Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekend Update

Good morning! Disorganized rambling from me today....

-Went to visit the triplet nieces this weekend. They turned four a week ago. Last time I saw them (1-1/2 years ago) they pretty much ignored me. By the end of that weekend, I think I was able to sit on the floor and have them play around me, but they didn't play with me, they didn't pay any attention to me at all. This time? Whoo, boy, I'm exhausted, especially after doing a couple of sessions as Uncle Jungle Gym. What a lot of fun!

-We were visiting about 4.5 hours south of here. What a difference it makes in the weather! We are past peak here in terms of foliage, had two brief snow squalls on the 17th and 18th, and woke up today to 25 degrees or so. Down there, foliage is just coming to peak, which made for a  beautiful drive. When we left yesterday afternoon, it was sunny and warm and felt like it was in the 60s. Yes, I'm a trifle jealous!

-I didn't realize Stephenie Meyer's Twilight...update? was coming out so soon. When I read about it, just a week or two ago, I figured it was due out next year. I'm not sure how I feel about this. The cynic in me says it's the quick grab for cash, or the mark of someone who's shot her authorial load. Here's something of a review from the folks over at Operation Awesome. I should note here that I've tried never to be one of those people who bashes Meyer for her books. I confess I read--and enjoyed--Twilight, even while recognizing some of its shortcomings in writing and what constitutes a healthy relationship (however, I will also suggest it's potentially less damaging than some would make it out to be--it's a fantasy, for God's sakes. More on that some other time, perhaps.). The fact is the woman told a story and she told it pretty well, and she tapped into something that people obviously needed. Kudos to her! Anyway, I may read this book some day, just to see what it's like, I don't know.

-I missed two days of work last week because of a bad cold (oh, it was bad), then was out Friday to travel for the weekend. I'm not so sure I'm going to be able handling being in the office all week!

-Time to get really, really serious about my current manuscript, which feels like it wants to wither on the vine. Or like I want to spray Roundup all over it and kill it. Maybe I need to go back and read last week's post about what I write and see if I need a refocus.

-I don't think I've posted this video before. Really like the sound of this band, or at least this song.

-That's it for me--how are you all?

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Thought On Theme, Or What It's All About

Here I am at five in the morning, posting because I can't sleep, not sleeping because I picked up a cold with a really bad sore throat over the weekend. Here I am also writing about my writing for the first time in forever! My apologies for all the rants lately, and thanks for sticking around.

One of the unexpected discoveries of my birthday bash/reunion weekend last month was that one of my old friends is/was working on a novel of his own. This came up when someone asked me, "How's the writing going?" and the almost-inevitable follow-up, "What do you write?" This second is a question that I stumble badly with, as I think I've mentioned before. After stammering my way through a plot summary and trying to find a way to define it ("It's not a genre, but it's not quite literary, but blah, blah, blah"), my friend mentioned his novel, something he started working on a few yeas back when he was commuting via train. He said his novel was currently 400 manuscript pages, that he expected it to top out around 800 (!) when he was finally done--and then he would cut it from there. The problem for him, he said, is that he is no longer commuting, so he's not really writing.

At this point, he gave us a good, solid plot summary (and it sounded pretty interesting, I have to say) and then talked about what the book is actually about--"It's about personal responsibility," he said, and then some more that I don't quite remember, but he was very clear, and I was very jealous because I still find it extremely difficult to talk about what I write without feeling overly self-conscious and a little pretentious. And, there is a certain degree of mushiness in  there. He's writing a book  that's themed around personal responsibility--what is my theme?

Well, as it turns out, there are themes that run through my writing. Looking back over the manuscripts I've completed--and even the one I didn't really finish (my first NaNo) and the one I haven't really started yet, I can see a couple of themes running through. The trend is for main characters who are--or feel like--outsiders. They're trying to find acceptance, trying to find their place in the world, whether that world be within the confines of society at large, a small, somewhat insular town, or their own family. It's not, I suppose an uncommon theme, and maybe I can drill down a little deeper and define it even more than that, but maybe it will be enough, and the next time someone asks, I'll be able to answer without sounding like a fool.

Editing to ADD: Critique Time Over at Carrie's! Submit your query for a chance to be critiqued! Great opportunity!

Monday, October 12, 2015

And Again...The Chestnut

Here in this corner of America, Memorial Day marks the start of summer, Labor Day the end. Yet Columbus Day is, in many ways, the real end of the tourist season (though to be fair, fall foliage is just peaking now, and then there's hunting season--but neither of those things really do a lot compared to the summer). With that in mind (and because, quite honestly, I just didn't have the brain power for a *real* post today), I bring you...the chestnut.

Four leaves this year!

Well, as you can see, this wasn't exactly a banner growing season for my little American chestnut. This was the last photo I posted, back in May, when it was just starting to bud. This is not a great picture, granted. The new main stem did not put a lot of growth on this year; perhaps an inch, if that. From what I understand, however, this may be the year. The little tree should have been putting most of its energy into the root system. Next year is the critical one. Next year, if all goes well, the energy put into the roots this year (and last, to some extent), should fuel a pretty big growth spurt. Let's hope so.

In other news, I'm happy to say I spent my Columbus Day doing a lot of writing, probably close to 5 hours total time between this morning and early afternoon. Sadly, I spent some time listening to the Bruins' game this afternoon, and that was a mistake. It's early in the season, but things are looking mighty grim for them right now. After the front office made some head-scratching moves this summer that left the team with questionable depth, especially on defense, the team got hit with three big injuries right out of the gate. I shall try not to be pessimistic.

I hope you all had a nice weekend! Anything interesting happen?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Enough Already

I feel like I've used this title once already for something very similar. If so, that's sad--not that I'm repeating myself, but that I have to.

On Sunday, after watching a flood of anti-Obama memes fly across my Facebook feed, I posted the following (this is verbatim, except for one spelling error, and a link that was not in the original):

Since Thursday, my Facebook feed has been flooded with comments and shares and likes related to the terrible shooting in Roseburg. Unfortunately, most of these are not about the mass murder itself, but about President Obama's reaction and statement about it. Most of THOSE comments have been negative (which is putting it mildly).

I get that you don't like Obama, but here's the thing: THIS IS NOT ABOUT OBAMA. Put your hatred for the man aside and look instead at yet another pile of bodies—do you want to see that again? I get your concern about anything that may infringe on your constitutional right to bear arms, but don't you think this stuff has got to stop? Instead of firing off the usual, knee-jerk statements (you know how they go: "guns don't kill people..." and "when guns are outlawed..." and "It only takes one good man with a gun...", etc.) let me ask you this: WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST? Because what we got? It's not working. Status Quo? Not an option. Archie Bunker-style "Pass out the pistols"? Not an option.

Stop making it about Obama and start offering up ideas.
I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea that we should gather all the guns and melt them down--the vast majority of gun owners are, I'm sure, law-abiding citizens who would not take a life unless they felt they absolutely had no choice. And I don't know what the solution is. As I said, what we're doing now is not working.

I'm glad to say I actually got a couple of reasonable responses from people, one of whom is definitely anti-Obama (though he also pointed out his anti-Obama position is the result of what Obama as done, which is fair) and decidedly pro-gun. I didn't necessarily agree with all he had to say, but I respect the fact that he (mostly) kept to the issue, and that he didn't retreat to the "You'll pry my gun from my cold, dead hands!" position that so many others take. Let's hope more people in government can do the same. Something's gotta give.