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You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

08 November 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Behind, But Not Horribly So...

I'm at 11,907, which is off the pace of 13,333.  My friends ar doing better, but I knew there were going to be days this month that I just couldn't write.  So, having not written Friday or Saturday, I made up one of those days today, and will make up some of it tomorrow.

The novel is coming along, but my lack of an outline cost me some time tody.  Not having a set number of characters means that I didn't have a full plan for the introductory scenes.  I debated adding another, but decided that what I have is fine.  So now all the repurcussions fall from the prologue.

05 November 2009

[NaNoWriMo] A Fifth of Critical Words

Up to 8,633 words!  It was tough getting to the keyboard tonight, still tired, but at least I got it done before Midnight!

I also now realize what my plan is.  Granted this is the sort of thing that is supposed to happen first but, as my inner critic was so kind to point out, it is crappy prose.  THat being said at the end of the month I will have all, or at least most of the most scenes blocked.  I'll know who's there, what they have to do, and how they go about doing it.  I'll know if it needs more darkness or more light, more dialogue or less; greater exposition or more action.

Which means that, the second draft will be pretty fine indeed by the time its done, the third will be necessary for polish, and likely the fourth, but after that...  Well after that, Hell, "It. Could. WORK!"

[NaNoWriMo] Going Forth on the Fourth

I'm up to 6,912 words, and am so very, very tempted to add another 88 words of fluff to the last scene just to round it out to an even 7,000.  However it is nigh on midnight, and with an oh dark-thirty departure scheduled to get to work, I know I need to let it go.  Must to sleep. 

03 November 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day the Thirde

Not the best of days, far too busy, but I'm still past 5,000 at 5,133.  It averages out to just over the 1,667 required, but I need to pick up the pace again tomorrow.  I also have some days off at the end of the month that should help for a final push if needed.

There's a reason why I'm not a math major...

So my late night mental math goofed :-/  I'm actually still below 5,000, but not by much.  The actual number is: 4,627 words.

I'm still going to try and be past 6,000 by the end of the day...

02 November 2009

[NaNoWriMo] Day the Seconde

I'm up to around 5,000 words.  I don't know the exact because I don't remember what my exact total was after lunch.  I know it was at least 3,100 but I don't remember what the change was.  Add in 1,953 tonight and you have 5,000+ which I rounded down until I can get a full count in the morning.

If you're writing too, keep kicking ass!

01 November 2009

It Has Begun!

2,573 words in.  Not bad for no outline and only the barest understanding of how I'm going to get from point A to B.

24 October 2009

First Flash Fiction Friday Entry

I just posted my first Flash Fiction Friday entry.  Granted I didn't post it on Friday, but I did write on Friday.  Good enough for now, and I hope you enjoy it!

#FlashFriday: Omega

Omega
©D. Paul Angel, 2009

Snug under the covers against the Fall chill in the house, she gently scritched Omega; only just still awake.  She snuggled up against the Rottweiler's warm fur, and felt comfort in the vague "wet dog" smell that always seemed to linger this time of year.  She felt his still powerful body taut as he stretched, before releasing the tension with a deep, audible sigh.

Omega had been hers ever since she had saved him from her husband, Will.  Will.  In her thirty-two years she had only ever known one Will, and most days she regretted that she had ever met him, back when they were both young and ambitious.  Back when God was as real to her as her parents, siblings, and friends.  Will was the son of their church's preacher and they had grown up together; close enough to distantly flirt, but far enough that friendship couldn't intrude on their desires.

Will wanted to be a preacher, too.  The Church was going to be his, and with his father's health ailing, that time was going to be soon.  They married young, knowing that Will would soon be leading the flock.  Will's father's liver began failing even faster.  The alcoholism he had overcome so many years before had already done it's damage and Will's father refused any kind of treatment.  "It's a Penance for my Sins," he'd tell the enraptured congregation, "Succumbing to Treatment would be to like Questioning God's Judgment."  Will's father always spoke in Capitals.

Unfortunately for Will, the Church would not be passed down.  It wasn't the church's fire that was so devastating, nor his Father's death within it.  It was that another body had been found next to his father, later identified as the Boy's Youth Leader, they were surrounded by whiskey bottles; their clothes piled in a heap in the corner.

