|(this wouldn't have been amusing in any other year)|
|(this wouldn't have been amusing in any other year)|
It's the day before Halloween, and I just stayed at the cabin. There was so much left to do to get this place cleaned up (my sister's family is coming on the weekend), and each day has been a few degrees warmer than the last.
Do you remember how George Lucas used to endlessly tinker with his Star Wars trilogy (this is, of course, in the days before he became Saint George, which occurred for Star Wars fans the day Disney put out their own Star Wars films [even worse, it probably started with THE LAST JEDI--the only great one in the modern era]), because, as he put it, he always found little bits that didn't fit with his vision, or please him, or areas where he wished he could add something new? Well, even though I was as bothered by this as the loudest Sequel-hater out there, I actually understand.
Every time I sit down to record a chapter of one of my books/stories, I find things to change. And when I'm editing the audio, I find things I'm not happy with. And just now, I wrote a few new lines for a chapter that's already edited and recorded--done, essentially--because I can't help but tinker with it myself. Why didn't I have the father do or say anything in the first dozen chapters of the book? Why didn't I mentioned what was going on with Brent and the bullies from school until the revelation that something happened to them comes in the midpoint of the story (originally, that was the ending of the first book, right there, with that little discovery). Why does Brielle go from having a friend named Glorioso to Kassidee to Gianna and then back to Gloriosa (only with an a now instead of an o)? Doesn't she have any friends with normal names?
And most importantly, why does a book with supernatural elements focus ONLY on the banal, trivial elements of Brielle's life, instead of the whole reason I wrote the book in the first place?*
Push-ups Today: 83
Push-ups In October: 2068
Well, it's time to go. Not technically--I still have two hours before the sun starts to get low in the sky--but enough is enough. I ran out of things to edit, so I grabbed a short story I recorded but never edited and got through that by noon. I finished another Outcast episode and jotted down my goals for November. I sat down to finish recording the HP Lovecraft story I started the other night (and fell asleep a single page into), and guess what? I fell asleep after four pages. Then I grabbed another story by a more recent author, and recorded it, just for fun, and got through it fine (I might put it out as a bonus for New Year's), and went back to Lovecraft, only to fall asleep halfway through the page.
So, I closed my book, turned off the recorder, and closed my eyes, figuring I'd give myself a nap I had not earned . . .
. . . and I couldn't go to sleep.
Isn't that unfair? That when I was trying not to, I couldn't keep sleep away, and when I surrendered to it, I was wide awake? So, I started packing things up, feeling that familiar melancholy (the last day of summer vacation feeling**), and realizing that despite my two days of unboxing and burning, there was far too much junk lying around to load back into my car, that it would take an hour or more to do so, despite it taking half that to get it unloaded.
So, I ended up piling it all in a corner down in the cellar, leaving it for next week, so that I could enjoy having a clean car for a single week (I have to get it worked on anyway, and had postponed that action because it looked like a homeless persona and a chimpanzee were living in it). We'll see how that works out.
Here I present the second half of my "Dead & Breakfast" story, "The Night Clerk."
It's a Halloween story, written in August, set in July!
Guys, guys, download the episode by clicking HERE!
Gals, gals, support me on Patreon by clicking HERE!
Gino, Gino, thanks for the logo up THERE!
Not much to say about last night. I recorded a story by another author, just for something to do (maybe I'll share it with my Patrons, but more likely, it'll be forgotten about), then I started into another H.P. Lovecraft one, which I knew I'm free to put out as I like. But I fell asleep one page into that dense, dense text, and man, that was all she wrote.
I had a nice fire going by then (really, once I got it started with the kindling I gathered last trip, it burned nicely, and I'd just throw a new log on every half hour or so), and I decided to just go to sleep, probably the earliest I ever have while visiting here alone.
The fire went out in the night, and the temperature started to drop. I could have gotten up and done something about it, but you know how it is in the dark of night--I just gathered the blankets tighter about myself and went back to sleep.
I woke up later than I usually do--only an hour before my alarm went off, so technically later than the last couple of days. I checked the thermometer--it was fifty-three in the cabin and twenty-nine outside the cabin. So, I turned on me laptop (don't know why I said "me" instead of "my," but I'm not going to fix it) and started up a fresh fire. Once it's going, I'll heat some water to wash my face and brush my teeth, and that's when the day will really begi--
Oh, the fire went out. Gotta start again.
Paper burns really easily (duh, right), but it doesn't produce much heat and creates a lot of ash. Some of the logs that I gathered for this winter were the fresh ones my brother cut down in May or so, and those just don't want to burn (plus they make a lot of smoke). Next time I gather--which may be today, if the sun is warm enough that the snow melts and I--you know what, I need to just do it, just gather up a few logs so I have them this trip and next trip, because once it starts to snow here, it SNOWS, and all the wood will be buried under inches of white.
Of course, once that happens, I won't be able to come here anymore. My brother said he spent the day after Thanksgiving here one time, and when he woke up in the morning, it had snowed so much he was lucky to get his truck (a four-wheel drive) back to the canyon road.* If the snows came while I was here, I would be in trouble, as my little Corolla is not built to drive through snow. There was one section of the road yesterday that was covered in snow--likely shaded enough by the trees that sunshine never reaches it--and I had to slow down to five miles an hour or so, just to be sure of not sliding. Driving on ice and snow are on my Bottom Ten List, stubbing my toe and unrequited love.
Interestingly enough, our current President has replaced "physical exercise" on my Bottom Ten list in 2020. Hmmm.
Right now, the fire is burning nicely, the paper and kindling having gone up and now the single log they were around cooking well. But it started--the fire, I mean--started making an interesting sound--a chugging rhythmic sound like a train leaving the station in an old Western. I don't know why fire would make that sound, but it's fun to listen to. There's also the crackling of the small branches I loaded in, and the only other sound is the construction guys down the hill working on the immense cabin there. Honestly, it's got three floors and looks more like a hotel than a cabin. I've no doubt, though, that it's not a hotel, and belongs to one family. Maybe they have ten kids like Big Anklevich's parents (or twelve like my Mom's, or thirteen like my brother-in-law's), but I wouldn't be surprised to find out they just have a lot of money, and only three kids or fewer.
