Month: November 2006 Page 1 of 4

Two hour snow delay!

Woot!

And maybe Newt Gingrich will die before 2008, which would also be good news.

(Via BoingBoing.)

Soundtrack.

The Magic Thread was written almost entirely to the tunes of Massive Attack. One Saturday, in fact, almost six hours of catching up was completed to the song “Karmacoma.”

“You’re sure you want to be with me I’ve got nothing to give…”

Book Review: The Tale of Genji

By Yoshitaka Amano.

This is a little, illustrated book inspired by the original The Tale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki. The artist is the same person who illustrated Neil Gaiman’s The Dream Hunters.

I had high hopes for this book; I loved the art in The Dream Hunters. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t finished the original Tale of Genji, but it seems pointless, meaningless. Naked, gracefully drawn people, their genitalia covered by luxurious robes, lounge around and look pitiful.

Yep. That’s the whole book. Unless you have a serious nipple-and-robe fetish, this will be almost entirely meaningless. Maybe, if writer had focused on only one of the stories, and let the artist draw scenes with some kind of meaningful conflict/action to them, it would be worthwhile, but this is…well, I’m wasting your time, too, here. Later!

Book Reivew: The Book of Lost Things

By John Connolly.

I enjoyed this book, but it saddened me a little. I’ll explain that later.

First (or second) off, let me say that if you didn’t like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell you probably won’t like this book. It’s intended for, say, kids 11 and older, but it has the same sense of words that Strange does.

(Spoilers follow.)

The book is about a boy living in WWII Britain whose mother dies. After her death, everyone else moves on, and, eventually, the boy ends up with a stepbrother out in the country, trapped with his (believably human) stepmother in a big house with nothing for them to do but pick on each other while his father works long hours for the government. The boy, depressed, starts to hear his books talking, to him and with each other. He has fits and starts seeing things, including a disturbing crooked man. Eventually, he finds his way into another world, a fairytale land where the stories aren’t quite the ones that we know, but are very believable. For example, one of the characters tells the boy the true story about Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red disdained all the local boys. One day, taking treats to her bedridden grandmother, she saw a wolf in the woods, a wolf with enchanting eyes. She pursued the wolf relentlessly until he agreed to become her lover…and a race of werewolves was born.

And so on. The language is what you have to call poetic, although it’s really hypnotic. Rhythmic, soothing. “This is the way it is because this is the way it must always be” kind of thing. I loved the alternate (and more true-sounding) versions of fairy tales. The plot isn’t bad, the characters are okay…I’m damning with faint praise here.

Some books go like this: something terrible happens, and, against all odds, the protagonist manages to come up with a solution, and everyone lives happily ever after. But…the reader, no matter how convincing the solution is, feels this aching hollowness: the real story is that something terrible happened, and that was it. The end. No solution. That’s the feeling that I get with this book. The “happily ever after” is an illusion, and it seems like it was meant to be. Some people will probably like the book more because of it, but I feel…a little depressed. Happily ever after is an illusion, but it isn’t a cruel illusion. Happily ever after is a kind of gateless gate, the impenetrable barrier of adulthood. Only adults can see the true story of what happened afterwards; it’s sometimes happy, sometimes tragically sad, but it isn’t the nothingness that the phrase can summon up. I don’t really know how to explain it. But if you look at the story of Snow White from the vision of this story, Snow White died from the apple bite, and everything afterwards was a dream. The kind of happily ever after I understand is that she really did come back to life and marry the prince…and, years later, they got divorced, because they had other things they’d rather be doing. There’s a difference; I just don’t know how to define it very well. The meaning behind the story here isn’t something I can stand behind–I believe too much in life to do that–nevertheless, a good book.

Tangent

Amy Irving (the actress) did the singing voice for Jessica Rabbit.

Sinead O’Connor now sings reggae.

Done!!!

I am awesome. The first draft of The Magic Thread is finished!

That’s the good news…the bad news is that it’s only about 44K. I’m going to throw in my Storyball stories and do some brainstorming for a future novel rather than try to up the wordcount for Thread, because I’m burnt out on it right now…

Man. I put so many ellipses in the frickin’ first draft that it’ll be years before I break myself of that habit, I’ll wager.

Anyway, here’s my first shot at the premise of the book:

Sachi’s family has always possessed a magic thread that can ensure nothing is ever truly lost, but when the Snow Queen, Yukionna, steals Sachi’s mother, the shy and awkward Sachi isn’t sure even the thread can help her. Sachi and her childhood friend, Kano, make a deal with the fire demigod Kagu Tsuchi–the two 13-year olds will help him find and assemble his body parts (his father chopped him into pieces after Kagu burnt his mother to death), if Kagu will help them save Hoshiko. The Magic Thread is a story about the ties of family, love, and hate.

