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

February 1, 2016

Sneak peek

Filed under: news of the day,the interweb she provides,wombat,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 2:17 pm

I am now less than a week away from my next overseas trip for week. I am rather less excited about this than I am anxious.

I might feel differently if I were more confident that the workshops I’ll be running will be valuable and interesting to the people being quietly coerced into attending them. As for me, I get unwanted but necessary public speaking practise, so at least one attendee stands to benefit.

Be that as it may, today is a bit of a personal milestone: the Wombat-child started her kindy year today. As of this morning, I have two children attending the same school at the same time! Up until now our morning commute often involved four stops and took almost exactly an hour with all the doubling back and forth. We might now be down to as little as fifteen minutes. The sheer convenience of only having one morning drop-off and afternoon pickup has barely begun to sink in. I might get back half an hour every morning, to do with as I please! Luxury!

(Yes, I am aware that the two issues above are classic examples of the first-worldiest of first world problems. I don’t have a hell of a lot going on right now!)

Both events mark transition points for me. (The summer holiday in the Hunter was another milestone along the same lines, but it already feels like the sadly distant past). I’ve been preparing for them for months in various ways. In a real sense, it’s not going to feel like 2016 has started until they are both done and out of the way.

All of this is a vast preamble to my point, which is that I am going to launch a new website: davidversace.com

It’s not quite ready for public consumption, but it’s 90% there. It’s a very basic site built around a WordPress frame, in keeping with my current web design, management and coding skills, but it has all the essential elements I believe I’ll need for a simple author web presence. Or platform, if you want to sound cutting-edge-but-last-year.

Before I go out to the big wide world – which is to say, before I post something on Facebook and Twitter and make some changes to my email signature block – I would really appreciate it if everyone reading this could take a look over there. If you see any problems, please leave a comment on this post to let me know. I’m especially keen to know if there are any useability issues, security problems or browser clashes. Even better if you happen to know a solution!

(Don’t leave a comment there yet, please. I’m going to replace the placeholder post with actual content before I go live, so any comments attached to that post will be deleted).

Things I already know about: no author photo, no content on the blog, and the mailing list signup works but does not (yet)  automatically post a “Welcome to my mailing list” message. Oh and I don’t know if the RSS feeds work, but I have no reason to suppose that they don’t. Do people even use RSS feeds any more (I mean, I do, but as you can see from the site my internet-savvy stalled out circa 2009).


November 20, 2014

NatNaNo Day 20 – Just touching base

I’m a bit on the tired side tonight, so my writing stint was short. Perfunctory even. 400 words in about 20 minutes so I could just go to bed.

Tomorrow the pest control guy is coming, so I have a lot of last-minute packing and lugging to do, after which I had to keep a four year old amused out of the house. If the weather’s not as hot as it was today, that will mean a visit to a park or the zoo. If it is hot, the pool or the library – and she won’t be amused for very long at the library, though it will be an opportunity for me to order in a couple of books I’ve been meaning to read – Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (alien first-contact story set in Lagos) and God’s War by Kameron Hurley (bloodthirsty science fantasy with bug-based magic).

Oh, and I probably have a job lined up soon, so I guess that’s good. I’ll miss moping around the house though. Better make the most of it while I can.

So without further ado:

Tally: 400 words

Total fiction words for the month: 10, 740

“You’re back from exile less than a week and already you’re bringing grief to that poor woman. It’s not enough you had to marry her? Do you have to make her life miserable as well?”

November 2, 2014

NotNaNo Day 2 – Birthday party

Filed under: news of the day,wombat,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 11:30 pm

No writing this morning because we needed to prepare for the Little Wombat’s fourth birthday party. Two hours of lollies and train rides at a lakeside park. Turned out to be more painless than I was expecting. I only needed to provide first aid once, and that was to some random kid howling about a skinned knee in the sand pit, not one of the party-goers.

This evening I had to watch Doctor Who before I got started on writing, because omigod you guys SO GOOD!

