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Rewriting, It’s What’s for Dinner ( #amwriting )

Rewrote the first scene of Model Species. Then cut 10% of it, word-count wise. Lean prose. I’m going to go through the rest of Model Species, cut the fat, make a couple of changes. Then do the same to Luck for Hire. Probably should do Divine Fire too eventually.

No NaNoWriMo for me this year. I’m not even going to attempt something half-assed.  Working on projects in progress is enough work. Plus, Eric is presenting his Master’s project in December. My collaborator will be busy enough. I would like to set some sort of reading goal, but nothing appeals.

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So, yeah… ( #amwriting )

Received a non-vague rejection from an agent yesterday. The upshot: my writing sample (in this case, the first five pages of Model Species) did not maintain the interest that, presumably, the query letter elicited. Which put Eric in "What can be improved?" mode. The advantage of Eric’s "What can be improved?" attitude is that, well, things are improved. The disadvantage is that it’s hard on the ego. The implicit statement that precedes "What can be improved?" is "Something is screwed up." Inevitably, I interpret that as "I have screwed this up…again. I suck." Maybe an understandable attitude, but not a helpful one. What followed was an evening of discussion/argument that, as usual, resolved into "Yeah, that’s something to be fixed." In this case, two things to be fixed.

First, when we rearranged Model Species, I didn’t really look at the new first scene as a first scene. This is a boneheaded mistake on my part. As a second scene it was a lull in action after an intense scene. As a first scene…well, it was a lull when it needed to be zippy. So, rewrite time for that.

The second issue: Eric and I were talking a boredom the other day. For instance, what makes a movie boring? I glibly tossed out that maybe it too is a matter of edge detection. Eric’s theory is that neurologically we rely on edge detection to gather information similarly to how it occurs in image processing. (He will undoubtedly correct me if I’m getting this wrong.) Further, it’s edges–changes and contrast–that make things exciting. Changes draw the eye, fire the neurons, stimulate the brain. To further the further, it may be the changes in any medium are the interesting part. Changes in tempo or contrasting sounds make music more listenable. An action movie that is continuous break-neck action is fairly boring. Same for a drama that is nothing but talk without tension.

The same for literature? Why not? When Eric and I talked about it the first time, I thought about it in a scene-to-scene manner. Scenes should vary in pace. Eric considered it in a more intra-scene level. If all things in a scene are given the same weight (measured in the amount of detail), does it make the scene boring? Maybe. I have a tendency to maybe homogenize details. Important things in a scene don’t stand out because I give less important things a similar amount of detail. This is a by-product of how I work. I immerse myself in characters and the world. I’m not sure if I can change that or if I want to, but maybe my writing needs an editing pass where I accentuate the important plot points and remove some of the minutia. We’ll see how that goes.

Should have learned this ten years ago? Should have taken a tougher look at Model Species? Hindsight is 20/20. Can’t do anything about the past aside from learning from it.

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Read Lately:

I missed this fall’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I’d like to take a day one of these weekends, call it a reading day, and whittle down my to-be-read pile, but that’s probably not going to happen.

Read lately:

I managed my way through three stories from Joyce Carol Oates’ Haunted. Just wasn’t getting into the swing of these stories. The main characters and the story-telling style were a bit tedious to me. It could be my mood. I’m impatient lately.

Read "Banshee" by Ray Bradbury. I have a thick Bradbury anthology and I wish they would have sorted them by genre.

Read the opening story of Murder on the Ropes, a boxing mystery anthology. "Sunlight Shining on Water" by Doug Allyn was light on the murder, light on mystery actually, but heavy on crime elements. By far the most straight-forward story I’ve read lately. This isn’t a bad thing…

The December issue of Realms of Fantasy is available as a free download. Read "Queen of the Kanguellas" by Scott Dalrymple. Will probably read the rest of the issue soon.

Also read "Clockwork Fairies" by Cat Rambo. The blogger at 365 Days of Women Writers (should that be Woman writers?) didn’t care for it. I was okay with okay with stodgy Claude, a man of his time. He’s a good backdrop for the fantastic elements of the story.

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Waiting to Feel Poorly

It’s 7pm on Wednesday evening and I’m waiting to feel poorly.

We won our game last night using a trap zone variant suggested by Cole. I’m not sure our technique improved over the course of the game, but overall it was good enough. I played cup the whole time except for one point. And by the end, I wasn’t much more tired than usual. I don’t know whether that says something about my fitness level or my lack of intensity last night, but I will reiterate that we won with only six players on the field. My offense was okay. Didn’t really get open during man-to-man coverage. Handled in zone a few times, including once on the backhand side. Kuby bailed me out on an overly long swing. Likewise, Al bailed me out when I ended up in a trap situation (not during zone) that made me feel like an utter newbie.