Why did I get going on that? Oh yeah, the sound of the fire burning, and the sound of them hammering and lifting up boards. I do not envy them out in the cold this morning, but at least it's in the twenties today, rather than on Monday, when it was the teens.
I edited the part in "My Friend of Misery" this morning where Brielle goes to bed with a boy for the first time, and after that, he's no longer interested. It's odd because the third "Lara and the Witch" book begins that same way, with Lara getting her first boyfriend as a Sophomore in high school, and he takes off as soon as he's gotten what he wants.
I wonder why I'd beat that particular drum twice in a year. Oh, I understand that that's what happens, and it's perfectly understandable (if not commendable) on a biological level, but I only ever had one friend tell me that had happened, and he was a guy.
Anyway, the reason it happens in MFOM is so that Brielle is tempted to get revenge on him, the same way that her little brother starts evening the score with the bullies that make school unpleasant for him. In the Lara/Holcomb story, it's just setting the stage for when Lara meets Scott in her Junior year, and how different the relationship is, and she finds true happiness. And that's it, the rest of the book is just the two of them together, having good times, using pet names, kissing and boob-touching, and there's no more conflict for twenty thousand words. Isn't that nice?
Of course I'm exaggerating. If I've done my job, the reader will be happy for Lara, but will read each page waiting for the other shoe to drop, dreading whatever is coming.
Which never really comes, does it? Somehow, I chickened out in having the ending I had intended. Guess I have gotten weak in my old age.
My alarm just went off, and it's now sixty degrees here in the cabin. I'll throw another log on and see if we can't get it up to seventy.
I discovered in the editing, that Brielle's dad doesn't even have a line in the book until Chapter 11 or 12. He's absent through the whole thing so far because he and her mother are splitting up. But I wanted to at least establish him, so I sat down just now and wrote a little bit where he tells Brent (her little brother) that he has to go to school (where he is bullied) because hard days make us appreciate the good days. It ended up being a two-birds-with-one-stone thing because I was also able to mention the bullies at school again, who we never see, because it's Brielle's story.
I've almost edited all the recorded chapters of the book, which means I'll have to do an Outcast episode next, or stop editing and write for a while. I really need to get on the horse and record multiple chapters for next week, which will certainly be the last time I get to be here for two nights instead of one. Maybe it'll be my last visit--my brother emptied the water from the upstairs toilet and sink and filled them with antifreeze, and there's only the one working toilet and sink down here now, in preparation for when we leave for the winter and the only way to come back here is via snowmobile (although I believe my uncle has skied in a time or two).
Oh, it's also the end of the month (today is my buddy Jeff's birthday), so I need to do a Patreon address where I look at the goals I set for October, and set new ones for November. Big A. said that I ought to alternate between doing one kind of exercise every other day if I really want to build up muscle (he explained how it works, and that you should focus on the legs one day and the arms the next), so I think I'll do push-ups every other day in November, and find something else in between.
Push-ups Today: 81 (whoops, I keep losing track of the number)
Push-ups In October: 1985
I was burning pages of an old magazine to get the fire started, and it had an interview with Brian Michael Bendis about writing Superman and Batman in it. He said a really odd thing: he said, "Batman thinks he's hilarious with wry humor. And the only person who thinks Batman is funny is Superman. I think Superman adores him; every word out of Bruce's mouth make Superman smile, and I love writing their dynamic."
As I said earlier this week...winter has come to your little town, Sheriff!
So I had the choice of going up to the cabin and potentially freezing, or staying home and making do as I normally do five days a week. I couldn't decide, because as much as I hate the cold, I love the silence, the opportunity to focus 100% on any given task--be it writing, editing, and recording, or for fun, watching a DVD, reading, sleeping, and dancing about like a castaway in "Lord of the Flies."
I drove up here (starting to fall asleep during the drive), and yeah, it's cold. There was snow on the ground, but it was dripping a little bit, and the temperature was in the forties rather than the thirties (which is cold, but I wouldn't say it's COLD). And I stopped when I saw that the lake had frozen over.
I fully intend to finish the next Twilight Groan, and edit all of the "My Friend of Misery" chapters I recorded since my last visit here. Also, I ought to set finishing the faux-blog story "A Gallon A Day" (believe me, I've been racking my brain to find a better, cleverer title for it, but I can't think of an appropriate word that rhymes with "night" so far.
It's forty-two degrees inside the cabin (and forty-six degrees outside). That's not quite cold enough to see your breath, but it's cold enough that I type this with cold hands.
I made a fire almost immediately, because I decided one of the things I'd do this trip was empty out my car, and there are literally dozens/hundreds of bags, receipts, napkins, and action figure packages that would burn nicely (while I dance about like a William Golding character).
The fire is burning pretty well now, and produces plenty of heat across the room. Unfortunately, where I'm sitting, the cold is seeping through the window into my shirt, and it's grey and grim outside, the sun already setting. I need to get off my butt and go record a song, if I'm going to.
So, I went down to the lake, and the sun had already set. So, I just walked halfway up the ridge toward the dam, where snow made it hard to walk, and set up the tripod to record. And halfway through the first verse of "Leaving Town," the camera shut off and it said my storage was full.
Sigh. I do this about once in every four times, and sometimes I avoid it by checking my phone/deleting something before I go out there. Today, though, it was too late to do that (although it would've been better to arrive in the semi-dark with space to record than what happened). I deleted a bunch of files then, but it kept saying the phone was full. Big says the reason for that is that when you hit Delete on a picture or video, it puts it in a sort of Recycle Bin that you can't access on the phone, and only really deletes it after a few days. That really, really, really irritates me* and I ended up not getting to do my song, despite having driven all the way up there.
Plus, it was cold, and heading back to the car was no fun.
So, I just deleted a bunch of files off my phone by plugging it into my laptop and physically deleting videos, but it's a little too late, too late, too late tonight, as Def Leppard taught us.
Now the fire is going nice and warm again, but I'm still cold. I keep putting water in a pan, setting it on the stove, and then putting my hands in the water, but that's temporary, I guess I should just put my coat on (I remember coming here last year and having to sleep in my coat one night) and throw another log on the fire.
Push-ups Today: 81
Push-ups In August: 1904
I didn't want to do any sit-ups today either, which I chalk up to being sleepy, rather than being a lazy sack of horse nuggets. I think I'm going to go upstairs and do a hundred, though, just in case.
