Archive for February 5th, 2007

2/4/07: Soldiering on

Word count: 17765 | Since last entry: 1159

First, a public service announcement: the deadline for the Potlatch 16 Writers’ Workshop has been extended to February 9. Manuscripts must be received by then. Pros for the workshop include Mary Rosenblum, Jay Lake, L. Timmel Duchamp, and Dave Goldman.

Had a delightful lunch today at the home of Mary Robinette Koval, with Jay Lake and others, welcoming a new writer to town. Excellent conversation and wonderful food. Too bad Mary’s moving to New York soon. Several people threatened to steal her distributor cap or otherwise make it impossible for her to leave.

I haven’t posted lately because I don’t feel I have a lot of progress to report. I’ve been writing 100-200 words a day and it feels like work… though I see from the total above that even a couple hundred words a day does add up if you just keep plugging away at it. I’ll be taking the train to work tomorrow and that generaly allows me to produce a goodly quantity.

As to the quality of those words… I feel that they’re terribly flat and stale. Things are happening, and I think that at least one of my two protagonists is definitely acting in a protagonisty fashion (in my novels, at least, my primary flaw is protagonists who are too passive and reactive), but I’m unhappy with the quality of the prose. On the other hand, when I read over chapters 1-2 before sending them for critique they didn’t seem all that bad. I am certainly too close to the work to make an unbiased judgement.

A snippet:

Rachel had brought two folding chairs and a small table into the alien ship, and she sat with the tablet in front of her. She and the aliens communicated through a combination of speech and touching pictures on the tablet. The aliens’ language was a series of growls, ticks, hisses, and purrs that the tablet translated into English in a genderless voice with an awkward, jerky intonation. Everything the tablet said sounded hesitant. Rachel wondered what her own translated words sounded like to the aliens.

“We have no intention of harming the singularity,” she said for the dozenth time in as many different ways. A moment later, the tablet purred and spat out something she hoped meant the same thing. “I don’t think it’s even possible for us to damage it.”

The one called Kurrth, or something like that, growled a reply. “You, must remain, at least four, thousand eight hundred twenty, light-seconds? distant, from, the singularity,” the tablet said. The distance was probably a nice round number in the alien’s measurement system.

Other writing news: I just sold science fiction story “Babel Probe” to the brand new online science fiction magazine Darker Matter. It’ll be in the first issue, which is scheduled for March 1. This story has been kicking around for a long, long time (I wrote the first draft in 24 hours, based on characters and a situation generated at random, as a pre-Clarion challenge) and I’m pleased that it’s finally found a home.

The other day we had the furnace guy in for Ferman’s annual checkup. Kate says that when he came in the house he stopped dead as soon as he saw the Hugo. “Do you read science fiction?” she asked. “Does a carnivore… never mind,” he replied. They talked about SF the whole rest of the time he was there.

Much of my non-work, non-writing time has been taken up by computer maintenance stuff. I replaced the cheap piece of crap wireless access point provided by my ISP with a Ruckus MediaFlex router which has a cool skiffy blinking dome on top and seems to be successful at resisting the interference that brought the old AP to its knees. Unfortunately, networking is a black art and the replacement took nearly an entire day before everything was working the way I wanted. And the printer for which I just bought sixty bucks of ink cartridges has started acting up — it’s seven years old and it goes off to la-la land after printing each page. I suspect the paper handling mechanism has just worn out and there may be nothing to do but replace it.

Apart from the writing, I need to focus on getting ready for the trip to Singapore and Thailand — we leave in less than a week. We just found out about Singapore’s Tiger Balm Gardens and it sounds like something I want to see. But for now, what I need to do to get ready for the trip is go to bed.