Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 14, 2010

Not an update

Filed under: news of the day — lexifab @ 11:24 pm

I do plan to get around to an update soon talking about the joys of juggling a toddler and an infant (only occasionally literally) and of watching grass grow – specifically, watching it grow shamefully long while I can’t spare enough time to yank it clear and make my house look less like an abandoned space – but I’m kind of trashed and I will probably need to be awake again in three hours for an early-morning feed.

All goes well, however (as long as you don’t count writing, gardening or exercise…).

November 5, 2010

Tired new dad says hi

Filed under: Uncategorized — lexifab @ 9:09 pm

Back from the hospital for a temporary stay while the freshly minted baby Wombat sleeps off her first big day in the nursery, and her proud Mama spends the night in bed with people bothering her for blood pressure tests every thirty minutes. I’ve been sent home to rest up as my lifting, cleaning and bathing services won’t be needed until after the baby gets her pass out into the wards.

I’m trashed, so I won’t go into detail. Except to say that everything proceeded as it should and that the baby girl Wombat is a very tiny baby indeed – but perfectly healthy, so no worries.

Oh, and our plans to observe the cute tradition of buying a newspaper to commemorate the occasion of her birth have been undermined somewhat by the front-page story about a local football player doing something lewd with a dog. Thanks, Raiders, way to stay classy!

November 4, 2010

Before the dawn…of Zodbat!

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,wombat,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:39 pm

It just before bedtime and I think that I have everything packed. Slightly after the crack of dawn in the morning Fi and I will be dropped off at the hospital to take receipt of a brand new baby. She’ll be delivered by cesarean 9which was not optional, by the way) so I will be staying at the hospital full time for at least a few days while Fi recovers from the surgery. I expect that internet access will be patchy, so if you don’t hear from us straight away in the morning try not to get worried – we’re probably in that rarest of modern phenomena, the electronic blackout. We’ll get word out as soon as possible, I promise.

There was too much running around today to get any writing done, though I did manage to plot out the structure for the triffid story rewrite. Depending on how things go I will probably spend some of the time at the hospital doing a longhand rewrite. I don’t think I’ve done any longhand creative writing that was not game related for…quite a few years, actually. Wonder if I still know how to do running writing?

I did think about staying up late to get some words on the page tonight, but there’s probably a good argument to be made for me getting a relatively early night (i.e. before 11 pm). Several good arguments, if I’m honest – but the main one would be that I am not likely to get any more sleep again until about Xmas and if I don’t grab it now I might conceivably come to regret it.

I’m pretty excited that we’re getting a little girl to go along with our now large, rambunctious and (mostly) adorable boy, but I have to admit that the clinical nature of the scheduled birth time does make the sense of anticipation quite different and kind of surreal this time around. The nerves about whether the baby will come at some dramatic and inconvenient time is replaced by the unsettling feeling that the whole affair will be no more complex that a slightly protracted hair appointment. (Well, for me, anyway – obviously Fi will have a more distinct sense of the occasion.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, but the nervous frisson of fear and anticipation I remember from the last birth has been rather eroded by the knowledge that the whole process will be knocked over in the half hour or so that would normally follow breakfast. Strange.

I won’t put any photos up, probably, but I will try to email a few out to friends an family. Please get in touch if you think that I might not have your current email address (if, that is, you want to be spammed by dozens of blurry, underexposed photos of an indistinct blob wrapped in muslin and her smiling, bewildered parents).

Lexifab will probably be going dark for a few days because I won’t be taking my laptop to the hospital and i don’t have one o’ them fancy-brain smart phones that all the well-to-do gentrified folk have nowatimes. I can still get SMS’s though, whenever I go outside the hospital, so send ’em if you feel like it.

Ciao. See you again when I’m a dad of two.

Say it with Menace – Crappy first draft

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:06 am

A couple of weeks ago I stayed up way too late on a Friday night and watched the recent BBC remake of John Wyndham’s classic apocalypse novel the Day of the Triffids. If you don’t know it, basically everyone in the world goes blind and there are these mobile plants with a venomous sting going around eating people but the real horror is all the crappy things that the people do to one another. (It probably seemed more original in the 50’s).

It’s one of my favourite science fiction stories, so I was keen to see this latest version. It was, bluntly, a bit of a disappointment, promising much and wimping out, cleaving faithfully to some parts of the original work but veering away from others, and featuring killer plants too deeply rooted in misapplied CGI to convince. As I was watching, I was tweeting derisive commentary with a couple of mates and one said something that inspired a story.

Below the cut you will not find that story. I started writing that story but it wasn’t working. I really wanted to write something with triffids in it, so I started another story instead. What follows is the second story.

