Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I’m still working on the same piece, a dumbed-down version of Beethoven’s Für Elise, three weeks into piano-ownership. It’s not the only thing I’m working on, but it’s the one consistent piece I play every time I practice.
I don’t know if I’m getting any better, but I’m definitely getting faster. On Day 2, it took me 3:46 to play it; on Day 10, 2:12. Tonight, I finished the piece in 1:49. I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns when it comes to improving my speed, although I’ve also fixed that errant D-natural from the last play-through. Here’s the video:
Day 10 with the new piano, and I’m still working on Beethoven’s Für Elise. Here’s today’s practice video:
After I recorded this, the Siren pointed out a place about 2/3 of the way through where I was hitting D-natural instead of D-sharp, and explained that when a note is sharp at the beginning of a measure, it’s sharp all the way through unless there’s a “natural” symbol at some point. Who knew? I’ll get that right the next time.
I’m typing this out a bit at a time while we’re decorating the new, artificial Christmas tree. I’ve got a pumpkin spice soy latte from the Starbucks around the corner, and we’re listening to The Cinnamon Bear, a children’s Christmas serial from the days of old time radio. We listen to The Cinnamon Bear every year, usually one episode a day, but this year we kept forgetting to hunt down the CDs so now we’re catching up on two weeks of episodes all at once, thrilling to the adventures of Judy and Jimmy as they search through Maybeland with Paddy O’Cinnamon, the Crazy-Quilt Dragon and their friends as they try to recover the silver star for the top of their Christmas tree. “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the silver star,” as Judy always says. (One caveat: I linked to a set of the CDs on Amazon, but it isn’t the same set we have, which isn’t available anymore, so I can’t vouch for the sound quality.)
Junior pointed out that in real life, it really is Christmas, because we have our silver star for the top of our tree. What do you put on the top of yours, if you have one?
How many miles did you — oh, never mind: Yeah, I skipped the run altogether today. Junior is sick (still? again? who knows?), and was a lot needier than last Sunday morning. Also, we went to two holiday parties last night, which were great fun and left me a wee bit tuckered out. I did get a couple of 4+ mile runs in during the week and Unfocused Girl and I went to taekwondo yesterday for the first time in three weeks, so I haven’t been a complete lump.
What’s been playing on the iPod? Among my regular podcast subscriptions, J.C. Hutchins has a cool series of video podcasts about a mysterious silver case and a sinister videogame release; Mur Lafferty released episode #106 of I Should Be Writing (“Don’t Panic!”); and Escape Pod has pushed out several episodes of flash fiction from its Flash Fiction Contest (the winner: “Mission to Dover,” by Gideon Fostick). Each of these podcasts is available through the link to the podcaster’s site and through iTunes. Last week I posted about Writing Excuses, which I found from the recommendation of another blogger (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten who — it was a blog I came across during some semi-random surfing). That same blogger also pointed me to The Kissy Bits, a podcast from 2005-2006 about writing romance. The host, Kiki, is an aspiring chick-lit author. I don’t know who her intended audience is for the podcast, but in the episodes I’ve listened to (#8 through the final episode, #17, which are all available on iTunes; all episodes, including #1-#7, appear to be available on her blog), she has done a nice job explaining to those of us who don’t read romance novels the different character archetypes, plot skeletons, and given solid advice on writing the “kissy bits.” I plan to listen to the first seven episodes this week. In one of the blog comments, Kiki says she may come back with more episodes in 2009 — I hope she does. As always, I appreciate any recommendations (and if you make a recommendation in the comments, I won’t lose it).
How’s the writing going? Not badly at all. The One-Pass Revision of Meet the Larssons is going slowly but well. I’m through page 105, and I just finished what used to be Chapter 10 and is now Chapter 3. I’m still doing at least as much rewriting as editing, but I now have several pages in my “done” pile that have just a few minor edits instead of looking like I broke open a fountain pen on top of them.