In one fell swoop Will lost his Father, his friend, and his calling.  Having never touched alcohol in his life, not even a drop of beer, Will bought himself a bottle of cheap whiskey to see what his father saw.  He drank more of it than he should have, but did not get sick.  Only numb.

Eve found him the next morning passed out on the kitchen floor, scared for herself and her husband, and without the resources to do anything other than endure.  Will's binge didn't reveal any answers to him, but it did give him the numbness that he so desperately craved.  It wasn't long before he crawled into the bottle, never to emerge alive.

Eve thought about those years and squeezed Omega.  He grunted as he always had, and she felt safe remembering again.  The violence.  The terror.  The humiliation, pain, and anguish that had filled her life that first year after Will's father had died.  Then Omega's litter had been born, and Eve found her savior.

Omega was the runt.  He couldn't get to his Mom for milk, and the others puppies bullied him as was their way.  "As my husband bullied me," she thought, "Even though it wasn't always his way..."  She tried again to remember the good times they had had, the reasons why she had married him in the first place, and when she had been excited to think about bearing his children.  But a decade of suffering had truly scrubbed those feelings from her, even now, safe and alone at last, she could not recall even a flicker of happiness they might have shared.

Will had wanted to quickly do to Omega what he was slowly doing to her.  She saw herself in the sad, trodden upon puppy, and though she didn't know how to save herself, she knew how to save him.  Will's response had been derision and cruelly sardonic words.  Finally he relented, but not until he had named the runt Omega.  A reminder to Eve that he was Alpha.

She took care of Omega and nurtured him.  Soon he was larger than the rest of the litter, but was still meek.  Even the border collie cowed the huge Rottie.  It was then that Will's started shortening Omega to simply, "Meg."

"A pussy name for a pussy dog," he'd say whenever he saw Omega.

As the years progressed, Will's alcoholism deepened.  Eve was trapped in a loveless, lifeless relationship with him, but she at least had her Omega, who was every bit the positive, loving force her Husband and God were not.  Towards the end, Omega was getting as broken down physically as Will was mentally and spiritually.  Omega's muzzle had a shock of grizzle around it, and he walked stiffly on these cold autumn days.  But he was still there for her, always, and most especially when she needed him the most.

Will finally reaped what he had sown, and died a bloody, violent death.  As horrific of an experience that time was, it was also her release.  It had taken some time, but she had eventually healed.  And as hard as life was for her now, working two job to keep her small apartment on the edge of town, it was at least hers.  The only downfall was that she only really got to love Omega just before falling asleep and before she got up for work.