So I started late and I didn’t far past my 500 word target of new words. But only the other hand I outlined four new stories, so I should have plenty of stuff to get stuck into.

Tally: 544 words (about 40 minutes or so of writing time)

Total fiction wordcount for the month: 1410 words

In this section, Dario is contemplating a locked room mystery (and I am discovering how hard it is to keep a scene moving where characters are looking at things without speaking to each other):

The duty watch had been detained and questioned, so if they knew anything they would already have given it up on the inquisitor’s wrack. Say what you like about our torturers, but I’ve never known them to fail to extract a confession. Not always the confession you’re looking for, but they tend to be thorough with details.

November 16, 2011

Sad transition back into the workforce

It has been a long and tiring week, punctuated mainly by distractions, a little gaming and a horrible hacking cough over the weekend. Progress on the novel remains steady overall, though that’s mainly because I had a couple of very productive days at the start and end of the week rather than modest gains throughout. Still, I’m closing in on the nominal halfway mark, so the deadline remains a thing that could be achieved. And after all, I have that bet with Evan, so what better motivation could I possibly need?

The real change has been my return to work this week, after eight weeks at home looking after Childe Wombat. Sadly we could no longer afford to maintain my sensitive new-aged indolent lifestyle. I have returned to the workforce and she has joined her brother at childcare. I will miss taking her on long walks during the day – her favourite activity other than eating, and the only thing guaranteed to calm her occasions tantrums – but to be honest she’ll have a lot more fun there than she does with me.

As for work, I am reluctantly getting back into the groove of things. It would probably help if I hadn’t run headlong into one of our most painful and overdesigned bureaucratic processes, but I expect the need to focus on one laborious step after another will help recondition my public servant muscles.

(While I have been typing this, traffic out the front of my building has begun backing up behind roadblocks for Barack Obama’s presidential motorcade. Said motorcade, according to the live news feed on that television over there, has yet to leave the airport and make the ten-or-so-minute journey to parliament House. I boldly predict that when the roadblock is finally lifted there will follow madness and chaos and some very unhappy Canberra motorists. In fairness, though, they should have read the paper and known better than to use the main thoroughfare past both the House and the US Embassy. Twits.)

November 4, 2011

Back to the Island 2.07 – The Other 48 Days

Filed under: back to the island,fitter/happier,joey,wombat — lexifab @ 10:49 pm


Three straight nights of fractious and grizzly children have left me in a pretty grumpy mood. The little one has been getting harder to get to sleep as she gets more and more snotty; she has a cold coming in. The older one is exploiting our desperate need to have him graduate from toilet training to wrangle extra hours of wakefulness after bedtime and (increasingly frustrated) parental attention. I suspect either problem would be more manageable on its own, but with them tag teaming on a more or less constant basis, my already-pretty-limited store of patience is gone, gone, gone.

It’s the Wombat’s first birthday tomorrow. I would like to think it will be a joyous occasion with family and cake, but with the Joey already in trouble for disobedience and the Wombat herself caked most of the time in snot and misery, I am not optimistic.

Bloody kids. They can’t just be adorable all the time why now? Yes, I know I have to manage my expectations. Yes, I know they can’t help being sick/bratty. That doesn’t mean I can help being pissed off about it though. I’ve had to forgo yet another night of novel writing, because the mood I’m in by the time I actually do have the freedom to sit down to write is not conducive to good writing.

Well, I suppose it might work for a scene with a fistfight or a car chase or a shouting match, but I’m working on trying to make a discussion about weird magic and ghosts not sound like exposition. That sort of subtlety is hard to access when I’m in a foul mood. Trouble is, by the time I’ve got the irrits out of my system every other night this week – and tonight’s looking no different – it’s been too late for a decent writing session. Which makes me frustrated all the more.

So instead tonight I wrote a Lost review, because nobody cares if I’m extra-snarky in one of those, right? I’m behind on rebuilding my backlog. This one has crept up toward the length of the Season One reviews. It may have helped work some of my shirtiness off but at some cost to brevity…


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.