I've gotten absolutely no writing done today, and I just yawned good and hard. I didn't take a nap today at all, and I guess I'll be paying for it in an hour or so. But I need to write at least 300 words, and can really tackle it hard tomorrow.
I recently did an audio version for my 2014 novella "A Lovely Singing Voice," and it ended up being three hours and twenty minutes long (which is probably not long enough to release as its own audiobook, but could probably be released with another, similar story, as well as throwing it into a big audio collection), so I was curious how "My Friend of Misery" is faring. To my surprise, it's only one hour and twenty-six minutes, all edited together. When you think that I've been working on it over a month, that doesn't seem like much, does it?
I don't know that there's any real subtext in MFOM, but if I wanted to, I could put a lot more about Los Angeles and the film business and how people tend to lose their souls in the film industry. Brielle is a former child actor, and there are a couple of minor references to her wishing she could feel special like she did when she was on television. That's something that you hear the child stars, from Danny Bonaduce to Mara Wilson, from Corey Feldman to Michael Jackson, say, that they miss the limelight once it's gone, and will do anything to feel like they did when they were kids, and everyone paid attention to them, and it seemed like the good times would never end.
Late, late in the book, Brielle gets a part in a play, and gets to feel, just a little bit, what she felt as a kid, before she blew it and had to become a regular person. Her brother Brent becomes successful enough that people approach him in the mall for autographs, and that eats her up inside. Of course, Brent becomes pretty corrupt as the story goes on, and I could easily say, "See, this is what Hollywood does to a person." Maybe I'll touch on that in rewrites, or it's possible I already do.
I remember watching an interview with the parents of a very successful child actor, and how they had other kids, and were grooming them to be replacement meal tickets for when the currently-popular one reached the awkward age. I remember thinking there was something super predatory about that, almost like they were making the children specifically to cash in on the family name. I might be putting that a bit harshly, but I also could've said "they were making the children specifically to prostitute them out."
|One of my favorite SNL sketches ("America's Most Wanted: Former Child Actors")|
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 4107
I spent a good half hour cleaning out my car today. It was something I did on a lark, turning on my phone and hitting a song at random and saying, "I'm going to clean out the back seat of the car while this song plays." But then, the song ended, and I wasn't even close to done, so I went through another song and another and took a metric ton of garbage out of the back of my car. There was a jacket and another blanket buried under all that, along with more trash and toys than you could find in Mattel's dumpster.
For the first time since 2018, the back of my car looks alright . . . but I'm just going to have to put all of that garbage back in when I leave tomorrow (or Friday--I might stay half a day on Friday, if the work hasn't piled up), and that will ruin everything. I found a book of Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard in the pile of books behind the driver's seat, and I wish I had found it last week.
You see, I had got it into my head to record another of the Conan stories to present on my show, since they're in the public domain and all. But on Sunday night, I looked it up, to determine if ALL the Conan stories are free, or if only some of them are. And it turns out . . . none of them are. Because of the new copyright laws, the Conan stories don't become public domain until 2024 and beyond. And I guess that's why there haven't been dozens of Conan movies, like there are Tarzan movies, and if I recorded one for the show, it wouldn't technically be any different than me doing a Stephen King story.
Except King's stories aren't in the public domain everyplace else in the world except America.
Words Today: 554
Words In October: 27,810
So, this will be my month with the fewest words since I started this, but I don't feel like a failure in the slightest. About the writing, I mean--hey, I feel like a failure 365 days a year--and one extra in 2020, but the writing is fine. I knew that my priorities would have to shift a little bit this month (and even more in November), and as long as I wrote every day, at least 300 words, I'm on task. And I had the two trips to the library this week where I pounded out almost five thousand words, and that certainly helped my total.
Of all the videos I have done, this one is by far the prettiest. Doesn't even matter whether I can sing or not with a backdrop like that.
Pre-Eighties Songs: 8
Eighties Songs: 11
Nineties Songs: 7
Aughts Songs: 1
Teens Songs: 6
So sad that October--the greatest month--is almost over.
I so enjoyed my little trip to the library yesterday that I think I'll do it again today, I only had 58 minutes yesterday (you know because there's a countdown clock at the top of the screen--impossible to minimize--that lets you know how much time is left in your session) and I fully believe I could finish the story if I dedicated a couple of hours to it.
I got it into my head that I'd finish it, send it over to Julie Hoverson (who used to do narration for us and has recently started podcasting again), see if she'd record it, and I'd run it in November. That would be a new record for writing a story and it showing up on my podcast (although the sketches I sometimes write almost always have a timeline like that).
Sit-ups Today: 115
Sit-ups In August: 3996
Today is Big Anklevich's birthday. I guess I should acknowledge him and his goal over the past year of writing each day and how he knocked it out of the park. While I am not certain that his efforts inspired my own write everyday bullcrap (I think there were other factors that pushed me there), what he was doing certainly encouraged me to keep going and to push myself for more words and more effort, just to not look lazy compared to him.
His goal for October to October was 300,000 words, and he managed to get there two months early. He also dieted and exercised and blogged (you ought to subscribe to his blog. Unlike me, he only posts when he has something interesting to say) and even tried that 75Hard thing, which is as crazy in my mind as running a marathon (and you remember my thoughts about that earlier in the year).
Now, he's starting a new year, and he's going to eat healthy (he's a real proponent of the Carnivore Diet, and intermittent fasting . . . of course, he also loves the NFL, so I'm not sure how we could ever be friends), and start publishing the things he's written, and I wish him Bosskspeed. Because I know Big, and it's going to be a hard field to plow.
Push-ups Today: 80 (so, so hard)
Push-ups In August: 1823
I went on my full run tonight, though not nearly as late as the last couple of times. It certainly keeps me warm, but I don't know if I can keep doing this once there's snow on the ground (and ice in my bum).
Words Today: 2707
Words In August: 27,256
If you like my Star Wars fandom or my sketch comedy, you might like them both, in this month's "Star Wars: Delusions of Grandeur" podcast. Marshal and I talk about the calm before the Mandalorian storm, then run my sketch about an Imperial officer answering his two children's questions about what he does for a living.
It's called "Tell Me Once Again Who's Bad," and you can check it out HERE.
I slept like the dead last night, bundled up in an extra blanket, and not waking up a single time until my phone went off.
