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

October 25, 2011

Back to the Island 2.05 – …and Found

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:35 pm

Oops, I forgot to post this Lost review yesterday. Or did I forget to post it on Friday? Hm, yeah, it’s that second one. Oh well, that regular review schedule lasted about as long as you’d expect. Considering my schedule for the rest of this week I won’t make any rash promises about catching up, but I am working on powering through the second season as fast as possible. Not for any particular reason – it just feels like a good idea to keep up the pace.

I’ve had a few nights off from straightforward writing while I try to pull the novel’s outline into better shape. I wrote a few pages of character, setting and tone notes last night. A lot of what I thought I was going to do makes less sense as I go, and I don’t feel like there’s enough happening in my current draft to justify the chapter lengths. I’ve been noticing that I have a tendency to pad out dialogue and drop in excess description while I work out what is supposed to be happening in a scene, so one method I am using as I go forward is to try to plan the start and end points for each scene so that I can get in and deliver them with something resembling efficiency. Not that rambling narratives and meandering conversations don’t have their place in fiction, but they don’t feel right for the characters and plot material I’m working on, so I need to keep hunting for the right gear.

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October 22, 2011

Got done doing nothing

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,joey,wombat,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:27 pm

A day spent in the company of two small children left me too tired and emotional to write anything last night. I stared at a blank page for the better part of an hour before conceding that I was just not going to do a thing. I say ‘stared’ – but what I mean is: got up and checked out the action in a rugby match in which I had zero investment; checked Twitter obsessively; researched play advice for a game I own but haven’t started yet (Just Cause 2); and, drank a couple of beers.

Note to self: any alcohol whatsoever is not conducive to writing. Stick to tea, dumbarse.

The kids trashed me. The Joey is the elder, nearly four. He was disobedient and rebellious all day. It was only *after* hours of him being sent to his room every five minutes that it occurred to me that the problem might not be that he was ignoring everything I said but that he couldn’t hear me. Sure enough, his ears were completely blocked. (Side note: Cerumol, the ear wax solvent gunk, is probably the foulest smelling substance in human medicine). Hopefully to day will be a little less dramatic.

The younger, aka the Wombat, has a touch of cold. She’s grumpy and clingy. She would literally scream at the top of her lungs if I moved more that two metres away from her. I actually measured that, by the way. One step this way, no noise. Two steps the other way, timpanic rupture time. It was like playing a live-action theremin. She seems much improved and not coincidentally about one million times more delightful today.

So after much shouting – and a picnic at the park to try to run down their batteries a bit – I hit the wall at the end of the day something fierce. I should have figured out a lot earlier that doing a couple of hours of the novel was never going to happen. If I had, I could have devoted that time to reading, watching one of those movies I’ve rented or doing some exercise. Unproductive as doing nothing was, I will make a guarded mark in the ‘pro’ column that I was determined to write rather than do something more fun, even if I didn’t quite manage it. There is, of course, another step to take in that progression towards the required discipline levels.

Tonight won’t help. I’ll be at a Mouse Guard game tonight, playing my dangerously-inquisitive scientist mouse on an treacherous expedition into weasel territory. Stirring stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m so far behind my planned word count that I’ll get home at about 11 and try to write. Hopefully the game will inspire some creativity.

I *am* gonna make this end of year deadline. I just don’t quite know how yet.

October 20, 2011

In the absence of content, several links

Filed under: geekery,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 8:53 pm

I am procrastinating on ploughing back into the novel while I try to figue out what the next couple of scenes will be about. When I finish this blog entry I’ll get started and presumably something will come to mind. Of moe pressing urgency is the occasion, coming up in a couple of weeks, of having several child-free days, when both Joey and Wombat will be ensconsed in day care. I’ve already decided that these will be devoted to writing – though I may take a couple of hours off on one day to go and give blood – so I want to be as prepared as possible. Between now and then I need to spend some time furiously preparing a scene-by-scene outline for the remainder of the novel, so that when I get to the actual writing I don’t have to spend as much time slowing down and thinking.

