Tag Archives: Random

Personal Writing Quirks

It’s been an off month for the writing, and the first week of January didn’t shape up too well either, what with the being sick and all. A few days of sitting on the couch reading comic books (mostly Y: The Last Man) and watching The Cosby Show on Hulu+ set me on the path to the mend, so here I am, your thrice weekly voice in your inbox, or wherever you read this blog.

Thursday is the two-year anniversary of the blog. If you’re interested we’re registered at Amazon, Bundle Dragon and B&N if you want to buy gifts (just kidding). Believe it or not, the blog was not really a New Year’s resolution back in 2012, which probably explains why I’m actually still doing it. It was, and still is, a great place for me to write about things I normally don’t make the time for, whether it’s thoughts on writing, little short story ideas, experiments, or the occasional techno-babble tirade.

I’d be concerned about the month gap in working on my novel were it not for the fact that this seems to be the way I work on every project. Observe:

1) My first finished novel draft, Atlantia, took four years to complete (back in highschool). At least 70% of the book was written in the last year.

2) Surreality’s initial draft and subsequent drafts were worked on steadily for a month or two, dropped then finished in a fit of productivity.

3) DM had about 30K words written before I set it aside for a while, then added another 170K words in about four months of straight work.

I wish I was the kind of writer who stuck to the X words a day every day way of working, and indeed I can keep it up for long periods. But something always seems to knock me off the rails for a bit. And when I get back on them it’s like I’ve thrown the third red log into the train to get it up to 88 MPH:

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Image Source: Futurepedia

I also seem to have a sinusoidal curve when it comes to ridiculous turns of phrase. My wife/editor tells me it’s every other chapter. I thought it had to do with my writing quickly, but even my slower 800 word per day pace has produced a few sentences that were upside-down and backwards, so to speak. This is after I’ve read the words out loud even.

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The trick to fixing it seems to be distance. No matter what my pace, if I’m looking at something I wrote today, I’m probably not going to find every flaw. Which admittedly is why some of these blog posts are a little imperfect, thank you again for your understanding of this. But put a week between me and the piece, and suddenly I am an editor again.

One more quirk. When I was shooting for 1600 words a day it took about an hour. Now that I’m shooting for 800 words a day it can take 30 minutes to two hours! I think some of this has to do with endurance training. If you write 1600 words a day for many days, it will seem normal and a reflex. My 800 word pace is a little more in flux because of trying to decide between rewriting, reworking or regurgitating existing text (okay not so much that last one but I could come up with another “re” word. Maybe reconstituting?). When I blog, 500-600 words comes easily in 25-40 minutes, as long as I’ve been consistent the last few weeks. Today for instance, it’s a little longer.

In other words writing every day makes writing every day easier. Who’d thought?

What are some quirks to your writing process? Are you pretty consistent, or a little more see-saw like me?

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20 Ways To Avoid Writing

  1. Sleep: “20 more minutes will make my morning writing session go so much better.”
  2. Read comic books: “Sandman is practically literature, and Fables is good since Once has gone downhill.”
  3. Watch TV: “I can’t believe I’ve let five Parks and Rec stack up on the DVR!”
  4. Play with your dog: “Who’s a good boy!”
  5. Eat Mexican Food: “I definitely won’t be feeling sluggish after eating this burrito. More queso!”
  6. Watch Football: “Is that good enough for you BCS? Did we win convincingly this time?”
  7. Play a video game: “Ooh! New Wadjet Eye on GOG! And a new Indie Royale Bundle!”
  8. Do writingish things: “Let’s reformat this one more time. Time to generate another eBook copy.”
  9. Eat Pizza: “Papa John’s, Donato’s , Belleria, Anges or Pizza House?”
  10. Do a character study for a future book: “I’m going to look at this when I write this book in two years.”
  11. Play with technology: “What’s the right combination of books, apps and videos to have on my tablet right now?”
  12. Delete your e-mail: “Stupid G-mail. Why delete it? Because I have 30,000 e-mails that’s why!”
  13. Eat Chinese Food: “I don’t know what yum yum sauce is but I could drink the stuff.”
  14. Clean up your office: “Or I could just go to a coffee shop to work again.”
  15. Look at Facebook: “That George Takei is amazing. Eau My cologne? Priceless.”
  16. Look at WordPress: “I think I need a new header, and where’s code for a progress bar?”
  17. Look at Sales Stats: “Woohoo! Someone else loves fractals!”
  18. Play with your cat: “Ouch!”
  19. Drink Fancy Beer: “I love a good Scottish Porter. You know it’s good if you can’t see through it.”
  20. Write a list instead of a blog post. “I’m sure no one will mind!”