I was thinking about Shojo (girly) manga/anime while I was writing this. My goal will be to (eventually, after editing) make my sisters weep. Waaaahhh!!! Actually, I want to see this as an anime. If nothing else, I think the magic thread sequences could be awesome…like the (damn elipses) green-smoke sequences from The City of Lost Children.

Anyway, time to go screw around for a while. Woot!

Crunch Time

Apologies, all. I won’t be posting much until the beginning of December, as I’m trying to finish my NaNoWriMo novel, and everything else is getting pushed aside. Especial apologies to the Storyball cohorts…I will get caught up, but it may not be until after the first. With heroic effort, I should be able to finish. Without heroic effort…thbbbbt. And my left wrist hurts. I’ve been writing this out longhand (it seems to be the only thing that’s working) and retyping it as I go along. Every time I get to an exciting part, I tense up. Writer’s cramp! I keep thinking of that Monte Python skit.

“It’s not all gala lunches!”

Hopefully, my daughter will eventually have the chance to rebel against my creative lifestyle and become a miner. Although maybe not a miner: too dangerous.

Inspiring…

I received the following e-mail from NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty:

Dear Author,

You remember those overachieving participants I talked about in last week’s email? The ones speeding past us with word counts in the 20,000s, and “kick me” signs fluttering from their backs?

Most of them will be cruising into the 50,000-word winners’ circle this week.

Sheesh.

But you know what? I’ve been doing a little research. And I’ve discovered that thousands of participants haven’t written word *one* of their books. Which makes those of us with more than 10,000 words to our name look pretty darn good by comparison. Not as far ahead as we’d like to be, maybe. But nowhere near out of contention.

And this is where I need to talk a little bit about 35K.

To me, there are two milestones in NaNoWriMo. The obvious one is 50k, when the champagne flows and the confetti falls, and your friends hoist you up on their shoulders and sing songs about your heroic novel-writing feat.

My favorite moment of the whole endeavor, though, comes at 35K. There’s less singing, mind you, but when you hit 35k, you won’t need a word-count tool to tell you you’re there. If Week Two had a wall of fatigue at its core; Week Three is built around this glorious, chocolate-covered door called 35K. That portal opens into a wonderland of renewed energy, revived bookish enthusiasm, and serious happy-dances at the computer keyboard.

Because when you pass 35k, the gravity of the whole event changes. Writing is easier. Plotting is easier. And at 35K, you will see something in the distance that is both wonderful and bittersweet.

You’ll see the end of this crazy noveling adventure.

We’ll talk more about that next week. For now, the only important thing is getting to 35K. For those of us in the lower rungs of the word-coun t bracket, that may seem an impossible feat. But as NaNoWriMo participants, we eat the impossible for breakfast.

And just to make sure you have everything you need for this week’s intense writing sessions, I’ve asked our technical overseer Russ to pack a little something extra into this email.

You see, eight years ago, while trekking across Tibet, I met an old yak farmer who lived alone in a small yurt filled with paperbacks. The older volumes were self-help guides to better living through topical applications of yak butter. But the more recent books included an array of detective fiction set in London, sci-fi tales about interplanetary wars between asparagus creatures, and a sassy series about a young woman just starting to make a name for herself in the publishing industry.

The farmer, it turns out, had written all of them.

When I asked him how he managed it, he explained that he’d found a secret totem on the s teppe that endowed its possessor with superheroic noveling powers.

I excitedly told him about my idea for founding a project where everyone in the world would write a 50,000-word novel from scratch. He wept. Then he went and dug out the brown, wooden totem, and placed it in my hand. “Share it with your people,” he said. “I don’t need it anymore. Book contracts have ceased to have any meaning for me since Bertelsmann AG bought Random House.”

He then lowered his sad eyes, and disappeared, leaving me with the curious object and keys to his yurt.

Thanks to that totem, I’ve managed to write a 50,000-word novel every year, overcoming dastardly word-count deficits and my own diabolical procrastinatory tendencies.

But now I think it’s time to pass the torch. This morning, I ground up the totem, and asked Russ to carefully imbed a tiny portion of it into every Week Three pep talk email. You have it no w, and its magical writerly effects will last at least through the end of the month, and probably much longer.

All I ask in return is that you honor the last request the old man made to me before riding off into the yak-filled sunset.

“Please be at 35,000 words by the end of Week Three,” he said. I nodded. I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I know now. As do you.

The challenge is mighty, but you are mightier still.

See you at 35K, writer!

Chris
NaNoWriMo
18,400 words, 4 yaks, and 1 jumbo latte

I’m ahead of Chris Baty!

New Tom Waits!

Orphans is coming out in a week or so.

Nerd.

Outcast Genius

100 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 52% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don’t care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.

Congratulations!

Thanks Again! — THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

(Duh. I could have told them I was 100% nerd…)

(via ***Dave)

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