Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blow out the candles

It's my birthday today.

I am 42.

That is the same age that Douglas Adams died. It is the answer to everything--life, the universe, whatever. I wonder if every writer ponders that when they hit 42 or if it is just me.

I feel old and fat and ugly and tired and worn out.

Trying to get that out of the way so I can get on with the rest of my day and put a happy face on. I don't feel happy. I'm not sure what's up with me today -- maybe it's just birthday crap. They don't usually bother me. Maybe my hormones are out of control. I don't know. I kind of hate my body, because it does that kind of stuff to me, even with the insert that's supposed to help control the levels. Some days I am still just out of balance. This is one of those days.

I don't really want to be around anyone today, but it's Saturday so it is a family day. So, really, I need to snap on out of this.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obsessive compulsiveness

I know me. Once I start something--a book, a series of shows, a game, etc. -- I want to finish it. I want to know. I want to know what happens at the end. I want to see how it gets there. I want to examine it's entrails and know it all from the inside out. To worry at the fleshy bits and pick apart the bones.

This may be why I'm a writer. I obsess. I obsess about characters. In the book I'm working on now, I know exactly how old everyone is. I have a spreadsheet. I have generations in there, generations of characters that will probably only get a one line (if any) mention in the book at all. Because once I start down a path, I need to follow it.

That said, I'm a bit of a compulsive, random researcher. And I can leave some avenues unexplored if my mind says, hey, no, this isn't important at all. But the things that I might find unimportant aren't necessarily the things someone else would.

I used to despair a bit about how what I see in the world doesn't always seem to match up with what other people see. How the conclusions I draw aren't the ones that other people come to. Bits of that poem by E.A. Poe used to run through my head. From childhood's hour I have not been as others were, I have not seen as others saw...

I'm not very fussed about that anymore. The older I get, the less I care. I know me. I'm not good at people, not on the inside. I add that qualifier because I dare you to find anyone that knows me that would think that. I'm pretty good at faking it...for awhile, at least. This may be why I'm not one of those people who is all BFF with someone. Instead, I collect people. I like to meet people. I like to find out about them.

None of which is any of what I was planning on talking about today. But, like the paragraphs I used to bang out on my typewriter George when I was a teenager, I am nothing if not completely random.

I've watched two more anime series (again, with the MUST. FINISH. ALL. THE. EPISODES. NOW. thing which is, frankly, havoc on productivity). Tried out My Little Monster which had some moments that I really enjoyed but, as a whole gestalt-y type of thing, fell short. That might just be the anime though...the manga goes on for longer and covers more, so maybe it fixes all of the shortcomings. It is, after all, akin to book vs. movie.

The problem was that the characters didn't change much from the first episode to the last. They were essentially in the same place they started. There were ups and downs along the way, but knowing what the end run was and seeing where they were, it's impossible to see how they would get there. But, enjoyable nonetheless with some really good moments. Haru, the boy, was particularly insane and Shizuku impressively deadpan.

Then there's my favourite so far (very surprisingly): Wolf Girl and The Black Prince. I am, honestly, amazed at how much I liked this one because the basic premise is so incredibly overdone and over-used: fake boyfriend to real boyfriend. Not to mention that Kyoya (the guy) was so completely horribly horrendously despicable in the first few episodes. Maybe that was why I kept watching. How, I wondered, can they possibly redeem him after this kind of a start?

But they managed to pull it off. Or, rather, the writer did, whoever he or she is. And the later episodes in particular, when he's turned that corner, had just some incredible moments and spectacularly perfect little lines.

Like when he's been trying all day long to tell her he loves her (because it is her birthday and he overheard her say that's what she wants even though she doesn't actually expect it because everyone knows he doesn't do stuff like that) and he's trying and trying to get it out but can't quite do it -- there's a moment when she's been yammering away about nothing and then stops to ask him what's wrong. Just shut up and keep talking, he says. And that's perfect. Because it's exactly right.

One other excellent line from when another guy is trying to convince him to "be a player" and showing off his cell phone full of 500 phone numbers of different girls. Kyoya shuts him down with It doesn't matter how much trash you pick up. You've just got a pile of trash. Which, okay, isn't that flattering to all of those girls, but the point was quality over quantity. Anyway, still surprised at how much I liked this one and how many great moments it had. I might even have to find the manga for it since I know there are more scenes in it than in the show.