I got up, not hitting Snooze or Dismiss because it stopped playing its alarm before I could get to it. Then I went and got a shower to start my day. A few minutes later, I came in here, waiting for the alarm to go off again, but it didn't. I didn't get it until I noticed that I had a missed phone call. And then I saw the time.
Oh, it hadn't been my alarm waking me up, but somebody's wrong number, early in the morning, that was enough to get me out of bed. Funny, I guess. That means last week's record of getting up early on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday might get beaten this week.
Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In August: 3881
I spoke to my brother on the phone today. We don't talk a lot, but whenever we do, he wants to talk longer than I am prepared for (usually, I just call him coming home from the cabin, and there are long stretches of that drive with no cellphone service).
I think I told you that when I was at the cabin Thursday, I couldn't get the water to drain from the pipes--it just flowed and flowed and flowed out of the manifold, and after more than a half hour, I just left it open and put a note down warning anybody who might be coming that it was still open.
Well, he went up to the cabin on Saturday, and worked on a couple of things, and he told me that the reason the water wasn't draining from the pipes . . .
Wait for it . . .
. . . was because I hadn't shut the water off.
So for three days, it just flowed through the pipes and down through the manifold, where we were emptying it into a drain in the floor. We were tremendously lucky it didn't fill up and flood the entire lower floor of the cabin, actually.
In my brother's defense, he didn't make me feel like too much of a dumbass (he's not my father, after all), saying that the valve must have stuck when I was turning it (my dad would've said I plain forgot to turn it off, and I'd have wondered for years whether he was right or not), and that I needed to make sure it was all the way off the next time. And I usually do, because I turn on the basement sink so that there's air flow through the pipes, and can see the water stop flowing after a minute or two.
Ah well, it could have been worse.
Because it was Monday, which is usually pretty busy for me, I didn't leave a great deal of time for myself to hit the library before it closed (at least it closes at seven instead of six now, though that's not quite like last year, when it closed at nine), but I got it into my head to run over there and see what I could accomplish in an hour.
Last year, around December, I read an article on the internet about a woman who drank a gallon of water a day for a month, and she talked about how much it impacted her life. I was so blown away by the article that, no, I didn't decide to drink a gallon of water a day, but to write a short story about it. Mine would be a parody of what I had read, because the woman's account was so remarkable, that it felt like a slap in the face when she celebrated at the end of the thirty days, knowing she'd never have to drink water again.
So, my story would be about a guy--namely me--who drinks a gallon of water a day* and gains all sorts of spectacular benefits, such as losing weight, becoming more attractive, and gaining five inches of dong in just thirty days.
But I never wrote it. I don't write even a third of the ideas I have, even when I've sketched them out or started them (though my stats have improved in the last couple of years . . . probably 50% now).
But Big Anklevich had been doing his 75 Hard bullshit lately, and had been blogging about it, and complaining not about the ninety minutes of exercise required a day, but about having to read, and worst of all, drink a gallon of water daily. Poor guy.
So, when I noticed him complaining in his blog about it, I decided to go to the library, and write my idea into a little story, in epistolary format--ie, as a blog. I thought I'd even go as far as write it from a female perspective, and get a female narrator to do it for my podcast, even though that meant the aforementioned dong-measuring scenes would have to go.**
I checked out a computer, feeling pretty confident I could do the whole darn story in an hour or less. But I was not only wrong, I only made it to Day 7 (of thirty). It was plenty of words, though, which leads me to believe that this might be a more substantive project than I gave it credit for.
Still super fun to write, though. I think it's because when I write in my blog, it's like a kid writing in his journal, and uses far less energy than the usual fiction writing does. And doing a fake blog is almost as easy. We'll see where this goes, especially since, had the library not closed, I'd have just kept going, maybe until the darn thing was done.
Words Today: 2232
Words In August: 24,549
I also did my evening run, and while it was not quite as miserably cold as the night before, it was still below freezing out. I did my run as best I could, but decided to cut it just a little bit short, turning one block earlier than I usually turn, which my math told me would lower the run from 1.6 miles to 1.4. I was able to hold my head up high, though, because I knew I hadn't made it that far the night before, and had turned back a couple of blocks earlier than tonight.
EXCEPT . . . I ended up running past the same lit-up Halloween decoration house in the middle of the block that I had passed the night before, telling me, no, I had turned back at the exact same moment the night before. In other words, I'm not tougher today than I was yesterday. I'm no better than you are, darn it.
*I have found, over the last 48 hours, that I cannot spell "gallon" to save my life. I always--ALWAYS--spell it "galoon," and then have to change it. ALWAYS.
**Can I just substitute Day 17's wiener extension with boobs? Would that work?
So, it's day 265. That's a hundred days short of a full year. Not really a milestone, that, but a bit of mathly trivia.
Also, Today is winter. It's miserable cold outside. Too cold for me to think, let alone go for a run.
But hey, I've said in these pages that maybe the test of a writer (or an exerciser) is to write when he/she doesn't feel like writing, when he/she is tired, when she/he is uninspired, when she/he is fat and lazy and underendowed. Maybe the test of whether I am serious about exercising is when it's twenty-seven degrees out with a wind and I haven't much desire to go out in it.
But I did, and it was really, really rough. For the first time, I wore long sleeves on my run, and my hands were cold enough I stuffed them into the sleeves, and just forced myself to carry on. Strangely, though, by the time I got home, I was pushing myself hard enough (trying to keep warm) that I was still a bit sweaty by the time I came up the stairs again. That's kind of neat.
Push-ups Today: 78
Push-ups In October: 1665
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3731
Writing turned out to be even harder than my nightly run. I sat down and did one more (mediocre) chapter of "My Friend of Misery," but that only got me 97 words. I would've done another chapter, but I was no good to record anymore, and that's the lesson I learned this summer--if I record when sleepy, the audio will be unusable anyway, so I might as well stop.
But I was still supposed to write (Magic Spreadsheet doesn't even count it as writing if you produce fewer than 300 words). I was so tired, I found myself falling asleep at the computer, my head dipping and my eyes closing for a minute or two. But I made myself get up, walk into the other room, and type something on the computer there, away from my bed.
I'm actually quite pleased with myself. I now get to go to sleep knowing I worked hard and earned a good night's rest.
