what have I done

Yesterday I got the brilliant idea to see if I could write, and finish, a story that’s been popping up (as just a basic concept for a while now) in my head. And have it done by Thanksgiving. The US Thanksgiving.

I texted the idea to Jamie, because I figure he’ll hold me accountable. Then, I texted a friend and realized that’s 20 days away. Today, that’s 19 days.

19 days.

What have I gotten myself into.

So, while waiting to see how the dryer was going (and after Bug killed a spider with her enthusiastic tail wagging), I decided to sit down and peck away at the idea.

I spent 30-ish minutes looking up a few things (like how to field-dress a deer. We may live In The South, but the closest I’ve ever gotten to deer hunting was being gifted the meat and making jerky out of it).

I’ve started pecking away at some of the aspects of it, so here’s to hoping my self-imposed deadline with get something out of me.

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writing, creating, and new job

I don’t remember if I mentioned I got a new job. I’m back at Store that I left a year and a half ago (honestly, I kinda missed the place), but I’m in a different department. The only time I’ll be back in my old department is on Thanksgiving and I’m fine with this (the department will need it and I want to be near where I’m sure someone will get punched for ridiculous reasons because all those Black Friday Shoppers are fucking crazy)

I’m enjoying my new position. I like most of my immediate coworkers, I get to bother some managers, I’ve made a handful of old regulars really sad that I’m in that department instead of my old one, and there are a small handful of immediate coworkers that I really just want to slap upside the head. Instead of physical contact, I’m going to have a nice long chat with my manager about things that have happened while he’s been on vacation. Like yesterday, I was supposed to clock out at 9. The “closer” for that department decided they were going to call out, so we wound up starting the shut-down process at 3 instead of 5 in hopes of giving me the opportunity to actually leave on time. The one coworker who was there until 7 was trying so hard to help me out, despite having a pulled muscle in her back, and then found that a very vital part of the night-time closing duties wasn’t done. This caused an extra 1.5-2 hours of work that screwed me from doing a lot of stuff, even with the extra pair of hands we were given (who was mainly thrown to clean up the problem)

Eventually, it ended up being the Extra Pair of Hands (a good kid), myself, and Jamie (cuz Jamie and I work together now! huzzah) trying to clean and get everything done. Thanks to my idiot coworker, I wound up clocking out an hour and a half past my time, Jamie clocked out an hour past his time, and Extra Hands got extra hours cuz he’d been asked to come in and help a different department  altogether before getting sent over to me.

I didn’t get everything as clean as I’d prefer it, but I did also find where things have been ignored (and we’re getting High Up the Corporate Ladder Person in early next week and we’re doomed, plain and simple). The manager that had to deal with me and the whole fiasco said that it was good enough, he didn’t expect us to do as much as we did, told me to not do a handful of closing duties anyway, and that it could be dealt with in the morning.

At one point, I had cut on NoSleep (season 5, episode 4) to listen to while I clean, so every so often I’d hear a snippet or two. The Long Pig story, the one after Mummer Man, was playing and the manager and Extra Hands had heard a snippet of it. Manager was like “what the fuck” and I went “Oh, I’m listening to NoSleep. Right now it’s the story where James Cleveland is narrating about murdering a guy so he can carve out his tasty ribs.”

Manager went “Well, ok then.” while Extra Hands just gave me this horrified look. I told the kid that it’s a horror podcast and it’s great. I kind of wish that they’d heard part of Mummer Man instead, because that story is awesome.

Last night also proved that I am no longer used to working 10+ hour shifts (something I had done before I left Store the first time)

~*~

So, creative things

Jamie asked me when I was going to submit to NoSleep (because they have a submission thing open right now!) and I told him: when I finish something that’s the minimum wordcount requested. He told me that I should give myself a deadline, “Like, December,” before continuing that he’d bug me until I submit things. He also pointed out that I should just start submitting things until something sticks. I told a friend about it and she agreed with him.

