making things

+ I finished the Combo Breaker blanket, it is folded up and sitting on a shelf until Jamie remembers to take it to work to give it to the parent. lol

+ I made Jamie a Bear Hat. It is a smidge too small, but he thinks it’s awesome. So, I’m working on making another one (I have the yarn so why not?) I still have a few more months before it gets cold enough for him to wear a hat, so I have the time to work on it.

+ I keep staring at the same documents doing nothing.

  • Weird Granddad story is just…there. I am at a point where I don’t remember exactly where I was going with it
  • Attempted Novelette is at a standstill. I’m at the point where I can’t remember whose name is for which character except for one, and that’s mainly because I keep making terrible jokes about it.
  • I’ve been jotting down notes for another story idea to try to get bits together with it

+ Nothing is finished and I don’t know if I’m fine with that. I don’t know if it’s an epic brain fart or just extreme apathy.

+ Bug and Firefly got into it the other day and Firefly needs to learn that Bug is getting her back for when they were younger and Firefly got Bug because Bug was too nice. Now Bug is a tank of a dog and has power behind her snaps.

Firefly is fine, we carted her butt to the vet, where her head was cleaned and parts were shaved. I insisted we take her because of the puncture under her jaw (which is fine, just squicky) and we learned that she’s got a couple more punctures than I had originally thought. She’s on antibiotics and has been happily spoiled by getting to sleep on the couch, getting various pieces of human food (cheese, peanut butter, things like that), and snoring on the bed.

I used to be smart

I have spent the past hour looking up bits of history that I should already know.  I used to know all kinds of weird little tidbits about Bolsheviks, Leninism, Marxism, and the…sheer utter lunacy of Stalin’s reign of terror, including the name of the guy who portrayed him in all those fantastical films (Mikheil Gelovani).

I used to know these things. I used to get into arguments with history teachers over Leninism. I remember that part, but fuck if I can remember anything when I need to use my knowledge for writing things. Even going through to to make sure that what I remember is the correct bit of history, I find myself going through the rabbit hole of the internet looking up stuff as if I’d never been taught it (or even taught a bastardized version of it).

The reasoning I’m looking up bits of Russian history is for research for a story that I only intend to make references to. The whole thing is intended to be a paragraph or two, not the whole basis of the story itself.

I don’t even know if most of what I’m double checking and researching is going to be in the story itself.

It’s weird doing research for a story. I’ve got some bits and peices written down for this particular story, but my story teller references various historical aspects and I need to make sure I get my facts straight.

Just Delicious

Short story, flash fiction (possibly, word count says it’s 246 words), and as usual a first draft. I wouldn’t consider it a second draft because all I did was type up what I wrote in my notebook.

I like it, it’s got a good oomph.


 

Just Delicious

“Dinner was a great idea.”

A fork scraped against the bottom of the bowl she held. Light music filtered through the room as she looked around the candle-lit kitchen.

She nodded, “Y’know, I think you were right. Salt makes it weird.”

She got up, bowl in hand, and walked to a cabinet by the sink. “Should I go for just regular pepper or the Old Bay seasoning?”

Looking over towards her companion, she realized his mouth was full and couldn’t answer her. She paused for a moment before grabbing the bright yellow tin of Old Bay seasoning, sprinkled a bit into her bowl, did a quick stir with her fork, and took a tentative bite.

She nodded, “Old Bay seems to be the best flavoring.”

Sitting back down, she set the tin beside her companion’s nearly empty bowl. “You should try it. Gives the dish a whole new zing.”

A wheezing grunt came from her dinner mate in a response as she grabbed for the serving spoon. She smiled warmly at him.

“You’re drooling a bit,” she grabbed a napkin to dab at the corner of his gagged mouth.

She re-positioned his fingers so they had a better hold of his chin.

“Now now, we don’t want dinner to spill onto the floor.”

His eyes blinked slowly, not really focusing on anything. She dabbed at a line of blood on his forehead before setting the napkin on the plate that held a chunk of his skull.


 

+ Word says “repositioned” is a correct word, however, wordpress says that it should be “re-positioned.” Strange.