September 19, 2011

Rating: unimpressive

Filed under: wombat,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:43 pm

Two hours of poring over finicky tax spreadsheets tonight have zapped whatever enthusiasm I had for writing. But dammit, between getting everything tidied up at work and nursing a sick baby girl at home, last week was a major backward step. To make up for it tonight I’m going to knuckle down and make sure I get something down before I pass out.

Not that I usually need an excuse, but one thing that’s absolutely guaranteed to kill any productivity (for me) is a sick kid. The Wombat has spent the last week so stuffed up that she’s awake for half the night, and screaming for at least part of it. Few things bugger up a night’s sleep more comprehensively than being woken up by a screaming baby. I don’t know how J.K. Rowling managed it (although some of her tortured prose might offer the odd clue).

So this Monday’s entry serves no purpose other than to mark time and remind me that I should be writing. Which is what I am going to go to do in just a minute. First some housekeeping:

826 – Words written on the Project Bushwalk. Not that you would know it from that substellar performance, but Scrivener is proving so far to be the right tool for this job. I like the structural support it provides and the ease of dropping character and place notes in off at the side without derailing momentum by opening up another file. Obviously I could also do these things with a piece of paper, but I like it when the technology not only doesn’t get in the way, but actually gets out and helps to push. In terms of the story itself, I have gotten a decent amount of thinking done about my characters, what they want and what they might do to get it. My middle and ending are still slightly murky, but I am gradually honing them into shape. I daresay any plans I make will not long survive the actual writing process, though, so I’m not too worried about that. The productivity rate is the real concern at this point.

14,300 – Daily average number of steps taken. I had a bit more succes on the exercise front. Over the course of the 111-day Global Corporate Challenge pedometer-fetishism exercise, I averaged about 12,300 steps a day. Since then I’ve increased that rate. I think I’ll aim for keeping the average over 13,500 for the month. That shouldn’t be too hard. I’m at home with the baby Wombat until the start of November – and while she will certainly voice strong objections to my sitting down at a laptop and hammering out a few hundred words two or three times a day, she quite likes getting out and about for a walk. So it’s looking good for the exercise and wait-and-see for the writing. But I think I can probably do better than my current average of less than 300 words a day.

Let’s see about that.

Edit: A shade over 500 words before the eyelids started getting too heavy to see through. Acceptable if I can keep it up for the rest of the week. But I have just realised that the scene I’m writing needs a better defined conflict, which means that many of those words will have to go. But that’s a problem for Later!

March 8, 2011

My Happiness

Filed under: family,friends,geekery,joey,news of the day,wombat,workin for the man — lexifab @ 2:53 pm

I didn’t mean for this resumption of posting to become a weekly affair, but oh well. I don’t mean a lot of things that end up happening anyway.

I promised that I would be relentlessly positive with this next entry, and so I shall be – within reasonable limits of tolerance for the terms ‘relentlessly’ and ‘positive’, that is. This is all stuff that is on my mind at the moment that is making me feel good about life

Family – I have a wonderful wife and two adorable children. How cool is that? I have to start with the family, because the last thing I would want is to take them for granted. How can I not appreciate the frankly astonishing fact that I have a loving, supportive and stable marriage with a wonderful woman whose only apparent flaw is her dubious taste in husbands? On top of that are two healthy, adorable little people who love me unconditionally and suffuse me with joy every day. Sometimes even when they are voiding their bowels in some nefarious and inconvenient way.

Work – Work is going well. I have a meaty project to get on with that has a vertiginous learning curve, fearsome deadlines and a broad menagerie of overworked colleagues who have too many other things on their plate. I’m loving it. Every morning I get to work and look at the mountain of stuff that needs doing and I can’t wait to get stuck into it. It has been a while since that’s happened. I suppose it’s possible (inevitable?) that sooner or later the goalposts will shift and some new direction from upper management will force me off into some other project – although I kind of hope not, since my work is one of those critical business processes that functional organisations do well and that everyone points at and laughs when an enterprise goes belly- and/or tits-up – but while it’s still flavour of the month I intend to make as much of it as possible. Possibly up to and including a trip to Sydney for a seminar!