Yesterday, Jamie asked me if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo and I told him no. I like Ursula Vernon’s idea more (NaNoFiMo, national novel finishing month) and reiterated that I hadn’t written in days.

Seriously, I haven’t written in days. I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t feeling well, then got the job, and then we’d been working long hours (plus commute) and instead of jotting down ideas or notes, I’d just been sitting around reading or scrolling through stuff online.

I told Jamie how I wanted one story to go, in large, broad strokes, and he seemed to enjoy that. But I don’t know how I’m going to write it. I jotted down some notes about a fucked up dream I had that was narrated by Peter Lewis–I told Jamie about it and he went “Y’know, if it’s narrated by Peter Lewis, you gotta write that shit down and make it a reality.” So, I have almost a page of notes of what I remember. If I can work it, it’ll be a fun story to do.

But, I don’t know where I’m going with anything.

“Weird Grandpa” (working title) has been stagnating since that first initial burst of writing. Attempted Novelette has been in limbo since I realized a) I need a list of all the named characters I put in already and 2) I completely forgot where I was going with this. Downtown Novelette still doesn’t have an ending and I changed the characters names from the stand-ins (friends names) to their names (what they’re going to be called from now on). “Retail Weird” is like 3 pages of growing unease with no real plot or idea of where I’m going besides “I’m basing this on all you fucking weirdos.”

There’s other stories that I have no idea what I’m doing with. They’re all fleeting ideas and…the fuck I know what I’m doing.

subconscious planning

I had a dream where I was trying to pitch a novel to a very suspicious editor.

I was describing the story as “It’s ______ meets The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.” (I can not for the life of me remember what the other novel was). I remember continuing with describing one of the characters as: “A grumpass old wizard, who’s kind of like a mix between the animated Merlin from Sword in the Stone and Ponder Stibbons” before going on a tangent about how that was the best wizard to compare him to in the Discworld as his luck isn’t as bizarre as Rincewind’s, he doesn’t go total librarian-poo when people mess with his books, he’s not as looney as the Bursar, and not as outdoor-lifestyle-obsessive as the Archchancellor. I seem to remember pointing out that this wasn’t The Dreseden Files because I can’t remember if I ever got past the first page of the first book.

I ended up texting a friend of mine, who’s finding it hard to finish up her smut story (it’s well over 100k words right now), and telling her about it. She thought it was hilarious and started telling me about a vampire story she was thinking about working on. She was very adamant that it wasn’t Twilight and described something that seemed close to a scene from the Interview with a Vampire film, which she fervently denied, pointing out it was more modern-day high school like.

She continued to describe some of her idea and I asked her if she’d ever read Blood and Chocolate since part of her idea sounded like what I remember from the beginning of the book. Apparently vampires and werewolves are involved and she’s stuck on plot. I suggested she just work on a scene that sounds interesting and go from there.

I find the whole thing hilarious because I’m not intending for this idea to become a novel. I’m just pecking away at a scene (currently 538 words) in a universe I started in a short story I finished before and found that it would be fun to flesh out the characters a bit more.

I have no plot. I have no villain.

I have a character with a Franken-dog having a conversation on the phone that is turning into a “please don’t be weird and scare the new people” lecture.

Rejected

On…some day last month, an editor posted a thread on Twitter about rejection from their magazine. They pointed out that there is a 4 in 400(+/-) chance of receiving a letter of acceptance for your fiction short story and pointed out why: An author (not named) had apparently complained about how they’ve been rejected by that particular magazine 3 times and that’s it, they’re never submitting anything again.

I found the whine/pouting kind of ridiculous, thinking of all the times various authors I’ve listened to (panels, interviews, etc) or read (interviews, blog posts, etc) mention how many times they were rejected before something, anything, was accepted. I re-tweeted the first of the thread and pointed out that one day I’ll be brave enough to submit to this magazine. I got a reply that pretty much told me to go for it.