+ I’m totally keeping the working title (“Just Delicious”) because it cracks me up and reminds me of the Alvin Schwartz retellings. But, instead of Just Delicious being about a butcher and his sausages, it’s just a fucked up little story about a woman and her dinner companion.

+ Old Bay seasoning is awesome on popcorn.

The neighborhood

Story! Like the others, this is a first draft. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do with it.

**

The Neighborhood

“Oh great, there’s a neighborhood,” he muttered to himself.

He turned off the main road, clogged with afternoon traffic, and on to a smaller road. He wanted to make a small short-cut in order to bypass the congestion.

He sighed, “There must be a wreck or something.”

He switched the radio off and continued down the road. It was a small, paved road, with no median marker and he began to feel as though he was riding down a country path. Large trees bent over the road to shade it with vines and shrubs growing up between them up to the edge of the asphalt.

“Looks like I’m the only one who thought of this.”

The road began to curve slightly to the left and he continued on. The trees looked as though they’d backed off from their original positions. A small field started on the right, edged up against a cluster of trees covered in kudzu, and a small house on the left.

“Good. I thought I was going to end up in some hidden industrial park.”

Another small curve revealed a small neighborhood. Mid-sized houses, painted white or beige, settled onto large yards. He hit a stop sign at a fork.

“Might as well go left. It’ll take me back to the main road.”

He made the turn, going up a small hill, noticing houses with classic cars in driveways and fences with “Beware of Dog” signs. He smiled and nodded, going down a gentle slope while passing a large, 3-storey white house. He hit another stop sign and took a right, realizing that a left would lead him right back to where he started. The foliage started up again as he continued down the quiet street. He had the opportunity to glance around and noted that a lot of the houses had their windows and doors open. The road began to curve slightly to the left as foliage began to take over the area from the houses.

“This must be a chill neighborhood,” he thought. “Doors open, screen doors keeping the bugs out, and no one playing anything loud.”

The trees began to rescind as the road straightened out, a small field began on the right and a small house on the left.

“Huh. Must’ve hit the wrong road.”

Soon, he was back at the first stop sign he had come across in the neighborhood. He decided to go right instead of left, which was straighter and didn’t go up a hill. A few of the houses, mostly painted beige, seemed to be a little closer together than the other houses he had seen. He decided to cut the radio back on, thinking that maybe he could catch the hourly news update. Static filled the interior.

Every station he turned to emitted nothing but static. He turned the radio back off and sighed. He must be in a spot with a lot of interference, he thought. There are a lot of trees around the area. He glanced around and saw someone walking along the edge of some of the yards. They were wearing a jacket with the hood up and looking down at the ground, so he couldn’t tell if they were a teenager or adult.

He shrugged and continued driving, eventually passing the walking figure. Another stop sign appeared at a T-junction and he went left. The houses looked a little bit closer together, some seeming to share lawns. A few had some simple little flags hanging out near the front porch. A flag with bumblebees on the right hand side while a flag with summer birds on the left a few houses down. A birdbath was off to a side, a swing-set peaked out from a backyard, and he noticed that all the windows and doors were wide open like the houses on the other street.

The road wound lazily, passing a small creek, and continued. He looked around as trees covered in kudzu started to creep closer to the edges of yards, slowly taking over the properties and tangles of wild honeysuckle made its way towards the pavement. It curved slowly to the left and he noticed that the same house was on the left hand side, just as the same field was on his right.

He groaned. “I’m going around in circles. It’s always circles. This town is nothing but freaken circles and I’m stuck in a little clusterfuck of them.”

He continued on, taking the right at the first stop sign. The person in the jacket was walking on the same side of the street but going in the opposite direction. Probably some kid going to a friend’s house or something, he reasoned with himself. The T-junction came up and he took a right, willing the small road to lead him out of the neighborhood.

He rolled the windows down, “Fresh air should help.”

The air was warm, like evening air at summertime but not humid. He heard no birds nor the cicadas which he had gotten used to going to sleep listening to the past month or two. He smelled no grill smoke nor the fresh scent of a log fire, which his neighborhood was filled with. Most of his neighbors had taken advantage of the nice weather in order to have friends around for hot dogs and roast marshmallows.