Words Today: 713
Words In October: 22,317
Okay, Saturday. As is a semi-tradition, I might hit the library today, once I finish my . . . what am I supposed to be doing today?
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3620
Push-ups Today: 77
Push-ups In October: 1587
Still wanting a project to work on, I emailed myself the full "Hatchling" document, and drove over to the library to work on it, format it, look it over, and see how close to the magical 40,000 words that ostensibly make up a novel.
Well, it was in pretty bad shape. I assembled the daily writing sessions into a fair timeline, and went about making it all fit. There were innumerable ____ (blank lines) where I was supposed to fix things or fill in the appropriate word, and that can sometimes be impossible without the context of "what was I thinking when I wrote this?"*
There was one section where the main girl--Talia--was suddenly referred to as Katianna, who I believe was the main character in the Halloween decoration story I started writing around that time, and I was embarrassed about that. Also, Talia's dad did indeed have a name in a scene I hadn't noticed before--Doug--and I had to decide whether to leave it as Bert (as I wrote on Thursday) or change it to Doug (as I wrote in August). And there were parts where the hatchling was referred to as "it" instead of "him," so I tried to swap those out too.
Even worse, there was one section that appeared twice in the book, and I thought I was losing my mind, because the wording was different from what I had just typed. This is what an editor does for a living, I suspect.
To my surprise, they announced that the library would be closing in ten minutes--I had been formatting and working on this manuscript for nearly two hours, and had only gotten two-thirds through it. So, I quickly went through the last chapters and at least formatted them to be the same as what had come earlier, and tried to fix any new typos I could find. When I finally closed the document in case they killed my computer again, the document was sitting at 37,326 words.
That's creeping closer to novel length, though not quite there yet.
And then I'll have to start planning the cover art. Sigh.
Words Today: 1405
Words In October: 21,604
*I much prefer when I write something and then (BETTER WORD) after it, as I explained yesterday.
Guys, I imagine you're pretty sick of me by now. I'm sick of me, sick of blogging each day, sick of saying the same thing over and over and then worried if I have said the same thing over and over. Sick of push-ups, and sick of smelling my shirt after I've gone for a run and thinking, "Dude, this smells like Ian McNeice slept in it!"*
But I have to keep going, just in case we're not sick of it entirely.
Having finished another story yesterday, I have to decide what to do today (writing-wise).
I enjoyed looking over "Hatchling" yesterday and writing that new scene. I feel like a big chunk of the story was missing, though.
I think the explanation is that for a stretch in the summer, I would create a new text file each day and do my writing in it, to make it easier to chart my word count. Then I forgot to copy and paste the writing into the master file for the story. We'll see if that's correct, though.
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3509
Push-ups Today: 76 (missed one again)
Push-ups In October: 1510
I ended up sitting down and recording Chapters 9 through 13 of "My Friend of Misery." It's certainly not getting any better, and I think the problem is, like "Hatchling," the story is ostensibly about something supernatural, but the mundane events keep getting in the way. I think, truth be told, I'm more interested in the mundane events (like the blooming/fading love affair between Rick and Talia in "Hatchling," and Brielle's heartache over her first boyfriend and jealousy of her brother's career in MFOM).
I don't know if that means the book(s) will suck, but my subconscious will inevitably use that as an excuse to delay releasing them. But the work goes on.
Words Today: 700
Words In October: 20,199
Oh, following up on something I wrote yesterday: turns out that ABC sitcom with the piece of shit title "Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place" was NOT unsuccessful after all. It went four frigging seasons, from 1998 to 2001, and Nathan Fillion was a series regular, before appearing in the MUCH less-successful "Firefly." Whoops.
*I originally had Louie Anderson as the fat guy in this joke . . . but decided to go more obscure, in a Dennis Miller SNL joke sort of way. Then, I couldn't remember Ian McNeice's name, and that kind of ruined the whole gag. Sorry.
It's almost Halloween, so I'm going to post this now (hey, it's only a year late!).
Originally planned for last year's Halloween show, I present the first half of the Dead & Breakfast story, "The Night Clerk."
You don't need to have listened to any of the other stories in the series to enjoy this one (presuming enjoyment is actually possible).
Hey, download the show directly by right-clicking HERE.
Or support me on Patreon by clicking HERE. You may be glad you did.
Logo by Gino "The Night Jerk" Moretto.*
*This may seem unnecessarily harsh, but my first version was "The Shite Clerk."
I have accomplished so very little today. My regular alarm just went off, and now it's after ten, and I'm sort of at a loss where all the hours went. I woke up super early again, the sky still dark, and like last time, I only woke up long enough to make sure it wasn't freezing in here (the fire had gone out during the night, and there was still an unburned log in there--the fresh ones I stacked the other day are too fresh, and they even hiss when they start to burn, if I can get them to burn at all), then I went back to sleep.
Still, I woke up early, took this picture of the morning sky:
and started my day. I ate two donuts, showered, finished editing chapter 5 of "My Friend of Misery," then I started looking at my Documents file to see if there was anything I wanted to write on, like an abandoned project or something.
I dug up my Little Caesar's Pizza story from earlier this year (which I did finish, but needs a polish, and none of the characters have last names (right now it's just Brandon ___ and Kenna ____ and Meeshelle ____ and Sanford ____ and Eli _____). I just gave Kenna the last name Phillips, but the others are still blanks. I ought to come up with something, but I'll probably never put the story out there, even though I read a couple of pages this morning and really liked the dissolution of the boys' friendship. A bigger deal than the last names (which really could be anything) is that I don't have a title for the story.
Big called his--rather brilliantly--"Little Caesar's Ghost." My working title was "Pizza! Pizza!" (which was--and may still be--the slogan to Little Caesars) but I ended up changing it from being a LCP to being Fat Ian's Pizza, the chain I refer to in a dozen of my stories, having named it after my friend in college, who was super offended by that detail. But now that it's set in a fictional pizza place in a fictional town, the only thing that's coming to me is that it's about two guys, a girl, and a pizza place. And I ain't going there.*
The family of deer that hang out next door are back again. I don't know that I've seen them literally every time I've been here, but I practically have. In fact, the two fawns are now double the size they were the first time I noticed them, and that's pretty amazing. There are only three that I see now, though there are usually four.