So hell, why not. The worst they can do is send me a “Thanks, but your story doesn’t work for us” email. It took a few hours to look for a story I finished but hadn’t posted to the blog (I’m pretty sure I shared “Just Delicious,” but I can’t remember and there’s not a link on the “stories by me”  sub-header), double check their submission requirements, format the story as per submission requirements, double check on how to write a cover letter which turned into something short, sweet, and to the point (because, really, I have no information besides: Here is the story, Here is the word count, Here is where I think it goes in the range of fiction genres, Thank you for your time)

Submissions for that magazine was open (yay! Last time I had looked they were closed), I submitted my story. Probably gave it a crap name (because on the computer it still has the WIP name I gave it), and waited. I got the email saying the submission doohickey was in the queue and here is a link. Ooooooo

I think the best part about the whole thing was checking the link to see where I was in the queue of submissions. I started out at number 590, and yesterday I was number 50.

This morning I received the email I was expecting: Thanks, but your story is not for us.

That’s cool. It’s more of a weird speculative fiction piece taking an idea and running with it. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And, I’m pretty sure that there were a couple pieces that really grabbed the editor’s attention, so more power to them.

I figure 2 things:

  1. On to the next story!
  2. I can always submit it elsewhere and see what happens.

 

stocking up on dayquil

I feel as though the thing I had last week did not go away entirely, so I told Jamie to buy me dayquil gel tabs because we went through like 2 bottles of the liquid in record time it seems. (two adults taking something that amounts to like half to a whole shot glass’s worth of liquid cough and nasal suppressant tends to kill a bottle quickly, especially when they forget the last time they took some). I’m cold, I’m tired, and I don’t want to do shit.

On the upswing of things:

I finished the novelette’s first draft yesterday, adding 350 words to the end and just stopping it where I was. I realized if I continued to stare at the computer screen, I’d just start nitpicking it to death, hating it even more, and probably either never finish the damn thing or delete it entirely. And I don’t want to delete it cuz I’ve spent like two weeks working on it and…yeah.

So, I emailed it to Jamie to see if it flows ok. I told him I’m not looking for inaccuracies, or if he finds them to make a note of it somewhere, I was just looking to see how it reads. If he finds something that sounds weird, to make a note of it and I’d look over it later.

It’s taking a lot of willpower to not pull the story up so I can start working on edits. Edits to change names of characters, edits to add descriptions where they need, edits to fix some continuity problems that I’m sure are there. Still going back and forth on whether or not to change it from 1st POV to 3rd, still have mental reminders to change the description up a bit (because terms like “cubicle wall” get really fucking redundant after a while)

Groovin’ along

I’ve gotten 590 words in today so far. Woo, go me.

omg I want to be done with this story. I am at 6983 words. I am ready for my last-minute throw-in character to be eradicated and another character pulled away at the last minute, but dude. I’m stuck 10.5 ft away from salvation. A page and a half is what I’ve gotten done through and my narrator has made one large step to freedom. Now they’re approximately 8 ft from the doorway and I’m at the point where I can’t tell if I’m just being a wordy bastard or what.

I’m hoping that soon I’ll be done with the first draft. I asked Jamie if he’d skim through it to see if at least it flows well enough before I go and work on edits for it because I like the idea for this story (but omg why is this part taking so long).

An old idea I had years ago is poking my brain with “what happens next” so hopefully I’ll finish this one and go piddle around with that one.

I talked with Jamie about doing Inktober this year and he thought it was a cool idea. I thought it’d be a fun idea since I’m finally working through the comic and posting it on tumblr. I figured I could do a sketch, take a pic with my phone, and post it to the tumblr blog and probably even instagram and see what happens. Never know.

I found some con panels that talk about how to pitch to an agent and how to send query letters. I’m using them as background noise while I write and not really paying all that much attention to what they’re talking about. A few things pop up every once in a while and it’s pretty funny.

On the other side of the creative spectrum, I have made it through a grand total of 4 rows on this damned shawl.

It’s hard to work on the loom with a very determined cat who wants your lap and does not want to move for anything.

I ended up looking at some of my stash earlier this morning and realized I’ve got 3 skeins of this weird rainbowy yarn, that I re-rolled because the skeins were being a pain and I’m kind of a nut anyway, and thought that it’d look fun as a shawl. wtf, manders.