The road was straighter than the one he had taken when he went left, but it was starting to curve a bit. He passed a few more houses with “Beware of Dog” signs, but realized he hadn’t heard a single dog bark. Surely even dogs inside the houses would still bark loud enough to cause a muffled sound to waft through the open windows. The curving road started going left. The small house on the left came in to view as the field, surrounded by kudzu laden trees, appeared on the right.

**

Ok, I lied. It’s the second draft (just first draft digitally since the first bits are in a notebook)

The circles comment is a frequent here in Roanoke (it’s all damned circles!)

Stuck

The day before yesterday, I gave up and began typing up that short story that I’ve been working on. Just barely over 2,000 words. Yesterday, I got just over 600 words. Today, I’ve sat here for about an hour and have managed 3 sentences.

I told Jamie I was going to give up for the day. He said I should give up for just right now, and I told him listening to comedy probably isn’t helping. I figure yesterday I did fairly well while listening to M R James stuff and today I’m not getting anything written down because I’m listening to a Robin Williams routine.

I guess I’m having one of those stuck moments. Not a writer’s block, but more of a stuck moment. Writer’s block is just meh, I can easily go to another story and continue with that. Chances are, I just need to step away from this particular peice for a day or two and look at where I’m at with a fresh set of eyes.

Fresh set of eyes, now there’s an idea. (not for this story though).

Writing is ridiculous

I’ve been working on the first draft of a short story that I thought would probably end up being around 600-800 words or so, but I’ve decided to write it in a 1-subject notebook that has both short story beginnings/pieces and comic sketches. I have no idea how many words I’ve gotten so far and keep reminding myself to not count them before I’m done because, really, what’s the point in that.

I haven’t been working on it every day because I am a procrastinator and life happens. I’ve been working on it while on my lunch breaks at work, so I have something to amuse myself with after I get irritated at getting killed by Stimpy or dying by mousetraps (argh! I can’t believe it. I get past Stimpy only to die by a freaken mouse trap?! wtf. I should’ve gotten Megaman. grr)

The other day, I was texting Jamie while working on it and asked him if I should make a Douglas Adams reference because I had already made a reference to the dolphin guy (double checking Mysterious Universe and I’m 90% sure it’s Aaron McCollum, which is mentioned on episode 309–I’d listen to it, but I’m currently listening to a podcast where they’re interviewing a guy who wrote a UFO/Extraterrestrial book and is trying to make it so it becomes “mainstream.”). Jamie said I was just doing this to procrastinate and keep from writing. I guess he was right, so I made a comment on twitter about how I wonder how many nerdy references I could cram into the story before I remember we already have that and it’s called Ready Player One. (a book that I have yet to finish and I doubt I finish it.)

Then I realised, fuck it. It’s my story, I can do whatever I want. If I want vampires to come out of the walls, I can do that. It’s not part of the plan, but I could do it. It’s not like anyone’s going to see the first draft. When I go to type it up, it’ll get changed. When I print it out so I can re-read it for the nth time and do a few edits, chances are the only person who will see it is Jamie (unless I go fuck it and post it up here to see what happens).

I’ve been tiptoeing on the line of crazy conspiracy theorist writing this. I’ve made references to the dolphin guy, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, Hollow Earth theory, and mentioned Reptilians. I mentioned anthrax in the mail (and there goes the beep for government tracking. Hi guys! It’s just me.), a Jello brain (an oldie but a goodie. I remember keeping an eye on the Jello mold from ThinkGeek’s HQ years ago), office hijinks, Anarchist Cookbook (there goes another ping in tracking), extra-terrestrials and star gates, NASA, “late-night radio shows,” and the Silk Road.

