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

May 17, 2011

Back to the Island 1.20 – Deus Ex Machina

Filed under: back to the island,family,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:19 am

I’m on a break.

Well, sort of. My dad is visiting for the next week or so, so I won’t be spending quite as great a percentage as usual of my evenings holed up with the laptop in an antisocial writer-bubble. Not quite. I am doing that right now, I admit, but in my defense he’s getting ready for bed and won’t miss me while he’s brushing his teeth.

Anyway, while he is here I will drop back a gear on my Lost schedule. I have a couple more reviews prepared, but I will hold off on posting them until after the end of next week. In that time I may or may not get a bit of space to finish writing the Season 1 reviews, but I am not going to hold myself to my schedule. I will probably still write here, but I’ll leave the reviews on hold for a short time. There are one or two story ideas rattling around in my head. If I do get any time, I will probably work on those instead of reviewing. (No, that was not a clever euphemism for “play Portal 2 until I beat it”. Though of course I don’t deny the overwhelming likelihood that I will just goof off and do that instead).

In case anyone else is casting about for inspiration, writer Chuck Wendig [1] issues a weekly writing challenge, giving a set of random and often mildly ridiculous parameters for a short-short story. His readers link their efforts in the comments column, many of which are quite cool. This week’s challenge is – hrm, hard to describe, actually, so here’s the link instead. I have an ‘M’ picked out, but whatever the story there is, it hasn’t quite gelled for me yet.

Apropos of nothing much, here’s a lovely little piece of writing by Michael Chabon about superhero costumes. Beautiful meditation contrasting inspiration, hope and awe with the bleeding obvious (and making it work, which is no small achievement).

[1] Of whom I feel I ought to say more, and will one of these days when I get around to assembling a blog entry on writers who are inspiring me at the moment.

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May 14, 2011

Back to the Island 1.19 – Numbers

Filed under: back to the island,geekery — lexifab @ 1:35 am

I’m making the mistake of staying up too late again tonight, but at least I’m feeling productive while I’m at it. I’ve polished off another review, I’ve started work on a new short story and I’ve just watched the fourth episode of the (very, very good) television mini-series adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’ (the first novel in his somewhat protracted fantasy epic ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, which I’ve heard hilariously and not unfairly described as War of the Roses fanfic).

I’m a bit of a fan of ASoIaF, though I can certainly see why others might not be. I like the sprawl of the narrative, I like the way Martin builds his world with a real sense of history, and I love his characters. Even though they are a bitter and malignant pack of utter bastards. I think what I like best is that the plot is driven along by blinkered and distrustful characters who make absolutely terrible, self-destructive decisions for what seem like perfectly rational reasons. My (perhaps cynical) sense of many great historical events is that they are directed as much by pettiness, willful stupidity and blind ignorance as they are by courageous or determined decision-makers. Martin captures this sense perfectly, which puts these stories right in my sweet spot [1]. His ability to craft the interactions of his characters and spin plot from that is something I need to work on in my own writing [2].

Anyway, that’s the books. I recommend at least the first if you’ve not read them. As for the series, I recommend it without reservation [3]. It’s sumptuous (fetishists of faux-historical costume design will think all their weird little Christmases have come at once) and violent and has Peter Dinklage, who is the best actor of diminutive stature of this or any age [4]. It’s also got insanely cute wolf pups, astonishing child actors (not all of them, mind you) and the best-designed opening credits sequence in a long time. And villains. So many, many villains.

I could go on. But I have a bed to go to and you have a Lost review to read. It’s about Hurley, so yeah, this is another one I liked.

 

[1] Though I do think the series loses some of its tautness around the third book, and I’m worried that the upcoming fifth has been baking so long that its going to come out tougher and drier than I would prefer.

[2] Which is a Note to Self reading: “writing stronger characters would be a good start”.

[3] I hereby add the proviso that my unreserved recommendation is hereby withdrawn for viewers who are averse to decapitations, bare breasts and extreme monster violence. It is on the HBO cable network, after all.

[4] Screw Linda Hunt. This guy has range.

 

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May 12, 2011

Back to the Island 1.18 – In Translation

Filed under: back to the island,fitter/happier — lexifab @ 6:03 pm

It’s Thursday [1]. If I am not mistaken, that is a day of the week that comes after Monday. Monday is one of the days of the week upon which I have promised myself I will post a Lost review.

That train of assertions is sure to lead to some logical conclusion regarding the timeliness of this review. I am much too trashed to think about it.