Story Time: A New Kind of Moleskine

Like always, first draft (blah blah blah). This is the story that’s been poking at me for a couple of weeks and keeps getting narrated by Peter Lewis in my head. 833 words, so it’s a short one.


 

A New Kind of Moleskine

 I am a bookbinder; I make books. Various sizes and thickness. You may have seen my work on etsy.

Bookbinding has always been a fascination of mine. The calming of searching for the perfect paper, basing each piece around the texture and colour; choosing between clear, sharp edging and jagged, uneven ripples that would be the the first thing noticed after opening a brand-new book. Finding the perfect thread for sewing the folded sections to one another and deciding whether or not to use that same colour of thread when pulling all the sections together. Coming to the realization that calm, muted colours were the best to bring people a subtle happiness. This helped me decide early on to ignore the stark-white thread that I would keep coming across when searching for supplies.

You’d think that the paper that I would meticulously search for would be the determining factor of the size of the book I would make, especially since I had also decided that working with clean, blank pages would be the best. I know people do prefer pre-lined pages to write on, but there’s something so…calming about a completely blank page.

However, I had found that working with leather was going to be my determining factor for size and shape. I had grown up with a family member who sold leather pieces on the side. Large swaths of leather, scraps of leather, strings of leather you could use as bootstraps of braid for belt-making. He had many different sizes in thickness and colour and was a well of information every time I had a question.

Getting in touch with a small group of leather workers helped with any other questions that I couldn’t find answers to. The best ways to shave down the thickness, the best materials to help stretch the leather, the best glues to work with, the best place to find shears and how to keep them sharp enough to cut the leather.

At one point, I found myself in the middle of the woods, standing in front of a strung-up deer with a knife in my hand and a buddy of mine laughing himself sick. Sometimes the best way to learn a thing is to start exactly at the beginning. For me, it was going through the motions of skinning and tanning a hide. It was a great experience, but I decided to stick with my contacts.

I found that sticking with these guys helped with staying away from having to actually skin anything. I’d receive various sizes of leather. Pieces where I’d be able to make at least two average size books, with very little scraps; pieces where I could make small picture-book-sized sketch or memo pads. Thin scraps that I had left over would be set aside and put together later on to make a modern Prometheus styled notebook, which became very popular when Halloween rolled around.

I found ways to dye the leather, creating beautiful blues and greens. I thought the darker the colours, the better. Some of my clients preferred the more bleach-white that I could work with on occasion, using some old Native American recipes to get the leather as close to white as possible. Every once in a while, I’d receive an email stating that I was a murderer for working with mutilated animals. I’d reiterate what I have on my etsy store page: All leather is ethically sourced. If you are uncomfortable with this, then I urge you to find your gifts elsewhere.

Murderer? Hardly.

I’d usually shake my head and go back to my workroom, turn on some light music, and get to work on the latest piece. Measure twice, cut once. Measure once, cut once, and work around the mishap. Each book as unique as a finger print.

Thinking on unique—I received my latest batch of leather earlier. Always hand-delivered since my clients like to have their items fast thanks to this modern age of gimmegimmegimme nownownow.

The box is about the size of a milk crate and stuffed with pieces of leather. Different colours, varying sizes, but the same shapes over and over again. Long, fat cresent shapes and wide, curvy triangles. I’ll have to separate them later as I spot a few pieces with hints of freckles. Freckled leather always goes in the dyed pile. It’s simpler to hide the freckles than have to make excuses that it’s a genetic thing that happens in certain strains of rabbits.

I could call the collection of books that come out of this new delivery my “Face Book” collection. They could be diary-thick to give an air of sharing. I chuckled to myself, mulling over the idea.

Like I said, my leather is ethically sourced. Sourced from bodies donated to science and executed by whatever method their state determined. Sourced from others who are hired to go after murderers and rapists, even animal abusers. This collection comes from the latter while one of my contacts moves to another county.