By the time I wrote down the Silk Road, I realized that I’m going to bring in the MIB into this story. Like the classic 50s/60s MIB, because witness statements make them extra fucking creepy. And why not? It works out for the story. The whole roundabout way to the ending is becoming hilarious to me, but it works because I don’t have to do much research on it. I just have to rely on memory for the most part (oh all those fun stories from childhood)

I realize I’m procrastinating on writing now as well. I have the notebook right beside me but I can think of a handful of other things that need to be done. I’m enjoying writing it, but I’m also at a point in the story where everything is just so damn ridiculous. There are parts of it that I find stupid as I write it, but I also realize it’s part of my process.

Working Title: The Lookout

Story time! This is a first draft. Notations are after the story. (Yeah, I decided: screw it, let’s post it and see what happens)

Working Title: The Lookout

“What is it doing now?”

“If you got your face out of that book you’d be able to see for yourself.”

You’re the one at the screen.”

“And you’re the one who is sitting there reading a book.”

“Because we take turns and this happens to be your turn to watch that thing on the screen. All I have to do is keep an ear out for the sensors.”

“You wouldn’t pay attention if the sensors beeped. You’re reading.”

“I’m keeping an ear out. What’s it doing now?”

“The same thing it’s been doing for days. Making its way slowly towards The Face and collecting little samples of dirt to send back to its home planet.”

“Not like they’re going to find anything useful.”

“No. They’re not going to find anything useful to them, which is how we intend to keep it. It’s a primitive planet. They don’t need to know that we’re here.”

Cargo One to Lookout.

“Lookout to Cargo One, go ahead.”

Has it cut itself off yet? We’re loaded and ready to head out.

“Cargo One, it is almost ready to cut itself off. I’ll let you know when it’s time to ascend.”

Gotcha. Cargo One out.

“What’s it doing now?”

“If you got your nose out of that book you would see that it is slowing down and chirping to itself.”

“I’m not at the screen. I can’t see what it’s doing because you have a big head.”

“I do not have a big head. When it cuts off, I will let you take over so you can actually do your job.”

“Uh-huh.”

“How did you even get this job if you’re not going to do anything but read?”

“Because the boss knows I’m good.”

“The boss must’ve been out of his mind when he hired you. Get your feet off the console.”

“My feet are on the other chair, thank you. You’d know that if you moved your head.”

“I have a job to do.”

“Yes, staring at a screen and waiting for the machine to cut itself off to recharge its power cells and to let me know when it does so I can do my stealth break-in of its processors and make sure the primitive thing doesn’t fall off a cliff.”

“Or find The Face.”

“I’m pretty sure they’ve found The Face by now. It’s just a matter of time before they determine whether or not it’s a natural rock formation. It’s hard to miss The Face.”

“We may have to put in to have the artists hide The Face in plain sight while the machine is still running.”

“Why don’t you send a message to the boss about it?”

“I just did, but I doubt anything gets done about it. Higher up seems to believe that the primitives will firmly believe it’s a natural formation.”

“Yes, because a giant face glaring at you from the side of a mountain is a natural occurrence.”

“Your sarcasm is not appreciated.”

“And yet you’re still talking to me.”

“Because communicating with the primitives is forbidden at this point.”

“Getting cranky?”

“Oh shut up.”

“What’s it doing now?”

“Same thing it was doing when you asked the last time.”

“That’s not helpful. You said it was almost ready to cut off the last time.”

“And it’s still almost ready to cut off. The thing takes its time.”

“You’re just stretching this out so you can annoy the captain of Cargo One.”

“I’m not stretching anything out.”

“How much does that captain of Cargo One still owe you? Ten? Twenty credits?”

“A hundred and fifty.”

“So you’re stretching out the wait time until he realizes what you’re doing.”

“I’m not stretching anything out. The machine’s slowing down slower than normal.”

“Define normal.”

“Get your nose out of the book and actually do your job.”

“I am doing my job, you grump.”

“You’re reading.”

“I am doing my job. I am sitting here, keeping an ear out for the sensors, and waiting for the machine to shut off so I can go into its processors.”

“You’re reading a book and complaining.”

“I am not complaining.”

“Lookout to Cargo One.”

Cargo One to Lookout. We ready to ascend?

“You are good to go. The machine has cut off for the night.”