Gaming – After the Wombat was born I took a break from gaming to do my share of baby-wrangling and to keep the house from falling apart or smelling too bad. But since she has started sleeping a little more reliably in recent weeks, I’ve started easing back into previous schedule. Seeing as there are four separate games involved (one weekly, the rest fortnightly) I am not sure whether I will be able to sustain all of them without either running myself ragged or (more likely) jeopardising harmonious relations with my long-suffering wife. I suspect that I’m at least one commitment overbooked, but I will see how it goes. I do know that as long as it lasts, I am enjoying getting together with friends and rolling dice and telling cool stories in bad accents.

Minecraft – It’s more or less my default state that my attention will have been seized by one or two computer games at any given time, and that I will spend as much time as I can spare shooting this or climbing that in some colour-saturated virtual environment. For the past few weeks I have been utterly arrested by Minecraft, a game which has astonishly clunky graphics, no plot or characters, repetitive plinky-plonky music, no instructions and no specific point. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve come across in years. It’s essentially a mining survival game. Your blocky little avatar appears in the middle of a large randomly generated environment and must immediately begin the work of securing (some of) the essentials of life, in particular shelter, before night falls and the monsters come out.

You achieve this in any number of ways, including chopping down trees, digging up dirt, sand or stone to build a shelter, or burrowing into the side of a mountain and fashioning a safety cave for yourself. The first time you play you will probably fail in some way and be quickly killed. But you soon realise (especially if you avail yourself of online help like the Minecraft wiki) that within these and a few other constraints, you are free to do absolutely anything in this game. You can hunt monsters (though the tools to do so are primitive), you can explore, or you can mine up various materials from which to craft great works of art and architecture.

I’m taking great pleasure in carving out a vast underground network of tunnels, dredging various materials back to the surface and shaping them into sprawling fortresses and civic infrastructure that nobody else will ever use. Even better, in the past week or so some friends have started a multiplayer server so that we can collaborate on mighty civil engineering masterpieces like the towering replica of Perdido Street Station currently underway.

It’s probably not immediately obvious what the appeal could be – graphically and audially the game looks like a refugee from the earliest days of the Commodore 64, it’s not actually finished yet and if you didn’t know any better it would doubtless look upon first inspection as though all it offers is the opportunity to punch blocks of colour schemes vaguely suggestive of trees, pigs or chickens, while not falling off a cliff or drowning in a lake. Here’s what the lightbulb moment was for me – when I realised that Minecraft is just a very, very big Lego set. If like me you have ever played with Legos and thought even for a second about what kinds of cool stuff you could make if only you had an unlimited supply of blocks, then Minecraft is a perfect answer.

Lost – At any given time, while I’m not chewing up all my leisure time with gaming of some sort or another, there will usually be at least one TV show that I am following with minute, slavish attention. Lost was the most recent example for me, and since it sadly finished last year nothing has stepped forward to fill that void. [1] I loved Lost – it had sharp writing, a fascinating story and compelling characters, but the really ingenious thing about it was its structure. How the story was told was its most impressive feature for me.

But as much as I admired it and would defend it against criticisms that the producers were making the whole thing up as they went along and that it descended into utter gibberish around Season Two, Three, Four, Five or absolutely definitely Six, it is fair to say that it was on occasions a bit confusing. Which is why I was so happy to come across the Lost Answers blog, in which a self-declared Scientist has taken it upon himself to answer his readers’ questions about any aspect of the show. [2]  It’s right up my alley, deeply nerdy analysis coupled with self-deprecating humour and not-unwarranted sarcasm.