I got up to take a picture, but the click of the door lock unlatching was enough to send them running. It is deer hunting season right now, but it's a very rare year when a hunter would shoot a doe or a fawn. Although dude, I don't know. Sometimes people just want to shoot things, regardless of the rules or whether they want a trophy or the meat.
I finished editing Chapter 5 of "My Friend of Misery," and then saw I had no more chapters recorded. Nothing more to edit there. I should've planned ahead and done a couple more chapters for this trip. Now all I have to do is write or read. Poor poor pitiful me, as the man said.
Darn, that remind me: I still haven't done my Zevon episode. Okay, today I'll do it. Maybe.
Everything is yellow and brown out here. There was a mile or so stretch where everything had turned various shades of those two colors, even the mountain, and I thought about pulling over and trying to do a song in front of it. But the sound would be terrible beside Highway 89, and I'd end up chickening out before I'd even gotten my tripod set up yet.**
It's cold outside, even though the sun is shining, and I figured I'd make a fire and finish reading my book sitting near it (I've got one chapter left). But first, I decided to go outside and gather up as much kindling as I could, so I'd have plenty for the next visit, when it might be much, much colder than today (it's supposed to get down to well below freezing this weekend, with a low of eighteen degrees in the city, and I think that would put it in the single digits out here). I filled the box (and even took a picture of it, because I'm stupid that way--like the Instagram girls that take pictures of what they had for lunch. Don't they know we're there for half-naked selfies?), and tried to start a fire, but it promptly went out.
I don't look forward to next week, when my hands will be shaking hard enough to not be able to light a match. But at least I'll have plenty of wood.
I finished reading my book, started on a new one, and fell asleep partway through the first chapter. I slept hard enough that I dreamed, and it is pretty vivid to me now, even though they always fade, with me in some kind of condo or apartment, attempting to do a Storage Unit Serenade, but getting interrupted as more and more people showed up as I was trying. Eventually, I broke something--it was in my mind a minute ago, a remote control train or helicopter--belonging to my nephew, and I took it upon myself to fix it, and it became a destructive farce like THE MONEY PIT, as I kept bumping things, scratching things, and breaking things in the apartment, while trying to repair the toy, and more and more kids (including my Uncle John's children) showed up to tell me I was doing it wrong. Eventually, my Uncle Jerry, who can fix anything, took me aside and said, "You are not helping. The repairs are going to be extensive. Just buy a new train." And I told him no, that I could fix this, that I could fix everything, and then backed into a china cabinet, just hard enough that one of the shelves gave way, and they started crashing down behind me.
So, I got up, and moaned because I knew I had wasted hours asleep, only to discover that it had been a half hour or less that I had been sleeping, and there was still plenty of day left.
I sat down here to start editing a short story or two (this is one I had written for a contest, and recorded, knowing I could use it in a collection, or an Outcast if it didn't win), and as I was waiting for it to open and noise reduce, I reflected on the fact that, just a month or two ago, I mused about the nature of love, and that, if Lara Demming ever found a boyfriend who seemed too good to be true, how could she ever trust that it was real, knowing that she had magical abilities, and lived with a witch so powerful, she could probably cause Mike Pence to fall in love with a leather-clad abortion doctor.
And here we are, the week before Halloween, and I've written it. There's a third "Lara and the Witch" story, a fifth "Sidekick Chronicles" story, and a fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth "Dead & Breakfast" story, all written this year. And now I've started a third Will Choner story . . . part of me never wants to stop doing this.*** Oh, and "Hatchling" is in the upper thirty thousand word range, which would make it a novel, if I felt like spending a couple of months turning it into an audiobook (and why wouldn't I?) . . . so that's pretty neat (did I honestly never do a word count before? I should have--it feels good to see those numbers).
I also looked over "Never Let Him Go," the next-to-be-published story in the haunted bed and breakfast series. It is the least consequential story I've written, dealing mostly with Mrs. Bice's decision to fire Mason Bradley, and the obstacles--almost supernatural-seeming--that keep preventing her from doing so. In it, there's a female day clerk without a name that has to tell Bice that the man she was interviewing to replace Mason has canceled his appointment, and that sort of surprised me, as I had never established a female day clerk between the hot European twin (I think her name was Trudi) and Meeshelle, who is hired in the next story, "Meet the New Clerk."
After opening the "Hatchling" document, I was reminded that I always intended to write a scene where Rick, the teenaged protagonist, talks to his new girlfriend Talia's father. That was the character I had based on me, rather than the rather studly, popular Rick (after all, his name is Rick. Can you believe that? I might have first named him that as a placeholder, the name is so cringe-worthy, but it just stuck, using it three hundred-plus times in the story [I know, the word counter told me]), and I tried to imagine what kind of father I would be, to a teenaged daughter, especially one that was just starting to go out on dates.
So I decided that Talia's dad would be the friendliest, most supportive father you could imagine, who wants his daughter to find joy and experience life, more than he wants her to stay a little girl forever. And so he's totally welcoming to Rick and the relationship, and gives his daughter money so they can buy condoms, rather than give the whole "don't you ever look at my baby as anything other than a lady" speech that I think we've all heard, either in person or through the grapevine.
And I always meant to write a scene where the two of them talk, and Rick expects the hostile, almost threatening lecture, but instead gets warmth and compliments, which is exactly what he needs to hear, since his own dad is out of the picture. If this were a novel instead of just a lengthy short story, I'd have him go to Mr. Giller for advice while the romance blooms, and then be unable to do so once he and Talia have broken up, and that's a double heartbreak. It just seems like a neat little subplot, in a story that has one or two that don't really go anywhere.
So, I sat down and wrote that scene just now, and I'm tempted to put a later reference to it, or at least to the man's first name, which I had to invent for the scene, and will never be mentioned again. It was Bert (short for Hubert, though I never reveal that).
Writing is fun, but it's also pretty nuanced. I have criticized the Orson Scott Card book I just finished enough (or I will when the episode I talk about it airs--it's the show with my story "Gatekeeper" in it), but his unrealistic-as-fuck dialogue really took a toll on me in this one. There was one sentence spoken by a fourteen year old girl that was so dense, I had to read it aloud, remarking that my buddy Jeff, a middle-aged man with a 190 IQ, would never manage something like that.