Finally. I thought we’d have to wait again. Cargo One out.

“Get up so I can have a go at the screen.”

“Do your work, then.”

“Watch and learn, my friend. Watch and learn.”

“I don’t have to learn anything. You’re the specialist who can get into the processors, not me.”

“Then at least keep an ear out for the sensors while I break in.”

“It’s hardly a break-in when you’ve created a backdoor into the processor from the first day you got into it.”

“I like to call it a break in. Keeps it exciting.”

“Whatever. So, have you found anything interesting?”

“It collected dirt samples all day.”

“So? If I sent a machine over 200 million kilometers, I’d want it to collect all kinds of samples. Dirt just happens to be an important thing to sample.”

“Why do they want dirt samples?”

“The same reason why we wanted dirt samples thousands of years ago. To study an alien planet, basic curiosity. Maybe they want to see if the surface is inhabitable.”

“The surface hasn’t been habitable for a while. Not without proper precautions.”

“Not for us, but what about them?”

“Why do you care? Do you think that the surface of our planet could possibly be habitable for argon-based lifeforms?”

“I’m curious.”

“It’s got to be more than mere curiosity.”

“Maybe it’s a deep-seeded need to be the first carbon-based lifeform to introduce themselves to an argon-based lifeform.”

“You just want to mess with their primitive minds.”

“And go down in history as the first alien to make contact. I plan on saying ‘Take me to your leader.’ Hey, the sensors are starting up.”

“Damn. At least I’ve got a little bit of new information on the primitives. They’ve figured out how to input data for new mission protocols, but haven’t found the backdoor I created.”

“Because their technology is severely limited.”

“Yes. But at least their little machine won’t be falling off any cliffs any time soon. I’ve mapped out the best course of action for it to take for the next few days.”

“Heading towards The Face?”

“No, away from it. But, I’ve made it look like it’s just a random sequence that coincides with their perimeters. I’ve also set it up so it goes away from the launch pad so it won’t see when Cargo One comes back.”

“The boss will be thrilled when he hears about that.”

“Yeah. Oh hey, get this, they’ve started sending back small snippets of notes to a program.”

“A program?”

“Yeah, looks like some sort of patch-in.”

“Anything interesting?”

“Looks like…it’s talking to an audience of sorts.”

“Talking?”

“Yeah. Let’s see…”

“Are you trying to get in the program? The sensors are showing that something’s happening.”

“Hold on.”

“You need to get out of the machine. We can’t let them know that we are watching them.”

“You’re paranoid.”

“Get out of the machine.”

“Found a sequence.”

“Then tell me about it after you get out of the machine.

“Fine. Ok. There. Are you happy now?”

“Very. The sensors are stopping.”

“Kind of strange. Normally the sensors don’t go off when I dig deeper.”

“Maybe they’ve added something to that patch-in.”

“No. The patch-in just links up to a program where the machine adds little snippets. Like, it’ll transmit simple sentences.”

“Like what?”

“Sampling soil. Shows high concentration of nitrogen.”

“That’s helpful.”

“Might be helpful or insightful to them. Come on, let’s report to the boss and let him know what’s going on. We may need to add some extra shifts. The machine might become more useful as the primitives add programs to it.”

“We might have to kill the machine.”

“If it gets smarter than we’re expecting, we will have to. We need to make plans with the boss.”


 

The other day, I set up a challenge for myself. Could I do a short story where it’s just a conversation between two people? No description of the surroundings and no description of the actual characters who are talking.

I wasn’t expecting to dip into the realm of sci-fi, but it was a lot of fun. Doing this challenge gave me a few ideas for a sci-fi story. Kind of weird, for me at least, as I’m not used to doing this particular genre. I’m a horror person, but it is fun to see what’ll come out of my head.

Again, this is a first draft. Thoughts, critiques, whatever are welcome. I know I’m not the best in the world, and I’m working on getting back into the groove of writing. But, I’m having fun.

I was afraid that the conversation might be confusing, and I got Jamie to read it. He enjoyed it and said that he could tell the different characters talking and thought it was funny. So it may or may not become confusing to the reader.