, at this point I was trying to decide what it all meant. I didn’t keep trying in order to get a writer I liked–I mean, I already had some great genre writers in the list. Did it mean that the program is just wonky, or that I have my own unique style, which I alter slightly to fit the piece I’m writing? I liked that idea. But still…one more time.

I write like
Douglas Adams

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Oh, yeah. I’ll take it. :)

L.C. Smith No. 3

Here’s the find I pulled out of the attic of my grandparents’ house yesterday. It’s an L.C. Smith model No.3, and it’s in half-decent shape. I haven’t had a chance yet to check it over for manufacturing dates or anything like that, as there’s a layer of grime that has to come off first. I have a feeling that I’ll be visiting this website a fair bit in the next little while. From a quick survey around the Internet, I’m guessing it was manufactured between 1900-1910, but I’m not sure at this point. The L.C. Smith company later merged to become the “Smith” in Smith-Corona.

All the keys are intact, and as you can see, the ribbon is still strangely bright. The platen is somewhat dried out and cracked, but it might soften up with some care and judiciously-applied products.

Mechanically, all the keys strike, but the carriage doesn’t advance. I don’t know if I can fix that or not. My goal is actually just to clean it up as much as possible, not to actually use it for typing, so that’s not a big issue. Some of the lacquer is not in great shape, which I understand is difficult to fix, but we’ll see what happens. It obviously saw a good deal of use in its day, as the paint is visibly worn on the spacebar where the right thumb would strike.

The three-horse Smith decal is in excellent shape, with the motto “Writing in Sight” clearly readable. This motto refers to the “visible” style of early 20th century machines~as you can see from the picture, the body of the machine is open and you can see all the working parts inside.

I’ll post more pics of the cleanup process as it goes along. I expect it will take a lot of patience, but I’m excited to get started!

Absurdist Shakespeare

Well, well. Isn’t this strangely appropriate? (Since I do my editing with a red pen and all?) Of course I plugged in the word “edits” since getting back to them after this brief break is on my mind…

William Shakespeare

Will all great Neptune’s oceans wash this blood
Clean from my edits? No, this my edits will rather
The multitudinous seas

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Click over yourself for some weekend fun!