I was skimming through the manuscript (of "Hatchling"), trying to fill in all the blank lines that I found. Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of writing, and I can't think of the perfect word, I'll write a word that is like the one I'm looking for, and in all-caps, will put (BETTER WORD) after it in parenthesis. Or other times, I'll just put a blank line there and go on with the writing, because you can ruin your momentum looking for the perfect word or reaching for a thesaurus (although, cards on the table, I haven't needed a thesaurus since college . . . not because I'm that smart, but because computers and the internet have made them obsolete).
In this case, Talia is telling Rick they can sell the hatchling to a museum, then she says, "Or, if you're too ____, you can just donate him." Then she insults him, because all he is is a horny teenager. Oh, this is when they're at the end of their relationship, so there should be some kind of cold judgement in her comment. I wanted a word like "honorable" or "righteous," but didn't like either of those.
I realize that this may be supremely boring to you, but I'm blogging about something, every day for nearly a year, and I need the content. So, I walked around the cabin, cleaning things up (there's always tons of ash coming out of the stove when I throw more wood or paper in, and I'm much more tidy here than anywhere else, even though no one's going to see it), trying to figure out the perfect word for Talia to say. See, she is smart and Rick is less-than, so I wanted it to be a pretty good word.
I remember, back in 1998, when "Dawson's Creek" started up (at least I think that was the year--I didn't watch it when it started) that Kevin Williamson explained the way that he had his characters talk on that show. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "You know how you'll have an argument with someone, and afterward you say to yourself, 'I SHOULD have said this,' or 'I should have said that?' Well, my characters actually say those things, in the spur of the moment, in the middle of their conversations." I never forgot that, and I have to admit that it does affect my writing, from time to time.
Though, in my defense, I often try to purposely dumb down my characters' dialogue, putting in "you knows" and "likes" and having them get the references wrong. The first time I did this was in "Round and Round," when I have the main character mistakenly refer to Stevie Nicks as a man. I liked that so much, I've done it a hundred times since, with no signs of stopping.
Anyway, I was folding sheets when it came to me: principled. It gave me a little thrill to run over to the laptop and fill in the blank, like I had found the answer to the last space in the crossword puzzle. Despite it taking me two months to get there.
Well, the time has come to leave once again. This has been pretty amazing--two trips to the cabin in a week (although it's no different, technically, than the weeks before, since I didn't come up on last Wednesday and Thursday), and lots of reading, writing, editing, and recording. I can pack everything up with my head held high, knowing it was another productive visit, and I'll still have time to do my sit-ups and run tonight before it's time to record a Dunesteef with Big.
I hope you have productive days and weekends ahead, and that you can feel good about yourself, even if you accomplish less than I do, hard to believe as that sounds.
Push-ups Today: 76
Push-ups In October: 1434
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3398
Words Today: 1299 (now that's strange, I had 1299 words on Wednesday. I'm tempted to add a single word just to make it different)
Words In October: 19,499
*You see, if your life has been better spent than mine, you wouldn't be aware that there was a sitcom on ABC in the late Nineties (maybe it was in 2000) called "A Girl, Two Guys, and a Pizza Place" or something brazenly similar to that. It was not successful, though I do vaguely recall that one of the guys was a pre-fame Ryan Reynolds. In a way, it would be clever to call it "Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place," but I just can't make myself go there.
|Gosh, I wonder what was on NBC Thursday nights at this time.|
**And I'm reminded of people like Abigail Hilton, who always seemed to accomplish what they set out to do, or that Brandon Sanderson, writing another over-long Epic Fantasy novel I will never, ever touch, in just the period between it getting dark at seven but getting dark later and it getting dark at seven but getting dark earlier, and how jealous I was of that. But now I see how they do it--they commit to it, and they do it every day.
I know I've said this before, but I keep talking to people who love the fall, and who love the winter, and one who loves all the seasons and everything in the world except me. And I have tried, I've tried to have a better attitude about the changing of the seasons and the promise of winter. My mom complains about it just as much if not more than I do, and I wonder if that irritated my dad. Seems like it would have . . . but everything irritated my dad.
|Maybe I shouldn't be so thrilled I haven't lost my hair yet.|
November is usually pretty grim, but at least we always had Thanksgiving and Black Friday to look forward to. Now, it seems unlikely I'll participate in any floods of consumers waiting outside Target or Best Buy or Walmart (a couple of years ago, I went the day before Thanksgiving, and they had their Black Friday deals out, but you couldn't buy them, so I took two and hid them in the bicycle department, so I could come on Black Friday and there would still be two there for me to snag), and my mom just told me we're not doing a big get-together for Thanksgiving this year, but it'll just be like a regular Sunday dinner.
And that's too bad. I always enjoy getting together with my cousin and his family, even though he has to alternate between his side and his wife's side of the family each year, but because of COVID fears, we're not doing that in 2020. And who knows, maybe the prognosticators will be right, and the virus will be so bad this winter that nobody would want to get together.
Oh, so I was complaining about the onset of winter. Yeah, I am trying to be more positive, and know that some of my sadness about the unpleasant half of the year is just psychological. When it starts getting dark at four and you can't just take the trash out in your bare feet or there's that smoggy smell in the air when the clouds roll and we get what they call an inversion here . . . well, it's hard for me to see that as anything but a negative.
But I'm going to try not to be sad about winter this year. I'm going to try to keep the spirit of summer within my soul, and keep exercising, keep doing outdoors things, and make it through with the strength to bear whatever comes my way.
This is the second time I'm writing this blog post, so forgive me if it's not all that eloquent.
At one point, I was finishing the "Delusions of Grandeur" episode for this month, saving it, but everything had gotten unforgivably sluggish. Like you'd press the Save or Open button and nothing would happen, and you'd press it three more times, then all at once it would try to open four or five times and the laptop would make an angry sound.
The music I was listening to started to lag too, and my Task Manager said my disc usage was at 100% (whereas normally, it's between 1 and 3%, sometimes right at zero). I tried closing a couple of open files, but they didn't want to close, and then suddenly, nothing happened at all. The music stopped, the mouse wouldn't move, nothing.
And a minute later, the laptop made an error beep, and the beep just kept going. And going. And going. It was a steady hum that I knew was bad, but I figured the CPU would catch up and fix, so I went upstairs to do sit-ups, hearing the beep continue as the seconds became minutes.