As she snuggled into his fur, relishing his warmth and safety, she bolted awake as she heard her door crash open.  She scrambled for the phone as a dark shape filled the doorway as it rushed her.  She was still struggling for the phone when Omega's guttural bark and snapping jaws overwhelmed the room, stopping only with the intruder's strangled screams...

~~~

Sheriff DeWitt surveyed the scene.  The only way they would identify the invader was with fingerprints at this point.  Assuming they could find a finger.  He looked over to the corner where Eve sat slowly rocking, her eyes catatonic, and her hand restlessly rubbing the carpet next to her.  She had been through far too much, he knew, but even he hadn't seen a body this badly eviscerated since Vietnam.

"Eve? Eve?  Come on Eve, it's Sherriff DeWitt.  You're OK, Eve, you're safe now." 

Finally she responded to his safe, gentle voice.  She looked up at him with deep earnestness and gratitude, "Omega saved me Sheriff.  That guy came in, but Omega saved me."

"Now Eve, you know it couldn't have been Omega.  Remember?  We had to put him down after he killed your husband..."

22 October 2009

The NaNoWriMo Dilemma

Realistically, I probably won't be able to win this years NaNoWriMo.  There are already too many commitments on my time, and I can the creativity slowly seeping out of me as I prepare for 2 trials in the next month.  I'm already too busy to even write an outline, let alone the time needed to put word to page.  So here's the big question...

Do I write the Science Fiction story I've been thinking about or the Fantasy one? 

19 October 2009

Quick Review: Bunnahabhain 12

Living in a state with stringent liquor sale laws is usually a pain.  It means limited hours, and no competition, so every store in Oregon has the same price regardless of location.  Sometimes, however, it works out well.  In this case they put Bunnahabhain 12 on clearance for only $30!

Although there isn't anything about it that is particularly distinct, it is one of those whiskies that does everything extremely well.  It has a great, rich flavor, is nice and smooth, and has a good, solid finish.  I would highly recommend it as a nice enjoyable sippin' whisky.

It does come in both 80 proof and 86 proof varieties, and I went ahead and picked up the 86 proof since, hey, same price, more proof!  As it turns out, if I were to do it again, I'd get the 80 proof.  The extra alcohol flavor takes a way a bit of the smoothness and some of the subtler flavors, but still a win!

15 October 2009

The Philosophy of Dogs and How it Relates to College Football. And Me.

"You guys wanna go for a walk?  Huh?  You wanna go for a walk?"

"Walk" is a magic word to dogs.  It hearkens adventure, new smells, and a plethora of places to pee. Saying that magic word makes my dogs jump out of their skin with excitement.  Especially last night.

I tweaked my back Monday, ironically enough by playing with the sogs, so I hadn't been able to take them for a walk for the last several days.  Exercise is part of their normal routine.  We walk for awhile and then I take them off leash to chase the ball, each other, and the occasional squirrel (who intenionally bait them to then mock their inability to climb trees).

So after a couple days off I said word, leashed them up, marched them through the door, and proceeded out at Warp Factor .00000001

Bad backs are bitch.

As we walked the dogs kept looking up to me as if to say, "Really?  You got us excited for this?" and the more blunt, "What. The. Hell!"  But the adjusted and enjoyed their time regardless.

Tonight was much the same, except I'm happy to say I doubled my speed all the way up to Warp Factor .00000002!  I also was able to take some tennis balls tonight and could roll it for them.  I forgot the Chuck-It, so rolling was I could do.  So here they are at the end of a dissappointing walk, with dissappointing ball-throwing going on.

It didn't affect their enthusiasm in the least.  Just because it didn't meet their expactations didn't change the fact that there was a round, fuzzy prey item to chase.  And chase they did!

How different from us.  If you've ever followed College Football, and in particular the Bowls, your familiar with the unfairness of the BCS.  Every year, someone gets jobbed.  Someone, who everyone agrees should be playing in the big bowl game, isn't.So after much shouting, wailing, and gnashing of teeth of how they ought to be in the Big game instead of the Little game, they go out and lay an egg against Bumsqueak U.

The response of course is that the right decision was obviously made, because they lost to an inferior team.  The reality though is that players couldn't get themselves up for a game they were actually playing, with the obvious result.

Dogs don't know how to do that.  They will chase that ball whether hurled with a Chuck-It or gingerly rolled 20 feet with just as much passion.  And they will keep on doing it until they are simply to tired to run.  Because they are in the moment, they aren't encumbered by where they should or should not be.  They are, where they are.

Where I am, I unfortunately have to admit, is far closer to that dissappointed College Team than I am to the dogs,  And not just because I'm carrying too much weight and hurt.  The goals I set for myself, so nebulous back then, have not been met.  But that doesn't mean I haven't accomplished quite a bit.  It means that I am judging myself off of old, uncontemplated goals and expectations instead of honestly evaluating where I am, and where I want to go.