For the last few months I have stayed up past midnight more or less every night. Ostensibly that’s been about giving the baby Wombat her late feed, but if I’m honest the real purpose is to get some quiet time when I can write, play video games, read or watch whatever I want. Having the freedom to do more or less whatever happens to appeal becomes a rare and precious commodity when you become a parent, as anyone with kids will tell you. It’s the main thing I miss from the Time Before Kids (when I selfishly squandered it on worthless pursuits like reading books quickly or watching movies at the cinema, also pleasures now all but forgotten). I prize uncommitted time so highly that I’m prepared to forego sleep to obtain it. To my astonishment, there is a price to pay for many weeks of borderline sleep deprivation.

(Attention to fine detail is the first thing to go when you are knackered. So far I have had to retype every single instance of ‘the’ and ‘I’ – including both of those – in this post. I do not expect this trend to reverse just because I am aware of it).

This review is, I think, the longest one I have written so far, clocking in at over 1700 words. I guess that vague plan I had about succinctness and discipline I had is out the same window as the review release schedule. It is one of the more complex episodes of the season, so I think it warrants a little extra attention. All the same I think that when I get to the Season 2 reviews I will change up the format a bit to cut back heavily on the episode summary in favour of expanding a little on the elements I find interesting.

Any comments or suggestions on the format of the reviews are, of course, welcome [2]. Except from that spambot trying to sell me trucker-grade stimulants and other dodgy pharmaceuticals. That jerk is blocked until he starts returning my calls.

[1] And if I had my druthers I would be watching ‘Thur’

[2] Any comments at all are welcome, for that matter. They seem to have dried up this week. Is everyone else tired too?

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May 7, 2011

Back to the Island 1.17 – Outlaws

Filed under: back to the island,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:09 am

Oddly shattered this morning. All the late nights and extreme senescence are starting to catch up to me, I suspect.

So probably the main purpose of these Lost reviews – other than having an excuse to watch the show again from the start – is to build some writing muscles. I am trying to establish a habit and get it to stick. I’ve tried the same thing with physical exercise, which works up to a point – the point being where circumstances force me to break the habit for a couple of days, and then the whole routine falls in a heap.

With the writing, I’ve cut myself a little slack. I know that I am mostly going to be writing in the evenings after the kids are in bed, and I know that there are going to be quite a few nights where I’m not going to have any time. So I’m looking at a peaks-and-troughs pattern of output. Since I started the reviews I have been keeping track of my word counts against various projects (some of them not yet for public consumption) and looking at averages. With April done, I have my first full month’s data.[1]

The results are…mixed. Total word count 13787, of which 8220 were Back to the Island reviews. The average daily word count was 460 (rounded up). I had 11 days with zero word count. The surprising part of that equation is that there seem to have been about 5000 words of non-review material. Only about 1000 words of that appear to have been fiction [2]. Most of the rest was Lexifab entries -nearly 4000 words there.

The average daily word count is obviously the important part for my initial purposes. Over time I am going to want to see a higher proportion going to fiction, but for now I am content to keep that ticking along quietly in the background.[3]

Anyway, here’s the Lost review for today. I mean yesterday. [4] And what do I think about ‘Outlaws’? The tl:dr on that one is: “It’s great.”

 

[1] I’m not counting March. I only tracked stats for about three weeks, which included the first flush of enthusiasm for the project. I already know I can be hugely productive in short bursts. I’m more interested to see how I fare across the long term. The March figures would just skew the pooch. For reference though, the March daily word count was 775, which is more or less what I expected.

[2] A short story that’s vexing me. I’m not sure if I have enough story for the (expected) length. Tightening it will probably be a challenge for my editing skills once it’s done.

[3] Unless I suddenly crack the problem I’m having with the short story, in which case I will probably knock it over in a couple of days.

[4] You know, I miss my deadlines on this project so often maybe I should just shift the schedule to Tuesdays and Saturdays. Nah. There’s probably some critical flaw in that logic that I’m missing.

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May 3, 2011

Back to the Island 1.16 – Homecoming

Filed under: back to the island,political sniping — lexifab @ 4:51 pm

I totally forgot that yesterday was Monday. I got distracted by all the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I guess. I don’t have much to say about that, except that I hope it’s the psychological blow to Al-Qaeda’s recruitment prospects that some analysts are suggesting.

I tell you ope thing, though, this whole bin Laden takedown puts Obama’s birth certificate comment from late last week – “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do” –  in a whole new context. Hell of a straight face on that man, considering the operation must have been well underway at that point.  I’d say Obama’s second term is looking a lot more likely than it did a week ago.

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