I was super hesitant to restart my computer, because I didn't want to lose all the writing I had done today--not that it was a ton, but it was close enough to "the end" on the third Lara/Holcomb story that I could, if I continued for but ten minutes or so from that point, be done with it.
Well, after a few minutes of the laptop still frozen, still bugging, I went ahead and restarted. Just like with human beings, restarting can solve a lot of problems. And when everything booted back up, I re-opened my text file with baited breath . . .
. . . and found nothing missing whatsoever. I must have saved it the last time I worked on it, about ninety minutes ago.
However, the blog post I was writing about coming to the cabin again, getting older, and wishing I could appreciate the changing of the seasons like certain people do was completely wiped out.
A bit irritating, but not that big a deal.
Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In October: 3287
Push-ups Today: 75
Push-ups In October: 1358
Before I left, I re-recorded Chapter 5 (maybe I blogged about this already). The original file (with the crappy sound) was 20:33, and the new recording (with better sound) was 21:44. I'll edit it now, and it'll be sad how much shorter the finished chapter will be. But I'm trying to get in good, semi-professional shape, and that's what I have to do. I did discover one reference to the main character as "Lara" once in Chapter 5, instead of Brielle, and I know I wouldn't have caught that mistake the first time through.
8:37, Chapter 5 ended up being, after the editing. Hmm.
Words Today: 1299
Words In October: 18,200
I did get my push-ups done, at least. That's something.
Push-ups Today: 73 (and not terribly hard. Maybe the later in the day I do them, the harder they are?)
Push-ups In October: 1283
Marshal Latham ran the first chapter of a novella or novel-length writing project on his podcast recently, and I have to admit it was bold. It was bold because it was all he had written on the book, and it was from before he even got married (I think he's been hitched for seventeen years). So, running it on his show was only going to frustrate his listeners, knowing there was no more where that came from. But even so, perhaps his listeners will pester him to complete it now, and he will . . . and he never would have had he not shared the work-in-progress with people.
It made me wonder about my own projects like that, and if I might dare share those on my podcast, to see if people will urge me to complete them. Or is that just cruel? And what if nobody says ANYTHING, what if they just don't give a crap, and I never end up finishing the story at all? Well, food for thought. I have so many in-progress stories that I could spend the rest of my life simply finishing old ones, not writing anything new.
Would that make me happy? Oh, hell na, but it's interesting to think about.
Sorry for using "hell na," folks. But blogging two hundred and sixty-one days in a row has taken its toll on my vocabulary.
And my taint, sadly.
I found the animatronic The Child figure/doll at Walmart with my cousin tonight. It was amazing, and both lifelike and impressively cute. But it was damned expensive ($59), and I didn't know what to do about it. Either it will be completely gone from stores a month from now, or it will be everywhere, with each Target or Walmart ordering a hundred of them.
But it was so cool that I think I'll take the chance. I asked my cousin, "What if we never see these again?" which is a fair question, but pretty hard on my wallet.
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3187
Push-ups Today: 73
Push-ups In October: 1283
I did sit down and write for a little while today--it felt like a lot more words than it apparently was--and am very, very close to finishing the third Lara and the Witch story, which I had a title for just last week, but have already forgotten. I think that one of my goals for October was to finish it or figure out how to finish it, and during my run today, I decided to end the book with the section I was writing today, then to have an Epilogue which ties up the romantic plot, and sets up the next book. In fact, if I didn't have to go to my cousin's house, I might've written that scene too today.
Fiddle-dee-dee, though, tomorrow is . . . you know.
Words Today: 1075
Words In October: 16,901
The ones with two (or more) parts never quite work right. I've got to figure out a way to do them better.
Either that or make a friend.
Pre-Eighties Songs: 8
Eighties Songs: 10
Nineties Songs: 7
Aughts Songs: 1
Teens Songs: 6
Next up is my favorite one ever.
I talked to Big Anklevich today about his daily exercise and diet regimen . . . and he screwed up one day, forgetting to read from his non-fiction book (one of the prerequisites). And that was it, all she wrote, fat lady starts in on her song.
To my shock, he just quit the whole seventy-five day marathon, despite having kept it up for a month or so. I just plain didn't understand that, telling him that when I missed my push-ups on Friday or Saturday, I just did twice as many the next day, and I still consider myself on track. But Big doesn't work that way. He told me his wife said the same thing--"Just read two chapters in your To Serve Man book"--but he said he wouldn't do it, that you had to do all the things for seventy-five days straight or you couldn't consider yourself a success.
He had to start back at zero, and now he's discouraged enough to take a few days binge eating and soiling himself beside the swimming pool before he even considers starting it up again. That made me plenty sad.
But to each their own. We've all heard the inspirational tales of people with great integrity that find money in the street, or the answers to next week's quiz, or a parking meter with half an hour left on it, or a passed-out Jessica Simpson in the guest room at a party, and they have the strength to say, "Nope, I'm just going to leave it there, because even if nobody else in the world would ever know what I'd done . . . I'd know."
Those were almost exactly the words Big used on the phone with me (except it was Josh Gad from FROZEN passed out at the party), and that's pretty impressive. Because when I lived in L.A., I celebrated when I found a parking meter with time left on it.
But like Darkman said, "I'm learning to live with a lot of things."
The knowledge that my life is more than half over and I've accomplished practically nothing, that I'm going to die alone, and if I crashed my car I could never afford to replace it . . . well, those are daunting thoughts, middle of the night thoughts, depressing thoughts. Yet I have to continue. I have to keep writing and exercising, keep living my life with just a little hope, because otherwise, everything i2 Edvard Munch's The Scream again.*
Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In October: 3187
Push-ups Today: 72
Push-ups In October: 1210
Not much writing accomplished today, but every bit helps. Also, I sat down and re-recorded Chapter 5 of "My Friend of Misery," and re-recorded the "Delusions of Grandeur" podcast I accidentally deleted last week. It's not a tremendous amount, but it gives me stuff to edit on Wednesday. And isn't that what every growing boy needs?
Words Today: 749
Words In October: 15,826
*Little bit of trivia for you. Munch's "The Scream" is the most expensive painting ever to sell at Sotheby's auction. It went for $120 million in 2012. I dunno, seems pretty overpriced. I wouldn't pay over thirty-five million for it myself.