I am here, and I want to be there.  The question is, "Do I wanna go for a walk?"


11 October 2009

Aqua Vitae

My father is a recovering alcoholic.  I am proud to say he has been sober for close to 25 years now, and many are the AA meeting I've attended with him.  He entered recovery when I was still in Middle School.  In fact, as coincidence would have it, he started going to AA at roughly the same time I decided to start drinking.

See, there was this girl I liked, and she was a the partying type.  So, if I wanted to go out with her I needed to be able to drink.  (Did I mention this was Middle School?)  So here I am, ready to start drinking the way all good kids do, by stealing alcohol from my parents; when my parents announce they are going to start a "Date Night" every Wednesday.  How perfect is that?  I'm needing to steal their alcohol, and they're going to be gone one night a week!  Ah the egocentricity of the teen, eh?

Well, the plan ran into a snag the very first night.  A pretty sizable one, too, in that there was no alcohol in the house.  Not a drop.  I remembered there being bottles of stuff above the stove, beer and wine in the fridge, and even liquors in the dining room.  All of which have simply dissapeared.

I wait, not knowing what else to do, and soon come to find out that my parents "Date Night" is really a weekly AA meeting.  My how things did change.  My quest for drinking glory ceased almost overnight.  This was a new, scary thing, and it required more thought.  What happened, was that all of the sudden I had a Dad back in my life.  He had snuck out so slowly, so quietly, that i hadn't even noticed. 

He was never a loud or violent drunk, he'd just fall asleep early and never want to play catch.  Now we talked again, watched football together, and played catch.  My dad, as it was, had returned.  And the obvious culprit to his absence was none other than alcohol.  So, in my mind, I made alcohol evil.  That meant, by association, that anyone who drank anything, was also therefore, more or less, evil.

This attitude led to some difficulties in college.

As I grew older, being a teetotaler was both easier and harder.  I did, finally, disassociate alcohol from the drinker, and I was finally able to go to bars with friends or co-workers and not bristle.  Indeed at one of these a friend ordered a single malt, and I decided to give it a taste.

Holy crap I liked it!

Even though i had come to revile alcohol, I still wanted to be, "open-minded."  So I would try it.  Now most people start down the alcohol road with a progression.  Moving from the bear and wine neighborhood first, and only then hanging out in Hard Liquorsville.  Turns out I'm the opposite.  So I'd try beer, and I still do, and it still tastes awful.  I can drink a nicer beer if it's expected or the polite route to take, but I never have found a beer that I actually liked.  So why go to the trouble of drinking if the introductory level tastes like crap?

Even though I liked the taste of that single malt (I don't honestly remember what it was either), it was years before I actively considered drinking.  This sound awful but, I didn't start drinking until I met my wife;-)  Just not for the reason you're thinking.  I watched her drink.  I saw her have a drink with her friends and, get this... not become an alcoholic.

So I talked to her about drinking and how I had basically committed to not drinking because fo the experience with my Dad.  Everyone else had always listened to that story and accepted it.  She actually made me think about it, and as noble as following through on a committment was all those long years, was it actually a well thought out committment?

So I took up drinking.  I've come to find that I really enjoy the multitudes of flavors afforded by hard alcohols even though I honestly don't care for the effects.  So I limit myself for that reason, and also because I do want to learn from my dad.  I drink socially and in moderation; and I absolutely will not drink if I am down or in a bad place.

So far it has opened up a fascinating but terribly expensive world.  Especially since my absolute favorite remains what I first started with:  single malt Scotch whisky;-)

08 October 2009

Quick Review: Oban 14

At a work function today one of my co-workers was kind enough to buy me an Oban 14.  I had never tried it before, but it is a fine, smooth whisky.  I've come to find that I don't like smokiness in my whisky, and Oban is nicely flavored without any of the smoke.  Of the whiskies I've tried, Oban definitely rates twoards the top, call it 3 out of 4 stars.

07 October 2009

Thoughts on Perspective


Recently I helped a group at work put together a humorous video for a training session.  I did the filming and the editing, and even added in some effects and titles.  It was a fun experience and it certainly piqued my interest in film.  The entire exercise in timing frames, cutting, and matching up audio tracks was not only challenging, but was also a lesson in editing. 

Even though the segments I filmed were funny, and put together was even funnier, by the end of it I just couldn't laugh any more.  After you've seen the same joke, heard the same dialogue, and seen the same sight gag so many times it loses it's affect.  By the time the viewing came around I was worried that it actually wasn't funny. 

My initial instincts were correct, and the shorts reception was positive enough that they scheduled a reshowing.  A big aprt of that was because I took the time to edit and re-edit it, and then edit it some more.  It was this process that made me so sick of it that also made it so effective.  The same thing can happen with writing.  You work it and you tweak it, and you keep making pass after pass and, then when it is finely at its highest pinnacle; that's when you are so very sick of your work that you think it must be crap. 