Actually, just two, but still. Here they are:
The outlining for Project Hometown is going well, too — up to 6,125 words as of Friday evening. I hope to finish all of the minor character synopses this week, and then move on to the expanded plot synopsis.
As I mentioned before, the Mrs. and I went to two parties last night: one given by neighbors, the other given by friends we know through my office. At the party given by our neighbors, my wife ran into Mary Osborne, a woman she had met at this neighbor’s house a few months ago; they got to talking, and the Mrs. found out that Mary is also an unpublished novelist, so the Mrs. introduced us — we were on our way out, so we only had a minute to chat, but it was an interesting experience, because since I’ve started writing I haven’t met any other unpublished writers, except for the members of the one crit group meeting I attended. Mary’s got two books finished and her website — which has the first chapter of each available for download — just went live.
What was interesting about the whole experience is that if I had been left to my own devices, there would have been no chance at all that I would have learned that Mary was a novelist. Because I’m not very good at conversations that go past “what do you do?” If you’ve got a day job and write fiction at night, or early in the morning, or whatever, you’ve got to be really confident in your writing (or really disenchanted with your day job) to say “I write novels” or “I write science fiction” or “I write chick-lit” in response to that question. Maybe Mary does. I don’t. Someday I will, but not yet.
One more thing: Saint Lucia Day was great. The cinnamon rolls were very tasty (and we had to change our sheets because of all the crumbs), the coffee was delicious, and Unfocused Girl was very cute in her Lucia gown and battery-powered candle-bedecked crown. Here’s a picture to prove it:
Then we sat around watching the Swedish chef on Youtube. Here’s a sample:
Hope you’re having a good long weekend. We’ve been pretty laid back here at Stately Unfocused Manor; we had some friends over for dinner on Saturday, and mostly just hung out yesterday. School started for Junior on Wednesday; Unfocused Girl starts at her new school (now with extra distance from home!) tomorrow. I can’t believe she’s going into second grade. I hope the new school works out — it’s a new building with great facilities, but a school isn’t just a building, and it’s going to be a big change from the Montessori program we’re used to.
Miles run: 11.75 miles, in 1:51:08. I took it slowly, because I’ve added a lot of weekday miles lately and was kind of wiped, and because it was really hot — I finished my entire water bottle at the turnaround point. The important thing was to get my long run mileage up from 10 — the Chicago Half Marathon is in two weeks, and while I’m not looking to set a PR, I don’t want to feel as unprepared as I did last year.
How’s the writing going? I’m so glad you asked. I wrote 899 words of Meet the Larssons (87,776 and counting). I was distracted by the Democratic National Convention (anyone remember that? Denver? Speeches? Anyone? Bueller?) and by a short story that wanted to be written. I’m trying to keep the short story — I don’t have a good working title for it yet, so let’s just call it “Secretary-General” for now — to under 5,000 words, which would fit within the guidelines of most s.f. markets, and is about right for the story anyway. So far, it’s at 3,656 words, all written this week. I probably wrote the last 2,000 words on Friday; the Mrs. went to bed early, and I stayed up late. I know that I shouldn’t let myself get distracted by other ideas while I’m working on the novel, that I should just write them down and get back to work on MTL until the first draft is done. I try, I really do, although that kind of mental discipline doesn’t come easily to me. When an idea is just an idea, I can put it aside; I email myself a note about it, with “Idea” in the subject line, and I can forget about it. Sometimes, though, like TTB and now SG, I get more than just an idea, I get the whole story in my head, and in order to get it down so I don’t lose it, I essentially have to just write the damn thing. It doesn’t mean the story’s good, or really complete, but it does mean that I have trouble focusing on anything else until I get it down.
Rather than comment on the selection of Gov. Palin as McCain’s running mate (is he pandering to the religious right or to Hillary voters? It’s a mystery!) or Hurricane Gustav’s advance on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, since those topics are being more thoroughly hashed out elsewhere, I’ll leave you with the hysterical Large Hadron Rap:
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