Played pickup today at noon. My legs were stiff and I was possibly slower than usual, but I still felt pretty good. By now, though, my doses of Aleve should be wearing off.

In the land of writing, Eric and I are still feeling our way through the intricacies of Luck for Hire‘s plot. The way we go about plotting might seem screwy to some…uh…everyone. It involves a skeleton of interactions that gets fleshed out and then modified as more of the plot is decided on. Or something like that. It’s pretty much what happens when a hierarchical thinker (Eric) works out something linear. There is an aspect of mutability to our stories as we work them out.

On Sunday-ish, Eric decided a few pieces of behind the scenes plot. Today, we talked and it was decided that a good deal would have to be dumped or rewritten. And this doesn’t devastate me as it might have in the past. Maybe I’ve come to peace with our process. Or maybe I’m just lacking writing intensity too.

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A Tuesday

Tonight’s ulti game will be interesting. I’ll be the only woman showing up for our team, which means that we can only have six players total on the field (can’t have more than five men on the field at one time). And we might be a little short on men as well. Played yesterday, played fairly well, felt pretty good. Probably most importantly, my mood is good. Hopefully, that holds.

I am attempting to take a step back from social media and reorganize myself. Therefore, it would be now that I receive an invite to Fictionaut. Truly, life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

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Food Adventure: Beaver Choice Scandinavian Bistro

I went to the strip mall at Broadway and McClintock yesterday to gather materials for the VOTS Hallowe’en costume contest next week and noticed that the Scandinavian restaurant with the odd name of Beaver Choice was open. I saw it earlier in the year and couldn’t decide if it was on its way in or out.  Guess it was in. After a google search and a look at their menu, Eric and I decided to give them a try. They seem to be a collection of northeastern/central European food, including things like meatballs, schnitzel, and pirogi and lots of fish sandwiches. (I am slightly surprised that their wraps aren’t made with lefse…)

Eric, an aficionado of such, decided to try their shrimp salad sandwich. I went for the tunbrödsrulle, a wrap containing a wiener, mashed potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and (presumably) hovmästar dressing. We also ordered a side of fries. When we returned home, we discovered we only had one sandwich, my wrap. Eric quickly headed back to remedy the situation while I took a closer look at my lunch…and discovered where the communication mishap occurred: my wrap can be ordered with shrimp salad on it and *did* have shrimp salad on it. I am not a fan of shrimp. I started to scrape off the offending salad, but figured I’d give it a taste. And it was pretty good. Now, I’m not saying that I’ll be ordering a shrimp salad sandwich, but as a sort of condiment it worked well. It’s composed of a dill mayo and cut up mini-shrimp. The rest of my wrap’s ingredients were also pretty tasty, though the dressing that usually comes on it was a little sweet. I also removed some of my mashed potatoes. It made for a hearty lunch.

Eric really enjoyed his shrimp salad sandwich. I believe "best" was uttered by him. Though a little small, it was served on what sounded like a crusty roll with fresh veggies. Their fries were mediocre, and we figure that if we do sandwiches again (which we will, they’re fairly reasonably priced), we’ll probably get three and split one.

Due to the mix-up and the trouble, the very friendly proprietors of Beaver Choice sent Eric home with a desert as well. The Beaver Supreme is layers of chocolate meringue, whipped cream (real whipped cream, not whipped topping), walnuts and mandarin oranges. My opinion was that is wasn’t very sweet. Eric’s opinion was that it was too sweet. But in general, it wasnice and the best use of walnuts ever.

Overall, we’ll be eating there again. Their food is of very good quality and delicious.

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Falling Off the World

In a funk. Started on Thursday morning. I can pretty much pinpoint when it happened. It’s strange when biology and philosophy clash. I can recognize that thoughts I’m having about the broken stuff in life are irrational. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about things.

We won our Thursday night league game, but it didn’t feel that way to me. It was one of those games where my body was working, I was running hard, but I just didn’t play well.

Writing is going. I sort of shifted the weekend, treating Friday as Saturday and Saturday as Sunday. Meaning that today is "Monday," which is okay.

Occasionally, I find myself befuddled by what my life has become, especially over the last year. They say that the key to social media is genuineness. This is said by extroverted people. The other aspect of social media is tireless constancy. Post everyday. Engage in many conversations and comment thoughtfully.  Unfortunately, the genuine me can’t keep up with what’s necessary (or what I believe to be necessary) to be a good user of social media. I want to post everyday. I want to participate in all the hashtaggery and blogfests, but genuine me finds it hard to keep up, even in the best of times. Sometimes, I feel like disconnected quiet is a luxury.