That's part one.  Part two has to do with the Curve of Competency.  Well, there is an actual Sociological description of this, but it has to do with how people grade their own peformance.  Basically, the very best know it, and the very worst know it.  What is interesting is that the two middle tiers switch.  The upper echelon tend to grade themselves to harshly, and they judge themselves lower than they ought.  The tier below them, however, don't actually realize how low they are and grade themselves higher. 

Combining the points creates a recipe for #fail.  You redo it enough that you lose perspective and think its crap.  You're good enough to keep writing, but you're not so good that you are able to do it professionally, so you judge it even harsher.  This leads to discouragement, and the Moose-turn* begins.  Now contrast that with someone who judges themselves with an inflated sense of quality.  They are not discouraged. Which brings us to Point Three. 

Success in the publishing can have more to do with perseverance than talent.  Those who keep pushing and pushing and pushing their work are more likely to be published than those who do not keep pushing.  Hence the unfortunate dichotomy in which it is those with the better talent who are less likely to keep pushing their work, while those with the lesser talent who are more likely to just keep submitting.  

Ah Mediocrity, thy parents are Counter and Intuition.


*-- A "Moose-turn" is a pilot's expression from bush country.  Basically inexperienced pilots will see a moose and starting doing turns around it to keep it in sight.  As they become infatuated with watching the moose they start banking more and more while getting slower and slower.  Basically a Death-spiral, but induced by a myopic focus.

A Prologue of Paradoxes and Extant Confession

Hello world.

Science Fiction, SciFi, is full chocked full of stories involving time travel.  Some are funny, some are sad, most or complicated, and all to one extant or another deal with the idea of paradoxes.  After all, it is within the realm of the paradox that the greatest potential for conflict, drama, and character lies.

As a kid I used to think how cool a time machine would be.  I could watch the armies of the Roman Empire sweep across the European continent, view the dinosaurs in their majesty, or watch humanities descent with the ver popular "Fast-Forward Button."  Or to the future, to the Stars, to "stange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations;" or to see whether our Nations crossroads leads to a Utopian paradise, or Dystopian nightmare.

But I'm older now, and a little wiser.  And what I would actually use that Time Machine for is to go back in Time and kick the Young Me in the ass.  Tell him to quit wasting the disposable income when he had it on fast-food and always eating out.  To take chances, but not the stupid ones, and, most of all, I'd tell him that if he absolutely had to day-dream, the very least he could do would be to write them the Hell down so at least He would have something to show for his imagination.

"Hello world," is the classic, some would say, "cliched" first program all new coders to a language write.  It is a program whose sole function is to write the words, "Hello" and "world."  It is a starting point, a foundation.  It is that which you need in order to build upon it; and it is what i always walked away from.  I had the time, the money, and the interest to take programming classes 10-15 years ago.

Yet I never did.

I wanted the programs in my head working now, but all the programming classes required prerequisites.  I didn't want to wait that long, so I stubbornly refused to take them.  Which meant, that I never did end up taking those coding classes, which means that, it's still on the list of things I need to learn; only I no longer have the time, nor the money. So yeah, Young Me, that's an ass-kicking.

The same is true of writing as well.  I never wanted to be one of those people who spent my time at Writer's Workshops.  To be fair, some of this was due to my distaste for the few published authors I met in College, but that is a far larger digression, and one worthy of its own entry.  So I dreamed; I created intricate worlds, fascinating plots, and rich, full characters.  And I left them, for the most part, completely and utterly locked in my head.

Until now.

I realize some of what I was doing.  Some of the deep-seated insecurities that led to self-sabotage.  That some of the procrastination and laziness was really avoidance of the difficulty.  And, most of all, how I let fear make my decisions without ever having manifested itself.  So, now that I have realized these things, it is time to change them.

This blog is part of that.  It is my own spot on the web on which I can share my struggles, at least as best I can.  I can also share my observations about writing in specifically, and the larger craft of Storytelling in general.  Mix in some Whisky, my fascination with the fairer sex, and all of the sudden you have yourself a blog!  And, most importantly, an external means of accountability to help enforce discipline.  (Which is also worthy of an entry in its own right.)

Finally, as for why the opinion of a professed slacker is worth anything, who is the more honest; he who has confessed his sins, or he who is yet denying them?