No, not really. What follows is what I typed over the past couple of weeks in search of the actual story. It’s a first draft. I think there’s a good story in it somewhere, but there are problems with calling this a story. The narrator lacks motivation, the structure is all wrong,the tense is all over the place, the tone is inconsistent and probably not suited to the story, the dialogue is weak and most of it is exposition and etc. It trails off at the end because I realised as I wrote it that I had started in the wrong place.

It kind of goes against the habit of a lifetime (it takes a long time to build habits this bad) to rewrite and edit – if there is one thing in life that drives me utterly batshit, it’s redoing work – but this story clearly needs it. Moreover I clearly need the practice. So I tender it here, in rough form, because I promised Emma and Craig that I would, but my plan is to rewrite from the ground up and present the story in what I think is its “real” shape. When that draft is done, I’ll post it here as well. Quite likely that won’t be the last version either, but we’ll see how close I get on draft two.

Feel free to comment or criticise (I know about the typo on page one though). I’m doing this as an exercise in building up editing muscles that were never all that strong and are now atrophied to the point of uselessness. I’m kind of interested to see how different the second draft will be (early betting is on “completely, except for the odd line here or there”). Oh, and the reason that I am putting it up here at all is that I have no intention of attempting to sell this story, even the final version. Even if there were a buyer out there, I wouldn’t feel right selling something with someone else’s creations in it without their (now unobtainable) consent. So this is just for me and – if you like – you.

So anyway, this should give some insight into why I never finish anything, and hopefully will be of some use to me later on as a reminder that when I lose momentum and start thinking about the next shiny thing, I should really persevere and work through the pain of rework.

Oh, and it’s not at all scary or NSFW. Which is probably another thing that’s wrong with it.


November 2, 2010

A touch more progress

Filed under: Games,now playing: anything,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:42 pm

Just finished another session of FreeMarket, in which our heroes the Terrorfactory MRCZ [1] – “Opening the minds of Freemers [2] to the art of terror and the terror of art” – designed and built a replicator that would turn itself into something else and ended up with a device that’s detached from reality, and were contracted by the Bowie-descended father/designer of two of them to help him devise a way to scare kids away from his performances. It’s a somewhat surreal game, but it provides some very entertaining gameplay. I highly recommend it (and if you follow that link you’ll get a slightly better sense of what the game’s about  than I have so far conveyed), especially for groups that hate prep and love improvising mad strangeness.

That will be my last roleplaying session for the forseeable future. The Wombat arrives in a few days, after which the house will go into what we shall euphemistically call “a brief transitional phase”.

Speaking of the Wombat, I have been reminded that there was a prior claim to her Lexifab handle. Which is to say that my brother Jimbo has been campaigning for us to call the baby Zod for some time now. In upholding his sound claim, I hereby note for the record that the Wombat may also be referred to herein as Zod, Zod the Wombat or the Zodbat. The Joey will remain the Joey, however. He’s no Zod.

To keep the writing tally going, I got about 400 words of text and a page or so of notes done on the *other* triffid story, so it’s creeping closer to completion. I want to get the first one done before Friday, though, so it will be my priority tomorrow. I think that I can finish it tomorrow and then do a rewrite on Thursday that will knock into finished shape (since I have no intention of selling a story with someone else’s IP in it, I’ll probably put it up here or at least link to it from here).

1 – A Multi-regional Cultural Zone (MRCZ) or “Mercy” is basically a group on FreeMarket set up to achieve a particular goal. In the case of Terrorfactory the specifics of their intent are a little unformed at this stage.

2 – Residents of FreeMarkets, in case that’s not obvious.


November 1, 2010

Thus chastened, I write

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:42 pm

Andrea’s wise and timely arse-kicking in the comments of the previous post have spurred me to some writing effort. I respond well to external scrutiny and encouragement – nobody’s rejoinders to me to write fall on completely deaf ears, even if I can often find an excuse to ignore them – so feel free to remind me as often as you like that this is something I want to do. Even though it requires regular anddisciplined exercise of will.

In the spirit of the Scalzi essay that Andrea linked to, here’s a (slightly profanity-riddled) piece by Chuck Wendig on NaNoWriMo [1]. Like Scalzi’s, most of Wendig’s writing advice is excellent. A lot ruder than Scalzi’s, mind you, but still good.

So, today’s writing progress: about 1000 words of random outlining, plotting and character notes, and 600-odd words on the triffid story, which is probably about half-done (uh oh, there’s that halfway mark…). My writing goal for the week is to finish that story before the Wombat arrives. If I hit that mark you will be the first to know.

[1] I am not doing NaNo this year. I don’t want to attempt another novel at the moment. But the idea of actually editing the last one is starting to haunt me at last…

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