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15 Things You Didn’t Know About Me (Or Wish You Didn’t)

In the continuing spirit of “getting to know you” and my fondness for lists, here are some things you may not know about me:

1) The first story I ever wrote was about the Muppet Babies.

2) The first detective story I ever wrote was “Detective Ben”. He wore glasses, and solved the mystery of the missing corn dog sticks at the Canfield Fair.

3) Between 6th-8th grade I wrote a number of stories in a fan Star Trek series called Star Trek 25 (they took place in the 25th century). The main ship was the Excalibur (written before Peter David’s New Frontier series I might add), and the captain’s name was Benjamin Randolph who had been brought forward from the 20th century to command the Excalibur. His first officer was named Chris after my first best friend.

4) My favorite Enterprise is NCC-1701-A.

5) The first nickname I can remember giving a girlfriend was Imzadi (thanks again Peter David). It means “beloved” in Betazoid.

6) The sci-fi series Atlantia is a part of was first conceived in the 7th grade, from a series of ship schematics I drew on graph paper. I assure it has evolved quite a bit since then (I know SVG).

7) I spent a year in the 9th grade writing a Star Trek episodic game for the TI-83 calculator (in the Star Trek 25 universe). The text would not fit on the calculator’s memory and had to be included in a separate booklet (a la Wasteland).

8) I have worn the same size shoes since about the 7th grade, size 14.

9) My beard was cultivated in my freshman year of college. Earlier attempts were patchy and kinda skeevy looking.

10) At various points in my life my wife has been able to French braid my hair. She is threatening to do the same to my beard.

11) I have watched an episode of Power Rangers within the last year (damn you Netflix!)

12) I used to record episodes of Home Improvement off the radio and listen to them instead of watch them.

13) I used to root for Michigan *sob*.

14) In the 6th grade during our Shakespeare showcase I gave a speech that began with the line “Oh it is excellent to have a giant’s strength”.

15) There is a Trube song. It is to the tune of Zombie by the Cranberries. It is not about me, however, but my Dad. The only song about me I can remember is “Ben Trube from Alabama, king of the wild frontier” from Boy Scouts. I’m not sure why I’m from Alabama.

Anyone else want to share?

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Hey, It’s Friday!

Or is Thursday, since that’s when I’m writing this post?

Philosophical arguments aside I thought I’d share with you a couple of quick things that are making me happy.

First up, Pomplamoose:

This is from one of the many other bundles available on Bundle Dragon, and has been stuck in my head for the last week along with these:

Quirky huh?

If you at all like what you’re hearing you can check them out at: http://contemusic.bundledragon.com/cintro.

And if you missed it check out this great interview from M. S. Fowle. I promise I’ll work on my car taste at some point.

On Monday a certain Brian D. Buckley is conducting his own interrogation of yours truly. Trust me, no one else could ask me some of the questions this man has come up with. I got chills, serious chills.

Regular programming will resume on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

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What Engineers Do When They’re Bored

IMG_3920_mod3

This a picture of the bulletin board in our break area at work (documents altered to protect the innocent). Every day for the last two weeks or so, someone (or possibly more than one person) has been adding an item to the board. Speculations abound as to which item was first though many suspect it was the Maxwell house at the center. The square with the ring shaped bulge is the decaf. And yes, those are stirrers in the cup.

What item do you think will be added today?

PS (The Purel is not attached to the board, but sitting on top of the microwave below this picture).

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Copy Center “Two For The Price Of One”

Wrote this back in 2009. Think of it like one of Bob Newhart’s telephone routines. Enjoy!

“Copy Center Support Hotline.  If your problems are double, we’ll fix ’em no trouble.  Your call may be monitored for training and quality purposes.  How may I help you today?”