Anyway, tomorrow maybe an update on the current book. It's progressing. I'm happier than I've been about it in a long time. And that's good. Working on creating some of my own perfect little moments.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which I don't have much to say but say it anyway

It's Monday. I don't particularly dread them any more. In fact, they are kind of nice. Max is back at school. Tony is back at work. I like a bit of alone time. Of course, I spend a chunk of that time going out to meet some writer friends to work (which is what I'm doing now), but it's still "me" time. I'm working at getting organised again. Not so scattered. Lists. To-do's.

Last week I finished re-outlining this book. I should have done it months ago, but I kept putting it off. Kept second guessing whether or not this was the book I should be working on. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it doesn't matter. Gotta work on something. And I think I've finally worked out all the issues I was having. I was making things too complicated. Taking it back a step and also trying to punch up the timeframe -- don't give the characters time to stop and think. Keep it going and keep them on their toes.

Or, you know, something like that. Keep me on my toes, right?

I did break down and buy the A4 suspension files I needed even though I hadn't meant to spend the money yet. It's because I'm a bit of a sucker. Sort of. I was in the local art store. Nice people. I thought he might have a few folders I could buy to hold me over, though it's a small place and there wasn't a huge chance he'd have them, but I always try to shop local (except when it's impossible).

They'll always order stuff in for me and the wife always asks after Max. So he found an ancient box of them under a cabinet. Box of 50, gathering dust for probably the last 3 or 4 years or ten years. They are more of an art store than office supply store by far. And once he found them, I had to buy them. So I've got a box of 50 now. The old ones, from back when they were still manufactured in Britain and not in China, like they are now. The price was actually decent because they always try to give me a good price and less than I'd have spent on the same thing at Ryman's or some other big chain. But so much for my waiting until next month and the next paycheque.

That's kind of me, in a nutshell.

In other unrelated to anything news, have been watching some anime and have determined that I'm really quite a sap. I sort of knew that, but I guess my life has been missing some romance or something. All the shows we've been watching have been crime or drama or whatever...stuff good for research for the book and things that also appeal to Tony. More than my fair share of guns and psychopaths and intrigue.

So there I am watching an anime called Say I Love You (which was surprisingly good) targeted toward teen / pre-teen girls. Have to say it was more realistic in a lot of ways than I would have expected and I am a teensy bit obsessed with Yamato, but then I've always been a sucker for tall guys. Even cartoon ones. So sweet but with serious issues tackled as well. It was kind of refreshing. And I liked that Mei (the girl) wasn't a total pushover, though sometimes I also wanted her to open up. But that was the point, so the story worked. It has some issues and some things I would have written differently, but overall, quite pleased with it.

Perhaps ashamed to admit that I totally binge-watched all the episodes in one night while waiting for Tony to come home from an after-work happy hour. Dead the next day. I'm too old to stay up so late least, so long as Max gets up so early.

Also watched Sword Art Online and am also slightly enamoured with Kirito...though that story has some HUGE issues. As a writer, I am both fascinated and repelled by it. So much potential but then idiotic stuff thrown in. Maybe it's the format and expectations of the teenage male audience. I dunno. But it's got so much gratuitous boobage that it's really annoying. A veritable (not plot moving) harem of buxom beauties including HIS SISTER (which isn't exactly his sister, but really his cousin who was brought up thinking she was his sister and she's in LOVE with him for NO GOOD REASON in the plot). And making a damsel in distress out of a really strong female character. It annoys me but at the same time I am looking forward to the next instalment. Because there's a part of me that will ignore all the problematic story issues to soak my seldom-used-hormones in the teenage-y romance-y aspect.

That's one of the things that I like about writing YA vs. adult. There's something different about first love -- first experiences with love and sex and all the gooey angst that comes with all of that. There's nothing so intense as those first forays into love. By the time you are an adult, the edges have faded. So maybe the next book I finish after this one will be that YA about Death's son. It's a romance, after all.

But now, to work. I've wasted enough time doing my random blog brain dump.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Half gone

How is it that the first month of the year is already half gone? How did that happen? Time keeps slipping away from me (and now, great, I'll have that song stuck in my head ALL DAY). I've got to grab on to it before this whole year gets away from me like last year did. Yes, there was a lot going on last year which I'm not going to recap now because FUTURE, people, the FUTURE, need to look ahead...but I can't let it all get away from me again.