At least, that’s how it will work in the pristine, virtuous image in my head. Reality will no doubt come crashing through in the form of interruptions, unwanted household duties, sudden power cuts and caffeine-deprivation pangs. And procrastination, of course. Shitloads of procrastination.

Anyway, here’s some linkage:

Author Matt Forbeck is taking the National Novel Writing Month idea to the next level – or ridiculous extremes, perhaps – by committing himself to writing 12 novels in 2012. I’m more familiar with Forbeck’s game design work than his fiction, which includes stuff in the Warhammer and Blood Bowl settings in which I am not that interested, though his Amortals and Vegas Knights are both on my ‘to be read’ list. This is such a ballsy ambition that I cannot help but be impressed, and if even half of them turn out to be reasonably good, it will have been an impressive achievement. I understand that there will be a Kickstarter launched in a couple of weeks to support the attempt, which I will certainly consider supporting.

This rant in defence of Generation X speaks to my heart, especially the bit about earning trophies. The list of dead rock idols makes me emotional (Elliot Smith is playing on the stereo as I type this). Apart from anything else, it’s beautifully written. And screw those weak Gen Y gits, amIright?

Oh, and just a warning with that last one – it’s obliquely a response to the Occupy Wall Street movement, so for the love of all that’s sane DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. You have been warned.

I have no idea what the hell quantum locking even means (isn’t that the random collection of technobabble that the Doctor uses to describe the Weeping Angels?), but these films of superconductor/electromagnet levitation looks a hell of a lot like The Future (especially that “frictionless” bit). Hypnotic. Watch both of them – the second one uses as-lay-as-possible terminology to explain what the holy-crap-indistinguishable-from-magic you’re looking at.

Right. I must now go and do some work. Or maybe I just need to concentrate more on my powers of procrastination, before they get a real workout.

October 17, 2011

Back to the Island 2.04 – Everbody Hates Hugo

Filed under: back to the island,geekery,reviewage,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:05 pm

It’s Monday, so it’s time for another Lost review. After a weak start, second season has kicked into a more consistent gear, which makes these reviews much easier to write. I wonder if I’ll still feel that way as the season progresses?

It’s interesting how guilty all the reviewing is making me feel.Whenever I am not working on the novel I get a nagging itch telling me that I’m out of line. When I am working on it, it’s often as not uncooperative if not outright difficult. I think my novel and I are having relationship issues. I guess I should probably reconsider metaphorical references to bashing it into shape and knocking it over, huh?

Still, my friend Evan has challenged me to a race to finish our 0th drafts by the end of the year. While I always work better with a deadline looming over me, I am beginning to experience gambler’s remorse at taking up the bet, since his novel is reportedly about forty or fifty thousand words more advanced than mine. Oops. On the other hand, that’s pretty much what I was aiming at anyway. I daresay the worst it will cost me is a couple of rounds of drinks.

Oh, and so I have the link somewhere accessible: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker is available to view for free online. In Russian, with subtitles.

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October 16, 2011

Three short book reviews

Filed under: reviewage — lexifab @ 10:14 pm

Further to my promise – largely to myself, but whatever – to do more to encourage the writers whose work I am digging at the moment, I’ve been soiling various ebook-vending sites with my dubious insights and all-important ratings this weekend. These are all books I’ve enjoyed a great deal. I subscribe to the convenient notion that any public discussion of a published work, no matter how critical or scornful, primarily benefits its author, which gets me out of reviewing anything that doesn’t appeal.

If you happen to be on the fence about a purchase after you’ve read any of these reviews, let me know – I’m keen to argue their case.

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October 14, 2011

Back to the Island 2.03 – Orientation

Filed under: back to the island,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:49 pm

This has been an arduous week. Since Monday I have only managed about 2000 words on the novel. With any luck I will crank that up a bit tonight. I have managed to bog myself down with too much talk and not enough action – well, no action at all. I am giving serious consideration to applying the Chandler Axiom (i.e. “When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.” – Raymond Chandler) just to make sure the pace doesn’t drop below glacial levels. I have a feeling that if I do it, I will have to move it later, but that should not be a big deal.