“Yes, this is the Copy Center that makes clones.”

“No, sir, it’s not a silly question.  Sometimes the phone books aren’t always clear about the listings and put us in with office supply chains.  It’s actually helped me to learn a lot more about paper than I ever wanted to know.”

“Yes, it really is common.  It’s kind of ironic though, since our founder once worked as a copy machine repair man before he got into this business.  Guess it sort of inspired him, you know.  Anyway what can I help you with today?”

“You’d like to place a complaint.”

“Yes, you have reached the right department.  What is the nature of your complaint sir?  We aim to provide you with every satisfaction.”

“Really, I’m sorry about the wait sir.  Most of our callers are directed right on through.  An hour is quite a while to be on the phone.  I’ll have to speak with my…”

“Oh, I’m sorry on your lunch hour…”

“What would have been your lunch hour.  I’m not sure I quite catch your meaning.”

“Oh, I see, you lost your job, I’m sorry to hear that sir.  This recession has been tough on all of us.  I’m really sorry about the wait.  We’ve been increasing our call staff.”

“Well the usual way, sir, we’ve got about a hundred mes, I’m Mandy 75 by the way.”

“You’ll need the number if you’d like to comment on my service to you later.”

“Yes I wouldn’t want to keep you any longer.  What is it you were concerned about sir?”

“Your job, yes you did tell me you lost it.  I’m afraid we do all our hiring from within.  Our sales staff are copied of our founder, Harold Emmett.”

“I’m sorry I thought you might be calling about a job vacancy, since the company is expanding every day.  How did you lose your job?”

“A clone we made for you?  Would you hang on a minute sir while I pull up the details of your case.  By the way sir, what is your name?”

“Alright, I’m looking that up now.  Yes there you are.  You had Monday’s Harold Emmett correct?”

“There’s one for every day of the week.  I just wanted to make sure I had the details of this sale correct.  Now it says here you purchased one of our technical models.  I presume you bought this for the purpose of replacing you at work?”

“I’m sorry that was poorly phrased.  I meant to say so that you could spend more time away from the office.”

“Well as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with a little vacation, or even a long one.  After all our main sales staff is only here one day of the week, and I myself only work half days three times a week.”

“So you did use the clone at work.  It says here on the sales receipt you chose the basic social skills package, opting out of our premium package.”

“We believe it is worth any extra expense, especially in cases like yours.  Was your clone rude to your boss?”

“Promoted?  Well our technical models are very focused in their work, though with the social package you purchased he wouldn’t have made very good company on dates.”

“Well I don’t suppose you were planning on having him replace you in those areas sir.  Some of our married clients like to have someone to help out with the romance part of their lives, if they have work they’d rather accomplish.  But that doesn’t sound like you.  Maybe you’d better explain what happened when you had the clone stand in for you.”

“How did your boss find out it wasn’t you?”

“I’m sure you were careful to tell the clone everything he needed to know on the days you were in, and we guarantee the memory of our clones, so you should have received an accurate account.”

“Had a little snafu with the scheduling, I see.  So you both went to work on the same day.”

“Yeah, I’ve slept through my share of alarms before.  Did the clone go in to cover for you?”

“Well his heart was in the right place.  You didn’t find any kind of a note?”

“Well I don’t suppose it would be as helpful to find it when you got home.  Still you must have had some way of realizing your clone had gone to work before your boss saw you.  Did the clone usually stay at home when you were out?”

“No, I understand it can be a little boring sitting around the house all day.  Still it sounds like the clone was acting in your best interest, after all he is you.”

“I am not making light sir, I’m just saying these things can happen without the proper planning.  What happened when you got to work?”

“You were late for a presentation, and you walked in on your clone already giving it.  Was this in front of your boss?”

“And the shareholders.”

“No, you’re right, that sounds pretty embarrassing.  My boss probably wouldn’t be pleased either.”

“Well I’m just saying if there were only one of me to begin with.”

“No I’m afraid you can’t return him for a refund.  We have a strict no returns policy, given that we’re actually talking about real human beings.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.  How did you try to explain him?”

