Monthly Archives: January 2008

25K! Are we there yet?

I wrote approximately 900 words on the plane home tonight, which I just imported into Scrivener and which, apparently, pushed me over the 25,000 word mark to 25,091. I’d like to thank the pilot and co-pilot for a smooth ride, and my seatmate, who moved into another row even before the plane took over. If this were NaNoWriMo, I’d be halfway done by now, but Meet the Larssons will clearly be more than 50,000 words. I’m using 100,000 as my word count goal in the little progress bar widget on the sidebar, but of course I have no idea how long the thing is going to be.

I haven’t run a step in almost a week (not counting a sprint through the terminal to catch my plane tonight), and I can feel the lack of exercise. My mileage was way down last week, and is at zero for this week.

I keep tracking my word count on the book because like my weekly mileage for running, it’s the only metric I’ve got. I’m not far enough along in the storyline to be able to measure against the distance to the finish.

Sitting in the author chair after a long absence

Between 11:30pm on Wednesday night and this evening, the draft of Meet the Larssons grew by precisely zero words. I had day job obligations, and my mother came out for a long-awaited visit over the weekend, and then I had more work to do and packing for a business trip. This evening, though, I’m stuck in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I had dinner with a colleague, then I puttered around in the room for a while, but finally I couldn’t avoid it any more and sat down in front of my office (Windows, bleah) laptop, opened up the file containing Chapter 10 which I exported from Scrivener before I left, and started typing.

I typed a paragraph.

God, hotel rooms make me nuts. They’re so confining. There’s nowhere to pace. I can never sleep in hotel rooms. Apparently, I can’t concentrate worth a damn, either.

I needed music. My iPod is running low on juice, and I have no good music on my office computer, so I clicked on one of Yahoo! Music’s free Internet radio stations.

I checked my email. I got up to use the bathroom. I typed another paragraph. I went down to the lobby, got change, and bought a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine. I hate Diet Pepsi. I went back to my room.

I decided that I hated the music on the Internet radio station. I opened up iTunes. No good music.

I went to the iTunes store and bought an album I once listened to on permanent replay 18 hours a day for 10 days straight in my room while studying for Winter Quarter law school exams my second year, scaring the hell out of my roommates, so much so that they had a talk with Mrs. Unfocused (then known as the Unfocused Fiancee), which has to be a violation of the Code of Guys. She didn’t say anything until exams were over, for which I was profoundly grateful, but it was clear that I would be watched for signs of imminent psychotic breakdown until I got rid of the CD. Since I had actually borrowed it from a friend, I simply returned it after exams, and haven’t listened to it since.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I started playing the album. I felt less restless. I typed another three pages. Much better. I may have appeared a little deranged that exam period, but I was very, very productive.

All told, this evening I packed in another 1,037 words. For a few minutes there, though, I was a little concerned that coming back to the book after a few days off was going to be a problem. Apparently, a little familiar music — linked to a period when I sat in a small room for hours on end without leaving my chair — was all I needed.

If you’re in room 411 or room 415 and you can hear my music, though, I apologize. I’ll try to write without it tomorrow.

Weekend Assignment #200: When are you going?

Karen at Outpost Mavarin has posted another weekend assignment, and this time, I’m going to get it done before the last minute.

Weekend Assignment #200:
You’ve recently become friends with someone who unexpectedly reveals that he or she has a time machine, all tested out and ready for adventures. Your friend offers you one round trip to anywhere, anywhen, backwards or forwards in time. What’s your destination? Or would you rather just stay home?

Stay home? Are you kidding? This is the opportunity of a lifetime! See important historical events, resolve debates, maybe even engage in a well-placed assassination or two!

Or travel into the future, and learn what will happen next week, next month, or in the next century! Become as rich as Biff in Back to the Future 2 by betting on sports when you know the outcome of every game! (But, you know, be a better person.)

Which to choose?

As a long time reader and watcher of science fiction, I would be very concerned about traveling to the past. Science fiction writers have come up with three basic hypotheses for the impact of time travelers on the past: (1) the past is immutable, and nothing you do while traveling in the past can have any (significant) impact; (2) the past is not only mutable but fragile — travel into the distant past, crush a bug, and you may return to find the world ruled by a fascist dictatorship or aliens; or (3) the past can be changed, but any change creates a new parallel universe — the original history remains as it was, but a new one comes into existence as well, and you, the time traveler, may be trapped in it.

If my friend can’t tell me which hypothesis is correct, traveling into the past sounds too dangerous. What about traveling into the future? I’m perfectly happy to gain an unfair advantage by collecting newspapers from next week, next month, and next year to assist me in playing the stock market, but those tricks always seem to turn out badly — my stock market purchase could have a ripple effect on the markets that would change the future, and leave me broke instead of rolling in it. Sports betting might be the wiser choice after all; my bets might change the payout offered, but they would be unlikely to change the outcomes of the games, right? Right?

OK, never mind the gambling. I could just bring back an invention from the future, reverse engineer it, and give the world rocket packs (or whatever) a generation early! How could that go wrong?