I have a few reviews that I have been meaning to work on, so once I have cleared the absolute dead minimum bar for today’s word count I think I will switch to those. I’ve been inspired from various corners – including this excellent essay by Cat Valente – to encourage the writers I like with reviews as well as my sometimes-hard-earned money. Not that the Word of Me exerts all that much influence on even you five or six people who read Lexifab, but small steps…

Apropos of nothing – if you have played Portal or its sequel, take a look at this brilliant comic strip that’s too macabre not to be true.

Today’s Lost review is a Locke episode, so take it as read that I liked it (and it’s pointed me towards yet another book that I never knew I needed to read…)

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October 10, 2011

Back to the Island 2.02 – Adrift

Filed under: back to the island,geekery,reviewage,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:24 pm

I’ve already forgotten what my schedule for posting the Lost reviews was, but I’m going with Mondays and Fridays for the moment (with a possible option on Someotherdays if I feel enthusiastic). Today’s episode is the strangely stagey Michael episode, ‘Adrift’, which features two men floating in a flooded sound stage yelling at each other.

I have been meaning to follow up on my DC reboot mini-reviews and talk about the rest of the titles that I picked up in the first month, but if you can’t manage to reign in your eagerness to know where the juiciest fruits are to be plucked you can always check out Patrick O’Duffy’s tour-de-force rant about the debased cynicism of the exercise over at his livejournal page. I disagree on a few minor points but overall I think his (amusing if disappointed) take is spot on.

On the writing front things are chugging along nicely. I’ve managed to crack the 1000 word mark in a single evening writing session a couple of times now, and over the past couple of weeks I’m averaging around 850 words a day on the novel. I’m reasonably satisfied with that pace – especially considering there are often two or three night a week I don’t write at all – but I will have to step it up if I am going to have a draft done by the end of the year. That’s my current goal. It seems achievable, if ambitious.

I would be happier if I had a less tenuous outline, I think. I may have to take some time out in the near future to try and rework my mudmap of where this thing is heading. Actual planning, with details and through-lines and plots of character arcs and such – that stuff is hard. No wonder I’ve never tried to do it before.

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October 6, 2011

Back to the Island 2.01 – Man of Science, Man of Faith

Filed under: back to the island — lexifab @ 11:45 pm

Here’s the first of the Season Two reviews, for the Jack-centric “Man of Science, Man of Faith” (aka WTF another fucking Jack episode?):
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Back to Back to the Island

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:38 pm

Take this week’s neglect of blog updates as a good sign. The novel is proceeding, even if still not quite at the breakneck pace I’m hoping I will achieve eventually. I’ve given myself a motivational deadline of Xmas to get the first draft done. At this rate I won’t get there, but I suspect that if I continue to plug away at it my current rate of 500 words a day will start to improve. I just need to carve some mental grooves out first.

So in order to sabotage that aspiration before I have a chance to lock it in place, I’m also resuming the Lost reviews. I’ve watched the first three episodes of Season Two, which reminded me that there’s a lot to like in it, so since I’m doing that I have convinced myself that I should do the reviews while I’m at it. As I mentioned earlier I plan to use a different format for the reviews of this series, including making them much shorter. I hope to maintain the high standards of snark that you will have come to expect with regards to Jack’s ego, Shannon’s uselessness and Sawyer’s shirts. I’ll post the review of the first episode shortly.

Oh, Fi and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. We had a rare evening out and enjoyed delicious food, excellent wine (well, not the riesling, but what can you expect?) and each other’s amiably sleepy company. We only had to take time out once to make a phone call to an anxious child. The Joey was still waiting for his goodnight kiss from a neglectful father, who was both suitably ashamed and overcome with the cute of it.

Simon’s birthday tomorrow. He’ll be 42, which as we all know is the greatest of all possible ages.

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