“You tried to pass him off as your twin brother?”

“Yes sir, we’ve actually heard of a lot of people trying that, though they don’t tend to weigh and look exactly the same in real life.”

“Well he should be very good at finishing your sentences at least.”

“You have to admit it was a bit of a long shot sir.  I mean if your brother was standing in for your presentation, why would you bother to come in at all, and for that matter wouldn’t he have his own work to be doing?”

“Your boss said all that, and what else?”

“Well I think calling you that was a little out of line too.  After all, clones are becoming an accepted part of society now.  I am sorry to hear about all of this but I don’t see what we…”

“That’s not the worst part…”

“Well tell me sir, what is?”

“He liked the presentation?  We do take pride in our work sir.”

“So because of the presentation your clone got promoted.”

“For half pay?  That does seem a bit drastic.”

“Yes we do design our clones to work off fusion based sources of energy.  It’s part of our program to prevent over population, or at least some of the problems associated with it.  Our clones should only need to eat once every couple of months or so.  And any emissions are very green.”

“Well I guess you wouldn’t need as much money if you weren’t buying any food.”

“I understand you still need to eat.  Have you thought about trying to get yourself hired as your assistant?”

“Hello, sir?”

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Forty Minute Story (“Future Self”)

“John, see that bloke across the street?”

“Where?”

“The one in the white shirt buying coffee.”

“I think you’ll have to be more specific.”

“He’s right at the front of the line!”

“What kind of coffee is he drinking?”

“How should I bloody know?! He’s across the street! You see him?”

“Of course, Dave. We’ve been talking about him for the last 30 seconds. What about him?”

“That’s my new boss, Brian.”

“I didn’t know video store clerks had bosses, Dave.”

“What? Of course they do, and I haven’t worked at the rental shop for at least three months.”

“Oh smart move. I don’t know who rents movies anymore. Where d’you work now?”

“Bookstore. Anyway, Brian’s me future self.”

“I don’t know if owner of a bookshop is the best life goal, Dave.”

“No, I don’t look up to him, I mean he’s me, from the future.”

“But he’s at least two inches taller than you.”

“A man can still grow after his twenties right?”

“I suppose so. How d’you know he’s you? Has he said anything?”

“No. It’s just a sense I have. I’ve thought it since the moment I saw him.”

“Even though he doesn’t look a thing like you.”

“They have plastic surgery! Maybe I’ve been sent back for some kind of mission, to change a critical point in my life.”

“Like preventing yourself from working at a bookshop?”

“No, I’m serious. Maybe it’s a dangerous relationship, some woman takes me for half me money.”

“You haven’t had a date in six months.”

“Well time travel isn’t the most reliable is it? Maybe he got here earlier than he planned and is waiting for the time to be right. Or he’s building up trust with his younger self so that I’ll believe him when he tells me what he’s come here to do.”

“That does sound like something you’d do.”

“Look I know it sounds like I’ve been watching too much sci-fi, but it’s a sense I can’t shake.”

“Oh, I know people are here from the future. I just can’t imagine what they’d need to do with you.”

“Pardon?”

“Well it’s obvious isn’t it? Take Conan O’Brien, his future self’s been walking around for years.”

“Really? Who?”

“Donald Trump, isn’t it obvious? Why do you think they used to work at the same network?”

“Trump?”

“Think about it. Conan’s never really gotten over the whole Tonight Show thing. Sure he seems cool about it now but add another ten years and he’ll become a bitter malicious old sod. What better way to take revenge than to amass a huge fortune, and tell a bunch of celebrities they’re fired.”

“But Trump’s so much shorter than Conan?”

“Well that doesn’t matter does it? Your future self is taller. Maybe height can be whatever you choose in the future.”

“What about the hair?”

“Well if I’m not mistaken your Brian’s wearing a rug. Maybe jumping back in time causes you to lose your hair.”

“You’ve gone daft man.”

“No, I’m serious. Here’s another one. Daniel Radcliffe, y’know Harry Potter?”

“I believe I’ve heard of him.”

“Well he’s obviously John Oliver.”

“Who?”

“The summer host of The Daily Show.”

“I’d thought Jon Stewart was looking better these days.”

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