This week has definitely been slipping through my fingers. It's an excuse, but it's partly because I've been sick off and on and off and on since before Christmas. I'm tired of the cough. Tired of the phlegm. Even tired of the word "phlegm" -- I mean, yuck. It's a disgusting word. But it's also that I've been feeling for a long while like a turtle that just wants to retreat into its shell. Or maybe like a groundhog gone underground. I don't know. Like I want to hide.

I've also stayed home this week because I'm feeling really broke. Between Christmas and sending money every month to the family and Tony's new train ticket expenses and me not making any money in eons, I'm feeling strapped. Don't even want to fork out the money for a pricey latte. Been drinking Nescafe. Which, okay, I usually keep around for emergencies, but it's not something I'd choose on a normal basis.

Anyway. I'm digressing. Which is what I do. I need to get organised (as a side note, GAH, I still hate British spellings of things...they don't look right). I did get a filing cabinet as a birthday present to myself. Need to buy another pack of hanging files (British: suspension files) but am going to wait until after the next paycheque (US: paycheck) for Tony before I splurge on those. Would it be weird to ask for office supplies for my birthday?

Because it is, indeed, my birthday this month wherein I will be 42. Which is the answer to everything (though, sadly, also the year that Douglas Adams died during, which is just wrong, really...).

I did have a long sleepless bit last night where I was thinking about an idea for a series of kid's books using some of the half-completed ideas I've already got. Not sure if I should waste my time on those or not as my agent won't handle them. They are cute though. But maybe it's just a distraction.

I did also recently lob an idea at an author friend of mine for a joint project. We'll see if anything comes of it. It was really just the bare kernel of an idea, not anything fully formed or anything like that. A nugget. A little tiny nugget of nutcaseness.

I'm going to try and blog here once a day, just for myself. And today I need to do laundry, do some grocery shopping, do more laundry, and get my to-do list digitised and organised. (Progress! I typed that with the "s" the first time!)

Tomorrow will be meeting with my writing group and working on the book I need to finish this year. First step is going back to the outline and finishing it and no more of the half-assed do-nothingness I've been doing for the last year. I know this about me. I know it. I know if I don't have a real outline that it never gets done. But there were reasons, I know. I know. But no more excuses and no more burying my head in the sand.

What I really need is a deadline.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Well, hello again.

Hi there, old blog that I'm sure no one remembers is here anymore. It's nice to see you again. I kind of need a place to write stuff on that no one goes to, the stuff I don't write on my "official author site" (you know, that place where I'm supposed to be all professional and upbeat and what not).

I haven't been blogging much over there because I haven't had anything good to report on. Or anything, really. And it seems weird to talk about my life on something kids visit to look up things for book reports. Which is when I remembered this place, where I used to spew all kinds of unrelated things, good and bad.

It's been a long time since I've written on here. Years. It's 2015 now, which is amazingly bizarre. Remember Back to the Future? Yeah. That's now. And there are no hover boards.

I've written 4 books and had the good luck/fortune to see them get published. Moved to London. The little peanut has grown up to be almost 7 and there never was a truer, cooler geek in progress than my little man.

That's the good stuff. Way back when, if you'd told me I'd see (at least) four books (and hopefully more) of mine be published, I would've been all WOOT!!! But there's another side to that. Yeah, the side where you don't actually make a living from it. Actually, not only do you not make a living, you don't make, well, anything. Literally. Last calendar year I made exactly 0. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

But anytime a new review gets posted or an award or whatever and people congratulate me on how well my career is going, etc. etc., I just smile and say thanks, etc. etc. Because what else can you do?

It kind of feels good to write that down, in a weird way. See, I generally feel like a complete failure but I don't think there's anyone else out there in the world that would look at me and say that's what they see. But there it is. I wonder every day why I keep writing. But I keep doing it because I have the stories in my head and people do seem to like to read them. People still write me.

But anyway, I thought I would resurrect this for myself. To write all that stuff I'm not supposed to write, somewhere that it is very doubtful anyone will read it. In fact, if I can figure out how to do it in this new too-many-options-blogger-interface, I'll set this so that it doesn't appear in search engines.

Besides which, I've been wanting to write some poetry again. Because angst. And fear. And beauty.

See you tomorrow. Or later. Some laundry is calling my name.