Nov 11 2010

Quote of the Day

Posted by PAgent in Blogs and Bloggers, Prose, Technology

“Back-ups. Oh, my god. Burning your stuff to CD or DVD is not good enough. Trust me on that. Things go wrong. Understand that Storage Will Always Fail. Always. I have a ruggedised, manly and capacious 32GB USB memory stick that can withstand fire, water, gunshots and the hairy arseteeth of Cthulhu itself — but my daughter decided she wanted to liberate one of my bags for her use, took the stick out of it and put it ’somewhere safe.’ It has never been seen again. Storage Will Always Fail.”

– Warren Ellis, on “What I Use”

Jun 30 2010

2010 Bulwer-Lytton Winners

Posted by PAgent in Links, Prose

Ah, it’s that time again, when we celebrate the very best of the very worst sort of writing. Here’s one that, although not a winner, certainly deserves, um, recognition:

As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead.

All the winners of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are available at the Bulwer-Lytton website.

Mar 18 2010

Lunch in the Park

Posted by PAgent in Food and Drink, Portland, Prose

I have a new post at OurPDX describing my lunch outside today. Check it out.

Dec 07 2009

No NaNo. No WriMo.

Posted by PAgent in FYI, Prose

“It died a horrible death.”

Which is the answer I gave when my brother asked me about my NaNoWriMo novel over Thanksgiving. My poor novel died in infancy, slain while it was still mostly an outline. Here’s the post-mortem:

Day one: Typed and typed until I was falling asleep. Only wrote half of the number of words required for each day in order to meet quota.

Day two: Typed and typed until I was falling asleep. Again, only wrote half of what I needed to write to stay on track.

Day three I had obligations that kept me getting to the computer at all.

Then I got sick, and stayed sick for about five days.

And on top of everything else, it just kept bugging me that I was working on this brand new novel when I had another story that I was really interested in finishing just sitting on my hard drive. It seemed stupid to work so hard on a story that I wasn’t nearly as committed to.

So, I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that writing every single day is the best way to actually get writing done. I just have trouble making that commitment.

But maybe, just maybe, that other story, the one that’s been in my head for a couple of years, will get finished sometime soon. I think I’d like to send that one out into the world.

And besides, I still have the idea and outline I put together for NaNoWriMo. I might still salvage it some day.

Oct 30 2009

Celebration and Anxiety

Posted by PAgent in FYI, Prose

Today is my daughter’s birthday. Under the heading of “special relativity” I must confess that it feels like she turned thirteen sometime last month, not last year. I know I have lectured her countless times that she “is thirteen now, and we have higher expectations” of her. Well, that lecture is now obsolete.

Have I mentioned that she’s almost as tall as I am now? And taller than her mother? Oy.

When I have not been pondering my daughter’s rapid ascent to maturity (and my own concomitant slide into senility), I’ve been worrying about NaNoWriMo.

As you probably know (or suspected), my own favorite genre is sci-fi, followed by fantasy. This should not be surprising. There’s a reason the stereotypical geek/nerd/man-boy is always shown on television LARPing his Elven Ranger, or wearing his homemade Mandalorian battle armor. So my first impulse is to write some Epic Space Opera, with FTL drives, hostile planets, and Machiavellian interstellar politics.

And with luck, three people might read it. For whatever reason, sci-fi fans tend to be prolific writers, and in the inevitable and predictable way of Gaussian distributions, most of what they write is utter crap. Even if I were to produce something readable, or even a shining gem of prose, it would never get anyone’s attention buried in that steaming pile of excrement.

On the other hand, I’ve always fancied myself a fairly humorous fellow. I think I can tell a joke well, and I love wordplay. Unfortunately, my sense of humor has rarely translated to the written page. My poems and short stories, even when intended to be a farce or satire, quickly turn grim. Most of what I write ends up in a place that’s very dark indeed, either through the raw emotions involved, or because someone ends up getting eaten by something horrible. Mind you, there’s a place for that kind of literature. It certainly worked out well for Stephen King.

But for this, my first attempt at anything longer than a short story, I thought I should definitely try for something lighter. It remains to be seen whether I will succeed. I’ve been rolling ideas around in my head for about a week now, and have a rough outline with some of the major characters at least initially sketched out. I have a title, and I even mocked up some cover art for my NaNoWriMo profile:

I was nervous, but optimistic about the whole thing.

Then I get an email today that includes “a guide to NaNoWriMo”. It features a timeline for the month of November, which includes such gems as:

As the first full week of writing comes to a close, you will be at 11,666 words. This is more fiction than most people write in their lifetimes, and you did it in a week.

Wait. What?

After the second week of writing, you will be at 25,000 words. This is the approximate length of such legendary works of fiction as The Metamorphosis, Of Mice and Men, and Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion

Hey, I’m not trying to draft War and Peace here, just some little piece of fiction to prove to myself that I can. Suddenly 50,000 words is looking insurmountable. Now I’m not just worried about typing that many words, but I’m worried about coming up with enough story to justify that many words.

I guess we’ll see how it goes. T-minus 34 hours and counting.

On the advice of a friend, I picked up a copy of “On Writing” by Stephen King. This was one of the most useful books on the craft of writing I’ve ever read, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who even daydreams about putting words together.

Oct 17 2009


Posted by PAgent in FYI, Prose

I just committed myself to writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

From scratch.

That’s 1667 words each and every day.

May God have mercy upon my soul.