What’s fascinating about his analysis, which is independent of the show’s producers and based entirely off his own observations of the show, is that his completely-plausible answers make it pretty obvious that, far from being a loose agglomeration of sweaty jungle shootouts and random mysticism, in fact Lost was an amazingly tight construction with few unintentional loose ends. Go and check out his explanation of why babies couldn’t be born on the Island, a fact that was introduced in the third season, was critically important to several characters (Juliet, Sun, Claire and Kate, mainly) and was seemingly forgotten in the final year. Warning: obviously, the whole Lost Answers site contains spoilers for the ending, so don’t go looking if you are still working your way through it.

If nothing else this (and my started-twice-and-never-quite-finished essay on the final episode) it has inspired me to start a Lost writing project. [3] I’ll talk about it soonish.

World Affairs – I wanted to say something about how the collapse of Middle Eastern dictatorships and the hilarious disintegration of the mind and career of one of the world’s most overpaid serial abusers of women are keeping me entertained these days, but this is running a little on the long side. Maybe later.

1  – Doctor Who doesn’t count, because it goes without saying that my devotion to Who sets it apart and above all other forms of televised entertainment. Also – woo! New DW coming in a month or so!

2 – Except Walt, the kid who seemed mysterious and important for the first couple of seasons, until a very rapid growth spurt completely out of sync with the show’s compressed time frame forced the producers to drop whatever plans they had for the character.

3 – No, it isn’t John Locke fan fic, you will be relieved to hear.

February 17, 2011

Out of the long dark

Filed under: administraviata,wombat,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 2:26 pm

I really can’t put this off any longer.

I’ve taken the last three months off from more or less everything else – blogging, writing, work and most of my gaming – while I nestled in the comforts of family and did my bit to give the Wombat her best possible start in life. Happy to report that that part has gone very well and that she remains adorable and comfortable and happy and well.

But I have been stalling. I’ve been back at work a couple of weeks now. There has been plenty of time to resume writing and punching out the off blog post. I’ve been neglecting what I shall only-slightly-sarcastically call these responsibilities because I wanted to get my sleep under control, because I wanted to get back into the groove of going to work and because I really really liked being on holiday.

Really, it’s mainly down to that last one.

The other two excuses have suddenly evaporated. In the past few days the Wombat has decided that she’s going to sleep through the night. That means the blessed return of full night’s sleeps. Except on nights when I stay up too late watching movies or playing games or whatever, but self-inflicted insomnia excuses nothing, and will not be tendered into evidence in this court of self-justification.

Work’s going pretty well too. I have a lot to do, it’s varied and it’s challenging rather than numbingly simple or oppressively difficult. I have responsibilities, albeit scary ones in which the balance between my knowledge and experience on one side and the severe consequences of failure on the other side are tipped at an alarming angle in the wrong direction. Invigorating!

So it comes down to the holidays, literal and figurative. I have more or less written nothing other than post-baby and post-Xmas thank you letters since the Wombat arrived (and try not to feel slighted if you didn’t get anything from me because, well, lazy). It has been nice to just chill out and completely disregard the urge to hammer out word after word, to just strike that sense of self-obligation far away and out of sight while I concentrated on keeping everyone bathed and fed, reading the odd book, enjoying the company of family and friends, watching the  apocalyptic visitations of La Nina and improving my rocket jumping and/or sniping techniques.

But the words sneak back in when you’re not paying attention, and the little buggers nag. They get their hooks in and they insinuate. They demand to be pinned down, tagged and released. There’s probably some sort of revolting coral spawning metaphor I could follow that with – but I’ll hold it off while you get  clear.

The point is, I’m writing again. I probably won’t have anything specific to share here any time soon, unless another useless triffid story cuts to the front of the queue. Most of what I was working on when I downed tools in November was well short of half-done. Moreover, with some distance I can tell that most of it was also badly half-baked (which is not a reason not to go back to it and attempt to restore some sense of dignity and order, but I do need to be realistic about how long it’s going to be before it’s ready for human consumption).

In the meantime, Lexifab is back in business. Hi y’all. whatcha been up to?

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.

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