I could just go to satisfy my own curiosity, I suppose. But wouldn’t that take all the fun out of life? And the Mrs. would probably leave me, just for being so annoying about my lack of surprise.

“Honey, look at this! An alien spaceship landed on the White House lawn last night and brought us the secrets to interstellar travel and curing dandruff! It’s the biggest news story ever!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Are we out of coffee again?”

Thwack (sounds of coffee pot hitting me on the head).

Maybe that’s not such a good idea, either. Screw it, I’m not going.

Extra Credit: The first trip is so wildly successful that your friend offers you one more trip, this time in the opposite direction. When are you going this time?

Assuming that the “opposite” of staying home out of sheer panic is decisively going somewhen, then I choose to go to the future and grab those stock market tables. What the hell.

Copyright, etc.

I’ve been mucking around with the intellectual property notice in the sidebar for the last day or two, trying to get the right balance between maintaining my rights in the work I publish here and allowing people to redistribute some of it if they’re interested in doing so. The way I have it set up now is that my regular blog posts are covered by a Creative Commons license, the Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license, which means that anyone can distribute the posts as long as they attribute Unfocused Me and, don’t change the post, and don’t charge for it. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to redistribute my blog posts, but I believe that at least some intellectual property ought to be freely distributable, and I sincerely doubt there is much economic value to me in retaining full copyright protection over these posts. My fiction, on the other hand, I intend to maintain full copyright in. I’m just getting back into writing fiction, but I’m writing it with an eye to eventual publication, and I don’t want to hurt my chances of getting something published by releasing the copyright here. I expect that over time, as I submit pieces for publication and they are rejected, I will decide that some stories have little or no chance of being accepted by a paying market, and that I will release those with a Creative Commons license as well.

Really, this is far more effort than I should be putting into this; it’s all time that I could have spent actually writing the novel or a real blog entry. I always thought copyright was an interesting area of the law, however, so now that I have the opportunity to tinker with it for my own work I really can’t resist.

In any event, I choose to be optimistic, and believe that it is at least possible that someone may want to copy and paste something I post here, so it’s better that I decide in advance the conditions under which I will let that happen.

Still working the day job

The day (and night) job has been interfering a little with my writing and blogging over the last few days. That’s not unexpected — biglaw is a demanding mistress (and she beats me, too). I assume smalllaw is equally demanding, in its own way, but I’ve never worked on that side of the street, so I have no idea.

Last night I had a networking event to go to and got home too late to write. The night before, I was cruising along on the novel when I made the mistake of checking my Blackberry, and saw 20 new messages, all received after 8pm, on one of my cases where something had happened. The next day, it turned out to be insignificant, but it killed my concentration for the evening.

So I’m still working the day job, which is just as well since my total earned income from writing is zero, at least since college (I had a paid, part-time job writing news briefs and the local events calendar for a newspaper in high school, and I may have gotten a small stipend as an editor at the college newspaper; if so, it was small enough that I don’t remember it). The day job, as day jobs do, has its own demands, and that’s the way it should be; it’s why they pay me. That’s the gig, and it’s not a bad one. It just interferes with the writing sometimes.

Would I quit the day job even if Meet the Larssons sold a gazillion copies and was made into a summer blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson? The Mrs. thinks I wouldn’t, or that I’d go bananas if I did. I’m not so sure, but I’d like to find out, if anyone wants to test me.

Running and Writing in Place

I made it to the gym today, finally. It’s been so damn cold I can’t bring myself to run outside (if the temperature is in the single digits, I’m not goin’ out there in tights), and I just haven’t had the energy to drag myself to the Y that early in the morning. On days like that (and like this), my only shot at a run or weightlifting is to go to the gym downtown during lunch, which is a 50-50 proposition at best, because as often as not, something comes up and I end up working through lunch and not having time to go.

Today I made it, and I would like to thank all the people who signed up for gym memberships for New Year’s and have now stopped going. There were plenty of open treadmills today, and I got there at the height of lunch hour.

I’m not going to spend much time writing about my runs here. If you’re interested, and God knows why you would be, I’m keeping my public training log at Buckeye Outdoors. When I talk about running on this blog, I expect to stick to races and extraordinary events.

That said, while I was running today, I came up with a couple of ideas for Meet the Larssons, which made me feel productive. I’ve heard other writers talking about getting ideas on their runs, but most of the time my day (and night) job occupies my attention on mid-day runs. I was glad for ideas about my current work in progress, frankly, because lately I’ve been spinning off more ideas for other projects, which will be great when the novel is done, but until then they’re just cluttering up my head.

There’s one I managed to write down this morning, which is a keeper. I came up with the situation for my next novel. I’ll probably use it for NaNoWriMo, unless I start working on it before November.

Fully migrated, and it feels so good

Every last gem has been laboriously imported by hand from Quick Blogcast to WordPress, with all of the loving care that this blog is known for.

I am out of excuses, and need to get back to writing the book. I’ve been listening to episodes of Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast over the last few days, and while I’ve gotten a lot out of it, the most important thing is that screwing around on the world wide internet web does not add to my word count.